Technology, Thoughts & Trinkets

Touring the digital through type

Month: July 2013

AT&T’s Anti-Infringement Patent

AT&TNetwork surveillance is a persistent issue that privacy advocates warn about on a regular basis. In the face of Edward Snowden’s disclosures, the public has often been concerned about how, when, and why corporations disclose information to policing, security, and intelligence services. Codenamed projects like PRISM, NUCLEON, and MAINWAY, combined with the shadowy nature of how data is collected and used, makes Snowden’s very serious revelations a hot topic to talk, write, and think about.

However, it’s important to recognize that the corporations that are entrusted with significant amounts of our personal information often independently analyze and process our information in ways that we don’t expect. In this post I discuss a patent that AT&T received a little over a year ago to analyze the personal communications of its subscribers to catch instances of copyright infringement. I begin by outlining providing information concerning AT&T’s patent. From there, I discuss other companies’ efforts to develop and deploy similar systems in Europe to shed more light on how AT&T’s system might work. This post concludes by considering a range of reasons that might have driven AT&T to file for their patent, and notes why it’s important to place patents within the broader policy ecosystem that telecommunications companies operate within instead of analyzing such patents in isolation. Continue reading

How to Dispel the Confusion Around iMessage Security

Image by Graham BrennaApple’s hardware and communications products continue to be widely purchased and used by people around the world. Comscore reported in March 2013 that Apple enjoyed a 35% market penetration in Canada, and their desktop and mobile computing devices remain popular choices for consumers. A messaging service, iMessage, spans the entire Apple product line. The company has stated that it “cannot decrypt that data.”

Apple’s statements concerning iMessage’s security are highly suspect. In what follows I summarize some of the serious questions about Apple’s encryption schemas. I then discuss why it’s important for consumers to know whether iMessages are secure from third-party interception. I conclude by outlining how Canadians who use the iMessage application can use Canadian privacy law to ascertain the validity of Apple’s claims against those of the company’s critics. Continue reading