Not much happens in Geraldine, a small farming community in the interior of the South Island of New Zealand, about 85 miles from Christchurch. So when Hayden MacKenzie, a fourth-generation farmer there, picked up the phone last Tuesday and got a request to participate in a secret project—one that he wouldn’t even learn about until he signed a vow of silence—he and his wife Anna figured that they’d take a shot. That evening, two men showed up at his cozy farmhouse. They bore a peculiar red device, a sphere slightly bigger than a volleyball perched on a short collar, and attached it to his roof. Then they left.
Only when the men returned the next day did they reveal what they were up to. Inside the red ball was an antenna that would give the MacKenzies Internet access. It was custom-designed to communicate with a similar antenna that would be floating by in the stratosphere, over 60,000 feet above sea level. On a solar-powered balloon.
Oh, and the men work for Google.
Top that, everything else on the internet tonight.
I dunno, this is kind of a big deal.
Despite new laws banning the sale of cat pelts, activists say the trade continues
U.S. intelligence agents have been hacking computer networks around the world for years, apparently targeting fat data pipes that push immense amounts of data around the Internet, NSA leaker Edward Snowden told the South China Morning Post on Wednesday.
Among some 61,000 reported targets of the National Security Agency, Snowden said, are thousands of computers in China — which U.S. officials have increasingly criticized as the source of thousands of attacks on U.S. military and commercial networks. China has denied such attacks.
Snowden just jumped the shark. It’s commendable to let Americans know that they’ve been lied to by their leaders with respect to domestic surveillance. It’s something closer to treason to let a foreign power know our government has breaking into their computer systems. I suspect Snowden thinks that these revelations will help him avoid extradition—that the Chinese government will protect him in gratitude for these disclosures. But if his goal was to change American domestic policy, he’s just made that change far less likely. A good portion of the American public was with him; now they won’t be. I find this incredibly sad. And I feel bad for Snowden, because he’s made a huge miscalculation that’s going to haunt him for the rest of his life.
I think Jeff has the right of it. I can respect the whistleblower who releases specific information in a targeted manner. As that looks less and less targeted, he looks less and less like the whistleblower and more and more like the guy who should never have been given a security clearance.
I have to reluctantly agree that Snowden has jumped the shark. By stating publicly that the NSA is spying on foreign countries, Snowden isn’t necessarily revealing anything we couldn’t reasonably infer was already happening. Nonetheless, Snowden is revealing precisely the type of information that his critics can now credibly claim will endanger American lives. And this time, they won’t be entirely wrong. Allegations like this could cause an international incident that will disrupt the relative diplomatic detenté that has existed between the U.S. and China for the past two decades. That is something that actually could put lives at risk.
Furthermore, and more regrettably, all critics of the PRISM program will now be vicariously discredited, despite the genuinely horrifying and outrageous implications of its existence. Snowden has crossed over from the realm of courageous truth-teller to actions that constitute actual, legitimate treason, and all of his supporters and peers who are opposed to government secrecy are the worse off for it.
Best iOS7 feature not mentioned at WWDC? Apparently you can make your wallpaper image a panorama that moves based on your location. Neat.
The moment you realized you left your phone at home…
G. Jack King, former NACDL Public Affairs Director, destroys Jim Sensenbrenner’s attempt to distance himself from the NSA’s recent data collection scandal by claiming that the PATRIOT Act didn’t authorize such broad data collection:
“A Disingenuous Sensenbrenner”