Apple, FBI Stake Out Conflicting Positions Before Congress

Apple, FBI Stake Out Conflicting Positions Before Congress

The US government calls it a “vicious guard dog” that hurts national security. Apple says it’s critical to protecting consumer privacy against increasingly sophisticated hackers.

As the debate over built-in iPhone encryption has deadlocked in the courts, law enforcement and the world’s second-largest cellphone maker agreed on one point Tuesday: It’s now up to Congress to set boundaries in a long-simmering fight over who can legally access your digital life.

“We’re asking Apple to take the vicious guard dog away and let us pick the lock,” FBI Director James Comey told a House judiciary panel Tuesday, referring to a locked iPhone tied to the deadly December shooting in San Bernardino, California.

(Also see:  Husband of San Bernardino Attack Victim Takes Apple’s Side in FBI Spat)

“The FBI is asking Apple to weaken the security of our products,” Apple general counsel Bruce Sewell countered later that afternoon.

Tuesday’s hearing shifted attention from the courts – where judges in the last month have issued significant but conflicting opinions – to Congress, where both sides say the broader policy debate belongs.

It also provided an extraordinary public forum for the Obama administration and Apple Inc. to stake out competing positions that could have sweeping ramifications. Apple’s recent opposition to bypassing security features for the government has pushed that dispute from tech circles into the mainstream.

The strong positions articulated Tuesday make clear the deep divide between Silicon Valley and the government, even as the administration advocates open dialogue and resolution.

“Is it the right thing to make our society overall less safe in order to solve crime?” Sewell asked. “That’s the issue that we’re wrestling with.”

On Monday, a federal judge in Brooklyn said the government couldn’t force Apple to help it gain access to the phone in a drug case. US Magistrate Judge James Orenstein said Justice Department attorneys were relying on the centuries-old All Writs Act to “to produce impermissibly absurd results.”

But two weeks ago, a different magistrate judge in California, Sheri Pym, directed the company to help the FBI hack into a locked iPhone used by one of the shooters in the December attack in San Bernardino, which killed 14 people. Apple’s lawyers, in court papers filed Tuesday, formally objected to Pym’s order, a procedural move intended to ensure an appeal.

With those two conflicting rulings in mind, Congress needs to get involved to address the broader collision between privacy and public safety, Comey said.

The Obama administration last year decided against a legislative fix.

Now, though, “Congress must decide this issue,” said Sewell, while also criticizing the US government for simultaneously supporting encryption used by activists and journalists in countries with fewer free-speech rights.

The San Bernardino case involves an iPhone 5c owned by San Bernardino County and used by Syed Farook, who was a health inspector there. He and his wife, Tashfeen Malik, later died in a gun battle with police. The FBI wants specialized software that would bypass security protocols on the encrypted phone so investigators can test random passcode combinations in rapid sequence to access its data.

Should Apple create the specialized software to allow the FBI to hack the iPhone, Comey said it would take 26 minutes to do what’s known as a brute force attack – testing multiple passcodes in quick succession.

Comey also acknowledged Tuesday there “was a mistake made” shortly after the San Bernardino attack, when the FBI asked the county – which owned the phone – to reset the password for Farook’s iCloud account.

That data, stored on Apple servers, kept backups of his phone. Had the password not been reset, the phone may have made a fresh backup available to investigators for further examination. Still, Comey said, “The experts tell me there’s no way we would have gotten everything off the phone from a backup.”

Republican Rep. Darrell Issa of California, a critic of the administration’s domestic surveillance practices, asked Comey whether the FBI had first asked Apple for the underlying iPhone software – called source code by developers – before trying to force the company to create its own digital workaround.

Issa suggested the FBI hadn’t exhausted its own efforts before the government went to court. Comey said the government has tried hard to break into iPhones, like the one in California, but he seemed unaware if those methods were successful.

Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance told the House panel Tuesday that there are 205 phones his investigators can’t access in criminal investigations.

House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte said technology is moving toward newer generations of encryption and security, and “we’re going to have to figure out a different way to help law enforcement.”

Whatever emerges from debate as the legislative response to the controversy will “not change the fact that law enforcement is going to have to change the way it investigates and gathers evidence,” said Goodlatte, a Virginia Republican.

Alex Abdo, a staff lawyer with the American Civil Liberties Union’s speech, privacy and technology project, told The Associated Press on Tuesday that the larger debate is “ultimately about whether we trust our devices.”

“If the government prevails, then there is nothing to stop it from turning every major tech company into a tool of government surveillance,” Abdo said. “Companies will be required to spy on, rather than secure, their customers.

[“Source-Gadgets”]

Can’t Pay Your EMIs? How To Get Out Of Debt Trap

Can't Pay Your EMIs? How To Get Out Of Debt TrapWith credit easily available these days, it’s not rare to find people overspending only to regret it later. Taking a loan to build assets like a house is recommended due to the tax benefits and savings on rent. But overspending using expensive debts such as credit cards and personal loans for lifestyle expenses should be avoided.

However, if you are already burdened with debt, here are a few steps that can help you to lighten up you debt burden.

Take account of your finances

First of all, you need to ascertain where your finances stand. How bad is the situation? Calculate your income to expense ratio. Ascertain what portion of your income goes towards servicing EMIs. “Personal loans including car loan, credit card outstanding or any other loan should be in the range of one-seventh to one fifth while home loan should be limited to one-third of net income,” says Kartik Jhaveri, founder director of Transcend Consulting, a Mumbai-based financial planning firm.

All types of loans put together shouldn’t exceed 50 per cent of the income of a person, he adds.

Therefore, if your loans exceed the limit, you can be in a worrying situation. “If somebody’s loan repayment outgo is 60-70 per cent of the income, it should be brought down in the shortest possible time,” says Suresh Sadagopan founder of Ladder7 Financial Advisories.

Cut down on your lifestyle expenses

It will be difficult to do so but you will have to do this. Make a budget, analyse your monthly expenses to figure out where you can save. Even small savings by cutting down on spending on eating out, limiting the movies you watch in theatres etc can make a difference. “If there are 5-6 expenses on which you spend Rs. 2,000 monthly and can be avoided, you can save Rs. 12,000 per month which is a decent sum,” says Mr Sadagopan.

Prepay the expensive loan first

Make a list of all the loans along with the interest rate that you are servicing currently. Higher interest rate means higher cost. So you should start paying off the high cost debt first. Credit card loan is one of the most expensive loans with interest rate usually ranging between 24 and 36 per cent per annum.

Next comes, the personal loan where interest rate generally starts at 13-15 per cent per annum. You can utilise some of these cheaper options to repay the high-interest loans.

Loan against fixed deposit: If you have a fixed deposit, take a loan against it which generally comes at an interest rate of 1 to 2 per cent above the fixed deposit interest rate.

Top-up home loan: If you have a home loan and paid EMIs for at least 6-12 months, you can avail a top-up loan which is generally available at an interest rate of 1 to 2 per cent above the home loan rate. Unlike a home loan, you can utilise the sum for any purpose you want to.

Loan against insurance: If you have an insurance policy which is more than 10 years old, you can utilise it to avail a loan against it to repay the expensive loans, says Mr Jhaveri of Transcend Consulting.

Use the bonus: If you are getting any incentive or bonus, any proceeds from investments maturity, use it to prepay the loan, says Mr Sadagopan of Ladder7 Financial Advisories.

[“source-ndtv”]

Google Maps for Android Can Now Figure Out Where You’re Going

Google Maps for Android Can Now Figure Out Where You're Going

Google Maps is all set to receive its first major update in 2016 which brings several new features including Driving mode and more.

The new Google Maps for Android version 9.19 is currently not available on Google Play and can be expected to be rolled out soon. For those who can’t wait for the new features can download the apk which is signed by Google via APK Mirror.

One of the biggest highlights of the upcoming Maps update is the ‘intelligent’ Driving mode which essentially utilises the user’s location history and Web searches to provide traffic updates and ETA (estimated time of arrival). The new Driving mode feature is an optional feature in the new Maps update for Android. It can be enabled from a shortcut on the home screen and can also be turned on from the navigation drawer.

Android Police points out that Driving mode in the latest update is already plagued with a bug that actually makes it hard to switch on the feature. “Driving mode has to be enabled through some arcane set of steps on each device before it can actually be used,” writes Cody Toombs of Android Police. Google may fix the bug before making the new app available to all users, and so a gradual rollout could be expected.

The new Maps for Android update (version 9.19) also brings the on-screen toggle for turning on or off the turn-by-turn voice assistance. Previously, the toggle for audio was shifted to overflow menu making it harder for users to turn on or off the option while driving.

The Google Maps interface has also received minor tweaks with the Manage location settings option been switched for Timeline settings. The new setting allows users to control what the users see and restrict data usage. Some of the other additions include to option to see images from Google Photos or switch on the search option to correct an inaccurately feed location.

[“Source-Gadgets”]

Windows 10 Mobile Update Starts Rolling Out for Microsoft Lumia 640

Windows 10 Mobile Update Starts Rolling Out for Microsoft Lumia 640

Microsoft confirmed last month that it had delayed the release of Windows 10 Mobile, the latest version of its mobile operating system. And it seems the delay is finally over. The company has apparently started to seed the Windows 10 Mobile software upgrade in at least one region.

T-Mobile has confirmed (via WMPU) that it has begun to release Windows 10 Mobile for Lumia 640handset users in Poland. The build version that the company has released is 02177.00000.15184.36002. We realise that most of you don’t live in Poland, and/ or sport a Lumia 640, but the big news is that the software you’re anxiously waiting for has started to trickle out fromMicrosoft.

Microsoft had previously committed to releasing Windows 10 Mobile to all eligible handsets in December. However, the company confirmed last month the time-frame had been extended to “early 2016.” As you may remember, all Windows 8.1-powered smartphone that have more than 4GB of internal storage are eligible to receive the free software update.

Many smartphones that have launched in the past few months are already running Windows 10 Mobile. Some of these include the Lumia 950, the Lumia 950 XL, and the Lumia 550. To recall, Windows 10 Mobile offers a range of features including Continuum and Universal Windows Apps, and some enhancements to Message and Photos apps.

According to media reports, Microsoft is working on an app that will allow Windows Phone handset owners to know whether their smartphone is eligible to receive the software upgrade. The app dubbed “Upgrade Advisor,” will also let users clear up storage space on the device to accommodate the new software upgrade.

[“Source-Gadgets”]