Feds Issue Bulletin on Google Dorking

Feds Issue Bulletin on Google Dorking | Public Intelligence


A bulletin issued by the Department of Homeland Security, the FBI and the National Counterterrorism Center earlier this month warns law enforcement and private security personnel that malicious cyber actors can use “advanced search techniques” to discover sensitive information and other vulnerabilities in websites.  The bulletin, titled “Malicious Cyber Actors Use Advanced Search Techniques,” describes a set of techniques collectively referred to as “Google dorking” or “Google hacking” that use “advanced operators” to refine search queries to provide more specific results.  Lists of these operators are provided by Google and include the following examples: Continue reading “Feds Issue Bulletin on Google Dorking”

Australian government apps access smartmobe cams but ‘don’t film you’

Department of Human Services says its apps need cameras to deliver better services

By Richard Chirgwin, 4 May 2014

Australia’s Department of Human Services (DHS) says apparently-excessive permissions sought by its mobile apps are necessary for service delivery, and don’t put its customers’ privacy at risk.

Last week, The Register quizzed the department over broad permissions sought by self-service apps offered for various DHS services, including income support payments agency Centrelink, health care agency Medicare and family support payments.

US judge rules Baidu has First Amendment right to block content / Political Censorship is now an editorial freedom

EEV: Political Censorship is now an editorial freedom

PUBLISHED : Friday, 28 March, 2014, 11:58pm

Reuters in New York

Internet giant Baidu has won the dismissal of a US lawsuit by pro-democracy activists who complained that China’s most widely used search engine illegally suppressed political speech.

Eight New York writers and video producers had accused Baidu of creating search-engine algorithms, at the behest of Beijing, to block users in the United States from articles, videos and other information advocating greater democracy in China.

The plaintiffs in the case, which was heard in Manhattan, said this kept Baidu users from seeing their work, unlike users of other search engines such as Google and Microsoft’s Bing.

Continue reading “US judge rules Baidu has First Amendment right to block content / Political Censorship is now an editorial freedom”

Hey, Glasshole: That cool app? It has turned you into a SPY DRONE

Google Glass spyware can use users as surveillance drones

Google Glass


Continue reading “Hey, Glasshole: That cool app? It has turned you into a SPY DRONE”

Largest single personal data hack ever? 360mn stolen account credentials found online


Published time: March 01, 2014 01:31

Reuters / Kacper Pempel


Reuters / Kacper Pempel


A cyber security firm has reported a “mind boggling” cache of stolen credentials which has been put up for sale on online black markets. A total of 360 million accounts were affected in a series of hacks, one of which seems to be the biggest in history.

Alex Holden, chief information security officer of Hold Security LLC, said that the firm had uncovered the data over the past three weeks.

He said that 360 million personal account records were obtained in separate attacks, but one single attack seems to have obtained some 105 million records which could make it the biggest single data breach to date, Reuters reports. “The sheer volume is overwhelming,” said Holden in a statement on Tuesday. Continue reading “Largest single personal data hack ever? 360mn stolen account credentials found online”

2029: the year when robots will have the power to outsmart their makers

Ray Kurzweil, Google expert in artificial intelligence, predicts that by 2029 robots will make jokes and flirt

Nadia Khomani

The Observer,  Saturday 22 February 2014 16.00 EST

PhotonQ-The Darth Vader Artificial Intelligenc...
PhotonQ-The Darth Vader Artificial Intelligence Network (Photo credit: PhOtOnQuAnTiQuE)

Computers will be cleverer than humans by 2029, according to Ray Kurzweil, Google’s director of engineering.

The entrepreneur and futurologist has predicted that in 15 years’ time computers will be more intelligent than we are and will be able to understand what we say, learn from experience, make jokes, tell stories and even flirt.

Kurzweil, 66, who is considered by some to be the world’s leading artificial intelligence (AI) visionary, is recognised by technologists for popularising the idea of “the singularity” – the moment in the future when men and machines will supposedly converge. Google hired him at the end of 2012 to work on the company’s next breakthrough: an artificially intelligent search engine that knows us better than we know ourselves. Continue reading “2029: the year when robots will have the power to outsmart their makers”

Bing censoring Chinese language search results for users in the US

English and Chinese language queries for terms such as ‘Dalai Lama’ return radically different results on Microsoft search engine

in New York

theguardian.com,              Tuesday 11 February 2014 16.36 EST

Bo Xilai
A Bing search in Chinese for Bo Xilai, the former Chinese government official, shows different results from an English search. Photograph: Jason Lee/Reuters

Microsoft’s search engine Bing appears to be censoring information for Chinese language users in the US in the same way it filters results in mainland China.

Searches first conducted by anti-censorship campaigners at FreeWeibo, a tool that allows uncensored search of Chinese blogs, found that Bing returns radically different results in the US for English and Chinese language searches on a series of controversial terms.

These include Dalai Lama, June 4 incident (how the Chinese refer to the Tiananmen Square protests of 1989), Falun Gong and FreeGate, a popular internet workaround for government censorship. Continue reading “Bing censoring Chinese language search results for users in the US”

Microsoft, Facebook, Google and Yahoo release US surveillance requests

• Tech giants turn over data from tens of thousands of accounts • Limited disclosure part of transparency deal made last month

in Washington and in New York

theguardian.com,    Monday 3 February 2014 16.40 EST

Microsoft, Twitter, Google and Facebook all want to give greater disclosure of Fisa requests
Microsoft, Twitter, Google and Facebook all participate in the NSA’s Prism effort. Photograph: Pichi Chuang/Reuters

Tens of thousands of accounts associated with customers of Microsoft, Google, Facebook and Yahoo have their data turned over to US government authorities every six months as the result of secret court orders, the tech giants disclosed for the first time on Monday. Continue reading “Microsoft, Facebook, Google and Yahoo release US surveillance requests”

Time travellers outsmart the NSA


No sign of them on the Internet – yet

By       Richard Chirgwin     6th January 2014 04:01 GMT

If there are time travellers around, they’re being careful not to leave their fingerprints on the Internet.

That’s the conclusion in a paper published at Arxiv, put together by Michigan Technical University physics professor Robert Nemiroff and PhD candidate Teresa Wilson. They searched the Internet for “prescient” signatures – that is, information in posts containing knowledge that didn’t exist at the time it came to be posted, whether on blogs, social media, or other documents indexed by Google. Continue reading “Time travellers outsmart the NSA”

Blank Spots on the map: Almost all the U.S. Army’s secret military bases across the globe revealed on Google and Bing

EEV: Compromised ? The following is the full link: http://empire.is/


By  Daily Mail Reporter

PUBLISHED: 10:34 EST, 15 December 2013 |  UPDATED: 11:18 EST, 15 December 2013

The U.S. military can be a sensitive lot when it comes to the location of their military facilities.

With military bases on every continent, in every corner of the world, for the kinds of tasks they perform, it’s no wonder that many of the locations are blacked out and hidden from public view.

The Pentagon says there are around 5,000 bases in total with around 600 overseas.

Josh Begley, a data artist, decided to set himself the task of mapping all known U.S. military bases around the world, and collect satellite pictures of them using Google and Bing Maps.

The project was inspired by Trevor Paglen’s book ‘Blank Spots on the Map’ which goes inside the world of secret military bases that are sometimes censored on maps.

Begley has found the coordinates for 650 bases, and published pictures for 644 of them. The pictures can be viewed at http://empire.is/.

South Korea: Garrison Yongsan is home to the headquarters for the U.S. military presence in South Korea. The garrison previously served as headquarters for the Imperial Japanese Army from 1910 to 1945 

South Korea: Garrison Yongsan is home to the headquarters for the U.S. military presence in South Korea. The garrison previously served as headquarters for the Imperial Japanese Army from 1910 to 1945 Continue reading “Blank Spots on the map: Almost all the U.S. Army’s secret military bases across the globe revealed on Google and Bing”

Snowden latest: NSA stalks the human race using Google, ad cookies

Every single day, every word you say, every game you play, they’ll be watching you


Every single day, every word you say, every game you play, they’ll be watching you

By   Iain Thomson

Posted in Security,    12th December 2013 19:40 GMT

The already strained relationship between Google and the NSA has got a little bit worse, after claims in the latest Snowden leak that intelligence agencies are using the Chocolate Factory’s cookies to track targets.

Documents seen by the Washington Post show that the NSA and the British snoops at GCHQ have found a way to piggyback on a Google tracking cookie dubbed PREFID. This doesn’t contain personal data, but does contain an identifier unique to each browser, so by subverting the Google code a particular user can be easily identified in a large data dump.

You just don’t pick up PREFID cookies if you’re a Gmail or Google+ user, they’re included in everything from simple search requests to websites that have a link to Mountain View’s mapping of social networking system. As such, most internet users will have one somewhere.

Once a particular browser is identified, the Google cookies can then be used for “remote exploitation” the documents state, presumably anything from monitoring usage to complete pwnage. It can also be used for “on the ground survey options,” and used to brief the FBI for domestic action.

The latest trove from ex-NSA-contractor-turned-whistleblower Edward Snowden also shows details of a location-tracking system implemented by the intelligence agencies (and presumably their Canadian, Australian and New Zealand counterparts) called HAPPYFOOT – say what you like about the coders, at least they have a gift for naming this stuff. That effort also uses advertising networks’ cookies to track the location of users.

HAPPYFOOT monitors location data sent back by mobile apps to provide localized content. GPS doesn’t need to be on for this kind of data – the phone user’s location can be triangulated pretty accurately based on cell tower and Wi-Fi locations, particularly in urban environments. As seen in last week’s FTC settlement, this location data doesn’t always need user approval to activate.

In both cases, intelligence agencies can use data from the Department of Defense’s National Geospatial Intelligence Agency, for target tracking. According to Snowden’s data the agency has an annual budget of $4.9bn to collect and analyze satellite and photo imagery from around the world.

“As we’ve said before, NSA, within its lawful mission to collect foreign intelligence to protect the United States, uses intelligence tools to understand the intent of foreign adversaries and prevent them from bringing harm to innocent Americans,” said the NSA in a statement.

Privacy experts have long been nervous about the ability of cookies to track internet users. While there are beneficial uses of cookies, besides being vital to the online advertising market, the ability to store arbitrary data in a browser is seen as a fundamental flaw in protecting privacy on the web.

It’s a measure of success that the “do not track” movement against cookies is now supported by almost all the major browser manufacturers and is often the default setting – something that is infuriating the advertising industry. It would seem, from these latest documents, that the NSA would like tracking to continue as well.

“These revelations make it ever clearer that we need to fight back against non-consensual tracking of web users, by deploying and adopting technology that allows users to block online tracking,” said privacy campaigners at the EFF in a statement.

“In the past we’ve been concerned about the profiles that web companies could build up about users without their knowledge or consent. Now we’ve seen that this tracking technology is also being hijacked for government surveillance of Internet users.” ®

Original URL: http://www.theregister.co.uk/2013/12/12/snowden_latest_nsa_using_google_cookies_to_id_internet_users/

Bizarre Complaint Stems From Auto-Complete




ALEXANDRIA, Va. (CN) – The federal government is stalking a former contractor because Google auto-completed his intended search: “How do I build a radio controlled airplane?” to the unfortunate query “How do I build a radio controlled bomb?” the man claims in court.

Jeffrey Kantor, who was fired by Appian Corporation, sued a host of government officials, including Attorney General Eric Holder, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, CIA Director John Brennan, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel and Secretary of State John Kerry in Federal Court, alleging civil rights violations, disclosure of private information and retaliation.

“In October of 2009, Kantor used the search engine Google to try to find, ‘How do I build a radio-controlled airplane,'” he states in his complaint. “He ran this search a couple weeks before the birthday of his son with the thought of building one together as a birthday present. After typing, ‘how do I build a radio controlled’, Google auto-completed his search to, ‘how do I build a radio controlled bomb.'”

Kantor claims that unfortunate incident sparked the government’s bizarre campaign of harassment against him that ultimately got him fired. Continue reading “Bizarre Complaint Stems From Auto-Complete”

How the scare tactics of the past shape the Affordable Care Act debate today

The long, lurid tradition of public health propaganda

By Kevin Hartnett

                       December 08, 2013


A creepy looking Uncle Sam in anti-ACA ads.


A creepy looking Uncle Sam in anti-ACA ads.


The Affordable Care Act has prompted a Supreme Court case, polarized Congress, and defined a national election. It has also inspired a secondary battle in the creative realm. Opponents of the law have produced videos in which a creepy-looking Uncle Sam prepares to administer a prostate exam; they’ve altered photos of the president to look like Heath Ledger’s sadistic Joker in “The Dark Knight.” Meanwhile, government agencies charged with enrolling people have responded with friendly animations that promote how the law works, while left-leaning groups have contributed zany pro-ACA ads in which recently insured college “bros” perform keg stands, worry free. Continue reading “How the scare tactics of the past shape the Affordable Care Act debate today”

French court orders Google to block Max Mosley orgy pictures


Ian Burrell

Wednesday, 6 November 2013

Former F1 president Max Mosley has won a ruling in a French court that Google must prevent its search engine from providing links to nine images showing his involvement in a sadomasochist orgy.

The finding comes in the face of strong opposition from Google, with the company arguing that a ruling in favour of Mr Mosley would set a dangerous legal precedent for censorship of the Internet. It has launched an appeal.

The landmark ruling relates to nine widely-circulated images taken from a video of the orgy that was originally secretly filmed by the News of the World in 2008, three years before Rupert Murdoch closed the Sunday tabloid over the phone hacking scandal.

Mr Mosley, 73, was awarded the token sum of 1 Euro by the Paris court yesterday but Google described the ruling ordering it to remove the images as “troubling”. Daphne Keller, associate general counsel at Google, said in a statement:  “This decision should worry those who champion the cause of freedom of expression on the Internet.”

Mr Mosley, who is seeking to force Google to use automatic filters that eliminate any thumbnail images of the sex video, as well as links to it in Google’s search results, has also filed a suit against the Silicon Valley-based company in Germany.

Google said it had, at Mr Mosley’s request, already taken steps to ensure hundreds of pages whose content could be deemed to breach the law in some countries are excluded from its search results.

In a blog at the start of the case Ms Keller had argued that Google was merely the platform provider for content producers. “We don’t hold paper makers or the people who build printing presses responsible if their customers use those things to break the law. The true responsibility for unlawful content lies with the people who produce it.”

But Mr Mosley argued that it should remove them automatically as it does with child pornography. “The case is not about censuring the content of the Internet, it’s about complying with the court decision that already ruled it was a breach of intimacy,” said Clara Zerbib, Mr Mosley’s lawyer.

The former Formula 1 chief has been fighting the case through the courts since he was first exposed participating in a Nazi-themed party following a sting by the now defunct newspaper. His first victory was an award of £60,000 against Mr Murdoch’s UK news publishing division for breach of privacy. Outside the High Court in London, Mr Mosley said at the time: “I am delighted with that judgment, which is devastating for the News of the World. It demonstrates that their Nazi lie was completely invented and had no justification.”

Since then Mr Mosley, son of the 1930s British fascist leader Sir Oswald Mosley, has continued to pursue the matter.



Snowden document reveals key role of companies in NSA data collection

ScreenHunter_97 Nov. 02 10.15

NSA leverages relationships with commercial partners to collect vast quantities of data from fibre-optic cables, file shows

Tapping fibre-optic cables – see the NSA slide

NSA HQ at Fort Meade, Maryland

Yahoo, Microsoft and Google deny they co-operate voluntarily with the intelligence agencies. Photograph: Paul J Richards/AFP

The key role private companies play in National Security Agency surveillance programs is detailed in a top-secret document provided to the Guardian by whistleblower Edward Snowden and published for the first time on Friday.

One slide in the undated PowerPoint presentation, published as part of the Guardian’s NSA Files: Decoded project, illustrates the number of intelligence reports being generated from data collected from the companies.

In the five weeks from June 5 2010, the period covered by the document, data from Yahoo generated by far the most reports, followed by Microsoft and then Google.

Between them, the three companies accounted for more than 2,000 reports in that period – all but a tiny fraction of the total produced under one of the NSA‘s main foreign intelligence authorities, the Fisa Amendents Act (FAA).

It is unclear how the information in the NSA slide relates to the companies’ own transparency reports, which document the number of requests for information received from authorities around the world.

Yahoo, Microsoft and Google deny they co-operate voluntarily with the intelligence agencies, and say they hand over data only after being forced to do so when served with warrants. The NSA told the Guardian that the companies’ co-operation was “legally compelled”.

But this week the Washington Post reported that the NSA and its UK equivalent GCHQ has been secretly intercepting the main communication links carrying Google and Yahoo users’ data around the world, and could collect information “at will” from among hundreds of millions of user accounts.

The NSA’s ability to collect vast quantities of data from the fibre-optic cables relies on relationships with the companies, the document published on Friday shows.

The presentation, titled “Corporate Partner Access” was prepared by the agency’s Special Source Operations division, which is responsible for running those programs.

In an opening section that deals primarily with the telecom companies, the SSO baldly sets out its mission: “Leverage unique key corporate partnerships to gain access to high-capacity international fiber-optic cables, switches and/or routes throughout the world.”

The NSA is helped by the fact that much of the world’s communications traffic passes through the US or its close ally the UK – what the agencies refer to as “home-field advantage”.

The new revelations come at a time of increasing strain in relations between the intelligence community and the private sector. Google and Yahoo reacted angrily on Wednesday to the Washington Post’s report on the interception of their data.

The Guardian approached all three companies for comment on the latest document.

“This points out once again the need for greater transparency,” a Google spokesman said.

He referred to a letter the company and other Silicon Valley giants sent to the Senate judiciary committee on Thursday. “The volume and complexity of the information that has been disclosed in recent months has created significant confusion here and around the world, making it more difficult to identify appropriate policy prescriptions,” the letter said.

A Microsoft spokesperson said: “We are deeply disturbed by these allegations, and if true they represent a significant breach of trust by the US and UK governments. It is clear that there need to be serious reforms to better protect customer privacy.”

Yahoo had not responded by the time of publication.

The companies are also fighting through the courts to be allowed to release more detailed figures for the number of data requests they handle from US intelligence agencies. Along with AOL, Apple and Facebook, they wrote to the Senate judiciary committee this week calling for greater transparency and “substantial” reform of the NSA.

Google, the first to publish a transparency report, has reported US authorities’ requests for user data increased by 85% between 2010 and 2012 (from 8,888 in 2010 to 16,407 in 2012). But the vast majority of those are requests from local law enforcement looking for information about potential drug traffickers, fraudsters and other domestic criminal activity.

Legally compelled NSA request relating to foreign terrorist targets, which none of the firms are allowed to disclose, are thought to represent a tiny fraction of the overall figure.

While the internet companies are listed by name in the NSA document, the telecoms companies are hidden behind covernames.

The names of these “corporate partners” are so sensitive that they are classified as “ECI” – Exceptionally Controlled Information – a higher classification level than the Snowden documents cover. Artifice, Lithium and Serenade are listed in other documents as covernames for SSO corporate partners, while Steelknight is described as an NSA partner facility.

In a statement defending its surveillance programs, the NSA said: “What NSA does is collect the communications of targets of foreign intelligence value, irrespective of the provider that carries them. US service provider communications make use of the same information superhighways as a variety of other commercial service providers.

“NSA must understand and take that into account in order to eliminate information that is not related to foreign intelligence.

“NSA works with a number of partners and allies in meeting its foreign-intelligence mission goals, and in every case those operations comply with US law and with the applicable laws under which those partners and allies operate.”

UPDATE: Microsoft issued a further statement after publication of the Guardian’s story. A spokesperson said: “Microsoft only discloses customer data when served with valid legal orders and in June we published a complete view of the volume of orders we received from the US government.

“But it is clear that much more transparency is needed to help the companies and their customers understand these issues.”


NSA ‘broke into Yahoo and Google data centers to obtain millions of records every day’… and leaked doodle shows how spy agency did it with a smiley face

  • The Washington Post cites documents  leaked by Edward Snowden
  • In 30 days, the NSA gleaned 180 million  new records including text, audio and video – and who sent it to whom and when  they sent it
  • NSA: Claims that we collect data this way  are not true

By  Associated Press and Daily Mail Reporter

PUBLISHED: 12:53 EST, 30  October 2013 |  UPDATED: 14:16 EST, 30 October 2013

The National Security Agency has secretly  broken into the Yahoo and Google data centers around the world to steal hundreds  of millions of records, it was reported today.

Every day, the NSA sends millions of records  from Yahoo and Google internal networks to data warehouses at the  agency’s Fort  Meade, Maryland headquarters, the Washington Post reported, citing documents  leaked by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden.

The documents include a slide from an agency  presentation  entitled ‘Google Cloud Exploitation’, featuring a sketch showing  where  the ‘Public Internet’ meets the internal ‘Google Cloud’ of user data.

On the sketch, a note adds that encryption is  ‘added and remove here!’ and the artist then jots a smiley face – in what the  Post calls a ‘cheeky  celebration of victory over Google security’.

Leaked: In a slide from an NSA presentation, a sketch shows where the 'Public Internet' meets the 'Google Cloud' user data - with a smiley face to celebrate getting around the secure links 

Leaked: In a slide from an NSA presentation, a sketch  shows where the ‘Public Internet’ meets the ‘Google Cloud’ user data – with a  smiley face to celebrate getting around the secure links


‘Two engineers with close ties to Google  exploded in profanity when they saw the drawing,’ the Post reported.

In the 30 days after January 9, field  collectors processed and sent back more than 180 million new records – ranging  from ‘metadata’, which would indicate who sent or received emails and  when, to  content such as text, audio and video.

Both companies said they had not given the  NSA permission to do so and where not aware of the activity.

The NSA’s principal tool to exploit the data  links is a project called MUSCULAR, operated jointly with the agency’s British  counterpart, GCHQ.

The program uses an unnamed  telecommunications provider giving secret access to a cable for Google and  Yahoo to pass unencrypted traffic between their  servers.

the National Security Agency has secretly broken into the main communications links that connect Yahoo and Google data centers around the world 

Seized: The NSA has reportedly secretly broken into main  communications links that connect Yahoo and Google data centers around the  world. This photo shows a Google data center in Hamina, Finland

The Post said NSA and GCHQ are copying entire  data flows across fiber-optic cables that carry information between the data  centers of the Silicon Valley giants.

The NSA’s leader, Gen. Keith Alexander said  he was unaware of the report, adding that the NSA is not authorized to access  data centers and must go through a court process to obtain it.

‘The assertion that we collect vast  quantities of U.S. persons’ data from this type of collection is also not true,’  a spokeswoman added, Politico reported.

The report comes despite the companies saying  their servers are closely guarded and strictly audited. According to Google,  buildings housing its servers are guarded around-the-clock and secured with  heat-sensitive cameras and biometric verification.

In a statement to the Post, Google  said it  was ‘troubled by allegations of the government intercepting  traffic between our  data centers, and we are not aware of this  activity’.

At Yahoo a  spokeswoman added: ‘We have  strict controls in place to protect the  security of our data centers, and we  have not given access to our data  centers to the NSA or to any other government  agency.’

White House officials and the Office of  the  Director of National Intelligence, which oversees the NSA, declined  to comment,  the Post said.

Revelations: The information was obtained by former NSA contractor, Edward Snowden 

Revelations: The information was obtained by former NSA  contractor, Edward Snowden

The NSA already collects data from Google,  Yahoo and other technology  companies under another program known as PRISM –  details of which were  revealed by Snowden earlier this year.

The program legally compels the companies to  provide the agency with information that matches court-approved search  terms.

The collection of data by MUSCULAR would be  illegal in the U.S., but the operations take place overseas, where the NSA can  presume anyone using a foreign data link is a foreigner, the Post  said.

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2480411/NSA-broke-Yahoo-Google-data-centers-obtain-millions-records.html#ixzz2jGZlavR4 Follow us: @MailOnline on Twitter | DailyMail on Facebook

Mozilla’s Lightbeam tool will expose who is looking over your shoulder on the web


Adam Sherwin

Thursday, 24 October 2013

Just who is looking over your shoulder when you browse the Internet? Tomorrow, web users will be given a new tool to shine a light on the commercial organisations which track your every movement online.

Lightbeam, a download produced by Mozilla, the US free software community behind the popular Firefox browser, claims to be a “watershed” moment in the battle for web transparency.

Everyone who browses the Internet leaves a digital trail used by advertisers to discover what your interests are.

Users who activate Lightbeam will be able to see a real-time visualisation of every site they visit and every third-party that is active on those sites, including commercial organisations which might potentially be sharing your data.

Mozilla wants users who install the Lightbeam add-on to Firefox, to crowd-source their data, to produce the first “big picture” view of web tracking, revealing which third-parties are most active.

Lightbeam promises a “Wizard of Oz” moment for the web, “where users collectively provide a way to pull back the curtains to see its inner workings,” Mozilla claimed.

Mark Surman, Mozilla’s executive director, said: “It’s a stake in the ground in terms of letting people know the ways they are being tracked. At Mozilla, we believe everyone should be in control of their user data and privacy and we want people to make informed decisions about their Web experience.”

Mozilla already offers users the ability to disable “cookies” – small files that download from websites onto a computer, allowing advertisers to target users based on their online activity – an option taken up by 18 per cent of UK Firefox users.

Lightbeam will reveal the source of the third-party adverts, scripts and images stored on a web page which are linked to servers in other domains. An expanding graph visualises the interactions between the sites a user intentionally visits and the third parties which may not be welcome.

Mozilla has come under “tremendous pressure” from trade bodies over its mission to bring transparency to the web, said Alex Fowler, the company’s Privacy Officer.

The software company said it was responding to increased privacy concerns following the revelation that the US National Security Agency (NSA) had tapped directly into the servers of Internet firms including Facebook, to track online communication in a surveillance programme.

Lightbeam reveals the source of third-party adverts

Firefox released a security upgrade after it emerged that the NSA was exploiting vulnerabilities in the browser to gain access to computers using Tor, a sophisticated anonymity tool.

But Mozilla insisted that Lightbeam itself will not compromise the privacy of users who agree to upload and share data. Lightbeam will not log IP addresses, the information will be aggregated anonymously and the software can be uninstalled, Mr Surman promised.

Lightbeam initially will only be available for desktop browsers. Apple has reportedly rejected from its store apps by developers which incorporate “cookie tracking” technology. “The whole mobile environment is closed,” Mr Surman said. “You have to go through Google and Apple for apps.”

Mozilla, which is developing its own tablet, Mr Surman disclosed, is hosting its UK Mozfest this weekend, a brain-storming “hack”, attended by 1,400 people.

Mr Surman said: “Our focus in on building a web based on openness and transparency. Our dream is a world where people know more about how the web works and take control of their lives online. We need a posse of people to get involved and make that happen.”

He accepted that some cookies can help consumers navigate sites by providing content relevant to the user but said it was important that tracking happens with a person’s knowledge.

Lightbeam is released ahead of “Stop Watching Us,” a “rally against mass surveillance” in response to the Snowden revelations, which will be held in Washington D.C. on Saturday.


Middle class poverty, USA: Women forced to sell their own hair, breast milk and eggs to make ends meet as economic recovery fails to raise wages

  • The top Google results for ‘I want to  sell my…’ have been ‘kidney,’ ‘eggs’ and ‘hair’ since 2011
  • Websites have sprung up that allow women  to post their hair and breast milk for sale online
  • Long locks of hair can fetch up to  $1,500
  • Breast milk can sell for $5 an ounce  online
  • Egg donations nets up to  $8,000

By  Michael Zennie

PUBLISHED: 18:25 EST, 15  October 2013 |  UPDATED: 18:31 EST, 15 October 2013

Thousands of women across the country are  turning their bodies into ATMs, selling their hair, eggs and even their breast  milk to make ends meet as the economic recovery fails to bring wages and job  opportunities back to pre-recession levels.

Many of the women who are auctioning off  pieces of themselves are middle-class mothers who are struggling to maintain the  same standard of living for their children five years after the biggest economic  crash since the Great Depression.

Online market places have sprung up, making  it easy for women to make up to $1,500 selling their locks and $5 an ounce for  breast milk.

Online marketplaces like Only the Breast have sprung up to allow women to sell their breast milk for up to $5 an ounce 

Online marketplaces like Only the Breast have sprung up  to allow women to sell their breast milk for up to $5 an ounce


The site buyandsellhair.com features hundreds of women, and a few men, who want to sell their locks 

The site buyandsellhair.com features hundreds of women,  and a few men, who want to sell their locks


Selling eggs, which is a much more  complicated and intrusive process, can net up to $8,000 per donation.

Bloomberg reports that since 2011, the top Google auto-completion results for ‘I want to  sell my…’ have included ‘hair,’ ‘eggs’ and ‘kidney.’

Google’s fill-in results reflect the most  popular searches by Google users.

‘The fact that people even explore it  indicates that there are still a lot of people worried about their financial  outlook,’ Nicholas Colas, who tracks economic indicators for ConvergEx Group,  told Bloomberg.

‘This is very much unlike every other  recovery that we’ve had. It’s going to be a slow-grinding, very frustrating  recovery.’

Selling kidneys is illegal in the United  States, though evidence suggests that black market organ sales exist. A  University of Chicago study suggested that kidneys could be worth more than  $15,200 each, if sales were legalized.

Egg donation, which is much more complicated and requires several trips to donation clinics, can bring $8,000 per donation 

Egg donation, which is much more complicated and  requires several trips to donation clinics, can bring $8,000 per  donation


April Hare, a 35-year-old mother of two who  has been out of work for two years, resorted to selling 18 inches of her auburn  hair to help support her family.

She told Bloomberg she cut off her long locks  and posted them on the website buyandsellhair.com for $1,000.

She had several responses within hours.

Hare, who has a four-month-old son and a  seven-year-old daughter, said she is also looking into selling her breast milk.  A similar site, onlythebreast.com, allows mothers to list their milk for sale  online. It can go for up to $5 an ounce.

‘These are tough times. The rich are getting  richer and everybody else is losing their jobs and their homes. It’s just  terrible,’ she said.

She previously worked as a sales manager  before losing her job in 2011.

Bridie MacDonald, from the wealthy Detroit  suburb of Farmington Hills, Michigan, cut off her red locks and posted them  online for $1,500 after she lost her job last month.

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2462103/Women-forced-sell-hair-breast-milk-eggs-make-ends-meet-economic-recovery-fails-improve-wages.html#ixzz2hr26Gxqz Follow us: @MailOnline on Twitter | DailyMail on Facebook

Bill Gates: Microsoft investors reportedly call for co-founder to depart

Unnamed investors said to be lobbying the board for the departure of Microsoft’s co-founder


Bill Gates: hints of pressure for him to step down.
Bill Gates: hints of pressure for him to step down. Photograph: Brendan McDermid/Reuters

Three of the top 20 investors in Microsoft are lobbying the board to press for Bill Gates to step down as chairman of the software company he co-founded 38 years ago, according to people familiar with matter.

The outgoing Microsoft chief executive Steve Ballmer has been under pressure for years to improve the company’s performance and share price, but this appears to be the first time that major shareholders are taking aim at Gates, who remains one of the most respected and influential figures in technology.

A representative for Microsoft declined to comment on Tuesday.

There is no indication that Microsoft’s board would heed the wishes of the three investors, who collectively hold more than 5% of the company’s stock, the sources say. They requested the identity of the investors be kept anonymous because the discussions are private.

Gates owns about 4.5% of the $277bn company and is its largest individual shareholder.

The three investors are concerned that Gates’s presence on the board effectively blocks the adoption of new strategies and would limit the power of a new chief executive to make substantial changes. In particular, they point to Gates’s role on the special committee searching for Ballmer’s successor.

They are also worried that Gates – who spends most of his time on his philanthropic foundation – wields power out of proportion to his declining shareholding.

Gates, who owned 49% of Microsoft before it went public in 1986, sells about 80m Microsoft shares a year under a pre-set plan, which if continued would leave him with no financial stake in the company by 2018.

Gates lowered his profile at Microsoft after he handed the chief executive role to Ballmer in 2000, giving up his day-to-day work there in 2008 to focus on the $38bn Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

In August, Ballmer said he would retire within 12 months, amid pressure from activist fund manager ValueAct Capital Management.

Microsoft is now looking for a replacement, though its board has said Ballmer’s strategy will go forward. He has focused on making devices, such as the Surface tablet and Xbox gaming console, and turning key software into services provided over the internet. Some investors say that a new chief should not be bound by that strategy.

News that some investors were pushing for Gates’s departure as chairman provoked mixed reactions from other shareholders.

“This is long overdue,” said Todd Lowenstein, a portfolio manager at HighMark Capital Management, which owns Microsoft shares. “Replacing the old guard with some fresh eyes can provide the oxygen needed to properly evaluate their corporate strategy.”

Kim Caughey Forrest, senior analyst at Fort Pitt Capital Group, suggested now was not the time for Microsoft to ditch Gates, and that he could even play a larger role.

“I’ve thought that the company has been missing a technology visionary,” she said. “Bill [Gates] would fit the bill.”

Microsoft is still one of the world’s most valuable technology companies, making a net profit of $22bn last fiscal year. But its core Windows computing operating system, and to a lesser extent the Office software suite, are under pressure from the decline in personal computers as smartphones and tablets grow more popular.

Shares of Microsoft have been essentially static for a decade, and the company has lost ground to Apple and Google in the move toward mobile computing.

One of the sources said Gates was one of the technology industry’s greatest pioneers, but the investors felt he was more effective as chief executive than as chairman.



Google chiefs travel on YOUR tax dollars after NASA sell them cut price fuel for their private jets

  • Investigation finds firm owned by Google execs keeps  jets at Nasa facility
  • There it  buys fuel at prices from a half to nearly a fifth of market  rate
  • Planes used  to jet off to exotic locations across the planet
  • Google says  arrangement has actually left Nasa $2million BETTER  OFF

By  Daily Mail Reporter

PUBLISHED: 04:42 EST, 25  September 2013 |  UPDATED: 07:14 EST, 25 September 2013

Google executives have been jetting across  the world in planes run on cheap fuel subsidised by Nasa and the U.S. Department  of Defense, an investigation has revealed.

A company owned by Google’s founders has  bought millions of dollars worth of jet fuel at below market prices from Nasa’s  Ames Research Center at Moffett Field, near San Francisco, California.

It has also emerged that keeping the planes  at the federal site has enabled the owners to avoid hefty property taxes,  potentially amounting to $500,000 per plane per year.

Larry PageGoogle Executive Chairman Eric SchmidtGoogle co-founder Sergey Brin in San Francisco on June 27, 2012

‘Sweetheart deal’: Google co-founders Sergey Brin, left,  and Larry Page, centre, and its executive chairman Eric Schmidt, right, are the  principals of H211, which owns seven private jets and buys cheap fuel direct  from Nasa

The investigation by NBC Bay Area News found that nearly $8million worth of fuel,  sold for as little as $1.68 a gallon, has been put into a fleet of seven  aircraft and two helicopters owned by H211.

The same fuel sells for two to nearly five  times that amount at other nearby airports in the Bay Area.

H211 is a limited liability company whose  principals are the also the principals of Google, including founders Larry Page  and Sergey Brin, and executive chairman Eric Schmidt.

The apparent sweetheart deal with the Google  men was made possible under a so-called Nasa Space Agreement allowing their  planes to be kept at Moffett Field since 2007.

The site happens to be less than three miles  from Google’s global headquarters.

H211 initially agreed to pay the space agency  $113,365.74 a month in rent – a price subsequently slashed to $108,938.62 a  month after it allowed Nasa to borrow the planes for experiments.

But figures seen by NBC in May last year  showed that of the 1,039 flights to date, only 155 were used for science.

Meanwhile, the planes, which include five  Gulfstream Vs, a Boeing 757 and a Boeing 767,  used below-market-rate fuel  to travel to such exotic destinations as London, Paris, Cancun, Scotland, Puerto  Vallarta, Hawaii, Liberia and Tahiti.

Keeping the jets at Moffett Field also gives  H211 a tax break. Property kept on federal sites is exempt from the tallying for  local property taxes, which means the company pays no county taxes on the  aircraft kept there.

Santa Clara County Assessor Lawrence Stone  told NBC that the exemption means that local government is losing out on  between  $400,000 and $500,000 in property taxes per plane per  year.

Hangar One at Moffett Field: Keeping the planes at the federal site has enabled the owners to avoid hefty property taxes, potentially amounting to $500,000 per plane per year, the investigation has foundHangar One at Moffett Field: Keeping the planes  at the  federal site has enabled the owners to avoid hefty property  taxes, potentially  amounting to $500,000 per plane per year, the  investigation has found

Jamie Court, the president and chairman of  Consumer Watchdog, called the arrangement ‘the greatest sweetheart deal in the  history of Nasa’.

‘There’s no reason these billionaires should  be getting cheaper gas, like the Army, when they’re not doing anything for the  government,’ he told NBC.

‘This is all a ruse to have a landing strip  to go party around the world at some of the nicest resorts and the nicest  parties with rock stars and celebrities.

‘And it’s all being financed by the  taxpayer.’

Conveniently located: The site happens to be less than three miles from Google's global headquartersConveniently located: The site happens to be less than  three miles from Google’s global headquarters

A spokesman for Nasa said the arrangement  gave the agency a ‘unique component of support’ for its earth science missions  to measure ozone and greenhouse gases.

Google referred NBC’s enquiries to H211,  whose vice president, Ken Ambrose, said that the company pays the full retail  cost for hangar space ‘that includes none of the ground support typically  included’ elsewhere.

He furthermore said that, far from the  taxpayer losing out, Nasa were in fact $2million better off thanks to the  deal.

Following enquiries from NBC Bay Area’s  journalists, the Department of Defense announced that the government will stop  selling jet fuel to H211 from August 31, 2013.

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2431602/Google-chiefs-travelling-taxpayer-cash-buying-cheap-fuel-Nasa.html#ixzz2fv0WJhEr Follow us: @MailOnline on Twitter | DailyMail on Facebook

Google teams up with Apple chairman to try to extend life

Google has teamed up with Apple’s chairman to launch a new company that will attempt to significantly increase the human lifespan.

A Google member of staff walks through the company headquarters in London, UK

Google’s chief executive hinted that the new company could look at curing cancer Photo: Bloomberg News

<!– remove the whitespace added by escenic before end of tag –>

6:53PM BST 18 Sep 2013

Calico will use biotechnology to tackle major illnesses and aging, the search giant announced on Tuesday.

The new company will be led by Arthur Levinson, who as well as being chairman of Apple and biotech firm Genentech, holds a PhD in biochemistry from Princeton and is also a member of the Biotech Hall of Fame.

Announcing the creation of Calico, Google chief executive Larry Page said: “Illness and aging affect all our families… from the decreased mobility and mental agility that comes with age, to life-threatening diseases that exact a terrible physical and emotional toll on individuals and families.

“With some longer term, moonshot thinking around healthcare and biotechnology, I believe we can improve millions of lives.”

The average life expectancy in the UK is 79 for men and 82 for women, according to the World Health Organisation.

Despite saying the venture is in its “early days”, Mr Page hinted that one of the illnesses Calico’s small team, based near Google’s headquarters in San Francisco, will look at is cancer.

According to Macmillan Cancer Support, more than a third of Brits will develop cancer at some point in their lives.

“We think of solving cancer as this huge thing that’ll totally change the world,” Mr Page told TIME magazine. “But when you really take a step back and look at it, yeah, there are many, many tragic cases of cancer, and it’s very, very sad, but in the aggregate, it’s not as big an advance as you might think.”

Calico is the latest example of Google moving away from its traditional internet business. It has branched out into mobile phones and hi-tech glasses and is also developing a self-driving car.

Mr Levinson said: “I’ve devoted much of my life to science and technology, with the goal of improving human health. Larry’s focus on outsized improvements has inspired me, and I’m tremendously excited about what’s next.”

Tim Cook, chief executive of Apple, added: “For too many of our friends and family, life has been cut short or the quality of their life is too often lacking. Art is one of the crazy ones who thinks it doesn’t have to be this way. There is no one better suited to lead this mission and I am excited to see the results.”

Yahoo chief Marissa Mayer said she feared winding up in prison for TREASON if she refused to comply with US spy demands for data

Yahoo CEO fears defying NSA could mean prison

12   Sep   2013

Yahoo chief Marissa Mayer said she feared winding up in prison for treason if she refused to comply with US spy demands for data.

Her comments came after being asked what she is doing to protect Yahoo users from “tyrannical government” during an on-stage interview at a TechCrunch Disrupt conference in San Francisco.

Mayer said Yahoo scrutinizes and fights US government data requests stamped with the authority of a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, but when the company losses battles it must do as directed or risk being branded a traitor.

Data requests authorized by the court come with an order barring anyone at the company receiving the request from disclosing anything about them, even their existence.

“If you don’t comply, it is treason,” Mayer said when asked why she couldn’t just spill details of requests by US spy agencies for information about Yahoo users.

“We can’t talk about it because it is classified,” she continued. “Releasing classified information is treason, and you are incarcerated. In terms of protecting our users, it makes more sense to work within the system.”

Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer speaks during the 2013 TechCrunch Disrupt conference on September 11, 2013 in San Francisco, California. The TechCruch Disrupt Conference runs through September 11. Justin Sullivan/Getty Images/AFP

Yahoo, Google, Facebook, and Microsoft are among Internet firms pushing for permission to disclose more details to users about demands for data made in the name of fighting terrorism or other threats.

Technology titans have been eager to bolster the trust of its users by making it clearer what has actually been demanded by and disclosed to US authorities.

“It is our government’s job to protect all of us and also protect our freedoms and protect the economy and protect companies,” said Facebook co-founder and chief Mark Zuckerberg said at TechCrunch Disrupt on Wednesday.

“Frankly, I think the government blew it.”

US intelligence officials declassified documents Tuesday revealing the National Security Agency violated privacy rules for three years when it sifted through phone records of Americans with no suspected links to terrorists.

The revelations raised fresh questions about the NSA’s ability to manage the massive amount of data it collects and whether the US government is able to safeguard the privacy of its citizens.

Yahoo, Google, Facebook, and Microsoft are among Internet firms pushing for permission to disclose more details to users about demands for data made in the name of fighting terrorism or other threats.

The government was forced to disclose the documents by a judge’s order after a Freedom of Information lawsuit filed by the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a non-profit group promoting digital privacy rights and free speech.

The foundation called the release of the documents a “victory” for transparency but intelligence officials said the papers illustrated how the spy service had made unintentional “mistakes” that were rectified under strict judicial oversight.

The release came after the scale of NSA spying was exposed in a series of bombshell media leaks in recent months by former US intelligence contractor Edward Snowden, who has been granted temporary asylum in Russia.

Documents divulged by Snowden have shown the NSA conducts a massive electronic dragnet, including trawling through phone records and online traffic, that has sometimes flouted privacy laws.

The declassified documents released on Tuesday shed light on friction between the NSA and the court, with judges castigating the agency for failing to abide by their orders and misrepresenting the nature of their data collection.


I always knew we had too many Departments


For all my Friends who had to endure ” Seven men will sink this ship” and ” Pay Attention to Detail ” can you spot the mistake ?

Discovered the document while reviewing other documents…. I had to blot out any pertinent info. You would think spell check would of spotted it, or maybe we should not be outsourcing our government stationary…

Ralph Turchiano

NSA paid millions to cover Prism compliance costs for tech companies

• Top-secret files show first evidence of financial relationship • Prism companies include Google and Yahoo, says NSA • Costs were incurred after 2011 Fisa court ruling


PRISM: 'really freaky'.

The material provides the first evidence of a financial relationship between the tech companies and the NSA.

The National Security Agency paid millions of dollars to cover the costs of major internet companies involved in the Prism surveillance program after a court ruled that some of the agency’s activities were unconstitutional, according to top-secret material passed to the Guardian.

The technology companies, which the NSA says includes Google, Yahoo, Microsoft and Facebook, incurred the costs to meet new certification demands in the wake of the ruling from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance (Fisa) court.

The October 2011 judgment, which was declassified on Wednesday by the Obama administration, found that the NSA’s inability to separate purely domestic communications from foreign traffic violated the fourth amendment.

While the ruling did not concern the Prism program directly, documents passed to the Guardian by whistleblower Edward Snowden describe the problems the decision created for the agency and the efforts required to bring operations into compliance. The material provides the first evidence of a financial relationship between the tech companies and the NSA.

The intelligence agency requires the Fisa court to sign annual “certifications” that provide the legal framework for surveillance operations. But in the wake of the court judgment these were only being renewed on a temporary basis while the agency worked on a solution to the processes that had been ruled illegal.

An NSA newsletter entry, marked top secret and dated December 2012, discloses the huge costs this entailed. “Last year’s problems resulted in multiple extensions to the certifications’ expiration dates which cost millions of dollars for Prism providers to implement each successive extension – costs covered by Special Source Operations,” it says.

Fisa 1

An NSA newsletter entry dated December 2012 disclosing the costs of new certification demands. Photograph: guardian.co.ukSpecial Source Operations, described by Snowden as the “crown jewel” of the NSA, handles all surveillance programs, such as Prism, that rely on “corporate partnerships” with telecoms and internet providers to access communications data.

The disclosure that taxpayers’ money was used to cover the companies’ compliance costs raises new questions over the relationship between Silicon Valley and the NSA. Since the existence of the program was first revealed by the Guardian and the Washington Post on June 6, the companies have repeatedly denied all knowledge of it and insisted they only hand over user data in response to specific legal requests from the authorities.

An earlier newsletter, which is undated, states that the Prism providers were all given new certifications within days of the Fisa court ruling. “All Prism providers, except Yahoo and Google, were successfully transitioned to the new certifications. We expect Yahoo and Google to complete transitioning by Friday 6 October.”

Fisa 2                An earlier undated newsletter after the Fisa court ruling on certifications. Photograph: guardian.co.ukThe Guardian invited the companies to respond to the new material and asked each one specific questions about the scale of the costs they incurred, the form of the reimbursement and whether they had received any other payments from the NSA in relation to the Prism program.

A Yahoo spokesperson said: “Federal law requires the US government to reimburse providers for costs incurred to respond to compulsory legal process imposed by the government. We have requested reimbursement consistent with this law.”

Asked about the reimbursement of costs relating to compliance with Fisa court certifications, Facebook responded by saying it had “never received any compensation in connection with responding to a government data request”.

Google did not answer any of the specific questions put to it, and provided only a general statement denying it had joined Prism or any other surveillance program. It added: “We await the US government’s response to our petition to publish more national security request data, which will show that our compliance with American national security laws falls far short of the wild claims still being made in the press today.”

Microsoft declined to give a response on the record.

The responses further expose the gap between how the NSA describes the operation of its Prism collection program and what the companies themselves say.

Prism operates under section 702 of the Fisa Amendments Act, which authorises the NSA to target without a warrant the communications of foreign nationals believed to be not on US soil.

But Snowden’s revelations have shown that US emails and calls are collected in large quantities in the course of these 702 operations, either deliberately because the individual has been in contact with a foreign intelligence target or inadvertently because the NSA is unable to separate out purely domestic communications.

Last week, the Washington Post revealed documents from Snowden that showed the NSA breached privacy rules thousands of times a year, in the face of repeated assurances from Barack Obama and other senior intelligence figures that there was no evidence of unauthorised surveillance of Americans.

The newly declassified court ruling, by then chief Fisa judge John Bates, also revealed serious issues with how the NSA handled the US communications it was sweeping up under its foreign intelligence authorisations.

The judgment revealed that the NSA was collecting up to 56,000 wholly US internet communications per year in the three years until the court intervened. Bates also rebuked the agency for misrepresenting the true scope of a major collection program for the third time in three years.

The NSA newsletters say the agency’s response to the ruling was to work on a “conservative solution in which higher-risk collection would be sequestered”. At the same time, one entry states, the NSA’s general counsel was considering filing an appeal.

The Guardian informed the White House, the NSA and the office of the director of national intelligence that it planned to publish the documents and asked whether the spy agency routinely covered all the costs of the Prism providers and what the annual cost was to the US.

The NSA declined to comment beyond requesting the redaction of the name of an individual staffer in one of the documents.

UPDATE: After publication, Microsoft issued a statement to the Guardian on Friday afternoon.

A spokesperson for Microsoft, which seeks reimbursement from the government on a case-by-case basis, said: “Microsoft only complies with court orders because it is legally ordered to, not because it is reimbursed for the work. We could have a more informed discussion of these issues if providers could share additional information, including aggregate statistics on the number of any national security orders they may receive.”



Internet Companies Paid Millions for Spying Activity



(CN) – The National Security Agency paid millions of dollars to Internet companies like Google, Yahoo!, Microsoft and Facebook to cover costs of its PRISM surveillance program, according to secret documents obtained by The Guardian and published on its website.

The money was paid even after the agency’s activities were ruled unconstitutional by a secret court known as the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, according the documents provided to the newspaper by Edward Snowden.

The so-called FISC court was to sign annual “certifications” of approval, but such certifications were only renewed temporarily while the agency sought a solution to what was ruled to be the over-collection of information that FISC Judge John Bates ruled unconstitutional on Oct. 3, 2013.

The order and two others by Bates were declassified two days ago.

“Last year’s problems resulted in multiple extensions to the Certifications’ expiration dates which cost millions of dollars for PRISM providers to implement each successive extension — costs covered by Special Source Operations,” said a December 2012 memo posted by the English newspaper.

Special Source Operations oversees the agency’s surveillance programs, including PRISM., to off-set costs associated with accessing Internet providers’ data, the paper reported.

The Internet companies have repeatedly denied any knowledge of the surveillance program.

An undated newsletter, also posted on Friday, says PRISM providers were given new “certifications” within days of the FISC ruling.

“All Prism providers, except Yahoo and Google, were successfully were successfully transitioned to the new certifications,” the memo reads. “We expect Yahoo and Google to complete transitioning by Friday 6 Oct.”

A Yahoo! Spokesman told The Guardian that it has requested reimbursement from the federal government for costs incurred to respond to requests. Google gave the paper only a “general statement” denying it had joined PRISM.

Microsoft told the paper that it only complies with court orders for information because it is ordered to, not because it is reimbursed on a case-by-case basis.

Bates’ October 2011 ruling showed that the NSA had collected up to 56,000 communications a year in three years. He accused the agency of misrepresenting the real scope of the program and collecting data that went beyond what was represented: domestic communications from foreign traffic.

The NSA has disclosed that it gathered 250 million Internet communications a year, and that 9 percent of those come from “upstream channels” of up to 25 million emails a year.

On Monday, the American Civil Liberties Union, which sued the federal government in Manhattan Federal Court over its alleged spying activities, is expected to provide the court an opening brief for preliminary injunction. The government, meanwhile, is expected to provide a motion to dismiss.


CNN boss Jeff Zucker’s son, 15, resigns hours after it’s revealed Cory Booker’s start up put him on the advisory board and gave him stock options

  • Cory Booker helped found a video  aggregation start up site called Waywire
  • Financial disclosure forms show that he  appointed Jeff Zucker’s 15-year-old son Andrew on the company’s advisory  board
  • Andrew has since quit after his role was  publicized
  • Google’s Eric Schmidt and Booker pal  Oprah Winfrey are both investors
  • Booker is now running for the empty New  Jersey Senate spot

By  Daily Mail Reporter

PUBLISHED: 12:36 EST, 7  August 2013 |  UPDATED: 17:03 EST, 7 August 2013

The 15-year-old son of CNN president Jeff  Zucker has resigned from his position on the advisory board of Cory Booker’s  start-up after it was revealed that the teenager had a leadership role in the  company and receiving stock options for his work.

Hours after the news broke that Zucker’s  teenage son Andrew was listed as a member of the video aggregation start-up, a  CNN spokesman said that he resigned from the company.

The spokesperson also made a concerted effort  to distance Booker, the current Newark mayor who is running for the open New  Jersey Senate seat, from the decision to bring the younger Zucker on board.

Her idea: Sarah Ross is said to be the one who approached Jeff Zucker's son Andrew (seen with his father at left in 2009) to be a member of the advisory board of Cory Booker's start-up WaywireConnected: Andrew Zucker, who is now 14 but is pictured here with his father Jeff in 2009, is listed as a member of Waywire's advisory board


Her idea: Sarah Ross is said to be the one who  approached Jeff Zucker’s son Andrew (seen with his father at left in 2009) to be  a member of the advisory board of Cory Booker’s start-up Waywire


Public face: Cory Booker, the current mayor of Newark, New Jersey who is now running for Senate, is the founder of a video aggregation start up and he stands to make $1million to $5million out of the company 

Public face: Cory Booker, the current mayor of Newark,  New Jersey who is now running for Senate, is the founder of a video aggregation  start up and he stands to make $1million to $5million out of the  company

They said instead that it was Sarah Ross, a  tech executive with close ties to Silicon Valley, who approached Andrew and  asked him to provide some analysis for the Booker’s start-up Waywire because the  teenager is apparently known for his insight into popular trends among  teens.

Teenage tech whiz: Andrew Zucker, seen in 2009, resigned from his post on the company's board hours after the news broke 

Teenage tech whiz: Andrew Zucker, seen in 2009, resigned  from his post on the company’s board hours after the news broke


CNN  Money reported on Wednesday that  Andrew’s name was suggested to Ms Ross by another Waywire board member after  they heard that the teen had been helping his dad when it came to tech branding  issues for the cable news giant.

Ms Ross then had a conversation with both  Jeff and Andrew Zucker and they agreed to have the now-15-year-old sign on to  Waywire’s advisory board and receive a ‘de minimus’ amount of stock options in  return.

An unidentified source told CNN Money that  Booker himself was ‘not involved at all’ with the decision, and Ms Ross herself  admitted at an early stage that the politician would not be a part of the  day-to-day operations of the start up.

The New York Times reports that even in the  nascent phase, it was clear among the founders that Booker would be a more  public role.

When the launched the company, Ms Ross  reportedly said to Booker: ‘You know  what? You should do it, found the company.  Obviously you don’t have to  be involved — you’ve got a full-time job. But found  the company.’

The financial disclosure indicates that his  ownership stake could earn him  anywhere between $1million and $5million, but  the company does not  appear anywhere near ready to turn over such a profit.


Unlike many of the other boldface names  connected to Waywire, like Oprah Winfrey and Google’s Eric Schmidt, it does not  seem as if the elder Zucker actually has any financial stake in the company.


Very little has previously been revealed  about the start up, which was officially created in May 2012.

Promoting the brand: If Booker wins, he will have to resign from the board of Waywire and stop promoting it from his well-followed Twitter feed 

Promoting the brand: If Booker wins, he will have to  resign from the board of Waywire and stop promoting it from his well-followed  Twitter feed


Famous funders: Google's Eric Schmidt (left) was the first one to invest money in Waywire, and Booker's close friend Oprah Winfrey (right) followed shortly afterFamous funders: Google's Eric Schmidt (left) was the first one to invest money in Waywire, and Booker's close friend Oprah Winfrey (right) followed shortly after

Famous funders: Google’s Eric Schmidt (left) was the  first one to invest money in Waywire, and Booker’s close friend Oprah Winfrey  (right) followed shortly after


Now The New York Times was able to shed some light on the company’s structure because Booker  had to  submit a financial report showing his ownership of the company  due to the  stipulations for Senate candidates.

Booker reportedly came up with the idea for  the company, whose mission is to  effectively become a different iteration of  YouTube where the work of  up-and-coming students is highlighted, while meeting  with Ms Ross and  Nathan Richardson.

Ms Ross  is best known for her work behind  the social media scenes, and is  credited by The Times as being the one that  helped Ashton Kutcher  achieve his record-breaking number of followers.

‘I see high school kids who are doing  incredible videos, but their voices  are not breaking into the national  conversation,’ Booker said of his  inspiration for Waywire.

Connected: Sarah Ross, seen here talking with Booker and trailed by Mark Zuckerberg, is well known in Silicon Valley 

Connected: Sarah Ross, seen here talking with Booker and  trailed by Mark Zuckerberg, is well known in Silicon Valley


Booker’s involvement in the project has not  been a secret, as he used his name  and public image as a way to gain more than  a million dollars from early investors.

He said it was  easy to raise the  $1.75million worth of seed money for the venture  ‘because of the power of the  idea’. He said nothing of his rising power  on the national political stage.

Schmidt was the first investor in the  company, and Booker’s close friend Oprah followed suit.

For Booker’s part, he may not be able to be  involved in the company much  longer. If he wins the Senate race in November, he  will be forced to  withdraw from Waywire’s board.

The Times reports that they already had to go  through a round of layoffs, but two staffers taht are still around are Andrew  Zucker and an unidentified son of one of a Booker supporter who is now employed  by Booker’s Senate campaign.

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2386372/Cory-Bookers-video-start-CNN-president-Jeff-Zuckers-14-year-old-son-companys-advisory-board-gave-stock-options.html#ixzz2bM6TbLeT Follow us: @MailOnline on Twitter | DailyMail on Facebook

Billionaire Google Board Member Is Latest Victim Of “Guccifer” Hacking Rampage / “i wear glasses right now an I have 2 zillion + in my bank accounts:))”

Add a billionaire Silicon Valley titan to the growing list of public figures victimized by the hacker “Guccifer.”

Venture capitalist John Doerr had his AOL account breached several days ago by the same hacker responsible for illegally accessing the

e-mails of Colin Powell, former White House aide Sidney Blumenthal, and assorted Bush family members (among others).

Doerr, 61, is a general partner at Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, the powerhouse venture capital firm. Doerr, whose net worth Forbes pegs at $2.7 billion, has worked closely with firms like Google, Amazon, Twitter, and Groupon, and has been a member of Google’s board of directors since May 1999.

Doerr’s AOL account was broken into last week by “Guccifer,” who sent unsolicited e-mails to TSG from the compromised account. “do you like my new face?” the hacker wrote in one e-mail. “i wear glasses right now an I have 2 zillion + in my bank accounts:))” Doerr is pictured above.

During his months-long spree, “Guccifer” has employed a series of “burner” e-mail accounts, and has also sent correspondence while “inside” e-mail accounts he has breached (including those of Doerr; John Negroponte, former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations; and the wife of a Hollywood actor).

To prove that he controlled Doerr’s AOL account, “Guccifer” forwarded a screen grab of a page from its “Contacts” section that listed e-mail addresses and/or

phone numbers for several Kleiner Perkins officials, as well as Doerr associates like author Walter Isaacson and AOL co-founder Steve Case. The “Guccifer” screen grab also showed that the Doerr account contained at least 5000 e-mails.

Doerr did not reply to a TSG e-mail seeking comment about “Guccifer”’s illegal access of his AOL account.

Doerr is not the first Kleiner Perkins figure to be victimized by the hacker. Powell has served as a “strategic adviser” to the firm since July 2005. After breaching the former Secretary of State’s AOL account earlier this month, “Guccifer” had access to correspondence from Kleiner Perkins partners and even confidential tax documents provided to Powell by the firm.


Employer Tipped Off Police To Pressure Cooker And Backpack Searches, Not Google


EEV: Updated:2 AUG 2013 Current article proceeds : Still does not explain how the FBI does not know that quinoa is not a typical bomb making material.


Alexia Tsotsis

Alexia Tsotsis is the co-editor of TechCrunch. She attended the University of Southern California in Los Angeles, CA, majoring in Writing and Art, and moved to New York City shortly after graduation to work in the media industry.  After four years of living in New York and attending courses at New York University, she returned to Los Angeles in…

Screen Shot 2013-08-01 at 3.46.53 PM

In what might be Medium‘s first widespread Twitter moment, music writer Michele Catalano used the platform to blog details of an unexpected visit to her home yesterday, from six men she identifies as members of the “joint terrorism task force.”

Catalano asserts that the visit was likely prompted by her husband searching for the term “backpacks” in close conjunction with her searching for the term “pressure cookers” and her son reading the news. Or something.

Turns out the visit was prompted by the searches, but not in the way most speculation asserted – by a law enforcement-initiated, NSA-enabled dragnet of the couple’s web history. It turns out either Catalano or her husband were conducting these searches from a work computer. And that employer, “a Bay Shore based computer company,” called the police on their former employee.

The Suffolk County Police Department has just released the following information related to the case:

Suffolk County Criminal Intelligence Detectives received a tip from a Bay Shore based computer company regarding suspicious computer searches conducted by a recently released employee.  The former employee’s computer searches took place on this employee’s workplace computer.   On that computer, the employee searched the terms “pressure cooker bombs” and “backpacks.”

After interviewing the company representatives, Suffolk County Police Detectives visited the subject’s home to ask about the suspicious internet searches. The incident was investigated by Suffolk County Police Department’s Criminal Intelligence Detectives and was determined to be non-criminal in nature.

Any further inquiries regarding this matter should be directed to the Suffolk County Police Department

From what we can glean from LinkedIn, the computer company referenced above may be Speco Technologies, where Catalano’s husband Todd Pinnell worked as a product manager until last April (we’ve called Speco to confirm). This should be a teachable moment to anyone who thinks that their work computers are somehow not being tracked.

While Google’s, or PRISM‘s, tracking of  Internet activity wasn’t behind this incident, the fact is that Google does comply with law enforcement to hand over user data in general. Can the FBI or local police provide a search warrant to Google, and would Google possibly comply with such a request? Yes, and the company publishes all requests in a report every six months. This is nothing new.


And wider requests, like for the months of search history that would be needed to figure out the pressure cooker and backpack coincidence, may result in a push to narrow the scope of the investigation from Google’s end.

But, an industry source confirms, it doesn’t work the other way around: i.e. Google isn’t flagging searches for “pressure cooker” + “backpacks” for the cops.

It’d be crazy if it did though.

Update: Catalano confirms this interpretation of the story. For those of you wondering where we got the press release: I called the Suffolk County Police Department for a statement, and they emailed it to me.


Original Article:

 Woman believes feds searched her home because family googled backpacks and  pressure cookers

  • Michele Catalano, a writer for Forbes,  published an account of the raid today
  • She believes it was her families recent  Google searches that prompted the visit
  • The FBI, Nassau and Suffolk County Police  Department have denied responsibility in the search

By  Ashley Collman

PUBLISHED: 16:57 EST, 1  August 2013 |  UPDATED: 17:19 EST, 1 August 2013

Suspicious: Michele Catalano believes her family's Google searches caused a 'Joint Terrorism Task Force' to visit her houseSuspicious: Michele Catalano believes her family’s  Google searches caused a ‘Joint Terrorism Task Force’ to visit her  house

A Long Island woman believes her family’s  recent Google searches caused a Wednesday morning visit by federal  agents.

Michele Catalano, a writer for Forbes,  published an account of what happened on Medium today,  saying six plain-clothes cops showed up at her home, and proceeded to interview  her husband about pressure cookers and search her house.

She believes her ‘news junkie’ son reading  articles on the Boston Bombings, coupled with her hunt for a pressure cooker and  her husband’s online shopping for a backpack created the ‘perfect storm of  terrorism profiling.’

But so far the FBI, Nassau County and Suffolk  County Police Departments have denied their part in the call.

While she wasn’t at home at the time, her  husband was when three black SUVs drove up to their house and the cops exited  and started to approach their property, flashing badges with handguns in their  holsters.

Her husband went outside to meet the men and  complied with their request to look around the house and backyard.

They walked around the living room, looked at  books and pictures, and petted their dogs.

When they asked to go into the son’s room,  her husband said he was sleeping and they left him alone.

They also interviewed him, asking about where  he was from, where his wife was, and if they had any bombs. They  also asked about whether they owned a pressure cooker.

Her husband said no, but that they had a rice  cooker.

‘Can you make a bomb with that?’ they asked.

He told them his wife used it to make quinoa.

‘What the hell is quinoa?’ they asked.

What the hell is quinoa? After asking whether the family had a pressure cooker, Catalano's husband said they only have a rice cooker to cook quinoa. The officers were mystified by the ancient grainWhat the hell is quinoa? After asking whether the family  had a pressure cooker, Catalano’s husband said they only have a rice cooker to  cook quinoa. The officers were mystified by the ancient grain

Catalano said that ‘by this point they  realized they were not dealing with terrorists and the men wrapped their search  up.

Her husband called her immediately after,  laughing about the incident, but Catalano didn’t see the humor.

She said she felt a ‘great sense of anxiety’  when she realized that ‘this is where we are at.’

‘Where you have no expectation of privacy.  Where trying to learn how to cook some lentils could possibly land you on a  terrorism watch list,’ she wrote.

The FBI confirmed the visit to  The Guardian,  but said their officers weren’t involved.

A spokesman said it was Nassau County Police  officers working in conjunction with the Suffolk County Police  Department.

But a Nassau County police spokesman told  MailOnline they weren’t involved.

‘We did not, did not, go out to this  woman’s home,’ police spokesman James Imperiale said. ‘What agency went I  couldn’t tell you. I don’t know.’

A Suffolk County Police spokesman referred  media back to the FBI.

If the search were truly carried out due to  suspicious Google searches, it would have required a warrant.

In a company report on  transparency, Google detailed how  they deal with law enforcement officials looking for evidence online.

‘The government needs legal process—such as a  subpoena, court order or  search warrant—to force Google to disclose user  information. Exceptions  can be made in certain emergency cases, though even  then the government  can’t force Google to disclose.’

Which has led some to question the validity  of Ms Catalano’s story.

Today, she took to Twitter, writing that she  wasn’t giving interviews to the media.

‘I’ll say it once: I didn’t make it up,’ she  wrote. ‘Thanks to those defending my integrity.’

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2382791/Woman-believes-feds-searched-home-family-googled-backpacks-pressure-cookers.html#ixzz2amTvpWqN Follow us: @MailOnline on Twitter | DailyMail on Facebook

Little known search engine that refuses to store data on users doubles web traffic amid NSA tapping scandal

  • DuckDuckGo, based in Pennsylvania, does not  share user data with sites
  • This means fewer advertisements and results  that are not skewed for users
  • Firm saw web traffic double in the wake of  Snowden NSA tapping leak

By  Helen Collis

PUBLISHED: 03:43 EST, 11  July 2013 |  UPDATED: 10:44 EST, 11 July 2013

Web-users who want to protect their privacy  have been switching to a small unheard of search engine in the wake of the  ‘Prism’ revelations.

DuckDuckGo, the little known U.S. company,  sets itself aside from its giant competitors such as Google and Yahoo, by not  sharing any of its clients’ data with searched websites. This means no targeted  advertising and no skewed search results.

Aside from the reduced ads, this unbiased and  private approach to using the internet is appealing to users angered at the news  that U.S. and UK governments (the National Security Agency (NSA) in the U.S. and  GCHQ in the UK), have direct access to the servers of big search engine  companies, allowing them to ‘watch’ users.

At just 33, DuckDuckGo founder and CEO, Gabriel Weinberg has tapped into a niche market - offering Internet users real privacy when searching the world wide web 

At just 33, DuckDuckGo founder and CEO, Gabriel Weinberg  has tapped into a niche market – offering Internet users real privacy when  searching the world wide web

Within just two weeks of the NSA’s operations  being leaked by former employee Edward Snowden, DuckDuckGo’s traffic had doubled  – from serving 1.7million searches a day, to 3million.

‘We started seeing an increase right when the  story broke, before we were covered in the press,’ said Gabriel Weinberg,  founder and CEO, speaking to The  Guardian.

Entrepreneur Mr Weinberg had the idea for the  company in 2006,  while taking time out to do a stained-glass making  course. He had just sold successful start-up Opobox, similar to Friends  Reunited, for $10million (£6.76million) to Classmates.com.


While on the course he realised that the  teacher’s ‘useful web links’ did not tally up with Google’s search results, and  realised the extent of the personalised skewing of results per user.

From there he had the idea to develop a  ‘better’ search engine, that does not share any user information with any  websites whatsoever.

Search data, he told the paper, ‘is arguably  the most personal data people are entering into anything. You’re typing in your  problems, your desires. It’s not the same as things you post publicly on a  social network.’

DuckDuckGo, named after an American  children’s tag game Duck Duck Goose (though not a metaphor), was solo-founded by  Mr Weinberg in 2008, in Valley Forge, Pennsylvania.

He self-funded it until 2011 when Union  Square Ventures, which also backs Twitter, Tumblr, Foursquare and Kickstarter,  and a handful of angel investors, came on board.

Leak impact: It appears to some, privacy really does matter 

Leak impact: It appears to some, privacy really does  matter, as DuckDuckGo’s user-figures show. Just two weeks after the June 6  revelations, searchers were up 90 per cent

The team  has expanded to a few  full-time people, many part-time contributors and a bunch of open-source  contributors.

‘If you’re wondering how you would turn that  into a verb…Duck it!’ he says on the company website.

The 33-year-old CEO, who lives in Paoli, a  suburb of Philadelphia, PA, with his wife and two children, explains that when  other search engines are used, your search terms are sent to that site you  clicked on; this sharing of information is known as ‘search leakage’.

‘For example, when you search for something  private, you are sharing that private search not only with your search engine,  but also with all the sites that you clicked on (for that search),’ he points  out on his website.

‘In addition, when you visit any site, your  computer automatically sends information about it to that site (including your  User agent and IP address). This information can often be used to identify you  directly.

‘So when you do that private search, not only  can those other sites know your search terms, but they can also know that you  searched it. It is this combination of available information about you that  raises privacy concerns,’ he says.

Edward Snowden 

Within two weeks of NSA’s  operations being leaked by  former employee Edward Snowden (pictured), DuckDuckGo’s  traffic had doubled –  from 1.7million searches a day to  3million

The company offers a search engine, like  Google, but which does not traffic users, which has less spam and clutter, that  showcases ‘better instant answers’, and that does not put users in a ‘filter  bubble’ meaning results are biased towards particular users.

Currently, 50 per cent of DuckDuckGo’s users  are from the U.S., 45 per cent from Europe and the remaining 5 per cent from  Asia-Pacific (APAC).

On June 3, the company reported it  had more  than 19million direct queries per month and the zero-click Info API gets over  9million queries per day.

It has partnerships with apps, browsers and  distributions that include  DuckDuckGo as a search option: Browsers,  distributions, iOS, and  Android. Companies can use DuckDuckGo for their site  search, and the  firm offers an open API for Instant Answers based on its open  source  DuckDuckHack platform.

Speaking on U.S. radio channel, American  Public Media, Mr Weinberg said:  ‘Companies like DuckDuckGo have sprung in the  last couple years to cater to the growing number of data dodgers.

‘There’s pent up demand for companies that do  not track you,’ he says.

User feedback on the company website say the  search engine reminds them of the early days of using Google; it’s like an  ‘honorable search site to complement Wikipedia’; and other are ‘amazed’ that a  search engine company is ‘doing exactly the right thing’.

Critics of the company remain cautious of the  sudden surge in success, however, pointing out that 3million searches per day is  just a ‘drop in the ocean’ compared with the 13billion searches Google does  every day.

Writing on his website, Danny Sullivan, who  runs the Search Engine Land site and analyses the industry, said big companies  like Ask.com and Yahoo had tried pro-privacy pushes before and failed to  generate huge interest.

Perhaps in the wake of the NSA and GCHQ  revelations, however, users may think twice about their search engine  provider.


User feedback on the company website say  the search  engine reminds them of the early days of using Google; it’s  like an ‘honorable  search site to complement Wikipedia’; and other are  ‘amazed’ that a search  engine company is ‘doing exactly the right

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2360059/DuckDuckGo-little-known-search-engine-refuses-store-data-users-doubles-web-traffic-amid-NSA-tapping-scandal.html#ixzz2Ykqbxle7 Follow us: @MailOnline on Twitter | DailyMail on Facebook

Germany’s top security official: stop using American websites if you fear US eavesdropping

German minister: drop Google if you fear US spying

Wednesday Jul 03, 2013   |   The Associated Press

BERLIN (AP) — Germany’s top security official says Internet users worried about their data being intercepted by U.S. intelligence agencies should stop using American websites such as Google and Facebook.

Leaked revelations about the U.S. National Security Agency’s wholesale information on foreign web users has prompted outrage in Europe and calls for tighter international rules on data protection.

Interior Minister Hans-Peter Friedrich told reporters in Berlin on Wednesday that “whoever fears their communication is being intercepted in any way should use services that don’t go through American servers.”

Friedrich says German officials are in touch with their U.S. counterparts “on all levels” and a delegation is scheduled to fly to Washington next week to discuss the claims that ordinary citizens and even European diplomats were being spied upon.



We’ll be uploading our entire MINDS to computers by 2045 and our bodies will be replaced by machines within 90 years, Google expert claims

  • Ray Kurzweil,  director of engineering at Google,  believes we will be able to upload our entire brains to computers within the  next 32 years – an event known as singularity
  • Our ‘fragile’ human body parts will be  replaced by machines by the turn of the century
  • And if these predictions comes true, it  could make humans immortal

By  Victoria Woollaston

PUBLISHED: 09:22 EST, 19  June 2013 |  UPDATED: 09:22 EST, 19 June 2013

In just over 30 years, humans will be able to  upload their entire minds to computers and become digitally immortal – an event  called singularity – according to a futurist from Google.

Ray Kurzweil, director of engineering at  Google, also claims that the biological parts of our body will be replaced with  mechanical parts and this could happen as early as 2100.

Kurweil made the claims during his conference  speech at the Global Futures 2045 International Congress in New York at the  weekend.

Scroll down  for video

Ray Kurzweil - director of engineering at Google - claims that by 2045 humans will be able to upload their entire minds to computers and become digitally immortal - an event called singularity 

Ray Kurzweil – director of engineering at Google –  claims that by 2045 humans will be able to upload their entire minds to  computers and become digitally immortal – an event called singularity. He made  the statement at the Global Futures 2045 International Congress in New York


Technological singularity is the development  of  ‘superintelligence’ brought about through the use of technology.

The first use of the term ‘singularity’ refer  to technological minds was by mathematician John von Neumann. Neumann in the  mid-1950s.

He said: ‘ever accelerating progress of  technology and changes in the mode of human life, which gives the appearance of  approaching some essential singularity in the history of the race beyond which  human affairs, as we know them, could not continue.’

The term was then used by science fiction  writer Vernor Vinge who believesbrain-computer interfaces are causes of the  singularity.

Ray Kurzweil cited von Neumann’s use of the  term in a foreword to von Neumann’s classic The Computer and the  Brain.

Kurzweil predicts the singularity to occur  around 2045 while Vinge predicts it will happen before  2030.

The conference was created by Russian  multimillionaire Dmitry Itskov and featured visonary talks about how the world  will look by 2045.

Kurzweil said: ‘Based on conservative  estimates of the amount of computation you need to functionally simulate a human  brain, we’ll be able to expand the scope  of our intelligence a  billion-fold.’

He referred to Moore’s Law that states the  power of computing doubles, on average, every two years quoting the developments  from genetic sequencing and 3D printing.

In Kurweil’s book, The Singularity Is Near,  he plots this development and journey towards singularity in a graph.


This singularity is also referred to as  digital immortality because brains and a person’s intelligence will be digitally  stored forever, even after they die.

He also added that this will be possible  through neural engineering and referenced the recent strides made towards  modeling the brain and technologies which can replace biological  functions.

Examples of such technology given  by LiveScience include the cochlear implant – an implant that is attached to the brain’s  cochlear nerve and electronically stimulates it to restore hearing to someone  who is deaf.

Other examples include technology that can  restore motor skills after the nervous system is damaged.

Also at the conference, Ray Kurzweil, pictured, said that 'frail, biological parts' of human bodies will be replaced with 'non-biological' parts in the future.  

Ray Kurzweil, pictured, said that ‘frail, biological parts’ of human bodies will be replaced with ‘non-biological’ parts in the future. He added that the non-biological part will become so powerful it can completely model and understand the biological part and make it redundant

Earlier this year, doctors from Cornell  University used 3D printing to create a prosthetic ear using cells of  cartilage.

A solid plastic mould was printed and then  filled with high-density collagen gel.The researchers then added cartilage cells  into the collagen matrix.

Kurweil was invited to the conference because  he has previously written books around the idea of singularity.

Expanding on this idea Martine Rothblatt, CEO  of biotech company United Therapeutics introduced the idea of  ‘mindclones’.

These are digital versions of humans  that  can live forever and can create ‘mindfiles’ that are a place to store aspects of  our personalities.

She said it would run on a kind of software  for consciousness and told The Huffington  Post: ‘The first company that  develops mindware will have  [as much success as] a thousand  Googles.’

Rothblatt added that the presence of mindware  could lead to replacing other parts of the body with ‘non-biological’ parts.

During Kurzweil's conference talk, and in his book The Singularity Is Near, he refers to Moore's Law of Computing, pictured. 

During Kurzweil’s conference talk, and in his book The  Singularity Is Near, he refers to Moore’s Law of Computing, pictured. The law  claims that the power of computing doubles, on average, every two years which  puts us on course for singularity by 2045

This is a concept that Kurweil also discussed  and was the basis of his book Fantastic Voyage.

In this book he discusses immortality and how  he believes the human body will develop.

He said: ‘We’re going to become increasingly  non-biological to the point where the non-biological part dominates and the  biological part is not important any more.

‘In fact the non-biological part – the  machine part – will be so powerful it can completely model and understand the  biological part. So even if that biological part went away it wouldn’t make any  difference.




An avatar system that can help schizophrenics  control the voices in their heads is being developed by British  researchers.

As part of the therapy, patients create an  avatar by choosing a face and a voice for the person, or persons, they believe  are inside their head.

Therapists can then encourage the patients to  oppose the avatar and force it away, which boosts their confidence in dealing  with their hallucinations.

The first stage in the therapy is for  the  patient to create a computer-based avatar, by choosing the face and  voice of  the entity they believe is talking to them.

The system then synchronises the  avatar’s  lips with its speech, enabling a therapist to speak to the  patient through the  avatar in real-time.

The therapist encourages the patient to  oppose the voice and gradually teaches them to take control of their  hallucinations.

The avatar doesn’t address the patients’  delusions directly but the study found the hallucinations improve as an  overall effect of the therapy.

This is because patients  can interact with the avatar as though it was a real person, because they  have  created it, but they know it cannot harm them.

Many of the voices heard by schizophrenics  threaten to kill or harm them and their family.

‘We’ll also have non-biological bodies – we  can create bodies with nano technology, we can create virtual bodies and virtual  reality in which the virtual reality will be as realistic as the actual reality.

‘The virtual bodies will be as detailed and  convincing as real bodies.

‘We do need a body, our intelligence is  directed towards a body but it doesn’t have to be this frail, biological body  that is subject to all kinds of failure modes.

‘But I think we’ll have a choice of bodies,  we’ll certainly be routinely changing our parent body through virtual reality  and today you can have a different body in something like Second Life, but it’s  just a picture on the screen.

‘Research has shown that people actually  begin to subjectively identify with their avatar.

‘But in the future it’s not going to be a  little picture in a virtual environment you’re looking at. It will feel like  this is your body and you’re in that environment and your body is the virtual  body and it can be as realistic as real reality.

‘So we’ll be routinely able to change our  bodies very quickly as well as our environments. If we had radical life  extension only we would get profoundly bored and we would run out of thing to do  and new ideas.

‘In additional to radical life extension  we’re going to have radical life expansion.

‘We’re going to have million of virtual  environments to explore that we’re going to literally expand our brains – right  now we only have 300 million patterns organised in a grand hierarchy that we  create ourselves.

‘But we could make that 300 billion or 300  trillion. The last time we expanded it with the frontal cortex we created  language and art and science. Just think of the qualitative leaps we can’t even  imagine today when we expand our near cortex again.’

VIDEO: Ray Kurzweil – Immortality by 2045

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-2344398/Google-futurist-claims-uploading-entire-MINDS-computers-2045-bodies-replaced-machines-90-years.html#ixzz2Wrb7595l Follow us: @MailOnline on Twitter | DailyMail on Facebook

We want to put a KILL SWITCH into your PHONE, say Feds


The only good mobe is a dead mobe

By Bill Ray

Posted in Security, 14th June 2013 11:44 GMT

Magic Quadrant for Enterprise Backup/Recovery

US law enforcement is calling for a mandatory kill switch on all mobiles, enabling the shut down of stolen phones in the hope of rendering them worthless.

Mobile phone theft keeps rising, with one in three US robberies involving mobile kit, apparently. A coalition of US law enforcement agencies calling itself “Secure our Smartphones” is therefore calling for manufacturers to take responsibility for their products – to the point of reaching out and locking them down if they get nicked.

This plays nicely into the hands of Apple, whose latest mobile OS (announced last week) coincidentally has exactly that feature. Samsung has promised something similar, and both Google and Microsoft came along to the Smartphone Summit to talk about the idea.

And it’s not a bad idea. Yet, like all “not-so-bad” ideas, the devil is in the detail.

To reach out to a stolen phone it has to be identifiable, beyond the easily-changed mobile number. All (GSM) phones have an International Mobile Equipment Identifier (IMEI – press *#06# to see it) number, and the majority of mobile networks subscribe to a system which blocks stolen IMEI numbers from their networks.

That system, known as the Central Equipment Identity Register or CEIR, theoretically makes stolen phones useless, but this is assuming that the IMEI hasn’t been changed, the handset isn’t shipped to a developing market which hasn’t coughed up the CEIR fee, and (perhaps most importantly) that the thief knows all this.

Most UK muggings, for example, include the theft of a mobile phone, but it’s rarely the phone the thieves want. They’ve read about tracking and hidden camera apps [1], and few of them have the technical nous to spot such a thing.

The purpose of stealing the handset and then discarding it is to delay pursuers, thus providing more time during which stolen credit cards and other spoils can be turned into cash.

But that can skew the crime figures, making it look as though mobile theft is reaching the epidemic proportions described by New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman.

That’s not to say stolen phones are without value. Changing the IMEI of a phone is illegal in the UK (even advertising one’s ability to perform the act is against the law) but on most handsets it remains possible.

Once it has been changed, the phone can be used anywhere. Failing that, there’s always a market in the dwindling number of countries who’ve not yet implemented CEIR, despite international pressure.

Manufacturers could make it all but impossible to change the IMEI. That would address many of the issues, but it wouldn’t give them greater control over their customers and an excuse to stay in touch throughout the life of the product (“send in your warranty documents or we’ll kill the phone, and be sure to tell us if you decide to sell it on”).

For Apple this is perfect, and the timing couldn’t have been better – though the consortium is reserving judgment on iOS7 [2] until it has been seen in action.

The surprise absentee from the list of firms considering implementing a killswitch function is BlackBerry, whose infrastructure and customer relationships makes this eminently practical and already available.

But if one discovered that thefts of BlackBerry devices were just as high as the rest, that would make this whole “Save our Smartphones” consortium look like a pointless political exercise. Perish the thought. ®

NSA sucks realtime data from FIFTY companies

  • Companies are all compelled by the Foreign  Intelligence Surveillance Act to hand over any information requested under the  law, but they’re not required to make access easier
  • PRISM data-mining program was launched in  2007 with approval from special federal judges
  • Apple, Facebook, Microsoft, Google, Yahoo,  YouTube, Skype, AOL and PalTalk are involved in spying program
  • Details of data collection were outlined in  classified 41-slide PowerPoint presentation that was leaked by intelligence  officer

By  Daily Mail Reporter

PUBLISHED: 08:07 EST, 9 June  2013 |  UPDATED: 08:25  EST, 9 June 2013

Analysts at the National Security Agency are  able to secretly access real-time user data provided by as many as 50 American  companies, ranging from credit rating agencies to internet service  providers.

According to two government officials  familiar with the arrangements, several of the companies have provided records  continuously since 2006, while others have given the agency sporadic  access.

The officials disclosed the number of  participating companies in order to provide context for a series of disclosures  about the NSA’s domestic collection policies.

Many of the details are unveiled by Mark  Ambinder, co-author of a new book about government secrecy and surveillance,  Deep State:  Inside the Government Secrecy Industry.


Storage space: NSA's Utah Data Center in Bluffdale, Utah, where government records of citizen's phone and internet usage could be kept 

Storage space: NSA’s Utah Data Center in Bluffdale,  Utah, where government records of citizen’s phone and internet usage could be  kept

‘The idea is to create a mosaic. We get a  tip. We vet it. Then we mine the data for intelligence,’ one of the officials  said to The  Week.

In a statement, Director of National  Intelligence James Clapper said that programs collect communications  ‘pursuant  to section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, ‘ and ‘cannot be  used to intentionally target any U.S. citizen, any other U.S person, or anyone  within the United States.’


The NSA needs several different collection  tools, of which PRISM is one.

PRISM works well because it is able to handle  several different types of data streams using different basic encryption  methods.

It is a ‘front end’ system, or  software,  that allows an NSA analyst to search through the data and pull out items of  significance, which are then stored in any number of  databases.

No knowledge: Internet giant Google said that it had never heard of the PRISM scheme before reports broke last week 

No knowledge: Internet giant Google said that it had  never heard of the PRISM scheme before reports broke last week

From the different types of data,  including  their credit card purchases, the locations they sign in to the internet from,  and even local police arrest logs, the NSA can track  people it considers  terrorism or espionage suspects in near-real time.

An internet geo-location cell is on constant  standby to help analysts determine where a subject logs in from.

Most of the collection takes place on subjects outside the U.S, but a large chunk of the world’s relevant  communication passes through American companies with servers on American soil.

What is more unclear is how the NSA interacts  with the companies.

Computer giant: Apple also said that it had never heard of the PRISM program until now but reports say it has worked contributed to discussions with the government concerning sharing information 

Computer giant: Apple also said that it had never heard  of the PRISM program until now but reports say it has worked contributed to  discussions with the government concerning sharing information

Several of the companies mentioned in past  few days deny granting access to the NSA. Might be possibly be  lying or is it  that the NSA’s arrangements with individual companies are kept so tightly that  very few people know about it?

One official likened the NSA’s collection  authority to a van full of sealed boxes that are delivered to the  agency.

A court order permits the transfer of custody  of the ‘boxes.’ however, the NSA needs something else, a  specific purpose or  investigation, in order to open a particular box.

Classified: The particulars of the PRISM data-mining program have been outlined in a top-secret PowerPoint presentation for senior intelligence analysts, which ended up being leaked 

Classified: The particulars of the PRISM data-mining  program have been outlined in a top-secret PowerPoint presentation for senior  intelligence analysts, which ended up being leaked



Participants: This graph shows when each of the nine tech companies joined PRISM, with Apple being the latest addition in October 2012  

Participants: This graph shows when each of the nine  tech companies joined PRISM, with Apple being the latest addition in October  2012

The chairman of the Senate  intelligence  committee, Sen. Dianne Feinstein, said the standard was ‘a  reasonable,  articulatable’ suspicion, but did not go into details.

The NSA can collect and store trillions of  bytes electronic information revealed by American citizens.

In the government’s eyes, the data is simply  moving from one place to another.

It does not become, in the government’s eyes,  relevant or protected in any way unless and until it is subject to  analysis.

Bombshell: NSA and FBI have been extracting audio, video, photos, e-mails, documents and other data from Apple, Facebook, Microsoft, Google, Yahoo, YouTube, Skype, AOL and PalTalk 

Bombshell: NSA and FBI have been extracting audio,  video, photos, e-mails, documents and other data from Apple, Facebook,  Microsoft, Google, Yahoo, YouTube, Skype, AOL and PalTalk


Key source: PRISM has been described by NSA officials 'as the most prolific contributor to the president's Daily Brief,' providing analysts with a wealth of 'raw material'  

Key source: PRISM has been described by NSA officials  ‘as the most prolific contributor to the president’s Daily Brief,’ providing  analysts with a wealth of ‘raw material’

A spokesperson for Apple also denied any  knowledge of PRISM’s existence.

It was claimed that the Silicon Valley  companies involved in the PRISM program are Apple, Facebook, Microsoft,  Google, Yahoo, YouTube, Skype, AOL and the lesser known Internet company PalTalk, which has hosted a lot of traffic during the Arab Spring and  the  on-going Syrian civil war.

However, only Facebook and Google have been  shown to have worked toward creating ‘online rooms’ in which to share data with  the government.

The wave of disclosures about the NSA  programs have significantly unsettled the intelligence community.

Targets: The tech giants involved in involved in PRISM are Apple, Facebook, Microsoft, Google, Yahoo, YouTube, Skype, AOL and the lesser known Internet company PalTalk 

Targets: The tech giants involved in involved in PRISM  are Apple, Facebook, Microsoft, Google, Yahoo, YouTube, Skype, AOL and the  lesser known Internet company PalTalk


The documents obtained by the two  newspapers  are marked ORCON, or originator controlled, which generally  means that the  agency keeps a record of every person who accesses them  online and knows  exactly who might have printed out or saved or accessed a copy. The NSA in  particular has a good record of protecting its  documents.

The scope of the latest leak suggests that  several people with top-level security clearances had to be involved.

Clapper said in his statement that the  disclosures about the program ‘risk important protections for the security of  Americans.’

'Reprehensible': Director of National Intelligence James Clapper branded the program 'reprehensible' and said it risks Americans' security 

‘Reprehensible’: Director of National Intelligence James  Clapper branded the program ‘reprehensible’ and said it risks Americans’  security

Mining for data: The NSA has been getting millions of phone records from Verizon on a daily basis for months without any justification for the order 

Mining for data: The NSA has been getting millions of  phone records from Verizon on a daily basis for months without any justification  for the order

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2338367/NSA-sucks-realtime-data-FIFTY-companies.html#ixzz2VjxJ2x00 Follow us: @MailOnline on Twitter | DailyMail on Facebook

Spy program shows just how well US knows its people


They're watching you <i>(Image: Lucas Jackson/Reuters)</i>They’re watching you (Image: Lucas Jackson/Reuters)

The US government is watching every digital move that Americans make. More than 115 million people use Verizon’s cellphone service in the US, making billions of calls every year. A top-secret document revealed this week shows that the US government, through the National Security Agency, is collecting the details of every single one of those calls on a daily basis. To make matters worse, The Washington Post and The Guardian newspapers today claimed that the NSA also has direct access to the search history, email and even live chats of all customers of the world’s biggest technology firms, including Google, Apple and Facebook.

By turning over what surely amounts to billions of call logs to the US government, Verizon is enabling what is likely to be the broadest surveillance scheme in history. And the likelihood is that it is not the only one.

The secret court order was granted by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court in Washington DC, which oversees surveillance requests. It forces Verizon to turn over its data. But while the order makes it clear that content – the words exchanged during calls – is not collected, that’s little comfort from a privacy perspective. Using network science, it is easy to manipulate large databases like this to figure out exactly who is behind every phone number, who they’ve talked to, when, where and for how long. The NSA probably doesn’t care to track the movements and activities of every person in the Verizon database, but the possibility is just a mouse click away.

Four calls to find you

We don’t know exactly how the NSA analyses these huge lists of records, but we do know what kinds of insights can be drawn from data sets on this scale. Yves-Alexandre de Montjoye from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Vincent Blondel from the Université Catholique de Louvain (UCL) in Belgium and colleagues analysed 1.5 million anonymised call records from a Western cell carrier. They showed that it takes just four calls or text messages, each made at a different time and place, to distinguish one person’s movements from everyone else’s (Nature Scientific Reports, doi.org/msd).

Patterns of communication form a digital fingerprint in time, and finding every thing, person and place you have interacted with becomes easy. Such records are exactly the kind of information we now know that Verizon, and likely every other US carrier, is handing over to the NSA on a daily basis.

Judge Roger Vinson, at the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, signed an order on 25 April obliging Verizon to hand data “including but not limited to session identifying information, trunk identifier… and time and duration of call” over to the NSA on a daily basis. In a news conference on Thursday morning (6 June), Senator Dianne Feinstein confirmed that this is just a monthly renewal of a secret order which has been in effect for seven years.

Identifying information refers to the phone numbers of those making and receiving a call or text. The trunk identifier shows which cell towers the calling and receiving phones talked to – the callers’ locations, in other words. Blondel says that datasets like those Verizon is handing over could be used to build up a precise picture of different communities.

Chris Clifton, who works on data privacy at Purdue University in Indiana, says he expects the NSA doesn’t always know exactly what it’s looking for in the call metadata, but rather uses software to sort the records into groups by similarity – people who make lots of calls, for example, or people who never call abroad. Patterns in time could be useful too. If one call appears to spark off a whole flurry of other calls, that might conceivably mean the first phone number belongs to an authority figure in a criminal organisation, for instance.

They know everything

“You’re trusting the phone companies with this data like you’re trusting your bank with your financial transactions,” Blondel says. “They know when you go for surgery, divorce – they know everything.”

“Any sensible question you can ask about the call metadata would be answered in a fraction of a second by five-year-old supercomputers,” says cryptographer Daniel Bernstein from the University of Illinois, Chicago. This means the NSA’s giant supercomputing centre in Utah is massive overkill for analysing measly Verizon call logs. Perhaps it would be more useful for crunching internet data.

An NSA Powerpoint presentation discovered by The Guardian newspaper in London and the Washington Post claims that the NSA is gaining direct access to the servers of the world’s biggest tech firms to spy on internet activity. According to the slides, Google, Yahoo, Apple, Facebook and more are all signed up to a scheme, known as PRISM, which lets the NSA access their customers’ search history, chat logs and emails. The presentation says that data gained from PRISM is used to create nearly 1 in 7 of all intelligence reports. Executives of all the firms implicated have denied knowledge of any such programme and refute the allegation that they have been handing over their customers’ data in this way.

But even if the NSA does not have full internet access, it’s still relatively easy for it to access private data on the internet. Details are scarce, but there is one confirmed case where the NSA was caught in the act. An AT&T engineer named Mark Klein provided evidence that the NSA was skimming a copy of all internet traffic that passed through an AT&T data centre in San Francisco in 2003.

Now Andrew Clement and a team of information scientists at Toronto University in Canada is using that model of surveillance to try and give internet users a sense of whether and where their internet activities are being logged by the NSA. Clement’s system, called IXMaps, has aggregated thousands of traceroutes – information trails which map the paths taken by packets of data as they are directed through the routers and exchanges which make up the internet in the US.

Internet monitoring

A paper due to be presented at the International Symposium on Technology and Society in Toronto at the end of June shows that 99 per cent of internet traffic passing through the US goes through one of just 18 US cities. The paper notes that this shows it is completely feasible for the NSA to be monitoring the majority of US internet traffic with just a handful of warrantless listening posts. These would use ‘splitters’ that split the beam of light in fibre-optic cables to siphon off information. “It is powerful confirmation that it is technically feasible for the NSA to install splitters in relatively few strategic internet choke points from where it could intercept a very large proportion of internet traffic,” it says.

Nancy Paterson, who works on IXMaps with Clement, says the internet is not a random collection of network links, routing data in the most efficient way possible. Instead, the way data moves across the net is tightly controlled according to the business interests that run the subnetworks within it. This control makes blanket monitoring feasible.

“Routing isn’t what you used to call it. The best-effort internet has changed to a highly centralised, controlled space,” she says. “It’s not your grandmother’s internet.”

Although privacy protection may not seem to be on the NSA’s priority list, Clifton says he knows the organisation has people actively working on techniques which would let it analyse data effectively while not breaching privacy. “If they get too intrusive on the data people will be up in arms and they will lose access,” he says. “If they protect privacy they can get more data. They view it as part of their mission.”

De Montjoye says the NSA revelations emphasise the need for new systems which allow rich datasets like mobile phone data to be used while protecting privacy at the same time. An ongoing project in MIT, called openPDS, aims to do exactly this. OpenPDS works by only allowing third parties to ask questions of a customer dataset, never actually getting their hands on the raw data. De Montjoye says this, combined with legal systems which notify individuals when their data has been searched, and auditing systems that record who is searching for what information and when, could change the privacy debate. “I think that such a ‘mixed approach’ to privacy is the way forward,” he says.



Foreign Governments gathering secret intelligence via covert NSA operation

UK gathering secret intelligence via covert NSA operation

Exclusive: UK security agency GCHQ gaining information from world’s biggest internet firms through US-run Prism programme


Documents show GCHQ has had access to the NSA's Prism programme since at least June 2010

Documents show GCHQ (above) has had access to the NSA’s Prism programme since at least June 2010. Photograph: David Goddard/Getty Images

The UK’s electronic eavesdropping and security agency, GCHQ, has been secretly gathering intelligence from the world’s biggest internet companies through a covertly run operation set up by America’s top spy agency, documents obtained by the Guardian reveal.

The documents show that GCHQ, based in Cheltenham, has had access to the system since at least June 2010, and generated 197 intelligence reports from it last year.

The US-run programme, called Prism, would appear to allow GCHQ to circumvent the formal legal process required to seek personal material such as emails, photos and videos from an internet company based outside the UK.

The use of Prism raises ethical and legal issues about such direct access to potentially millions of internet users, as well as questions about which British ministers knew of the programme.

In a statement to the Guardian, GCHQ, insisted it “takes its obligations under the law very seriously”.

The details of GCHQ’s use of Prism are set out in documents prepared for senior analysts working at America’s National Security Agency, the biggest eavesdropping organisation in the world.

Dated April this year, the papers describe the remarkable scope of a previously undisclosed “snooping” operation which gave the NSA and the FBI easy access to the systems of nine of the world’s biggest internet companies. The group includes Google, Facebook, Microsoft, Apple, Yahoo and Skype.

The documents, which appear in the form of a 41-page PowerPoint presentation, suggest the firms co-operated with the Prism programme. Technology companies denied knowledge of Prism, with Google insisting it “does not have a back door for the government to access private user data”. But the companies acknowledged that they complied with legal orders.

The existence of Prism, though, is not in doubt.

Thanks to changes to US surveillance law introduced under President George W Bush and renewed under Barack Obama in December 2012, Prism was established in December 2007 to provide in-depth surveillance on live communications and stored information about foreigners overseas.

The law allows for the targeting of any customers of participating firms who live outside the US, or those Americans whose communications include people outside the US.

The documents make clear the NSA has been able to obtain unilaterally both stored communications as well as real-time collection of raw data for the last six years, without the knowledge of users, who would assume their correspondence was private.

The NSA describes Prism as “one of the most valuable, unique and productive accesses” of intelligence, and boasts the service has been made available to spy organisations from other countries, including GCHQ.

It says the British agency generated 197 intelligence reports from Prism in the year to May 2012 – marking a 137% increase in the number of reports generated from the year before. Intelligence reports from GCHQ are normally passed to MI5 and MI6.

The documents underline that “special programmes for GCHQ exist for focused Prism processing”, suggesting the agency has been able to receive material from a bespoke part of the programme to suit British interests.

Unless GCHQ has stopped using Prism, the agency has accessed information from the programme for at least three years. It is not mentioned in the latest report from the Interception of Communications Commissioner Office, which scrutinises the way the UK’s three security agencies use the laws covering the interception and retention of data.

Asked to comment on its use of Prism, GCHQ said it “takes its obligations under the law very seriously. Our work is carried out in accordance with a strict legal and policy framework which ensures that our activities are authorised, necessary and proportionate, and that there is rigorous oversight, including from the secretary of state, the interception and intelligence services commissioners and the intelligence and security committee”.

The agency refused to be drawn on how long it had been using Prism, how many intelligence reports it had gleaned from it, or which ministers knew it was being used.

A GCHQ spokesperson added: “We do not comment on intelligence matters.”

The existence and use of Prism reflects concern within the intelligence community about access it has to material held by internet service providers.

Many of the web giants are based in the US and are beyond the jurisdiction of British laws. Very often, the UK agencies have to go through a formal legal process to request information from service providers.

Because the UK has a mutual legal assistance treaty with America, GCHQ can make an application through the US department of justice, which will make the approach on its behalf.

Though the process is used extensively – almost 3,000 requests were made to Google alone last year – it is time consuming. Prism would appear to give GCHQ a chance to bypass the procedure.

In its statement about Prism, Google said it “cares deeply about the security of our users’ data. We disclose user data to government in accordance with the law, and we review all such requests carefully. From time to time, people allege that we have created a government ‘back door’ into our systems, but Google does not have a back door for the government to access private user data”.

Several senior tech executives insisted they had no knowledge of Prism or of any similar scheme. They said they would never have been involved in such a programme.

“If they are doing this, they are doing it without our knowledge,” one said. An Apple spokesman said it had “never heard” of Prism.

In a statement confirming the existence of Prism, James Clapper, the director of national intelligence in the US, said: “Information collected under this programme is among the most important and valuable intelligence information we collect, and is used to protect our nation from a wide variety of threats.”

A senior US administration official said: “The programme is subject to oversight by the foreign intelligence surveillance court, the executive branch, and Congress. It involves extensive procedures, specifically approved by the court, to ensure that only non-US persons outside the US are targeted, and that minimise the acquisition, retention and dissemination of incidentally acquired information about US persons.”

http://www.guardian.co.uk/technology/2013/jun/07/uk-gathering-secret-intelligence-nsa-prism?guni=Network front:network-front full-width-1 Breaking news ticker:Breaking news ticker (editable):Position3


Forget phones, PRISM plan shows internet firms give NSA everything

Microsoft, Google, Apple and Yahoo! and others open their legs servers

By Iain Thomson in San Francisco

Posted in Security, 7th June 2013 00:23 GMT

It has been a rough 24 hours for the US National Security Agency. First a leaked court order [1] (and the political reaction [2]) showed that the agency routinely harvests US mobile-use data, and now a new document has been uncovered that claims to show the larger internet companies do the same thing.

A 41-page presentation [3], given in April this year and obtained [4] by the Washington Post, details the PRISM project, a system described as being the largest single source of information for NSA analytic reports. PRISM apparently gives the NSA access to email, chat logs, any stored data, VoIP traffic, files transfers, social networking data, and the ominously named “Special Projects”.

Nine companies are currently part of PRISM. Microsoft was the first firm to sign up on Sept 11, 2007, with Yahoo! coming in the following year, the presentation states. Google and Facebook joined in 2009, the following year YouTube got on board, followed by Skype (before Redmond took it over) and AOL in 2011.

Apple held out for five years, but signed up in October last year, and video chat room provider PalTalk is also on board, with DropBox billed as coming soon. Twitter is conspicuous in its absence from the presentation’s list – which is reassuring – but given the other big names apparently playing ball, the social networking firm’s stand makes little difference.

The claimed PRISM participantsThe claimed PRISM participants

According to the Post, the presentations states that data from PRISM made it into 1,477 presidential briefing articles last year and is used in one out of seven NSA intelligence reports. The NSA’s searches are supposed to target non-US citizens, it appears, but an analysts was told “it’s nothing to worry about” if US data got purloined.

El Reg has contacted companies named in the report and has receive few answers. Microsoft says a statement is being prepared and only Google was prepared to go on the record.

“Google cares deeply about the security of our users’ data. We disclose user data to government in accordance with the law, and we review all such requests carefully. From time to time, people allege that we have created a government ‘back door’ into our systems, but Google does not have a ‘back door’ for the government to access private user data,” it said in a statement.

Meanwhile, Apple told CNBC “We have never heard of PRISM. We do not provide any government agency with direct access to our servers,” with Facebook also denying it allows “direct access” to its servers.

But you can do a lot of twisting with language – as Bill Clinton showed with his quibbling over the meaning of the word “is [5]” during the Monica Lewinsky saga. Every government agent this hack has talked to says the US government never spies on its own people, but is it spying if this data collection is legal?

The Verizon scandal, and not the accusations of PRISM, makes a statement by the Director of National Intelligence James Clapper in congressional testimony [6] somewhat suspect.

Clapper was asked by Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR) if the NSA collected information on millions or hundreds of millions of Americans. “Not wittingly,” was Clapper’s reply. “There are cases where they could inadvertently perhaps collect, but not wittingly.” Those words now sound rather hollow. ®

Web firms will be told to block terror sites and pornography

Culture Secretary orders internet crackdown in wake of Woolwich attack and April Jones killing

Andrew Grice

Thursday, 6 June 2013

Internet and telecom companies will be ordered by the Government to block “harmful” content such as extremist material and pornography  in the wake of the Woolwich terrorist attack and killing of five-year-old April Jones.

Maria Miller, the Culture Secretary, has summoned the bosses of companies  such as Google, Microsoft and Facebook to a summit in two weeks at which she will demand much closer industry-wide co-operation to prevent the uploading, downloading and sharing of  harmful material. The agenda will include illegal porn, images of child abuse, material that could incite religious or racial hatred and so-called “suicide websites.”

Ms Miller will deliver an “enough is enough” message to the internet service providers (ISPs) and telecoms firms, rejecting the argument that their products are too complex to regulate. She will tell them that they must put aside competition to collaborate over harmful content to meet growing public concern about the issue. She is worried that there is not enough co-ordinated action.

Although the Government planned a crackdown before the killing of Drummer Lee Rigby, the tragedy has given it greater urgency. It also emerged last week that Mark Bridger, who was jailed for life for the murder of April Jones, had a library of violent child porn.

Possible new measures include greater use of online filters; making public Wi-Fi more “family friendly” so children cannot access harmful material on their laptops;  ensuring all companies sign up to industry guidelines and setting up permanent bodies to monitor content and education campaigns for parents.

In a letter to ISPs and telecom firms, Ms Miller said: “Recent horrific events have again highlighted the widespread public concern over the proliferation of, and easy access to, harmful content on the internet.” She added: “A relatively small number of organisations wield a great deal of online power – and I believe that with that power comes a great responsibility. Given the grave concerns that have been raised it is right that we now consider what more could and should be done in this area.”

The other companies asked to attend  the summit are Yahoo, Twitter, BT, Virgin, TalkTalk, Vodaphone, Sky, O2, EE and Three. Ms Miller told them to produce new ideas “to get to grips with these pervasive and pernicious problems  in all their forms.”

The Culture Secretary regards this month’s summit as the start of a process, not a one-off event. She wants to work “in partnership” with the industries concerned but will keep up the pressure on them to take swift action over harmful online content  in the next few months.

Ms Miller is not threatening legislation at this stage but measures could be considered if the firms fail to put their house in order. She hopes they will be keen to head off the threat of statutory controls being included in the Government’s White Paper on “connectivity” to be published later this year.

Although some progress has been made on child safety and porn, Ms Miller wants to involve giant  search engines like Google to ensure a more effective approach across the relevant industries. She believes mobile phone companies, who have agreed a code of practice, have shown how joint action can be taken on an industry-wide basis.

Sources at Google said the company would be happy to attend the Whitehall talks to explain what it was doing to tackle such problems.



US officials found to be using secret government email accounts

AP investigation finds some agency chiefs relying on secondary private accounts, complicating attempts at record-keeping


Associated Press in Washington

guardian.co.uk,  Tuesday 4 June 2013 10.57 EDT

obama appointees email

Google can’t find any reference on the internet to the secret address for HHS secretary Kathleen Sebelius. Photograph: Shawn Thew/EPA

Some of President Barack Obama‘s political appointees, including the secretary for health and human services, are using secret government email accounts they say are necessary to prevent their inboxes from being overwhelmed with unwanted messages, according to a review by the Associated Press.

The scope of using the secret accounts across government remains a mystery: most US agencies have failed to turn over lists of political appointees’ email addresses, which the AP sought under the Freedom of Information Act more than three months ago. The Labor Department initially asked the AP to pay more than $1m for its email addresses.

The AP asked for the addresses following last year’s disclosures that the former administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency had used separate email accounts at work. The practice is separate from officials who use personal, non-government email accounts for work, which generally is discouraged – but often happens anyway – due to laws requiring that most federal records be preserved.

The secret email accounts complicate an agency’s legal responsibilities to find and turn over emails in response to congressional or internal investigations, civil lawsuits or public records requests because employees assigned to compile such responses would necessarily need to know about the accounts to search them. Secret accounts also drive perceptions that government officials are trying to hide actions or decisions.

“What happens when that person doesn’t work there anymore? He leaves and someone makes a request [to review emails] in two years,” said Kel McClanahan, executive director of National Security Counselors, an open government group. “Who’s going to know to search the other accounts? You would hope that agencies doing this would keep a list of aliases in a desk drawer, but you know that isn’t happening.”

Agencies where the AP so far has identified secret addresses, including the Labor Department and HHS, said maintaining non-public email accounts allows senior officials to keep separate their internal messages with agency employees from emails they exchange with the public. They also said public and non-public accounts are always searched in response to official requests and the records are provided as necessary.

The AP couldn’t independently verify the practice. It searched hundreds of pages of government emails previously released under the open records law and found only one instance of a published email with a secret address: an email from Labor Department spokesman Carl Fillichio to 34 coworkers in 2010 was turned over to an advocacy group, Americans for Limited Government. It included as one recipient the non-public address for Seth D Harris, currently the acting labor secretary, who maintains at least three separate email accounts.

Google can’t find any reference on the Internet to the secret address for HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius. Congressional oversight committees told the AP they were unfamiliar with the non-public government addresses identified so far by the AP.

Ten agencies have not yet turned over lists of email addresses, including the Environmental Protection Agency; the Pentagon; and the departments of Veterans Affairs, Transportation, Treasury, Justice, Housing and Urban Development, Homeland Security, Commerce and Agriculture. All have said they are working on a response to the AP.

White House spokesman Eric Schultz declined to comment.

A Treasury Department spokeswoman, Marissa Hopkins Secreto, referred inquiries to the agency’s Foia office, which said its technology department was still searching for the email addresses. Other departments, including Homeland Security, did not respond to questions from the AP about the delays of nearly three months. The Pentagon said it may have an answer by later this summer.

The Health and Human Services Department initially turned over to the AP the email addresses for roughly 240 appointees – except none of the email accounts for Sebelius, even one for her already published on its website. After the AP objected, it turned over three of Sebelius’ email addresses, including a secret one. It asked the AP not to publish the address, which it said she used to conduct day-to-day business at the department. Most of the 240 political appointees at HHS appeared to be using only public government accounts.

The AP decided to publish the secret address for Sebelius – KGS2@hhs.gov – over the government’s objections because the secretary is a high-ranking civil servant who oversees not only major agencies like the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services but also the implementation of Obama’s signature healthcare law. Her public email address is Kathleen.Sebelius@hhs.gov.

At least two other senior HHS officials – including Donald Berwick, former head of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, and Gary Cohen, a deputy administrator in charge of implementing health insurance reform – also have secret government email addresses, according to the records obtained by the AP.

Ken Salazar will step down as interior secretary in March

A spokeswoman said ex-interior secretary Ken Salazar maintained only one email address while serving as secretary, but she would not disclose it. Photograph: Jeff Haynes/ReutersThe Interior Department gave the AP a list of about 100 government email addresses for political appointees who work there but none for the interior secretary at the time, Ken Salazar, who has since resigned. Spokeswoman Jessica Kershaw said Salazar maintained only one email address while serving as secretary but she would not disclose it. She said the AP should ask for it under the Freedom of Information Act, which would take months longer.

The Labor Department initially asked the AP to pay just over $1.03m when the AP asked for email addresses of political appointees there. It said it needed pull 2,236 computer backup tapes from its archives and pay 50 people to pore over old records. Those costs included three weeks to identify tapes and ship them to a vendor, and pay each person $2,500 for nearly a month’s work. But under the department’s own FOIA rules – which it cited in its letter to the AP – it is prohibited from charging news organizations any costs except for photocopies after the first 100 pages. The department said it would take 14 weeks to find the emails if the AP had paid the money.

Fillichio later acknowledged that the $1.03m bill was a mistake and provided the AP with email addresses for the agency’s Senate-confirmed appointees, including three addresses for Harris, the acting secretary. His secret address was harris.sd@dol.gov. His other accounts were one for use with labor employees and the public, and another to send mass emails to the entire Labor Department, outside groups and the public. The Labor Department said it did not object to the AP publishing any of Harris’ email addresses.

In addition to the email addresses, the AP also sought records government-wide about decisions to create separate email accounts. But the FOIA director at HHS, Robert Eckert, said the agency couldn’t provide such emails without undergoing “an extensive and elongated department-wide search.” He also said there were “no mechanisms in place to determine if such requests for the creation of secondary email accounts were submitted by the approximately 242 political appointees within HHS.”

Congress investigating secret account at EPA

Late last year, the EPA’s critics – including Republicans in Congress – accused former EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson of using an email account under the name “Richard Windsor” to sidestep disclosure rules. The EPA said emails Jackson sent using her Windsor alias were turned over under open records requests. The agency’s inspector general is investigating the use of such accounts, after being asked to do so by Congress.

An EPA spokeswoman described Jackson’s alternate email address as “an everyday, working email account of the administrator to communicate with staff and other government officials.” It was later determined that Jackson also used the email address to correspond sometimes with environmentalists outside government and at least in some cases did not correct a misperception among outsiders they were corresponding with a government employee named Richard Windsor.

Although the EPA’s inspector general is investigating the agency’s use of secret email accounts, it is not reviewing whether emails from Jackson’s secret account were released as required under the Freedom of Information Act.

The EPA’s secret email accounts were revealed last fall by the Competitive Enterprise Institute, a conservative Washington thinktank that was tipped off about Jackson’s alias by an insider and later noticed it in documents it obtained under the Foia. The EPA said its policy was to disclose in such documents that “Richard Windsor” was actually the EPA administrator.

Courts have consistently set a high bar for the government to withhold public officials’ records under the federal privacy rules. A federal judge, Marilyn Hall Patel of California, said in August 2010 that “persons who have placed themselves in the public light” – such as through politics or voluntarily participation in the public arena – have a “significantly diminished privacy interest than others.” Her ruling was part of a case in which a journalist sought FBI records, but was denied.

“We’re talking about an email address, and an email address given to an individual by the government to conduct official business is not private,” said Aaron Mackey, a Foia attorney with the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press. He said that’s different than, for example, confidential information, such as a Social Security number.

Under the law, citizens and foreigners may use the Foia to compel the government to turn over copies of federal records for zero or little cost. Anyone who seeks information through the law is generally supposed to get it unless disclosure would hurt national security, violate personal privacy or expose business secrets or confidential decision-making in certain areas.

Obama pledged during his first week in office to make government more transparent and open. The nation’s signature open-records law, he said in a memo to his Cabinet, would be “administered with a clear presumption: In the face of doubt, openness prevails.”

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2013/jun/04/us-officials-secret-email-accounts?guni=Network front:network-front main-3 Main trailblock:Network front – main trailblock:Position15


Motorola shows off tattoo and swallowable password hardware


Mobe manufacturer playing long game for end times

By Iain Thomson in San Francisco

Posted in Security, 31st May 2013 19:26 GMT

Regcast training : Hyper-V 3.0, VM high availability and disaster recovery

Motorola has shown off an electronic authentication tattoo and an FDA-approved pill that uses the body to transmit passwords, and says it wants to see a new generation of smartphones geared towards such wearable – or edible – technology.

The Number of the BeastThe Number of the Beast

Speaking [1] at the D11 conference, Regina Dugan – the first female head of DARPA who moved [2] to the Chocolate Factory last year – argued that with our plethora of devices, authentication needs to be simplified. The average user has to sign-on 39 times a day, and it takes them 2.3 seconds a time to do it each time – and that’s if you remember the password.

To crack this, she suggests either getting tattooed or using authentication in pill form as a way of saving those precious seconds that are being so wastefully lost. The industry is still stuck with the same login technology that it has used for 40 years, she said, and Motorola has the answer – or at least the partners to provide it.

She showed off a stick-on electronic tattoo on her arm consisting of a wireless power coil, temperature, ECG, phone sensors, and a small LED with a wireless antenna border. Motorola is working with the inventors, Cambridge, Massachusetts firm MC10, on a version for authentication, she said, and they would be available in a wide variety of designs.

“It may be true that 10-20 year-olds don’t want to wear a watch on their wrist, but you can be sure they’ll be far more interested in wearing an electronics tattoo, if only to piss off their parents,” she said. So-called theologians might disagree*.

The stick-on circuitry would last about two weeks before needing to be replaced, and the connections between the silicon and sensors are designed to flex 200 per cent, she said. The system would be sprayed with a plastic composite to assure your morning shower doesn’t leave you a non-person.

Dugan also showed off a pill containing a switch and what she described as an “inside-out potato battery” that uses stomach acids as an electrolyte and causes the switch to flick on and off. The resulting “18-bit ECG-like signal” is then broadcast throughout your body for as long as the device remains in it.

Motorola authentication pill‘I crap authentication’

“It’s really true; it means that that becomes my first superpower. I really want this superpower,” she said. “It means my arms are like wires, my hands are like alligator clips, and when I touch my phone, my computer, my door, my car, I’m authenticated in.”

The system, developed by Proteus Digital Heath, was FDA-approved and CE-stamped for people to take up to 30 of these pills a day she said, for their rest of your lives, she said.

Interviewer Walt Mossberg declined to swallow a proffered sample.

“We’re not shipping that right away,” Motorola CEO Dennis Woodside said during the interview. But taking a long-game approach to the evolving mobile market is going to be key to reviving the company, he said. In 2010 Samsung was selling as many phones as Motorola is now, he said; there are opportunities to be had.

After Google bought Android it funded the team for two years before releasing the operating system, he said, a strategy some decried as madness. The results have been rather good, he pointed out, and Google’s willing to make a similar investment in the company that was there at the start of mobile computing.

The first stage of this is the Moto X, [3] due to launch in the autumn. Woodside said he had it in his pocket, but refused to get it out. The new handset will be 70 per cent assembled in the US, coming from a plant in Fort Worth, Texas, and having manufacturing close at hand would allow the company to try out new manufacturing processes such as 3D printing.

Motorola is cracking a long-standing problem in mobile electronics by enabling low-power motion sensors without needing to boot the full operating system, he said. Phones should detect your location and movement and adapt their interfaces to match the situation.

The price for this “contextually aware” feature is battery power, and the fact that phones can’t last a week without recharging is a major issue the company wants to solve. Larry Page is also apparently frustrated that phones still break, so the engineers are trying to toughen up smartphones. ®

* Bootnote

One marketing problem Motorola may not have anticipated is the reaction of biblical literalists to its wearable authentication systems.

A surprising number of people in the US still adhere to an apparent literal translation of the current version of the Bible. These include Jehovah’s Witnesses, who refuse blood transfusions and shun those who take them, to those who look to the finale of the New Testament: The Book of Revelation – or, for you believers of the Catholic persuasion, The Apocalypse.

The text, thought to be written about 60 years after the biblical death of Christ, is regarded as either a description of the end times of humanity, a satirical pastiche on the increasingly subverted tenants of Christian bureaucracy, or a really bad mushroom trip on a Greek island. Nevertheless it contains the following warning:

It causes all, both small and great, both rich and poor, both free and slave, to be marked on the right hand or the forehead, so that no one can buy or sell unless he has the mark, that is, the name of the beast or the number of its name. This calls for wisdom: let the one who has understanding calculate the number of the beast, for it is the number of a man, and his number is 666.

Be reassured that the majority of people of faith in the US and elsewhere aren’t quite so inflexible. Those that aren’t may be shrill, particularly in the US, but do not form a representative sample of Christianity.

Google MUST hand over sensitive details for thousands of users to FBI – even without a warrant

By  Daily Mail Reporter and Associated Press

PUBLISHED: 09:06 EST, 1 June  2013 |  UPDATED: 09:06  EST, 1 June 2013

Google must comply with the FBI’s warrantless  demands for large amounts of customer data, a  federal judge has ruled.

In a ruling written May 20 and  obtained on  Friday, U.S. District Court Judge Susan Illston ordered the company  to accede  to the FBI’s secret requests for information.

She rejected Google’s argument that the  government’s practice of issuing so-called national security letters to  telecommunication companies, Internet service providers and banks was  unconstitutional and unnecessary.

Popular: Hundreds of million of people use Google's gmail service. A judge has ruled that the company must hand over users' details to the FBI, even without a warrant 

Popular: Hundreds of million of people use Google’s  gmail service. A judge has ruled that the company must hand over users’ details  to the FBI, even without a warrant

Go-ahead: FBI Director Robert Mueller testifies at a Senate Subcommittee.  

Go-ahead: FBI Director Robert Mueller testifies at a Senate Subcommittee. Judge Susan Illston rejected Google’s complaint that the government’s so-called national security letters are unconstitutional and unnecessary

FBI counter-terrorism agents began issuing  the secret letters, which don’t require a judge’s approval, after Congress  passed the USA Patriot Act in the wake of the Sept. 11, 2001,  attacks.

The letters are used to collect unlimited  kinds of sensitive, private information, such as financial and phone records and  have prompted complaints of government privacy violations in the name of  national security.

The FBI made 16,511 national security letter  requests for information regarding 7,201 people in 2011, the latest data  available.


Many of Google’s services, including its  dominant search engine and the popular Gmail application, have become daily  habits for millions of people.

Judge Illston ordered Google to comply with  the FBI’s demands on May 20 but put her ruling on hold until the 9th U.S.  Circuit Court of Appeals could decide the matter.

Until then, the Mountain View, Calif.-based  company must comply with the letters unless it shows the FBI didn’t follow  proper procedures in making its demands for customer data in the 19 letters  Google is challenging, she said.

At risk? Google must now comply with the FBI's demands. The FBI made 16,511 national security letter requests for information regarding 7,201 people in 2011, the latest data available 

At risk? Google must now comply with the FBI’s demands.  The FBI made 16,511 national security letter requests for information regarding  7,201 people in 2011, the latest data available

After receiving sworn statements from two  top-ranking FBI officials, Illston said she was satisfied that 17 of the 19  letters were issued properly. She wanted more information on two other  letters.

It was unclear from the judge’s ruling what  type of information the government sought to obtain with the letters. It was  also unclear who the government was targeting.

The decision from the San Francisco-based  Illston comes several months after she ruled in a separate case brought by the  Electronic Frontier Foundation over the letters.

She ruled in March that the FBI’s demand that  recipients refrain from telling anyone – including customers – that they had  received the letters was a violation of free speech rights.

Kurt Opsah, an attorney with the foundation,  said it could be many more months before the appeals court rules on the  constitutionality of the letters in the Google case.

‘We are disappointed that the same judge who  declared these letters unconstitutional is now requiring compliance with them,’  Opsah said on Friday.

Illston’s May 20 order omits any mention of  Google or that the proceedings have been closed to the public.

But the judge said ‘the petitioner’ was  involved in a similar case filed on April 22 in New York federal  court.

Discussion: FBI Executive Assistant Director Richard McFeely (left) speaks at the Reuters Cybersecurity Summit in Washington in May 

Discussion: FBI Executive Assistant Director Richard  McFeely (left) speaks at the Reuters Cybersecurity Summit in Washington in  May

Public records show that on that same day,  the federal government filed a ‘petition to enforce National Security Letter’  against Google after the company declined to cooperate with government  demands.

Google can still appeal Illston’s decision.  The company declined comment Friday.

In 2007, the Justice Department’s inspector  general found widespread violations in the FBI’s use of the letters, including  demands without proper authorization and information obtained in non-emergency  circumstances. The FBI has tightened oversight of the system

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2334324/Google-MUST-hand-sensitive-details-thousands-users-FBI–warrant.html#ixzz2V1R3RrZp Follow us: @MailOnline on Twitter | DailyMail on Facebook

Smart dust computers are no bigger than a snowflake


Thousands of tiny computers that scavenge power from their surroundings could one day be used to monitor your world

THOUGHT your smartphone or tablet packed a big punch for its size? Pah, that’s nothing. The next generation of computers will be able to carry out complex calculations but will be little bigger than a snowflake.

Such tiny computers – nicknamed smart dust – would work much like their larger cousins, says Prabal Dutta at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. They will have tiny CPUs that run programs on a skeleton operating system and be able to access equally small banks of RAM and flash memory. The plan is for such sensor-packed machines to be embedded in buildings and objects in their hundreds or even thousands, providing constant updates on the world around us.

Dutta’s group is creating the first prototypes, which they have dubbed Michigan Micro Motes. These devices, a cubic millimetre in size, come equipped with sensors to monitor temperature or movement, say, and can send data via radio waves.

But how do you charge something so small? “The vision of blanketing the world with smart sensors is very compelling,” says Joshua Smith, head of the Sensor Systems Laboratory at the University of Washington in Seattle. “But a lot of sensor networks researchers found themselves surrounded by mountains of depleted batteries and dead sensor nodes.”

So, like microscopic Robinson Crusoes, the motes will live off the power they can scavenge from their surroundings. A mote near a light source might use a tiny solar panel, while a mote running somewhere with greater temperature extremes can be built to tap into that, by converting the heat energy that flows between hot and cold into electricity.

So what will be smart dust’s killer app? The Michigan team says Micro Motes could be used to monitor every tiny movement of large structures like bridges or skyscrapers. And motes in a smart house could report back on lighting, temperature, carbon monoxide levels and occupancy. With motes embedded in all of your belongings it might be possible to run a Google search in the physical world. For example, asking Google “where are my keys?” would give you the right answer if they have been fitted with a mote.

Smart dust computers could make efficient medical implants too. The idea is that motes placed inside the body would monitor a patient’s vital signs. For example, in as-yet-unpublished research, the Michigan team has implanted a Micro Mote inside a mouse tumour so that it can report back on its growth.

Smith is also working on miniature computing, with his wireless identification and sensing platforms (WISPs). Further along in development than Micro Motes – albeit larger – WISPs communicate via radio frequency identification devices, using the same computer language that your next-generation credit card uses. Like Micro Motes, WISPs don’t need batteries and only consume what they can scavenge – stray signals from a nearby TV tower might do the trick, for instance.

But communication remains a key bottleneck for the next wave of computer miniaturisation, says Dutta. For the same chunk of energy a mote could perform 100,000 operations on its CPU but only transmit one bit of information to the outside world, he says.

This article appeared in print under the headline “A sprinkling of smart dust”



Cloud-computing platform for robots launched

Contact: Markus Waibel mwaibel@ethz.ch 41-446-323-192 ETH Zurich

An Internet for robots

Researchers of five European universities have developed a cloud-computing platform for robots. The platform allows robots connected to the Internet to directly access the powerful computational, storage, and communications infrastructure of modern data centers – the giant server farms behind the likes of Google, Facebook, and Amazon – for robotics tasks and robot learning.

With the development of the RoboEarth Cloud Engine the team continues their work towards creating an Internet for robots. The new platform extends earlier work on allowing robots to share knowledge with other robots via a WWW-style database, greatly speeding up robot learning and adaptation in complex tasks.

More intelligent robots

The developed Platform as a Service (PaaS) for robots allows to perform complex functions like mapping, navigation, or processing of human voice commands in the cloud, at a fraction of the time required by robots’ on-board computers. By making enterprise-scale computing infrastructure available to any robot with a wireless connection, the researchers believe that the new computing platform will help pave the way towards lighter, cheaper, more intelligent robots.

“The RoboEarth Cloud Engine is particularly useful for mobile robots, such as drones or autonomous cars, which require lots of computation for navigation. It also offers significant benefits for robot co-workers, such as factory robots working alongside humans, which require large knowledge databases, and for the deployment of robot teams.” says Mohanarajah Gajamohan, researcher at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH Zurich) and Technical Lead of the project.

“On-board computation reduces mobility and increases cost.”, says Dr. Heico Sandee, RoboEarth’s Program Manager at Eindhoven University of Technology in the Netherlands, “With the rapid increase in wireless data rates caused by the booming demand of mobile communications devices, more and more of a robot’s computational tasks can be moved into the cloud.”

Impact on jobs

While high-tech companies that heavily rely on data centers have been criticized for creating fewer jobs than traditional companies (e.g., Google or Facebook employ less than half the number of workers of General Electric or Hewlett-Packard per dollar in revenue), the researchers don’t believe that this new robotics platform should be cause for alarm. According to a recent study by the International Federation of Robotics and Metra Martech entitled “Positive Impact of Industrial Robots on Employment”, robots don’t kill jobs but rather tend to lead to an overall growth in jobs.


Further information:

Press kit: http://www.roboearth.org/media

RoboEarth blog: http://www.roboearth.org/archives/1869

Original software release: http://rapyuta.org/rapyuta-the-roboearth-cloud-engine

Concept video: http://youtu.be/4-ir1ieqKyc

Peer-reviewed publication: D. Hunziker, M. Gajamohan, M. Waibel, R. D’Andrea. Rapyuta: The RoboEarth Cloud Engine, accepted for publication at the International Conference on Robotics and Automation (ICRA) 2013, Available: http://roboearth.org/uploads/RCE2013.pdf

Egypt bans YouTube over Innocence of Muslims video

Published: 9 February, 2013, 20:01 Edited: 9 February, 2013, 20:01


An Egyptian court has ruled to ban video sharing portal YouTube for one month among the other websites hosting the controversial film trailer that mocked Islam and Prophet Mohammed.

­Egypt’s administrative court on Saturday ordered the authorities to block access to YouTube and other websites that have not removed the anti-Islamic trailer. The 14-minute clip made in the US was posted to YouTube in July 2012.

After having been translated into Arabic and partly broadcasted in Egypt last September, this low-budget film sparked a wave of outrage worldwide and anti-American protests in the Middle East that killed more than 70 people and injured hundreds.

The lawsuit against YouTube was filed by Egyptian attorney Hamed Salem amid accusations of the video-sharing service being a “threat to social peace.” Salem demanded YouTube and social media sites linking to the “insulting” video to be banned until all the anti-Islamic content is removed from them.

Egyptian protest movements have condemned the ban, calling YouTube a “vital resource for disseminating information about Human Rights abuses by the security forces,” Cairo-based journalist Bel Trew told RT on Saturday.

The Google-owned service had decided to temporarily block access to The Innocence of Muslims in specific countries, including Egypt and Libya. However, Google refused to remove the video, saying it didn’t violate YouTube’s community guidelines. YouTube still does not consider the film as hate speech towards Muslims, despite the Obama administration’s request to “reconsider” its status.

Recently, an Egyptian court upheld its decision that sentenced seven alleged makers of the film with death, and American pastor Terry Jones with jail term in absentia. Other countries such as Pakistan have taken legal action to suspend a list of Google services until the anti-Islamic video is removed.

Following the violent reaction to the film, to which the Benghazi attack that killed US ambassador in Libya was also initially attributed, a 55-year old US resident identified as a key filmmaker was arrested and sentenced to jail by an American court.

Egypt-born Coptic Christian Mark Bassely Youssef was sentenced to a year in prison and four years of supervised release after pleading guilty to four of the eight charges against him. A US-based Christian charity is said to have funded The Innocence of Muslims, which also portrayed the persecution of Copts in Egypt.



Prime Minister often finds out about policies from the radio or newspapers, says former advisor Hilton


James Tapsfield

Sunday, 13 January 2013

David Cameron’s former policy guru has spoken of his “horror” at Downing Street’s inability to control government decisions.

Steve Hilton has apparently admitted that the Prime Minister often finds out about policies from the radio or newspapers – and often opposes them.

The startling insights are said to have been delivered in a seminar for students at California’s Stanford University, where Mr Hilton is teaching while on sabbatical, the Sunday Times reported.

“Very often you’ll wake up in the morning and hear on the radio or the news or see something in the newspapers about something the Government is doing,” he told them.

“And you think, well, hang on a second – it’s not just that we didn’t know it was happening, but we don’t even agree with it! The Government can be doing things… and we don’t agree with it? How can that be?”

He described how No 10 is frequently left out of the loop as important policy changes are pushed through by “paper-shuffling” civil servants.

He also complained that only 30% of daily government business was devoted to implementing its reform programme.

Another 40% related to implementing EU regulations, and 30% related to “random things… which were not anything to do with the coalition agreement”.

“In other words, only 30% of what the Government is doing is actually delivering what we’re supposed to be doing. It just shows you the scale of what you’re up against,” he said. “When I found that out, that was pretty horrific.”

He complained that the paperwork associated with everyday decisions was “impossible” for ministers to wade through. Many policy changes were simply nodded through.

“There’s all sorts of things, and they can be quite trivial things but they can be quite serious as well, and they can certainly affect the real world,” he said.

“That’s how you end up with stuff happening that the Government is doing that the people running the Government don’t know about, or disagree with.

“When you start thinking about how things get decided, it’s pretty incredible… it’s a brilliant system for paper-shuffling people to be in control.”

He added: “The bureaucracy masters the politicians. I don’t mean that in a hostile way – it’s just a fact.”

Mr Hilton left for California – where he teaches an hour-long class on “How to make change happen in government” – last May. He was widely believed to have become disillusioned with the Government’s progress on radical reforms, and his Google executive wife, Rachel Whetstone, is based there.

One of the most colourful characters in Mr Cameron’s inner circle, Mr Hilton remains close to the premier and is theoretically only on temporary leave from Downing Street. Many expect him to play a role in the 2015 general election campaign.




Under the hood of recent DDoS Attack on U.S. Banks

Author : Wang Wei on 1/10/2013 02:48:00 AM
Incapsula security study reveals how a simple neglect in managing the administrative password of a small UK site was quickly exploited by Botnet shepherds operating obscurely out of Turkey to hurl large amounts of traffic at American banks.
Under the hood of recent DDoS Attack on U.S. Banks
If you’ve been following the news, you are probably aware of a wave of DDoS attacks that recently hit several major U.S. banks.  Izz ad-Din al-Qassam, a hacker group that claimed responsibility for these attacks, declared them to be a retaliation for an anti-Islam video that mocked the Prophet Muhammad and a part of the on-going “Operation Ababil.”
As the reports of the attack started to roll in, Incapsula security team was able to uncover one of the secret foot-soldiers behind the assault: a compromised general-interest UK-based website that was trying to hurl large chunks of junk traffic at three of the world’s largest financial institutions (PNC, HSBC and Fifth Third Bank).
pnc hsbc 53 bank ddos
At On the eve of the attack, this website suddenly became a focal point of a rapidly -increasing number of security events, caused by numerous requests with encoded PHP code payload. Incapsula was able to intercept these requests and traced them back to a backdoor shell that was used to hijack the site.
The backdoor was installed before the website on-boarded Incapsula, and yet the cause of security breach was clear. The administrative password was…you guessed it: admin / admin.
encoded bank ddos
After decoding the incoming PHP requests, the security team could clearly identify them as DDoS attack commands, originating from a Turkish web design company website which was used as a remote Botnet C&C. From the looks of it, the Turkish website was also compromised and used as an additional buffer between the real hacker and its U.S. based targets.
Further investigation showed that the UK website was a part of a Botnet for Hire which was working in “shifts” to produce HTTP and UDP flood attacks. As Incapsula team continued to block and monitor incoming DDoS commands, they saw that the list of targets went beyond American banks, also including e-commerce and commercial websites from several other countries.
Incapsula published the full description of the DDoS attack in the company blog, concluding it by saying that this was just another demonstration of how security on the Internet is always determined by the weakest link. Simple neglect in manage the administrative password of a small UK site, can very quickly be exploited by Botnet shepherds operating obscurely out of Turkey to hurl large amounts of traffic at American banks.
Incapsula Security Analyst, Ronen Atias said: “This is a good example of how we are all just a part of a shared ecosystem where website security should be a shared goal and a shared responsibility.

About Author:

chin has been a security consultant for the government, financial securities, banks. Working as Researcher with The Hacker News. He is also a renowned speaker on the subject of ‘Exploit Writing’. He   is Malware analyst, Freelancer Penetration Tester, Cloud Computing,   Mobile application & Software Developer.  He has worked professionally in research, and in the practical implementation of technique. Follow him @ Twitter | | Email

The internet is leaving children brain-dead: Inventor warns ‘Google generation who spend life in front of screens are losing creativity and skills’

By  John Stevens

PUBLISHED: 17:30 EST, 25  December 2012 |  UPDATED: 17:30 EST, 25 December 2012


One of Britain’s leading inventors has warned  that  a ‘Google generation’ who rely on the internet for  everything  are in danger of becoming ‘brain-dead’.

Trevor Baylis, who invented the wind-up  radio, said children are losing creativity and practical skills because they  spend too much time in front of screens.

The 75-year-old said he fears that the next  generation of inventors is being lost, with young people often unable to make  anything with their hands.

Trevor Baylis, inventor of the wind up radio, has warned the internet is leaving children 'brain-dead'Trevor Baylis, inventor of the wind up radio, has warned  the internet is leaving children ‘brain-dead’

But he said children could rediscover vital  skills if schools used Meccano and other practical toys.

Mr Baylis said: ‘Children have  got to  be taught hands-on, and not to become mobile phone or computer  dependent.

‘They should use computers as and when, but  there are so many people playing with their computers nowadays that spend all  their time sitting there with a stomach.

‘They are dependent on Google searches. A lot  of kids will become fairly brain-dead if they become so dependent on the  internet, because they will not be able to do things the old-fashioned  way.’

Recalling how his career had its roots in the  very different world in which he grew up, he said he was  about five or six  years old when he began to invent devices. ‘During the war, when I was not at  school I used to go out and collect the rubbish,’ said Mr Baylis.

‘One day I was out and went to this house  around the corner  from where I grew up in Southall, Middlesex, and this  lady said, “I’ve got a box of stuff for you Trev, you’d better get a  wheelbarrow.” So I picked up this thing and on the way back I was intrigued and  I looked inside and it turned out to be a huge Meccano set.

Inventor Trevor Baylis says today's children are dependent on Google searchesInventor Trevor Baylis says today’s children are  dependent on Google searches

‘If I wanted to make a five-wheeled motor car  then I could, or a forklift truck. And that’s really what it is about, because  that stays with you all of your life.’

The inventor, who was awarded the OBE in  1997, believes that  simple challenges in schools  using tools such as  Meccano  model kits would give children invaluable skills.

He said: ‘With Meccano you could do your own  reproduction of, say, the Sydney Harbour Bridge.

‘If you brought Meccano back into primary or  secondary schools then you’d have class one against class two – you’ve got four  hours  to make the Sydney Harbour Bridge and we’ll see which one is the  strongest.’

Many of Mr Baylis’s inventions have been  gadgets to help the disabled.

He recalled how much of his motivation came  from an accident when he was working as a circus stunt man.

He said: ‘I did an underwater escape act in a  Berlin circus in 1970. When I was in the circus I had a very passionate affair  with an aerial ballet star, a lovely girl from Vienna.

‘One night, she bounced off the net and hit  the side and died halfway through the show and it broke my heart.

‘I suddenly realised disability is only a  banana skin away.’

Mr Baylis still has a workshop  where he  works on his inventions at his home in Twickenham, south-west London. He is  currently lobbying the Government to do more to protect the intellectual  property of inventors.

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-2253170/The-internet-leaving-children-brain-dead-Inventor-warns-Google-generation-spend-life-screens-losing-creativity-skills.html#ixzz2G6sC3QDZ Follow us: @MailOnline on Twitter | DailyMail on Facebook

Google starts watching what you do off the Internet too

Published: 20 December, 2012, 22:24 Edited: 20 December, 2012, 22:24


The most powerful company on the Internet just got a whole lot creepier: a new service from Google merges offline consumer info with online intelligence, allowing advertisers to target users based on what they do at the keyboard and at the mall.

Without much fanfare, Google announced news this week of a new advertising project, Conversions API, that will let businesses build all-encompassing user profiles based off of not just what users search for on the Web, but what they purchase outside of the home.

In a blog post this week on Google’s DoubleClick Search site, the Silicon Valley giant says that targeting consumers based off online information only allows advertisers to learn so much. “Conversions,” tech-speak for the digital metric made by every action a user makes online, are incomplete until coupled with real life data, Google says.

“We understand that online advertising also fuels offline conversions,” the blog post reads. Thus, Google says, “To capture these lost conversions and bring offline into your online world, we’re announcing the open beta of our Conversions API for uploading offline conversion automatically.”

The blog goes on to explain that in-store transactions, call-tracking and other online activities can be inputted into Google to be combined with other information “to optimize your campaigns based on even more of your business data.”

Google is all but certain to ensure that all user data collected off- and online will be cloaked through safeguards that will allow for complete and total anonymity for customers. When on-the-Web interactions start mirroring real life activity, though, even a certain degree of privacy doesn’t make Conversions API any less creepy. As Jim Edwards writes for Business Insider, “If you bought a T shirt at The Gap in the mall with your credit card, you could start seeing a lot more Gap ads online later, suggesting jeans that go with that shirt.”

Of course, there is always the possibility that all of this information can be unencrypted and, in some cases, obtained by third-parties that you might not want prying into your personal business. Edwards notes in his report that Google does not explicitly note that intelligence used in Conversions API will be anonymized, but the blowback from not doing as much would sure be enough to start a colossal uproar. Meanwhile, however, all of the information being collected by Google — estimated to be on millions of servers around the globe — is being handed over to more than just advertising companies. Last month Google reported that the US government requested personal information from roughly 8,000 individual users during just the first few months of 2012.

“This is the sixth time we’ve released this data, and one trend has become clear: Government surveillance is on the rise,” Google admitted with their report.



Aussie scientists un-discover Pacific island





A South Pacific island identified on Google Earth and world maps does not exist, according to Australian scientists who went searching for the mystery landmass during a geological expedition.

The sizeable phantom island in the Coral Sea is shown as Sandy Island on Google Earth and Google maps and is supposedly midway between Australia and the French-governed New Caledonia.

The Times Atlas of the World appears to identify it as Sable Island. Weather maps used by the Southern Surveyor, an Australian maritime research vessel, also say it exists, according to Dr Maria Seton.

But when the Southern Surveyor, which was tasked with identifying fragments of the Australian continental crust submerged in the Coral Sea, steamed to where it was supposed to be, it was nowhere to be found.

“We wanted to check it out because the navigation charts on board the ship showed a water depth of 1,400 metres (4,620 feet) in that area — very deep,” Seton, from the University of Sydney, told AFP after the 25-day voyage.


“It’s on Google Earth and other maps so we went to check and there was no island. We’re really puzzled. It’s quite bizarre.

“How did it find its way onto the maps? We just don’t know, but we plan to follow up and find out.”

News of the invisible island sparked debate on social media, with tweeter Charlie Loyd outpointing that Sandy Island is also on Yahoo Maps as well as Bing Maps “but it disappears up close”.

On www.abovetopsecret.com, discussions were robust with one poster claiming he had confirmed with the French hydrographic office that it was indeed a phantom island and was supposed to have been removed from charts in 1979.

Another claimed: “Many mapmakers put in deliberate but unobtrusive and non-obvious ‘mistakes’ into their maps so that they can know when somebody steals the map data.”

Google was not immediately available for comment. But the Google Maps product manager for Australia and New Zealand told the Sydney Morning Herald a variety of authoritative public and commercial sources were used in building maps.

“The world is a constantly changing place, and keeping on top of these changes is a never-ending endeavour,” Nabil Naghdy told the newspaper.

The closest landmass to the invisible island is the Chesterfields, a French archipelago of uninhabited coral sand cays.



Guadeloupe National Domain registrar hacked, Twitter & Google domain credentials leaked


Posted by Mohit Kumar on 11/10/2012 02:35:00 AM |

Guadeloupe is a Caribbean island located in  the Leeward Islands, in the Lesser Antilles. Today a hacker going by name  “UR0B0R0X” claimed to hack into the “Network Information Center  Guadeloupe” (nic.gp), which is Guadeloupe National Domain  registrar  having control over domains of big companies like  Google.gp,  Paypal.gp, twitter.gp, Yahoo.gp,  and many more.
Hacker claimed to hack server  of nic.gp and leak credentials (encrypted)  of 1271 Guadeloupe domains and user accounts including  usernames,  email addresses and phone numbers from server as shown via  a paste-bin note. and complete database uploaded  on a file sharing site.

About Author:

Photo-Mohit+(Mobile)Mohit Kumar  aka ‘Unix Root’  is Founder and  Editor-in-chief  of ‘The Hacker News’. He is a  Security  Researcher and Analyst, with experience in various aspects of  Information  Security. His editorials always get people thinking and  participating in the new  and exciting world of cyber security. Other than this  : He is an Internet  Activist, Strong supporter of Anonymous & Wikileaks.  His all efforts are to  make internet more Secure. Follow him @ Twitter | LinkedIn |   Google | Email

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