Tech Thoughts Net News – Monday Edition – August 24, 2015

Phone and laptop encryption guide: Protect your stuff and yourself;  Windows 10 churning through data, blowing up usage caps;  5 tips to make your Android phone run faster, longer;  Microsoft won’t provide full release notes for most Windows 10 updates;  Bloatware: What it is and how to get rid of it;  Review: 4 powerline kits step in when Wi-Fi fails;  Google Brings Tweets To Desktop Search Results;  This App Snaps A Pic Of Your Friends If They Try To Swipe Through Your Phone’s Photos Uninvited;  Spotify climbs down on new terms and conditions;  This Is How You Remove Candy Crush From Windows 10;  Plenty of fish, and exploits too, on dating website;  Android Smart lock: Should you be using it?  How to use two-factor authentication without a phone;  Classic Steve Jobs disses you can put on your next resignation letter;  Target agrees to pay Visa card issuers up to $67 million;  Samsung tipped to be developing 18.4-inch Android tablet;  Testing suggests that not even identical twins can dupe Windows Hello;  Destroy Windows 10 Spying 1.5 Build 300 (free);  Ultimate Windows Tweaker 4 for Windows 10 (free).

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

Phone and laptop encryption guide: Protect your stuff and yourself – The worst thing about having a phone or laptop stolen isn’t necessarily the loss of the physical object itself, though there’s no question that that part sucks. It’s the amount of damage control you have to do afterward. Calling your phone company to get SIMs deactivated, changing all of your account passwords, and maybe even canceling credit cards are all good ideas, and they’re just the tip of the iceberg. Full-disk or full-device encryption (that is, encrypting everything on your drive, rather than a specific folder or user profile) isn’t yet a default feature across the board, but most of the major desktop and mobile OSes support it in some fashion. In case you’ve never considered it before, here’s what you need to know.

Bloatware: What it is and how to get rid of it – How much does bloatware slow down your PC? It’s hard to say, but there are some indications that it can have a considerable effect. Microsoft sells a line of what it calls Signature PCs, computers that are free of third-party software. According to the product page, on average, the Signature PCs start up 104% faster, shut down 35% faster and have 28 minutes more battery life than the same laptops with bloatware. In this article I’ll discuss the most common types of bloatware you’ll encounter, how to uninstall it and how to buy bloatware-free PCs. (Note that this article covers only Windows computers, and not Macs or other systems.)

5 tips to make your Android phone run faster, longer – There’s a lot of power contained within that little glass rectangle you carry around all day. We’ve got eight-core CPUs, multiple gigabytes of RAM, and batteries with thousands of milliampere-hours of capacity, but sometimes the experience doesn’t live up to the hardware’s potential. Things go wrong, settings get screwed up, and apps get greedy for resources. This can render a phone sluggish and kill the battery. That’s certainly a problem, but don’t worry, we can fix it in a few simple steps.

Windows 10 churning through data, blowing up usage caps – For some Windows 10 users, the problems keep coming. Though Windows 10 was free to download, updating the operating system is costing some dearly, reports The Sydney Morning Herald. Some have blamed the way the new operating system downloads and installs updates. Prior to Windows 10, users could choose whether or not to install updates, depending on where they were in their billing cycle. But for many who breezed through the setup process, updates install in the background, often without user interaction. Other reports that have trickled in also blame Windows 10’s forced updates.

Microsoft won’t provide full release notes for most Windows 10 updates – What’s in that update? For most Windows 10 patches, Microsoft isn’t telling. As highlighted by ExtremeTech, Microsoft has not provided patch notes for any of the Windows 10 patches it has released so far in an apparent shift in the company’s thinking. Instead of providing specific details about each patch as it has in the past, ExtremeTech notes that the release notes for Windows 10’s cumulative updates released so far merely state, “This update includes improvements to enhance the functionality of Windows 10.” Not very helpful, is it?

Review: 4 powerline kits step in when Wi-Fi fails – Are there places in your home or office where your Wi-Fi signal doesn’t reach? You’re not alone. Because of Wi-Fi’s limited range — and old-school building construction techniques like thick plaster, brick or masonry walls — even the best Wi-Fi networks have dead zones. If you have that problem, you have several options. You can start drilling holes in your walls so you can run network cabling. You can try a Wi-Fi range extender (which might help, depending on the strength of your Wi-Fi and the efficiency of the extender). Or you can use a powerline kit, which routes data over your electric cables by piggybacking the data on top of the electrical current’s 60-hertz wave and then extracting the data at the other end.

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Samsung goes after iPhone users with Galaxy test drive promo – Samsung Electronics is offering U.S. iPhone owners the chance to test its latest Galaxy smartphones for 30 days for $1, as it hopes to make a dent in Apple’s dominance of the high end of the market. The promotion lets iPhone owners choose between the Galaxy Note 5, Galaxy S6 edge or the Galaxy S6 edge+ without any obligations with their existing carrier. After the month is up, they can simply return it. Or, if the phone feels right, go ahead and upgrade, Samsung said.

Eight advanced tips for Word headers and footers – Even a novice Word user can display page numbers in a document’s header of footer. The process is fundamental. Advancing beyond the basics is easier than you might think, and you might be surprised how many things you can do with a header or footer! In this article, I’ll highlight eight tips that will move you from basic user to advanced, at least with headers and footers.

This App Snaps A Pic Of Your Friends If They Try To Swipe Through Your Phone’s Photos Uninvited – We’ve pretty much all been there: you hand your phone to a friend to show them a picture. They look at the photo, they chuckle… and then they casually swipe to the next photo in your camera roll like it ain’t no thing. This app slaps their wrist in a mostly harmless way: by snapping a surprise selfie of your friend’s nosy-ass face when they try to swipe to your other pics.

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This Is How You Remove Candy Crush From Windows 10 – Find it just too tempting? Here’s what to do. If right clicking on the app icon in the Start Menu and selecting uninstall doesn’t work, then the website Tech News Today has a handy step-by-step guide to making your computer Candy Crush-free.

Samsung tipped to be developing 18.4-inch Android tablet – While the rumored “iPad Pro” may be getting all the attention recently when it comes to extra-large tablets, Samsung seems to be working on something of their own. A new report says the company is working on a tablet known as codename “Tahoe” with the model number SM-T670, and featuring a huge 18.4-inch screen. SamMobile says its sourced have indicated the Android-powered device will be targeted for use in office, school, and living room environments, instead of as a standard personal tablet.

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Amazon Echo gets SmartThings support – Amazon’s Echo appears ready to learn a new trick: Working with connected smarthome devices through a SmartThings hub. Official SmartThings support hasn’t yet been announced but the SmartThings blog spilled the beans with a post that went live on Thursday and was later removed. ZatzNotFunny spotted the post — which received four comments before being pulled — showing that Amazon Echo integration with the SmartThings products is likely on the way soon. Google’s web cache still has the original post.

Google Brings Tweets To Desktop Search Results – Back in May, Google and Twitter partnered to bring tweets into mobile search results. It was, and is, a pretty big deal for both companies. The relationship is apparently going well, as Google announced in a short update on its original blog post that it’d be including tweets within search results on desktop as well.

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Firefox moves toward cross-browser extensions with Chrome and Opera – Mozilla takes a giant step towards Firefox’s total compatibility with browser extensions from the Chrome and Opera extension ecosystems. The plan is to switch out the extension API used for Firefox with one by the name of WebExtensions. With this API, developers will be able to create extensions that work with multiple browsers at once, bringing Firefox back into the mix where once they were excluded. This is all part of Mozilla’s move toward a more user-friendly browser on all platforms.

Security:

Spotify climbs down on new terms and conditions: Founder says the whole thing was just a BIIIIIIIIIIG misunderstanding. Right – Spotify will clarify its position on its wide-reaching terms and conditions. In a post entitled “SORRY”, company founder Daniel Ek said: “We have heard your concerns loud and clear. We are also going to update the new Privacy Policy in the coming weeks.” In the post, Ek paints it as a misunderstanding of what Spotify was trying to do by hoovering up your photos, contacts, voice commands and location, and then sharing that information with advertisers and businesses.

Plenty of fish, and exploits too, on dating website – Recent visitors to Plenty of Fish (pof.com), an online dating website with over 3 million daily active users, had their browsers redirected to exploits that installed malware. The attack was launched through a malicious advertisement that was distributed through a third-party ad network, researchers from security firm Malwarebytes said in a blog post Thursday. The malicious ad pointed to the Nuclear exploit kit, a Web-based attack tool that exploits known vulnerabilities in browsers and popular browser plug-ins like Flash Player, Java, Adobe Reader and Silverlight. If the attack is successful, the tool installs malware programs on users’ computers.

How to use two-factor authentication without a phone – The first time I got locked out of my email account — because I’d ingeniously decided to turn on two-factor authentication — was when I was in Barcelona. Naturally, I was panicking — this was a work trip, and I couldn’t access my work email. But after a few minutes of freaking out, I calmed down, figured out how to circumvent the whole “needs to have a phone” issue, and promptly disabled two-factor authentication on all of my accounts (not that you should do this — you should not, two-factor authentication is an important step in making your accounts secure). Here’s how to use phone-based two-factor authentication when you don’t have a phone.

Android Smart lock: Should you be using it? – Android Smart lock is a handy way to make gaining access to your device easier. But is this at the cost of security? Find out what Jack Wallen thinks about this issue.

Farewell To Flash: What It Means For Digital Video Publishers – It’s been more than five years since Steve Jobs wrote his infamous “Thoughts on Flash” letter citing the high level of energy consumption, lack of performance on mobile and poor security as the reasons his company’s products would not support Adobe Flash technology. Finally, it appears we’re getting closer to the curtain closing on Flash.

China group attacks India with Word exploit, then uses Microsoft’s WMI – A hacking group suspected of operating from China has had success stealing information from mostly Indian targets, often pertaining to border disputes and trade issues, according to FireEye. The gang specializes in sending targeted phishing emails to victims in the hope of gaining wider access to their networks, a practice known as spear phishing, said Bryce Boland, CTO for Asia-Pacific at the security firm. FireEye hasn’t give a name to the group, but has watched it since 2011, Boland said.

Company News:

Target agrees to pay Visa card issuers up to $67 million for 2013 data breach – On Tuesday, Target and Visa confirmed that they had reached a settlement in which Target would pay up to $67 million to Visa card issuers for a security breach in 2013 that left 40 million customer credit card numbers compromised. Visa brokered the deal and will pass the award on to the card issuers that work within its network. The settlement deal is considerably larger than the $19 million settlement that Target reached with MasterCard earlier in the proceedings. That settlement was not approved because MasterCard issuers rejected it for being too low.

Intuit puts venerable Quicken up on the block – The 32-year-old desktop software days are numbered, predict some customers, as Intuit pledges to find ‘reputable buyer’ for personal finance program.

After three-day shutdown, HP now effectively two companies – Hewlett-Packard doesn’t officially become two companies until Nov. 1, but the company has already separated its internal systems and is effectively operating as two businesses. “On August 1, we successfully split the operations and IT systems for the company. This was an incredibly complex process and the team executed very well,” CEO Meg Whitman said on HP’s quarterly earnings call Thursday. HP worked directly with 3,500 of its biggest customers and partners to prepare for the cutover, which involved separating 750 systems that handle 95 percent of its business.

Uber Plans To Go Public In 18-24 Months, According To Leaked Presentation – Uber could become a public company as soon as next year or 2016, according to a leaked document published in a report from Reuters. The news agency gained access to a presentation that Uber is showing to potential investors in China as part of a new funding round for its international business. (UberChina, the entity Uber created in the country, is separately reportedly seeking to raise a billion dollars to battle China-based rival Didi Kuaidi, which recently closed a $2 billion financing round itself.) The document broke out information for Uber China and Uber Inc., and forecasted that the latter — which is present in over 150 countries worldwide — will go public within 18-24 months.

Apple stands by Dre after apology for hurting women – After the rapper became an Apple employee following its $3.3 billion takeover of Beats, attention to his past violence has become the latest barb against the tech industry’s treatment of women.

Apple launches replacement program for faulty iPhone 6 Plus cameras – Apple’s iPhone 6 Plus has the best camera of any iPhone (at least until we get new ones next month), but it’s not completely problem-free. Apple has announced an iSight Camera Replacement Program for iPhone 6 Plus models sold between the phone’s launch in September of 2014 and January of 2015. “A small percentage” of phones sold included a faulty part that could make pictures taken with the rear camera look blurry. The problem doesn’t affect the standard iPhone 6, so the 6 Plus’ optical image stabilization component could be at fault. The front-facing FaceTime camera is also unaffected.

YouTube Opens Studio In Bollywood – YouTube is planning to open a studio for film creators in Mumbai, India, the company said on Wednesday. Launching in partnership with renowned Indian film school Whistling Woods International, the new space will be at the center of Mumbai’s film and television production hub, Filmcity.

Games and Entertainment:

Overwatch and Battleborn: meet the new breed of cooperative first-person shooter games – This year’s Gamescom has been a special treat for fans of multiplayer games. Ubisoft has brought Rainbow Six Siege and the all-new For Honor for gamers to try out in Cologne, while DICE used the show to debut a massive 20-player dogfight mode in Star Wars: Battlefront. Blizzard’s Heroes of the Storm has been everywhere too, but it’s another title from the same company that I want to talk about today: Overwatch. It, along with Gearbox Software’s Battleborn, is establishing a new category of team-based shooter games, one where violence and gore are de-emphasized in favor of accessibility and cooperative fun.

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Real life first-person zombie shooter pops up on Chatroulette – Turns out, if you still use Chatroulette, the website that matches you and your webcam up with a random stranger, you may not always be shown someone doing something obscene. You might just get thrown into a real life first person shooter (FPS), with you in control of someone trying fight off zombies. That’s exactly what happened when random users were paired with the British film production crew Realm Pictures, who managed to create a live-action FPS that plays out in real-time right before viewers.

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Nvidia’s GeForce Experience app brings gameplay sharing to PC – When the PlayStation 4 debuted, one of the coolest features about the new hardware was the “Share” feature, which let players stream their gameplay live to another PS4 owner, and even let them take over the controls. Well, Nvidia is bringing that same functionality to PC games with an update to its GeForce Experience app. The software is being updated next month with beta access to the new GameStream Co-op feature, along with a few other tools for recording and broadcasting gameplay footage.

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Fallout 4 could be more successful than Skyrim, says Bethesda – Bethesda has said it believes Fallout 4 could be its most successful game release ever. Fallout 4 launches in November for Xbox One, PlayStation 4 and PC. Bethesda has also revealed the Fallout Anthology for PC which bundles the first five Fallout games — 1, 2, Tactics, 3, and New Vegas — in a mini-nuke.

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Bethesda Softworks

Metroid spectacularly re-imagined in Unreal Engine 4 – Developer CryZENx brings a fully re-imagined Metroid Prime gameplay environment into existence with Unreal Engine 4. And boy does it look fantastic. What you’re going to see is a project – not an official game made for release. Here you’ll see some of the capabilities of the graphics environment Unreal Engine 4, complete with realistic lighting, shadows, atmosphere, and everything in-between. Just keep reminding yourself that while this isn’t a real game – it could indicate where Metroid could go, someday, maybe.

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‘Millennial Swipe Sim 2015’ Web Game Pokes Fun at Tinder – Is the Tinder obsession a bit too real for some of your friends? Send them a link to this brand-new Web game, and they might feel a little better.

Off Topic (Sort of):

The future of the tablet is the PC – Apple CEO Tim Cook once compared a tablet-laptop combo to mashing up a refrigerator with a toaster. The resulting Frankenstein device would do an equally lousy job of chilling your food and warming it up. That was three years ago. Today, these tablet-laptop hybrids — which blend the mobility and touchscreen friendliness of a tablet with the capabilities of a PC — are on track to becoming the fastest-growing computing category. Shipments of so-called 2-in-1 devices like Microsoft’s Surface Pro 3 and the Lenovo Yoga 3 Pro, for example, are expected to grow almost fivefold this year. That’s thanks in part to attachable or foldable keyboards and more-powerful hardware, such as Intel’s Core M microprocessors, that let slimmer, tabletlike devices hit speeds on par with midrange laptops.

DIY overhead control panel would make NASA proud – At one point in every geek’s life, he or she may have dreamed up of a super sophisticated computer setup that would rival or at least match those of, say, NASA’s mission control rooms or other sci-fi props. For some, wishing might be the extent of that dream. Others, however, try to make that dream a reality, even if they have to do it themselves. That is exactly what smashcuts proudly shared on Reddit and imgur. And the best part? He’s actually sharing how he did it.

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Classic Steve Jobs disses you can put on your next resignation letter – Apple and Pixar honcho Steve Jobs was known not just for his genius products (Hello, Mac, iPod, iPad, iPhone!), but also for his raging put-downs of subordinates and rivals. Why not put some of his molten-lava tongue lashings to good effect during your next job transition?

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“You’ve baked a really lovely cake, but then you’ve used dog sh!t for frosting.”

Cell phone video shows cop allegedly trying to force driver to buy fund-raising tickets (or else) – The police officer stopped the driver and brandished tickets to a show. “Either you buy these, or I take your car, because it’s unregistered,” the officer said. This, in some movies, would be called an offer you can’t refuse. In this movie, posted to Facebook by someone whose real name (per Facebook’s strict rules) is Rob Stay Faded, the officer continues: “Ten bucks each. Support your police department.” On Friday, the Philadelphia Inquirer reported that the officer in the video, nine-year-veteran Matthew Zagursky, was taken off street patrol and dispossessed of his gun. Zagursky will continue working, pending the results of an Internal Affairs probe, which Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey ordered Friday.

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Need to take down a drone? A munitions company offers firepower – Having grown up in a culture where very few people feel the need for guns (that Europe place), it’s hard to explain to my fellow Americans that it’s, well, possible. Instead, America has always enjoyed a deep fascination for and commitment to weaponry. This therefore fuels the imaginations of those manufacturing the weaponry to ever greater heights. Admire then, please, the wares of Snake River Shooting Products. This company has just released gun shells that it says are perfect for shooting down drones. In a press release, the company describes its wares like this: “The rounds are a 12 gauge 3″ shot shell solution aimed at defending against drone-based privacy concerns and terror!”

Testing suggests that not even identical twins can dupe Windows Hello – Windows Hello, the feature in Windows 10 that lets you use your face as your login password, so to speak, may seem like a mere novelty at first glance, and something that could potentially be readily fooled. Journalist Chris Griffin with The Australian wanted to find out for himself, so he brought in six pairs of identical twins to put Windows Hello to the test. The result? In each of the six cases, Windows Hello kept each twin from logging in as their identical siblings.

Something to think about:

“There are 3 kinds of people in the world . Those that make things happen, those that have things happen to them and the vast majority – those who stand around and wonder WTF happened.”

–     Anonymous

Downloads:

Ultimate Windows Tweaker 4 for Windows 10 – Ultimate Windows Tweaker 4 for Windows 10 has been released. This tweaking software adds several new tweaks for the new operating system. Those of you who have upgraded to Windows 10, would definitely want to use it to judiciously tweak your Windows 10 and personalize your computing experience. With judicious tweaking, it can make your system faster, more stable, personal and more secure with just a few mouse clicks.

While you may be able to access all these via the Windows 10 Settings app, the Registry Editor or the Group Policy Editor, Ultimate Windows Tweaker makes things easier for you by offering all useful tweaks from its single UI.

This tweaker is just 495 KB in size and includes over 200 tweaks. Like its predecessors, UWT 4.0 sports a clean minimalistic UI, offering links in the left panel, and tabs on the top, in some categories. Hover over any tweak and helpful tool tips will tell you what the tweak does.

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Destroy Windows 10 Spying 1.5 Build 300 – MajorGeek says: Destroy Windows 10 Spying is a portable app that can block anonymous data being sent, remove apps that can’t be removed the standard way and more. I liked that it can remove some of the Windows default programs that can be removed under Apps & Features, an annoyance I immediately discovered since I prefer to “slim” down windows.

Some of the domains we know send anonymous information back to Microsoft include:

vortex.data.microsoft.com vortex-win.data.microsoft.com telecommand.telemetry.microsoft.com telecommand.telemetry.microsoft.com.nsatc.net oca.telemetry.microsoft.com oca.telemetry.microsoft.com.nsatc.net sqm.telemetry.microsoft.com sqm.telemetry.microsoft.com.nsatc.net watson.telemetry.microsoft.com watson.telemetry.microsoft.com.nsatc.net redir.metaservices.microsoft.com choice.microsoft.com choice.microsoft.com.nsatc.net df.telemetry.microsoft.com reports.wes.df.telemetry.microsoft.com wes.df.telemetry.microsoft.com services.wes.df.telemetry.microsoft.com sqm.df.telemetry.microsoft.com telemetry.microsoft.com watson.ppe.telemetry.microsoft.com telemetry.appex.bing.net telemetry.urs.microsoft.com telemetry.appex.bing.net:443 settings-sandbox.data.microsoft.com vortex-sandbox.data.microsoft.com survey.watson.microsoft.com watson.live.com watson.microsoft.com statsfe2.ws.microsoft.com corpext.msitadfs.glbdns2.microsoft.com compatexchange.cloudapp.net cs1.wpc.v0cdn.net a-0001.a-msedge.net statsfe2.update.microsoft.com.akadns.net sls.update.microsoft.com.akadns.net fe2.update.microsoft.com.akadns.net diagnostics.support.microsoft.com corp.sts.microsoft.com statsfe1.ws.microsoft.com pre.footprintpredict.com i1.services.social.microsoft.com i1.services.social.microsoft.com.nsatc.net feedback.windows.com feedback.microsoft-hohm.com feedback.search.microsoft.com rad.msn.com preview.msn.com ad.doubleclick.net ads.msn.com ads1.msads.net ads1.msn.com a.ads1.msn.com a.ads2.msn.com adnexus.net adnxs.com az361816.vo.msecnd.net az512334.vo.msecnd.net

You can block these yourself manually in your hosts file with 127.0.0.1 if you want. The program allows you to clear or view the hosts file in Notepad.

The program does the same thing but just in case you wanted to see where your information heads to or you wanted to update your hosts file manually. A log file will be left in the folder you run it from.

I took a huge chance and ran this on my clean Windows 10 installation. It did modify the hosts file exactly as promised and did remove the Apps it promised. IObit Uninstaller also spotted Destroy Windows 10 Spying running and removed leftover entries from the uninstall.

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In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

NSA preps quantum-resistant algorithms to head off crypto-apocalypse – The National Security Agency is advising US agencies and businesses to prepare for a time in the not-too-distant future when the cryptography protecting virtually all e-mail, medical and financial records, and online transactions is rendered obsolete by quantum computing.

Quantum computers have capabilities that can lay to ruin all of the public-key cryptographic systems currently in use. These capabilities, which aren’t known to be present in the classical computers of today, include the ability to almost instantly find the prime factors of extremely large numbers, using a method called Shor’s algorithm. Quantum computing is also believed to be capable of tackling other mathematical problems classical computers can’t solve quickly, including computing discrete logarithm mod primes and discrete logs over elliptic curves.

The difficulty of factoring and computing discrete log primes and elliptic curve discrete logs play an essential role in cryptographers’ confidence in RSA, elliptic curve cryptography, and other public-key crypto systems. When implemented correctly, most scientists and cryptographers believe that the crypto can’t be defeated with today’s computers before the end of the universe.

Canadians taking to spying on their spies – As Canadians settle in for the longest general election campaign since 1867, some uncomfortable incidents that had been ignored by commercial media outlets are gaining new exposure.

Allegations that Canadian spooks are spying on protesters have become a hot topic online. The result is that Canada’s online civil liberties movements are starting to gain traction offline, and are threatening to go mainstream.

To understand the events, some background is required. A number of pipeline projects are proposed or undergoing construction to increase the amount of oil that can be sent from Alberta west to the coast of British Columbia via pipeline. Current pipelines are at capacity and shipping the oil to the coast by train is a fantastically dumb idea because the trains keep derailing, causing all manner of havoc.

A veritable who’s who of Canadian protest and civil liberties groups became active in protesting against the pipelines, both online and off. It dragged on for years, and protests are still ongoing.

Information emerged that said one of Canada’s spy agencies – Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) – allegedly spied on the protesters and then allegedly illegally shared information about the protesters with the National Energy Board (NEB). NEB is the government entity tasked with overseeing environmentally sensitive projects such as oil pipelines.

The NEB succumbed to industry capture years ago and now blatantly operates as nothing more than an extension of the energy companies themselves.

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3 responses to “Tech Thoughts Net News – Monday Edition – August 24, 2015