Yahoo Publishes National Security Letters After FBI Drops Gag Orders

THE FBI HAS been issuing national security letters for decades. The controversial subpoenas, which allow the feds to obtain customer records and transaction data from internet service providers and other companies without a court order, come with a perpetual gag order that prevents recipients from disclosing that they’ve received an NSL.

Only a small handful of recipients have ever publicly disclosed that they got one from the government, and only after lengthy court battles challenging the subpoenas. But today, Yahoo became the first company to go public about NSLs it has received without needing to duke it out with the feds in court.

That’s because last year lawmakers passed the USA Freedom Act, which required the US attorney general to establish guidelines for the FBI to periodically assess when an NSL gag order is no longer necessary, and to lift it when that’s the case.

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Updated Nuclear Stockpile Figures Declassified

The size of the U.S. nuclear stockpile as of September 30, 2015 — 4,571 weapons — and the number of U.S. nuclear weapons that were dismantled in FY 2015 — 109 of them — were declassified and disclosed last week.

The latest figures came as a disappointment to arms control and disarmament advocates who favor sharp reductions in global nuclear inventories.

The new numbers “show that the Obama administration has reduced the U.S. stockpile less than any other post-Cold War administration, and that the number of warheads dismantled in 2015 was lowest since President Obama took office,” wrote Hans M. Kristensen in the FAS Strategic Security blog. Continue reading

EXCLUSIVE: Catholic Church spent $2M on major N.Y. lobbying firms to block child-sex law reform

Not leaving it to divine chance, the state Catholic Conference has turned in recent years to some of Albany’s most well-connected and influential lobby firms to help block a bill that would make it easier for child sex abuse victims to seek justice.

The Catholic Conference, headed by Timothy Cardinal Dolan, has used Wilson Elser Moskowitz Edelman & Dicker, Patricia Lynch & Associates, Hank Sheinkopf, and Mark Behan Communications to lobby against the Child Victims Act as well as for or against other measures.

All told, the conference spent more than $2.1 million on lobbying from 2007 through the end of 2015, state records show. That does not include the conference’s own internal lobbying team.

Filings show the lobbyists were retained, in part, to work on issues associated with “statute of limitations” and “timelines for commencing certain civil actions related to sex offenses.” Other issues included parochial school funding and investment tax credits. Continue reading

Hackers can spy on what you say by hacking Sony made Android TVs

Android smart TVs can be hacked to spy on your conversation

The smart TV’s are the latest ‘in’ thing and hugely popular. So much so that big players like Sony, Samsung, LG are lining up new smart TVs to woo buyers. But there is a certain security risk attached with Smart TV’s as with all the Internet of Things devices.

We had already reported how the Samsung Smart TV’s may be spying on you. Samsung had at that time agreed that its smart TV’s could indeed listen to your conversation and at one point had urged its smart TV buyers not to discuss personal and confidential things while watching its TV’s.

Now comes even worse news. Samsung smart TVs could spy on your conversation but the conversation could be misused only by third-party service, viz.Nuance Communications, Inc. A new research by Pen Test Partners reveals that hackers could hack Android run smart TVs to spy on your conversation. Continue reading

Facebook using people’s phones to listen in on what they’re saying, claims professor

Facebook is listening in on people’s conversations all of the time, an expert has claimed.

The app is using people’s phones to gather data on what they are talking about, it has been claimed.

Facebook says that its app does listen to what’s happening around it, but only as a way of seeing what people are listening to or watching and suggesting that they post about it.

The feature has been available for a couple of years, but recent warnings from Kelli Burns, mass communication professor at the University of South Florida, have drawn attention to it.

Professor Burns has said that the tool appears to be using the audio it gathers not simply to help out users, but to listen in to discussions and serve them with relevant advertising. She says that to test the feature, she discussed certain topics around the phone and then found that the site appeared to show relevant ads.
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