US Attorney General will insist on encryption backdoors


US Attorney General William Barr

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US Attorney General William Barr has said that he plans to follow Australian legislators in making it mandatory for all consumer communications technology to include backdoors for law enforcement access (The Register). His position is that private internet users do not require and should not have secure communications.

Barr said: “We are not talking about protecting the nation’s nuclear launch codes. Nor are we necessarily talking about the customized encryption used by large business enterprises to protect their operations. We are talking about consumer products and services such as messaging, smart phones, email, and voice and data applications.” The introduction of encryption-breaking backdoors by US tech firms would be impractical, a major security risk for users and, if implemented, could impact users of US products and services around the world.

Current methods of anonymising the identities of individuals in large data sets leave them vulnerable to being re-identified, research by scientists from UCLouvain and Imperial College London has found (New Scientist). Even where names and email addresses are stripped from data before it’s sold to advertising firms and data brokers, fifteen other common demographic characteristics, including date of birth, gender and marital status were enough to identify 99.98 per cent of individuals in US data sets.

The US Department of Justice has announced an antitrust probe into the domination of “market-leading online platforms” (Gizmodo). While no companies are mentioned by name, the investigation, which will look into whether companies “reduced competition, stifled innovation, or otherwise harmed consumers” is expected to focus on tech’s big four: Apple, Amazon, Alphabet, and Facebook. Share prices for all four firms dipped in response to the news.

Asus just announced its 2019 gaming phone, the RoG Phone II, with the aggressive style of Asus’ RoG gaming laptops and, as of July 23, 2019, the most powerful hardware seen in any Android phone to date (WIRED). But what is a ‘gaming phone’ really, and why should you consider buying one? Or, to lay our cards on the table, let’s look at why most of you shouldn’t.

Weathering With You is the latest film from award-winning Your Name director Makoto Shinkai, and you can now watch the first trailer with official English subtitles (Polygon). Featuring a teenage boy who runs away to Tokyo and a girl with the power to control the weather, Weathering With You looks set to hit the kind of complex notes of emotional drama alongside subtly woven supernatural events that made Your Name one of the most successful anime releases of all time.

Weathering With You was released in Japanese cinemas on July 19 and its US cinematic release is due in early 2020, but there’s currently no news of UK screenings.

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