Google and Mozilla to block web surveillance in Kazakhstan

Turns out that the root certificate was a Trojan Horse. It allowed the Kazakhstan government to perform a “man-in-the-middle” or MitM attack against HTTPS connections to a list of 37 domains, including Facebook, Twitter, Google and more, according to a study published by University of Michigan’s Censored Planet. Normally, HTTPS websites are encrypted in a way that ISPs or governments won’t be able to access it. In the case of Kazakhstan, the MitM attack broke the encryption in these sites, allowing the government to freely spy on private internet activity.

Both the Chrome and Firefox browsers in Kazakhstan will bar the illicit certificate before users can even download it. Mozilla will block Kazakhstan’s root certificate with OneCRL, which Firefox has been using to revoke certificates since 2015. Previously, users who accessed the internet in Kazakhstan received a message on their smartphone or computer asking them to install the root certificate.

Now when [...]  read more

Lawmakers urge the FCC to seek public input on T-Mobile / Sprint merger

The DOJ only endorsed the deal after the carriers agreed to sell parts of their business, including Boost Mobile, to Dish. T-Mobile also has to give Dish robust access to its mobile network for seven years. The idea is for the cable provider to create a new industry player that will replace Sprint, which is known for offering aggressively priced promos to subscribers.

In her letter to Chairman Pai, Senator Klobuchar has raised concerns about what would happen if Dish fails to fill the hole left by Sprint. Her letter — backed by fellow Senators Ed Markey (D-MA), Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Tom Udall (D-NM), Cory Booker (D-NJ), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) — echoes other critics’ misgivings about the merger.

Part of her letter reads:

“As we have previously stated, we have major antitrust concerns regarding the impact of the proposed T-Mobile/Sprint merger on consumers, competition, and the public interest…

…the [...]  read more

Facebook may have scrapped talks to buy Houseparty over antitrust concerns

It was reportedly in discussions last year to buy Houseparty, a group video chat app from the team behind Meerkat. However, it ended the talks after a few weeks, according to the New York Times. Sources told the paper Facebook ultimately decided buying another sizeable player in the social networking space posed too much of an antitrust risk. Epic Games eventually bought Houseparty in June.

The FTC reportedly discovered documents that gave it cause for concern on the antitrust front when it investigated the company last year over its privacy practices. Facebook ultimately agreed to pay an FTC fine of $5 billion related to its privacy issues, including the Cambridge Analytica scandal.

The agency received approval from the Justice Department to start an antitrust investigation into the company earlier this year, the NYT reported. Since then, investigators are said to have contacted several founders of companies Facebook has bought to gain insight into its acquisition methods. Engadget [...]  read more

China’s official digital currency is nearly ready

It’ll rely on a two-tier split, with the People’s Bank on top and commercial banks below, ostensibly to help deal with the sheer size of China’s economy and population. Also, it won’t rely entirely on the blockchain that forms the backbone of cryptocurrencies. It just couldn’t deliver the throughput needed for retail, Changchun said.

There’s no mention of just when the currency would be ready.

China does have a motivation to roll out the monetary format sooner than later. The nation has reportedly argued that cryptocurrency creates disorder, with speculators selling off regular currency and buying up the virtual kind. This new approach might create stability. It’s also no shock that the Chinese government would want a digital currency system it could control. Officials have spent years trying to increase China’s independence [...]  read more

Turkey requires broadcast licenses for online media providers

It’s not certain just what standards these online services will have to obey, and that’s part of the problem. President Erdogan’s regime has frequently blocked content and services to stifle political dissent, and experts are worried that this is just a pretext to suppress TV shows and news outlets that might challenge the ruling AK party’s authority.

Netflix told Reuters it was following events and wanted to keep serving Turkey. That’s not the primary concern, though. Rather, it’s that companies like Netflix may have to pull some of their library, forcing Turkish viewers to either use VPNs to access the service or go without any material that challenges their government.

social experiment by Livio Acerbo #greengroundit #engadget

Facebook defends decision not to ban fake news from politicians

“I understand that your preference would be for Facebook to remove all content that you believe constitutes misinformation – which in this instance mean all content that discussed whether or not Labor intends to introduce a death tax – rather than demote it; however Facebook only removes content that violates our community standards,” wrote Milner. The executive insisted that the company had invested significantly in the Australian government’s efforts to “safeguard” the 2019 federal election.

Opponents of Australia’s Labor Party played a part in spreading fake news about the party’s tax policy. Back in January, Liberal treasurer Josh Frydenberg published a media release that falsely claimed that the Labor Party was going to impose a death tax. Minor political parties such as Clive [...]  read more

Huawei and Google scrapped their smart speaker due to US ban

The two companies supposedly spent at least a year working on the speaker, which would have been powered by Google Assistant. And according to The Information, they also discussed how to make Huawei phones compatible with Android Auto.

It’s not entirely surprising that Google and Huawei were working on the speaker, as they’ve partnered closely in the past. But the fact that the plans fell through shows that the Trump administration’s blacklisting had real consequences for Huawei’s product line. While President Trump and Chinese President Xi Jingping may have reached a truce that could remove some restrictions on Huawei technology, the business relationships could be permanently altered.

social experiment by Livio Acerbo #greengroundit #engadget

Senate Intelligence Committee releases first volume of its investigation into Russian election hacking

The Senate Select Committee on Intelligence today released the first volume of its bipartisan investigation into Russia’s attempts to interfere with the 2016 U.S. elections.

Helmed by Select Committee Chairman Richard Burr, the Republican from North Carolina, and Virginia Democratic Senator Mark Warner, who serves as Vice Chairman, the committee’s report Russian Efforts Against Election Infrastructure,” details the unclassified summary findings on election security. 

Through two and a half years the committee has held 15 open hearings, interviewed over 200 witnesses, and reviewed nearly 400,000 documents, according to a statement and will be publishing other volumes from its investigation over the next year. 

“In 2016, the U.S. was unprepared at all levels of government for a concerted attack from a determined foreign adversary on our election infrastructure. Since then, we have learned much more about the nature of Russia’s cyber activities and better understand [...]  read more

Democratic hopeful Tulsi Gabbard sues Google over alleged censorship

According to The New York Times, after the first debate, Gabbard was briefly the most searched-for candidate on Google. Purchasing ads would have helped the campaign get its website at the top of the search results, Tulsi Now Inc. said. The campaign team also believes its emails were being placed in Gmail spam folders at “a disproportionately high rate” compared to other Democratic contenders.

Google told The New York Times that its automated systems flag unusual activity from advertisers, like a sudden increase in spending. “In this case, our system triggered a suspension and the account was reinstated shortly thereafter,” [...]  read more

House passes bipartisan bill to stop illegal robocalls

The Stopping Bad Robocalls Act requires carriers to authenticate every call and to offer opt-out blocking for free. To make that possible, it also supports the rapid implementation of call authentication technologies. The FCC will have to adopt critical consumer protections and to report its efforts against illegal callers to Congress if the bill becomes a law. It will also give the FCC up to four years to catch illegal robocall operators. Finally, it will establish a Hospital Robocall Protection Group to protect the healthcare system from illegal robocalls.

The final bill will likely look a bit different after the Senate and the House get together to discuss their respective versions. Even so, this is a huge step forward to ban illegal robocalls, which continues to become an increasingly problematic issue.

The Stopping Bad Robocalls Act leaders said in a statement:

“Today, the House of Representatives voted to restore Americans’ confidence in the telephone system and put consumers [...]  read more