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Friday Cyber News, September 16 2016

Cyber technology-related news and links from around the web, for the week of 9/9 - 9/16:

1. The accountability of war algorithms--"any algorithm that is expressed in computer code, that is effectuated through a constructed system, and that is capable of operating in relation to armed conflict"--could just as easily be applied to law enforcement algorithms and the never-expunged, rarely-verified databases of citizens' information that the algorithms use as input. Labor algorithms, like the unseen bosses of Uber and Deliveroo, are also the targets of protests, which are asking for accountability at least equal to that of factory-floor efficiency pioneers. Apps can change wages and rates with no notice, as quickly as an update is downloaded from the app store, which is turning potential workers away. A 9-month study of Uber details their significant control over drivers, using strategies common to other on-demand apps. [Harvard Law; Post and Courier (h/t Debbie); Financial Times; IJOC]

2. Almost-certainly-Russian hackers calling themselves Fancy Bear released the hacked medical records of US olympians who have received medical exceptions to take drugs on a list of banned substances. What's behind Russia's recent activity (including, most speculate, Guccifer's leaks and the DNC hacks)? The "trust deficit" makes motives difficult to pin down, but a combination of retribution and political meddling is a good guess. In response, US intelligence agencies are ramping up their efforts against Russia. [The Hill; CNN; Washington Post]

3. Good democracy news: vTaiwan is facilitating a new form of online and offline participatory, deliberative democracy including AI that identifies issues, public meetings, and policy development. Bad democracy news: governments often find ways to restrict the internet access of dissident groups, a study finds. [Civic Hall; Technology Review]

4. A recent paper resolves the can-they-or-can't-they debate around the technique of NAND mirroring to access a locked iPhone 5c: they can. [Arxiv]

5. A lot of blockchain news this week: DARPA awarded a $1.8M contract to verify blockchain-based integrity monitoring tools. A 6-month pilot program demonstrates the feasibility of tracking (dead) tuna from Indonesian fishing boats to markets around the world, using a blockchain. Blockchain-based startup Ripple raised $55M for its ability to send cross-border payments in minutes, transactions that currently take days and are costly for banks to execute. Meanwhile, the paper of record makes the obvious point that blockchain ledgers are designed to be un-modifiable (unless you're willing to accept a hard fork in exchange for getting your DAO money back, for example) and that this property could conflict with revisionist legal paradigms like the right to be forgotten. [Guardtime; Provenance; CNBC; NY Times]

6. A Federal judge in Texas ruled that hacking into someone's computer using malware--as the FBI has done with NITs in an investigation of illicit content distribution--is a search, and requires a warrant. This contradicts a previous ruling by a Federal judge in Virginia that hacking does not require a warrant. [Motherboard]

7. Internet infrastructure companies including Verisign are seeing an increase in probing, sophisticated DDoS attacks, seemingly to test the defenses of these critical internet resources. [Schneier]

8. Technology is changing students' brains (areas corresponding to the "texting phalanges" are growing larger), affecting their ability to process and retain textual information, and encouraging procrastination to the extent that one student writes "It’s 3 in the morning, and instead of consistently working on my portfolio, I’m watching a video review of a hammock. I’ve never even used a hammock." [Aeon]

9. The ACLU, Amnesty International, and Human Rights Watch have launched a campaign aiming at a presidential pardon for Edward Snowden. In response, the House Intelligence Committee released a report aiming to discredit aspects of Snowden's story and reputation. Oh, and there's a movie, too. [PardonSnowden; NPR; SnowdenFilm]

10. Good NY security news: New York State is reviewing proposed legislation that would require financial services providers to establish a cybersecurity strategy, appoint a CISO, verify the security of third-party business partners, and more. Bad NY security news: The sub-head says it all, "Web-browsing feature of 400 LinkNYC kiosks will be removed after critics said the stations were being monopolized by homeless people watching pornography." [Inside Privacy; Guardian]

Thanks for reading,

Stanford Cyber Initiative

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