L Gordon Crovitz writes: Silicon Valley’s hostility to U.S. intelligence and law enforcement reached a new low last week when Twitter rejected the Central Intelligence Agency as a customer for data based on its tweets — while continuing to serve an entity controlled by Vladimir Putin.
The Wall Street Journal broke the news that Twitter decided U.S. intelligence services could no longer buy services from Dataminr, which has a unique relationship with Twitter. Dataminr is the only company Twitter allows to have access to its full stream of hundreds of millions of daily tweets and sell the resulting intelligence to customers. Dataminr applies “big data” algorithms to identify unusual developments in real time. Customers who can profit from knowing about events instantly, such as hedge funds and news publishers, pay a hefty price for the alerts.
For the past two years, Dataminr provided its service to the CIA under a pilot program. The CIA and Dataminr then negotiated a contract to continue the service, but sources say Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey vetoed the contract at the last minute because he objects to the “optics” of continuing to help intelligence agencies. It’s unclear what happens to a small agreement Dataminr previously made with the Department of Homeland Security. With the new policy dictated by Twitter, Dataminr should drop the claim on its website that it includes “clients in the public sector, providing information first when there are lives at stake.”
Among the customers still getting the Dataminr alerts is RT, the broadcaster created and funded by the Russian government. Vladimir Putin has said that the government runs RT to “try to break the Anglo-Saxon monopoly on the global information streams.” RT disclosed it is a Dataminr customer in its news account of Twitter barring the CIA. Agents of Russia’s Federal Security Service, formerly known as the KGB, have full access via RT to the alerts now being denied to the CIA. [Continue reading…]
BuzzFeed reports: Abu Majad figured that when ISIS came for him, it would be with a knife on a dark street, or a bomb planted on his car. The 34-year-old had been living in southern Turkey since fleeing Syria nearly three years ago and knew that his outspoken stance against ISIS — online and in his hometown in northern Syria — had put him in the terrorist group’s crosshairs. What he wasn’t expecting was to wake up on the morning of March 29 to a virus planted by ISIS within a seemingly innocuous email attachment.
“Everything about this looked like a real email, sent from the admin of my own website. It looked safe, but it was not. They were trying to get my login information, my passwords. They were trying to get things that could have put real lives in danger,” said Abu Majad, who asked that his nickname be used instead of his real name to protect himself and his remaining family in Syria from reprisal attacks by ISIS. “It was very clever. When I saw it I thought to myself, Shit, now they are professional hackers?”
Cybersecurity experts and intelligence agencies who monitor ISIS say the malware is just one more sign that ISIS is growing more sophisticated in its use of the internet.
“I don’t think it is far-fetched to say that the internet is a major reason why ISIS is so successful, and so worrying, as far as global terror movements go,” said one U.S. intelligence officer, who spoke to BuzzFeed News in Washington, D.C., and asked not to be named as he wasn’t authorized to speak to the press. “They have always been ‘good’ at the internet, at the strategy of how they use it. Now they are smarter at the internet too.” [Continue reading…]
Jenny Anderson writes: Many of us worry what technology is doing to our kids. A cascade of reports show that their addiction to iAnything is diminishing empathy, increasing bullying (pdf), robbing them of time to play, and just be. So we parents set timers, lock away devices and drone on about the importance of actual real-live human interaction. And then we check our phones.
Sherry Turkle, a professor in the program in Science, Technology and Society at M.I.T. and the author, most recently, of Reclaiming Conversation: The Power of Talk in a Digital Age, turned the tables by imploring parents to take control and model better behavior.
A 15-year-old boy told her that: “someday he wanted to raise a family, not the way his parents are raising him (with phones out during meals and in the park and during his school sports events) but the way his parents think they are raising him — with no phones at meals and plentiful family conversation.”
Turkle explains the cost of too-much technology in stark terms: Our children can’t engage in conversation, or experience solitude, making it very hard for them to be empathetic. “In one experiment, many student subjects opted to give themselves mild electric shocks rather than sit alone with their thoughts,” she noted.
Unfortunately, it seems we parents are the solution. (Newsflash, kids aren’t going to give up their devices because they are worried about how it may influence their future ability to empathize.)
That means exercising some self-control. Many of us aren’t exactly paragons of virtue in this arena. [Continue reading…]