Cook's European tour a busy mix of meetings, appearances
On a European tour ostensibly to promote the new iPad Pro, Apple CEO Tim Cook has had a variety of meetings -- ranging from his usual unannounced appearances at Apple Stores to meeting with the finance chief of the UK to a speech to students at an Italian university. With the UK's Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne, Cook wanted the government to help speed up adoption of mobile payments; in various UK newspaper interviews, he hinted at further health products, and in Italy, he waxed reminiscent on his own schooldays.
Move satisfies rule that foreign phones must have percentage of domestic parts
The government of Indonesia has approved an Apple proposal to build a research and development facility in the country, a move that will allow Apple to comply with a government rule that at least 30 percent of components in foreign-made smartphones must be produced within the country. The government allows companies to interpret "components" as either hardware, software, or development, allowing Apple a way to obey the law without having to alter the iPhones.
Proposal requires UK Internet providers to hold browsing records for one year
The government of the United Kingdom is attempting to force Internet service providers to keep a record of a customer's online browsing habits, in order to assist the country's security services. The draft Investigatory Powers Bill, presented to Parliament earlier today, would require ISPs to hold onto logs of websites visited by its users for a 12-month period, letting the police and other security-related agencies legally see where suspects have been online.
Cook firmly against NSA surveillance, encryption back doors
Apple CEO Tim Cook took to National Public Radio's All Things Considered radio show yesterday to discuss Apple's stance on several hot-button issues. In his interview with host Robert Siegel, Cook addressed governmental information requests, as well as the requests for "back doors" into Apple's encryption. Additionally, Apple's stance on user privacy was delved into, and a conversation was had about how Apple utilizes customers' purchasing history.
In digital world, boundaries for countries, law enforcement mean little
As has been predicted for some time, the US government is clashing with technology companies over the encryption of personal data when it comes to law enforcement. The Justice Department is accusing Apple of disobeying a court order that it turn over text messages, in real time, between suspects in a guns-and-drugs case who are using iPhones. Apple has said the messages are encrypted without third-party keys, and thus it cannot comply with the order. Microsoft is also fighting the government, over whether emails stored outside the US should be given to US officials.
Ripping CDs in iTunes now illegal in UK, prosecution unlikely
A recent ruling by the United Kingdom's High Court has technically made the copying of CDs illegal in the country. A law that allowed the legal copying of copyrighted content for personal use, put into place only last year, has been overturned in the last few months after pressure from music industry groups, with the country's Intellectual Property Office (IPO) advising this technically makes software functions for ripping CDs to MP3, such as within iTunes, illegal once more.
Apple increasing efforts in India with search for government affairs specialist
Apple is seeking a senior manager for its New Delhi-based offices that has experience with India's government procurement system, indicating a new pitch to improve sales of the iPhone to the government as well as find someone who can represent the company's position on policy issues that come before the government and "within trade associations," according to the hiring notice.
MobileFirst for iOS partnership now offers 32 vertical apps
The partnership between Apple and IBM that targets the enterprise sector continues a steady stream of new app releases, with 10 more announced on Tuesday that brings the total of the year-old partnership to 32 apps for specific industries. The latest batch include apps designed for managers, business travelers, the mortgage industry, government inspectors, and field technicians and professionals, among others.
Program will need to cut waste, increase subsidy to have meaningful impact
The US Federal Communications Division on Thursday voted 3-2 to consider a proposal from FCC Chair Tom Wheeler that would expand the government's Lifeline program to help subsidize the cost of home broadband service to the nation's poorest people. The program, originally put into place during the Reagan administration -- but often referred by critics as "Obamaphone" -- currently provides a small subsidy to help disadvantaged people afford cellular phone service.
IRS confirms tax refunds stolen because of weak security
Identity thieves have stolen the tax information of more than 100,000 people via a service ran by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), the government agency has advised. Speaking before the Senate Finance Committee on Tuesday, IRS Commissioner John Koskinen advised that the government body is working with state governments and producers of tax software to make it more difficult for a thief to steal tax refunds destined for their rightful recipients.
Anti-terror legislation seen as license to spy, would have driven western companies away
A proposal that would have mandated that high-tech hardware and software have "backdoors" installed that would be accessible by the government, as well as forcing companies to provide keys for any encryption schemes used on the devices or in programs, has been suspended from proceeding through the legislative process. In addition, the proposal would have mandated all data created by Chinese users would have been required to remain in China, requiring hundreds of western services to build data centers in the country.
Utility classification accompanied by calls to improve speeds, digital skills education
Internet access must be classified as a public utility, a report from the upper house of the United Kingdom parliament has declared, with speeds and the teaching of "digital skills" also a priority. Echoing the similar Title II discussion in the United States, the UK's House of Lords calls for the government to "define the Internet as a utility service, available for all to access and use," citing the prevalence of the Internet in everyday life.
Mac maker will continue to not share security information with government, however
Apple and Intel are among the US firms that have agreed to sign on to President Obama's new Cybersecurity Framework as a result of a recent summit on the topic held on Friday in Palo Alto, California. The two tech firms are the first in that sector to adopt the measures, which are intended to better coordinate reporting of data and security breaches and the response to them between businesses and the federal government.
President seeks to strike balance between security and privacy
The Office of the President has announced a forthcoming White House Summit on Cybersecurity and Consumer Protection that will take place on Friday, February 13 at Stanford University. President Obama and representatives from business, government, cyber security firms and other interested stakeholders will gather in the hopes of finding a balance between protecting America's interests from the growing threat of cyber-attacks, while still protecting citizen privacy. Apple CEO Tim Cook is among those who have been invited to speak.
French ISPs have 24 hours to block content following government request
The French government is now able to order Internet service providers to block websites relating to terrorism and child pornography. The new law, brought into effect following its publication in an official journal and in development since mid-2014, forces ISPs to prevent access to specific content discovered by government officials within 24 hours of a request.
The House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform sees red, charges
The House Committee on Oversight and Government reform has written to US Federal Communications Commission chairman Tom Wheeler, and has demanded that the regulatory agency produce any and all communiation between the FCC and the White House. The Republicans on the committee claim to see "an improper influence" from President Obama at the core of the FCC commissioner's recent mandate of Title II regulation of ISPs, and are demanding the documentation to back up their claims, and potentially torpedo the effort.
Arduous record-keeping required at point-of-sale, will make system less safe
A St. Louis, Missouri governmental official sees weakness in electronic payment security, and is seeking to mandate identification presentation in conjunction with an Apple Pay transaction, or other similar electronic payments. Democrat Joshua Peters from Missouri's state House of Representatives bill will, if passed into law, not only mandate sales staff to verify the identity of the purchaser, but retain this information as well.
Webcast on Friday will discuss tests to be performed this year
Every decade, the US Census Bureau conducts a study that is used to lay out Congressional districts and guide government spending on things such as infrastructure. This year, the bureau will be researching new methods it believes will be more cost effective, saving up to $5 billion by allowing citizens to fill out their census forms online, and having on-the-ground census takers use smartphones, starting with a webcast on Friday, January 9.
Six-month period of disruption culminates in China Gmail block
China has blocked Gmail, preventing users in the country from accessing the email service, according to reports. Starting from December 26, Chinese authorities have reportedly added Gmail URLs to the "Great Firewall," in what is believed to be an attempt by the country's government to reduce Gmail and Google's prominence in the region, on top of earlier censorship efforts.
Besides being terrible, nobody benefits besides Sony from The Interview
To much fanfare, and terrible reviews, Sony Pictures finally released The Interview -- a contentious, and some say trite, light comedy vehicle where a pair of bumbling reporters are recruited by the CIA to assassinate the leader of North Korea. Conventional media, and governmental figures, have put this forth as a victory for the US' right to freedom of expression, and a defiant Sony agrees. However, viewing the picture isn't the act of defiance and patriotism that Sony wants you to think it is - in fact, viewers are now supporting a company that has called for censorship of journalists and US citizens alike, in the interest of corporate secrets.
Main Internet connection for North Korea goes down following statement attacking US government
North Korea has declared it will strike against the United States, after the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) identified the rogue state as the origin of the Sony Pictures hack. However, alongside the sabre-rattling statement provided by the Korean Central News Agency of DPRK (the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, as it calls itself) are reports that the country's Internet connection has itself been the target of an attack over the weekend, with North Korea effectively being knocked offline.
Double-talk from industry supports notion that some regulation would benefit consumers
Since President Barack Obama voiced his support for reclassification of ISPs as utilities, there has been much debate back and forth, and back again on the topic of "Title II" regulation of carriers. Would it be the dystopian nightmare anti-government zealots and the carriers proclaim, or would it provide a golden utopia of progress for consumers and American businesses alike?
Investment pledge by UK carriers to avoid implementing national roaming proposal
A suggestion by the British government has prompted carriers to improve their mobile networks. EE, O2, Vodafone, and Three have all agreed to collectively invest at least £5 billion ($7.8 billion) into a program to improve their mobile networks across the United Kingdom, in order to avoid being forced to implement a proposed "National Roaming" scheme.
Uber hit by multiple legal, regulatory issues over the last few days
Uber is continuing to have a turbulent week, with issues in a number of different cities and countries within the last few days. The driving service has been banned in Spain, Thailand, and India, with Vietnam also taking a close look at the company's practices, while the city of Portland, Oregon has filed a lawsuit to shutter the service within days of launch.
Secure Data Act attempts to ban the inclusion of vulnerabilities for surveillance, search
A new Senate bill was introduced on December 4 that aims to halt one channel of government intrusion into electronic devices and software. Privacy and technology supporter Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR) unveiled the Secure Data Act, which he drafted to cut off recent attempts by government officials to change laws and render new private encryption and device trends obsolete in the name of government access.
Wireless company said to overcharge for wiretaps, pen registers for three years
AT&T's budget wireless brand Cricket Communications has agreed to pay back more than $2.1 million in charges stemming from government-related wiretaps and pen registers. In a statement from the US Attorney's Office for the Northern District of California, the company is settling in order to bring an end to the allegations that it overcharged the government for services and facilities tied to electronic surveillance for three years.
Sellers of unregistered Bluetooth sticks face a maximum of three years in prison or $27,000 fine
In South Korea, the Ministry of Science is stepping in to regulate the market for "selfie sticks" on a technicality. The governmental action isn't prompted by competitive markets or public complaints, but by a subset of the small sticks that use Bluetooth. It turns out that many of the sticks that utilize the wireless functionality aren't registered, and therefore haven't been submitted for testing for radio interference.
China report indicates Microsoft will pay $16.2M per year in additional taxes
Microsoft's tax troubles aren't limited to the US, according to a report from a Chinese news agency. The software company is being accused of tax evasion in the country, after years of posting heavy losses in a Chinese-based subsidiary. As a result, Microsoft is paying the Chinese government $137 million in back taxes and interest.
All Writs Act compels 'reasonable' unlock assistance, gives idea of future circumvention
In the face of increasing security measures on consumer devices, the US Department of Justice appears to be returning to old school tactics to get at data in devices. A judge in New York ordered an unnamed smartphone manufacturer to provide technical assistance in unlocking a device, something prosecutors argued under the All Writs Act of 1789. While the All Writs Act has been used in the past in technological situations, it could be the de facto means of law enforcement data requests in the future.
Proposed security bill will force Internet providers to log IP address allocations for one year
The UK government is proposing a law which would require Internet service providers (ISPs) to keep records of IP address allocations and provide them to the police. Part of the "Counter-Terrorism and Security Bill," the measure is said to help law enforcement officials identify and track devices used for online crime, terrorism, and to help protect vulnerable people.
Site breached privacy by showing video feeds from unsecured webcams
A Russian website showing live video feeds from unsecured webcams has come under fire from a British government regulator. The Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) of the United Kingdom has called for Russian authorities to take action against the site, "Insecam," which breaches the privacy of thousands of people who do not realize someone else may be watching, as well as calling for device owners to secure their cameras.
Officials slow to react in NOAA hacking, cover-up claimed by congressman
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has admitted that it has been the target of another online breach, just a few days after the United States Postal Service (USPS) revealed it too endured an intrusion. The attack took place in late September, though unlike the other governmental intrusion, NOAA officials are not revealing whether any classified data was acquired by intruders, nor if systems were altered.
Terrorist use of social networks concerns new head of UK intelligence agency
The new head of a British intelligence agency has asked for technology companies in the United States to help law enforcement fight crime. Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) chief Robert Hannigan wrote in an article for the Financial Times that the use of technology and social networks by terrorist groups such as Isis should compel tech companies to work with government agencies, rather than overprotect customer data.
DOJ could be reluctant to pursue criminal charges after criticism in other cases
The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) has reportedly identified a "second leaker" that has been passing sensitive government information to journalists for months. While the subject isn't named, the FBI recently conducted a search of a government contractor's home believed to be tied to the leak of classified documents regarding government watch-lists. In addition to the search, federal prosecutors in North Virginia initiated a criminal investigation.
Proposed Internet tax could help Hungary with national budget deficit
Internet providers in Hungary may find their costs will increase, as the government mulls a possible tax on Internet traffic. A draft tax bill for 2015 has been submitted to the country's parliament, one which would require companies to pay for data transfers, as the country attempts to deal with a national budget deficit in alternative ways.
Comey seeking update to CALEA to give law enforcement a 'front door' into devices
Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Director James Comey isn't giving up his crusade to persuade the government and businesses that law enforcement should have access to encrypted phone data. Comey took his fight to Congress recently, asking that it update the Communications Assistance for Law Enforcement Act (CALEA) to cover newer technologies.
Initiative adds EMV support to government channels, more identity theft protections, reporting
Last week, US President Barack Obama signed an executive order that will help consumers who are victims of identity theft, as well as speed up the adoption of the Europay, MasterCard, and Visa (EMV) chip standard for credit and debit cards. In the order, parts of the federal government will be adopting EMV measures, as well as strengthening the public's ability to monitor financial health or seek help when necessary.
Online abuse proposals quadruple current maximum prison sentences
The government of the United Kingdom is attempting to increase the possible penalties for online harassment, following recent high-profile reports of "trolling" in the country. The proposals, an amendment to the Criminal Justice and Courts Bill undergoing the latter stages of parliamentary debate, potentially allows for people convicted for trolling to face prison sentences of up to two years, up from the current six-month maximum.
Apple, Google, others will be affected by tax loophole closing in 2020
The Irish government is preparing to close a tax loophole that many technology companies are using to their advantage. The government has announced changes to tax law covering Ireland, which will prevent Google, Apple, and other large enterprises from taking advantage of current tax rules in what is commonly known as a "Double Irish" tax arrangement.
Program exchanges traffic data between governments, crowdsourced traffic platform
Waze is expanding its data reach today, launching the Connective Citizens program to bring the crowdsourced navigation platform together with 10 governments across the globe. The initiative is expected to improve the amount of information available in Waze, while granting municipalities and other government bodies information on road incidents and traffic conditions.
Official states charges are 'groundless,' believes US should focus on upholding security
In a press conference today, Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Hong Lei responded to the government sponsored hacking allegations from the United States. In an unclassified report from the Senate Committee on Armed Services, the body accused the Chinese military of being responsible for at least 20 successful attacks on US Transportation Command (Transcom) contractors.
Lack of communication between divisions, contractors left agency aware of two attacks
A US Senate committee discovered that Chinese hackers were able to gain access to computer systems for US Transportation Command (Transcom) contractors at least 20 times in a single year. In an unclassified report released today, the investigation focused on the security of Transcom due of the central role it plays in mobilizing troops and equipment.
Intruder installs 'malicious software' for cyber-attacks, breach access point unknown
Health care exchanges continue to hit rough patches, as the United States government has revealed that the federal health care portal Healthcare.gov was breached. While there is no evidence that any personal information from the 5.4 million people applying through the site was stolen during the event, the attack marks the first time an intrusion has successfully accessed systems attached to the website.
US Digital Service created to avoid issues similar to Healthcare.gov launch
The Obama administration has launched a new team dedicated to managing the IT practices of government agencies. The US Digital Service (USDS), headed by former Google engineer Mikey Dickerson, aims to help government-created public IT projects work as effectively as privately-owned services, in order to avoid issues similar to the ill-fated Healthcare.gov launch, a project Dickerson helped rescue.
Kaspersky, Symantec said to be excluded from procurement lists, could be due to security concerns
One of China's state-sponsored media channels is indicating that the government has removed all foreign-made software from its list of approved security software purchases. Newspaper The People's Daily posted on Twitter yesterday, indicating that Kaspersky and Symantec are now excluded from the country's government procurement channels.
Visit tied to investigation, Microsoft states that it will cooperate with officials
Officials from the China's State Administration for Industry and Commerce (AIC) showed up at four Microsoft offices in the country unannounced earlier today. Offices in Beijing, Chengdu, Guangzhou and Shanghai received the sudden visits, that could be tied to the start of an antitrust investigation for a presently-unknown reason. The visits come at a time when Microsoft faces scrutiny in the country, over spying allegations and government refusal of Windows 8.
Report claims three judges in FISA Court bought Verizon stock in the last year
Judges sitting on the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISA Court) may not be entirely impartial, according to a report. A number of judges on FISA Court allegedly own stock in Verizon, one of the companies subject to NSA bulk surveillance orders issued by the court, with the report suggesting this could be considered as unethical behavior by judges in an important role.
NTIA may be called to create voluntary best practices for commercial drones
President Barack Obama may issue privacy guidelines for commercial drones in the United States, claims a report. Plans to issue an executive order allegedly involve the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) working with consumer groups, and companies planning to operate drones in the future, to create "voluntary best practices" for the unmanned aircraft.
Repository of JTRIG tools shows some that can modify or mimic existing information
Information posted by The Intercept revealed this week that the British Intelligence agency Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) has the tools to modify communications, on top of monitoring them and collecting data. A database in the form of a Wiki entry of internal tools was posted to the site, listing the function and development status of each. Data from social media sites like Facebook, video sites like YouTube and various forms of web traffic and phone calls can all be modified or spoofed.
Department for Transport requires electronics to power on for security checks
Following on from a recent decision by the US Transportation Security Administration effectively banning uncharged electronics on flights to the United States, the United Kingdom is preparing to do something similar. The Department for Transport is now requiring air passengers arriving or departing the UK to have their devices charged before going through security checkpoints.