Friday, September 30, 2016

A principled option for U.S. president: Endorsing Gary Johnson, Libertarian – Chicago Tribune

A principled option for U.S. president: Endorsing Gary Johnson, Libertarian – Chicago Tribune

As Nov. 8 looms, a dismayed, disconsolate America waits and wonders: What is it about 2016?

How has our country fallen so inescapably into political and policy gridlock? How did pandering to aggrieved niche groups and seducing blocs of angry voters replace working toward solutions as the coin of our governing class? How could the Democratic and Republican parties stagger so far from this nation’s political mainstream?

And the most pressing question: What should tens of millions of voters who yearn for answers do with two major-party candidates they disdain? Polls show an unprecedented number of people saying they wish they had another choice.

This is the moment to look at the candidates on this year’s ballot. This is the moment to see this election as not so much about them as about the American people and where their country is heading. And this is the moment to rebuke the Republican and Democratic parties.

The Republicans have nominated Donald Trump, a man not fit to be president of the United States. We first wrote on March 10 that we would not, could not, endorse him. And in the intervening six-plus months he has splendidly reinforced our verdict: Trump has gone out of his way to anger world leaders, giant swaths of the American public, and people of other lands who aspire to immigrate here legally. He has neither the character nor the prudent disposition for the job.

The mystery and shame of Trump’s rise — we have red, white and blue coffee mugs that are more genuinely Republican — is the party’s inability or unwillingness to repulse his hostile takeover. We appreciate the disgust for failed career politicians that Trump’s supporters invoke; many of those voters are doubly victimized — by economic forces beyond their control, and by the scorn of mocking elitists who look down their noses to see them. He has ridden to the White House gate on the backs of Americans who believe they’ve been robbed of opportunity and respect. But inaugurating a bombastic and self-aggrandizing President Donald Trump isn’t the cure.

The Democrats have nominated Hillary Clinton

Clinton’s vision of ever-expanding government is in such denial of our national debt crisis as to be fanciful. Rather than run as a practical-minded Democrat as in 2008, this year she lurched left, pandering to match the Free Stuff agenda of then-rival Bernie Sanders. She has positioned herself so far to the left on spending that her presidency would extend the political schism that has divided America for some 24 years. That is, since the middle of a relatively moderate Clinton presidency. Today’s Hillary Clinton, unlike yesteryear’s, renounces many of Bill Clinton’s priorities — freer trade, spending discipline, light regulation and private sector growth to generate jobs and tax revenues.

Hillary Clinton calls for a vast expansion of federal spending, supported by the kinds of tax hikes that were comically impossible even in the years when President Barack Obama’s fellow Democrats dominated both houses of Congress. The nonpartisan Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget calculates that Clinton’s plan would increase spending by $1.65 trillion over a decade, mostly for college education, paid family leave, infrastructure and health-related expenditures. Spending just on debt interest would rise by $50 billion. Personal and business taxation would rise by $1.5 trillion. Sort through all the details and her plan would raise the national debt by $200 billion.

Now as in the primary season, Clinton knows she is proposing orgies of spending, and taxing, that simply will … not … happen. She is promising Americans all manner of things she cannot deliver.

That is but one of the reasons why so many Americans reject Clinton: They don’t trust what she says, how she makes decisions, and her up-to-the-present history of egregiously erasing the truth:

In the wake of a deadly attack on American personnel in Libya, she steered the American public away from the real cause — an inconvenient terror attack right before the 2012 election — after privately emailing the truth to her daughter. The head of the FBI, while delivering an indictment minus the grand jury paperwork, labeled her “extremely careless” for mishandling emails sensitive to national security. In public she stonewalled, dissembled and repeatedly lied — several were astonishing whoppers — about her private communications system (“There is no classified material,” “Everything I did was permitted,” and on and on). Her negligence in enforcing conflict-of-interest boundaries allowed her family’s foundation to exploit the U.S. Department of State as a favor factory. Even her command and control of a routine medical issue devolved into a secretive, misleading mission to hide information from Americans.

Time upon time, Clinton’s behavior affirms the perception that she’s a corner-cutter whose ambitions drive her decisions. One telling episode among the countless: Asked by a voter if she was for or against the Keystone XL pipeline from Canada, she replied, “If it’s undecided when I become president, I will answer your question.” As we’ve asked here before, will Hillary Clinton ever get over her consuming fear of straight talk?

Taken together, Trump and Clinton have serious flaws that prevent us from offering our support to either of them. Still, come Nov. 8, tens of millions of Americans with make a draw that they consider beyond distasteful.

We choose not to do that. We would rather recommend a principled candidate for president — regardless of his or her prospects for victory — than suggest that voters cast ballots for such disappointing major-party candidates.

With that demand for a principled president paramount, we turn to the candidate we can recommend. One party has two moderate Republicans — veteran governors who successfully led Democratic states — atop its ticket. Libertarians Gary Johnson of New Mexico and running mate William Weld of Massachusetts are agile, practical and, unlike the major-party candidates, experienced at managing governments. They offer an agenda that appeals not only to the Tribune’s principles but to those of the many Americans who say they are socially tolerant but fiscally responsible. “Most people are Libertarian,” Johnson told the Tribune Editorial Board when he and Weld met with us in July. “It’s just that they don’t know it.”

Theirs is small-L libertarianism, built on individual freedom and convinced that, at both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue, official Washington is clumsy, expensive and demonstrably unable to solve this nation’s problems. They speak of reunifying an America now balkanized into identity and economic groups — and of avoiding their opponents’ bullying behavior and sanctimonious lectures. Johnson and Weld are even-keeled — provided they aren’t discussing the injustice of trapping young black children in this nation’s worst-performing schools. On that and other galling injustices, they’re animated.

We reject the cliche that a citizen who chooses a principled third-party candidate is squandering his or her vote. Look at the number of fed-up Americans telling pollsters they clamor for alternatives to Trump and Clinton.

We offer this endorsement to encourage voters who want to feel comfortable with their choice. Who want to vote for someone they can admire.

Johnson, who built a construction business before entering politics, speaks in terms that appeal to many among us: Expanded global trade and resulting job expansion. Robust economic growth, rather than ever-higher taxation, to raise government revenue. A smaller, and less costly, federal government. Faith in Americans’ ability to parlay economic opportunity into success.


Detroit newspaper breaks with tradition, endorses Gary Johnson

Detroit newspaper breaks with tradition, endorses Gary Johnson

The Detroit News on Thursday endorsed Libertarian presidential nominee Gary Johnson, breaking a nearly century-and-a-half tradition of backing Republicans.

“Today this newspaper does something it has never done in its 143-year history: endorse someone other than a Republican candidate in a presidential contest,” the paper’s editorial board said.

“We recognize the Libertarian candidate is the longest of long shots with an electorate that has been conditioned to believe only Republicans and Democrats can win major offices. But this is an endorsement of conscience, reflecting our confidence that Johnson would be a competent and capable president and an honorable one.”

The editors said they could not in good conscience support Donald Trump, the GOP’s presidential nominee.

“[Trump] has found profit in dividing Americans from each other, and from the rest of the world,” they said.

“The 2016 nominee offered by the Republican Party rubs hard against the editorial board’s values as conservatives and Americans. Donald Trump is unprincipled, unstable and quite possibly dangerous. He cannot be president.”

The Detroit News editors also ruled out Hillary Clinton, pointing to the Democratic presidential nominee’s ethics.

“[Clinton’s] career-long struggles with honesty and ethics and calculating, self-serving approach to politics trouble us deeply.”

The editorial board concluded by saying a vote for Johnson should not be considered wasted.

“Our contention is that an endorsement based on conscience is never wasted...

Why the Warrant to Hack in the Playpen Case Was an Unconstitutional General Warrant

Why the Warrant to Hack in the Playpen Case Was an Unconstitutional General Warrant

Should the government be able to get a warrant to search a potentially unlimited number of computers belonging to unknown people located anywhere in the world? That’s the question posed by the Playpen case, involving the FBI’s use of malware against over a thousand visitors to a site hosting child pornography. The prosecutions resulting from this mass hacking operation are unprecedented in many ways, but the scope of the single warrant that purportedly authorized the FBI’s actions represents perhaps the biggest departure from traditional criminal procedure.

The Need for Particularity

Warrants are often considered the basic building block of the Fourth Amendment. Whenever the government seeks to engage in a search or seizure, it must first get a warrant, unless a narrow exception applies. In a previous post, we explained the significance of the Fourth Amendment “events”—several searches and seizures—that occurred each time the government employed its malware against visitors to Playpen.

But simply calling something a warrant doesn’t make it a constitutionally valid warrant. In fact, the “immediate evils” that motivated the drafters of the Bill of Rights were “general warrants,” also known as “writs of assistance,” which gave British officials broad discretion to search nearly everyone and everything for evidence of customs violations. In the words of colonial lawyer James Otis, general warrants “annihilate” the “freedom of one’s house” and place “the liberty of every man in the hands of every petty officer.”

As a result, the Fourth Amendment says exactly what a warrant has to look like in order to be constitutional: “no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.”

These requirements—the demonstration of probable cause and the particular description—accomplish separate objectives, but both ultimately work to narrow the authority given to officers executing a warrant, ensuring they won’t go on fishing expeditions and will instead conduct only searches authorized by a neutral and detached magistrate. Probable cause is a notoriously nebulous concept, but it generally ensures that the government has significant evidence supporting its application for a search warrant. Meanwhile, the particularity requirement works to limit the scope of the warrant: law enforcement must tie the specific evidence they have to specific persons or places they want to search. But, critically, bothelements must be satisfied for the warrant to be valid.

As with other unconstitutional searches, courts deter the government from obtaining insufficiently particular search warrants by throwing out or “suppressing” evidence that results from searches under these warrants.

Was the Playpen Warrant Constitutional?

No. The warrant [.pdf] that the FBI obtained to install malware on computers visiting Playpen was astonishingly broad: it allowed the FBI to deploy the malware against any “activating computer,” defined as any computer logging into the site. The warrant and its attachments say nothing about whose computers these are or where they are located. Court documents reveal that the site had as many as 150,000 users, and that in the two weeks that the FBI operated the site and deployed its malware, the number of visitors subject to search was in the thousands. And when the FBI identified the visitors, they were located all over the country and indeed all over the world.

The argument—advanced by EFF in amicus briefs in several Playpen cases—is that this warrant fails the Fourth Amendment’s particularity requirement:
The Warrant here did not identify any particular person to search or seize. Nor did it identify any specific user of the targeted website. It did not even attempt to describe any series or group of particular users. Similarly, the Warrant failed to identify any particular device to be searched, or even a particular type of device. . . . Compounding matters, the Warrant failed to provide any specificity about the place to be searched—the location of the “activating computers.”
As the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals has explained, "Search warrants . . . are fundamentally offensive to the underlying principles of the Fourth Amendment when they are so bountiful and expansive in their language that they constitute a virtual, all-encompassing dragnet[.]" A warrant that authorizes the FBI to search a potentially unbounded number of users without specifying their locations or otherwise limiting the search is far closer to a “virtual, all-encompassing dragnet” than a specific, particularized warrant that satisfies the Fourth Amendment.

Uncharted Territory

The nature of the technology the FBI used in investigating Playpen puts the warrant in uncharted territory. As the noted professor of constitutional law and computer crime Orin Kerrwrites, it’s a “serious question” whether searches conducted using the government’s malware pursuant to the Playpen warrant can be properly analogized to searches in the physical world.

Even when compared to extreme examples of warrants that seem to push against the boundaries of the particularity requirement, the Playpen warrant is vastly less specific in its description. For example, some courts have authorized “all persons warrants,” which allow officers to search everyone in a specific place, in scenarios where simply being on the premises provides probable cause that the person is committing a crime. But these searches are tied to a physical location and thus provide spatial limitations on both the area to be searched and the number of people who can be present. No court we’re aware of has ever upheld an all persons warrant authorizing the search of even 100 people, let alone thousands. Similar limitations are involved in a “roving wiretap,” a type of warrant that authorizes electronic surveillance of specific individuals who may move from place to place. Roving wiretaps allow the government to follow these people as they use burner phones, for example, but the warrant must specify who will be subject to such a wiretap. No court would authorize a roving wiretap on unspecified persons because such a wiretap would be indistinguishable from a general warrant.

Defenders of the Playpen warrant have described it as “anticipatory,” based on probable cause to believe that at some future time evidence of a crime will be found at a specific place. But anticipatory warrants require the government to demonstrate a likelihood that a “triggering condition” will occur in order to render the search valid. The Supreme Court has made clear that the government can’t get an anticipatory warrant to search every house in the country on the condition that a package containing contraband is delivered to the house; it has to demonstrate the likelihood that a specific house will receive such a package. The Playpen warrant does not demonstrate the likelihood of a specific user logging into the site, instead defining the activating condition as any user logging in. The result is a general search that can be executed on unknown computers in unknown places.

Finally, it’s worth noting that the particularity requirement doesn’t mean the FBI is helpless to investigate serious crime occurring on hidden sites like Playpen and committed by users who take steps to hide their locations. As we described in an earlier post, the FBI took over the site’s server, enabling it to serve visitors with malware. But that also meant that the FBI had access to the server logs and a wealth of information about individual users (though the use of Tor would of course have obscured their public IP addresses). As a result, the FBI could have sought warrants to go after these individual users, describing their illegal activity on the site in a particularized way. This is more than just requiring the government to jump through hoops—it’s what stands between a constitutional, particularized search and precisely the type of generalized warrant the Fourth Amendment was designed to prevent.

Source: Why the Warrant to Hack in the Playpen Case Was an Unconstitutional General Warrant | Electronic Frontier Foundation

Rosetta Spacecraft Ends Mission With Dive Into Comet It Orbited

Rosetta Spacecraft Ends Mission With Dive Into Comet It Orbited

Rosetta, the first spacecraft to orbit a comet, is dead, setting down in a final embrace with its companion of the past two years.

Radio signals from Rosetta flatlined at 7:19 a.m. Eastern after it did a soft belly-flop onto Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko at a speed of two miles per hour, slower than the average walk.

For the last few minutes, people at the European Space Operations Center in Darmstadt, Germany, watched their computer screens mostly in silence, but with some nervous chatter. When the radio signals ceased, they applauded and hugged in a celebration that was part joyous, part somber.

“This is it,” said Patrick Martin, the mission manager. “I can announce the full success of this historic descent of Rosetta toward 67P, and I declare the primary mission operations ended for Rosetta.”

Before Rosetta went silent, it collected and sent back one last batch of data and images, including some very close-up shots of the comet’s surface.

The last photograph was taken at a height of 167 feet and was blurry because the camera was designed for viewing from a distance, not close up.

The spacecraft’s 12-year journey — it took a decade to get there — concluded with quite a few firsts, and quite a few fans.

Comets are frozen remnants that hold secrets about the early solar system, and Rosetta was the first spacecraft to do more than just whiz by one. Comet 67P, which probably formed outside of Neptune, was one of the few with an orbit that could be matched by a spacecraft.

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Hardcore Computing – Update 1.1

Hardcore Computing – Update 1.1

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Why not Gary Johnson?

Why not Gary Johnson?

Nothing remains more clear than the fact that the majority of the population of the United States is repulsed by the possibility of either Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton becoming president. According to RealClearPolitics, Trump has a 58.3 percent unfavorable rating and Clinton has a 55.1 percent unfavorable rating, not to mention the countless scandals and mudslinging between them. So what’s the alternative?

Consider presidential and vice presidential candidates Gary Johnson and William Weld, both two-term Republican governors of Democratic states.

Already sounds like a breath of fresh air, right?

Polling with 8 percent in the latest Quinnipiac polls, Johnson is the only presidential candidate on the ballot in all 50 states who has any political executive experience, period. If Johnson and Weld were permitted in the presidential debates, which they should be, they could provide the most honest and transparent leadership the U.S. has seen in the White House in a lifetime.

Quick facts to consider:

• From Gerald Ford to Barack Obama, every president has supported free trade, but there’s only one presidential candidate in the 2016 election that does, and that’s Johnson.

• Johnson and Weld intend to stop the war on drugs, imprisoning so many of our citizens.

• Johnson and Weld have committed to balancing the budget in their first 100 days in office to make the U.S. fiscally responsible again.

• Johnson and Weld are committed to smart immigration policies that continue the tradition of America as the melting pot as we know it.

• Johnson and Weld are anti-interventionist in regards to foreign policy, likely the reason that a recent informal survey showed active-duty military members supporting Johnson for president over both Trump and Clinton.

“Stop and Frisk” and “No Fly, No Buy” Both Violate Gun Rights and Due Process

“Stop and Frisk” and “No Fly, No Buy” Both Violate Gun Rights and Due Process

"Stop and Frisk" and "No Fly, No Buy" Both Violate Gun Rights and Due Process

Despite a rancorous campaign season, there is at least one belief that Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton share: Americans have far too much liberty when it comes to firearms and due process.

Between Sec. Clinton’s resurrection of the failed proposal to ban people on terror watchlists from buying guns and Mr. Trump’s advocacy for a nationwide “stop and frisk” anti-gun campaign, gun rights and due process took a beating last night.

No Fly, No Buy

Hillary Clinton:

[W]e finally need to pass a prohibition on anyone who’s on the terrorist watch list from being able to buy a gun in our country. If you’re too dangerous to fly, you are too dangerous to buy a gun.

Donald Trump:

First of all, I agree, and a lot of people even within my own party want to give certain rights to people on watch lists and no- fly lists. I agree with you. When a person is on a watch list or a no-fly list, and I have the endorsement of the NRA, which I’m very proud of.

Preventing people on the terror watchlists from buying guns has some intuitive appeal, and “our opponents want terrorists to buy guns” is a whopper of a sound bite. But any cursory examination of the watchlisting process reveals the deficiency in this proposal. 

First and foremost, there is a vast chasm between “terrorist” and “person on a terror watchlist,” and due process exists precisely to prevent that chasm from swallowing our liberty whole. 

The process is intentionally overbroad, and designed to sweep up people the government knows it cannot act against.

People, predominantly members of our Arab, South Asian, and Muslim communities, are added to the terror watchlists without so much as a notice. They aren’t entitled to a hearing, they aren’t allowed to see the evidence against them, they aren’t allowed to challenge witnesses or question the government agent responsible for nominating them to the list. Even if a watchlisted individual manages to clear his/her name, it can still take years to be removed from the list. The process is so rife with errors that people such as the late Senator Ted Kennedy and sitting Congressman John Lewis (D-GA) have ended up on the list. I’ve previously written about this issue here and here.

In the eyes of No Fly, No Buy advocates, the lack of process protections is a feature, not a bug. “Due process is what’s killing us,” lamented Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV) while advocating for the policy. Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY) insisted that requiring probable cause before people lost their gun rights would defeat the entire purpose, as “if the FBI had [enough] evidence [to establish probable cause] they would have arrested the person to begin with.”

In other words, the process is intentionally overbroad, and designed to sweep up people the government knows it cannot act against.

Ironically, it was Sec. Clinton herself who last night lamented that Americans are perhaps too quick to “jump to conclusions about people.” Jumping to conclusions about people without so much as a charge or trial is exactly what “No Fly, No Buy” requires.

The proposal is so deficient that even organizations such as the ACLU, not known for its zealous defense of gun rights, have gotten involved. Just last week I spoke on Capitol Hill about the dangers of No Fly, No Buy, alongside Chris Anders of the ACLU and Congresswoman Debbie Dingell (D-MI) at an event hosted by the Arab American Institute.

As the broad coalition of opponents emphasizes, No Fly, No Buy is a fundamentally deficient, discriminatory, and unconstutional policy. That it still enjoys the support of Sec. Clinton and Mr. Trump is cause for concern.

Nationwide Stop and Frisk

Donald Trump, who received the endorsement of the National Rifle Association, further positioned himself as a due process and gun rights antagonist by repeating his earlier call for the imposition of a nationwide stop and frisk program, with an eye toward confiscating firearms.

Contrary to Mr. Trump’s denials, stop and frisk was indeed ruled unconstitutional by at least one federal court. That ruling is correct. Stop and frisk, as practiced in cities like New York and Chicago, refers to police detentions and searches of people with virtually no individual suspicion of wrongdoing. Advocates of the program insist that the Supreme Court’s ruling in Terry v. Ohio, allowing frisks where the police can articulate reasonable suspicion of criminal behavior, supports the practice, but that’s a far cry from the standard the NYPD used for years.

Police routinely cited “suspicious” behaviors such as “fidgeting,” “changing direction,” “looking over his shoulder,” and “furtive movements” to justify stops and searches of innocent New Yorkers. And the brunt of this policy was disproportionately borne by people of color (roughly half of the stops targeted black citizens, and roughly a third targeted Hispanic citizens, despite the fact that stops of white people were more likely to produce contraband).

Last night’s debate was a frightening spectacle for Americans concerned about the right to bear arms, the right to be free of unreasonable searches, or the right to due process.

Mr. Trump insisted last night that only “bad people” would risk having their guns taken or being harassed under a nationwide enactment of the program, but the numbers tell a different tale. Under stop and frisk, New Yorkers were stopped hundreds of thousands of times each year. Before the program was reformed in 2013, between 85% and 90% of those hundreds of thousands of stops uncovered no wrongdoing at all. In other words, the vast majority of people who were detained and searched by the government were not “bad people,” they were innocent New Yorkers going about their day. 

Innocent gun owners should not have to fear random, suspicionless searches when they walk down the street. In addition to the constitutional violation, the potential for unjustified interactions to needlessly escalate into violence should be on everyone’s mind as we continue to grapple with the role of police in society.

Mr. Trump also played loose with the crime data regarding the efficacy of the program. As the NYPD itself points out, the decline in crime Mr. Trump attributed to stop and frisk actually began before the program was implemented, and continued after the program ended.

Neither suspicion-free searches of citizens nor process-free no-gun lists are viable solutions to what Sec. Clinton referred to as the “gun epidemic” in America, and both policies promise to violate the rights of thousands of innocent Americans.

In short, last night’s debate was a frightening spectacle for Americans concerned about the right to bear arms, the right to be free of unreasonable searches, or the right to due process.

Reprinted from Cato.

Adam Bates

Adam Bates

Adam Bates is a policy analyst with Cato’s Project on Criminal Justice. His research interests include constitutional law, the War on Drugs, the War on Terror, police militarization, and overcriminalization.

Bates received a BA in Political Science from the University of Miami, where he also walked onto the Miami Hurricanes football team, and both an M.A. in Middle Eastern Studies and a J.D. from the University of Michigan. He is a member of the Oklahoma bar.

This article was originally published on Read the original article.

Facial Recognition, Differential Privacy, and Trade-Offs in Apple’s Latest OS Releases

Facial Recognition, Differential Privacy, and Trade-Offs in Apple’s Latest OS Releases

Many users rely on cloud-based machine learning and data collection for everything from tagging photos of friends online to remembering shopping preferences. Although this can be useful and convenient, it can also be a user privacy disaster. With new machine learning features in its latest phone and desktop operating system releases, Apple is exploring ways to provide these kinds of services and collect related user data with more regard for privacy. Two of these features—on-device facial recognition and differential privacy—deserve a closer look from a privacy perspective. While we applaud these steps, it's hard to know how effective they are without more information from Apple about their implementation and methods.

Facial recognition and machine learning

Let’s start with the new object and facial recognition feature for the Photos app. The machine learning processing necessary for an app like Photos to recognize faces in pictures is usually run in the cloud, exposing identifiable user data to security threats. Instead, Apple has bucked this industry trend and opted to develop a system that runs in the background on your phone, tablet, or laptop only, without you having to upload your photos to the cloud. Keeping user data on the device like this—rather than sending it off to Apple's servers or other third parties—is often better for user privacy and security.

The choice to run machine learning models like facial recognition on a device rather than in the cloud involves some trade-offs. When deployed this way, Apple loses speed, power, and instant access to mountains of user data for its facial recognition machine learning model. On the other hand, users gain something much more important: privacy and control over their information. Running these services on the device rather than in the cloud gives users a higher degree of privacy, especially in terms of law enforcement access to their data.

While cloud is often the default for large-scale data processing, Apple has shown that it doesn't have to be. With these trade-offs in mind, Apple has rightly recognized that privacy is too great a price to pay when working with data as sensitive and identifiable as users' private photos. Running a machine learning model on the device is not a privacy guarantee—but at the very least, it’s a valuable effort to offer technically sophisticated facial recognition functionality to users without requiring all of them to hand over their photos.

Differential privacy

The second noteworthy feature of Apple’s latest release is a model called differential privacy. In general, differential privacy is a process for making large datasets both as accurate and as anonymous as possible. It’s important to note that Apple is not the first large-scale data operation to take on differential privacy: Microsoft researchers pioneered the field, Google employs anonymized data collection algorithms, and the Census Bureau released a differentially private dataset. Collectively, these initiatives show the way forward for other parts of the tech industry: when user data needs to be collected, there are often cleverer, safer, more privacy-respecting ways to do it.

In this case, Apple is trying to ensure that queries on its database of user data don’t leak too much information about any individuals. The best way to do that is to not have a database full of private information—which is where differential privacy comes in. Differential privacy helps companies like Apple learn as much as possible about their users in general without revealing identifiable information about any individual user in particular. Differentially private datasets and analysis can, for example, answer questions about what kinds of people like certain products, what topic is most popular in a news cycle, or how an application tends to break.

Apple has released few details about its specific approach to differential privacy. It has publicly mentioned statistics and computer science methods like hashing (transforming data into a unique string of random characters), subsampling (using only a portion of all the data), and noise injection (systematically adding random data to obscure individuals’ information). But until Apple provides more information about its process (which it may do in a white paper, as in the past), we are left guessing as to exactly how and at what point in data collection and analysis such methods are applied.

Just as on-device machine learning has trade-offs, so too does differential privacy. Differential privacy relies on the concept of a privacy budget: essentially, the idea you can only make so much use of your data without compromising its privacy-preserving properties. This is a tricky balancing act between accuracy and anonymity. The parameters and inputs of a given privacy budget can describe how information is being collected, how it is being processed, and what the privacy guarantees are.

With the new release, Apple is employing differential privacy methods when collecting usage data on typing, emoji, and searching in an attempt to provide better predictive suggestions. To date, differential privacy has had much more academic attention than practical application, so it's interesting and important to see major technology companies applying it—even if that application has both good and bad potential consequences.

On the good side, Apple has apparently put some work into collecting user data with regard for privacy. What's more, even the use of differential privacy methods on user data is opt-in, a step we're very glad to see Apple take.

However, Apple is collecting more data than it ever has before. Differential privacy is still a new, fairly experimental pursuit, and Apple is putting it to the test against millions of users' private data. And without any transparency into the methods employed, the public and the research community have no way to verify the implementation—which, just like any other initial release, is very likely to have flaws. Although differential privacy is meant to mathematically safeguard against such flaws in theory, the details of such a large roll-out can blow away those guarantees. Apple's developer materials indicate that it's well aware of these requirements—but with Apple both building and utilizing its datasets without any oversight, we have to rely on it to self-police.

In the cases of both facial recognition and differential privacy, Apple deserves credit for implementing technology with user privacy in mind. But to truly advance the cause of privacy-enhancing technologies, Apple should release more details about its methods to allow other technologists, researchers, and companies to learn from it and move toward even more effective on-device machine learning and differential privacy.

Source: Facial Recognition, Differential Privacy, and Trade-Offs in Apple's Latest OS Releases | Electronic Frontier Foundation

Gary Johnson: Take a Deep Breath, Voters. There Is a Third Way.

Gary Johnson: Take a Deep Breath, Voters. There Is a Third Way.

The America I know wasn’t on the television screen on Monday night. My America is about the freedom to make choices, pursue your dreams and use your skills as entrepreneurs. It is about having more choices than just red versus blue.

Americans want to be able to choose a president who is capable of reason, of learning from failures, and of telling them the truth, even when it hurts. Most of all, they want to choose a president who will adhere to the Constitution and will make government live within its means.

I’m offering that choice. I wasn’t part of the presidential debate on Monday, but as Americans listened in dismay to the so-called major parties’ candidates, Google searches for “Gary Johnson” skyrocketed.

I’m the third candidate — the leader of the Libertarian Party. My name will be on every ballot alongside that of my running mate, Bill Weld, who like me was a twice-elected Republican governor of a strongly Democratic state. Contrary to the Republican and Democratic presidential candidates, Bill and I don’t believe the United States is a polarized nation.

We don’t deny that there are very real tensions on the fringes, and we can’t simply ignore those tensions. But when it comes down to the basics, most Americans really aren’t that far apart.

Our kids are better educated than ever before. Our technology enables entrepreneurship and transparency. Our military is second to none, as it should be. But our two-party political system is an entirely different story. Hyper-partisanship may be entertaining, but it’s a terrible way to try to run a country. We’re the alternative — and we’re the only ticket that offers Americans a chance to find common ground.

People might call us fiscal conservatives. Like most Americans, I believe that government does too much and costs too much. As governor of New Mexico, I vetoed more than 750 bills and reduced government involvement in business, better known as “crony capitalism.”

Some would call us social liberals. I’ve been vocal in criticizing the disparity in the treatment of black Americans by the police. I want reform in our criminal justice and sentencing systems. “Three strikes” laws and mandatory minimums have put the United States among the world leaders in incarceration. Treating drug use and abuse as crimes, rather than health issues, has put far too many Americans behind bars.

Hillary Clinton’s and Donald J. Trump’s proposals call for much more spending. Both parties are responsible for our unsustainable fiscal problems: President George W. Bush nearly doubled our national debt, to $10 trillion from $5.7 trillion. President Obama is on track to double it again.

Second, we would protect the Constitution and civil liberties and stop treating immigration as a bad thing. In the difficult case of abortion, I support a woman’s right to choose. I’ve long supported civil liberties, including marriage equality and freedom from mass surveillance.

Given the way it has served as both a launching pad and a crash-landing site for Republican presidential prospects, immigration was strangely absent from Monday’s debate. Neither the Republican-controlled Congress nor President Obama has done anything to fix the dysfunctional immigration system. Deporting millions of noncriminal undocumented immigrants and building a wall, as Mr. Trump proposes, are ludicrous ideas.

A majority of Americans can actually agree on a solution. We would allow those immigrants who are here without documents, but with otherwise clean records, to come forward, pay taxes, undergo a background check and legally reside in the United States. We’d eliminate categories and quotas on immigration, and border enforcement would be devoted to keeping out real criminals and would-be terrorists.

Third, we would offer free trade to all nations, but limit military intervention to when our nation is attacked. We would honor all treaty obligations and pursue strategic alliances that made our country safer.

Mrs. Clinton wants to continue a muddled mix of intervention, regime change and bombing campaigns. That approach brought us Syria, Iraq, Libya and failed nation-building in Afghanistan. Our troops and the American people deserve clear objectives, with a well-drawn distinction between defense and futile interventions. And our troops deserve authorization from Congress for their activities overseas, an important detail that has fallen by the wayside.

The same common-sense attitude applies to trade and diplomacy. Our ticket is the only one to support free trade. The goal is to enhance prosperity and peace without sending our young people to war.

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Brutal Paws of Fury

Brutal Paws of Fury

Monday, September 26, 2016

Hillary’s Economically Clueless Plans Will Create Poverty

Hillary’s Economically Clueless Plans Will Create Poverty

Hillary's Economically Clueless Plans Will Create Poverty

Because of my disdain for the two statists that were nominated by the Republicans and Democrats, I’m trying to ignore the election. But every so often, something gets said or written that cries out for analysis.

Today is one of those days. Hillary Clinton has an editorial in the New York Times entitled “My Plan for Helping America’s Poor” and it is so filled with errors and mistakes that it requires a full fisking (i.e., a “point-by-point debunking of lies and/or idiocies”).

We’ll start with her very first sentence.
The true measure of any society is how we take care of our children.
I realize she (or the staffers who actually wrote the column) were probably trying to launch the piece with a fuzzy, feel-good line, but let’s think about what’s implied by “how we take care of our children.” It echoes one of the messages in her vapid 1996 book, It Takes a Village, in that it implies that child rearing somehow is a collective responsibility.

Hardly. This is one of those areas where social conservatives and libertarians are fully in sync. Children are raised by parents, as part of families.

To be fair, Hillary’s column then immediately refers to poor children who go to bed hungry, so presumably she is referring to the thorny challenge of how best to respond when parents (or, in these cases, there’s almost always just a mother involved) don’t do a good job of providing for kids.
…no child should ever have to grow up in poverty.
A laudable sentiment, for sure, but it’s important at this point to ask what is meant by “poverty.” If we’re talking about wretched material deprivation, what’s known as “absolute poverty,” then we have good news. Virtually nobody in the United States is in that tragic category (indeed, one of great success stories in recent decades is that fewer and fewer people around the world endure this status).

But if we’re talking about the left’s new definition of poverty (promoted by the statists at the OECD), which is measured relative to a nation’s median level of income, then you can have “poverty” even if nobody is poor.

For the sake of argument, though, let’s assume we’re using the conventional definition of poverty. Let’s look at how Mrs. Clinton intends to address this issue.

She starts by sharing some good news.

…we’re making progress, thanks to the hard work of the American people and President Obama. The global poverty rate has been cut in half in recent decades.

So far, so good. This is a cheerful development, though it has nothing to do with the American people or President Obama. Global poverty has fallen because nations such as China and India have abandoned collectivist autarky and joined the global economy.

And what about poverty in the United States?

In the United States, a new report from the Census Bureau found that there were 3.5 million fewer people living in poverty in 2015 than just a year before. Median incomes rose by 5.2 percent, the fastest growth on record. Households at all income levels saw gains, with the largest going to those struggling the most.

This is accurate, but a grossly selective use of statistics.

If Obama gets credit for the good numbers of 2015, then shouldn’t he be blamed for the bad numbers between 2009-2014? Shouldn’t it matter that there are still more people in poverty in 2015 than there were in 2008? And is it really good news that it’s taken Obama so long to finally get median income above the 2008 level, particularly when you see how fast income grew during the Reagan boom?

We then get a sentence in Hillary’s column that actually debunks her message.

Nearly 40 percent of Americans between the ages of 25 and 60 will experience a year in poverty at some point.

I don’t know if her specific numbers are accurate, but it is true that that there is a lot of mobility in the United States and that poverty doesn’t have to be a way of life.

Hillary then embraces economic growth as the best way of fighting poverty, which is clearly a true statement based on hundreds of years of evidence and experience.

…one of my top priorities will be increasing economic growth.

But then she goes off the rails by asserting that you get growth by spending (oops, I mean “investing”) lots of other people’s money.

I will…make a historic investment in good-paying jobs — jobs in infrastructure and manufacturing, technology and innovation, small businesses and clean energy.

Great, more Solyndras and cronyism.

And fewer jobs for low-skilled workers, if she gets here way, along with less opportunity for women (even according to the New York Times).

And we need to…rais[e] the minimum wage and finally guarantee… equal pay for women.

The comment about equal pay sounds noble, though I strongly suspect it is based on dodgy data and that she really favors the very dangerous idea of “comparable worth” legislation, which would lead to bureaucrats deciding the value of jobs.

Then Hillary embraces a big expansion of the worst government department.

…we also need a national commitment to create more affordable housing.

And she echoes Donald Trump’s idea of more subsidies and intervention in family life.

We need to expand access to high-quality child care and guarantee paid leave.

And, last but not least, she wants to throw good money after bad into the failed Head Start program.

…we will work to double investments in Early Head Start and make preschool available to every 4-year-old.

Wow, what a list. Now perhaps you’ll understand why I felt the need to provide a translation of her big economic speech last month.

The moral of the story, based on loads of evidence, is that making America more like Europe is not a way to help reduce poverty.

P.S. The only other time I’ve felt the need to fisk an entire article occurred in 2012 when I responded to a direct attack to my defense of low-tax jurisdictions.

Republished from Dan Mitchell's blog.

Daniel J. Mitchell

Daniel J. Mitchell
Daniel J. Mitchell is a senior fellow at the Cato Institute who specializes in fiscal policy, particularly tax reform, international tax competition, and the economic burden of government spending. He also serves on the editorial board of the Cayman Financial Review.

This article was originally published on Read the original article.

A Digital Rumor Should Never Lead to a Police Raid

A Digital Rumor Should Never Lead to a Police Raid

Law Enforcement, Courts Need to Better Understand IP Addresses, Stop Misuse

If police raided a home based only on an anonymous phone call claiming residents broke the law, it would be clearly unconstitutional.

Yet EFF has found that police and courts are regularly conducting and approving raids based on the similar type of unreliable digital evidence: Internet Protocol (IP) address information.

In a whitepaper released today, EFF challenges law enforcement and courts’ reliance on IP addresses, without more, to identify the location of crimes and the individuals responsible. While IP addresses can be a useful piece of an investigation, authorities need to properly evaluate the information, and more importantly, corroborate it, before IP address information can be used to support police raids, arrests, and other dangerous police operations.

IP address information was designed to route traffic on the Internet, not serve as an identifier for other purposes. As the paper explains, IP addresses information isn't the same as physical addresses or license plates that can pinpoint an exact location or identify a particular person. Put simply: there is no uniform way to systematically map physical locations based on IP addresses or create a phone book to lookup users of particular IP addresses.

Law enforcement’s over-reliance on the technology is a product of police and courts not understanding the limitations of both IP addresses and the tools used to link the IP address with a person or a physical location. And the police too often compound that problem by relying on metaphors in warrant applications that liken IP addresses to physical addresses or license plates, signaling far more confidence in the information than it merits.

Recent events demonstrate the problem: A story in Fusion documents how residents of a farm in the geographic center of America are subjected to countless police raids and criminal suspicion, even though they’ve done nothing wrong. A story in Seattle’s newspaper The Stranger described how police raided the home and computers of a Seattle privacy activist operating a Tor exit relay because they mistakenly believed the home contained child pornography. And these are just two stories that found their way into the media.

These ill-informed raids jeopardize public safety and violate individuals’ privacy rights. They also waste police time and resources chasing people who are innocent of the crimes being investigated.

The whitepaper calls on police and courts to recalibrate their assumptions about IP address information, especially when it is used to identify a particular location to be searched or individual to be arrested. EFF suggests that IP address information be treated, in the words of the Supreme Court, as more like “casual rumor circulating in the underworld,” or an unreliable informant. The Constitution requires further investigation and corroboration of rumors and anonymous tips before police can rely upon them to establish probable cause authorizing warrants to search homes or arrest individuals. The same should be true of IP address information.

The paper also explains why the technology’s limitations can make it unreliable and how the Supreme Court’s rules around unreliable information provided by anonymous informants should apply to IP address information in warrant applications. The paper concludes with two lists of questions to ask and concrete steps to take: one for police and one for judges.  The goal is to better protect the public so that the misuse of IP address information doesn’t lead to a miscarriage of justice.

We hope the whitepaper can serve as a resource for law enforcement and courts while also triggering a broader conversation about IP address information’s use in criminal investigations. In the coming months, EFF hopes to discuss these concerns with law enforcement and courts with the goal of preventing unwarranted privacy invasions and violations of the Fourth Amendment. We also hope that our discussions will result in better law enforcement investigations that do not waste scarce police resources. If you are a law enforcement agency or court interested in this issue, please contact

Source: A Digital Rumor Should Never Lead to a Police Raid | Electronic Frontier Foundation

There is No Such Thing as Trickle-Down Economics

There is No Such Thing as Trickle-Down Economics

There is No Such Thing as Trickle-Down Economics

Critics of liberalism and the market economy have made a long-standing habit of inventing terms we would never use to describe ourselves. The most common of these is “neo-liberal” or “neo-liberalism,” which appears to mean whatever the critics wish it to mean to describe ideas they don’t like. To the extent the terms have clear definitions, they certainly don’t align with the actual views of defenders of markets and liberal society.

Trickle Down

Economists have never used that term to describe their views. Another related term is “trickle-down economics.” People who argue for tax cuts, less government spending, and more freedom for people to produce and trade what they think is valuable are often accused of supporting something called “trickle-down economics.” It’s hard to pin down exactly what that term means, but it seems to be something like the following: “those free market folks believe that if you give tax cuts or subsidies to rich people, the wealth they acquire will (somehow) ‘trickle down’ to the poor.”

The problem with this term is that, as far as I know, no economist has ever used that term to describe their own views. Critics of the market should take up the challenge of finding an economist who argues something like “giving things to group A is a good idea because they will then trickle down to group B.” I submit they will fail in finding one because such a person does not exist. Plus, as Thomas Sowell has pointed out, the whole argument is silly: why not just give whatever the things are to group B directly and eliminate the middleman?

There’s no economic argument that claims that policies that themselves only benefit the wealthy directly will somehow “trickle down” to the poor. Transferring wealth to the rich, or even tax cuts that only apply to them, are not policies that are going to benefit the poor, or certainly not in any notable way. Defenders of markets are certainly not going to support direct transfers or subsidies to the rich in any case. That’s precisely the sort of crony capitalism that true liberals reject.

General Prosperity

Government doesn’t “give” us tax refunds; it simply refrains from taking more of what we created.What the critics will find, if they choose to look, is many economists who argue that allowing everyone to pursue all the opportunities they can in the marketplace, with the minimal level of taxation and regulation, will create generalized prosperity. The value of cutting taxes is not just cutting them for higher income groups, but for everyone. Letting everyone keep more of the value they create through exchange means that everyone has more incentive to create such value in the first place, whether it’s through the ownership of capital or finding new uses for one’s labor.

In addition, those of us who support such policies don’t want to “give” anything to anyone, whether rich or poor. When people talk about tax cuts as “giving” something to someone, they implicitly start from the premise that everything belongs to government and we are only able to keep some for ourselves by its indulgence of us.

Aside from the fact that rights are not what government gives to us but what we already have that it should, in theory, protect, the only reason government has any revenue in the first place is because it was taken through taxation from those in the private sector who created it. Government doesn’t “give” us tax refunds; it simply refrains from taking more of what we created through mutually beneficial exchange in the first place.

Grain of Truth

The key is not transferring funds to the currently rich, but ensuring the most competitive economic environment possibleHowever, there is one small grain of truth in the “trickle down” idea. One of the key reasons that modern Westerners, including poor ones, live so much better today than at any point in the past is because our ability to combine our labor with more and better capital has driven up our wages and driven down the cost of goods and services. The accumulation of capital by some does contribute to the enrichment of others as that capital makes workers’ labor more productive and thus more valuable.

That historical truth is not a justification for directly subsidizing the current owners of capital. Contrary to what thinkers like Thomas Piketty appear to believe, merely possessing capital does not ensure a flow of income. It is not ownership of capital per se that benefits others, but the ability to deploy capital in ways that create value for consumers. That is why reducing the tax and regulatory burden on everyone is so important: anyone can come with new ways to create value and potentially enrich themselves and others in the process.

The key is not transferring funds to the currently rich, but ensuring the most competitive economic environment possible so that those with the better ideas can put them into practice. The current owners of capital should not be able to lock in their position by using the political process to enrich themselves by legislation that specifically benefits themselves.

As Hayek observed in his defense of competition:

[I]t is by no means regularly the established entrepreneur, the man in charge of the existing plant, who will discover what is the best method [for efficient production]. The force which in a competitive society brings about the reduction of price to the lowest cost at which the quantity salable at that cost can be produced is the opportunity for anybody who knows a cheaper method to come in at his own risk, and to attract customers by underbidding the other producers.

Today’s owners of capital do not have all of the answers, and the way to ensure the best result for everyone, especially the least well off, is to give everyone the freedom to enter and exit the market and to have the maximum incentive to do so by enabling them to keep the fruits of their successful value creation.

Wealth Creation First

The way to help the poor is to maximize our freedom to create and keep value through the unhampered market economy. No serious economist believes the lives of the poor are improved by wealth being transferred to the rich and then “trickling down” to the poor. What economics does tell us is that wealth has to be created first and foremost. You can’t transfer something that does not exist. Wealth creation is most likely to happen when people are able to innovate without permission and put their ideas to the market test.

This process of market-tested permissionless innovation will indeed make some people rich, and it will make some rich people poor. What it also does is to drive the creation of value across entire societies, raising the standard of living for all of their inhabitants.

The momentary snapshots of rich and poor are not the categories that matter for sound economic policy. Wealth does not “trickle down” from rich to poor. It is created by all of us when we develop new ideas, skills, and products as either workers or owners of capital.

The way to help the poor is to maximize our freedom to create and keep value through the unhampered market economy. The answer is not giving hand-outs to those who, momentarily, occupy the group we call “the rich.” And history tells us that the improving standard of living for everyone that results from more economic freedom will be more of a flood than a trickle.

Steven Horwitz

Steven Horwitz

Steven Horwitz is the Charles A. Dana Professor of Economics at St. Lawrence University and the author of Hayek’s Modern Family: Classical Liberalism and the Evolution of Social Institutions. He is spending the 2016-17 academic year as a Visiting Scholar at the John H. Schnatter Institute for Entrepreneurship and Free Enterprise at Ball State University.

He is a member of the FEE Faculty Network.

This article was originally published on Read the original article.

NSA’s Failure to Report Shadow Broker Vulnerabilities Underscores Need for Oversight

NSA’s Failure to Report Shadow Broker Vulnerabilities Underscores Need for Oversight

In August, an entity calling itself the “Shadow Brokers” took the security world by surprise by publishing what appears to be a portion of the NSA’s hacking toolset. Government investigators now believe that the Shadow Brokers stole the cache of powerful NSA network exploitation tools from a computer located outside of the NSA’s network where they had been left accidentally, according to Reuters. A new detail, published for the first time in yesterday’s Reuters report, is that the NSA learned about the accidental exposure at or near the time it happened. The exploits, which showed up on the Shadow Brokers’ site last month, target widely used networking products produced by Cisco and Fortinet and rely on significant, previously unknown vulnerabilities or “zero days” in these products. The government has not officially confirmed that the files originated with the NSA, but the Intercept used documents provided by Edward Snowden to demonstrate links between the NSA and the Equation Group, which produced the exploits.

The Reuters story provides a partial answer to the most important question about the Shadow Brokers leak: why did the NSA seemingly withhold its knowledge of the Cisco and Fortinet zero days, among others, from the vendors? According to unnamed government sources investigating the matter, an NSA employee or contractor mistakenly left the exploits on a remote computer about three years ago, and the NSA learned about that mistake soon after. Because the agency was aware that the exploits had been exposed and were therefore vulnerable to theft by outsiders, it “tuned its sensors to detect use of any of the tools by other parties, especially foreign adversaries with strong cyber espionage operations, such as China and Russia.” Apparently finding no such evidence, the NSA sat on the underlying vulnerabilities until the Shadow Brokers posted them publicly.

But the NSA’s overconfidence should disturb us, as security researcher Nicholas Weaver points out. The “sensors” mentioned by Reuters are likely a non-technical reference to monitoring of the Internet backbone by the NSA under such authorities as Section 702 and Executive Order 12333, which could act as a form of Network Intrusion Detection System (NIDS). (The Department of Homeland Security also operates an NIDS called Einstein specifically to monitor government networks.) But Weaver explains that at least some of the exploits, including those that affected Cisco and Fortinet products, appear not to lend themselves to detection by outside monitoring since they operate within a target’s internal network. In other words, the NSA’s confidence that its surveillance tools weren’t being used by other actors might have been seriously misplaced.

The NSA’s decision not to disclose the Cisco and Fortinet vulnerabilities becomes even more questionable in light of the fact that some of the specific products affected had been approved by the Department of Defense’s Unified Capabilities (UC) Approved Products List (APL), which identifies equipment that can be used in DoD networks:1

Under National Security Directive 42 [.pdf], NSA is tasked with securing “National Security Systems” against compromise or exploitation, a mission which was traditionally housed within the Information Assurance Directorate (IAD). The NSA is currently in the process of combining the “defensive” IAD with its “offensive” intelligence-gathering divisions, but high-level officials charged with information assurance have acknowledged the NSA’s defensive mission is more important than ever. Regardless of whether the mission of protecting National Security Systems is interpreted broadly or narrowly, the NSA’s failure to remedy defects in products used widely across the IT sector and apparently by the government, and even the DoD itself, is difficult to defend.

Above all, the Shadow Brokers story highlights the need for oversight of the government’s use of zero days. Right now, the decision whether to retain or disclose a vulnerability is theoretically governed by the Vulnerabilities Equities Process (VEP), a once-secret policy that EFF obtained in redacted form via a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit. But because the VEP isn’t binding on the government, as far as we can tell, it’s toothless. While we don’t know the exact considerations employed by the government in reaching a decision to withhold a zero day, several of the high-level considerations described by White House Cybersecurity Coordinator Michael Daniel in a blog post about the VEP seem highly relevant:

  • How much is the vulnerable system used in the core Internet infrastructure, in other critical infrastructure systems, in the U.S. economy, and/or in national security systems?
  • Does the vulnerability, if left unpatched, impose significant risk?
  • How much harm could an adversary nation or criminal group do with knowledge of this vulnerability?
  • How likely is it that we would know if someone else was exploiting it?

Even if NSA initially believed the specific vulnerabilities at issue in this case wouldn’t be discovered by others, its knowledge that the exploits had been left exposed should have changed that calculus. And if NSA knew specifically that the exploits had been stolen, it’s hard to think of a rationale where disclosure would still be outweighed by other considerations. Coincidentally, the NSA seems to have lost control of the Shadow Brokers exploits in 2013, during a fallow period for the VEP. Although the VEP was written in 2010, Michael Daniel told Wired that it was not “implemented to the full degree that it should have been” and was only “reinvigorated” in 2014.

We think lawmakers should be concerned with this story, and we encourage them to ask the NSA to explain exactly what happened. We think the government should be far more transparent about its vulnerabilities policy. A start would be releasing a current version of the VEP without redacting the decisionmaking process, the criteria considered, and the list of agencies that participate, as well as an accounting of how many vulnerabilities the government retains and for how long. After that, we urgently need to have a debate about the proper weighting of disclosure versus retention of vulnerabilities, and we should ensure that any policy that implements this decision is more than just a vague blog post or a document that lacks all “vigor.”

Source: NSA’s Failure to Report Shadow Broker Vulnerabilities Underscores Need for Oversight | Electronic Frontier Foundation

Gary Johnson in Austin pitches himself as alternative to “two evils”

Gary Johnson in Austin pitches himself as alternative to “two evils”

Libertarian presidential candidate Gary Johnson touted his anti-establishment credentials and took swings at Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton during a rally in downtown Austin on Saturday.

“Does anybody think that come Monday evening after these debates that we’re all going to say, ‘Oh my gosh, our country is in great hands’?” Johnson said to a room of supporters standing shoulder to shoulder, waving posters bearing Johnson’s name. “Nobody is going to think that. This is the situation: You elect Trump or you elect Clinton, is the polarity in Congress going to get any better? No way.”

The rally at the Palm Door on Sabine Street came hours after Johnson sat down for a one-on-one conversation with ABC News’ Matthew Dowd at the Texas Tribune Festival, where Johnson predicted that the November election will be “the demise of the Republican Party” and potentially the country’s two-party system.

Gary Johnson in Austin pitches himself as alternative to “two evils” photo

“I don’t see politics ever being the same again and it’s because the two parties have become so polarized,” Johnson said during the interview.

Johnson, who also ran as the Libertarian candidate for president in 2012, said the electoral system is rigged against third party candidates, pointing to the fact that he was excluded from participating in Monday’s presidential debate.

Friday, September 23, 2016

Info – Issue Number 4 – 1984

Info – Issue Number 4 – 1984

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Libertarian Candidate Gary Johnson’s Fund-Raising Accelerates

Libertarian Candidate Gary Johnson’s Fund-Raising Accelerates

Libertarian presidential candidate Gary Johnson’s campaign raised nearly $5 million in August, more than three times what he raised the previous month and an unusually high figure for a third-party candidate.

Mr. Johnson, who is one of the strongest third-party contenders in 20 years and qualified for the ballot in 50 states and Washington, D.C., raised $1.6 million in July, suggesting mounting support for his campaign as both major-party nominees continue to receive record-high unfavorable ratings. Mr. Johnson ended August with $2.5 million in the bank.

No Libertarian presidential candidate had raised more than $1 million in a single month dating back to at least 1996, before which digital campaign finance records aren’t available.

Join the Movement for Community Control Over Police Surveillance

Join the Movement for Community Control Over Police Surveillance

From cell-site simulators in New York to facial recognition devices in San Diego, law enforcement surveillance technologies are spreading across the country like an infectious disease. It’s almost epidemiological: one police department will adopt a new, invasive tool, and then the next and the next, often with little or no opportunity for the citizens to weigh in on what’s needed or appropriate for their communities. Sometimes even elected officials and judges have no idea how technologies are being used by the police under their supervision.

2016 is the year we start to turn it around. In California, we helped pass legislation to require transparency and public hearings on technologies such as cell-site simulators and automated license plate readers before they can be adopted by cities and counties. Specifically, earlier this year, the County of Santa Clarapassed a groundbreaking ordinance limiting how and when law enforcement can adopt new surveillance technologies.

Today, EFF joins the ACLU and a diverse coalition of civil liberties organizations in launching the new campaign for Community Control Over Police Surveillance. This nationwide effort will pass ordinances on the local level that ensure that all affected communities will have a voice in deciding whether police may acquire a new surveillance tool. Without this reform, such decisions too often are made only by local law enforcement officials seeking to acquire the latest, shiny tools; by the federal government seeking to spread “anti-terrorism” funds and its own military-grade tech; and by the vendors aggressively marketing these devices to police departments.

The #TakeCTRL movement seeks to pass ordinances similar to that adopted by Santa Clara in 11 key and politically diverse municipalities across the country: New York City; Washington, D.C.; Richmond, Virginia; Miami Beach and Pensacola, Florida; Hattiesburg, Mississippi; Muskegon, Michigan; Madison and Milwaukee, Wisconsin; Seattle, Washington; and Palo Alto, California.

While each ordinance will be tailored to the needs of each municipality, all will be grounded in these eight critical principles:

1) Surveillance technologies should not be funded, acquired, or used without prior express city council approval.

2) Local communities should play a significant and meaningful role in determining if and how surveillance technologies are funded, acquired, or used.

3) The process for considering the use of surveillance technologies should be transparent and well-informed.

4) The use of surveillance technologies should not be approved generally; approvals, if provided, should be for specific technologies and specific, limited uses.

5) Surveillance technologies should not be funded, acquired, or used without addressing their potential impact on civil rights and civil liberties.

6) Surveillance technologies should not be funded, acquired, or used without considering their financial impact.

7) To verify legal compliance, surveillance technology use and deployment data should be reported publically on an annual basis.

8) City council approval should be required for all surveillance technologies and uses; there should be no “grandfathering” for technologies currently in use.

This movement is supported by a wide variety of national groups, including EFF, the ACLU, Bill of Rights Defense Committee/Defending Dissent Foundation, Demand Progress, Million Hoodies Movement for Justice, NAACP, National Network of Arab American Communities, Restore the Fourth, South Asian Americans Leading Together, and the Tenth Amendment Center.

This effort is crucial for society at large, but it is especially important to marginalized and disadvantaged communities. As the ACLU articulates:
The increasing, secret use of surveillance technologies by local police, especially against communities of color and other unjustly targeted and politically unpopular groups, is creating oppressive, stigmatizing environments in which every community member is treated like a prospective criminal. The overuse of surveillance technologies has turned many non-white and poor neighborhoods into fishbowls, and some into virtual prisons, where their residents’ public behavior is monitored and scrutinized 24 hours a day.
The ACLU has put together the ultimate resource guide for the Community Control Over Police Surveillance at, where you can learn more about the principles, the technologies, the targeted cities, and how you can get involved. We also encourage you to learn from the work EFF is doing on these issues through our Street-Level Surveillance hub.

This effort may not be the ultimate antidote to the plague of invasive police tech, but we believe that it will help build up the antibodies to ensure that our communities become resistant to unchecked surveillance.

Source: Join the Movement for Community Control Over Police Surveillance | Electronic Frontier Foundation