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Ben Marks of Collectors Weekly says: "Our resident shellac-record expert, Lisa Hix, has just finished a lengthy interview with Amanda Petrusich, whose Do Not Sell At Any Price: The Wild, Obsessive Hunt for the World's Rarest 78rpm Records was published last month by Scribner. Read the rest
In a bold and welcome move to protect users, Google announced on Wednesday that they have started prioritizing sites offering HTTPS (HTTP over TLS) in their page ranking algorithm. Google's Online Security Blog explains that domains with transport layer encryption have a slight advantage in search results, and the preference may grow stronger in the coming months:
For now it's only a very lightweight signal—affecting fewer than 1% of global queries, and carrying less weight than other signals such as high-quality content—while we give webmasters time to switch to HTTPS. But over time, we may decide to strengthen it, because we’d like to encourage all website owners to switch from HTTP to HTTPS to keep everyone safe on the web.
The post also provides solid recommendations for webmasters adopting TLS—use a strong 2048-bit key and check your configuration with the Qualys Lab tool.
This move to protect end users and reward sites taking steps to ensure the privacy and security of their visitors fits into a long tradition of advancing encryption at Google. The company led the field when it introduced HTTPS by default for Gmail and for search in 2010. As revelations of the NSA-GCHQ MUSCULAR program tapping the links between Google data centers came to light in late October 2013, it responded quickly in early November by announcing it would begin encrypting the traffic on its internal network. Google was also an early adopter of STARTTLS, encrypting the traffic between email providers, and recently provided a comprehensive data set to help us understand Internet-wide trends in STARTTLS adoption.
This week's announcement further underlines a commitment to encrypting Internet traffic and keeping user data safe, and encouraging others to do so. We urge Google to go further and carry out its plan to strengthen the preference of HTTPS sites, as well as favoring sites that have configured HTTPS well, such as by enabling Perfect Forward Secrecy.
Qualys, the organization that provides the configuration-testing tool, also has a best practices guide that may be useful for webmasters configuring HTTPS.Related Issues: Security
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The Australian government announced new anti-terrorism measures this week, in response to the alleged involvement of Australian citizens with extremist groups in countries including Syria and Iraq. Quietly omitted from the briefing at which those changes were announced, but separately leaked to the press this week, were the government's plans to introduce mandatory data retention requirements for Australian Internet Service Providers (ISPs).
The new measures remain shrouded in confusion—some of which is coming from its very proponents. There have been conflicting reports about whether users' browser history would be hoovered up by the new surveillance laws. And in a now infamous interview, Attorney General George Brandis struggled to explain how retaining the addresses of websites visited was different than determining what content users were viewing. Prime Minster Tony Abbott also attempted and failed to make the same distinction two days later.
The government has attempted to clarify, emphasizing that the data retained would include the IP addresses of websites visited, as well as the times and durations of visits. Also included would be senders' and recipients' email addresses, IP addresses assigned to users, as well as details of phone calls such as caller and recipient numbers, caller location and duration.
This is still an extraordinary amount of information. And EFF has previously explained why metadata matters at least as much as the content of communications. Users can take no solace in the fact that content is not being collected. As former National Security Agency General Counsel Stu Baker said: “metadata absolutely tells you everything about somebody’s life. If you have enough metadata, you don’t really need content.” Metadata includes information like who your contacts are, where and when you go online, and websites that you may legally visit that might be politically subversive, iconoclastic, or simply your own private business. But as a Stanford study earlier this year demonstrated, it can also reveal “medical conditions, firearm ownership, and more.”
So how is the government spinning this? One rationale for data retention sometimes heard in this debate is that ISPs collect some of this metadata already anyway for technical and billing purposes. But this rationale falls short—under Australian privacy law they are not permitted to collect personal data that they do not need, nor are they permitted to retain it for longer than they need it for the purpose of collection. That would all change under this new proposal, which may help explain why ISPs are expressing concerns and confusion about the potential mandate.
Although threatening, the proposal is not exactly new. Most recently it resurrects the subject of a 2012 discussion paper that recommended that ISPs be required to maintain the metadata of users for two years. At the time, a member of the current government, who was then in opposition, likened proposals for data retention to Gestapo tactics, and they were eventually dropped into the lead-up to the 2013 general election.
So if the proposals wouldn't fly in 2012 under the previous government, why now—particularly in light of leaked documents from Edward Snowden that show the role Australia has played in the NSA's invasive surveillance? The Prime Minister himself admits that the terrorist threat has not changed. Yet in a replay of the rushed introduction of similar laws in the United Kingdom last month, the new proposal could become law as soon as next month, before it has even been tabled for consideration of the Cabinet.
It appears the government is attempting to manipulate allegations of Australian citizens' involvement in terrorist activities overseas, to justify a much broader and more intrusive domestic surveillance regime. It's a cynical move, and one that the Australian public should not stand for.Related Issues: InternationalMandatory Data Retention
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Microsoft released a preview of Windows Phone 8.1 Update 1 recently. The most visible changes include things like the ability to put home screen Live Tiles into folders and the ability to create an Apps Corner that restricts access to some apps. But Microsoft is also making some changes to its hardware guidelines which make […]
MSI’s latest tablet features a 10 inch, 1280 x 800 pixel IPS display, an Intel Atom Bay Trail processor, and Windows 8.1 software. The tablet’s called the MSI S100 and we’ve seen it before… but now MSI is officially launching the tablet, which it calls a 3-in-1 device. The MSI S100 has an Intel Atom […]
The FCC is slated to close the written comment window for the net neutrality proceeding on September 10th, but that doesn’t mean that the FCC is going to make up its mind anytime soon. In fact, it doesn’t even mean that the FCC will be done hearing from the public. Technically, the public can continue to comment, and the FCC, if it decides to do so, can continue to listen to Americans who speak out against proposed rules that would allow Internet providers to discriminate against how we access parts of the Net.
This is about the future of our Internet. It’s a big deal and the FCC should treat it as such by holding public hearings in geographically diverse locations around the country to hear directly from Americans who will be affected by the Commission’s net neutrality decision.
The FCC has held public hearings before. In 2007, the Commission hosted a series of events, in places like Nashville, Los Angeles, and Tampa, to discuss how new rules about media consolidation would effect the information needs of Americans. Thousands of individuals spoke out, standing in line to testify in person, share stories, and build a robust public record that undeniably demonstrated the interest of the public. It’s time to do that again.
Filing a comment with the FCC is largely done via webforms on advocacy sites, like EFF’s own DearFCC.org. While online comments are a wonderful way to participate, we believe the Commission would greatly benefit from hosting public meetings to hear directly from the vibrant and richly diverse American public. If anyone can tell the FCC what is right and what is wrong with a potential rule set that would allow Internet providers to offer pay-to-play service for certain websites, it will be the students, entrepreneurs, artists, public safety officials, and everyday people for whom the Internet is a vital tool.
While written comments can be powerful, on an issue as important as this one, the Commission should listen to the voices of people who would stand up at a meeting, tell their stories and share their concerns about the future of the Internet. It’s time for the FCC to put faces to the over one million who have written to the Commission to speak out in defense of a neutral net.
So join us in calling for field hearings after the written comment period closes in September. And don’t forget to take action and get your comments into the FCC before September 10th. Now is the time to speak up. Let’s make sure the FCC listens.Related Issues: Net Neutrality
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Earlier this week, AB 609, a California bill promoting better public access to taxpayer-funded research, passed through the Senate Appropriations Committee. The bill, which flew out of the Assembly last year, heads next to the Senate floor. It's great that California is just two steps away from passing the first meaningful state-level public access legislation in the US. We are disappointed, however that the current version of the bill has been watered down significantly.
In its initial stages, the bill required all publicly funded research in California to be made freely available six months after publication. But then politics stepped in. Before long, the embargo period changed from six months to a year. And most recently, with pressure mounting from publishers, the bill greatly narrowed its scope to only cover research funded by the State Department of Public Health.
On balance, we still support the bill, but taxpayers should have better access to the research they fund. In an effort to make sure this discussion isn't off the table, we sent a letter of concern [pdf] to the Appropriations Committee last week:
The initial version of AB 609 applied to all publication stemming from publicly funded research in California. Public access to such publications is crucial not only to doctors, patients, and researchers, but also to educators, students, entrepreneurs, and individuals who can benefit from the state of the art across all disciplines. Public access is quickly becoming the norm, particularly on the federal level with the White House's Office of Science and Technology Policy initiative last year mandating over 20 agencies create and implement public access policies. This initiative extends beyond public health research to cover publications about education, transportation, energy, security, and basic science. We hoped to see California follow this trend.
The current version of AB 609 is a step in the right direction, but an unnecessarily modest one. While we support the bill's intent and are encouraged to see California on its way to being the first state to pass meaningful public access legislation, we urge the bill's sponsors to restore its initial scope, so the public can benefit from the full array of extraordinary work California supports.
There is a chance the scope of California's potential public access policy could expand in future legislative sessions. Open access is as hot a topic as ever, and we do seem to be making inroads on the federal level. But it would be nice to see California meaningfully leading the charge to bring the people access to the important research we fund.Files: eff-letter-ab609-concerns.pdfRelated Issues: Open Access
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Join the Alliance of Austin Agorists this Saturday August 9th from 6 to 10pm at Brave New Books in Austin, Texas for their 8th networking party and counter-economic farmers market. They will host four Central Texas residents who have found success with enterprising agorist ventures.
Speakers include Catherine Bleish (thebitmom.com, sovereignliving.com), Justin and Jessica Arman (mymagicmud.com, thelibertybeat.com), and Tracy Ward (facebook.com/paleotillas). Come ready to spend bitcoin, silver, FRNs, or barter at the market.
Agorism is a concept coined by Samuel Edward Konkin III and is a social philosophy that advocates for peaceful revolution through voluntary interactions such as counter-economics. It has also been called revolutionary market anarchism.
When asked about his organization, founder Joel Williamson stated, “The Alliance of Austin Agorists is a group of freedom-oriented individuals who take the power of peace and truth seriously. We believe that real change can occur through post-parliamentary direct action. We think tactics such as education, community-building and mutually beneficial voluntary exchange will pave the way to the world we wish to see.”
This is why Bitcoin so perfectly intersects with agorism. It is post-parliamentary direct action and a voluntary exchange that is free of government coercion and manipulation.
When asked about the lack of government influence in philosophical agorist enterprises, Williamson stated, “We understand that a peaceful society is possible without violent monopolies, and we wish to evolve past such institutions by building a counter-economy that will ultimately render them irrelevant.”
While many activist organizations turn to politics to make the changes they seek in society, Williamson thinks there is another way: “We recognize that bullets and ballots are impractical and outdated methods for change. We know that a better world is possible and will come to fruition as soon as we choose to get serious about freedom and start building!”
About Alliance of Austin Agorists
The Alliance of Austin Agorists is a grassroots organization of left libertarians, market anarchists, anarcho-capitalists, voluntaryists, individualist anarchists, mutualists, etc. who are interested in growing the counter economy, community organization, and making like-minded friends.
Goals as an organization:
- Educate people about agorism
- Encourage people to start practicing counter economics
- Radicalize minarchists and encourage consistent libertarianism
- Host monthly networking parties that include counter economic farmers markets for all products, skills or services as well as interviews and speeches with speakers well versed in ideas surrounding freedom and agorism
- Help liberty minded individuals make friends
About Joel Williamson, the founder of the Alliance
Joel Williamson is a people person and a radical who wears his passions on his sleeve. He started the Alliance because he believes that freedom lovers should not only think and preach ideas surrounding liberation, but also live them. Joel’s fight is against couch potato libertarianism and even worse, the idea that we should focus our time money and energy on implementing a libertarian world through parliamentary politics. He believes in agorism because it is consistent, eclectic, and most importantly, practical. He holds fast to the agorist idea that real change occurs when we realize the things we can control, ourselves. Instead of putting our trust in politicians, he advocates that people be the change they wish to see in the world, for profit, for goodwill, and for fun. The Alliance of Austin Agorists is his attempt at putting his money where his mouth is. The sky is the limit, and for him this means helping implement universal anarchy.
Joel has done great work supporting Ross Ulbricht, alleged founder of the Silk Road. He has been an integral part of the Free Ross campaign, selling t-shirt to raise money for Ross’s defense and working closely with Lyn Ulbricht, Ross’s mother.
Contact the alliance at facebook.com/allianceofaustinagorists or at email@example.com.
Brave New Books is located at 1904 Guadalupe Street Austin, Texas. They accept Bitcoin and have a Bitcoin ATM for your convenience.
The post Alliance of Austin Agorists Host Eighth Networking Party appeared first on Bitcoin Magazine.