Since the Snowden leaks began back in 2013, there has been a justifiable increase in public scrutiny of the US federal government's attitudes towards surveillance and information access. So when President Obama voiced the opinion that encrypted files should be accessible to law enforcement (presumably via some kind of backdoor or exclusive decryption method), privacy advocates joined security experts in a nationwide groan. Thankfully the administration seems to have changed its tune nine months later. Read More
So, the last couple of weeks have not been good ones for the Google Maps team. First some public-spirited Android fans decided to prove their pride with a bit of digital vandalism, using the Map Maker tool to show the Bugdroid mascot pissing on an Apple logo somewhere in Pakistan. That little mishap led Google to disable Map Maker submissions altogether. Then earlier this week, users found that searching for certain racist terms in Google Maps would lead to results for the White House, among other similar combinations. Read More
Two days ago, the White House announced its support for carrier unlocking handsets. The administration promised an FCC/NTIA investigation as well as a willingness to "work with Congress" on legislation to fix the problem. So, we can probably count on the President's support of the new Wireless Device Independence Act, introduced last night by Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR). The bill, which is only three pages long, has a simple goal: amend the DMCA such that it explicitly allows the unlocking of cell phones, obviating the need for a tri-yearly exemption. Read More
In October of 2012, the Library of Congress elected not to renew DMCA exemptions that explicitly allow end users to unlock their cell phones at will, thus ending a six year tradition. This has made a lot of people very angry and has been widely regarded as a bad move. The quest to do something about it began almost immediately. And by "almost immediately" I mean "nearly three months later and at almost the very last minute."
Still, regardless of when the outrage gained steam, the fact is it did. Read More
Hey, did you guys know there's an election coming soon? I know, it's been a pretty low-profile thing, but it's true. Of course, we want to be a well-informed electorate, right? One source of information that should probably be watched to achieve that goal is the White House. Today, the administration of the most powerful office in the country revealed a newly-designed app that will allow mobile users to watch live presidential events, search its stable of blog posts, videos, and press releases, and in a forward-thinking move, makes all this content available on tablets. Read More