FCC Increases Enforcement Efforts Against Right to Repair Violations

· Andrew Orr · Link

On Wednesday the FCC voted to increase law enforcement efforts against violations of Right to Repair laws.

The policy statement adopted today is aimed at manufacturers’ practices that make it extremely difficult for purchasers to repair their products or shop around for other service providers to do it for them. By enforcing against restrictions that violate antitrust or consumer protection laws, the Commission is taking important steps to restore the right to repair.

NSO Group’s ‘Pegasus’ Spyware Targets Journalists and Activists

· Andrew Orr · Link

Alert symbol of an exclamation point inside triangle

Spyware known as Pegasus from NSO Group was used to hack 37 smartphones belonging to journalists, activists, and business executives around the world.

The phones appeared on a list of more than 50,000 numbers that are concentrated in countries known to engage in surveillance of their citizens and also known to have been clients of the Israeli firm, NSO Group, a worldwide leader in the growing and largely unregulated private spyware industry, the investigation found.

Colorado Becomes Third State to Pass Privacy Law

· Andrew Orr · Link

Colorado state flag

Lawmakers in Colorado passed the Colorado Privacy Act, and now Senate Bill 190 needs Governor Jared Polis’ signature.

Consumer advocates said the measure could have gone further to protect people. One change allows consumers to universally opt out of ad-based tracking instead of having to make that request for each website or company. But the act also lets advertising companies keep tracking consumers if they ask for consent first.

Treasury Department Wants Mandatory Reporting for Crypto Transfers Over $10K

· Andrew Orr · Link

Bitcoin

The U.S. Treasury Department wants new rules [PDF] to make it easier to track how cryptocurrency moves around. Businesses would also be required to report cryptocurrency transactions above US$10,000 to the IRS.

According to the report, the IRS collects 99 percent of taxes due on wages, but that number is estimated to be as low as 45 percent on non-labor income, a discrepancy that hugely benefits high earners with “less visible” income sources. The Treasury calls virtual currency, which has some reporting requirements but still operates mostly out of sight in regulatory grey areas, a particular challenge.

Ultimately, I think this is good for cryptocurrency because it gains legitimacy with moves like this.

Inside Apple’s Controversial Relationship With the Chinese Government

· Andrew Orr · Link

Apple China flag

On Monday, the New York Times published an investigative piece about Apple’s relationship with the Chinese government, and how it has to comply with its laws there.

Internal Apple documents reviewed by The New York Times, interviews with 17 current and former Apple employees and four security experts, and new filings made in a court case in the United States last week provide rare insight into the compromises Mr. Cook has made to do business in China. They offer an extensive inside look — many aspects of which have never been reported before — at how Apple has given in to escalating demands from the Chinese authorities.

President Biden Signs Order to Improve U.S. Cybersecurity

· Andrew Orr · Link

The white house

After the attack on Colonial Pipeline, President Biden has signed an executive order to improve the nation’s cybersecurity.

The executive order requires IT service providers to share certain breach information with the government, modernizes and implements stronger cybersecurity standards in the federal government, establishes security standards for development of software sold to the government and will create an “energy star” label so that consumers can better determine whether software was developed securely.

Court Finds NSA Collects Innocent Americans’ Data Anyway

· Andrew Orr · Link

Person holding a sign that says “NSA is watching you.”

The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC) found that the NSA doesn’t follow the law and collections the data of innocent Americans. This is according to a recently declassified document [PDF] from November 2020.

From where we sit, it seems clear that the FISC continues to suffer from a massive case of national security constitutional-itis. That is the affliction (not really, we made it up) where ordinarily careful judges sworn to defend the Constitution effectively ignore the flagrant Fourth Amendment violations that occur when the NSA, FBI, (and to a lesser extent, the CIA, and NCTC) misuse the justification of national security to spy on Americans en mass.

IRS Asks For Help to Hack Hardware Cryptocurrency Wallets

· Andrew Orr · Link

USB flash drive

The IRS is asking for help to hack into hardware cryptocurrency wallets that could be useful in criminal investigations.

The decentralization and anonymity provided by cryptocurrencies has fostered an environment for the storage and exchange of something of value, outside of the traditional purview of law enforcement and regulatory organizations. There is a portion of this cryptographic puzzle that continues to elude organizations—millions, perhaps even billions of dollars, exist within cryptowallets.

Authoritarian Governments May Not Like Satellite Internet

· Andrew Orr · Link

Satellite internet

An interesting report today examines how authoritarian governments will handle the challenge of satellite internet like Starlink.

Russia’s space chief Dmitry Rogozin, in August of 2020, said that Starlink is “a rather predatory, clever, powerful, high-technology policy of the USA, which uses Shock and Awe in order to advance, before all, their military interests.” Rogozin publicly stated the more humanitarian aspects of Starlink, in that it would provide internet access to people living in remote areas, “nonsense.”

Memo Reveals How Lawmakers Want to Reform Section 230

· Andrew Orr · Link

Big tech accountability platform

A new proposal from lawmakers reveals how Congress wants to take steps to reform Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act.

A new proposal by Republican lawmakers to overhaul a critical law that protects online platforms already looks dead in the water, according to one legal expert, though another prominent legal scholar believes it could fuel bipartisan reform for tech regulation.

The Republican members’ proposal submitted Thursday calls for, among other things, modifying 230 to strip liability protection for Big Tech if their content moderation practices discriminate against political affiliations or viewpoints, a frequent conservative talking point.

Alaskan Senate Bill Proposes Statewide Blockchain Voting System

· Andrew Orr · Link

Blockchain concept

Under Senate Bill 39, Wasilla Republican Sen. Mike Shower proposes using blockchain technology to support the state voting system.

Furthermore, the bill seeks to increase voter participation by allowing people to use their tribal IDs for voter identification. At the same time, the technology would help in fixing errors that would bar people from voting.

However, the bill’s first version was a center of controversy for ending automatic voter registration through the permanent fund dividend application. The new bill has eliminated the clause.

I think using tribal IDs for voting identification is great. I’m not sure if blockchain voting will make it though.