Clean Energy Rules Backed by Leading Tech Companies

People like the idea of clean energy, the ability for us to generate more energy than we use all from renewable sources that don’t damage the environment. France requires that new buildings have solar panels or grass on the roofs, and an Indian airport has decided that solar power is the way they want to go. In a move to help further our advances towards clean energy governments are making more and more pushes, this time, it would seem that the clean power plan in America is getting some backing from rather large companies in the technology industry.The Clean Power Plan is designed to cut carbon pollution 32 percent below 2005’s levels, all by the time we reach 2030. With more and more pressure on reducing our CO2 output, coal-fired plants are under increased pressure to become more efficient (same energy, less CO2,

The Clean Power Plan is designed to cut carbon pollution 32 percent below 2005’s levels, all by the time we reach 2030. With more and more pressure on reducing our CO2 output, coal-fired plants are under increased pressure to become more efficient (same energy, less CO2) while also groups and companies are under more pressure to promote and use renewable energy sources like solar or wind farms.

Considering themselves “major purchasers of electricity”, Amazon, Apple, Google, and Microsoft have come together and formally backed the Clean Power Plan in the United States Court of Appeals where the act is currently on hold.

With both large tech companies and the Obama administration pushing for this act to go through, it is hard to see how anything supporting renewable energy could be seen as negative but some claim the rules are onerous and overreach the abilities of the Environmental Protection Agency.

New Bill Being Proposed in California to Combat Burner Phones

Technology and the law are constantly racing, with each one taking steps to catch up with the other. From the arguments Apple and the FBI are having regarding privacy and encryption to something as simple as Segways being illegal in public, technology is creating new gadgets and systems and the law is creating laws to either change or catch up with the issue. An issue that has long plagued law and the courts is burner phones, but a new bill in California could change that.

Burner phones follow a simple concept, you pay for them and the credit you need to use them. Once they are finished with, you can either dispose or top up the phone. Due to the throwaway nature, they are used by people with stuff to hide, with it recently being revealed that the terrorists who attacked Paris used burner phones not encryption to avoid detection.

The new bill, dubbed the “Closing the Pre-Paid Mobile Device Security Gap Act Of 2016″ would require anyone who sells prepaid devices to register and record the identity of those who purchased the phone. The specifics are the customer would be required to provide a credit card, social security number or driving license number, the same requirements people are required to provide for mobile contracts.

Rep. Jackie Speier of California is the one proposing the bill and states that the ” bill would close one of the most significant gaps in our ability to track and prevent acts of terror, drug trafficking, and modern-day slavery”.

China Looking at Creating “Precrime” System

When people start to think about digital surveillance and their data stored online, they think about cases such as Apple vs the FBI where modern technology is used to try track down criminals or find out more about what could have or has happened. China looks to go a step further creating a “precrime” system to find out about crimes you will commit.

The movie Minority Report posed an interesting question to people if you knew that someone was going to commit a crime, would you be able to charge them for it before it even happens? If we knew you were going to pirate a video game when it goes online, does that mean we can charge you for stealing the game before you’ve even done it?

China is looking to do just that by creating a “unified information environment” where every piece of information about you would tell the authorities just what you normally do. Decide you want to something today and it could be an indication that you are about to commit or already have committed a criminal activity.

With machine learning and artificial intelligence being at the core of the project, predicting your activities and finding something which “deviates from the norm” can be difficult for even a person to figure out. When the new system goes live, being flagged up to the authorities would be as simple as making a few purchases online and a call to sort out the problem.

New Bill Prevents Federal Agencies Purchasing Apple Products

Apple is currently in congress talking to and explaining the impact that removing or bypassing protection on their iPhones would have if they followed a court order to do so for the FBI. In what may seem like a childish move a congressman has now introduced a bill that would forbid federal agencies from purchasing Apple products.

In the statement, Representative David Jolly stated the following:

“Taxpayers should not be subsidizing a company that refuses to cooperate in a terror investigation that left 14 Americans dead on American soil,” he said. “Who did the terrorist talk to? Who did he message with? Did he go to a safe house? Is there information on the phone that might prevent a future attack on US soil? Following the horrific events of September 11, 2001, every citizen and every company was willing to do whatever it took to side with law enforcement and defeat terror. It’s time Apple shows that same conviction to further protect our nation today.”

Currently, though the bill may not get passed with America split down the middle on the issue and, even more, people coming out in support of both sides, although Apple seems to have the majority rule with large companies and even ex-agency heads coming forward in their support.

With a man whose wife was lost in the attacks stating his support for Apple, the discussions seem to change with every passing minute as people go from supporting the company to stating that the phone could have infected (and be used to fix) virus’s that it may or may not have on it.

Microsoft Supports Apple in FBI Encryption Case

Speaking at a hearing today, Microsoft president and chief legal officer, Brad Smith announced that the company ‘wholeheartedly’ support one of their competitors, Apple in the long-running case between Apple and the FBI.

In case you’ve not heard about the ongoing battle, the FBI have ordered Apple to remove the security blocks that the tech giant has put into place on their devices in order for the FBI to be able to access it.

This has all been sparked by the incident where Farook Malik and his wife, Tashfeen killed 14 people in an attack last year. The FBI want access to the encrypted iPhone as it may have evidence to support the investigation.

Apple spoke at today’s hearing The Verge told us, Smith used an adding machine made in 1912 when the law was passed.

“We do not believe that courts should seek to resolve issues of 21st century technology with a law that was written in the era of the adding machine,”

Apple’s CEO, Tim Cook spoke out too, he said that the decision to refuse the FBI was hard, but he feels that it was the correct thing to do.

The FBI has argued that Apple is overstating the security risk to its devices. FBI Director James Comey said Apple had the technical know-how to break into Farook’s device only in a way that did not create a so-called “backdoor” into every Apple device.

The law that has been used in this case is the All Writs act of 1789, of which the Department of Justice has used twice against Apple to open a smartphone. Both cases are still open. The law itself is very brief and broad.

“The Supreme Court and all courts established by Act of Congress may issue all writs necessary or appropriate in aid of their respective jurisdictions and agreeable to the usages and principles of law.”

The act is one of last resort. All other avenues have to be exhausted before the All Writs Act can be invoked.

UK Government Changes Law Covering Digital Surveillance

Edward Snowden exposed a world which some speculated, but few publically acknowledged. A world where every piece of information we send, be it through phone or computer, is monitored and recorded among thousands of others all searching for that one thing. The public has since been in an up cry about it, asking if it was even legal due to the severe invasion of privacy it entailed in order to do the most basic monitoring without legally requesting permission from a judge. From the use of the stingrays to intercept mobile communication, to the ruling stating that the mass collection of phone data in America was illegal, the law and digital monitoring has been at heads for a while now. The UK government has a simple answer, change the law.

GCHQ is the UK government’s digital branch in charge of monitoring electronic communications. It would seem that the Computer Misuse Act, one of the biggest pieces of legislation regarding hacking and the legality of using computers to access networks, was quietly rewritten on the 3rd of March 2015. The change in the legislation would essentially make the intelligence services exempt from legal action regarding hacking because they would be exempt from the legal areas outlining what is legal hacking.

Several large companies, including internet and communication services, filed complaints back in 2014 stating that the GCHQ’s activities would be considered unlawful under the Computer Misuse Act and that there was no legal authority that could be used to make their practices in line with the law.  This is a problem, especially given that hacking is an invasion of privacy, something considered a fundamental human right.

The legislation involved is called the Serious Crime Bill 2015, and came into effect on the 3rd May 2015, only two months after it was quietly passed amongst government groups without any public consultation. So not only does GCHQ now have the ability to hack people, they are practically immune to legal action regarding this (even though they have been found to be in breach of several sections of Law), this also means however that all current cases against GCHQ would be rendered null given that they now covered under a separate law. Also given that the code has not be subject to parliamentary process such as debates or discussions the changes have effectively rendered their illegal practises legal and their control over hacking (even those who have not been found as a threat to national security or suspected in a crime) exempt from legal process in what is turning out to be the biggest threat to the rights and laws of the 21st Century.

What do you think of this? I will refrain from commenting for fear that this post will be intercepted and my communications monitored. Personally, I really dislike that they have done this.

Thank you Privacy International for providing us with this information.

Image Courtesy of Reuters.

No More FCC Labels on Your Devices

Today President Obama signed into US law the E-Label Act, an act introduced by two Senators earlier in 2015, ending the mandatory requirement for physical FCC labels on devices.

The law allows manufacturers to include the FCC labels in their software rather than having to etch them onto the device’s exterior. It’s said that this will save manufactures money, which can then be passed on to consumers.

This isn’t entirely new, as the FCC already loosened its rules on labelling earlier this year, but today’s ruling brings the changes into law. The labels will be included in software like as can be seen above, on an iPhone 6 Plus.

Still, a lot won’t change, most devices will still have the labels of the European Commission on them, that’s if they don’t change their status on the subject too.

Regardless, we all know who’ll be happy whatever happens, even if it is just one more tiny logo he can remove from his designs – Apple’s Jony Ive.

Source: MacRumors

New CISPA Regulations Could Classify Netflix as a “Cybersecurity Threat”

It appears that a new cybersecurity bill currently going through the Senate is considered too ‘broad’ and would grant ISPs the liberty to limit streaming services’ delivery to customers, having Netflix given as an example.

The Cybersecurity Information Sharing Protection Act of 2014, which has been rallied against twice already, is said to deliver a backdoor for ISPs to destroy net neutrality, something that they have sought for a long time. Until now, the Federal Communications Commission has been the judge when it comes to net neutrality, having set ground rules in order to keep ISPs from limiting content on the Internet.

However, the bill in question appears to describe that “countermeasures” can be employed against “cybersecurity threats”, giving no specific definition to what type of information is included and can be considered a “cybersecurity threat”. This would give ISPs an ace up their sleeves, which would help them jumping over a lot of FCC rules.

“A ‘threat,’ according to the bill, is anything that makes information unavailable or less available. So, high-bandwidth uses of some types of information make other types of information that go along the same pipe less available,” Greg Nojeim, a lawyer with the Center for Democracy and Technology, stated. “A company could, as a cybersecurity countermeasure, slow down Netflix in order to make other data going across its pipes more available to users.”

A letter has been sent to Dianne Feinstein, the bill’s sponsor, having the CDT, EFF, American Civil Liberties Union and other civil liberties groups stating that the bill “arbitrarily harms average internet users”. The letter also points out that previous cybersecurity legislation considered by the Senate had some net neutrality protections defined, something that the current bill lacks.

The unsettlement caused by the bill has been said to postpone it for now, having it sent back to the Intelligence Committee for further discussions. There has been no word on any decisions regarding the bill so far.

Thank you Motherboard for providing us with this information