Tech Thoughts Net News – Friday – October 16, 2015

10 tips for spotting a phishing email;  How to set up Google’s Chrome browser the right way;  New free movies available in November;  Skype Now Lets Anyone Join A Chat Even If They Don’t Have An Account;  5 Tech Tips To Keep Your Digital Identity Safe While Traveling;  Five tools for working with text files;  5 Steps to Charge Your iPhone Faster;  Yahoo updates email apps with third-party account support, no passwords;  Amazon Trade-In: Fair value for your iPhone or scam?  Hands on with Paper, Dropbox’s answer to Google Docs;  Why do websites take so long to load?Microsoft will pay $200 for your old laptop, or $300 if it’s a MacBook;  New zero-day exploit hits fully patched Adobe Flash;  JetBlue adds free Wi-Fi, says it can handle streaming video;  Blizzard’s Overwatch Beta Begins Oct. 27;  Radio wave gun zaps drones out of the sky – and it’s perfectly legal;  Avast Free Mobile Security;  Cybercrime bazaars: What’s for sale in the online underworld?  Acer’s first Windows 10 smartphone ships with a keyboard and mouse.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

10 tips for spotting a phishing email – Every day countless phishing emails are sent to unsuspecting victims all over the world. While some of these messages are so outlandish that they are obvious frauds, others can be a bit more convincing. So how do you tell the difference between a phishing message and a legitimate message? Unfortunately, there is no one single technique that works in every situation, but there are a number of things that you can look for. This article lists 10 of them.

Skype Now Lets Anyone Join A Chat Even If They Don’t Have An Account – Microsoft announced today, detailing a new feature that will allow users to invite anyone – even those who don’t have a Skype account – to use the service via the Skype for Web interface. Invitees won’t have to create an account or download an app, but can instead join a chat as a guest simply by clicking a link. As a part of this rollout, Skype is introducing unique links that can be used to invite others to chats. The links can be shared however you choose – in email, via apps like Facebook, Messenger, Twitter or WhatsApp, or anywhere else that makes sense. In the case of those without Skype accounts, they’ll be able to sign in to a chat as a guest by typing in their name then clicking “Join.”

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5 Gmail helpers that make your inbox more productive – The best intentions for a productive workday are usually derailed by email. The pervasiveness of the problem has even prompted some nations to call it an “epidemic.” But it email doesn’t have to be the enemy. With Gmail’s built-in features and some assistance from third-party tools, you can not only get your workflow back on track but transform your inbox into a productivity powerhouse. Here are five you should start using with your Gmail account immediately.

5 Steps to Charge Your iPhone Faster – Constantly tethered to a wall, trying to give your iPhone extra juice? Here are some tricks that will speed up the charging process.

Amazon Trade-In: Fair value for your iPhone or scam? – I mailed in a mint condition iPhone 6 for Amazon credit only to see the value degraded by the online retail giant. And it’s happened more than once and with increasing frequency.

Acer’s first Windows 10 smartphone ships with a keyboard and mouse – Open the box for just about any smartphone on the market, and you’ll generally find a charger, a charging cable, some reading material, and maybe a set of earbuds. Acer’s Jade Primo, on the other hand, comes with a keyboard and mouse. A full-sized keyboard and mouse, just like the ones you’d receive in the box with one of Acer’s Revo or Aspire desktop computers. Why would they bother including PC accessories with a smartphone? Because the Jade Primo runs Windows 10, and it’s powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon processor that can handle that slick Continuum feature we’ve told you about before.

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Five tools for working with text files – Although text files are undoubtedly useful, they are somewhat limited when it comes to function. Thankfully, a number of utilities can convert, edit, or manipulate them. This article lists five such tools.

How to set up Google’s Chrome browser the right way – Google Chrome is one of the most popular browsers in the world, second only to Internet Explorer by most measures. Why? Lay credit at the feet of Chrome’s vibrant extension catalog, popular app platform, and deep integration with Google services. It’s a fantastic browser, but just as with Firefox there’s an ideal way to get the most out of Chrome. Here’s how to set up Chrome the right way.

Yahoo updates email apps with third-party account support, no passwords – Yahoo has just announced a big update to its email apps on all platforms, including desktop, iOS and Android. Among the changes are a refreshed user interface, the ability to use multiple email accounts, including non-Yahoo services, brand new mobile apps, and the elimination of passwords for more secure sign-ins. The new iOS and Android apps are rolling out globally to their respective app marketplaces, and Yahoo says today’s changes are about making email easier and faster to use.

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Online ad industry, battling ad blockers, admits it messed up – From one perspective, it could be argued that the online advertising industry is getting what it deserves. After years of stuffing Web pages with ads, Web surfers are increasingly blocking them with free tools.

Hands on with Paper, Dropbox’s answer to Google Docs – Today Dropbox took the wraps off of Paper, its new collaborative editing software. It builds on the company’s acquisition of Hackpad, which led to the introduction earlier this year of a beta product it then called Notes. After we wrote about Paper earlier today, a person with early access to the web app invited us into the beta. We’ve spent the past few hours making documents, adding comments, and trolling each other with animated stickers, and have some early thoughts to share.

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Microsoft will pay $200 for your old laptop, or $300 if it’s a MacBook – Microsoft has launched a promotion called Easy Trade Up designed to get people to switch to new Windows 10 machines. If you buy a qualifying computer from the Microsoft Store for over $599 until October 20th, the company will give you a rebate after you send in your old laptop or all-in-one — you’ll get $200 for a Windows computer, and $300 for a MacBook. Your trade-in computer has to be under six years old and in working order with a minimum display size of 11.6 inches. The offer is running in the US, UK, Canada, India, Brazil, France, Germany, and Taiwan.

There’s a new Popcorn Time-like free music streaming site, and RIAA sues – That didn’t take long. The Recording Industry Association of America is suing a new music piracy site for the truly lazy only days after its debut. Aurous is a Popcorn Time-like player that allows pirates to stream from an overseas library of pirated music. Popcorn Time, on the other hand, performs a similar service for movie pirates—and its users are in the crosshairs of the movie industry. The recording industry is asking (PDF) a federal judge to shutter the Aurous service.

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Why do websites take so long to load? – There are a few obvious reasons why a page might be slow to load. It could be graphics-heavy or bogged down with animation, auto-loading videos, or other bells and whistles. Ads, particularly those of the auto-play video variety, can slow down load time considerably. Or hey, it might even be a problem with your internet connection. But there’s a hidden issue that may be causing delays. The JavaScript code might be outdated, unnecessarily bulky, or even gaming the analytics.

Live GIF Turns iPhone 6s Live Photos Into Shareable GIFs – It was only a matter of time — and frankly not that much time — before a developer stepped in to make it super simple for iPhone 6s/6s Plus users to spread their Live Photos all over the Internets as animated GIFs. After all, what’s the point of having clips of your cat/kid doing cute stuff if they’re mostly languishing on your camera roll, rather than helping populate Giphy et al? Live Photos, for those in need of a quick primer, is a photo feature specific to Apple’s latest smartphones which let users snap a picture and simultaneously record a short video clip.

These jailbreak hacks will make your iPhone 6 more like an iPhone 6S – If you want the iPhone 6S’s new features but aren’t buying the new phone, you’re kind of in luck: a jailbreak was released for iOS 9 this week, and some of the first hacks for it bring 3D Touch and Live Photos to all iPhones.

California launches site to help victims of revenge porn – California is ramping up its war on revenge porn by giving victims new tools for fighting back. State Attorney General Kamala Harris said Wednesday that her office has partnered with tech companies and law enforcement agencies to create an online resources hub to help people remove unauthorized explicit photographs or videos of themselves from the Internet. The hub will also help tech companies develop policies to prevent posting of exploitative images, as well as educate local law enforcement on how to investigate and prosecute revenge-porn cases.

Security:

New zero-day exploit hits fully patched Adobe Flash – Adobe officials have confirmed this vulnerability affects Flash version 19.0.0.207, which was released on Tuesday. The vulnerability has been cataloged as CVE-2015-7645. The company expects to release a fix next week. Attackers are exploiting a previously unknown vulnerability in fully patched versions of Adobe’s Flash Player so they can surreptitiously install malware on end users’ computers, security researchers warned Tuesday. So far, the attacks are known to target only government agencies as part of a long-running espionage campaign carried out by a group known as Pawn Storm, researchers from antivirus provider Trend Micro said in a blog post published Tuesday.

Hackers siphon off $31 million from British bank accounts – Crime agencies from across Europe partner with the FBI to investigate and shut down the spread of Dridex banking malware.

Cyberattacks will cost U.S. health systems $305 billion – Cyberattacks over the next five years will cost U.S. health systems $305 billion in cumulative lifetime revenue. Accenture estimates that one in 13 patients – roughly 25 million people – will have personal information, such as social security or financial records, stolen from technology systems over the next five years.

Perch turns phones, tablets, laptops into home monitors – Even before houses started getting smarter, home monitoring systems were already a thing, at least for those with something worth keeping an eye on. Whether for keeping an eye on the kids to keeping watch over valuables, such systems usually required some camera and computer combo to be installed, either by professionals or DIY. Today, however, most households have spare smartphones or tablets lying around unused. With Perch, you can put them to work again, to create an easy to use, and cheaper, home monitor.

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Researchers use Siri and Google Now to silently hijack phones from a distance – You may already be aware that allowing Siri or Google Now to run on your lockscreen is a security risk. A pair of researchers have just shown why: they can hijack your phone from a distance thanks to your virtual assistant. The duo who developed this incredible new attack work for France’s National Agency for the Security of Information Systems (abbreviated ANSSI in French). It’s an incredibly novel approach: they exploited the wire in earbuds/headphones and turned it into an antenna that could receive silent transmissions and feed instructions to Siri and Google now.

5 Tech Tips To Keep Your Digital Identity Safe While Traveling – Every few weeks it seems there is another major security breach that makes its way to front-page news. In the wake of these increasing security breaches, more consumers have been looking for ways to protect their online privacy and security. One area that specifically presents a whole host of security concerns (both physical and digital) is travel. You aren’t just a prime target to get your wallet stolen, but you’re also at risk to have your online identity compromised. Fortunately, there are myriad methods to keep you safe and secure while traveling.

Company News:

AMD announces quarterly loss of $197 million, its fourth straight loss – On Thursday, the ever-struggling AMD announced its fourth straight quarterly loss—at $197 million—putting total losses for the first nine months of 2015 at $557 million. Over the last 17 years, the company has sustained a total net loss of nearly $8 billion. As part of the earnings release, the company also announced a new joint venture with Nantong Fujitsu Microelectronics for assembly and testing. The Chinese company has acquired an 85 percent share in AMD’s two facilities Penang, Malaysia, and Suzhou, China facilities, which will net AMD around $371 million. The new venture seems like yet another desperate move on the part of the chipmaker that once saw itself as a scrappy underdog to Intel.

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Microsoft teams up with PC makers to launch ‘PC Does What?’ campaign – Microsoft is partnering with Intel, HP, Dell, and Lenovo in a big marketing push to get consumers to buy new PCs with Windows 10. All five companies are contributing to a new campaign called “PC Does What?,” that’s designed to target consumers who have four- or five year-old computers. Intel claims there are around 500 million old machines out there, and naturally all of the companies involved want consumers to upgrade. The marketing campaign will launch initially on October 19th in the US and China, which is around 50 percent of the entire PC market.

iOS App Store Revenue Now 80 Percent Higher Than Google Play, Thanks To China – The move to larger-screened iPhones has led to China becoming Apple’s most important market, according to a new report from App Annie analyzing the impact the country has had on App Store revenues in the region since the launch of the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus last year. According to the analytics firm’s findings, China led all countries in absolute growth in the third quarter of this year versus the prior quarter, in terms of both iOS app downloads and revenue. Meanwhile, Google Play still leads in sheer number of downloads thanks to growth in emerging markets like India and Southeast Asia, though iOS is still tops when it comes to revenue. In other words, the Asian app economy is impacting both the iOS App Store and Google Play, but it’s pushing the two down different paths.

JetBlue adds free Wi-Fi, says it can handle streaming video – In-flight Wi-Fi has a reputation for being painfully slow and overpriced, but JetBlue says its new Wi-Fi service is both fast and free. As of this week, JetBlue’s “Fly-Fi” satellite Internet service is installed on all 150 Airbus A320 and A321 aircraft. The airline aims to install Fly-Fi on 60 E190 planes—the rest of its fleet—by the end of 2016.

Games and Entertainment:

New free movies available in November – There’s a service out there that’s free and legal and has lots of awesome movies including “Glory” and “King Kong.”

Blizzard’s Overwatch Beta Begins Oct. 27 – Almost a year after its unveiling, Blizzard’s Overwatch beta officially begins on Oct. 27. Interested gamers can sign up online. “We’re aiming to accomplish two primary goals with our public beta test,” Blizzard said in a blog post: get “tons of top-notch feedback” on the gameplay, and “hammer the heck out of our tech” by stress-testing the server infrastructure and measuring system variety. In an effort to cover as many bases as possible, Blizzard will split participants into two factions, each with different objectives and deployment schedules. A Closed Beta group forms the core crew, while a number of Beta Test Weekends will include wider teams of players “when it’s time to break out the big guns.”

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Amazon’s 2015 Fire TV: Finally, Amazon gets the streaming box right – A year and a half later, well after the launch of the simpler, cheaper, and more modest Fire TV Stick, the Amazon Fire TV returns with new hardware and new features. And the whole package once again revolves around the same trifecta of promises: voice, power, and gaming. This time, at least, two of those promised boosts are backed by more than numbers, with the “voice” part receiving some Alexa-flavored love and the “power” part being proven by some incredible streaming-content speeds, not to mention 4K compatibility. These boosts all come for the same price as last year’s model: $99. Still, any Fire-branded device comes with the caveat of Amazon’s weird app universe and Fire OS’ interface design. This year’s Fire TV is no exception, but for once, something with the “Fire” brand finally offers some clear advantages compared to the competition. Are its interface and connectivity tradeoffs worth it?

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Cord cutters will be disappointed with the New Xbox Experience – Microsoft is preparing to introduce a major revamp to its Xbox One software, and they’ve made a preview version available to garner feedback about the changes. The company has made lots of positive user-interface improvements on the gaming side, but I can’t say the same about the video side. To its credit, Microsoft is doing lots of great stuff for cord cutters on the Xbox One, including an official over-the-air TV tuner, a broadcast DVR (coming next year), and a solid app selection. But the so-called New Xbox Experience makes navigating these TV features needlessly complicated.

NBCU Debuts “SeeSo,” A New Subscription Streaming Service For Comedy Fans – The number of niche video streaming services continues to grow in the shadow of major players like Netflix, Amazon, HBO and Hulu. Today, NBCUniversal tossed its hat into the ring with the debut of “SeeSo,” an over-the-top, ad-free subscription based streaming service that will focus exclusively on comedy. The service, which will soon be available on the web, on mobile, and other connected devices and streaming media platforms, will cost $3.99 per month. It will feature shows like “Saturday Night Live,” the U.S. and U.K. versions of “The Office,” “Parks and Recreation,” “30 Rock,” NBC’s late night shows with Jimmy Fallon and Seth Meyers, “The Kids in the Hall,” “Monty Python’s Flying Circus,” plus stand-up specials and over 20 original series.

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YouTube Gaming debuts Android gameplay streaming, paid subscriptions – Just as was promised last month at the Tokyo Game Show, the YouTube Gaming service has been updated with the impressive new feature of allowing gameplay from Android devices to be broadcast live to viewers. This is the latest move in YouTube’s attempt to keep up with rival game broadcasting service Twitch, which is most popular on PC and consoles. The best part is that YouTube Gaming doesn’t require any additional hardware or apps, as Android device users can simply start broadcasting with a single tap.

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NVIDIA GeForce Experience splits from standard GPU drivers – Starting on December 1st, 2015, NVIDIA’s GeForce Experience will require that you provide an email address to download game-ready drivers. For the less enthusiast-based crew of gamers out in the wild, standard drivers will still be available through the GeForce Experience website from NVIDIA. In addition to this, GeForce Experience will have a big jump in quality for GameStream experience – straight up to 4K.

Off Topic (Sort of):

Science Points to the Single Most Valuable Personality Trait – Research is pointing to conscientiousness as the one-trait-to-rule-them-all in terms of future success, both career-wise and personal. What is it? Basically, it’s being “efficient, organized, neat, and systematic”: Conscientiousness is the state of being thorough, careful, or vigilant; it implies a desire to do a task well. Conscientiousness is also one trait of the five-factor model of personality, and is manifested in characteristic behaviors such as being efficient, organized, neat, and systematic. It includes such elements as self-discipline, carefulness, thoroughness, self-organization, deliberation (the tendency to think carefully before acting), and need for achievement.

Cybercrime bazaars: What’s for sale in the online underworld? – Intel Security has published a study that aims to shed light on the business deals, negotiations and pricing involved in the hidden underworld of the cybercrime economy. The Hidden Data Economy report (PDF), follows years of close work with law enforcement and ongoing monitoring of online platforms, communities and marketplaces where stolen data is hidden and sold. The report contains details of what is available on the cyber black market, including PayPal accounts, credit/debit card data and more. Bank log-in details prices vary from $190 (£120) for an account worth $2,200 (£1,500) to $1,200 (£800) for one worth $31,000 (£20,000). Average estimated price for stolen credit and debit cards ran at between $5 and $30 in the United States; $20 and $35 in the United Kingdom; $20 and $40 in Canada; $21 and $40 in Australia; and $25 and $45 in the European Union.

Radio wave gun zaps drones out of the sky – and it’s perfectly legal – US biz Battelle boasts it has found a way to rid our skies of annoying drones without breaking the flying machines’ hardware. And here’s the solution: DroneDefender, a shoulder-mounted weapon that sends pulses of radio waves to disrupt communications between the drone and its operator. The electro-magnetic cannon, which has a range of about 400 metres, causes the flying bot to enter a manufacturer-set safety mode, which typically either lands it or returns it to its starting point. “We were very adamant about not doing damage,” Alex Morrow, technical director on the product, told The Register. “The device uses proprietary electronics to create a signal that’s disruptive to the drone and breaks the link between the drone and its controller. There’s no damage to the drone.”

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16 Oct 2015 at 00:55, Iain Thomson

China to consume nearly 30% of the world’s flash, 21% of DRAM – Chinese domestic DRAM and NAND flash consumption is dramatically increasing with the rise in popularity of Chinese PCs and smartphones, according to a new report from TrendForce. China this year will purchase $12 billion worth of DRAM and $6.67 billion worth of NAND flash, representing 21.6% and 29.1% of the global revenues for those markets, respectively. According to TrendForce’s smartphone shipment report for the third quarter of this year, seven of the world’s top 10 smartphone vendors hail from China. Chinese smartphone vendors also need greater amounts of memory as the majority of them produce Android devices, which require more mobile DRAM than Apple’s iOS devices, the report states.

Mind your analytics – or get ready for ethical hot water – It’s no secret that the implications of big data extend far beyond organizational benefits into the societal and ethical realm, but market researcher Gartner predicts that the improper use of big data analytics will cause half of all business ethics violations by 2018. Organizations could suffer loss of reputation, wasted resources, competitive weakness and even legal sanctions as a result, Gartner said. The best-known example in this area may be the oft-told case of Target’s pregnancy-prediction algorithm, which led the retail giant to deduce that a 15-year-old girl in Minnesota was expecting a baby. It wasn’t until the girl began receiving coupons for baby-related items that her family caught on.

Evolve Heated Hoodie keeps wearer warm with USB battery – Winter is coming, and for those in the colder regions of the land, that means snow and ice and layers upon layers of clothes. Depending on where you live, the temperature might get exceedingly cold, but piling on a sweater and then a hoodie and then a winter jacket is cumbersome, uncomfortable, and looks ridiculous. Enter the Evolve Heated Hoodie, which is a simple hoodie that uses a battery power bank to warm up from the inside out. The heated hoodie has a single flexible heating panel built into the back, and another panel built into the chest region. They are powered by a standard power bank with a 2.1a output over USB…meaning that portable battery you picked up for emergencies could probably keep your jacket warm.

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Watch This Self-Steering Tesla Model S Drive Itself (And Us) Down The Highway – For months now, Tesla has been saying that their cars would soon pick up a whole new trick: autopilot. Later this week, the first of those features will hit Tesla’s fleet — but we’ve already taken them for a spin. We went hands-on (hands-off?) with a pre-release version of the autopilot software, letting the car steer itself down the highway at 70 miles per hour. One big thing to make clear: these features don’t turn the Model S into a full blown self-driving car. You won’t be punching in your destination and laying back for a nap; instead, these features are meant more to make your long highway commutes less painful. Elon Musk says he sees full automation coming within about 3 years; this is just a big first step. So what can it do for now?

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Online US fantasy sports wagering is booming, but it’s at a crossroads – The major topic that stood out at the gambling industry’s biggest trade show—the G2E Global Gaming Expo in Las Vegas over two weeks ago—was the future of online fantasy sports wagering. It’s a $3.7 billion-a-year business already and is expected to reach nearly $18 billion in wagering by 2020, Eilers Research says. But because so much money is being made—and there are so many questions about its authenticity—many leaders in the betting industry and politicians are questioning the legality of the fantasy sports wagering business.

Something to think about:

“Let us never forget that government is ourselves and not an alien power over us. The ultimate rulers of our democracy are not a President and senators and congressmen and government officials, but the voters of this country.”

–      Franklin D. Roosevelt

Downloads:

Avast Free Mobile Security – Much of your life is on your mobile devices – banking information, private messages and photos – so protect everything for free with Avast.

Security for data and devices – Not only do you get world-class hacker protection, but you’re also protected against privacy loss and identity theft. With Avast Free Mobile Security, you can back up personal data and track your phone or sound an alarm if it’s lost or stolen.

Lock specific apps – Add an extra layer of security by locking personal apps like Amazon, Facebook, or WhatsApp.

Filter incoming calls and SMS – Block specific numbers from calling or messaging you.

Remote lock and wipe – If your phone can’t be found, lock it and completely wipe it clean so thieves can’t take advantage of you.

Pointing up   The list of features is so extensive that it would take 3 full pages just to list them all. I encourage you to check this one out.

In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

How the NSA can break trillions of encrypted Web and VPN connections – For years, privacy advocates have pushed developers of websites, virtual private network apps, and other cryptographic software to adopt the Diffie-Hellman cryptographic key exchange as a defense against surveillance from the US National Security Agency and other state-sponsored spies. Now, researchers are renewing their warning that a serious flaw in the way the key exchange is implemented is allowing the NSA to break and eavesdrop on trillions of encrypted connections.

The cost for adversaries is by no means modest. For commonly used 1024-bit keys, it would take about a year and cost a “few hundred million dollars” to crack just one of the extremely large prime numbers that form the starting point of a Diffie-Hellman negotiation. But it turns out that only a few primes are commonly used, putting the price well within the NSA’s $11 billion-per-year budget dedicated to “groundbreaking cryptanalytic capabilities.”

“Since a handful of primes are so widely reused, the payoff, in terms of connections they could decrypt, would be enormous,” researchers Alex Halderman and Nadia Heninger wrote in a blog post published Wednesday. “Breaking a single, common 1024-bit prime would allow NSA to passively decrypt connections to two-thirds of VPNs and a quarter of all SSH servers globally. Breaking a second 1024-bit prime would allow passive eavesdropping on connections to nearly 20% of the top million HTTPS websites. In other words, a one-time investment in massive computation would make it possible to eavesdrop on trillions of encrypted connections.”

Google, Facebook and peers criticize CISA bill ahead of Senate consideration – A trade group representing Facebook, Google, Yahoo and other tech and communications companies has come down heavily against the Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act of 2015, a controversial bill in the U.S. that is intended to encourage businesses to share information about cyberthreats with the government.

The Computer & Communications Industry Association claims that the mechanism CISA prescribes for the sharing of cyberthreat information does not adequately protect users’ privacy or put an appropriate limit on the permissible uses of information shared with the government.

The bill, in addition, “authorizes entities to employ network defense measures that might cause collateral harm to the systems of innocent third parties,” the CCIA said in a blog post Thursday.

CISA, which would give businesses immunity from customer lawsuits when they share cyberthreat data with the government, is due for consideration by the U.S. Senate in the coming weeks.

Critics of the bill are concerned that the provisions of the bill could be used by companies to hand over customers’ personal data to government intelligence agencies such as the National Security Agency. Cyberthreat information-sharing may not have prevented several recent attacks on government agencies, according to experts.

Fallout from EU-US Safe Harbor ruling will be dramatic and far-reaching – In the wake of last week’s dramatic judgement by the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU), which means that transatlantic data transfers made under the Safe Harbour agreement are likely to be ruled illegal across the EU, there has been no shortage of apocalyptic visions claiming that e-commerce—and even the Internet itself—was doomed. Companies are already finding alternative, if imperfect, ways to transfer personal data from the EU to the US, although a very recent data protection ruling in Germany suggests that one approach—using contracts—is unlikely to withstand legal scrutiny. But what’s being overlooked are the much wider implications of the court’s ruling, which reach far beyond e-commerce.

The careful legal reasoning used by the CJEU to reach its decisions will make its rulings extremely hard, if not impossible, to circumvent, since they are based on the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights. As the European Commission’s page on the Charter explains: “The Charter of Fundamental Rights of the EU brings together in a single document the fundamental rights protected in the EU.” Once merely aspirational, the Charter attained a new importance in December 2009: “with the entry into force of the Treaty of Lisbon, the Charter became legally binding on the EU institutions and on national governments, just like the EU Treaties themselves.”

By anchoring its ruling in the principles underlying the Charter, the CJEU has cleverly ensured that it cannot be overturned simply by bringing in new laws, since those laws must themselves comply with the Charter.

No change in US law, no data transfer deals – German state DPA – The data protection authority at the German federal state of Schleswig Holstein has declared that any and all data protection workarounds for the transfer of data to the US after the European Court of Justice’s Schrems v Facebook judgment are going to be illegal.

In its first declaration on the post-Schrems legal landscape, the influential DPA says in a written opinion (in German) that only a change in US law can make US companies compliant with European legislation and has advised companies to adjust their business relationships accordingly.

It has warned businesses and governmental bodies that they may be fined up to €300,000 for the transfer of personal data to the US “without a legal basis”.

UK refuses Assange safe passage to hospital – The UK government on Wednesday denied WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange safe passage from Ecuador’s embassy in London to a nearby hospital to diagnose shoulder pain. The 44-year-old Assange has been granted asylum from Ecuador, and he has been holed up at the embassy there since 2012 as Swedish authorities wish to question him about an alleged sexual-assault.

The British decision, announced by the Public News Agency of Ecuador and South America, came as Ecuador’s Foreign Minister Ricardo Patiño told state TV that the UK should honor the request to enable Assange to “benefit from the right of asylum that we have granted him, as should be done in a respectful international relationship.” Assange has been at the embassy for three years because he fears he eventually could be sent to the United States and face charges related to the secret-spilling site WikiLeaks if he were to leave the embassy’s grounds.

Security service access to personal data? Sure, why not? says Romania – Amid intense global debates about surveillance and online privacy, Romania has decided to give its state authorities access to personal data, such as phone-call metadata, equipment IDs, and localization.

Under a controversial new law, dubbed ‘Big Brother’ by the local media, state authorities in Romania will soon have a right to access citizens’ data stored by telecoms and internet providers.

The act was signed by Romanian president Klaus Iohannis last week, after being successively passed by the two chambers of the country’s parliament in September. Now, it just needs to be published in the Official Journal of Romania to come into effect three days later.

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