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Friday Cyber News, December 18 2015

Cyber technology-related news and links from around the web, for the week of 12/12 - 12/18:

1. Lawmakers have put a version of CISA--the Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act that allows companies to inform on users' activity and personal information online if they suspect a threat--into the budget bill, a 200-page bill that prevents a government shutdown. The bill is now headed to Obama, who is not expected to veto it over this one section. Is this the end of internet privacy? [Vice]

2. Hate searches are correlated with hate crimes, making Google the repository of our collective id. Is it because searches are anonymous (or, we think they are?) A cultural history of the mask reveals parallels to internet anonymity. [NY Times; Aeon]

3. US Representatives and computer scientists team up to explain that the government's demands for "exceptional access"--or backdoors--may be prompted by the admirable motivation of stopping terrorism, but just won't work. Matt Blaze joins the message, and explains how backdoors are the latest of a string of requests for golden tickets that fundamentally misunderstand encryption. Here's an FAQ for how encryption is actually being used. [The Hill; Washington Post; ProPublica]

4. Xi Jinping declares that governments must respect freedom of speech online, as internet activist Pu Zhiqiang faces eight years in prison for criticizing the Chinese government on Weibo. Does this contradiction between word and action weaken the believability of Xi's recent declarations of cooperation and an end to online espionage? [Guardian]

5. Citing the company's failure to comply with an information sharing request, Brazilian courts suspended WhatsApp, leading to a 12-hour outage before the ban was lifted. Downloads of competing apps spiked, and the incident was a useful reminder, as we stare down CISA, that uninvolved users can be collateral damage in a fight between law enforcement and online communications providers. [Reuters]

6. Watching Google's bubble-hatted SUVs crawl across Mountain View, you might think it's hard to build a self-driving car--but whiz kid hacker George Hotz built one in a month, and it beats a Tesla on the highway. What does he know about AI, or the future, that big companies don't? Seemingly skeptical of the future, the California DMV wants to implement rules requiring a driver behind the wheel of driverless cars. [Bloomberg Business; LA Times]

7. Cybersecurity researchers are being intimidated--with spoofed phone calls and multi-sided dice--some are likely pranks, and some paranoia, but journalists and researchers can easily irritate both governments and competing hackers. [Vice]

8. An interview with Cory Doctorow, author and futurist, on the importance of breaking digital locks to promote innovation and equality. "This difference between science and alchemy is whether or not you disclose your findings so that third parties can subject it to adversarial review. And we now have a situation where devices from medical implants to cars exist in the zone where federal governments around the world will spend tax money prosecuting people who divulge vulnerabilities." [Medium]

9. The economics of internet fame aren't working out--for bloggers and YouTube celebrities, where ads once might have paid the bills, now internet platforms are costly self-promotion. We explain away not paying for music by noting that musicians make money on tour, not on album sales, but how do we explain away not paying for other types of online entertainment that never come to an arena? [Fusion]

10. A Sanders staffer was fired after an investigation of a security loophole in campaign software allowed him to view Clinton campaign data. [ABC News]


Stanford Cyber Initiative

P.S. Stanford is heading into winter break, but the Cyber News will continue--forward it to a friend if you find it useful!

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