Yahoo secretly scanned emails at the behest of the U.S. government, reports Joseph Menn at Reuters. Last year, Yahoo apparently built a secret program designed to scan all emails coming into Yahoo’s servers for keywords determined by the NSA or FBI. Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer reportedly agreed to develop the software over objections by other Yahoo Senior Executives.
This news comes during a difficult month for Yahoo, and it all comes as Yahoo and Verizon have been negotiating what started out as a $4.8 billion acquistion of Yahoo by Verizon. But late last month, Yahoo announced hackers accessed personal information in some 500 user accounts, causing Verizon to ask for a $1 billion discount on the purchase.
David Sanger and Charlie Savage at the New York Times reported that the Obama administration -- namely, National Intelligence Director James Clapper -- has formally accused Russia of hacking into the servers of the Democratic National Committee and servers belonging to other influentials in order to influence the U.S. presidential elections. Clapper’s statement noted that only Russia’s QUOTE “senior most officials could have authorized these activities. Clinton campaign Chairman John Podesta was hacked soon after the statement was released. It is not clear how the Obama administration will respond.
A federal contractor by the name of Harold Thomas Martin, III who worked for Booz Allen Hamilton was arrested in August at his home in Glen Burnie, MD for stealing highly classified data and information -- according to information provided by U.S. officials just last week. Booz Allen is also Edward Snowden’s former employer.
Officials are trying to figure out whether Martin played a role in posting online a cache of top secret NSA hacking tools. Ellen Nakashima has the full story for the Washington Post.
Senate Commerce Committee Chair Republican John Thune joined a chorus of cable industry lobbyists and several civil rights groups last week by going after FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler, asking him to release the latest version of the set top box rules. The FCC delayed a vote on the new set-top box rules which would open up the set-top box market to more competition, giving consumers a choice between the set-top box they lease from their carrier, and a set-top box they can use to access the content they have already paid their provider for as well as content from so-called over-the-top providers such as YouTube and Netflix.
Chairman Wheeler has kept the current rule under wraps and cable industry advocates are challenging him to release a Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking on the set-top box rules -- rules they are expected to oppose anyway. So it’s basically like like “come on punk! Come on punk! I dare you to release the rules! I dare you!”
Schoolyard bully stuff.
Ali Breland has the story at the Hill.
FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler also announced last week that the Commission will vote on new Internet Service Provider privacy rules at its next open meeting on October 27th. In a blog post, the Chairman wrote QUOTE “Under the proposed rules, an ISP would be required to notify consumers about what types of information they are collecting, specify how and for what purposes that information can be used and shared, and identify the types of entities with which the ISP shares the information.
In addition, ISPs would be required to obtain affirmative ‘opt-in’ consent before using or sharing sensitive information. Information that would be considered ‘sensitive’ includes geo-location information, children’s information, health information, financial information, social security numbers, web browsing history, app usage history, and the content of communications such as the text of emails. All other individually identifiable information would be considered non-sensitive, and the use and sharing of that information would be subject to opt-out consent.” END QUOTE
Today, for the first time in 120 years, the Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in a design patent case -- this one between Samsung and Apple. The lower court awarded Apple some $584 million back in December. Samsung wants to claw back about $400 million of that, saying it's excessive because it's based on Samsung's total profits, rather than the profits attributable to the 3 patents the court found Samsung to have violated (the rounded corners on the face of the smartphone, the metal rim around the phone, and the display grid).