Apple disclosed content from users’ accounts to U.S. government officials fewer than 1000 times during the first six months of 2013, according to a Report on Government Information Requests that the company issued on Tuesday.
“Apple’s main business is not about collecting information,” the company said in the report. In detailing its interactions with governments, both in the United States and around the world, Apple hoped to provide more transparency about the processes. Moreover, the company says that it has repeatedly made the case for more openness in its meetings with government officials; along with the report, Apple is also filing an amicus brief with the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISA), supporting other cases requesting more transparency.
“We feel strongly that the government should lift the gag order and permit companies to disclose complete and accurate numbers regarding FISA requests and National Security Letters,” the company said in its report. “We will continue to aggressively pursue our ability to be more transparent.”
With this move, Apple joins the likes of Facebook, Microsoft, and Google; earlier this year, all three of the companies voiced their desire to be more open with the public about government requests.
Last night, on CNN’s “Erin Burnett OutFront,” I tried to explain how a note written by alleged LAX shooter Paul Ciancia contained several hallmarks of the antigovernment “Patriot” movement’s animating “New World Order” conspiracy theory. My remarks were based on references to the Federal Reserve and “fiat currency” that were exclusively reported by Hatewatch over the weekend.
My jousting partner in the exchange was Michael Medved, a conservative radio show host, frequent television commentator and columnist. Medved told the audience that my comments were “very dangerous” and “unforgiveable,” that I was “completely unfair” to use the word “Patriot” in describing a key sector of the radical right, and that I was “try[ing] to tar” the political right with the Nov. 1 shooting that left one TSA agent dead “when the clear problem is mental illness.”
Even as Medved spoke, the FBI was, in effect, backing me up with its own suspicions about Ciancia’s motives. The Associated Press reports the FBI obtained a warrant yesterday to search Ciancia’s cell phone for, in the words of its request, materials reflecting his “views on the legitimacy or activities of the United States government, including the existence of a plot to impose a New World Order.”
In other words, the FBI also is looking into the possibility that Ciancia’s views about the New World Order — a feared totalitarian “one-world government” that he also reportedly mentions in his note — may have been part of his motivations. That is precisely the point I was making on CNN. Even then, I carefully pointed out that we had no information suggesting Ciancia was involved in any Patriot group.
Medved is normally a fairly reasonable and calm debater and, to be fair, he was not very clear in many of his remarks on CNN. But he was clearly incensed at my description of the Patriot movement and, in particular, its name.
What he did not seem to realize is that this is what these groups, by and large, call their own movement — this is not some name I made up to describe them. At times, they call themselves “Christian Patriots,” but I don’t think that would have made Medved any happier. He seemed to think I was impugning all conservatives.
The visitor was David House, a Boston computer scientist, a friend of Manning’s and a co-founder of the Private Manning Support Network. On this, his first visit with Assange, he was hoping to open a channel of communication between WikiLeaks and Manning supporters, and to try to secure a significant role for himself inside the secret-spilling organization.
Instead, he found Assange was mostly interested in talking about Domscheit-Berg’s betrayal of WikiLeaks.
“He had started to talk more and more about Daniel during those few days, telling anecdotes, and it was clear that it was bothering him,” House says. In front of the fireplace, Assange finally got to his point, House says. Assange wanted House “to protect the future of WikiLeaks by obtaining access to a ‘corpus of lies,’ or something like that,” House says.
In a follow-up conversation later, Assange got more explicit, House says.
“He wanted me, and in fact told me, to get to Berlin … and obtain access to Daniel Domscheit-Berg’s apartment and to get access to the manuscript of the book that was being published, and to take this manuscript with me back to the London so he could see it before it came out,” says House, publicly discussing his experience for the first time.
What followed, by House’s account, was one of the more bizarre sideshows in the WikiLeaks drama: a feigned attempt by House to steal the manuscript and satisfy Assange of his loyalty.
We’ll refrain from deliberately sabotaging the global economy, Speaker John Boehner and the other leaders said, if President Obama allows more oil drilling on federal lands. And drops regulations on greenhouse gases. And builds the Keystone XL oil pipeline. And stops paying for the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. And makes it harder to sue for medical malpractice. And, of course, halts health care reform for a year.
The list would be laughable if the threat were not so serious. A failure to raise the debt ceiling would cause a default on government debt, shattering the world’s faith in Treasury bonds as an investment vehicle and almost certainly bringing on another economic downturn. Unlike a government shutdown, a default could leave the Treasury without enough money to pay Social Security benefits or the paychecks of troops.
The full effects remain unknown because no Congress has ever allowed the government to go over the brink before. The Government Accountability Office estimated that simply by threatening to default in 2011, Republicans cost taxpayers $1.3 billion in higher interest payments because of that uncertainty. The 10-year cost of those higher-interest bonds is $18.9 billion.
Any sober-minded lawmaker should realize that the danger of trifling with the debt limit is far too high. But Mr. Boehner has been encouraging his members to toss their pet projects — hey, let’s insist on Congressional approval for every major federal regulation! — onto the towering list of demands.
More: A Republican Ransom Note
(Reuters) - Google Inc has overhauled its search algorithm, the foundation of the Internet’s dominant search engine, to better cope with the longer, more complex queries it has been getting from Web users.
Amit Singhal, senior vice president of search, told reporters on Thursday that the company launched its latest “Hummingbird” algorithm about a month ago and that it currently affects 90 percent of worldwide searches via Google.
Google is trying to keep pace with the evolution of Internet usage. As search queries get more complicated, traditional “Boolean” or keyword-based systems begin deteriorating because of the need to match concepts and meanings in addition to words.
“Hummingbird” is the company’s effort to match the meaning of queries with that of documents on the Internet, said Singhal from the Menlo Park garage where Google founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin conceived their now-ubiquitous search engine.