Microsoft and Telekom Joint Venture that Provides Data Storage Services in Germany is Shutting Down Due to Privacy Issues

Last week, Microsoft announced their collaboration with Deutsche Telekom, which was providing customers Microsoft cloud services under strict German jurisdiction, is shutting down. Microsoft is replacing it with a service that no longer is directly operated by Microsoft. The new service(s) reportedly will comply with local and regional regulations, including the Cloud Computing Compliance Controls Catalogue (C5) certification in Germany.

Handelsblatt.com called the Telekom cloud solution “over-priced, under-performing and unpopular with customers”, and their sources tell them “Microsoft Cloud Deutschland” has lost Microsoft over 100 million euro. Handelsblatt.com stated that the security issues were the main problem.

In theory, the data stored in the German data centers were run under German law which strongly prohibits access to the stored data by anyone. Not even the German government is allowed to see the stored data, according to German laws. Of course, no other government is allowed access either.

The problem is with U.S. laws as applied to U.S. companies and the fact that data stored anywhere in the world is really international. While laws in various countries may claim rights over data stored within each country, the German laws are inadequate when applied to joint ventures by corporations in different countries.

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California Lawmakers Pass Nation’s Toughest Net Neutrality Law

California lawmakers on Friday passed a bill that would guarantee full and equal access to the internet — a principle known as net neutrality — in the biggest pushback yet to the federal government’s rollback of rules last year.

The California bill is viewed as even stronger and more consumer-friendly than the original measures carried out by the Obama administration and abolished in December by the Trump-era Federal Communications Commission. It is sure to set up a fight between broadband providers, which say strict rules would increase their costs, and consumer groups, which seek to ensure that all traffic on the internet is treated equally.

Details may be found in an article by Cecilia Kang in the New York Times at: https://nyti.ms/2PV7nbf.

Could the Government Use Your Smart Meter to Spy on You?

Smart meters are designed to reduce energy consumption, lower household bills and, by extension, help the planet along a little bit. But could they also be used by the government to spy on you? This is the question that was thrown into the spotlight this week when the Seventh Circuit handed down a landmark opinion ruling, stating that data collected by smart meters is protected by the Fourth Amendment.

Previously, courts have ruled that the Fourth Amendment does not protect household energy data -– a precedent largely based on readings from traditional analog energy meters which don’t really reveal anything at all, other than the total amount of energy used over a long period of time. The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) and Privacy International filed an amicus brief urging the Seventh Circuit (a federal court with jurisdiction in the central and northern districts of Illinois) to reconsider this position, which they subsequently did, potentially setting an example for the protection of energy data throughout the US.

You can read the details in an article by Rachel England in the Engadget web site at: https://engt.co/2LDgVUX.

Encrypted Communications Apps Failed to Protect Michael Cohen

Encryption keeps data and telephone conversations safe from prying eyes if, and only if, it is used properly by someone who understands the strengths and weaknesses of the technology. Apparently, former Trump lawyer Michael Cohen is not one of those people. One thing you should never do is to record the conversations and then save them in clear (unencrypted) text and audio files.

Within the detailed federal allegations against former Trump lawyer Michael Cohen, who pleaded guilty earlier this week to eight charges including campaign finance violations, are multiple references to texts sent by Cohen and even a call made “through an encrypted telephone application.” Cohen was apparently a fan of encrypted communications apps like WhatsApp and Signal, but those tools failed to keep his messages and calls out of sight from investigators. In June, prosecutors said in a court filing the FBI had obtained 731 pages of messages and call logs from those apps from Cohen’s phones.

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22 States Ask US Appeals Court To Reinstate Net Neutrality Rules

A group of 22 state attorneys general and the District of Columbia late Monday asked a U.S. appeals court to reinstate the Obama administration’s 2015 landmark net neutrality rules and reject the Trump administration’s onerous efforts to preempt states from imposing their own rules guaranteeing an open internet. The states argue the FCC reversal will harm consumers. The states also suggested the FCC failed to identify any “valid authority” for preempting state and local laws that would protect net neutrality. The FCC failed to offer a “meaningful defense of its decision to uncritically accept industry promises that are untethered to any enforcement mechanism,” the states said.

The state attorney generals suing represent states with 165 million people — more than half the United States population — and include California, Illinois, New Jersey, North Carolina, Pennsylvania and Virginia. The states argue the FCC action could harm public safety, citing electrical grids as an example. They argue “the absence of open internet rules jeopardizes the ability to reduce load in times of extreme energy grid stress. Consequently, the order threatens the reliability of the electric grid.”

You can read more in the Reuters News Agency web site at: https://tinyurl.com/y8a5vqyq.

Perhaps the Biggest Scams of All: Know-Your-Customer (KYC) and Anti-Money-Laundering Laws (AML)

Edan Yago has published an article that should interest most everyone involved in finances, including banking, investments, crypto-currencies, and even private investors. With a career in finance and crypto-currencies, he knows the subject well.

Yago suggests that Know-Your-Customer and Anti-Money-Laundering Laws are responsible for both good things and evil. His article focuses on evil side. He states that these laws are responsible for turning banking and financial institutions into an unofficial secret police. Further, he believes the result is this Big Brother surveillance causes one entire country, Somalia, to starve and that many innovative products and solutions never came to be because they did not fit, or could not afford, the current compliance regime.

He also asks:

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GCHQ Spy Agency Given Illegal Access To Citizens’ Data

GCHQ, the UK’s electronic surveillance agency, was given vastly increased powers to obtain and analyze citizens’ data after the 9/11 terrorist attacks in 2001, on the condition that it agreed to strict oversight from the foreign secretary. But according to the Investigatory Powers Tribunal, an independent court that was set up by the government to investigate unlawful intrusion by public bodies in the UK, the Foreign Office on several occasions gave GCHQ an effective “carte blanche” to demand data from telecoms and internet companies.

Details may be found in the BBC News web site at: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-44936592