Hírek  

Snowden Used the Linux Distro Designed For Internet Anonymity – Slashdot.

 

“When Edward Snowden first emailed Glenn Greenwald, he insisted on using email encryption software called PGP for all communications. Now Klint Finley reports that Snowden also used The Amnesic Incognito Live System (Tails) to keep his communications out of the NSA’s prying eyes. Tails is a kind of computer-in-a-box using a version of the Linux operating system optimized for anonymity that you install on a DVD or USB drive, boot your computer from and you’re pretty close to anonymous on the internet. ‘Snowden, Greenwald and their collaborator, documentary film maker Laura Poitras, used it because, by design, Tails doesn’t store any data locally,’ writes Finley. ‘This makes it virtually immune to malicious software, and prevents someone from performing effective forensics on the computer after the fact. That protects both the journalists, and often more importantly, their sources.’

The developers of Tails are, appropriately, anonymous. They’re protecting their identities, in part, to help protect the code from government interference. ‘The NSA has been pressuring free software projects and developers in various ways,’ the group says. But since we don’t know who wrote Tails, how do we know it isn’t some government plot designed to snare activists or criminals? A couple of ways, actually. One of the Snowden leaks show the NSA complaining about Tails in a Power Point Slide; if it’s bad for the NSA, it’s safe to say it’s good for privacy. And all of the Tails code is open source, so it can be inspected by anyone worried about foul play. ‘With Tails,’ say the distro developers, ‘we provide a tongue and a pen protected by state-of-the-art cryptography to guarantee basic human rights and allow journalists worldwide to work and communicate freely and without fear of reprisal.’”

5-Year Suspended Sentence For S. Africa’s First Online Pirate – Slashdot.

The School of Public Policy at the Central European University organised an excellent forum on how to counter the anti-democratic trends in various countries. The discussion took place the day after Fidesz, the party which is responsible for countless anti-democratic steps in the last 4 years won a landslide victory in the general elections. Though this could have defined the discussion, due to the large number of foreign participants (both on the podium and in the audience) enabled us to move beyond the specifics of the Hungarian situation and address anti-democratic tendencies and counter-strategies from the US via France to the Ukraine.

You should check out the recorded panels, and/or the twitter archive for the amazing contributions by the participants. What I would like to do here is to sum up my arguments in the panel that was addressing the role of digital technologies in the pro-democratic process.

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Why should I even bother to back up my existing data? If I lose it, I’ll just get what I want from the cloud hereafter — I’m 100 percent positive I wouldn’t bother to re-rip all my CDs for the third time. Sure, the cloud is the physical embodiment of the surveillance state. But its siren song works too well to turn it off.

via Big Brother is in your Spotify: How music became the surveillance state’s Trojan horse – Salon.com.

The error message that launched this whole investigation.

Darrell Whitelaw / Twitter

For years now, Internet users have accepted the risk of files and content they share through various online services being subject to takedown requests based on the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) and/or content-matching algorithms. But users have also gotten used to treating services like Dropbox as their own private, cloud-based file storage and sharing systems, facilitating direct person-to-person file transfer without having to worry.

This weekend, though, a small corner of the Internet exploded with concern that Dropbox was going too far, actually scanning users’ private and directly peer-shared files for potential copyright issues. What’s actually going on is a little more complicated than that, but it shows that sharing a file on Dropbox isn’t always the same as sharing that file directly from your hard drive over something like e-mail or instant messenger.

The whole kerfuffle started yesterday evening, when one Darrell Whitelaw tweeted a picture of an error he received when trying to share a link to a Dropbox file via IM. The Dropbox webpage warned him and his friend that "certain files in this folder can’t be shared due to a takedown request in accordance with the DMCA."

Whitelaw freely admits that the content he was sharing was a copyrighted video, but he still expressed surprise that Dropbox was apparently watching what he shared for copyright issues. "I treat [Dropbox] like my hard drive," he tweeted. "This shows it’s not private, nor mine, even though I pay for it."

In response to follow-up questions from Ars, Whitelaw said the link he sent to his friend via IM was technically a public link and theoretically could have been shared more widely than the simple IM between friends. That said, he noted that the DMCA notice appeared on the Dropbox webpage "immediately" after the link was generated, suggesting that Dropbox was automatically checking shared files somehow to see if they were copyrighted material rather than waiting for a specific DMCA takedown request.

Dropbox did confirm to Ars that it checks publicly shared file links against hashes of other files that have been previously subject to successful DMCA requests. "We sometimes receive DMCA notices to remove links on copyright grounds," the company said in a statement provided to Ars. "When we receive these, we process them according to the law and disable the identified link. We have an automated system that then prevents other users from sharing the identical material using another Dropbox link. This is done by comparing file hashes."

Dropbox added that this comparison happens when a public link to your file is created and that "we don’t look at the files in your private folders and are committed to keeping your stuff safe." The company wouldn’t comment publicly on whether the same content-matching algorithm was run on files shared directly with other Dropbox users via the service’s account-to-account sharing functions, but the wording of the statement suggests that this system only applies to publicly shared links.

We should be clear here that Dropbox hasn’t removed the file from Whitelaw’s account; they just closed off the option for him to share that file with others. In a tweeted response to Whitelaw, Dropbox Support said that "content removed under DMCA only affects share-links." Dropbox explains its copyright policy on a Help Center page that lays out the boilerplate: "you do not have the right to share files unless you own the copyright in them or have been given permission by the copyright owner to share them." The Help Center then directs users to its DMCA policy page.

Dropbox has also been making use of file hashing algorithms for a while now as a means of de-duplicating identical files stored across different users’ accounts. That means that if I try to upload an identical copy of a 20GB movie file that has already been stored in someone else’s Dropbox account, the service will simply give my account access to a version of that same file rather than allowing me to upload an identical version. This not only saves bandwidth on the user’s end but significant storage space on Dropbox’s end as well.

Some researchers have warned of security and privacy concerns based on these de-duplication efforts in the past, but the open source Dropship project attempted to bend the feature to users’ advantage. By making use of the file hashing system, Dropship effectively tried to trick Dropbox into granting access to files on Dropbox’s servers that the user didn’t actually have access to. Dropbox has taken pains to stop this kind of "fake" file sharing through its service.

In any case, it seems a similar hashing effort is in place to make it easier for Dropbox to proactively check files shared through its servers for similarity to content previously blocked by a DMCA request. In this it’s not too different from services like YouTube, which uses a robust ContentID system to automatically identify copyrighted material as soon as it’s uploaded.

In this, both Dropbox and YouTube are simply responding to the legal environment they find themselves in. The DMCA requires companies that run sharing services to take reasonable measures to make sure that re-posting of copyrighted content doesn’t occur after a legitimate DMCA notice has been issued. Whitelaw himself doesn’t blame the service for taking these proactive steps, in fact. "This isn’t a Dropbox problem," he told Ars via tweet. "They’re just following the laws laid out for them. Was just surprised to see it."

via Dropbox clarifies its policy on reviewing shared files for DMCA issues | Ars Technica.

The report noted that some within MIT believe “there has been a change in the institutional climate over recent years, where decisions have become driven more by a concern for minimizing risk than by strong affirmation of MIT values.”

The Computer Fraud and Abuse Act has been widely condemned as extreme in both its sweeping scope and its grave punishments. Sentencing guidelines suggest Swartz faced up to seven years in prison.

To his supporters, MIT bears some responsibility for that fact. MIT officials privately told the prosecutor that the university had no interest in jail time, but refused to oppose his prosecution publicly or privately, despite repeated entreaties from Swartz’s father, his lawyers, and a couple of faculty members, who argued MIT had the institutional heft to influence the US attorney’s office.

via Aaron Swartz and MIT: The inside story – Metro – The Boston Globe.

As Turkey prepares for elections on Sunday, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan continues to double down on Internet censorship. A week after Turkish ISPs blocked Twitter Turkey’s telecommunications authority has blocked YouTube. The block began to be rolled out hours after a leaked recording published anonymously on YouTube purported to show a conversation in which Turkey’s foreign minister, spy chief, and a top general appear to discuss scenarios that could lead to a Turkish attack against militants in Syria.

The fallout from the Erdoğan government’s censorship spree has not been limited to platforms that host embarrassing political content. When Turkish Internet users handily circumvented the original Twitter block by using Google’s DNS servers, Google’s DNS was itself blocked. Now it appears that just as Turkey’s ISPs are rolling out a block on YouTube, they are also blocking access to the Tor Project’s website, where users can download the Tor Browser Bundle. The Tor browser is a powerful tool in the censorship circumvention toolbox because it is exceptionally difficult to filter Tor traffic.

via When Is a Tor Block Not a Tor Block? | Electronic Frontier Foundation.

Today was a fairly good day. My paper on pirate libraries got accepted to the annual conference of the Society for Economic Research on Copyright Issues, I got invited to a panel at the Rolling Back The Rollback: Spaces & strategies for revival of democracy and open societies in Europe conference organized by the School of Public Policy (SPP) at Central European University, and the European Observatory on Infringements of Intellectual Property Rights has put me on their list of external experts.

there’s never been an album quite like what Wu-Tang Clan is cooking up. In addition to releasing a 20th anniversary album this summer called A Better Tomorrow, the hip-hop collective also recorded a double album in secret over the last two years — and is only releasing one single copy of it.

via Wu-Tang Clan will sell only a single copy of their new album | The Verge.

Recording industry earns more from fan videos than from official music videosYouTube generates more money for record labels through fan-made videos than official music videos, a global recording industry report says.

via Recording industry earns more from fan videos than from official music videos | Toronto Star.

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