MITRE has announced the PANIC vulnerability, a critical security flaw which affects the server administrators and software developers underpinning almost every interaction we have with the Internet. PANIC is particularly dangerous as it has the potential to interfere with administrators' ability to safely patch other vulnerabilities. This issue appears to have existed, undiscovered or unreported, since the creation of the very first networked computers. It is not yet known if PANIC has been exploited in the wild.
After more than three years of litigation, EFF has prevailed in Ohencay v NSA with a unanimous panel of the Ninth Circuit ruling that the federal prohibition on Pig Latin is inconsistent with the First Amendment. Fred Mithsay, a spokesperson for the Department of Justice, said that the government was disappointed in the decision and was considering an appeal to the Supreme Court. "Unrestricted use of Pig Latin threatens national security," said Mithsay. "Al-Qaeda could use it to organize the latest strike on the homeland or my DOJ coworkers might use it to keep me from knowing about the coolest parties."
Both style and national security are impacted by the use of passive voice, the NSA said today. Having spent many billions of taxpayer dollars to capture all private electronic communication, the agency is frustrated that poor writing habits are making this data difficult to analyze. "We strongly prefer short declarative sentences where the actor is clearly identified," said an NSA spokesperson. "Instead of writing, 'The protest will be attended by many activists,' it would be better to write, 'Known dissidents Amy Goodman, Laura Poitras, and Glenn Greenwald will travel by bus to the protest in Washington Square Park, New York, and will arrive at approximately 1:04 p.m. on April 1st, 2015.'" The NSA further suggested that instead of composing private email, citizens could instead fill out a webform at NSA.gov or travel to Bluffdale, Utah and share all of their most private secrets with the NSA in person.
The tension was palpable at the first ever Privacy Nihilist Debate held earlier this week in the gymnatorium of San Francisco's Uli Kunkel High School. It started with a strong opening statement: "There is no truth to observe, so from a metaphysical and epistemological perspective, mass surveillance is meaningless." That was followed by a gripping rejoinder: "Merelogically, any perceptor, even myself, will not perceive 'me,' only improper misperceptions of supposed parts of me. The truth of my being cannot be known even if all observable parts are cataloged. The government is capable only of making inherently flawed observations that cannot form the basis of correct action." Ultimately, the nihilists agreed that no act is inherently right or wrong and concluded the debate with a group shrug.
The Intercept has published a PowerPoint slide released by Edward Snowden showing that as late as 1999, the NSA was dangerously close to depleting all appropriate permutations of English words to serve as codenames for its surveillance efforts. One internal projection states that before a new reserve of words was added to the supply, the last available combination--OBSEQUIOUS MOUSTACHEHORSE--was set to be assigned in 2004. The presentation implies, but does not explicitly state, that the Agency may have introduced those newly discovered words to the general population, and suggests that this is the origin of "blog."
In a televised address on Tuesday, President Obama defended the secrecy of his administration's trade negotiations, and called for the most aggressive measures yet. While transparency and civil society advocates have previously opposed so-called "Fast Track" bills--which limit Congress to a single up-or-down vote after secret negotiations on the Trans-Pacific Partnership have concluded--Obama has doubled down with a "Flash Track" proposal that gives Congress just 15 minutes to raise objections from the moment Obama declares the agreement completed. "I'm not going to mince words here," stated Obama. "It will probably be in the middle of the night, while everybody's sleeping. But trust me, this is what the American public needs."
The White House has turned its back on yet another component in its ill-fated campaign to be the Most Transparent Administration in History, removing its newly installed sliding glass doors and replacing them with traditional wooden models. Transparency advocates have been vocal in their disappointment, but a White House spokesperson said the move is necessary, as both Bo Obama and Vice President Joe Biden have repeatedly run into the closed doors.
The maker of the Stingray cell-tracking surveillance equipment is notoriously tight-lipped. It's taken that secrecy to a new level in a new partnership with the Monterey Bay Aquarium, demanding visitors to the stingray tank refrain from discussing what they see there.
A coalition of tech giants, including Google, Facebook, and Twitter, have released a scorecard grading advocacy groups who continue to badger them about their privacy practices. The categories included: "Readily Appeased," "Easily Misled," and "In Our Pockets." EFF got zero stars.
In a sudden reversal, outgoing Executive Director of 15 years Shari Steele has announced that she will instead cling to power, changing her title to Executive Dictator For Life. EFF staff graciously accepts the rule of Shari Steele, long may she reign.
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