Confide is eyes-only communication, but is it secure?

Screenshot from getconfide.comThe messaging app Confide got a big publicity boost from Donald Trump’s using it. It does seem like a useful thing for highly confidential communication, if it works well. (Also for evading public records requirements.) It lets you read a message only once, a line at a time, with no going back. But it’s valuable only if it’s really secure, and some people have disputed that.
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Should you take your phone on a plane?

A few weeks ago, Sidd Bikkannavar flew back to the United States from South America. He’s a US citizen by birth and an employee of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory. The US Customs and Border Patrol demanded that he provide the passcode to his phone. They threatened him with detention and seizure of his phone.

The phone may have contained JPL confidential information, so CBP was not only snooping on Bikkannavar, but spying on another government agency. CBP is much more on Trump’s side than NASA is.
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Ooniprobe exposes censorship worldwide

Internet censorship isn’t always obvious. Blocking may come and go, or censors might block just part of a site. Automating detection helps to unmask sneaky blocking attempts. Ooniprobe is a mobile application which lets people in censorship-prone areas contribute to a global picture of what’s hidden.

“OONI” stands for “Open Observatory of Network Interference.” It’s part of the Tor Project.
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Connected cars: Big Brother in the driver’s seat?

Imagine a world where driver’s licenses are obsolete. The car of the future will do everything for you. It will drive itself. It will talk with other cars. It will drop you off and then find its own parking space. It may also obey orders from people with evil intent.

Thanks to poor security design, outside people can sometimes take control of a car and make it do dangerous things or even crash it. It might someday be possible to take full control of a car remotely and abduct it.
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What does Jefferson Sessions mean for tech liberties?

Yesterday the U.S. Senate voted to confirm Jefferson Sessions as Attorney General. This was a key appointment in Trump’s campaign to consolidate his power, and bad for liberties of all kind, including data privacy.

In general, he’s a vile person. Sessions “has been the fiercest, most dedicated, and most loyal promoter in Congress of Trump’s agenda.” Stephen Bannon says so. He isn’t going to stand in the way, as his Sally Yates did, when Trump issues illegal and unconstitutional orders.
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Tunneling under Trump’s wall with Bitcoin

Your wall won't stop Bitcoin, Mr. TrumpDonald Trump has talked about forcing Mexicans to pay for a border wall with a tax on remittances back home. When Mexicans working in the US send money back home, they’ll have to send a big chunk to Washington for the privilege. The tax would have to be huge to cover the Wall’s cost. People will look for alternatives — such as Bitcoin.

An article on Bitcoinist looks at the prospects for growth in Bitcoin transfers. Before it can tax them, the feds will have to find out. Bitcoin is designed to make that hard.
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Friday news roundup for Feb. 3

This week’s news roundup, with an effort to find more good news:

Brian CheskyAirbnb is offering free housing for refugees and others whom the US has turned away. Co-founder Brian Chesky wrote, “Not allowing countries or refugees into America is not right, and we must stand with those who are affected.”

The US government subjected Twitter to two National Security Letters, one in 2015 and one in 2016. The NSLs “requested” “a large amount of data.” The gag orders were lifted only in January 2017.
Continue reading Friday news roundup for Feb. 3