"I have been forced to make a difficult decision: to become complicit in crimes against the American people or walk away from nearly ten years of hard work by shutting down Lavabit. After significant soul searching, I have decided to suspend operations. I wish that I could legally share with you the events that led to my decision. I cannot. I feel you deserve to know what’s going on—the first amendment is supposed to guarantee me the freedom to speak out in situations like this. Unfortunately, Congress has passed laws that say otherwise. As things currently stand, I cannot share my experiences over the last six weeks, even though I have twice made the appropriate requests."

Ladar Levison, Owner and Operator, Lavabit LLC, in an open letter to users.

Background: Lavabit is an encrypted email service that was reportedly used by Edward Snowden, among 350,000 other customers. The Guardian reports that the closure occurred after the company rejected “a court order for cooperation with the US government to participate in surveillance on its customers.”

Related: Lavabit isn’t alone. Silent Circle, a company that creates encrypted communication applications for text, phone and video, is preemptively shutting down its email service. In a notice to its customers, the company writes:

Silent Mail has similar security guarantees to other secure email systems, and with full disclosure, we thought it would be valuable.

However, we have reconsidered this position. We’ve been thinking about this for some time, whether it was a good idea at all. Today, another secure email provider, Lavabit, shut down their system lest they “be complicit in crimes against the American people.” We see the writing the wall, and we have decided that it is best for us to shut down Silent Mail now. We have not received subpoenas, warrants, security letters, or anything else by any government, and this is why we are acting now.

Welcome to surveillance.

(via futurejournalismproject)

reuters:

Hundreds of thousands of people took part in a demonstration in front of the Presidential Office in Taipei, Taiwan on August 3, 2013.

Demonstrators gathered to mourn soldier Hung Chung-chiu, who died of severe heatstroke after being ordered to do strenuous exercises in a barracks on July 4, and to demand further investigation, according to event organizers.

VIDEO: protest in Taiwan over soldier’s death


On July 29, Taiwan’s defense minister stepped down amid a public outcry over the death of Chung-chiu.

Photo by REUTERS/Steven Chen

reuters:

U.S. government plans to end military drone strikes in Pakistan: on Thursday, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry met with Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari (seen above, with Kerry) and Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to re-establish a “full partnership” hurt by U.S. drone strikes and a 2011 NATO air attack in which 24 Pakistani soldiers were killed. 

Photo: REUTERS/Jason Reed

"But this “commitment” has been so thoroughly forsaken one is forced to consider whether it was ever sincere. It has been so thoroughly forsaken one wonders whether to laugh or cry. What kind of message are we sending about the viability these democratic ideals—about openness, transparency, public participation, public collaboration? How hollow must American exhortations to democracy sound to foreign ears? Mr Snowden may be responsible for having exposed this hypocrisy, for having betrayed the thug omertà at the heart of America’s domestic democracy-suppression programme, but the hypocrisy is America’s. I’d very much like to know what led Mr Obama to change his mind, to conclude that America is not after all safe for democracy, though I know he’s not about to tell us. The matter is settled. It has been decided, and not by us. We can’t handle the truth."
A really clear, excellent blog post at The Economist about the hypocrisy and anti-democratic underpinnings of the contemporary surveillance state. (via thepoliticalnotebook)
"Mainly, to say you’re “building” something is to say you’re part of an exceptional breed. It’s an instant signifier that your company isn’t just a company, but a “disruptive” force; that you are ahead of and above companies that were merely “incorporated,” and that you intend to “disrupt”; that your breed of entrepreneurship is more like a duty or a calling than a job choice, and that you’re no stodgy businessperson, but a visionary, a maker, a capitalistic superhero with the incredible powers of “pivoting” and “raising rounds.” You’re someone who is changing things with big ideas and yet, somehow, also with your own two hands."
thisistheverge:

Tour the best sci-fi interfaces from film and TV with Kit FUI
The fictional computer interfaces built for movies and television shows have a symbiotic relationship with reality, using existing technology as their jumping-off point while also driving our aspirations ahead by envisioning what could be just around the corner. A site called Kit FUI makes exploring those different visions even easier.
thisistheverge:

Tour the best sci-fi interfaces from film and TV with Kit FUI
The fictional computer interfaces built for movies and television shows have a symbiotic relationship with reality, using existing technology as their jumping-off point while also driving our aspirations ahead by envisioning what could be just around the corner. A site called Kit FUI makes exploring those different visions even easier.
thisistheverge:

Tour the best sci-fi interfaces from film and TV with Kit FUI
The fictional computer interfaces built for movies and television shows have a symbiotic relationship with reality, using existing technology as their jumping-off point while also driving our aspirations ahead by envisioning what could be just around the corner. A site called Kit FUI makes exploring those different visions even easier.
thisistheverge:

Tour the best sci-fi interfaces from film and TV with Kit FUI
The fictional computer interfaces built for movies and television shows have a symbiotic relationship with reality, using existing technology as their jumping-off point while also driving our aspirations ahead by envisioning what could be just around the corner. A site called Kit FUI makes exploring those different visions even easier.

thisistheverge:

Tour the best sci-fi interfaces from film and TV with Kit FUI

The fictional computer interfaces built for movies and television shows have a symbiotic relationship with reality, using existing technology as their jumping-off point while also driving our aspirations ahead by envisioning what could be just around the corner. A site called Kit FUI makes exploring those different visions even easier.

futurejournalismproject:

Hello, Facebook Graph Search

Facebook Graph Search is rolling out to all users over the next few weeks. If you’re unfamiliar with its capabilities the basic rundown is that it’s a highly personalized search engine that lets you query information based on what your friends, friends of friends and oftentimes public (depending on privacy settings) are liking.

As Salon’s Andrew Leonard explains it:

Facebook allows you to slice and dice your network with astonishing ease. “Friends who like ‘Dumb and Dumber’”? Friends who like porn films?” “Single women who like to read Thomas Pynchon and live in California?”

After each search: Presto! A page full of profile pictures — many of whom are probably people you’ve never seen before, because Graph Search rummages through your “friends of friends” network, a grouping that is exponentially larger than your mere “friends” network.

You can also search through photo albums that have been made public. For example: “Photos of single men taken in California.” Oh, the douchebaggery. We have so much to be embarrassed about, and now Facebook makes it easier than ever to find it.

Graph Search is addictive. “Photos of beaches liked my friends”? Sure! “Friends of my friends who like Edward Snowden Support Page”? Absolutely. “Friends of my friends who like Rush Limbaugh?” Holy moly! There are more Limbaugh fans in my extended network than porn film fans! Something is very wrong here.

Have privacy concerns? Don’t want your pickle eating, Justin Bieber, complicated relationship, trashy novel liking life to be shown? We got you covered in two easy steps.

First, visit Facebook’s 3 Tips About Search Privacy to get an overview of what you’re sharing and who you’re sharing it with. Second, Slate’s Will Oremus walks readers through changing their privacy settings en masse, or on a post by post basis. Or, as Slate’s headlines writers put it: If You’ve Ever Posted Anything Embarrassing on Facebook, Now Is the Time to Hide It.

Image: Facebook Graph Search, via Facebook.

"To impose order on the changes, we seek refuge, of a kind, in statistics. In my years here, the number of airline passengers nationwide doubled; sales of personal computers and cell phones tripled. The length of the Beijing subway quadrupled. But the longer I stayed, the less those impressed me than the dramas that I could never quantify at all."
Evan Osnos on the complexities of the country’s billion individual stories: http://nyr.kr/12r7WZV (via newyorker)
"There were instances of kindness from cell bosses who favored him, sometimes for being a poet; respect for the written word is not dead in China."
In this week’s issue, Ian Buruma writes about a Chinese poet’s memoir of incarceration: http://nyr.kr/14MNSFm (via newyorker)
"It was like, oh my god, I can be so much more productive if I actually let my brain have a little downtime. When I get up in the morning I’m very sharp now. I can do things much faster. I’m much more focused. I feel much fresher. I feel like I used to feel before the Internet was popular."

-Kord Campbell, who recently participated in a digital detox hosted by Camp Grounded. We’ve collected stories from people who regularly unplug from their devices.

Here are the lessons they’re learning.

(via fastcompany)
thepoliticalnotebook:

New documents obtained from Edward Snowden take on an international scope. The British counterpart to the NSA, the GCHQ, has tapped into fibre-optics cables in order to access internet histories, telephone calls (the actual content of the calls), emails, Facebook messages, etc. The amount of data being handled is immense, and its being shared with the NSA, where reportedly 850,000 NSA employees and private contractors have access to it. 
The two principle components of the mission are known as Mastering the Internet (see above) and Global Telecoms Exploitation. The names give you an impression of the tone and scope of the approach. GHCQ apparently has been storing huge amounts of tapped data for thirty days at a time while it sifts through it in a now-18 month long operation called Tempora. 
Snowden has called the GCHQ “worse than the NSA” and stated that this leaked surveillance scheme is “the largest programme of suspicionless surveillance in human history”.
Read more at The Guardian, where the size of the data in question is discussed, as well as the legality both in the US and the UK.

thepoliticalnotebook:

New documents obtained from Edward Snowden take on an international scope. The British counterpart to the NSA, the GCHQ, has tapped into fibre-optics cables in order to access internet histories, telephone calls (the actual content of the calls), emails, Facebook messages, etc. The amount of data being handled is immense, and its being shared with the NSA, where reportedly 850,000 NSA employees and private contractors have access to it. 

The two principle components of the mission are known as Mastering the Internet (see above) and Global Telecoms Exploitation. The names give you an impression of the tone and scope of the approach. GHCQ apparently has been storing huge amounts of tapped data for thirty days at a time while it sifts through it in a now-18 month long operation called Tempora. 

Snowden has called the GCHQ “worse than the NSA” and stated that this leaked surveillance scheme is “the largest programme of suspicionless surveillance in human history”.

Read more at The Guardian, where the size of the data in question is discussed, as well as the legality both in the US and the UK.

"Google has petitioned a secret U.S. national security court to relax restrictions on the information the tech giant can disclose about government data requests, claiming such restrictions violate the company’s right to free speech under the First Amendment."