Trade groups representing Facebook, Microsoft and Apple are pushing the Senate to pass legislation limiting National Security Agency spying before the Republican majority takes control of the chamber.
A coalition of Internet and technology companies, which also include Google and Twitter, support a bill the Senate plans to vote on Nov. 18 to prohibit the NSA from bulk collection of their subscribers’ e-mails and other electronic communications. Many of the companies opposed a Republican-backed bill the House passed in May, saying a “loophole” would allow bulk collection of Internet user data.
Members of the Consumer Electronics Association “have already lost contracts with foreign governments worth millions of dollars,” in response to revelations about U.S. spying, Gary Shapiro, president and chief executive officer of the group that represents Apple, Google and Microsoft, wrote in a letter sent to all senators yesterday.
The clock is ticking. If a final bill isn’t reached this year, the process for passing legislation would begin over in January under a new Congress controlled by Republicans, many of whom support government surveillance programs.
U.S. Internet and technology companies are confronting a domestic and international backlash against government spying that may cost them as much as $180 billion in lost business…
The issue emerged in June 2013 when former NSA contractor Edward Snowden revealed a program under which the U.S. uses court orders to compel companies to turn over data about their users. Documents divulged by Snowden also uncovered NSA hacking of fiber-optic cables abroad and installation of surveillance tools into routers, servers and other network equipment…
The Senate bill, S. 2685, would end one of the NSA’s most controversial domestic spy programs, through which it collects and stores the phone records of millions of people not suspected of any wrongdoing. In addition to curbing data collection, the legislation would allow companies to publicly reveal the number and types of orders they receive from the government to hand over user data.
RTFA for all the gory economic details. No, you won’t see any participation from tech companies dedicated to skimming the cream off the vat of money tied to the military-industrial complex. And you won’t find a clot of Blue Dog Democrats standing in line to vote for privacy.
Like their peers in today’s Republican Party, conservative Democrats aren’t likely to fight for the personal liberty they all blather about. The concept of “Libertarian” in Congressional politics is thrown around a lot. Mostly by hustlers who read one or two books by Ayn Rand. Perish the thought they stand up to be counted alongside ordinary citizens.
Tim Cook, CEO of Apple
Throughout my professional life, I’ve tried to maintain a basic level of privacy. I come from humble roots, and I don’t seek to draw attention to myself. Apple is already one of the most closely watched companies in the world, and I like keeping the focus on our products and the incredible things our customers achieve with them.
At the same time, I believe deeply in the words of Dr. Martin Luther King, who said: “Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, ‘What are you doing for others?’ ” I often challenge myself with that question, and I’ve come to realize that my desire for personal privacy has been holding me back from doing something more important. That’s what has led me to today.
For years, I’ve been open with many people about my sexual orientation. Plenty of colleagues at Apple know I’m gay, and it doesn’t seem to make a difference in the way they treat me. Of course, I’ve had the good fortune to work at a company that loves creativity and innovation and knows it can only flourish when you embrace people’s differences. Not everyone is so lucky.
While I have never denied my sexuality, I haven’t publicly acknowledged it either, until now. So let me be clear: I’m proud to be gay, and I consider being gay among the greatest gifts God has given me.
Being gay has given me a deeper understanding of what it means to be in the minority and provided a window into the challenges that people in other minority groups deal with every day. It’s made me more empathetic, which has led to a richer life. It’s been tough and uncomfortable at times, but it has given me the confidence to be myself, to follow my own path, and to rise above adversity and bigotry. It’s also given me the skin of a rhinoceros, which comes in handy when you’re the CEO of Apple.
I wonder how original sin as a concept would work out in today’s tech environment?
Only a casual thought; but, I still wonder how fundamentalists deal with tech goodies. There is after all an essential contradiction between belief – and normal daily activity requiring spontaneous materialism. You really don’t expect your favorite shrub by the driveway to burst into flame and philosophize out loud.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Yes, this is still extra fun for folks here in New Mexico.