Apple reports on government information requests(PDF) includes a silent alarm to warn users if it had been forced to comply to such requests.
But another aspect of Apple’s report today stands out as a bold and clever move. Senior Counsel & Free Expression Director at Center for Democracy & Technology Kevin Bankston, formerly an EFF Attorney, noted an interesting claim in the document. Specifically, Apple stated specifically that it had never received a PATRIOT 215 order.
The very last line of Apple’s report today states “Apple has never received an order under Section 215 of the USA Patriot Act. We would expect to challenge such an order if served on us.”
The cleverness of this becomes evident when you realize that if it had received such an order, it could not disclose it under current rules surrounding national security orders for user data. This tactic of announcing ‘nothing’ with regards to a government subpoena for data is known as a kind of ‘warrant canary’. Basically, Apple says that at this point it has not received any such order. But, if that phrase stops appearing in future transparency reports, this acts as a ‘canary in a coal mine‘ that indicates to users that it may have been forced to comply with such an order and not disclose it in the future.
Clever indeed. Apple is trying its best to be socially responsible by including such a silent alarm.
Apple has updated the Mail app for OS X Mavericks with a few fixes.
- Fixes an issue that prevents deleting, moving, and archiving messages for users with custom Gmail settings
- Addresses an issue that may cause unread counts to be inaccurate
- Includes additional fixes that improve the compatibility and stability of Mail
Previously I reported on problems using Gmail with the Mail app on Mavericks and some people are even ditching Gmail due to the issues with Mail app.
There are no shortage of social apps out there, though with the support of Billionaire Carlos Slim and Latin America’s biggest wireless carrier, Mobli could be a force to be reckoned with.
How Billionaire Carlos Slim Is Pushing Instagram Rival Mobli Onto Millions Of Phones
Mobli is like Instagram but with extra features, including hash tagging for locations and a direct messaging service. Hogeg got the idea for the app when he was at a concert and saw the audience filming and photographing the performers. “I wanted to connect the eyes of everyone,” he said, adding that Mobli now has the second-largest database of photos and videos among mobile apps, after Instagram.
With the U.S., and its NSA in particular, increasingly in the spotlight over ignoring privacy issues, many companies and individuals are beginning to look to other countries for alternatives. Germany has always been an option, though it’s best to know the differences of each country before diving in.
Apple just revealed Germany’s conflicted attitude to privacy
The fact remains that Germany has built up a solid reputation as a vanguard for its citizens’ privacy. It has some of the harshest data protection rules in the world and was the first to go after Google for picking up Wi-Fi data while collecting imagery for its Street View project. Less well known is that the fine was lowered after Google shared the data with the government.
Switzerland is another country that is well known for its stance on privacy, but even with those measures in place, once your data crosses borders, the rules will change.
Swisscom builds ‘Swiss Cloud’ as spying storm rages
Yet while Swiss privacy laws will govern data stored locally in Switzerland, Swisscom says it is hard to guarantee the security of data that crosses borders, such as information exchanged by employees working in different countries.
It’s not hard to imagine why bookstores generally aren’t too fond of Amazon, but in the end, the bookstores will need to crunch the numbers and decide if they’re willing to ignore customers who are looking to get eBooks instead of physical books.
As for Amazon, this is a smart move to expand the reach of its Kindle readers, as well as a potential trojan horse.
Amazon’s New Kindle Offer Rejected by Indie Bookstores
But to many booksellers, the offer is about as subtle as the Trojan rabbit in Monty Python and The Holy Grail, and they seem just as willing to fling it back in Amazon’s face. Jeremy Ellis, the manager at Brazos Bookstore in Houston, tells us he can see “how a store that feels a need to be in the e-book market could see a Kindle in their store as a benefit.” But ultimately, he calls this notion “a lie.”
“You are putting your competition inside your store and selling their books for them,” he says of stores who embrace the Amazon program. “That ultimately will not lead to a successful business model.”
Google’s revamped dialer for Android 4.4 KitKat which pulls information from Google Maps is pretty awesome. The news that Google is going to automatically use your Google+ photo for your caller ID might cause a privacy uproar by some folks though.
Google will show your Google+ photo to Android callers starting early next year
Android 4.4 KitKat debuted last week with a smart new phone dialer that matches incoming calls to businesses with a Google Places listing, but that’s just the start of Google’s plans for caller ID. Early next year the search giant plans to link Google+ profile pictures to mobile phone numbers. Google accounts that have a verified phone number will be automatically opted in and linked to the associated Google+ account. In reality this means that anyone using Android to call, or receive a call, from a number linked to a Google+ account will see a profile image automatically without the need to have contact information stored.
A lot has been made recently over the NSA’s actions, but regardless of which side of the fence you’re on, having the option for secure, encrypted emails is always important. It’s possible that Lavabit wasn’t as secure as it was marketed to be, but that doesn’t mean that we should ignore the importance of encryption, especially in this day and age.
Will we ever have truly private and secure email?
Despite the use of cryptography, Lavabit is also vulnerable to all three just like a conventional (unencrypted) e-mail service. The operator can, at any time, stop averting their eyes, an attacker who compromises the server can log the password a user transmits, and an attacker who can intercept communication to the server can obtain the password as well as the plaintext e-mail.
Most folks who use the Internet might not be concerned, or even know of, the issue of net neutrality, but if we don’t take it seriously, it’s the consumers that will lose out in the end.
We’re About to Lose Net Neutrality — And the Internet as We Know It
The implications of such a decision would be profound. Web and mobile companies will live or die not on the merits of their technology and design, but on the deals they can strike with AT&T, Verizon, Comcast, and others. This means large phone and cable companies will be able to “shakedown” startups and established companies in every sector, requiring payment for reliable service. In fact, during the oral argument in the current case, Verizon’s lawyer said, “I’m authorized to state from my client today that but for these [FCC] rules we would be exploring those types of arrangements.”
Wait, it gets even worse. Pricing isn’t even a necessary forcing factor. Once the court voids the nondiscrimination rule, AT&T, Verizon, and Comcast will be able to deliver some sites and services more quickly and reliably than others for any reason. Whim. Envy. Ignorance. Competition. Vengeance. Whatever. Or, no reason at all.
Sync, BitTorrent’s Server-Less Dropbox Competitor, Hits 1M Active Users, Now Available As An API
With more attention being paid to privacy now that the NSA’s snooping has been made public, it might be an opportunity for a decentralized file sync platform to pounce on. With the announcement of the Sync API, the battle for your files continues.
Sync, a file synchronization service from P2P platform BitTorrent that works as a kind of server-less Dropbox, has picked up some good traction since launching earlier this year, with 1 million active users archiving and synchronizing some 30 petabytes of data on the service to-date (up from 8 petabytes in July). Now BitTorrent is hoping to turn up the volume on that usage: today it’s releasing its first Sync API, which will let developers incorporate the service into their own apps as a way for users to access and share data.
Google Announces Live Video Tutorials Called ‘Helpouts’
YouTube already offers plenty of tutorial videos, but Helpouts takes things one step further and removes another barrier between people. As certain folks and services become more popular on the platform, it’ll be interesting to see if personalized one-on-one Helpouts will be scalable.
Google on Tuesday announced Helpouts, a new tool that connects users via live video chat with experts who can help them with questions about home improvement, cooking or even medical advice. Helpouts serves as a Google-vetted marketplace where approved companies such as Sephora, One Medical and Rosetta Stone can offer their services to interested parties in real-time over live video.