Apple, Google & other large tech companies urge the White House & Congress not to renew the Patriot Act

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Apple is one of ten tech giants to once again call on the US Government not to reauthorize the Patriot Act in its current form. The Act expires on 1st June unless it is renewed by Congress. Apple was joined by AOL, Dropbox, Evernote, Facebook, Google, LinkedIn, Microsoft, Twitter and Yahoo.

In an open letter to President Obama, NSA Director Admiral Rogers and other prominent government figures, the companies urge Congress to end the bulk collection of communications metadata–the logs that determine how and when ordinary citizens contact each other.

The letter says that mass surveillance must end, and that a revised bill must contain mechanisms to ensure that future government surveillance is both transparent and accountable …  Read more

Snowden: The CIA has been working “for years” to break iPhone, iPad and Mac security

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The Central Intelligence Agency has conducted “a multi-year, sustained effort to break the security of Apple’s iPhones and iPads,” claims The Intercept, referencing new Snowden leaks of a document from the CIA’s internal wiki system.

A presentation on the attempts, focusing on breaking Apple’s encryption of iOS devices, was said to have been delivered at an annual CIA conference called the Jamboree.

Studying both “physical” and “non-invasive” techniques, U.S. government-sponsored research has been aimed at discovering ways to decrypt and ultimately penetrate Apple’s encrypted firmware. This could enable spies to plant malicious code on Apple devices and seek out potential vulnerabilities in other parts of the iPhone and iPad currently masked by encryption.

One route reportedly taken by the CIA was to create a modified version of Xcode, which would allow it to compromise apps at the point at which they are created …  Read more

Tim Cook talks Snowden, Apple Car and Steve Jobs as the best teacher he’s ever had

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Tim Cook appears to be using his international tour, which so far includes Israel, Germany and the UK, to push a second product every bit as hard as the Apple Watch: privacy. In an interview with the German newspaper BILD posted yesterday (paywall), Cook went as far as to praise Edward Snowden for his role in prompting discussion of the issue.

If Snowden did anything for us at all, then it was to get us to talk more about these things. [Apple’s] values have always been the same.

The comments follow a meeting with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, at which data privacy was reportedly a key topic. Cook also told the Telegraph last week that “none of us should accept that the government or a company or anybody should have access to all of our private information.” Cook has in the past resisted FBI pressure to compromise its strong encryption, and was the only tech CEO to attend a recent White House cybersecurity summit.

In the BILD interview, Cook reiterated Apple’s stance on privacy, and also said that as Apple had grown larger, it had taken deliberate decisions to be less secretive about some aspects of its business …  Read more

Tim Cook met with German Chancellor Angela Merkel during Berlin visit, talked privacy, security & more

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It seems Tim Cook had more on his schedule than a meeting with BILD during his visit to Berlin yesterday: the newspaper reports that he also met with German Chancellor Angela Merkel. Cook told BILD that they discussed security, net neutrality, environmental protection and education–but the key topic appears to have been data privacy.

Cook said that he could well understand Germany’s strong stance on data privacy, stating that Germans “have the same views on privacy as I do” …  Read more

Watch: Apple CEO Tim Cook talk cybersecurity at White House Summit

Tim Cook White House Summit on Cybersecurity

As we mentioned earlier this week, Apple CEO Tim Cook is in attendance at the White House Summit on cybersecurity today at Stanford University where he’s expected to discuss Apple, privacy, and security. Notably, Tim Cook is the only technology company chief executive participating in the event with the White House as CEOs at Facebook, Yahoo, and Google each declined deciding to send lower-level staff instead. Other CEOs in attendance include the heads of Apple Pay partners Bank of America and Visa as well as the chief executive officer of AIG. You can view a stream of the event below: Read more

Tim Cook only CEO taking part in today’s White House cybersecurity summit

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We learned earlier this week that Tim Cook would be speaking at a White House cybersecurity summit today, and it now appears he will be the only tech CEO to do so. USNews is reporting that CEOs of other top tech companies all declined President Obama’s invitation, sending lower-ranking execs in their place.

Unlike Apple’s Cook, other top executives at key Silicon Valley companies declined invitations to the summit. Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg, Yahoo’s Marissa Mayer and Google’s Larry Page will not attend amid the ongoing concerns about government surveillance. Facebook spokesman Jay Nancarrow said Zuckerberg is unavailable to attend and that Chief Security Officer Joe Sullivan will speak during a panel at the event.

It’s believed other CEOs consider refusing to take part to be the best way to express their objections to increased government surveillance of electronic communications, while Cook takes the opposite view: that it is important to speak up in defence of user privacy …  Read more

NY district attorney says Apple’s encryption policy “an issue of public safety” for law enforcement

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Bloomberg reports that a Manhattan District Attorney is challenging recent moves by Apple, Google and other tech companies by suggesting government pass laws that prevent mobile devices from being “sealed off from law enforcement.” In an interview this week, the government official called it “an issue of public safety.” Read more

Twitter to start tracking the apps on your iPhone

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Image via: @kristinatastic

 

Twitter is about to get very nosey with its mobile subscribers, and if you’re among the millions of people using the company’s app on your smartphone, you’ll definitely want to listen up. The short-form social media outlet’s new app graph feature will soon start tracking which applications you have installed on your devices. This opt-out feature is being introduced to help the firm insert better ads and recommendations into your timeline.

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Department of Justice: iPhone encryption will lead to the death of a child

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Apple and the government have long been engaged in a bitter war of words over encryption and security practices employed in Apple’s iOS devices, but a new Wall Street Journal report indicates that the Department of Justice is really starting to take the rhetoric to the next level.

According to the Journal, a DOJ official actually told Apple executives during a meeting last month that in the future the Cupertino company could eventually be directly responsible for the death of a child. Read more

FBI director continues push against Apple & Google on smartphone encryption (Video)

James Comey FBI Director

FBI Director James Comey isn’t backing down from his position that Apple and Google are wrong to encrypt customer smartphone data preventing law enforcement agencies the possibility of access if requested. After last month sharing that the FBI was in talks with the two companies to discuss concerns with marketing devices as being inaccessible to third-parties including the government, the FBI Director spoke with CBS News in an interview where he continued to make the case against such encryption… Read more

US attorney general latest gov’t official to challenge Apple on smartphone encryption

US Attorney General Eric Holder

United States Attorney General Eric Holder, who announced plans to resign earlier this week pending confirmation of a successor, has criticized Apple and Google for encrypting smartphone data beyond law enforcement official access, Reuters reports.

“It is fully possible to permit law enforcement to do its job while still adequately protecting personal privacy,” Holder said in a speech before the Global Alliance Against Child Sexual Abuse Online.

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More details on how iOS 8’s MAC address randomization feature works (and when it doesn’t)

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A few days ago Apple published a new privacy page on its website that detailed the various measures it has put in place to protect Mac and iOS users’ personal data. One of those features, which is new in iOS 8, is the automatic randomization of MAC addresses when the device is searching for a Wi-Fi network. This makes it much more difficult to track a device by seeing which Wi-Fi networks have spotted its unique identifier.

A new two-part study by AirTight Networks into how well this security feature works has turned up some interesting results, including several conditions that will stop the phone from randomizing a MAC address. Part one of the study breaks down what exactly needs to happen in order to start this function…

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