Random searches of phones, laptops, and other electronic devices at airports (and other ports of entry) in the United States have increased over the past few years. In fact, the practice is so commonplace that some people choose to wipe their phones before traveling. Thankfully, a district court has decided that random searches of devices at ports of entry is unconstitutional, making the searches illegal. Read More
Congress is set to vote on a bill that would prevent any government agency from requiring device manufacturers and software developers to implement backdoors in the encryption models for their products. Dubbed the Secure Data Act, this bipartisan initiative is a surprisingly good step toward keeping our data secure from unauthorized government access. Read More
Okay, dummy. John Legere has been explaining Binge On to you for days, and you still don't agree with him that it's the best thing since sliced bread? Well, he's just going to tell you about Binge On again using the exact same words he's been using so far. These words are available on the T-Mobile newsroom site, where he can carefully craft an expletive-free message and apologize to the EFF. Read More
If you haven't heard of the Electronic Frontier Foundation, usually shortened to EFF, it's sort of like the American Civil Liberties Union for the Internet and other digital issues. The non-profit organization's mission statement says that it "champions user privacy, free expression, and innovation through impact litigation, policy analysis, grassroots activism, and technology development." You'll rarely see a headline-grabbing story where tech intersects public policy that the EFF hasn't at least commented on, if not actively campaigned for or against.
So when these people say they decided to develop an app for Android and specifically not for iOS, there's probably a good reason why. Read More
The legality of certain phone modifications in the United States, particularly those that allow phones to be used on wireless carriers for which they weren't originally intended, is currently on a congressional see-saw. Every three years, the Librarian of Congress has to approve or extend an exemption of the infamous Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) to allow or deny consumers the right to unlock (read: carrier unlock, and in some cases rooting/jailbreaking, but not unlocking bootloaders) their phones by circumventing digital rights management. Congress let the exemption slide earlier this year - read the gory details here. Now a new bill has been entered that, if passed, would grant a permanent exemption to the DMCA for carrier unlocking, among other things. Read More
It's that time again, indie gamers: the much-loved Humble Bundle has returned for a third go-round on Android. As before, you can name your own price for popular Android games Fieldrunners, Bit.Trip Beat, SpaceChem and Uplink, giving the cash to worthy non-profits Child's Play, the Electronic Frontier Foundation, or a combination thereof. If you pay more than the average (currently just below $6) you get a bonus game, Spirits. All games include a free digital soundtrack and desktop versions for PC, Mac and Linux, with Steam integration for those who are so inclined.
The games featured have enjoyed some notable success already: Fieldrunners is a staple of the tower defense genre, Bit.Trip Beat is an appropriately trippy mashup of Breakout-style nostalgia and rhythm gaming, SpaceChem brings pseudoscience and ambient puzzles together, and Uplink simulates "hacking" in text-based international espionage. Read More
This a cause I think we can all get behind. Back in 2010, the Copyright Office in the Library of Congress issued a rulemaking statement exempting smartphones and DVDs from reverse engineering laws under the DMCA. Previously, companies like Apple had used these provisions to threaten criminal prosecution (as well as civil action) against those who "jailbroke" (rooted) devices such as the iPhone (or iPad). The exemption to these penalties put in place by the Copyright Office extended to the "jailbreaking" (or, as we know it in the Android community, rooting) of all smartphones (it also extends to things like bootloader unlocking). Read More
Trevor Eckhart, a developer involved in uncovering a huge security vulnerability that affected several HTC devices, was recently threatened by Carrier IQ (CIQ), a company involved in gathering various forms of user data and sending it to carriers or manufacturers for analysis. For those who haven't been following the story, here's what happened:
Trevor Eckhart found several training manuals on CIQ's website. These were publicly available. Trevor shared them with the community, explaining just how far-reaching CIQ's data collection practices are. At this point, CIQ became aware of the fact that sensitive information had been exposed, and pulled the files from their website. Read More