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There is a disconnect between the USA Congress, FBI, DOJ and industry regulatory bodies on encryption. The minute there is a data breach, Congress wants answers and results. That same congress along with the FBI is scaring people into supporting backdoors in everything while the Defense Department argues that robust encryption is necessary for national security. Which one is it?

As the use of mobile devices continues to expand, it is imperative that innovative security techniques, such as advanced encryption algorithms, are constantly maintained and improved to protect DoD information and resources. The Department believes maintaining a domestic climate for state of the art security and encryption is critical to the protection of our national security.Defense Department's CIO Dana Deasy

I think all honest people in the information security community would agree with Bruce Schneier.

Let me be clear. None of us who favor strong encryption is saying that child exploitation isn't a serious crime, or a worldwide problem. We're not saying that about kidnapping, international drug cartels, money laundering, or terrorism. We are saying three things. One, that strong encryption is necessary for personal and national security. Two, that weakening encryption does more harm than good. And three, law enforcement has other avenues for criminal investigation than eavesdropping on communications and stored devices. Bruce Schneier

Facebook doesn't want to be in the business of fact-checking and wants new laws to govern political speech on social media. The American Civil Liberties Union agrees, and I agree with them both. It is disingenuous to suggest that Facebook, any online publication for that matter, would get this right. Heck, both the Republican and Democratic political parties complain that social media companies are biased. The Electonic Frontier Foundation thinks Facebook should not have different rules for politicians and regular users.

"This will not be a popular view. But on the whole, we think that Facebook got this right," says Ben Wizner, director of the ACLU's Speech, Privacy, and Technology Project.

Describing the gray area that political ads often occupy, Wizner added, "I don't think Facebook is capable of doing effective fact-checking, and I don't think as a society we should want Facebook to be the entity that's making those kinds of distinctions."

Part of the issue, he says, is the massive scale of political ads — not only at the federal, state and local levels in the U.S., but also in every country in which Facebook operates. Wizner predicts that if Facebook took up fact-checking in earnest, it would be inundated with demands from candidates and political campaigns that want the other side's ads taken down, rather than responding to them in public.

I find it interesting that, despite not being a vegan, I am more excited about some of the vegan food products demoed at the Consumer Electronics Show. I ordered vegan "shrimp" and vegan extra crispy "fried chicken".

You could easily be fooled into thinking this "shrimp" was the real thing. The consistency is eerily similar to shrimp, as is the flavor, and the outer shell is perfectly crispy. The main ingredient is konjac root, and it also contains vegetable starch, paprika and vegan seasonings. The coating is made of gluten-free flour and unrefined coconut flakes.

"You can't talk about the sustainability of the oceans without talking about plant-based seafood," Van Cleve-Talbert said. "It's there to decrease the pressure that we're putting on these overfished species."

After reading a recent blog post by photographer Patrick LaRoque about his new year reorganisation activities, I decided to try an experiment. Instead of a playlist, I would try listening to an album in its entirety. I think I prefer album listening.

For a while now I’ve been trying to combat the reflex to shuffle what amounts to a literally endless sea of content. To go back to a more precise and active form of listening. Because ultimately, shuffling transforms music from a focused experience into the auditory equivalent of wallpaper. I love the access provided by streaming...but I can’t seem to truly take advantage of it, not without conscious decisions on my part.Patrick LaRoque

I have made a conscious decision that when I discover a new song, I will listen to the album from which it orginated. For me, it feels "complete".

Photographer Olaf Sztaba considers the current state of online journalism in the photography.

With so many competing sites, all the gloves are off. There is no longer any need to check claims or facts. Nothing has to make sense. Capture One against Adobe Lightroom; which famous photographers cheated on their photos; why medium format is a lie; here is the proof mobile phones beat full frame; who stole the photo from who; why film is dead; why film is not dead; how the bride ruined one photographer’s life; why this YouTuber is an idiot; 10 things about photography that you are wrong about… the list is exhaustive and exhausting. I recently opened one of the top portals and couldn’t believe my eyes. I had no choice but to head straight to my bar and grab a drink. No, it wasn’t free but I liked it and it was the only way I could continue to read this nonsense.

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The climate may be even more screwed up than we thought.

There are a couple of reasons. One of the major reasons is that we are seeing ice sheets pushed to a point where processes are coming into play that we hadn’t seen before. And we’re still struggling to understand these processes. We saw this in the early 2000s with the complete disintegration of sections of the Larsen B ice shelf. Researchers knew that this region was one of the more rapidly warming places on the planet and that it was likely to be one of the first dominos to fall as atmospheric temperatures increased, but the speed of the disintegration was shocking at the time and I think we are still trying to fully understand the spectrum of processes that led to it.

We see similar things in the Amundsen Sea Embayment of West Antarctica, where warm ocean waters are triggering retreat of a swath of glaciers. To really understand and predict this, we need to understand not only the ice, but also the oceans and how the oceans and ice interact. These have been difficult processes to observe.Why sea-level rise models have been wrong | Michigan Engineering

On being in the moment.

Only a few decades ago, we lived mostly free of this strange tension between the desire to enjoy something and the desire to document it. Because we did so much less documenting, we must have been much better at enjoying sensory experiences as they happened, since we had no recourse to a “captured” version later. Before photography and videography became a reflex, it must have been exceedingly obvious—too obvious to even think about it—that the only time you can enjoy an experience is when it’s happening.No Moment Can Be Saved For Later by David Cain

The USA is still being run by the same people.

Adding its voice to the growing chorus demanding stronger laws targeting politically motivated violence, the FBI Agents Association called on Congress to make domestic terrorism a federal crime. The members of this chorus are, to various degrees, sincere, panicked, and self-serving, but they all have something in common: they're advocating a very bad idea that's bound to threaten liberty more than it hampers terrorists.
...
The surveillance, labelling, and incarceration of protesters, especially Black protesters, because of their alleged criminal or terrorist activity is a well-worn trope. And while it may not surprise, it should still shock.J.D. Tuccille

Is something missing from social sharing photography?

The "remarkable" phones pics have something I miss in photography that is often present in vernacular photography from the past: most of the pictures show something that, for lack of a better phrase, was worth taking a picture of. Something remarkable.The Online Photographer

Sigh. Perhaps the USA should start gun control legislature with the disarming of police.

The story begins in 2013, when sheriff's deputies in Kaufman County, Texas, responded to reports of a man terrorizing a neighborhood by kicking mailboxes, pointing a gun at residents' houses, and yelling, "I'm just trying to get back what's mine." One complainant stated that there was a man "walking up and down the street, screaming and firing a gun."

Upon arriving at the scene, Officers Gabriel Hinojosa and Matthew Hinds, a defendant in the suit, stated that they encountered a black male wearing a brown shirt; he allegedly fired one round at the officers before ducking out of sight on two occasions. Then Gabriel Winzer, wearing a blue shirt, "emerged from behind a house and biked toward the officers," Ho writes, prompting them to open fire.

Winzer retreated. He was found several minutes later in his father's backyard with four gunshot wounds to his chest, shoulder, and upper back. His dad was with him, "trying to comfort and revive him." As Winzer lay dying, officers attempted to handcuff him, but he resisted, so they tased him. Only then were paramedics allowed to enter the scene, where he was pronounced dead shortly thereafter.

Winzer was 25 years old. He was mentally handicapped. And he probably wasn't the man terrorizing the neighborhood.Billy Binion

I love the first amendment. It's what allows me to publish to this blog, unfettered by the government (aka "we the people").

If the rights guaranteed by the First Amendment were consistently supported by most Americans, of course, there would be little need to enshrine them in the Constitution. The whole point of a constitutional guarantee is to protect fundamental rights against the whims of passing majorities.Jacob Sullum

But some people think they should be able to decide what I can say, including an asshole state representative in Massachusetts.

Massachusetts is taking the fight against nasty words to the next level with a new state bill that would ban the use of the word bitch in certain contexts.

State Rep. Daniel Hunt (D–Boston) has put forward H. 3719 that would prohibit the use of the big, bad b-word when deployed to "to accost, annoy, degrade or demean" another person. Anyone who did so would be considered a "disorderly person" under state law.CHRISTIAN BRITSCHGI

Can we demand rights from online platforms?

Online platforms would not have grown to the impressive size that they have if they did not create a correspondingly great amount of value for both types of users. Really, when we worry about data, we're worrying about externalities, or the social costs or benefits that are not internalized in market exchange.Andrea O'Sullivan

American are privacy hypocrites.

Even while people remain concerned about their own privacy in the workplace and online, most still admit to violations of their coworkers’ privacy by “creeping” on PC screens and “peeking” at documents found in printer trays, a new survey has found.Elizabeth Montalbano

Deconstructing Google’s excuses on tracking protection (Freedom to Tinker)

Blocking cookies is bad for privacy. That’s the new disingenuous argument from Google, trying to justify why Chrome is so far behind Safari and Firefox in offering privacy protections. As researchers who have spent over a decade studying web tracking and online advertising, we want to set the record straight.

So far Google has avoided the vitriol poured on Facebook. Why?