Drip: New Leaked Documents Reveal NSA Program to Gather "Nearly Everything a User Does on the Internet"

New revelations about the breadth and depth of the US Federal Government's totalitarian global surveillance system from Glenn Greenwald in the Guardian:
A top secret National Security Agency program allows analysts to search with no prior authorization through vast databases containing emails, online chats and the browsing histories of millions of individuals, according to documents provided by whistleblower Edward Snowden.

The NSA boasts in training materials that the program, called XKeyscore, is its "widest-reaching" system for developing intelligence from the internet.  The latest revelations will add to the intense public and congressional debate around the extent of NSA surveillance programs. They come as senior intelligence officials testify to the Senate judiciary committee on Wednesday, releasing classified documents in response to the Guardian's earlier stories on bulk collection of phone records and Fisa surveillance court oversight.

Irony Alert: Microsoft Asks Google to Remove Links to their Own Website

From Torrent Freak:
Earlier this week we reported that Google has already received takedown requests for more than 100 million URLs this year.  While most of the submitted URLs do indeed link to infringing content, not all requests received by Google are correct.

The automated systems used by many of the copyright holders often trigger notices that include links to perfectly legitimate content, and sometimes even their own work. The latter happened in a recent DMCA takedown request sent by LeakID on behalf of Microsoft. Instead of listing URLs of infringing material, Microsoft asked Google to remove links to their own websites . . .

Tech Companies Debunk Claims of Copyright Trolls

From Torrent Freak:
On Thursday the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Courts, Intellectual Property, and the Internet organized a hearing on the role of copyright as a driver of innovation in the United States . . . 
The CCIA, which includes members such as Google, Microsoft and Facebook, submitted a statement debunking what they see as copyright industry propaganda. The tech industry association explains that tougher copyright can actually hinder innovation.

“Arguments that ever stronger regulation incentivizes innovation overlook the ways in which excessive protection can inhibit innovation,” the CCIA writes.

“Every year that a work is covered by a copyright is a year that subsequent users cannot build on that work. While incremental protection may provide additional reward to the author, society pays for this reward by being deprived of follow-on use, while the author and his or her heirs accumulate profits.”

“For this reason, protection exceeding the amount necessary to incentivize innovation represents a dead weight loss to the economy” . . .

Instagram Hack Serves Up Fruit

Here's a funny little story from The Next Web:
An Instagram hack that posts pictures of fruit to users’ timelines has returned. We last saw the issue back in June.  Once again, the images – often of fruit but sometimes (as The Verge notes) of smoothies – are accompanied by text suggesting that the user is trying a new diet and encouraging others to follow a link that has been inserted into their bio.

US Tech Companies Take Economic Hit in Aftermath of Surveillance Revelations

From the Washington Post:
There has been a lot of speculation that the revelations about NSA surveillance program PRISM damaged the credibility of U.S. tech companies, especially with international clients who were the primary targets of the snooping operation. But now it’s starting to look like the snooping is hitting U.S.-based cloud providers where it really hurts: Their pocketbooks.

Computer World UK reports a recent Cloud Security Alliance (CSA) survey found 10 percent of 207 officials at non-U.S. companies canceled contracts with U.S. providers after the leaks, and 56 percent of non-U.S. respondents are now hesitant to work with U.S.-based cloud operators.

US House Narrowly Defeats Proposal to Re-instate the Fourth Amendment

A narrow majority of Democrats and Republicans in the US House are fervent opponents of the Fourth Amendment.  From the Washington Post:
A controversial proposal to restrict how the National Security Agency collects telephone records failed to advance by a narrow margin Wednesday, a victory for the Obama administration, which has spent weeks defending the program since media leaks sparked international outrage about the agency’s reach.

Lawmakers voted 217 to 205 to defeat the proposal by an unlikely political pairing: Rep. Justin Amash (R-Mich.), a 33-year-old libertarian who often bucks GOP leadership and Rep. John Conyers (D-Mich.), an 84-year old liberal stalwart and the chamber’s second longest-serving member. Usually divergent in their political views, they joined forces in recent weeks in response to revelations about the NSA’s ability to collect telephone and Internet records that were leaked by Edward Snowden, a former NSA contractor who is seeking asylum in Russia.

SEC Cracks Down on Bitcoin Ponzi Scheme

One of the most common and likely ill-informed criticisms of Bitcoin is that the virtual currency is nothing more than a Ponzi scheme.  A minimal amount of research into what Bitcoin is and how it functions should, however, dispel any reasonable doubt that Bitcoin itself is a scam.  Yet that does not mean that Bitcoin cannot be used to construct traditional scams like the Ponzi scheme.  The SEC has filed a suit against one such scammer who operated an enterprise called the Bitcoin Savings and Trust.  From Entrepreneur:
The Securities and Exchange Commission has filed its first fraud lawsuit involving the virtual currency, claiming it was used in a Ponzi scheme.  The SEC filed suit against Trendon T. Shavers, founder and owner of Bitcoin Savings and Trust, saying he raised more than 700,000 BTC from 66 investors. According to the SEC’s suit, that amounted to $4.5 million in cash based on the daily Bitcoin price at the time, according to the SEC. 
Of course, knee jerk detractors of the digital currency will argue that this proves Bitcoin is  nothing more than a scam, as if the structure of such a scheme were internal to Bitcoin itself.  Interestingly, however, this action by the SEC may inadvertently serve to strengthen the Bitcoin market, since it presupposes that the digital currency is a legitimate means of investment in securities, which are regulated by the SEC.  The article notes:
The SEC also took the step of asserting its jurisdiction over virtual-currency trading. “Any investment in securities in the United States remains subject to the jurisdiction of the SEC, regardless of whether the investment is made in U.S. dollars or a virtual currency,” the agency said.