AuthorLucas Mearian

Supreme Court: Your digital location is protected by the Constitution

The U.S. Supreme Court today ruled that access to historical cell-site records of a person's location based on their mobile phone will require law enforcement to obtain a warrant before searching a person's historical location records.

This is the first time the high court has ruled on whether a phone subscriber has a legitimate expectation of privacy regarding a telephone company's records of their cellphone location data, according to Aloke Chakravarty, a partner in the Denver-based law firm of Snell & Wilmer.

"This is a landmark case for privacy, and how the court will deal with emerging technologies going forward," Chakravarty said via email. "It creates a new lens through which to view a government's ability to obtain third-party records where a criminal defendant neither possesses the records, doesn't have a property interest in them, may not even know they exist, and he cannot personally even access them."

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Apple wins praise for adding ‘USB Restricted Mode’ to secure iPhones

Apple confirmed today it will close a security hole that has allowed law enforcement officials, working with forensic companies, to break into iPhones to retrieve data related to criminal investigations.

In the upcoming release of iOS 12, Apple will change default settings on iPhones to shutter access to the USB port when the phone has not been unlocked for one hour. In its beta release of iOS 11.3, Apple introduced the feature – known as USB Restricted Mode – but cut it from iOS 11.3 before that version was released publicly.

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Apple bans cryptocurrency mining apps on iOS to protect mobile users

Using an iPad or iPhone to mine bitcoin or other cryptocurrencies would be hard to do, as the CPU power available to complete the task would be a drop in the bucket compared to what's needed.

But using a portion of the CPU power from thousands of iPads or iPhones to mine cryptocurrency makes more sense – and that's exactly what some malware has been doing.

Apple is now moving to stop the practice.

[ Further reading: The way blockchain-based cryptocurrencies are governed could soon change ]

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Apple’s Health Record API released to third-party developers; is it safe?

Apple at its Worldwide Developers Conference this week released an API that allows  developers and researchers to create applications that connect to Health Records, a feature released with iOS 11.3 that allows patients to port their electronic health info to mobile devices and share data between care providers.

While the move promises to streamline the sharing of healthcare data, it also could open the door to that highly sensitive data falling into the wrong hands.

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What is blockchain? The most disruptive tech in decades

Blockchain is poised to change IT in much the same way open-source software did a quarter of a century ago. And in the same way that Linux took more than a decade to become a cornerstone in modern application development, Blockchain will take years to become a lower cost, more efficient way to share information between open and private networks.

Because blockchain is based on a distributed, peer-to-peer topology where data can be stored globally on thousands of servers – and anyone on the network can see everyone else's entries in real-time – it's virtually impossible for one entity to gain control of or game the network.

But the hype around this seemingly new, secure electronic ledger is real. In essence, blockchain represents a new paradigm for the way information is shared and tech vendors and companies are rushing to figure out how they can use the distributed ledger technology to save time and admin costs. Numerous companies in 2017 began rolling out pilot programs and real-world projects across a variety of industries - everything from financial services to healthcare to mobile payments and even global shipping.

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Solving a blockchain conundrum: Biometrics could recover lost encryption keys

Blockchain could one day solve the online privacy problem by encrypting or scrambling personally identifiable information and issuing each person a random string of bits – a private key – created explicitly for unscrambling their data.

The person holding the blockchain private key could issue various public keys controlling who has access to the personal data on the blockchain. So, for instance, if a car rental agency needed to verify you have a driver's license, you could use a public key to give them access to that information.

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Two vendors now sell iPhone cracking technology – and police are buying

Law enforcement interest in iPhone encryption-cracking hardware from two new companies is a strong indication that Apple no longer claims the mobile security high ground.

"What this means, if it's true, is that people who thought all of their communications were totally secure shouldn't feel so confident going forward," said Jack Gold, principal analyst with J. Gold Associates. "But, then security has always been a tug of war between the ones implementing it and the ones trying to break it."

In February, reports surfaced that an Israel-based technology vendor, Cellebrite, had discovered a way to unlock encrypted iPhones running iOS 11 and were marketing the product to law enforcement and private forensics firms around the world. According to a police warrant obtained by Forbes, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security had been testing the technology.

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Will blockchain run afoul of GDPR? (Yes and no)

As the EU prepares to roll out new data protection regulations this month, concerns are emerging that they could dissuade businesses from rolling out blockchain-based projects because the online transaction technology might innately break the new rules.

The EU's General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) targets citizens' personally identifiable information (PII), providing transparency around its use and giving people the right to restrict its use or request it be deleted all together.

While GDPR never mentions PII, the new rules describing "personal data" are synonymous with it: "Any information that relates to an identified or identifiable living individual. Different pieces of information, which collected together can lead to the identification of a particular person, also constitute personal data." In short, it means any data that can be tied back to person's identity.

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Will blockchain run afoul of GDPR? (Yes and no)

As the EU prepares to roll out new data protection regulations this month, concerns are emerging that they could dissuade businesses from rolling out blockchain-based projects because the online transaction technology might innately break the new rules.

The EU's General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) targets citizens' personally identifiable information (PII), providing transparency around its use and giving people the right to restrict its use or request it be deleted all together.

While GDPR never mentions PII, the new rules describing "personal data" are synonymous with it: "Any information that relates to an identified or identifiable living individual. Different pieces of information, which collected together can lead to the identification of a particular person, also constitute personal data." In short, it means any data that can be tied back to person's identity.

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N.Y. AG’s scrutiny of cryptocurrencies unlikely to stymie a thriving industry

States and the federal government are increasing their scrutiny of cryptocurrencies in an attempt to bring more transparency to a market where buyers and sellers are anonymous and regulatory oversight is light.

Cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin, Ether, LiteCoin, and Ripple skyrocketed in value last year as investors sought to get in on what many see as the future of global currency – one that for trade and commerce knows no borders. Bitcoin generated massivce levels of hype among investors as its value surged more than 1,900% to nearly $20,000 last year, before tumbling back down below $11,000.

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