Fewer Plug-ins = Fewer Crashes

From CNET:
To improve security and cut crashes, Firefox will block plug-ins including Microsoft Silverlight, Adobe Reader, Apple's QuickTime and Oracle's Java, Mozilla said.
Only the newest version of Adobe Systems' Flash Player will be run by default, said Michael Coates, Mozilla's director of security assurance, in a blog post yesterday.
Plug-ins extend a browser's ability to run software or handle different media and file formats, but that extra ability opens new avenues for attack. They've been a staple of Web development for years, but browser makers are working hard to reproduce their abilities directly with Web standards that don't require plug-ins.

Mozilla Awarded for Privacy Controls

From Mozilla:
Mozilla has been named the Most Trusted Internet Company for Privacy in 2012, according to a study performed by the Ponemon Institute.  Their findings were released today in celebration of an internationally recognized holiday that we at Mozilla look forward to as much as any bank holiday: Data Privacy Day. The study surveyed more than 100,000 consumers in the U.S., and after all the number crunching, Mozilla ranked highest in the Internet & Social Media industry. We also made it onto the top 20 list for all companies.

This is certainly quite a distinction and the product of a user-centric philosophy implemented by contributors to the Mozilla project over the past decade. Engineers, UX designers, security, engagement, IT and privacy folks have made thousands of small decisions over the years that have collectively created the user trust reflected by this survey. This recognition is not something we sought, as we don’t view privacy as an end unto itself, but it’s greatly appreciated given all the complexities and nuances associated with privacy and security today.

Petition Seeks to Decriminalize Unlocking Your Smartphone

From Forbes:
This past weekend, the Library of Congress officially put down the hammer on the practice of unlocking smartphones without a carrier's permission, but now the people are standing up for their right to violate their wireless contracts.

In case you missed it, a new rule handed down by the Librarian of Congress (the office in charge of setting the rules to execute the recently updated Digital Millenium Copyright Act) went into effect on Saturday. It makes it illegal to unlock a a smartphone purchased after January 26 without permission from the carrier that locked it.

Naturally, plenty of folks on the Internet are none too happy with the government telling them what they can do with their devices. A petition on the White House "We the People" site asks "the Librarian of Congress to rescind this decision, and failing that, (the administration should) champion a bill that makes unlocking permanently legal."

Privacy is for Government not for the People

It appears to now be the conventional wisdom in the political class and in the criminal justice system, than privacy exists solely to protect the interests of the government.  From Tech Dirt:
You may recall that in its quixotic attempt to go after Wikileaks, the US government has been snooping through the private communications of a bunch of folks they're trying to connect to the organization, including Icelandic politician Birgitta Jonsdottir and Jacob Appelbaum, who gets detained and harassed every time he re-enters the country. All of this came to light only because Twitter actually stood up to the US government and refused to just hand over info that was requested using the obscure 2703(d) process. Twitter also got the court to allow it to reveal the existence of the order (something that every other company which has received one has kept secret). A court eventually ruled that Twitter had to hand over the requested info.

Following this, Jonsdottir, Appelbaum and one other person, Rop Gonggrijp, (represented by the ACLU and the EFF), chose not to challenge that ruling, but did appeal concerning the secrecy around the order -- asking the court to have the specific 2703(d) order unsealed -- arguing that they have the right to access judicial documents about themselves. However, last week, an appeals court rejected that appeal, and basically said that the feds can sniff through your digital data without your knowledge, and, well, too bad if you don't like it.

German Court Rules Internet Is "Essential"

From Reuters:
A German court ruled on Thursday that people have the right to claim compensation from service providers if their Internet access is disrupted, because the Internet is an "essential" part of life . . .

Google Demands Warrants from Law Enforcement for User Info

From Wired:
Google demands probable-cause, court-issued warrants to divulge the contents of Gmail and other cloud-stored documents to authorities in the United States — a startling revelation Wednesday that runs counter to federal law that does not always demand warrants.
The development surfaced as Google publicly announced that more than two-thirds of the user data Google forwards to government agencies across the United States is handed over without a probable-cause warrant.
A Google spokesman told Wired that the media giant demands that government agencies — from the locals to the feds — get a probable-cause warrant for content on its e-mail, Google Drive cloud storage and other platforms — despite the Electronic Communications Privacy Act allowing the government to access such customer data without a warrant if it’s stored on Google’s servers for more than 180 days.

The War on the Fourth Amendment Cont'd

The ongoing war on the Fourth Amendment to the US Constitution continues apace, led by law "enfarcement" agencies and the Republican and Democratic parties From The Hill:
Google said on Wednesday that 68 percent of the U.S. government's requests for users' information were without a warrant. The company said that just 22 percent of the requests were through a search warrant, and 10 percent relied on court orders or other processes. From July to December 2012, Google received 21,389 government requests for information about 33,634 users. The company said data requests have increased 70 percent since 2009.