Giant tech companies including LinkedIn, Google, Facebook and others are banning together to create a “Reform Government Surveillance” group. “We strongly believe that current laws and practices need to be reformed,” they explained. [VentureBeat]
Bitcoin’s value plummeted over the weekend after China started cracking down on the use of the digital currency. [PC World]
Netflix is quietly transforming from a streaming company to a full-fledged network that could soon take on the biggies. [New Republic]
The NSA reportedly spied on video game platforms like Xbox Live and probably heard (or saw) a lot of things they wish they didn’t. [Guardian]
Some of the city’s new cabs include USB outlets, panoramic windows and customized climate control so you can drive like a freakin’ Rockefeller. [Gothamist]
“Bitcoin is too dependent on speculative mania to be of practical use as a currency,” opines Adrian Chen because Thomas L. Friedman is off this week. [New York Times]
The NSA reportedly monitored the porn habits of six Muslisms’ as part of a plan to discredit them. [Huffington Post]
Fab.com’s Jason Goldberg has no idea how to run a company. [The Verge]
Betabeat’s official store, Target, is launching a startup accelerator in India to tap into the nation’s growing tech sector. [TechCrunch]
Watch everyone’s flights get cancelled from the comfort of your own laptop with the Misery Map. [BuzzFeed]
Cue Silicon Valley brick-shitting: The latest batch of Snowden leaks suggest the NSA is hoovering up massive amounts of Google and Yahoo data, snatching it off the connections between their various worldwide data centers–without their permission. The project is called “MUSCULAR,” in case “PRISM” wasn’t Ludlum-y enough for you.
Privacy is Dead
Teens can be major dickheads, and we don’t envy the parents and teachers who are expected to wrangle them into becoming normal human beings.
But judging by a new trend chronicled in the New York Times, some school administrators are taking their responsibilities a little too far. Some school districts are now paying private contractors to monitor students’ activity on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and the like.
things we like
Deciphering the ongoing NSA saga is very confusing and gives us a headache. So, why not compound our misery with the NSA Haiku Generator, a completely pointless single-serve website. If we wanted to invest this much effort, we’d use it to figure out what’s actually happening.
Pulling flagged terms that government uses to decide you’re a terrorist (sardine is one?), the generator computes a completely nonsensical haiku relating to the massive spying program. It was designed by programmer Grayson Earle, a self-described information artist, who juxtaposed the chilling program with 8-bit video game-like graphics.
If you see a hobbit making it rain on Palo Alto’s University Avenue this afternoon, here’s why: VentureBeat reports that Palantir–Peter Thiel’s shadowy data-mining startup–has raised another $196 million, bringing its total raised to a whopping $498 million.
With cash like that, you could have custom costumes made for every Shire-loving employee. Or you could just buy the leftovers from Sean Parker’s wedding.
Privacy is Dead
Everyone’s endured the internal struggle that occurs when your significant other goes to the bathroom and their unlocked phone is just sitting there, ripe for the picking, almost begging you to go through it.
Now imagine you’re an NSA worker with all of the U.S. Government’s spying capabilities at your fingertips–you don’t even need to stealthily memorize your boyfriend’s iPhone passcode to access his emails, Facebook messages, Twitter DMs and texts. Could you withstand the temptation?
It's Zuck's World We're Just Living In It
Guess Facebook knows we’re all feeling a little paranoid these days. Today the company released its first “Global Government Requests Report,” which aims to shed a little more light on exactly what the social network is handing over to the authorities.
Google, of course, has been doing this for years, and last year Twitter hopped on the bandwagon, as well.
Like a bunch of inept evil villains in an Austin Powers sequel, British authorities have reportedly smashed some Guardian-owned hard drives in order to get rid of NSA documents leaked by Edward Snowden.
Guardian editor Alan Rusbridger reports that a couple of shady government guys turned up at the paper’s HQ recently to smash some computers. He calls it “one of the more bizarre moments” in the paper’s history, two “security experts” (experts?!) “overseeing the destruction of hard drives in the Guardian‘s basement just to make sure there was nothing in the mangled bits of metal which could possibly be of any interest to passing Chinese agents,” he writes.
Members of Congress know as little about what the NSA’s up to as American citizens do. [The Guardian]
Here, have some unsolicited advice about how to solve the tech talent shortage from airplane aficionado Henry Blodget. [Business Insider]
Barry Diller has finally unloaded Newsweek onto IBT Media, but is keeping the Daily Beast in the IAC fold. [L.A. Times]
The Obama administration has vetoed a product ban on Apple that would mean the company couldn’t sell certain types of iPads and iPhones in the U.S. [New York Times]
“A part of a burgeoning Twitter subculture known as Weird Twitter, he is speaking in a purposefully nonsensical code that is meant to satirize the growing presence of corporate brands and marketers on the popular social network.” This is going to be a long week. [Wall Street Journal]