Sunday, July 24, 2016

Wikileaks released 19252 emails from the DNC. here's a link to an article about the leak from the Intercept. I'm in a hurry and I'm posting this quickly, otherwise I'd just post the article.

Friday, July 22, 2016

My favorite speech from the week.

here's a link, in case the embed doesn't work. Keep in mind that in saying this was "my favorite speech of the convention," I've followed a lot of conventions, (starting in 1996.) I actually think this was one of the best convention speeches I've ever seen delivered, and no I'm not talking about Trumps speech last night. I'm actually talking about the speech Ted Cruz gave the night before. Yeah, the one that all the Trump deligates were booing the last 6 minutes of! It started out like one of the speeches you'd see on the last night of the convention, (an acceptance speech,) and it ended well actually, I don't think I've ever seen anything like that before, so I don't think I have anything to compare that with. I'll just say that it ended extraordinarily!

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Never-Trump Confidential

Never-Trump Confidential
My brother heard I’d been saying bad things about Donald Trump. A retired police officer with a cop’s bone-dry sense of humor, he still lives in our hometown, a small New England city hammered by deindustrialization and visibly altered over the past few decades by an influx of Spanish-speaking immigrants. Trump has a lot of supporters there, and my big brother is one of them. When a local radio host mentioned a recent column I’d written criticizing Trump, he called and asked me about it. I laughed. “Yeah, I wrote it. Does this mean I shouldn’t come home to visit?” “I wouldn’t advise it,” he deadpanned. Brothers can share that kind of joke, but for many people now in Trump’s camp, criticizing their leader is a serious offense, and I’ve been hearing from plenty of them. I am a Never-Trump Republican, as we’ve come to be known, part of the alliance of conservatives implacably opposed to the idea of Donald J. Trump becoming president of the United States. It’s a position that has estranged me from a plurality of my own party and put me at odd with friends, family, colleagues and a political movement that increasingly has taken on the character of an angry cult. Trump has encouraged a with-us-or-against-us mentality among his voters, and it is an especially sharp division between Trump’s base and the Republican apostates who oppose him. “You are probably a Democrat and a socialist with literally half a brain,” one recent email from an angry Trump admirer began. “You are most likely wealthy, with no true commitment to God, but of the devil.” Another correspondent, in a common refrain, told me I was unfit to call myself an American. Yet another wished me a pleasant stay in Guantánamo in the near future. On Twitter, I’ve been barraged with words like “traitor” and “treason” along with a fair number of less printable terms. During the primaries, it was easier to find common ground among Republicans and Republican-leaning voters. At the outset of this election season, I knew very few people who were behind Trump; more often, I found myself in arguments about whether Marco Rubio was too young, whether Ted Cruz was too annoying, whether Jeb Bush was too … well, too Jeb Bush. Even in those more amicable days, however, when I voiced my categorical opposition to Trump, I would see a head shake slowly or eyes look away for a moment. The same phrases would pop up: “We’re tired of political correctness.” “He says it like it is.” “He’ll shake things up.” And always: “You don’t understand.” This last charge, with its implication of detached elitism, always rankles. Although today I am a professor at a graduate institution and a practicing national security expert, I grew up in a Massachusetts factory town, in a modest home not far from the mills and the railroad tracks. Both of my parents were high-school dropouts from impoverished backgrounds, and they worked hard to make a life after a series of tough breaks and more than a few terrible personal choices. I worked my way through my education, sometimes two and three jobs at a time. As a young man, I cut my teeth in local and state politics, and so I was fully and painfully aware of how badly our area was hurt by the collapse of industry and the exodus of manufacturing jobs from the Northeast. So I understand perfectly well how Trump is appealing to those voters. He’s promising to turn back time, to restore factories that were demolished years ago and to deport the Hispanic arrivals who turned the local barbershop into a storefront church. Trump is offering my friends and my family a buffet of economic impossibilities served up with sides of bitter racism and fantasies of revenge. And because I will not join them in their absolute belief in Trump, many of them now see me as an outsider. I’m no longer one of us. I’m now one of them. I am not a natural choice for the part of Republican rebel. I spent a lifetime in the party, despite a short separation in 2012 when I quit it after Newt Gingrich and his plan to build Moon Base Alpha won South Carolina. For some time, I’d been concerned that the party was heading into a dead end of largely symbolic extremism, and Gingrich’s surge in a pack that included unelectable eccentrics like Herman Cain and Ron Paul, for me, clinched it. But I remained a conservative, and I never felt comfortable about leaving America’s conservative party. Trump claims that he has expanded the ranks of the Republican Party. He’s right, at least in my case: I registered Republican once again this year specifically to vote against him. That might be quixotic — one of my fellow conservatives told me he admired my “John McClane in Nakatomi Plaza mentality” — but I came back because I felt that Trump’s capture of the Republican nomination was an existential threat to the future of American conservatism itself. Trump’s victory, if unchallenged from the right, would force conservatives to replace their own principles with his rancid stew of racism and sexism, along with his slew of various crackpot theories on politics and economics. If he wins, conservatism could be dead for a generation, if not longer. Still, I had no intention at first of publicly planting a flag over Trump, in part because I never expected him to get this far. I lived through the unsuccessful 1992 nativist insurrection within the Republican Party led by Pat Buchanan and the third-party challenges mounted by Ross Perot in 1992 and 1996. I assumed that Trump was just another populist virus that would pass after the American people got some rest and drank plenty of water. And I admit that like many conservatives, I had at least a small reservoir of empathy for Trump voters at the start, especially in their nearly universal complaint about political correctness. Many of us had an almost-involuntary admiration for a candidate who vowed to brush away what many conservatives (and even some liberals) saw as the heavy hand of the language police on open and honest debate. What soon became apparent, of course, was that Trump was not just politically incorrect: He was an uncontrollable fire hose of offensive lunacy. There was the endless sexual innuendo — during news coverage about Trump, I’ve taken to turning off the television when my young daughter is in the room — and his ghastly jibes at John McCain, a war hero tortured so badly that to this day his injuries prevent him from tying his own shoes or combing his hair. I assumed that every new straw would be the last one. I was wrong. The hits kept coming. From his flirtation with 9/11 conspiracy theories to his promises to order the American military to commit war crimes, nothing seemed to matter to voters who believed in him and who would support him, as Trump himself said, even if he shot someone dead in broad daylight. Soon, Trump started rolling up enough delegates to become an actual threat to win the nomination, and I had to make a decision: What would I do if actually faced with a choice between Trump and Hillary Clinton? The facile dodge would be to say “neither,” since I live in a reliably Democratic northeastern state where my vote would never be the deciding ballot. Instead, I decided to be honest about it, and to confront the full implications of opposing the Republican nominee. I formally came out as a Never Trump Republican in February, when I wrote a column for the conservative online publication The Federalist There is no editorial line on Trump or anything else at The Federalist, and my article was paired with one by a talented young writer named Nicole Russell who wrote in favor of him. Nicole and I made a friendly bet on whose argument would be more persuasive, and we left it at that. I assumed I’d get some hate mail, because anyone who’s ever written an op-ed about anything gets hate mail. Sure enough, streams of rage poured into my email inbox and across my Twitter feed. I was sent everything from pornographic images featuring Hillary Clinton to neo-Nazi propaganda. Young white supremacists (who adore Trump despite his weird orange hue) told me I was a race traitor. Others, especially older people, thundered at me that Hillary murdered Vince Foster and then left our men to die in Benghazi, and that I was an accomplice to murder myself if I did anything that helped Clinton win. Conspiracy theories were rampant in these complaints: I was secretly on the Republican payroll; I was secretly on the Democratic payroll; I was slated for a job in the Clinton, Cruz, Rubio or Bush administrations. The cynicism of the angry Trump supporters was so deep that my criticism of all these people in print was either dismissed or taken as evidence of an elaborate effort to conceal my true agenda, whatever it was. There is also a triumphalist streak among the Trump supporters, who never tire of crowing about how old-school Republicans like me have “lost,” that the party has changed hands and that my kind needs to get in line or get out. Friendlier critics may not tell me I have to leave the party, but instead plead with me to understand how Trump’s primary victories were an important step toward getting even with the “elites” whom they believe control their lives. That term — the “elites” — slips from the mouths of not just casual acquaintances but also from friends and family. Even if they’re not trying to offend, the meaning is clear: They’re referring to people like me. It’s not an entirely new line, of course. One of my uncles was a retired factory worker who for most of his life resented almost anyone who didn’t work with their hands. At dinner one evening many years ago, he issued the blanket declaration that everyone who works in Washington is corrupt. When I pointed out that I — someone he’s known for my entire life — was working in Washington as a Senate aide at the time, he blurted out: “I don’t care! Then you’re corrupt too!” What he meant, of course, is that he saw me as part of system that was rigged against him. He saw the government as the servant primarily of rich corporations on one side and of unemployed minorities on the other. Like many of today’s Trump voters, he saw no middle ground, no connection between his own life and the many government programs like Social Security and Medicaid of which he was a beneficiary. For him, the government was just a group of bureaucrats stealing his money and then giving it away again — after taking their cut. Today, I don’t even have to work in Washington to be accused of being corrupt. I just have to be someone who doesn’t love Donald Trump. If Never-Trump Republicans are targets of rage to strangers and sources of disappointment to some of our friends and family, we are also objects of curiosity, especially among Democrats. Many people to my left see my opposition to Trump in the Oval Office as so obviously correct that it is ludicrous even to call attention to it, as though I have just bravely declared that I object to driving while blindfolded or to further wars with Britain. They treat me, somewhat condescendingly, as though I have finally come to my senses after years of misguided fraternization with the Republican enemy. For many liberals, of course, Trump is merely the natural endpoint of Republican evolution since the late 1960s. They might regret that it took the extremism of Donald Trump to make me finally see it, but better late than never. Except that I don’t see it that way at all. To me, Trump is an alien presence in the Republican Party, an opportunist who could just as easily have hijacked white working-class voters among the Democrats or as part of a third-party bid. Nonetheless, strangers on social media and friends in my daily life mistakenly assume that my opposition to Trump equates to some sort of new sympathy for liberalism in general or for Hillary Clinton in particular. Some of them actually send me Clinton-friendly talking points, as though I might find them useful. The reality is that in any other year, I would be arguing that Clinton not only should be disqualified from elected office but driven from our public life along with the rest of her insufferable family. But not this year. The Republicans and unaffiliated conservatives who have remained outside of the party’s civil war this year are less hostile to the Never Trump coalition than the Trump loyalists, but they are still conflicted about us. Whatever their feelings about the party’s nominee, they cannot endure the idea of Hillary Clinton in the White House (again). While many of them have vowed either to abstain or to vote for a third party, they still probe those of us who are determined to resist the Donald at all costs. This can make conversation with fellow conservatives even more frustrating than with liberals or Trump supporters. They ask why we suddenly love Clinton. They wonder how we could possibly forget or forgive her manifest political sins. They demand to know if we understand the danger of allowing her to control the next nominations to the Supreme Court, as if this had never occurred to us. Repeatedly, we’re asked if we’re serious about never voting for Trump. This is when a Never-Trump Republican winces, because only we can hear the silent scream inside our heads. I have lost count of the tweets and emails asking me, over and over, what I mean by “never” Trump. Do I mean “never,” as in “not during the primaries?” “Never” unless Clinton had been indicted? What if Clinton pulls off her skin and reveals herself to be an alien cyborg or one of our lizard overlords? Could I vote for Trump then? My answer is always the same. Never means never. Even now, conservatives continue to ask me if I’m serious — mostly, I suspect, because they’re wrestling with their own consciences. Soon after I made my stand as a Never-Trump Republican, however, I found that I was not alone. When my piece in The Federalist appeared, I had several media inquiries, including from talk-radio programs. At first, I assumed the worst. Talk radio is the natural habitat of many Trump supporters, and surely the hosts would want me to show up covered in barbecue sauce just to save time. Some of them were indeed gunning for an argument, but many actually agreed with me. “Maybe my audience will listen to you,” one host told me “because they’re sure as hell not listening to me.” Going public against Trump was also heartening because it allowed me to see how many Republicans are in fact Never Trump themselves. In this sense, at least, to be a Republican in the Age of Trump is exhilarating, if also enervating. To oppose Trump from within the party means a real fight on the terrain of principles and ideas, which is what drew us to the party in the first place. To me, it feels like the 1980s, which for many of us of a certain age was our introduction to a Republican Party that was about ideas. Supply-siders and evangelicals and Cold Warriors had competing priorities in those years, but there was an underlying consensus that were we all, in some larger and more important sense, on the same side. After the chaos of the 1960s and the stagnation of the 1970s, conservatives finally had a shot at governing, and nothing was off-limits for honest debate among us. That feeling is in the air once again, especially now that the Republican convention’s Rules Committee has voted to shut down any formal challenge to Trump in Cleveland. This effectively ends fruitless parliamentary maneuvers. Instead, Republicans must now stand in the open and argue, right through to November, over the virtue of the party’s nominee (such as it is) and the quality of his ideas (such as they are). In the end, to be a Never-Trump Republican is to feel a sense of relief, even of liberation, after the surreal craziness of the primary season. Donald Trump’s hijacking of the party is now no longer a threat but a fact, and to oppose him is to feel normal again by embracing clarity and principle against opportunism and crass huckstering. Bracing as it is, this is not always a comfortable place to be. Not long ago, an old friend came to visit. We grew up together, and he’s now a working man who made a life in our hometown, eventually owning a home and raising children there. He understood how I felt about Trump, he told me, but “things had to change.” I asked him what, exactly, he would change. This is a question I’ve posed to many of my friends who are Trump supporters, because they’ve done well in postindustrial America and yet still see themselves as disadvantaged. He admitted that his life had worked out, despite a few bumps along the way. But things are different now, he said. Worse than ever. A crisis, even. Pressed for details, he only shook his head. You could see what he was thinking: that I would never understand, that I’d become one of them, the educated and distant elites whom the common people must teach a lesson by electing Donald Trump, a billionaire scam artist from New York City, as the President of the United States. I shook my head too. We embraced when he left. He might never know it, but I’ve always been on his side. I still am.
So, I'm one of those Never-Trump republicans. I re-registered this year, so I could vote in my state's closed primary, (I was a Cruz supporter,) and previously unaffiliated.) I intend to vote third party when I receive my ballot, (which will probably be sometime in late October.) I decided to follow the convention, because I wanted to see if they would actually let challenges to the rules happen, they didn't. Oh, and I'm looking forward to watching Ted Cruz speak.

Ex-SEAL Marcus Luttrell's entire GOP convention speech

Ex-SEAL Marcus Luttrell's entire GOP convention speech I missed this speech last night because my stream went down, and I didn't want to use the crappy CSPAN radio stream. Never-the-less, this is one of the best speeches to the convention last night.

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

NBC won't broadcast Rio Olympics opening ceremonies live

NBC won't broadcast Rio Olympics opening ceremonies live
NEW YORK - Olympics fans hoping that a Games in the Americas would persuade NBC to finally broadcast the Opening Ceremonies live have been left disappointed again. Even though Rio de Janeiro's time zone is just one hour ahead of the East Coast of the United States, the much-watched spectacle will be televised and streamed online on a delayed basis starting at 8 p.m. Eastern. The ceremonies will actually start at 7 p.m. Eastern, which is 8 p.m. in Rio. To make matters worse, broadcasts in western regions will have staggered start times. Coverage in the Mountain time zone starts at 7 p.m. local (9 p.m. Eastern), and coverage in the Pacific time zone starts at 8 p.m. local (11 p.m. Eastern). Coverage in the Central time zone starts at 7 p.m. local, the same hour as the Eastern time broadcast window. NBC hasn't aired an Opening Ceremonies live since the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver, and hasn't aired a summer Opening Ceremonies live since 1996 in Atlanta. Fans have complained endlessly since then, and the growth of social media has made recent years' complaints even louder. Executives from the network were peppered with questions about the decision at an Olympics preview press event NBC held Monday afternoon at the network's Rockefeller Center headquarters. They were all well-prepared for the onslaught. Indeed, NBC's own people brought the subject up first. During the formal presentation part of the event, Michele Tafoya - the Sunday Night Football sideline reporter who will report on swimming events in Rio - put the question directly to NBC Sports Group chairman Mark Lazarus on stage. "A lot of people want to know, are you going to stream live the opening ceremony?" Tafoya asked. "Who's been asking that?" Lazarus feigned. "Uh, my kids," Tafoya replied. Well, Tafoya's kids are going to be disappointed when they hear the news. Here's what Lazarus and his fellow NBC executives had to say about what went into the decision. Mark Lazarus, NBC Sports Group chairman We are not going to stream the Opening Ceremonies live. Those will be curated and will air one hour after they occur, as will take place with us on NBC broadcast network as well. We think it's important to give the context to the show. These Opening Ceremonies will be a celebration of Brazilian culture, of Rio, of the pageantry, of the excitement, of the flair that this beautiful nation has. We think it's important that we're able to put that in context for the viewer so that it's not just a flash of color. So we will air that on a one-hour delay… They will both [television and online] be on a simultaneous hour delay. That's consistent with what we did in London [at the 2012 Summer Olympics] and what we did in Sochi [at the 2014 Winter Olympics]… The question, I would say, is: If we were to air it live, and we were going to put commercials in the Games - because we are a public company and have duties to our shareholders - which parts would they like us to cut out? [I responded that the public would, for better or worse, probably suggest cutting out some countries they didn't know anything about.] Well, that's not fair to those countries, and those people have relatives or people here. It's also not just about the Parade of Nations. There's pageantry and art and other things in it. By doing a short tape-delay of one hour, it allows us to put it in a time period when more people are home to watch, because it is a Friday night and they get out of their commute or home from wherever they are. And it allows us to curate it with the narrative and storytelling of our announcers to explain what's going on. And it allows us to put in commercials without cutting out large chunks of the show… It's hard to put commercials in a live show and not miss something. Then the question would be: Well, why do you have to ruin it with commercials? We are a for-profit organization, and we spend a lot of money to put on the Olympics, and I think [we have] the right - and duty to our shareholders - to make some revenue from that. What we've seen is when we delayed the London Games [ceremonies] by five hours and the Sochi ceremonies by nine hours, people were still excited to see them. I'm hopeful that will be the case here. Jim Bell, NBC Olympics executive producer (who made the official decision to not broadcast the event live) First of all, it's not a sports competition, it's a ceremony that requires deep levels of understanding all the various camera angles and meanings for the host country, and our commentary laid over it. So our announcers, when the Parade of Nations comes in, [are] talking about the athletes. Plus, again, we talked about prime time being important. It is still when most people can watch. I can't speak for anybody here, but I think that for most people, it's fair to say that after 8 o'clock is a time when most people can watch TV. Six, seven are okay, but still a little bit on the early side... I don't think any decisions come without risk of heat. Inevitably, there are going to be people who are going to want something, and people who are going to want something else. You have to make decisions that you think are best for your audience, and for the advertisers, and for your business. This one was not difficult. Gary Zenkel, NBC Olympics president It's generally one of - if not our highest rated night. So I don't think the audience is that troubled by it not being live. Remember, it's not a sports event. There isn't a result. It's a show, and we think we're serving the audience better by offering that show with a little bit of time to produce it, and when they [viewers] are available. Remember, the Opening Ceremonies start at 7 o'clock east coast time. More people are around to watch later. So why is it not seen as us actually serving the audience? Missing out? Why? They'll see it. It's coming. John Miller, NBC Olympics chief marketing officer The Opening Ceremonies, to a large degree, are sort of in two parts. There's a show, and when you see the show and how the show is put together, you want to make sure it's a good show. Then the rest of it is sort of the countries walking in, and the flag coming in, and the torches and the speeches. But when the torch gets lit, is it essential to see that live, or is it essential to see that in context?… The entire west coast [group of viewers] that watch on broadcast… prime time begins at 8 o'clock, not 5 o'clock [Pacific Time, which is 8 p.m. Eastern, when the online stream will start]. Historically, the west coast has always been 20 percent higher [in terms of viewership] than the east coast. People who have wanted to see things live, they say, "Well, how is that possible? People already know what it is!" In the case of the Olympics, it's not about the result, it's about the journey. The people who watch the Olympics are not particularly sports fans. More women watch the Games than men, and for the women, they're less interested in the result and more interested in the journey. It's sort of like the ultimate reality show and mini-series wrapped into one. And to tell the truth, it has been the complaint of a few sports writers. It has not been the complaint of the vast viewing public. [Aside: You might disagree with that. I might disagree with that. NBC has said it for years, and has long claimed to have stacks of market research to prove it.] Rick Cordella, senior vice president and general manager of NBC Sports Digital We get it. We need context around it. You see sometimes in these host feed videos that there's not that American point of view, there's not this understanding that you may know who this Russian athlete is or this other athlete from a different country. So you need the context. I understand that… We evaluate after each Olympics and make different decisions. I think in London, streaming it for the first time was a big move that paid off. So, after each Olympics, we'll sit down and say what went well and what didn't, and adjust… These are good questions to ask and things we sort, I think, of fight ourselves with sometimes. At the end of the day, we come up with a conclusion and say this is what's best for NBC, what's best for the user and that's how we roll.
Actually, I'd like them to quit the commercials for just 2 nights in their lives, or have very limited commercial interruption during the parade of nations, and maybe the after party during the closing ceremony. I think it's going to be VPN times for me! Given what I just wrote, I have to be to bed around 10:30 or 11 if I'm going to do Linkday the next day.

I just realized I forgot to mention...

That Linkday is scheduled to take place on 8/6. Um... woops! I have a family reunion the weekend before so I couldn't schedule it for that weekend. Unfortunately that's the same weekend the Olympics start. I'm thinking about rescheduling it for that, and many more reasons. I haven't been sleeping well for the past couple weeks or so, which results in headaches. This results in me not getting a lot of the stuff rewritten that I lost in the server cancelation, (OK OK, it was only 2 files, but those were the FAQ and rules pages, and I need to get those rewritten before I go on my trip.) I'd also like to do some promotion, and needless to say, I haven't done any of that! There's still a lot left to do, and probably not enough time to do it. Not only that but the first 2-3 official blogathons took place the last weekend in August. I'd really like to hold it in July sometime though, just for fun!

Monday, July 11, 2016

Silent Circle silently snuffs out its warrant canary — but claims it’s a “business decision”

Silent Circle silently snuffs out its warrant canary — but claims it’s a “business decision”
Silent Circle, the maker of encrypted messaging apps and a security hardened Android smartphone, called Blackphone, has discontinued its warrant canary. Attempting to reach the page where it was previously hosted results in the following notification: "This site can't be reached." Warrant canaries became popular in the wake of the 2013 Snowden disclosures revealing the extent of government surveillance programs, as a tacit route to signify to users when a service might have been compromised by a government request for user data. Canaries act as a workaround for U.S. gag orders which prevent companies publicly disclosing warrants for user requests by publishing an explicit statement that they have not received any warrants for user data to date — allowing for the reverse to be signaled if a canary is removed or not updated. At least in theory; although canaries can arguably end up generating confusion rather than furthering transparency on account of only being able to offer a partial signal, not an explicit confirmation. ‘Feel-good security theater’ is one critique I’ve heard leveled at them. TechCrunch was tipped to Silent Circle’s dead canary by a reader, however the company claims it discontinued the canary as a “business decision” — not because it has received “any warrant”. “We have not received a warrant for user data,” Matt Neiderman, Silent Circle’s General Counsel told TechCrunch. “As part of our focus on delivering enterprise software platform we discontinued our warrant canary some time ago. The decision was a business decision and not related to any warrant for user data which we have not received.” The company has run into problems with its warrant canary before, including in March last year when it missed out a statement in an update, which they subsequently added. So it has something of a checkered history here already. At the time of some of the previous problem Neiderman claimed the company had not received warrants “of any type”. But his denial in the latest instance is arguably a little less explicitly worded. We’ve asked him to confirm whether Silent Circle has received a warrant of any type to date and will update this post with any response. Update: Neiderman further added: “We have not received a warrant. Our decision to discontinue [the warrant canary] some time ago does not create any security risks, and it is was a business decision to position ourselves as an enterprise-focused software company that delivers secure communications and that gives enterprise customers the tools and ability to comply with any legal requests for information. Nothing about our service or level of privacy has changed. As a result of our peer-reviewed end-to-end encryption, by definition we don’t have access to and can’t provide anyone with customer data, and our end-to-end encryption remains publicly available open source for peer review and testing. We do not provide backdoors to anyone, whether we have a warrant canary or not, nor will we do so. Period.” It’s also worth noting the company is not headquartered in the US — previously moving its HQ from the Caribbean to Switzerland on account of what it said were “world best” constitutional privacy protections in the European country. (However other non-US based encrypted comms companies, such as Germany’s Tutanota, do continue to maintain a warrant canary for transparency and good practice purposes, despite not being subject to legal gag orders in the country where they are based.) Discussing Silent Circle’s decision to discontinue its warrant canary, UK based security commentator transparency report listing the total number of user data access and retention requests, and breaking out how many requests have been granted, how many were denied and how many are legally binding. “Transparency to users should be a core pillar of any security company, especially one that deals with sensitive personal data. I understand that “business decisions” sometimes need to be taken, but we strongly disagree with Silent Circle’s stance of removing transparency for the sake of business. We are also a Swiss based company and I cannot think of any business justification for this move,” adds Yen. “The claim that they have not received any warrants is highly suspect. Either nobody is using Blackphone, or they aren’t being entirely truthful.” The same tipster who pointed TechCrunch to the dead canary also claimed that a recent Silent OS update to Blackphone’s default apps requires increased security permissions, such as access to the camera, which can no longer be disabled by users. Silent OS 3.0 was released towards the end of June, and is billed as including various security fixes and features, such as a new Privacy Meter integrated into the Security Center which notifies the user when a security/privacy threat is present and indicates the severity and potential actions to mitigate it, and a CIDS (Cellular Intrusion Detection System), to warn of potential threats in the cellular network interface, such as weak encryption and device tracking via silent SMS. It’s based on the latest release of Google’s mobile platform, Android Marshmallow 6.0.1, and also brings various UX changes to Silent OS’ platform. There’s no explicit mention of increased permissions in Silent Circle’s blog post about the major platform update. We’ve asked Silent Circle to confirm whether it has increased permissions for its apps in Silent OS and if so, for what purpose, and will update this post with any response. Cluley told TechCrunch that increased app permissions might be needed to support new features on the platform but again said the onus would be on such an apparently security-focused company to be very clear about its intentions here. “You would hope if they’re changing their permissions they’ve got some sort of explanation as to why they would need to access your camera, for instance. Maybe it’s to scan in QR codes, maybe it’s for some sort of facial recognition biometric going forward,” he said. “We do have to be careful about apps and the chance of new permissions creeping in stealthily if you like, and people not realizing that they are granting more permissions than when they initially installed an app. So I think some transparency’s called for.” “In that kind of climate, wouldn’t a warrant canary be a good thing?” he added. Adding to the uncertainty here, Silent Circle has undergone some significant employee shifts in recent months, losing two key co-founders: veteran crypto expert Jon Callas and its chief scientist Javier Agüera. We’ve also heard reports of wider staff cuts, although it is not clear whether the co-founders’ departures were voluntary or not (Callas has since taken up a role at Apple). In addition, a lawsuit filed against Silent Circle by a business partner last month in a New York state court claims the company, which has raised $80 million to date from investors (most recently taking in $50M in February 2015), has failed to pay a $5M debt, according to a report on the Law360 website. The suit further claims it is considering bankruptcy after several major distribution deals fell through. On the lawsuit Neiderman added: “We find the claims made by our former partner both unfortunate and legally and factually misguided. As you know, we are working with outside attorneys in New York in responding. As you’d expect, we can’t discuss pending litigation, but we are opposing the New York action and expect that it will be resolved in our favor.”