Tagged: Apple

Tech firms adopt warrant canaries — the Feds try to shut them up!

Warrant canaries — which tech companies are using to tell people that the government is NOT using secret orders — are the new frontline in the legal fight over surveillance.

Tech companies from Apple to Tumblr, faced with a growing number of secret orders from the government, have resorted to a clever legal tactic known as a warrant canary: the “canary,” popularized by libraries in the wake of the Patriot Act, is a sign that tells the public that an organization is not being investigated by the FBI. If the canary disappears, well, you can assume the worst:

Now, the federal government is trying to snuff out the use of canaries altogether, telling Twitter that it is forbidden from using “zero” when it reports on security demands in its Transparency Reports, the semi-annual documents used by Twitter and other tech companies to report on FBI and NSA demands.

The fact this there is a fight over “zero” and warrant canaries is revealed through a close reading of the lawsuit that Twitter filed against the Justice Department this week. The lawsuit, which claims the government security demands violate Twitter’s free speech rights, repeatedly asks the court to declare that it may use “zero” when stating whether it has been subject to various secret legal orders from the government…

Through its lawsuit, Twitter claims it has a First Amendment right to use warrant canaries to say whether or not it has received various categories of so-called NSL letters and FISA requests — secret orders that can subject the companies to criminal prosecution if they even disclose the existence of the letters in the first place…

I feel no need to sit around and discuss whether or not our government has the right not only to limit speech but ban your right to tell anyone it’s happening. This is as corrupt as anything attempted by dictators in any epoch in modern history. It is the polar opposite of transparency.

We sit here facing such limitations under a so-called liberal administration, one which campaigned for transparency in law and governance. I hate to break it to True Believers in the 2-party crappola; but, just as American foreign policy since the inception of the Cold War is indistinguishable between Democrat or Republican – attempts to shut down free speech, freedom of thought and inquiry are just as likely under administrations controlled by either wing of our corporate electoral police.

It doesn’t matter whether the donations and control come mostly from Wall Street and Silicon Valley – or Big Oil and the Military-Industrial Complex. We get screwed, our rights are under attack and transparency is a myth.

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Dumb crook of the Day

A New Hampshire man was arrested on burglary charges after police were able to track him down for stealing a laptop when he called technical support for help with the device.

The computer’s rightful owner, Mike Witonis, received an email from Apple thanking him for calling customer service about the laptop even though he hadn’t had it for a year.

Casey Wentworth, 24, was arrested at his home after police were able to use the computer’s serial number, which he had provided during the tech support call, to locate him.

“It then took us a while to track down the individual who made the phone call, but we were able to put that together and ultimately come up with enough evidence to charge him with the original burglary and recover the computer,” Lt. Brant Dolleman told WMUR…

“It was sort of shocking,” Witonis said. “I guess luck was on our side that the guy who took it didn’t try to get rid of it, which was sort of strange. Then, all of a sudden, he decides in his infinite wisdom, ‘Well, I’ll just call Apple and see if they can help me unlock this thing.'”

Coppers are hanging onto Witonis’ MacBook Air until the case is resolved. He can wait a few more weeks, OK. Hopefully, the judge will make certain the state of New Hampshire hangs onto Casey Wentworth – behind bars – for a spell, as well.

What will your verse be?

I’ve spent most of my life living multiple directions at the same time.

I went from being a kid performing artist as a classical musician to teen jazz musician – while studying photography and literature.

I went from industrial engineering to a major in English literature – after switching to a 12-string guitar. And stopped racing cars, legally or otherwise, which included a very short stint driving for a bootlegger.

There’s more – especially political struggles over the last half-century or so. But, if you’re a regular visitor to this blog you’ll bump into those tales, the pleasure I experience from materialist philosophy and dialectics, science and society.

But, the arts in one form or another should be part of everyone’s life. Today’s technology brings ease and experiment into everyone’s life. Music, photography, writing, reading, experiencing all the wonder of human creativity and nature’s reach can be in the palm of your hand.

The shared experience of seeing a scientist in Alabama – or a technology and business journalist in San Francisco – become really skilled with the digital tools they have chosen to describe the beauty of existence makes me one of the happiest critters on Earth.

When a company chooses to sell their wares on the basis of this capability adds to that enjoyment.

Apple anger over NSA hacking ain’t alone

Tim Cook pissed off

If Walmart or McDonald’s began describing the Obama Administration as an unconstitutional threat to the privacy of its customers, it would be front page/holy-cow news…But that’s what is happening in Silicon Valley right now, with America’s biggest tech companies.

The most interesting two words in Apple’s official statement today on the news that the NSA can put spyware on 100% of Apple’s products, including the iPhone, are these: “malicious hackers.”

The company said it was unaware of the NSA’s hacking program, called “DROPOUTJEEP,” and that it was working to end the breach. But note that Apple’s statement went out of its way to portray the U.S. government as a security threat:

We will continue to use our resources to stay ahead of malicious hackers and defend our customers from security attacks, regardless of who’s behind them.

Apple isn’t alone in its ire against the NSA. Most people think that the major tech companies — Apple, Facebook, Yahoo, Microsoft, etc. — have been pussycats in terms of the NSA’s domestic surveillance program. In fact there is a bunch of evidence that they hate it, and were unaware of its full extent. Here’s what was said by Microsoft, which has been the most aggressive in publicly expressing its anger about domestic spying, from our coverage earlier this month:

… government snooping potentially now constitutes an ‘advanced persistent threat,’ alongside sophisticated malware and cyber attacks…We all want to live in a world that is safe and secure, but we also want to live in a country that is protected by the Constitution…

“The anger in the tech business about the NSA’s spying is wide and deep.” And I doubt any change in Administration, who’s in the White House, who is in charge of either house of Congress, will make significant difference. The best Americans in any portion of our tech industry have learned the lesson that American dissidents learned long ago.

You can’t trust either flavor of establishment politicians any further than you can throw them uphill into a heavy wind. Yes, there are courageous individuals who dissent from status quo “Patriot Acts”. You’ll probably never need to take off your shoes to count them all.

Pic of the Day

stairway to Apple heaven
Click to enlargeREUTERS/Carlo Allegri

Shoppers are pictured inside an Apple store on 5th Ave during Black Friday Sales in New York November 29, 2013. Black Friday, the day following Thanksgiving Day holiday, has traditionally been the busiest shopping day in the United States.

Yes, the store was closed on Thanksgiving Day.

Tim Cook vetoes Apple Retail stores opening on Thanksgiving


Closed for Thanksgiving

Last week, over the objections of Retail Market Directors, Apple’s chief executive Tim Cook canceled plans to open several stores on Thanksgiving, citing the importance of allowing retail employees to be with their families over the holiday…

Last year…three Apple Stores heavily trafficked by tourists opened on Thanksgiving: locations on the Las Vegas Strip, Waikiki Beach in Hawaii and the company’s 24/7 Fifth Avenue store in New York City.

A series of other flagship Apple Retail stores were also planned to open on Thanksgiving this year, including select additional locations in San Francisco, New York City, Chicago, Los Angeles, Honolulu, Miami, San Diego and Portland.

An expansion of store openings this year was reportedly lobbied by retail Marketing Directors who argued “the company was missing out on substantial holiday sales,” according to a posting by IFOAppleStore.

“Market Directors were reportedly motivated by large potential holiday-quarter bonuses based on performance targets, adding to their $400,000 salaries. The last calendar quarter at Apple retail is always the busiest and generates the most revenue, leading to the largest bonuses,” the site noted.

While some attempts were being made to account for the extra holiday hours by providing workers alternative time off, Cook acted to cancel the plans “over the objections of Market Directors,” and keep those stores closed over Thanksgiving so that employees could spend the holidays with their families.

Apple joins other retailers, including Costco and Nordstrom, who have preferred to give employees the holiday off rather than seeking to cash in on early crowds.

Attaboy, Tim. Between folks like Tim Cook and Jonny Ive, the whole Apple management team demonstrates time and again they are the class of the high tech industry.

The complete process I follow to make decisions about spending my few hard-earned bucks devolves to value and quality. An important part of that process is the long-term outlook and attitude of a firm’s politics and sociology. Worth taking the time to read and research, my friends.

I’ve worked in a couple of industries/trades that hardly ever took holidays off. The money didn’t compensate for the loss of time spent with family and friends.

How useless can an American lawyer be?

A lawsuit has been filed against Apple asking for damages because Apple didn’t protect an idiot from porn. AboveTheLaw reported that a Nashville man named Chris Sevier is suing Apple for not installing filters on the company’s Macs that would prevent him from accessing porn.

The depths to which some people in my country will sink to avoid any and all personal accountability and/or make an unearned buck unfortunately never ceases to amaze me. This suit might represent a new low.

Snippets from the suit include:

The Plaintiff is a victim of Apple’s product that was sold to him without any warning of the damage the pornography causes. “But for” the Plaintiff’s use of the Apple product, the quality of the Plaintiff’s life would have been much better and injury would have been avoided. The Plaintiff sustained these unwarranted damages in the course of using Apple’s product as designed. Apple’s product was not adequately equipped with safety features that would have otherwise blocked unwarranted intrusions of pornographic content that systematically poisoned his life…

In using safari, the Plaintiff accidentally misspelled “facebook.com” which lead him to “fuckbook.com” and a host of web sites that caused him to see pornographic images that appealed to his biological sensibilities as a male and lead to an unwanted addiction with adverse consequences.

According to AboveTheLaw, the man filing the suit is himself an attorney…He’s not only seeking damages, he is asking for Apple to install porn-proof filters on all of its Macs sold to everyone (in the U.S.). Customers who are above the age of 18 can contact Apple for a form that acknowledges the ills of pornography. After signing that form, Apple would send them a code to unlock the filters.

It’s impossible to know whether Mr. Sevier filed the suit because he bored, because he truly believes in the merits of his case, or because he is delusional enough to think he can actually get some money out of it. It’s hard to believe he think it has merit, but it is possible that he is willing to go to extreme lengths to avoid responsibility for his own actions.

Frivolous lawsuits have become acceptable in American jurisprudence exactly for the reason you would expect. Most judges are cowards. The number of judges across the American landscape who would chance a progressive decision is as tiny as the mustard seed often quoted in the courtrooms of the Confederacy. Decisions are made to satisfy local bigotries, custom and fashion. Especially if the fashion is a leftover from the 19th Century.

We have a local nutball who kept his next door neighbor in court for months because the neighbor owned a cellphone which “endangered” lives. His most recent suit was filed against a hotel which allowed a new cell tower to be placed on the roof which was now radiating death and destruction in the direction of his home. The fact that the tower wasn’t hooked up to power, not yet in use – though he claimed radiation was already present – didn’t keep a local judge from allowing the suit to proceed.

This cretin’s lawsuits kept the main branch of the local library from installing wifi access to the Web for years. Science has no credence whatsoever in a nation where law and custom are still under the thumb of superstition.

Trader pleads guilty to $1 billion stock fraud scheme

A former Rochdale Securities trader whose unauthorized purchase of about $1 billion of Apple stock caused the demise of the financial services company pleaded guilty on Monday to wire fraud and conspiracy.

David Miller, 40, entered his guilty plea before U.S. Magistrate Judge Donna Martinez in Hartford, Connecticut.

Miller faces a maximum 25 years in prison when he is sentenced on July 8, but under a plea agreement he could receive a term of five to eight years. The Rockville Centre, New York resident is free on bond…

Prosecutors said Miller bought 1,625 million Apple shares on October 25, 2012, the day the maker of iPads, iPods and iPhones planned to report third-quarter results, hoping to profit if the company’s share price rose.

But they said Miller falsely told Rochdale that the trade was for a customer that had in fact ordered just 1,625 shares.

When the bet backfired, Rochdale was on the hook for $5.3 million of losses on the extra 1,623,375 shares, leaving the Stamford, Connecticut-based company undercapitalized, the SEC said in court papers…

The SEC said as a result of Miller’s bets, Rochdale ceased operations and its staff left or was fired in November 2012. On February 25, Rochdale asked Connecticut, the SEC and other regulators to withdraw its registrations.

So much for counting on the industry kingpins to regulate themselves. So much for providing oversight – preventing deception and fraud. Things were sufficiently lax to kill the company providing the opportunity to commit the crime.

Apple, Morgan Stanley, corporations unite to support gay marriage

Gay-marriage advocates, aiming to show broad support as the U.S. Supreme Court takes up the issue for the first time, have enlisted Apple, Morgan Stanley and dozens of Republicans who once held top government positions…

The justices will hear arguments March 26 on California’s Proposition 8, the 2008 ballot initiative that halted gay marriage in the state after it was allowed for five months.

The corporate group, which also includes Facebook and Intel will argue in its brief that gay-marriage bans in 41 states harm workplace morale and undermine recruiting.

“No matter how welcoming the corporate culture, it cannot overcome the societal stigma institutionalized by Proposition 8 and similar laws,” the companies will argue.

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