California Wants to Ban Sale of Phones with Encryption
Every Monday we’ll be giving you our take on some of the tech news from last week you may have missed. Whether it was the hottest thing or the least discussed, we’ll break down some of the stories we found most interesting.
We call it: Last Week’s Tech News Roundup Today!
#1 – California, Phones with Encryption Blocks Justice
The U.S. Senate plans to continue efforts to make it easier for law enforcement to get through encrypted communications. Officials say the move is vital for intelligence efforts, including fighting crime and preventing terrorism. A bill under discussion will provide a ‘back door’ to allow special access, although privacy advocates say this is a bad idea and say some details are unknown. At the same time, Wired tells us that the state of California is considering a bill to restrict the sale of phones with unbreakable encryption to fight human trafficking, similar to what the state of New York has proposed as a method of fighting terrorism.
Pro-tip: Get a VPN!
A virtual private network like IPVanish is a smart way to encrypt all your web traffic and shield your private data from the prying eyes of malicious hackers and the snooping NSA. Not to mention, you’ll be able to gain access to region restricted content from all your favorite streaming providers.
#2 – Appeals Court, Patent Holder Extortionists Will Pay Considerable Fines
In the sometimes dirty world of high-tech intellectual property protection is the dirtier area of patent protection, where some companies have created surprisingly viable business models simply based on demanding money from patent holders in exchange for not hassling them in court. In 2014, the U.S. Supreme Court made it easier for patent holders to collect fees from these “patent trolls” for excessive attacks and negative actions.
Last week, the U.S. Court of Appeals, applying the 2014 decision, approved a ruling against Lumen View Technology, which had been harassing a startup called FindTheBest, claiming infringement. The court did determine that the dollar amount initially awarded to FindTheBest was excessive and more than double what it should have been, but agreed that Lumen View’s actions were definitely unreasonable. Lumen View had previously sued 19 other tech companies, but most settled rather than challenge the demands in court.
#3 – Kinect Helps Create New Computer Modeling of Pedestrian Activity
A researcher from the Eindhoven University of Technology in the Netherlands used Kinect cameras to create a more realistic model of how people walk – and learned that we’re nowhere as decisive as past models have shown. Alessandro Corbetta, part of the Turbulence and Vortex Dynamics applied physics division, set up Kinect cameras at a train station and at a point on campus near the cafeteria for a year, which provided him with a wealth of human trajectories. He used this data to determine the movement of one typical person, including how they navigate crowded spaces and avoid collisions with obstacles and other people. Previous models either were too controlled, such as requiring people to walk through the same space over and over; or weren’t adequately able to include human behavior such as pausing or changing directions. This type of research can aid design and architecture.
#4 – The Internet is Forever
We’re often warned that stuff on the Internet stays there forever, which seems more geared to those considering the urge to upload all those college kegger photos onto Facebook. TorrentFreak tells us Torrents also survive, provided there are active downloaders. In its archives, it recently ran across a fan-made ASCII version of “The Matrix,” where, with plenty of green text, it looks like you’ve chosen that red pill and have entered the Matrix yoursellf. Beyond the novelty of going back in time to a futuristic techno-thriller, the file is 4,419 days old and has never expired due to lack of interest. Research showed it was first uploaded in 2003, and enough people keep downloading it that it stays alive. Interestingly, the same clip came to the site’s attention 10 years ago, when its 700-day lifespan was also remarked upon as being particularly advanced.
#5 – IRS Tax Break for Cybersecurity Efforts Telling of Widespread Issues
Businesses who invest in preventive identity protection services for their employees prior to a breach won’t be taxed on these purchases, declared the IRS. The tax break is telling of a cybersecurity issue potentially out of hand – basically that breaches are now to be expected at pretty much every modern company and it’s a smart move to take whatever action you can, and now.
Rather than doing substantial damage control after the fact, it’s wise to make investments right now, the IRS argues, in order to hopefully block or minimize any cyberattacks. The organization also clarified cybersecurity rules released last summer which said that credit monitoring services for employees are also not taxable. Providing monitoring and identity tools prior to a breach can help identify possible intrusions and help safeguard employee and customer data, well before there’s a problem.
Check back each week and leave your comments below, please and thank you!