Just as the website’s title suggests, WhereToWatch is a portal that informs the American public about which websites offer legitimate video content. We’re almost certain that the regular user will go and check MPAA’s website before watching a video online, but is this the best of what the movie industry can offer?
A pretty big list of legal video services (categorized into movie services and TV stations), including Amazon, Netflix, Hulu, ShowTime, Verizon (On Demand), HBO Go, and iTunes, are shown on MPAA’s website, along with a message from the industry that goes like this:
“Want to get movies and TV shows easily and quickly online, on your tablet or on your mobile device? Here’s a fast-growing array of ways to find and connect with the content you love. This list is aggregated based on services available to users in the U.S. While the set of services offering movies and TV shows differ by country, several of these are available in multiple countries.”
A decent question would be: “Considering that even people who have never used the internet know about Amazon, Netflix and services alike, how exactly will WTW going to fight piracy?”
Well, here’s the thing: opening up a website with plenty of legal alternatives is way easier than coming up with an anti-piracy legislation that preserves your online/offline rights, while keeping content creators happy. But does the MPAA care about its consumers and money makers? We’ll leave you answer that question.
As far as WTW is concerned, MPAA’s Chairman Chris Dodd said:
“There have never been more ways to access movies and television legitimately online, and those platforms continue to grow and develop thanks in large part to a copyright system that encourages innovation, risk and growth.”
“The companies I represent are committed to continuing to create and develop the best ways for audiences to enjoy the entertainment they love.”
Also known as the Center for Copyright Information, the organization lost not only its company status, but also the right to enforce the “six-strikes” system. The CCI violated state laws and is now forced to close down its doors, at least for a period of time.
Founded in 2011 by the entertainment industries, in collaboration with five of US’s most prominent internet providers, the Center for Copyright Information was put together with a clear purpose: to educate the public about copyright infringement and enforce the American copyright law.
After multiple delays, the Copyright Alert System was finally launched by the CCI on February 2013, but proved to have a short life due to some irregularities.
The Columbia Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs (DCRA) revoked CCI’s legal right to conduct its business on US soil.
“If entity’s status is revoked then articles of incorporation / organization shall be void and all powers conferred upon such entity are declared inoperative, and, in the case of a foreign entity, the certificate of foreign registration shall be revoked and all powers conferred hereunder shall be inoperative,” the DCRA explained.
As such, the CCI is now facing civil penalties and probably fines. Furthermore, its name is no longer protected by US laws, so be on guard for scammers who may register under CCI’s name.
“When a Washington DC corporation is revoked by the DCRA, its name is reserved and protected until December 31st of the year the corporation is revoked. After December 31st, other business entities may use the corporations name,” DCRA wrote on their website.
Although the CCI could be, at the time being, sleeping with the fishes, it may also run under a different name.
Don’t gloat yet, because the organization is much likely to come back. As a matter of fact, a TorrentFreak’s source that’s connected to the CCI claimed that the necessary paperwork for the CCI to take its status back had been filed.
Suspected of violating US’ existing laws on money transfers and money exchange, the world’s largest Bitcoin interchange link started to weaken as their funds are seized during a Homeland Security investigation.
Trying to obtain DHS’ insight on the ongoing investigation, the media was served with a “no comment” and the copy of a warrant that justified seizing Mt. Gox’s funds in Dwolla (we shall refer to Mt. Gox as Bitcoin’s powerhouse or “the powerhouse”, as it handles nearly 63% of all Bitcoin transactions starting with April this year), an ArsTechnica report informs.
The warrant justifies a special agent’s statement (working for the Homeland Security Investigations) that Bitcoin’s powerhouse is engaging “money transmitting” outside the law (due to its nature … that of being immune to Governmental [capital G] control), which is probable cause for doing up to five years in prison or a “nominal fee”.
“The warrant goes on to demand that Dwolla hand over the keys to account number 812-649-1010, which is owned by Mt. Gox subsidiary Mutum Sigillum LLC,” ArsTechnica notes.
Apparently, Home Security used a mole (the governmental agencies call it “confidential informant”) to build up a case. The blind but cunning informant created two accounts, one for Dwolla and one for Mt. Gox, purchased Bitcoins, and then transferred them into good ol’ American dollars. Just like Hansel & Gretel used bread crumbs to find their way back, the confidential informant tracked the exchange as it passed through a Wells Fargo account (no. 7657841313). The account was created by president and CEO of Mt. Gox Mark Karpeles.
“As part of the account opening process, Wells Fargo required Karpeles and Mutum Sigillum LLC to complete a “Money Services Business (MSB) Accounts, Identification of an MSB Customer” form. That document was completed on May 20, 2011 and identified Mutum Sigillum LLC as a business not engaged in money services. The application asks several questions; to include, “Do you deal in or exchange currency for your customer?” and “Does your business accept funds from customers and send the funds based on customers’ instructions (Money Transmitter)?” Karpeles answered these questions “no,” indicating that Mutum Sigillum LLC does not deal in or exchange money, and that it does not send funds based on customer instructions.
Money transmitting businesses are required by 31 USC section 5330 to register as such with FinCEN. According to FinCEN records on May 6, 2013, neither Mt. Gox nor the subsidiary, Mutum Sigillum LLC, is registered as a Money Service Business,” the warrant reads.
The informant goes on to explain that:
“Mt. Gox acts as a digital currency exchange where customers open accounts and fund the respective accounts with fiat currency, which is then exchanged into crypto-currency by Mt. Gox; the crypto-currency is known as bitcoin. Fiat currency simply refers to any money that a government has declared to be legal tender. The exchange is bidirectional and allows customers to also exchange bitcoins back into fiat currency, and then withdraw those funds. The exchange of fiat currency and bitcoins incurs a floating rate fee charged by Mt. Gox and is determined by the customer’s aggregate amount of funds exchanged on a monthly basis.”
The untouchable Bitcoin currency had quickly become very tangible. Is this a case of “no one escapes the long arm of the law” or freedom from governmental control is a taboo subject that must be swept under the rug?
In light of our recent article, we’ve searched the web in order to find out the best way to counter your government’s surveillance techniques (where the case applies). Fortunately for us and for our readers, we’ve stumbled upon such information. Before explaining how to best protect your e-mail(s) and IM messages, a big “thank you!” goes to the Electronic Frontier Foundation for putting up together an impressive amount of useful tips.
“The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) has created this Surveillance Self-Defense site to educate the American public about the law and technology of government surveillance in the United States, providing the information and tools necessary to evaluate the threat of surveillance and take appropriate steps to defend against it,” the report’s introduction notes.
In order to understand how your e-mail service works, one needs to know that the data is transferred between the sender and the receiver “through the wire.” Simply put, the information you send reaches the receiver via other nodes/servers. You can see an explanatory diagram here.
Now, there is more than one way to protect your privacy, and we shall explain them all, step by step.
End-To-End Encryption Of Specified E-Mails
Making your e-mail secure was never an easy task, but worry not. Technology has always been our friend, and programs that aid you achieving end-to-end encryption exist. Such pieces of software are PGP (aka Pretty Good Privacy) and the GNU Privacy Guard (GnuPG). Both the PGP and the GnuPG will protect your transiting e-mails, while also securing stored data.
The advantages of using end-to-end encryption are quite a few: this counter-surveillance technique ensures the privacy of your e-mail(s) not just through the wire, but also of the e-mail’s copies that are stored on your personal computer or third party machines.
Before using one of the two programs, be reminded of two important things: one – they work only if the receiver is having GnuPG/PGP installed as well. The second thing is that you need to find and verify the receiver’s public keys (you can ask the receiver for the key). This step is of the most importance since it prevents others to fool you into using a wrong key (the attack is known as “man in the middle”). The two popular e-mail clients are Microsoft Outlook and Mozilla Thunderbird (we recommend installing either of them).
Server-To-Server Encrypted Transit
Once you press that “Send” button, the content of your e-mail is usually passed through a chain of SMTP mail servers before reaching its destination. The really cool thing is that you can check an e-mail’s headers to see the chain of servers it passed through. While most free e-mail providers do not encrypt your messages as they pass the SMTP servers, there is a way to secure your content as it transits these servers – and it’s called TLS (Transport Layer Security), SSL’s bigger, meaner brother. Before using such encryption, however, you need to make sure that your e-mail provider supports this kind of encryption.
Client-To-Mail Server Encryption
Whether you make the best of POP or IMAP to read you messages, be sure that your service provider supports POP or IMAP encryption. For others, who use webmail services, check and double-check if the e-mail provider is using the HTTPS protocol. A good service is Hushmail.com as it always uses HTTPS, while also providing with end-to-end encryption (though this will not save you if law enforcement agencies have a warrant to read your e-mail).
Although most webmail services use HTTPS to their login page, as soon as you log in they go back to HTTP. To counter this inconvenience, look for a configuration option or a browser plugin that keeps the secure protocol enabled at all times. Gmail (for example) is another good e-mail service that enables the HTTPS security protocol.
Data Stored On Other Computers
We here approach all the other machines, except yours, that store and/or have access to the data you send via e-mail. So, unless you have your own private mail server, a third-party computer gets (and way too often stores) your e-mails. Either it’s your internet service provider or a webmail provider, those sent texts are traceable and can be used/accessed by third-parties. If you use Thunderbird or Outlook, be sure to set the platforms to delete messages from your ISP mail server after they get downloaded. If instead you use webmail or IMAP, delete all messages after you finished reading them. This last method, however, will not 100% ensure that those mail are forever gone.
The best way is to use PGP/GnuPG encrypted e-mails to be completely sure that third-parties keep their nose out of your private messages, or run your own mail server.
Note: E-mail headers are still visible.
Last but not least, the EFF points to Bruce Schneier’s book “Email Security: How to Keep You Electronic Messages Private“.
Stay tuned for yet another chapter, where we’re going to explain how to secure your IM conversations.
Recently released documents suggest that according to the FBI’s Domestic Investigations and Operations Guide, the bureau can read your e-mail without having a warrant.
This Wednesday, ACLU (the American Civil Liberties Union) published a copy of 2012’s edition of FBI’s DIOG upon a FOIA (Freedom of Information Act) request. According to it, the bureau can basically read your e-mail whenever it sees fit and without a warrant.
188.8.131.52.4.3 (U) MAIL OPENINGS
(U) Mail in United States postal channels may be searched only pursuant to court order, or presidential authorization. United States Postal Service regulations governing such activities must be followed. A search of items that are being handled by individual couriers, or commercial courier companies, under circumstances in which there is a reasonable expectation of privacy, or have been sealed for deposit into postal channels, and that are discovered within properties or premises being searched, must be carried out according to unconsented FISA or FRCP Rule 41 physical search procedures.
184.108.40.206.4.4 (U) COMPELLED DISCLOSURE OF THE CONTENTS OF STORED WIRE OR ELECTRONIC COMMUNICATIONS
(U) Contents in “electronic storage” (e.g., unopened e-mail and voice mail) require a search warrant. See 18 U.S.c. § 2703(a). A distinction is made between the contents of communications that are in electronic storage (e.g., unopened e-mail) for less than 180 days and those in “electronic storage” for longer than 180 days, or those that are no longer in “electronic storage” (e.g., opened e-mail). In enacting the ECPA, Congress concluded that customers may not retain a “reasonable expectation of privacy” in information sent to network providers. However, the contents of an e-mail message that is unopened should nonetheless be protected by Fourth Amendment standards, similar to the contents of a regularly mailed letter. On the other hand, if the contents of an unopened message are kept beyond six months or stored on behalf of the customer after the e-mail has been received or opened, it should he treated the same as a business record in the hands of a third party, such as an accountant or attorney. In that case, the government may subpoena the records from the third party without running afoul of either the Fourth or Fifth Amendment. If a search warrant is used, it may be served on the provider without notice to the customer or subscriber.
Here’s a “translation” of what you’ve just read. Under the Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA) – a privacy law that dates back to 1986 – law enforcement agencies can read your e-mail before being opened by the targeted person as long as a warrant exists. The problem is that once the e-mail is opened by that person, or hasn’t been opened for a period of 180 days, the need for a warrant is no longer in place. Two months ago, the US Department of Justice attended a Congressional hearing where it accepted the fact that ECPA needs to be revised. Moreover, the DOJ offered to support ECPA’s revisions.
To complicate things even further, one of the circuit court of appeals ruled that federal authorities need a warrant before accessing an e-mail address.
“But that decision only applies in the four states covered by the Sixth Circuit, so we filed our FOIA request to find out whether the FBI and other agencies are taking advantage of a loophole in the outdated Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA) that allows access to some electronic communications without a warrant,” ACLU’s report reads.
Meanwhile, if you’re curious enough, you can find FBI’s DIOG for 2008 and 2011 on their official website.
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