New Bill Introduced in U.S. Congress to Block State-Level Efforts to Weaken Smartphone Encryption

A new bill introduced in U.S. Congress today by representatives Ted Lieu (D-CA) and Blake Farenthold (R-TX) would attempt to block state-level efforts to ban sales of strongly encrypted smartphones, reports Ars Technica.

The federal bill will need to pass the U.S. House of Representatives and Senate, and be signed by the president, in order to become law. If passed quick enough, the bipartisan legislation would set precedent over state-level bills.

California and New York assemblymen have introduced new bills over the past year that would require smartphone manufacturers like Apple and Google to create devices that can be decrypted or unlocked, or be subject to fines.

The virtually identical bills would require any smartphone manufactured after January 1, 2017 and sold in New York or California to „be capable of being decrypted and unlocked by its manufacturer or its operating system provider.“ Apple and others would face a $2,500 fine per phone in violation of the proposed law.

Apple is strongly against government efforts to weaken smartphone encryption. The company ceased storing encryption keys for devices on iOS 8, making it impossible for the iPhone maker to unlock content on passcode-protected devices under police request. Both iOS and Android share these default encryption settings.

In September, FBI Director James Comey expressed concerns that Apple and Google are „marketing something expressly to allow people to place themselves above the law.“ Meanwhile, Apple CEO Tim Cook believes providing the U.S. government with back door access means the „back door’s for everybody, for good guys and bad guys.“

Read the full text of the „ENCRYPT Act of 2016“ for more details about the new house bill.

Note: Due to the political nature of the discussion regarding this topic, the discussion thread is located in our Politics, Religion, Social Issues forum. All forum members and site visitors are welcome to read and follow the thread, but posting is limited to forum members with at least 100 posts.

Tag: Encryption
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Apple Criticizes Proposed UK ‘Investigatory Powers’ Surveillance Bill

Apple today spoke out against the UK’s proposed Investigatory Powers bill, expressing concern that it would „weaken security“ for millions of law-abiding customers, reports The Guardian. Apple added that in a „rapidly-evolving cyber-threat environment,“ technology companies should be allowed to „implement strong encryption to protect customers.

Introduced last month by UK home secretary Theresa May, the Investigatory Powers bill allows for the bulk collection of website records by law enforcement agencies. It requires web and phone companies to store records of websites visited by every UK citizen for 12 months, and it has provisions that would require technology companies to build in backdoors or help bypass encryption on devices to allow access to information.

Apple and other technology companies believe the implementation of such a bill could inspire other countries to adopt similar measures. In a letter written to the parliamentary committee looking over the bill, Apple expressed concern about the scope of the bill and asked for changes to be made before it’s passed. In its current incarnation, Apple worries the bill could give the UK government enough power to demand changes to the way iMessage works, ending the encryption that makes it inaccessible even to Apple.

„The creation of backdoors and intercept capabilities would weaken the protections built into Apple products and endanger all our customers. A key left under the doormat would not just be there for the good guys. The bad guys would find it too.“

Apple went on to say the legislation could cause businesses to have to deal with a set of „overlapping foreign and domestic laws“ that will „inevitably conflict“ and lead to the risk of sanctions. UK agencies could, for example, ask for information stored in data centers in other countries, infringing on that country’s data protection laws. „That is an unreasonable position to be placed in,“ Apple wrote.

Other technology companies, including Google, Facebook, Microsoft, Twitter, and Yahoo, also plan to submit evidence to the parliamentary committee in the hope of getting the proposed bill changed.

Note: Due to the political nature of the discussion regarding this topic, the discussion thread is located in our Politics, Religion, Social Issues forum. All forum members and site visitors are welcome to read and follow the thread, but posting is limited to forum members with at least 100 posts.
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Eddy Cue promises new iOS remote app for Apple TV

The remote for the new Apple TV can be a bit tricky to master and very easy to break, but help is on the according to Apple media boss Eddy Cue who revealed this morning that an iOS remote app for the new black box is coming soon. “We’re working on a new Apple TV […]

(via Cult of Mac – Tech and culture through an Apple lens)


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Jimmy Iovine Criticized After Making Controversial Comments About Women

Apple recently debuted a new Apple Music ad, starring singer Mary J. Blige and actresses Taraji P. Henson and Kerry Washington, during the 2015 Emmy Awards.

In the one-minute spot, focused on Apple Music playlists, Washington says that Apple’s curated playlists are like having „a boyfriend who creates you a mixtape – in your laptop.“

Jimmy Iovine, who joined Apple in 2014 following the company’s acquisition of Beats Electronics, has made headlines today following controversial comments he made about women on CBS This Morning today in relation to the ad.

CBS has made the video clip unavailable to viewers outside the U.S. — Mirror

In particular, when asked to explain his thinking behind the Emmy ad, Iovine said that „women find it very difficult at times – some women – to find music, …and [Apple Music] helps makes it easier with playlists curated by real people.“ He proceeded to mention the problem of girls „sitting around“ and „talking about boys.“

The Verge transcribes:

„I just thought of a problem, you know: girls are sitting around, you know, talking about boys. Or complaining about boys, you know, when they’re heartbroken or whatever. And they need music for that, right? So it’s hard to find the right music, you know. Not everybody has the right lists, or knows a DJ or something.“

Iovine’s comments have been widely criticized on Twitter and in several media outlets.

Note: Due to the political nature of the discussion regarding this topic, the discussion thread is located in our Politics, Religion, Social Issues forum. All forum members and site visitors are welcome to read and follow the thread, but posting is limited to forum members with at least 100 posts.

Tags: CBS, Jimmy Iovine, Apple Music
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Browser-Based iOS 9.1/9.2 Jailbreak Wins $1M Bounty, Will Be Sold for Corporate and Government Use

Earlier this month, exploit acquisition platform Zerodium debuted an iOS 9 bug bounty that would pay out up to three million dollars to hackers who managed to develop a browser-based untethered jailbreak for iOS 9, which it could then sell to clients interested in shelling out a lot of money to gain illicit access to iOS devices.

The contest expired at the end of October, and Zerodium today announced one hacking team had successfully created a browser-based jailbreak for iOS 9.1 and iOS 9.2, the latest versions of iOS 9, earning $1 million.

Zerodium foundar Chaouki Bekrar told Wired that the exploit developed by the hackers will be given to its customers, which include major technology, finance, and defense corporations, along with government agencies. The contest rules required the exploit to be achievable remotely without requiring user interaction beyond reading a text message or visiting a website via Chrome or Safari on an iOS device.

Bekrar confirmed that Zerodium plans to reveal the technical details of the technique to its customers, whom the company has described as „major corporations in defense, technology, and finance“ seeking zero-day attack protection as well as „government organizations in need of specific and tailored cybersecurity capabilities.“

Because it’s selling the jailbreak („likely“ to U.S. customers only), Zerodium does not plan to report the vulnerabilities in the operating system to Apple, though Bekrar says the company may share the details at a later date. The jailbreak also won’t be provided to the general public, but Bekrar says Zerodium announced the results of the contest to remind people that while iOS security is „very hardened,“ it’s not unbreakable.

Note: Due to the political nature of the discussion regarding this topic, the discussion thread is located in our Politics, Religion, Social Issues forum. All forum members and site visitors are welcome to read and follow the thread, but posting is limited to forum members with at least 100 posts.
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Apple Reiterates Inability to Unlock iOS Devices Running iOS 8 or Higher in New Court Filing

Apple this week informed a federal magistrate judge in Brooklyn, New York that it „would be impossible“ for the company to access data on a locked iPhone running iOS 8 or later, reports Reuters. Apple was responding to a request from the judge, James Orenstein, to help him decide whether to fulfill a U.S. Justice Department request that would have forced Apple to help authorities gain access to a seized iPhone.

Apple’s response is not a surprise, as it is the same thing the company has said several times in the past. Since iOS 8, Apple has stopped storing encryption keys for devices, making it impossible for the company to unlock iPhones and iPads under police request. Without an encryption key, Apple cannot bypass a passcode to gain access to an iOS device.

In a brief filed with the court, Apple said 90 percent of its devices are running iOS 8 or higher and are thus inaccessible. Apple is able to access the 10 percent of devices that continue to use iOS 7 or below, but the company told the judge that being forced to comply with the Justice Department’s request could tarnish its brand.

„Forcing Apple to extract data in this case, absent clear legal authority to do so, could threaten the trust between Apple and its customers and substantially tarnish the Apple brand,“ Apple’s lawyers wrote.

Apple’s encryption changes, implemented in 2014 with iOS 8, have been unpopular with some law enforcement officials. FBI Director James Comey has expressed concern that encryption implemented by companies like Google and Apple lets people „place themselves above the law.“

Just yesterday, Apple CEO Tim Cook told an interviewer encryption is a necessity and that software backdoors are unacceptable, reiterating Apple’s long-standing opinion on the subject.

Note: Due to the political nature of the discussion regarding this topic, the discussion thread is located in our Politics, Religion, Social Issues forum. All forum members and site visitors are welcome to read and follow the thread, but posting is limited to forum members with at least 100 posts.



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Napster’s Sean Parker is trying to create the Twitter of political opinions

Sean Parker — the rogue Silicon Valley investor behind Napster, and a formative part of Facebook’s early development — has a new iOS app out. It’s called Brigade, and it’s got good election timing: it’s an app devoted to sharing…Read more ›



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Apple CEO Tim Cook Speaks Out Against Indiana’s ‘Religious Freedom’ Law

Apple CEO Tim Cook today sent out a series of Tweets condemning Indiana Governor Mike Pence’s decision to sign a controversial „religious freedom“ bill into law, saying Apple is „deeply disappointed“ in the move and „open for everyone.“

The religious freedom legislation that was approved by Pence on Thursday could let businesses turn away gay and lesbian customers by citing „religious freedom.“ The approval of the bill has earned Indiana national attention, and much of it has been negative, with organizations and companies throughout the United States vowing to stop supporting the state.

Senate Bill 101 prohibits state or local governments from substantially burdening a person’s ability to exercise their religion – unless the government can show that it has a compelling interest and that the action is the least-restrictive means of achieving it. It takes effect July 1.

Along with Apple’s condemnation, the NCAA has questioned the impact the legislation will have on future sporting events, Salesforce has vowed to halt expansion plans in the state, several conventions typically held in Indiana have said they will find other venues, and San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee spoke out against the decision and barred all non-essential publicly funded City employee travel to the state.

In his tweets, Cook also called for Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson to veto H.B.1228, a similar bill that was recently passed by the Arkansas state senate, and he reiterated Apple’s own commitment to equality and its efforts to treat every customer the same, regardless of „how they worship or who they love.“

Cook came out as gay last October, but even before then, he’s had a long history of supporting equality and speaking out against discrimination. In 2013, he lectured on equality at his alma mater Auburn University, and during that same year, both he and Apple publicly supported the Employment Nondiscrimination Act.

Under his direction, Apple released a statement in support of Supreme Court gay marriage rulings, and Cook also led Apple to march in support of the LGBT community during the 44th annual Pride parade in San Francisco.

Note: Due to the political nature of the discussion regarding this topic, the discussion thread is located in our Politics, Religion, Social Issues forum. All forum members and site visitors are welcome to read and follow the thread, but posting is limited to forum members with at least 100 posts.




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White House Announces Apple Pay Support for Federal Payment Cards [iOS Blog]

Just ahead of Tim Cook’s speech at today’s Cybersecurity Summit, The White House has announced federal-payment cards are gaining Apple Pay support, reports Bloomberg. People who receive veterans and Social Security benefits from the government via debit card will now be able to use those cards with Apple Pay.

The deal includes the Direct Express payment network and government cards issued through GSA SmartPay, which handles more than 87.4 million transaction worth $26.4 billion each year, according to the General Services Administration.

Apple Pay has been lauded by banks and other payment industry executives for its security, and its acceptance by the federal government is a valuable endorsement for the service.

Apple Pay is seen as a highly secure solution due to its use of tokenization, which generates a unique code for each transaction to prevent actual credit card numbers from being shared. It also protects all consumer data like name and address, and it further ensures secure payments through fingerprint verification with Touch ID.

Currently, Apple Pay is only available in the United States, but it is set to expand internationally in the coming months. Apple Pay for China is expected in the near future, through a partnership with China’s UnionPay.

Note: Due to the political nature of the discussion regarding this topic, the discussion thread is located in our Politics, Religion, Social Issues forum. All forum members and site visitors are welcome to read and follow the thread, but posting is limited to forum members with at least 100 posts.




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