President Obama on Surveillance, Cybersecurity and Related Matters


Re/code’s Kara Swisher interviews the President at Stanford University on February 13th (25 minute video).

00:20    Cybersecurity breaches
04:17    U.S. offensive capabilities
06:22    U.S. cybercommand
08:02    Government relationship with Silicon Valley
10:51    Encryption and Backdoors
15:24    Privacy and Data Ownership
18:13    Immigration, STEM, diversity, loss of U.S. tech leadership
23:22    President’s personal tech habits

But:

President Obama’s Cyber Pitch Misses Mark in Silicon Valley – The Hill

What President Obama is Getting Wrong about Encryption – The Washington Post

Quote of the Day:

“While most blogs weren’t deathless examples of great writing, there was the opportunity for individualism, and you don’t get that from . . . . a feed of things snipped and reblogged and pinned and shoveled into The Feed. The web turns into bushels of confetti shoveled into a jet engine, and while something does emerge out the other end, it’s usually made impressive by its velocity and volume, not the shape it makes.”

– James Lileks at The Bleat on why he does not include social sharing buttons on his website or cross-post to Facebook

02/22/2015: 

Recommended:

02/20/2015: 

Equation Group (link roundup)

Background: Russian Researchers Expose Breakthrough U.S. Spying Program – Reuters

Additional Detail: How ‘Omnipotent’ Hackers Tied to NSA Hid for 14 Years and Were Found at Last – ArsTechnica

The Kaspersky Report that started it all: “Equation Group: Questions and Answers” (pdf – 44 pages)

Additional Links: The Equation Group’s Sophisticated Hacking and Exploitation Tools – Bruce Schneier at LawFare:

“This is targeted surveillance. There’s nothing here that implies the NSA is doing this sort of thing to every computer, router, or hard drive. It’s doing it only to networks it wants to monitor . . . On one hand, it’s the sort of thing we want the NSA to do. It’s targeted. It’s exploiting existing vulnerabilities. In the overall scheme of things, this is much less disruptive to Internet security than deliberately inserting vulnerabilities that leave everyone insecure. On the other hand, the NSA’s definition of ‘targeted’ can be pretty broad . . . On the other other hand — can I even have three hands? — I remember a line from my latest book: ‘Today’s top-secret programs become tomorrow’s PhD theses and the next day’s hacker tools.’ . . . We need to figure out how to maintain security in the face of these sorts of attacks, because we’re all going to be subjected to the criminal versions of them in three to five years. That’s the real problem.”

The entire (not-too-lengthy) post by Schneier at LawFare is worth a read.

Surprise: America Already Has a Manhattan Project for Developing Cyber Attacks – Kevin Poulsen in Wired

02/19/2015: 

How Secure are SecureDrop and Similar Services – in Design and in Use?

Point: How to Leak to The Intercept – Micah Lee at The Intercept

Counterpoint: The Intercept’s Invitation to Criminality — and to Intelligence Agencies – Benjamin Wittes at LawFare

Additional Debate: The Intercept, SecureDrop, and Foreign Intelligence Services: A Response – Benjamin Wittes at LawFare

Background: “DeadDrop/StrongBox Security Assessment (August 11, 2013)” (pdf)

02/19/2015: 

Recommended:

02/17/2015: 

Android, iOS and ?

“We already know that there are two dominant mobile operating systems out there. But the current situation doesn’t really allow anyone to experiment, not without going through the interests and lenses of the two dominant players — Apple and Google. That’s why we need a third mobile OS to break this duopoly and move us towards a more open environment for anyone to innovate, without permission. Especially as mobile phones have begun to democratize and broaden the reach of technology around the world . . . why shouldn’t we then also democratize the mobile operating system?”

We Need to Break the Mobile Duopoly – We Need a 3rd Mobile OS – Peter Levine at Andreessen Horowitz

02/10/2015: 

FCC’s Net Neutrality Proposal (link roundup)

FCC Fact Sheet (four pages) – Chairman Wheeler Proposes New Rules for Protecting the Open Internet

This is How We Will Ensure Net Neutrality – FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler’s OpEd in Wired

The Head of the FCC Just Proposed the Strongest Net Neutrality Rules Ever – The Washington Post

Don’t Call Them ‘Utility’ Rules: The FCC’s Net Neutrality Regime, Explained – ArsTechnica explainer

AT&T Previews Lawsuit it Plans to File Against FCC Over Net Neutrality – ArsTechnica

Background:

Net Neutrality: President Obama’s Plan for a Free and Open Internet – President Obama Statement (November 2014)

Net Neutrality: A Guide to (and History of) a Contested Idea – The Atlantic (April 2014)

The Problem with Net Neutrality – Law Professor Richard Epstein (January 2014)

02/5/2015: 

Recommended:

02/4/2015: 

The Importance of Personal Blogs

“[W]hen I speak of the ‘blog’ I am referring to a regularly-updated site that is owned-and-operated by an individual . . . And there, in that definition, is the reason why, despite the great unbundling, the blog has not and will not die: it is the only communications tool, in contrast to every other social service, that is owned by the author; to say someone follows a blog is to say someone follows a person.” – Ben Thompson at Stratechery

“A good blog exists independently of people reading it. Even if no one read my blog, I’d still write it. Not exactly sure why. Maybe it’s something like this — I would still cook even if I was the only person eating. I write because I am a writer.” – Dave Winer at Scripting News

“[My blog] has seen Flickr explode and then fade. It’s seen Google Wave and Google Reader come and go, and it’ll still be here as Google Plus fades. When Medium and Tumblr are gone, my blog will be here. The things that will last on the internet are not owned. Plain old websites, blogs, RSS, irc, email.” – Brent Simmons at Inessential

“There is something about the personal blog, yourname.com, where you control everything and get to do whatever the hell pleases you. There is something about linking to one of those blogs and then saying something. It’s like having a conversation in public with each other. This is how blogging was in the early days. And this is how blogging is today, if you want it to be.” – Fred Wilson at AVC

“Social media has come to symbolize, for me, the tyranny of having to appear relevant, visible and clean to everyone else, the inability to define my own boundaries and the uncertainty about what’s going to happen tomorrow to the fundamental structure of this tool that I’m using – all the while someone either makes money off of me or adds to the looming amorphousness trying to stay afloat. You don’t have to share these fears, but that’s why I’m writing this on hosting space I pay for myself on a domain I own myself . . . I do it because it’s the worst alternative, except for all the others.” – Jesper at Waffle. Read the whole thing.

01/13/2015: