The bipartisan leaders of the House and Senate Intelligence Committees apologized during a press conference this morning for failing to provide rigorous supervision of the intelligence community, blaming past years’ inaction on a fundamental misunderstanding of the word “oversight.” “It was merely a miscommunication,” House Intelligence Chairman Devin Nunes said. “We had mixed up the word ‘oversee’ and the word ‘overlook.’ We thought we were supposed to overlook the mistakes of the intelligence community, not provide oversight.” Senate Intelligence Committee Richard Burr said, “We unequivocally condone the privacy invasions committed by U.S. intelligence agencies. Oh shoot, I mean condemn.”
European Union Commissioner for Justice Vera Jourova announced plans today to permanently protect Europeans’ data from U.S. government spying with the newest transnational data agreement: Privacy Wall. Once approved by the European Commission, the EU will begin constructing a thirty-foot wall around the United States. Only U.S. tech companies that comply with EU privacy restrictions and prohibit U.S. government access to their data will be given fiber optic grappling hooks to transport Europeans’ data across the Atlantic, over the wall, and back to their U.S.-based servers. U.S. lawmakers appeared unfazed by U.S. companies’ complaints that Privacy Wall will effectively kill their business abroad, but they responded to alarm bells raised by officials in the intelligence community who are concerned about losing generalized access to Europeans’ data.
The Academy Awards suffered an astounding embarrassment this week when presenters Alfonso Ribeiro and Mayim Bialik incorrectly handed out the Oscar for Best Film to the most-frequently torrent-ed movie of 2016, Deadpool, instead of the actual winner, Moonlight. Hollywood is blaming the mistake on accounting firm PricewaterhouseCoopers, which is responsible for guarding the envelopes containing names of both Oscars winners and TorrentFreak’s list of most frequently torrent-ed films. Having been left off the list of Best Film nominees all together, Deadpool director Tim Miller and lead actor Ryan Reynolds were not in attendance at Sunday night’s Oscars, giving Kanye West time to take the stage and correct the mistake.
Frustrated by silence on conference calls, the FBI is asking Apple to provide a backdoor so that the agency can un-mute iPhones across the world without the iPhone users’ consent. “It’s incredibly frustrating when you’re waiting for someone to chime in on a conference call, and they’re still on mute,” FBI Director Jim Comey said at a press conference today. Comey appeared unmoved by arguments from technology and civil liberties advocates that creating a backdoor into all iPhones would undermine the privacy and security of tens of millions of technology users around the world. “Our work to protect this country’s national security is too important to wait the seconds it takes for our analysts to unlock and un-mute their phones,” Comey said. When asked if the FBI was seeking a similar accommodation from Android-developer Google, Comey at first laughed, but quickly sobered and asked “wait, people still use Android?”
EFF is out with an updated Surveillance Self Defense guide today that includes, for the first time, security tips for in-person meetings. Highlights include recommendations for verifying a person’s identity, evading facial recognition systems, and circumventing censorship. For instance, you should have anyone you meet print off their public PGP key on red paper, fold that paper into the shape of a flower, and pin that paper flower to their label. Additionally, the guide recommends drawing Kiss-style shapes on your face with eyeliner to protect yourself from facial recognition technology and constantly carrying around a bullhorn so you can shout louder than anyone trying to limit your free speech.
EFF is awarding a 2017 Pioneer Award to recently-defunct men’s magazine and prodigious copyright-litigation-loser, Perfect 10. EFF established the Pioneer Awards in 1992 to recognize leaders on the electronic frontier who are extending freedom and innovation in the realm of information technology. The awards celebrate those who have contributed substantially to the health, growth, accessibility, or freedom of computer-based communications. Perfect 10 is receiving a posthumous lifetime achievement Pioneer Award this year for its cutting-edge strategy of losing copyright lawsuits in order to advance the doctrine of fair use. After losing cases against Amazon, Google, CCBill, and Megaupload, Perfect 10 was finally liquidated in March of this year to satisfy a litigation debt to yet another victorious defendant, Giganews. We salute Perfect 10’s dozen-year campaign to help make the Internet more free by consistently losing in court. Bravo!
Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats today revealed a new program by which the U.S. Intelligence Community will, when appropriate, disclose information about emotional vulnerabilities it discovers in the course of its national security work. Building off of the widely celebrated success of the vulnerabilities equities process (which still exists, we think?), U.S. intelligence agencies will begin sharing and sometimes publishing information about the personality quirks it discovers as it conducts surveillance of law-abiding Americans. “We hope to make the country more secure by letting people know that their roommate has arachnophobia, their brother is addicted to tanning beds, and their mother has a fear of being abandoned by her children,” said Coats after flinching away from a pigeon that wasn’t even flying toward the DNI.
Following the success of the Day Without a Woman general strike in March, the White House has thrown its support behind today’s Day without a Troll strike, during which all Internet trolls will disappear from comment sections and forums online.
Looking to increase its market share, nationwide reach, and overall reputation for evil, the Borg has announced that it is assimilating broadband giant Comcast. “This merger will benefit consumers and boost broadband competition, and the federal government should quickly approve it,” Comcast’s David Cohen said in a statement. “Plus, resistance is futile.”
In an attempt to demonstrate President Donald Trump’s tech savvy, the White House has released a list of suggested words to use when attempting to create a secure passphrase. "Our list has the best words," said White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer. "Words like tremendous, disaster, MAGA, big-league, low-energy, beautiful, and winning. Sad!"
FBI Director Jim Comey said today that his agency, agreeing with technical experts, has officially concluded that it is impossible to create a backdoor into encrypted technologies without undermining users’ security. Nope, even that’s too ridiculous for an April Fool’s newsletter.
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