This Week in Web #40

As I’m writing this week’s newsletter, WordCamp Orlando has been cancelled, which threw off a lot of planning by a dedicated team. Hurricane Matthew is bearing down, and I’m planning for some time without internet. If anything big happens in the world, be sure to let me know when I’m back.

Yahoo Hacks, courtesy Premshee Pillai via Flickr
Yahoo Hacks you, not the other way around. Courtesy Premshee Pillai via Flickr

Exclusive: Yahoo secretly scanned customer emails for U.S. intelligence – sources

Joseph Menn, Reuters

Even better than searching stored or sent email? How about searching all incoming email? I can choose to not have a Yahoo email account (which is probably a good idea already with their massive breach). It’s harder for me to choose not to email anyone with a Yahoo account. If I do though, now I know that that email was also scanned by the US government.

If the reports that Reuters has received are true, this would be the first known case of a US corporation complying with a government request to scan all incoming mail, removing privacy protection from them and everyone that has contacted them. Apparently, the departure of Yahoo’s CISO Alex Stamos in 2015 was over the compliance with this government demand.

Thanks to FISA, Yahoo may also have felt legally obligated to hide the fact that they were complying as well, under a gag order on that activity. The NSA is ok with this though, suggesting that email providers “have the power to encrypt it all, and with that comes added responsibility to do some of the work that had been done by the intelligence agencies.”

N.S.A. Contractor Arrested in Possible New Theft of Secrets

Jo Becker, Adam Goldman, Michael S. Schmidt, and Matt Apuzzo, New York Times

The NSA has reduced the number of employees with access to classified information in recent years, but they continue to employee third party contractors. One of the consequences of this is more opportunities for a leakage of data.

Harold T Martin III is not Edward Snowden. For one thing, his focus was more on software and hacking tools, though it’s unclear if he has any connection to the Shadow Brokers, who released some NSA hacking tools earlier this year.

The Internet Finally Belongs to Everyone

Klint Finley, Wired

Following up on a recent newsletter, the rider in the federal budget requiring a pause of IANA transfer to ICANN ownership was removed before the budget was passed. This means that on 1 October the transition process was set in motion, and ICANN (which already was under control of a consortium of countries) has control over the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority, which has been colloquially referred to as the address book of the internet.

There has been a lot of misguided fear over the past few months by Republican lawmakers and presidential candidates over what this means. It basically means nothing beyond a symbolic gesture saying that yes, other countries do get a say in this international network, not just the US.


Right-wingers and β€˜free speech’ trolls devise secret internet language to dodge online censorship

Jasper Hamill, The Sun

In a totally stupid move, a really simple code for racism was leaked from the white-supremacist movement that is trying to rebrand itself as “alt-right”. The idea is that referring to other races as “Googles, Yahoos, and Skypes” would allow them to freely congregate in public and avoid censorship, since Google wouldn’t ban the word Google. Turns out that the AI work that the Jigsaw team can figure out context while banning hate speech, and figure out this code that would be laughable if not so terrible.

Love that new Mac smell? Now you can buy a candle that smells like a freshly-opened Apple product

Jeff Benjamin, 9 To 5 Mac

TwelveSouth already makes some fancy mac accessories. Now they’ll help keep your senses in mac world with their candle that smells like a fresh Apple product. Incredibly they’re already sold out at $24 each, so people must really love that smell.

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