Welcome to this week’s edition of Liberty Nation TecWeek, a weekly column that will catch you up on all things tech related — specially designed for those who do not consider themselves tech savvy. TecWeek focuses on news stories and topics that affect you, like digital security, government and corporate surveillance, privacy, and much more.
In this week’s column:
- There’s only one country on earth where using Bitcoin means giving up privacy — the United States.
- The CIA was hacking iPhones and Macs a decade ago; Wikileaks strikes again.
- Twitter has deleted over half a million accounts it claims were “extremist.”
- A creepy new authentication method merges biometrics and passwords.
If you know anything about Bitcoin, then you know that it was an alternative currency meant to allow for anonymous buying and selling. Never mind the stories about how only criminals use Bitcoin in their nefarious activities; plenty of ‘regular’ people use Bitcoin every day. Currently, everything you buy and sell is tracked in some way; Bitcoin offered a way for people to purchase things without announcing to The Powers That Be what they’re doing — or having the Internal Revenue Service looking over your shoulder for every penny. (The notion that we have to literally come up with a new currency to keep our financial privacy should alert you that there’s a problem.) The real issue, however, is that the U.S. government has managed to ruin that too.
Slashdot explains just how bad it is here in the good old U.S. of A:
It appears that Bitcoin [BTC], a currency designed with anonymity in mind, can be effectively used almost anywhere in the world, except in a few countries where it is regulated, and in one country where you can only use it if you give up your privacy. That country is the United States. I have accumulated quite a few BTC from the currency’s early days… There was a period of time where one could get a nearly anonymous debit card, or use BTC online with merchants. Nowadays, non-U.S. payment providers no longer issue debit cards to the U.S. residents and the U.S.-based merchants accepting BTC are nearly extinct. The only way to use BTC in the U.S. is to convert it to USD. Unfortunately, that conversion requires giving up your personal information to a U.S.-based BTC payment processor, and there are rumors that signing up for those services raises red flags with certain three letter acronym organizations. I have nothing to hide, but I do value my privacy. Can one freely and anonymously live off of their Bitcoin wallet in the U.S.? I am afraid the answer is no.
If you’ve been reading TecWeek over the last two months, then you’re probably seeing a very disturbing pattern. It’s called a surveillance state, and like it or not, you live in it.
Speaking of the surveillance state, Wikileaks dropped yet another document package on the CIA Thursday morning. This one will serve as yet another nail in the proverbial coffin, as it explains how the CIA has been hacking Macs and iPhones for a decade. The report by Motherboard makes Apple’s refusal to unlock the iPhone for the FBI seem like what it was — theater.
These documents explain the techniques used by CIA to gain ‘persistence” on Apple Mac devices, including Macs and iPhones and demonstrate their use of EFI/UEFI and firmware malware,” WikiLeaks stated in a press release.
What all that tech-babble drills down to is this: The CIA was able to hack Macs and iPhones in such a way that it didn’t matter if the operating system was replaced or changed, the hack remained for the life of the device.
While you wrap your head around the implications of a decade worth of hacked iPhones and Macs, we turn our attention to Twitter, who is deleting accounts at an alarming rate. Don’t worry, says Twitter, they’re all “extremist” accounts. How do we know that? Well, because Twitter says so. You might be thinking, great! They’re finally deleting all of those accounts calling for people to start killing whites. No, those aren’t extremist, says Twitter. Slashdot explains:
No one is saying companies should be forced to comply with the first amendment. “Free speech” as a principle exists outside of the Constitution…it’s the shared cultural value that the Constitution seeks to protect. The cultural value came first, then the legal protection. This is how descriptive legal systems like English common law came to be.
The point is that these online platforms like Twitter don’t hold this cultural value. That’s okay, I guess, you don’t have to. But they claim to, while saying they’re only denying a platform for “hate speech,” but this is [false] too since they never punish anyone for saying “killing white people.” That’s pretty damn hateful.
They’re not for free speech, they’re not against “hate” on principle, they’re just partisans.
We remind you that Gab is a much better alternative — and most of your favorite conservatives and libertarians are already there.
Finally this week we bring you the news that biometrics may soon be merged with your passwords. Hong Kong Baptist University has designed technology that combines lipreading and passwords; in order to get into your device or app, the camera will read your lips while you say the password, effectively combining facial recognition and password. You know, because not enough things are looking at you, recording you, and evaluating you already.
That’s it for this week! Tune in next Friday for more tech news that matters.