The press review catalogues press articles related to la Quadrature's issues, compiled by its volunteers.
See also our French press review.
Even staunch privacy advocates are concluding that it's impossible to protect personal data completely. The best hope for online privacy, they say, lies in legal safeguards that prevent abuse.
Collecting huge amounts of information about all of us and then using supercomputers to sift through, analyze and study it — this is a reality of modern life, and it can be a tremendously powerful thing.
Researchers can use techniques like those to identify genetic markers linked to breast cancer, better understand climate change or figure out how to combat hospital infections.
The collection of personal information has become so ubiquitous that even staunch privacy advocates now say it's impossible to build a protective wall around your all personal data. Rather, they say, expectations for privacy have to be redefined.
Danny Weitzner, who organized a privacy workshop at MIT with White House officials and researchers Monday, says he sees lots of promise in analyzing information — but he's not blind to how big business and the government could abuse it.
"Some marketers have discovered that a very good proxy for a high credit score is found in people who buy furniture coasters," says Weitzner, who used to advise the White House on technology and privacy and helped write the administration's proposed privacy bill of rights.
Yes, that's right, furniture coasters — those little felt pads you put underneath chair legs. Turns out that if you use them, you are probably a better credit risk. And credit scores can be used for all sorts of things, like employment decisions and getting an apartment.
There are rules for how those scores can be used; if someone checks your credit, generally they have to get your permission to do it. But that's not the case if they use a proxy for your credit score — like furniture coasters.
"No one's ever going to tell you when they turn you down for a job that it's because they pulled up your data broker report," says Julia Angwin, author of the new book Dragnet Nation. "Right now, the problem is you can't tell when your data is being used against you, so there is this kind of feeling of fear."
Angwin covered privacy and technology at the Wall Street Journal for years. In her book, she chronicles her attempt to erase her own digital trail and prevent it from ever being used against her. She spent thousands of dollars on gadgets and software to keep her identity secret, and hundreds of hours tracking down stashes of data about her — then begging companies to erase it.
In the end, she failed.
"After spending a year doing this, I felt this is not something any normal person would do or should do," Angwin says. "It's too much work, and I didn't actually achieve many of my goals."
Danny Weitzner says we can never turn back the clock. None of us will ever be able to disappear. But he insists that privacy isn't dead — at least, not his definition of privacy.
"There is a tendency to think that privacy is synonymous with secrecy," he says. "That if you can keep your personal information secret then you have privacy. But if you don't, if it's not secret anymore — if third parties hold your personal information, then somehow you have lost all your privacy.
"I personally reject that notion of privacy," Weitzner adds. He says protecting privacy in the digital age means creating rules that require governments and businesses to be transparent about how they use our information.
Weitzner envisions a world where big databases are audited to prevent abuse, including those at the NSA and financial reports, and where encryption technology ensures that research involving troves of sensitive personal information don't open windows into individuals' personal lives.
Surprisingly, Chris Calabrese, legislative counsel for privacy-related issues at the ACLU, agrees.
"This can't be a discussion about how one side wants to stop global warming by doing a better analysis of huge information on our energy use and the other side cares about privacy," he says. "That can't be the way the debate is framed."
Calabrese says he can't kill off the big data business; it's too late. In fact, he says, we probably don't want to anyway. But with the right rules and technologies, maybe we can get it under control.
A European Commission survey of 28,000 Internet users found that a quarter reported content blocking, the Commission revealed Thursday. The survey found that 41 percent experience problems watching video on a mobile device and 37 percent on a fixed Internet connection. Other services with which users experienced problems include music streaming, playing online games and voice over IP. The news comes as the debate over a new E.U. “net neutrality” law continues.
“When you buy an internet subscription you should get access to all content. That is what the open Internet should be, and all Europeans should have access to it,” said Digital Agenda Commissioner, Neelie Kroes, in a statement on Thursday. She believes that her proposals for the Telecoms Regulation will guarantee an open Internet.
However digital rights activists have argued that the proposed new law does exactly the opposite. “At the same time as proposing text which will undermine net neutrality in Europe, Commissioner Kroes is energetically claiming that she supports it. Anyone not familiar with the file would be mistaken for believing her,” said Joe McNamee from EDRi (a European digital rights group). […]
Julia Angwin might want to cut Edward Snowden some royalty checks. As a reporter for the Wall Street Journal from 2000 to 2013, Angwin reported for years about the intersection of privacy and new technology. She began work on “Dragnet Nation: A Quest for Privacy, Security, and Freedom in a World of Relentless Surveillance” long before Snowden began shocking the world with his leaked tales of NSA surveillance. But the timing of the publication of her new book couldn’t have ended up being more propitious. At a moment when, largely due to Snowden’s efforts, public interest in and concern over privacy issues is at an all-time high, Angwin has arrived with a deeply researched book that is completely of the moment.
Angwin spoke to Salon from New York, where she is now on the staff of the nonprofit investigative journalism outfit ProPublica.
Imagining a hackathon concocts images of young hackers high on coffee, red-eyed after a sleepless night, trying to illegally hijack websites. But the reality is much more prosaic. A hackathon gets developers together with, depending on the goal, complementary profiles to fulfil a project within a given time – generally 24 or 48 hours. In this case the goal was trying to make sense of reams of data released by European institutions. It’s especially important with the European elections on the horizon. […]
On the other side of the room, Thomas Bouchet, from the French organization La Quadrature du Net, with a volunteer’s help, improves the organisation’s Memopol tool, designed to track MEPs’ voting habits. […]
All participants share one concern. It shows on the stickers that cover the laptops and which can be heard in every conversation: open data. Open data is data accessible to the public, in a reusable digital format under an open license. For these free-software lovers, this is second nature to them. Many of them believe this is a fundamental element of political transparency and therefore of democracy. All the NGOs present – Democracy International, Transparency International, La Quadrature du Net or Access Info – state that accessing public data and especially European institutions data is a matter of information freedom. […]
The European Union’s new package of telecoms laws, which includes the bloc’s first explicit net neutrality legislation, has hit a snag: a crucial vote in the European Parliament’s industry committee was supposed to take place on Monday, but was delayed, ostensibly due to a technicality over translations.
That’s the official, reasonably plausible explanation for the two-week delay, in any case. As it happens, the Industry, Research and Energy (ITRE) committee is heavily divided on the net neutrality issue, specifically over whether internet service providers should be able to degrade types of traffic to the detriment of consumers who expect the full, as-neutral-as-possible internet. […]
ITRE is a different story. Digital rights campaigners such as La Quadrature du Net have argued that proposals made by ITRE chair Pilar Del Castillo Vera and others in the committee would allow telcos to offer services in which some kinds of traffic are degraded or blocked.
They also highlight various potential loopholes and oppose measures that would allow ISPs to offer “specialized services” optimized for a specific kind of content – think IPTV, for example – without a ban on those specialized services being functionally identical to normal internet provision. […]
With the net neutrality battle having been lost for now in the United States, what happens in Europe will have a decisive effect on the future of the internet, most probably everywhere. An extra two weeks for digital rights campaigners to harangue their local MEPs can’t be a bad thing.
[...] The legal text of the Canada-European Union free trade agreement will be ready for Canadians to examine soon, possibly in the next month or two, federal Trade Minister Ed Fast said Friday.
The agreement was signed amidst much fanfare in mid-October, but finalizing the text and putting it into legal language has taken time. [...]
Some have speculated that the Oct. 18 announcement left several issues still unresolved, particularly concerning investment protection, but Fast said to expect no surprises once the legal text is made public. [...]
He said Canada may see the document before Europe, where it will have to be translated into 24 languages. Still, implementation will require ratification by all 28 EU member states and is not expected until 2015.
[...] The Hill reports that President Obama has tapped Robert Holleyman to be a deputy USTR. Holleyman is a former lobbyist for BSA, a software industry group that represents companies like Microsoft, Adobe, and Oracle as members. [...]
Stronger anti-piracy measures may be in the interest of BSA's member companies, but they're not necessarily in the interests of the American technology sector more generally, or in the public interest. Excessive legal protections can create legal uncertainty and discourage innovation. [...]
[...] Moreover, the growing public backlash on these issues threatens to sink America's broader trade agenda. In 2012, protests by copyright reformers in Europe led to the rejection of the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement in 2012.
Law professor, Creative Commons co-founder and advocate for copyright reform Lawrence Lessig has agreed to receive damages from an Australian music label. Without considering fair use Liberation wrongly had some of Lessig's work removed from YouTube and threatened to sue - it didn't go well. [...]
Now, according to the EFF [Electronic Frontier Foundation], Lessig has settled his dispute with Liberation after the label agreed to pay him damages and “fix” its copyright policies. [...]
“Too often, copyright is used as an excuse to silence legitimate speech,” Lessig said in a statement.
“I’ve been fighting against that kind of abuse for many years, and I knew I had to stand up for fair use here as well. Hopefully this lawsuit and this settlement will send a message to copyright owners to adopt fair takedown practices — or face the consequences.”
Ante Wessels' analysis of the recent leak of CETA published by the German Pirate Party. He states that as European Intellectual Property laws are already not good, they should not be exported. Instead "The FFII called upon the EU commission to solve such problems and make EU law compatible with the UN International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR)."
He goes on to compare the leak with ACTA and finds some improvements but some serious flaws, especially with regard to Investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS) and that Patent Trolls will be able to use the enforcement mechanisms. He deplores the aim of the treaty, which does not contain "a word about access to knowledge and participation in culture" nor does it make mention of the ICESCR.
[...] Britain's surveillance agency GCHQ, with aid from the US National Security Agency, intercepted and stored the webcam images of millions of internet users not suspected of wrongdoing, secret documents reveal.
GCHQ files dating between 2008 and 2010 explicitly state that a surveillance program codenamed Optic Nerve collected still images of Yahoo webcam chats in bulk and saved them to agency databases, regardless of whether individual users were an intelligence target or not.
[...] Optic Nerve was based on collecting information from GCHQ's huge network of internet cable taps, which was then processed and fed into systems provided by the NSA. Webcam information was fed into NSA's XKeyscore search tool, and NSA research was used to build the tool which identified Yahoo's webcam traffic.