Twitter has been building a modest reputation for siding with the little guy (or girl) when it comes to communication privacy, and it just demonstrated how far it's willing to go in a showdown with Manhattan's Criminal Court over a demand to hand over tweets from Occupy Wall Street protestor Malcolm Harris. The social network has been pushed into delivering the claimed evidence, but only as it faced a deadline and the threat of a fine -- it even tried one last request for a stay before producing hard copies of the messages. However much the handover affects Harris' chances at winning during trial, it emphasizes that public posts have serious consequences -- companies ultimately can't shield you from the law.
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Google is announcing that it's going to place a flag on contentious search terms for users in mainland China. Mountain View's Alan Eustace euphemistically described how some searches break a connection to the service, leading to users being frozen out for around a minute each time. He theatrically added that the company has checked its servers several times and found no error, so whatever issue causes these outages must be external. Whenever a term is typed that is likely to cause an "outage," the error message in the picture above will appear, with a suggestion to search for something else, or use Pinyin to search for a term where contentious keywords appear inside otherwise natural searches.Permalink | | Email this | Comments
Investigators at the FBI supposedly aren't happy that social networks like Facebook or Google+ don't have the same kind of facility for wiretaps that phones have had for decades. If claimed industry contacts for CNET are right, senior staff at the bureau have floated a proposed amendment to the 1994-era Communications Assistance for Law Enforcement Act (CALEA) that would require that communication-based websites with large user bases include a backdoor for federal agents to snoop on suspects. It would still include the same requirement for a court order as for phone calls, even if US carriers currently enjoy immunity for cooperating with any warrantless wiretapping. As might be expected, technology firms and civil liberties advocates like the Electronic Frontier Foundation object to deepening CALEA's reach any further, and Apple is thought to be preemptively lobbying against another definition of the law that might require a government back channel for audiovisual chat services like FaceTime or Skype. The FBI didn't explicitly confirm the proposal when asked, but it did say it was worried it might be "going dark" and couldn't enforce wiretaps.
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