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TITLE: GCHQ Is Watching You, 953GUEST:

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It's Thursday, February 27, 2014 and this is Tech News Today.

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This episode of Tech News Today is brought to you by ZipRecruiter. ZipRecruiter makes hiring faster, easier and cheaper. Post your job to 50+ job boards with one click. Try ZipRecruiter with a FREE 4 day trial now at ziprecruiter.com/tnt. That’s
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Welcome to Tech News Today, I'm Mike Elgan - I'm Jason Howell.

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Tech News Today explores the most important stories of the day in conversation with the world's leading journalists.

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Our guest co-anchor this week is Natali Morris, a contributor to The TODAY Show, CNBC, The Queen Latifah Show and a former anchor for CNET TV. She's also the co-founder of ReadQuick, a speed reading app for iOS.

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BRIDGEURL LINK

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CONVERSATION 1SHOWLINKS

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The UK version of the NSA, which is called GCHQ, collected pictures from the Yahoo webcam chats of millions of users worldwide, according to a story in the Guardian newspaper today. Code-named “Optic Nerve,’ the capturing of pictures took place between 2008 and 2010 and involved many people not suspected of crimes. The GCHQ says their program was legal. http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/feb/27/gchq-nsa-webcam-images-internet-yahoohttp://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/2014/02/spy-agency-intercepts-yahoo-webcam-chats-nudes-and-all/

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Jon Brodkin is a reporter for Ars Technica.

Q: How did Optic Nerve work exactly: How did they collect pictures?

Q: The GCHQ says this was legal. Is that correct?

Q: Why did they collect these pictures?

Q: What was the NSA’s involvement?
Jon Brodkin
Reporter, Ars Technica

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* With help from the NSA

* Captured “substantial quantities of sexually explicit communications,” according to the paper

* One document delicately put it: "Unfortunately … it would appear that a surprising number of people use webcam conversations to show intimate parts of their body to the other person. Also, the fact that the Yahoo software allows more than one person to view a webcam stream without necessarily sending a reciprocal stream means that it appears sometimes to be used for broadcasting pornography."

The document estimates that between 3% and 11% of the Yahoo webcam imagery harvested by GCHQ contains "undesirable nudity" -- no numbers on “desirable nudity.”

* Yahoo claimed ignorance, calling it “a whole new level of violation of our users' privacy"

* Documents provided by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden

* Pictures were used for experiments in automated facial recognition, to monitor GCHQ's existing targets, and to discover new targets of interest.

* Program saved one image every five minutes from the users' feeds

* The agency did make efforts to limit analysts' ability to see webcam images, restricting bulk searches to metadata only.

* Analysts were shown the faces of people with similar usernames to surveillance targets

* Optic Nerve was based on collecting information from GCHQ's huge network of internet cable taps, which was then processed and fed into systems provided by the NSA.

* Webcam information was fed into NSA's XKeyscore search tool, and NSA research was used to build the tool which identified Yahoo's webcam traffic.

* Largely anonymous user IDs, are unable to filter out information from UK or US citizens.

* Unlike the NSA, GCHQ is not required by UK law to "minimize", or remove, domestic citizens' information from its databases.

* Yahoo: "We were not aware of, nor would we condone, this reported activity," said a spokeswoman. "This report, if true, represents a whole new level of violation of our users' privacy that is completely unacceptable, and we strongly call on the world's governments to reform surveillance law consistent with the principles we outlined in December.

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More Information

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CONVERSATION 2SHOWLINKS

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Boeing -- yeah, the company that makes jets and drones -- really is getting into the smartphone racket. Confirming two-year-old rumors, Boeing is building a super secure Android phone for American spies and government agencies called the Boeing Black. We learned about this the same way we learn about many secret smartphones: documents filed with the FCC. http://im.ft-static.com/content/images/995bed58-0da2-410f-b42a-1386fc0f9ac6.img

http://www.androidcentral.com/sites/androidcentral.com/files/styles/large/public/article_images/2014/02/boeing-black-specs.jpg
http://online.wsj.com/news/articles/SB10001424052702303801304579407410484115536

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* Embedded hardware and software security solutions, operating system policy controls, and compatibility with leading mobile device management systems.

* A letter accompanying the filing: “The device will be marketed and sold in a manner such that low level technical and operational information about the product will not be provided to the general public. Detailed technical information distributed at trade shows will be limited or protected by non-disclosure agreements.”

* Letter: “There are no serviceable parts on Boeing’s Black phone and any attempted servicing or replacing of parts would destroy the product. The Boeing Black phone is manufactured as a sealed device both with epoxy around the casing and with screws, the heads of which are covered with tamper proof covering to identify attempted disassembly.”

* “Any attempt to break open the casing of the device would trigger functions that would delete the data and software contained within the device and make the device inoperable.”

* Modular construction of the phone's 5.2-inch-tall body would allow users to attach devices that add such features as advanced location tracking, solar charging, satellite transceivers and biometric sensors.

* 50% heavier than iPhone and twice as thick.

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CONVERSATION 3SHOWLINKS

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Google announced yesterday that it will host three conferences on its Project Ara phone. Now, conferences themselves aren’t interesting. But this news tells us that Google is actually serious about turning the phone concept into a real phone you can buy. http://techland.time.com/2014/02/26/google-project-ara-modular-smartphone/

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Harry McCracken wrote an extensive feature on the Ara project, which was published yesterday. He’s here to tell us all about it.

Q: Harry, what is Project Ara?

Q: When we heard about this in October, it seemed pretty unlikely and the idea was slammed in the press. Were you surprised to learn that they’re serious about bringing this to market?

Q: This project is big on 3D printing, isn’t it?

Q: They’re hoping the first Ara smartphone is really inexpensive, right?

Q: You pointed out in your article that modular phones were tried in the past, including the Handspring Visor and the Modu. How is Ara different?

Q: What is Phonebloks?

Q: Phones with modules seems very inefficient, and counter to the trend in phone design to make phones small, thin and light, with electronics packed tightly together.
Harry McCracken
Editor at Large, TIME

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* Conference will focus on the alpha release of the Ara Module Developers’ Kit

* Advanced Technology and Projects group (ATAP) from Motorola

* Headed by Regina Dugan, the former director of the U.S. Defense Department’s fabled Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA)

* Three sizes of phone: mini (rather basic), medium (mainstream) and jumbo (an oversized, phablet-style variant) -- determined by the “endoskeleton” or “endo”

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TIME.com * @harrymccracken

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CONVERSATION 4SHOWLINKS

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Google launched a new online education tool called Oppia today. It’s an open source project that enables anyone to create interactive learning activities called “explorations.” They can be put together collaboratively by people who have zero programming experience, then embedded into any web page. http://youtu.be/A9OnENhRah8http://thenextweb.com/google/2014/02/27/google-debuts-online-education-tool-oppia-help-anyone-create-interactive-activities-teaching-others

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InterviewURL

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* Uses a question-and-response interface.

* A “mentor” ask questions, based on the response to the previous question.

* Gathers data on how learners interact with it and offers it to exploration authors so they can fix shortcomings in an exploration.

* Personalized, customizable feedback after submitting answers

* Online analytics dashboard that allows explorations to be improved easily over time

* Working on a UI for mobile devices

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More Information

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CONVERSATION 5SHOWLINKS

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Some big stories came out of Mobile World Congress this week. But shows like this also bring to the surface some weird and ill-advised new products. http://www.iphoneeinstein.com/2014/02/27/5-offbeat-finds-from-mobile-world-congress-a-beer-brewing-app-super-secure-phone-and-more/

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* BrewBot
This year’s MWC must be the first to boast its very own beer (above) brewed by Belfast’s BrewBot. Started by a group of iOS designers and developers, BrewBot is a semi-automated brewing kit controlled by a mobile phone app which tracks the entire two-week brewing process with temperature and flow sensors.
* Blackphone
The Blackphone is a privacy-oriented smartphone for non-boffins which is a joint venture between security company Silent Circle (whose founder is Phil Zimmerman, the inventor of PGP) and Spanish smartphone makers Geeksphone.
* Oral-B’s Interactive Toothbrush
Continuing the invasion of interactivity into everyday objects, Oral-B’s SmartSeries 7000 toothbrush provides real-time guidance while you brush, records brushing activity and can spam your dentist with reports of your bad brushing technique. It’s the first ever toothbrush to debut at Mobile World Congress. [We also saw a smart toothbrush from Kolibree at CES.]
* Fujitsu’s AR Repair Kit
Fujitsu-gloveFujitsu often supplies some of the more enjoyably wacky demos at Mobile World Congress. This year’s crocodile-stroking haptics demo was no exception. However, the company also showed an impressive system for industrial workers featuring Augmented Reality (AR) and a gesture-detecting glove.
* 2014-App-AdvtGaneshaSpeaks
The alphabet of mobile content in India starts with A for Astrology, B for Bollywood, C for Cricket and D for Devotional. GaneshaSpeaks is the most popular astrology service in India with 10 million monthly users, half of whom access it via mobile. The company also employs 500 full-time astrologers to the create paid, personalized readings ordered by 8-10% of users. A personalized reading costs between $10 and $300.

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Ciarabyrne.com * @deciara

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E-MAILSHOWLINKS

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TNT fan Luigi Claudio emailed us to give his thoughts about Samsung’s Mobile World Congress announcements. He wrote: “As a UX designer with a background in industrial design I'm very impressed by the process of product design and release that Samsung has undertaken with this product. I'm also impressed by how a company as big as Samsung has just released an update to their first version of the Galaxy Gear smartwatch after only 6 months, if not less.

He says he believes the “swift product cycle iteration and release would have not been possible if one of the requirements had been the compatibility with Android phones that are not engineered and built by Samsung.”

He also says he loves the show, and that “Natalie as a co-anchor is awesome.”

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Sean Whitehurst also supported Samsung’s decision to support only Samsung phones with their smartwatch line, writing: Why is there all the dislike for Samsung making devices that only pair with their own devices? Isn't it Samsung's best interest to get everyone into the Samsung world and use their app store so they can make money?

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FOLLOW-UP

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IN OTHER NEWSSHOWLINKS

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You may have heard about IBM’s Cognitive computers, which are designed to develop creative computers that can think like humans do. One of their projects is a computer that can create new kinds of food recipes. They’re mostly mashups of existing foods -- chocolate burritos, Turkish bru-SKATE-ta and so on. Well soon you might get a chance to taste some of the computer’s creations. IBM has partnered with the Institute of Culinary Education to take an IBM Food Truck on a tour across the United States. The truck’s next stop: Austin, Texas, for the South By South West festival, which begins March 3.

http://www.ibm.com/smarterplanet/us/en/cognitivecooking/truck.htmlhttp://www.theverge.com/2014/2/26/5451874/ibm-food-truck-uses-cognitive-computing-to-make-weird-food

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Thank guest co-anchor

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Tune in to our evening newscast, Tech News Tonight, at 4pm Pacific.

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* * * FIN * * *

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On Tech News Today: Brit Spies Caught Watching Yahoo Sex Chats * Boeing Makes a Self-Destructing Spy Phone * And Google's Project Ara Modular Phone Concept Gets Real.

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