Net neutrality makes comeback in California; lawmakers agree to strict rules

Net neutrality makes comeback in California; lawmakers agree to strict rules:


A California net neutrality bill that could impose the toughest rules in the country is being resurrected.

The bill was approved in its strongest form by the California Senate, but it was then gutted by the State Assembly’s Communications Committee, which approved the bill only after eliminating provisions opposed by AT&T and cable lobbyists. Bill author Sen. Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco) has been negotiating with Communications Committee Chairman Miguel Santiago (D-Los Angeles) and other lawmakers since then, and he announced the results today.

Wiener said the agreement with Santiago and other lawmakers resulted in “legislation implementing the strongest net neutrality protections in the nation.”

A fact sheet distributed by Wiener’s office today said the following:

Under this agreement, SB 822 will contain strong net neutrality protections and prohibit blocking websites, speeding up or slowing down websites or whole classes of applications such as video, and charging websites for access to an ISP’s subscribers or for fast lanes to those subscribers. ISPs will also be prohibited from circumventing these protections at the point where data enters their networks and from charging access fees to reach ISP customers. SB 822 will also ban ISPs from violating net neutrality by not counting the content and websites they own against subscribers’ data caps. This kind of abusive and anti-competitive “zero rating,” which leads to lower data caps for everyone, would be prohibited, while “zero-rating” plans that don’t harm consumers are not banned.

A ban on ISPs charging websites and online services for data cap exemptions is also being preserved in the compromise, Wiener’s office told Ars.

A separate bill that was also included in the negotiations “will be amended to focus on requiring ISPs that enter into state contracts adhere to net neutrality principles,” the fact sheet said. “This provision ensures that public entities only expend taxpayer funds on contracts with ISPs that comply with California’s comprehensive net neutrality protections.”

The bills still need approval from the full state legislature by August 31 and need the signature of Governor Jerry Brown.

Compromise has all key provisions

According to Wiener, the compromise version has all the same protections as the version of the bill that passed the Senate. But the compromise version is structured differently in order to satisfy Santiago’s concern about making sure the rules will stand up in court, Wiener told Ars.

“He wanted a bill that reflected the protections of [the FCC’s] 2015 order and is defensible in court,” Wiener said. “Those are two things I wanted as well. It was just a matter of having a product that we both agreed got us there.”

The new text of the bill won’t be released until August 6 because the legislature is heading into a month-long recess, Wiener said. “It’ll look different in terms of the way it’s structured or ordered, but all of those key protections will be back in the bill,” he said.

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If you use Gmail, know that “human third parties” are reading your email


Gmail has 1.4 billion email users. Every one of those users has agreed to terms of service that give third parties permission to read their email. And, of course that’s just what they do. Strangers are reading your unredacted email and Google approves of the practice.

GrayKey iPhone unlocker poses serious security concerns

GrayKey iPhone unlocker poses serious security concerns:



apparently there’s an exploit in iOS that can bypass the limit on the number of times a passcode can be entered so this device just inputs every possible passcode until it finds the right one. hopefully Apple is working on a patch I’d love it if these police departments spend $15,000 on one of these and then the exploit is patched and the device is useless. 

Hey here’s how to protect yourself against this

Go into your settings and find Touch ID & Passcode (Face ID & Passcode if you have an iPhone X)

It’ll ask you to enter your current passcode so do that and then hit change passcode

You’ll have to enter your current passcode again. Then instead of entering a new 4 or 6 digit passcode hit this little Passcode Options button

Then hit Custom alphanumeric code

And set yourself a 10 digit password with letters and numbers.

Graykey can crack a 4 digit code in 13 minutes, or a 6 digit code in about 22 hours. A 10 digit alphanumeric code will take it about 12 years on average.

Norwegian government report outlines how Facebook and others trick users into giving up their privacy


Deceived by Design is a report by Norway’s consumer protection bureau on ‘dark patterns’ – the interface tricks and traps used by tech companies to fool users into doing things they don’t want to.

The combination of privacy intrusive defaults and the use of dark patterns, nudge users of Facebook and Google, and to a lesser degree Windows 10, toward the least privacy friendly options to a degree that we consider unethical.

We question whether this is in accordance with the principles of data protection by default and data protection by design, and if consent given under these circumstances can be said to be explicit, informed and freely given.

A trivial but perfectly illustrative example: Facebook uses fake “notification” dots to encourage users into quickly agreeing to new terms to get access to their account.

Facebook is social media for old people


Mark Frauenfelder:

A new Pew survey is out, and it shows that teens are losing interest in Facebook. My daughters don’t have accounts and the younger one never bothered to sign up. Who can blame them? It’s no fun and the user interface has been hideous since the day it launched.

From Pew’s  “Teens, Social Media & Technology" as reported by Fast Company:

Here are the platforms teens say they use the most in 2018:

YouTube: 85% of teens use the platform

Instagram: 72%

Snapchat: 69%

Facebook: 51%

Twitter: 32%

Reddit: 7%

None of the above: 3%

Compare that with the platforms teens said they used the most in 2015:

Facebook: 71%

Instagram: 52%

Snapchat: 41%

Twitter: 33%

Google +: 33%

Vine: 24%

Tumblr: 14%

Two things: 1) Instagram is owned by Facebook, and anyone who has an Instagram account will be barraged with pleas to join Facebook. 2) I wonder if Snapchat adoption is declining. My kids said they don’t like it any more and their friends have all switched over to Instagram.

Which windowless American buildings are secret AT&T/NSA listening posts?


In 2016, Ryan Gallagher and Henrik Moltke published a long, Snowden-derived investigation into AT&T’s secret NSA listening station in New York City, and AT&T’s extensive complicity in mass, warrantless surveillance on Americans and foreigners.

In a new, detailed followup, Moltke and Gallagher reveal the details of eight more NSA spy centers in AT&T’s interchange points, where other telcom providers (both domestic and foreign) cross-link their networks with AT&T’s backbone. These centers, in Atlanta, Chicago, Dallas, Los Angeles, New York City, San Francisco, Seattle, and Washington, D.C., are all well-situated for intercepting and monitoring traffic from AT&T and its competitors.

Some of those partners told Gallagher and Moltke that they suspect that this is going (others refused to comment), and AT&T engineers past and present confirmed the details of the program for them.

Also in the story is the NSA’s own frank admission that they routinely overcollect from these taps, grabbing information at an incredible scale (for example, if they find a single email that matches a keyword, they will grab all the email stored by that user and then warn analysts not to read it); their internal controls that are supposed to mitigate this and keep NSA surveillance within the bounds of the law are (again, according to the NSA) inadequate and routinely fail.