Tagged With only in america

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Despite the fact that the US government seems more enthusiastic than ever about gathering data, its taste for making it classified seems to be waning. This year’s Information Security Oversight Office report reveals that the total number of "original classification" decisions fell over 40 per cent in 2012.

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American culture unapologetically romanticises the lives of the first pioneers. Through rose-coloured glasses, we see Manifest Destiny as fate, leading our heroic ancestors across a perfectly manicured landscape. In reality, the frontier was a terrifying, dangerous wilderness. And you were only as good as the tools you carried.

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Email and phone call metadata certainly isn't private, but maybe you were holding out hope that good old-fashioned snail mail somehow avoided big brother's living gaze. The New York Times is reporting that's all being tracked too. Surprise, surprise.

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You probably turn to Yelp to look for single, stand-out restaurants and businesses. But there's a lot of data inside all those reviews, which can make for fascinating analysis — letting you spot trends across geographic locations.

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In the past couple of weeks, the NSA has, unsurprisingly, responded with a series of secret briefings to US Congress that have left the public in the dark and vulnerable to misstatements and word games. US Congress has many options at its disposal, but any response must start with a special investigative committee for true accountability.

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When Steve Jobs presented the initial design for his donut-like headquarters to the Cupertino City Council, in 2011, he described the building as a reaction against suburban office parks. “We’ve come up with a design that puts 12,000 people in one building; which sounds a bit odd,” he said. “But we’ve seen these office parks with a lot of buildings, and they get pretty boring pretty fast. We’d like to do something better.” The question, though, is better for whom?

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It's only natural to be a little skeeved out by the idea that the government is slurping up your private data behind the scenes, but there's a very public piece of your data being collected as well: the look on your face. There's already a national database of over 120 million faces in the US, and the Washington Post reports that it's slowly turning into the ultimate police tool.

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There are plenty of reasons to be discomforted the recent NSA PRISM scandal, chief among them the total obliteration of any remaining notion of privacy. But there's another — less pressing, but still confidence-shattering — concern that has echoed around our internet's hallowed halls this past week: the fact that this massive, top-secret, data-mining government enterprise allowed a drunk eight-year-old to design their PowerPoint slides.

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Google has asked US Attorney General Eric Holder and Director of the FBI Robert Mueller to allow the company to publish data about the secret national security requests it has received from the US government. Google says the data will help clear it of the reports which surfaced last week alleging the company has granted the government "unfettered" (read: direct) access to its servers.

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Yesterday, the Washington Post and The Guardian dropped concurrent bombshell reports. Their subject was PRISM, a covert collaboration between the NSA, FBI, and nearly every tech company you rely on daily. PRISM has allowed the government unprecedented access to personal information for at least the last six years. But what is it, exactly?

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For the first time, the United States has officially disclosed plans to develop counterattack measures against foreign nations' cyberattacks. General Keith Alexander, chief of the military's Cyber Command and the National Security Agency (NSA), told US Congress yesterday the military is training 13 teams of programmers and computer experts to carry out offensive attacks.

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The White House has responded to a 100,000+ signature petition opposing the recent decision by the Librarian of Congress to remove DMCA exemptions for unlocking mobile phones in the US. The official response? You should be able to unlock your phone with no legal penalty. So long as you own it.