A Report about Banning the Telegram Encrypted Messaging App in Iran

The Center for Human Rights in Iran (CHRI) is an independent, nonpartisan, nonprofit organization dedicated to the protection and promotion of human rights in Iran. The Center has released a report entitled Closing of the Gates – Implications of Iran’s Ban on the Telegram Messaging App. I would suggest this report should be required reading by every elected official, every bureaucrat, and every law enforcement official in every country. It shows the efforts of one totalitarian regime, run by strong dictators, to eradicate democracy. Hopefully, free and open societies will reject such tactics.

This report publicizes many issues involved with banning encryption. One quote that illustrates the effect on free speech is:

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Microsoft Calls For Federal Regulation of Facial Recognition

In just the past few weeks, critics assailed Amazon for selling facial recognition technology to local police departments, and Facebook for how it gained consent from Europeans to identify people in their photos. In an effort to help society keep pace with the rampaging development of the technology, Microsoft President Brad Smith published a blog post calling for government regulation of facial recognition.

Details may be found at: https://www.wired.com/story/microsoft-calls-for-federal-regulation-of-facial-recognition/.

Russians Found One Use for Bitcoin: Hacking the 2016 US Election

Your analysis of the candidates and the issues may have been partially influenced by fake news spread online by Russian hackers. To facilitate all this, the hackers used many modern tools, including Bitcoins, to fund their operation. The hackers allegedly used the funds to purchase the domains, servers, and accounts involved in obtaining and disseminating the stolen materials.

You can read more about this news in an article by Gregory Barber in Wired at https://www.wired.com/story/russian-hackers-bitcoin/.

Comment: Please don’t make the mistake of thinking that Bitcoin is an evil invention. Some politicians are already spreading that bit of “fake news” misinformation in many places.

Many modern inventions, including the telephone, the automobile, social networks, credit cards, and much more can be used for legal and illegal purposes alike. Yet I don’t hear anyone suggesting that we abandon automobiles to go back to the horse and buggy days nor does anyone advocate banning the use of credit cards. Any suggestion of banning any modern invention reminds me about an old parable concerning babies and bathwater.

Hackers are Selling Backdoors into Windows PCs for just $10

If you use Windows, you want to know about this problem that apparently has been around for some time. Cyber criminals are offering remote access to IT systems for just $10 via a dark web hacking store — potentially enabling attackers to steal information, disrupt systems, deploy ransomware and more. Some of the products sold for $10 allow access to tens of thousands of compromised systems.

Systems advertised for sale on the forum range from Windows XP through to Windows 10, with access to Windows 2008 and 2012 Server most common.

Details may be found in an article by Danny Palmer in the ZDNet web site at: https://tinyurl.com/y7xuxp8d.

Supreme Court Nominee Brett Kavanaugh Opposes Net Neutrality

This is scary. Conservatives, liberals, and Libertarians alike will be disappointed that Kavanaugh not only rejects the FCC’s reclassification of ISPs under Title II, but seems to also support a broad First Amendment right to “editorial control,” allowing ISPs to selectively block, filter, or modify transmitted data.

A recent report “also mentions Kavanaugh’s support of NSA surveillance: ‘In November 2015, Kavanaugh was part of a unanimous decision when the DC Circuit denied a petition to rehear a challenge to the NSA’s bulk collection of telephone metadata. Kavanaugh was the only judge to issue a written statement, which said that ‘[t]he Government’s collection of telephony metadata from a third party such as a telecommunications service provider is not considered a search under the Fourth Amendment.’ Even if this form of surveillance constituted a search, it wouldn’t be an ‘unreasonable’ search and therefore it would be legal.”

The sad details may be found in an article by Jon Brodkin in the ArsTechnica web site at: http://bit.ly/2NKf96K.

How a Startup Is Using the Blockchain to Protect Your Privacy

This is an interesting article about protecting your privacy, especially if you are familiar with the use of blockchains:

Dawn Song, a Berkeley computer-science professor and MacArthur fellow, is a fan of cloud computing. She also thinks it needs a major rethink. “The cloud and the internet have fundamentally changed our lives mostly for good,” she says. “But they have serious problems with privacy and security—users and companies lose control of their data.”

Outsourcing data storage and processing over the internet has given companies new flexibility and consumers the power to hail rides, find dates, and socialize from a slab of glass in their pocket. The same technologies have also enabled data theft, corporate prying on our personal lives, and new forms of election manipulation.

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