By Jemima Kiss
Also – an Apple patent to let cops switch off protestor’s smartphones, the Android Bitcoin vulnerability and the battle for secure email
A quick burst of links for you to chew over, as picked by the Technology team
Go to your home screen, press the Menu button, select “Settings”, under “Personal” select “Backup and reset”. Is the “Back up my data” checkbox checked? If so, all of the wifi passwords that your phone remembers are being synced to your Google account.
How not to give Google your keys and, indirectly, the NSA.
Since his deal to purchase The Washington Post was announced, newspaper readers who have found Bezos’s e-mail address have started to pepper him with questions, and Bezos, true to his reputation for customer service, has been responding. A number of customers have e-mailed him this past week, and “he has responded to every one,” said Post publisher Katharine Weymouth, who recounted one in particular. A man who had paid several hundred dollars to place a marriage announcement did not like how the paper treated him. He wrote to Bezos saying, “Thank god you’re getting involved, you understand customer service!”
Apple has patented a piece of technology which would allow government and police to block transmission of information, including video and photographs, whenever they like. All the coppers have to do is decide that a public gathering or venue is deemed “sensitive”, and needs to be “protected from externalities” and Apple will switch off all its gear. The police can then get on with the very difficult task of kettling protesters without having to worry about a few beating anyone to death. Apple insists that the affected sites are mostly cinemas, theatres, concert grounds and similar locations, but it does admit that it could be used in “covert police or government operations which may require complete ‘blackout’ conditions”.
Bitcoin developers say critical Android flaw leaves digital wallets vulnerable to theft >> The Verge
The developers of Bitcoin have announced the discovery of a critical weakness in Android that leaves Bitcoin wallets subject to theft. The vulnerability affects every Bitcoin wallet app for Android, including popular options like Bitcoin Wallet, blockchain.info wallet, BitcoinSpinner and Mycelium Wallet.
Fear not, says the NSA, we “touch” only 1.6% of daily internet traffic. If, as they say, the net carries 1,826 petabytes of information per day, then the NSA “touches” about 29 petabytes a day. They don’t say what “touch” means. Ingest? Store? Analyze? Inquiring minds want to know.
It’s tough at the top – the auto-destruct app is at the centre of a vicious lawsuit between the co-founders, the biggest of its kind since the Winklevoss twins took on Mark Zuckerberg.
It’s a familiar tension in the tech world. There are those who build the products, and those who manage the work that’s being built. Naturally, developers resent their non-technical managers and supervisors. But few companies survive without managers who make sure the trains run on time, and file patents before their competitors.
Research published in the journal Science shows that groups of commenters online form a herd mentality around the loudest voices, challenging the value of established recommendation systems.
If people tend to herd together on popular opinions, that could call into question the reliability of “wisdom of the crowd” ratings on Web sites like Yelp or Amazon and perhaps provide marketers with hints on how to bring positive attention to their products.
What it means to be an NSA “target”: new information shows why we need immediate FISA Amendments Act reform >> Electronic Frontier Foundation
First, at least this much is clear: a “target” under the FAA must be (a) a non-US person and (b) not physically located within the United States. A “person,” for purposes of the FAA, includes individuals as well as “any group, entity, association, corporation, or foreign power.” Under the FAA, the government can thus “target” a single individual (e.g., Vladimir Putin), a small group of people (e.g., Pussy Riot), or a formal corporation or entity (e.g., Gazprom).
So, when the NSA decides to “target” someone (or something), it turns its specific surveillance vacuum at them. The NSA then believes it can intercept and analyze all electronic communications of the target (telephone conversations, email conversations, chat, web browsing, etc) so long as the “target” is overseas and remains overseas. As others have noted, this includes conversations the “target” has with Americans, which would then be “incidentally” collected. Keep in mind this does not require a warrant or even the approval of a court, which is only one way Senator Feinstein’s reassurance was demonstrably false. But there’s still more.
For privacy advocates, the shutdowns are the latest discomforting reminder of the looming shadow of government surveillance, which has left some to question if the era of private and secure email has all but come to an end.
But according to sources in the space, that’s far from the case. While Lavabit and Silent Circle may have shuttered email services, many avenues still remain. One well-known encryption service, Hushmail, confirmed to BuzzFeed, “We have no plans to discontinue the Hushmail service.”
Like many in the privacy community, Pete Ashdown, the founder of the independent ISP XMission, sees this as a call to action. “I look at government attempts to control or monitor the internet as a challenge,” he told BuzzFeed. “It keeps my gears turning in directions to stop them.”
Hushmail’s position is anomalous. Intriguing.
The professor who wrote the book “What Would Google Do?” has been trying out Glass, and filled out a survey:
I wish the survey had a blank space for suggestions. If it had, I’d have said that Glass is really three things: (1) a means of recording what one sees, (2) a means of getting alerts, (3) a means of getting instructions, such as directions. Rethink the functionality and utility from that level.
When the survey asked about the apps that already exist and new apps we’d want to see, it occurred to me that they are victim of shovelware syndrome: Recreating old functionality in a new context. I’d have thought Google would dig down deeper than that.
We know LG made the Nexus 4, and there’s rumors that the next Nexus smartphone will arrive later this year as the LG Nexus 5. So with that, we asked LG if they had plans to offer a GPe G2, and here’s what they had to say.
“As of right now, LG doesn’t have any plans for a Google Play Edition. The focus for the G2 is penetration through carriers. That however could change down the road.” -Ken Hong, LG PR”
No plans *yet*. But do those Google Play editions sell in numbers making them worth producing?
Chairman J.T. Wang said “the Windows camp has to do something to reestablish or reinforce confidence among PC users. People are reluctant (to buy) and are holding (off) their purchasing decisions.”
Both Acer’s president and chairman declined to say what kind and level of support Google and Microsoft are offering Acer for it to shift its product mix.
For the current quarter ending Sept. 30, Acer’s mobile device shipments, including notebook PCs, tablets and smartphones, may register on-quarter growth of between zero and 5%, company President Jim Wang said.
“For the PC industry, I haven’t seen light at the end of the tunnel,” he said. “First, we have to sustain our market share and protect our bottom line…and by doing tablets and smartphones right, we can be prepared for the day after tomorrow.”
Second quarter of losses in a row. Acer hopes that Android + Chromebooks could be up to 30% of revenue in 2014. In Q2, Chromebooks made up “close to” 3% of Acer shipments.
A US online survey from June, but in line with others:
we wondered if consumers were considering jumping over to the other camp for their next smartphone. In this Gadgetology report we find out how loyal iPhone and Android users are to their platforms and ask phone buyers what they are looking for in their next smartphone. Here’s what we found:
o Apple’s loyal following remains intact
o Very few iPhone users are planning on switching to Android
o Apple had better increase the screen size in future iPhones
o Men prefer Android phones and larger screens more than women do
o Lots of iPhone owners are waiting for too see what the next iPhone looks like but if it has the same screen size it could be a deal killer
o New iPad, a less expensive iPhone, and an Apple television get consumers most excited
We’d love to see similar surveys for Europe and Asia. Criminal use of Comic Sans, though.