The Privacy BlogThoughts on privacy, security, and other stuff.

CAT | International

Sauron-BrazilA Brazilian court is enforcing a constitutional ban on anonymity by requiring Apple and Google to remove Secret, an anonymous social network chatting app from their app stores. Microsoft is being required to remove Cryptic, a similar windows phone app.

In addition to that, they have been ordered to remove the app from the phones of all users who have installed it. These kinds of retroactive orders to have companies intrusively modify the contents of all of their customer’s devices are concerning. At least these apps are free, if users had paid for them, that would introduce another complication.

One wonders how this will apply to tourists or business travelers visiting Brazil. Will their phones be impacted as well?

The law exists to allow victims of libel or slander to identify and confront their those speakers.

While this ruling only applies to Apple, Google, and Microsoft, and only with respect to the Secret and Cryptic apps, the underlying principle extends much further. There are still final rulings to come, so this is not the last word on this situation.

Anonymizer has had a great many Brazilian customers for many years. Anonymizer provides those users important protections which are well established in international human rights law. We certainly hope that they will continue to be allowed to use our services.

Brazil Court Issues Injunction Against Secret And Calls For App To Be Remotely Wiped | TechCrunch

Lance Cottrell is the Founder and Chief Scientist of Anonymizer. Follow me on Facebook, Twitter, and Google+.

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Vodafone logo

Vodafone Lays Bare Scale of Phone Tapping – WSJ

Vodafone recently released a “Law Enforcement Disclosure Report”. Because Vodafone provides services in so many countries, this provides a unique  insight into the range of surveillance capabilities and requirements across a spectrum of nations. In six countries they are required to provide direct connections to their network for the local government. This allows those governments to capture content and meta-data without making individual requests to Vodafone. They are not saying which 6 countries those are out of fear of penalties or retaliation.

In Albania, Egypt, Hungary, India, Malta, Qatar, Romania, South Africa and Turkey it is illegal to reveal information about various kinds of intercepts, so the report does not provide information on those countries.

The report also provides good information on the frequency of requests for information from various countries.

One lesson from this is, despite the impression one might have gotten from the Snowden leaks, the US is far from the only country doing this kind of surveillance. 

Lance Cottrell is the Founder and Chief Scientist of Anonymizer. Follow me on Facebook, Twitter, and Google+.

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Australia computer mouseAttorney General’s new war on encrypted web services – Security – Technology – News – iTnews.com.au

Australia’s Attorney-General’s department is proposing that all providers of Internet services ensure that they can decrypt user communications when so ordered. Any services where the provider has the keys will obviously be able to do this.

Australians may want to start to start taking steps to protect themselves now.

End to end encryption is your friend. At least that way, you need to be informed and compelled if they want access to your data.

Another important step is to get your “in the clear” communications into another jurisdiction using a VPN service like Anonymizer Universal.

Finally, let your voice be heard on this issue by reaching out to your members of parliament.

Lance Cottrell is the Founder and Chief Scientist of Anonymizer. Follow me on Facebook and Google+.

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Stomp by boot

US Tech Sanctions In Sudan Are Empowering The Regime, Tamping Down Opposition | Techdirt

This article makes an interesting argument that sanctions against repressive regimes, particularly sanctions that block providing communications and security technologies to end users, harm dissidents more than they do the repressive regimes they are designed to target.

In particular, companies are unable to provide cryptography and anonymity tools to the people who really need them.

Lance Cottrell is the Founder and Chief Scientist of Anonymizer. Follow me on Facebook and Google+.

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Turkey Rubber StampTurkey passed legislation to allow the government to censor access to websites within four hours of receiving an allegation of privacy violations. WSJ Article behind paywall.  CNET Article

The law also requires web hosts to store all traffic information for two years. While the putative purpose of the legislation is privacy protection, it is widely assumed that this is an attempt to grab more control of the Internet, which has been repeatedly blasted by the Turkish government reporting on government corruption and graft.

As usual with these attempts at censorship, interested citizens can generally get around them. VPNs like Anonymizer Universal allow anyone to punch a hole through the national censorship firewalls to access any content.

I would be very interested to hear about efforts to block tools like Anonymizer in countries enforcing Internet censorship, like Turkey and the UK. Blocking of circumvention tools is already well documented in both China and Iran, and has been seen sporadically in many other countries.

Lance Cottrell is the Founder and Chief Scientist of Anonymizer. Follow me on Facebook and Google+.

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