The week in techno-liberty

Varying things a little again, here’s a digest of the top events of the past week in techno-liberty. These will be more substantial pieces than the “newsbits” I tried earlier, but not as extensive as full articles. If it works out, I’ll alternate these with essays. Let me know what you think.

Are you still courageous or crazy enough to cross the border? The EFF has issued an updated guide to “Digital Privacy at the U.S. Border.” Border agents, at land crossings as well as airports, may make all kinds of demands on you, including unlocking your devices and divulging your social media accounts. the pocket guide is designed to be printed on a single piece of paper and folded to pocket size.

An NPR article reports that the number of CBP phone searches is exploding, and agents are physically assaulting people to grab their phones. They’re demanding their passwords. They’re threatening to lock up people who don’t sign forms allowing them to grab the contents. If it continues at its present pace, it will search 60,000 phones this year, compared with 25,000 last year. More likely, it will be more. According to the courts, you have no Fourth Amendment rights at the border. If you’re traveling internationally, just don’t take a phone.

Confide fixed some seriously bad problems. IOActive has reported multiple serious flaws in the Confide messaging application. It says that Confide has fixed the “critical” problems, but it’s rather disturbing that a released version had these flaws in the first place. If you use it, be sure to update it to the latest version.

  • The notification system doesn’t require a valid SSL certificate.
  • Unencrypted messages can be sent, with no notification to the recipient that they weren’t encrypted.
  • An attacker could enumerate all Confide accounts, including real names and phone numbers. Sean Spicer must love that.

Bitcoin on Wall Street? The SEC doesn’t like it, and maybe it would have missed the point anyway. The SEC has declined to approve the Winklevoss Bitcoin Trust exchange traded fund. It would have let institutional investors make Bitcoin investments without actually holding the currency, much as a mutual fund lets you invest in stocks without owning them yourself. The SEC argued that bitcoin markets are unregulated — which is the whole point of Bitcoin, when you come to think of it. Other types of Bitcoin investment instruments still exist.

Published by

Gary McGath

I am a freelance writer, author of the books _Files that Last_ and _Tomorrow's Songs Today_, with a strong background in software development, file formats, and digital preservation.

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