Monday News: DABWAHA, Apple, and Google Posts
DABWAHA is here! – It’s that time of the year again! The annual DABWAHA tourney. In celebration of books and my love of the NCAA basketball tournament, Dear Author and Smart Bitches have teamed up to bring you the DABWAHA competition. Step one involves nominating your own favorite book published in 2015 as well as kvetching over all the books that did get nominated. So get to it! Nominate your favorite 2015 book here!
Deep Dive: Why Forcing Apple to Write and Sign Code Violates the First Amendment – A great post from the Electronic Frontier Foundation about why the First Amendment protects singing computer code, which would make the government’s order for Apple to re-write and sign new code is an attempt to compel speech against Apple’s First Amendment rights. The court hearing on Apple’s motion to vacate the government’s order is on March 22nd.
As we explain in our amicus brief, digital signatures are a powerful way of communicating the signer’s endorsement of the signed document—in this case, the custom iOS code. Due to the mathematical properties of digital signatures—invented in part by signers of our brief, including Martin Hellman and Ron Rivest—it would be very difficult to impersonate Apple without possessing the company’s secret signing key. Apple has chosen to build its iOS in such a way that its devices only accept iOS code signed by Apple, a design it believes best ensures user trust and strengthens the security of these devices. Since over 3 million phones were stolen in 2013 alone, the protections Apple is providing are important. By requiring Apple to sign code that undermines the security features Apple has included in iOS, the court’s order directly compels the company’s strong and verifiably authentic endorsement of the weakened code.
This is where the First Amendment comes in. The Constitution clearly prevents the government from forcing people to endorse positions they do not agree with. Whether that endorsement takes the form of raising your hand, signing a loyalty oath, putting a license plate motto on your car or, as here, implementing an algorithm that creates a digital signature, the problem is the same. As the Supreme Court noted in a case involving whether the government could force private parade organizers to include viewpoints they disagreed with, “[W]hen dissemination of a view contrary to one’s own is forced upon a speaker intimately connected with the communication advanced, the speaker’s right to autonomy over the message is compromised.”As a result, government mandates requiring people to speak are subject to strict scrutiny—the most stringent standard of judicial review in the United States. – EFF
“Google Posts” embeds a one-way social network directly into search results – Apparently US Presidential candidates can now use something called “Google Posts” to communicate in real time with prospective voters. As Ars Technica points out, this is basically stealth social media (Google + for brands, is how they put it), although not as effective, since it’s basically social media info embedded into Google search results, information that may not even be relevant to voter inquiries. Also, despite the insistence that it’s only for Presidential candidates, apparently that is not precisely the case.
Over at Google.com/posts, Google has a landing page for this feature, calling it “an experimental new podium on Google” that allows you to “hear directly from the US presidential candidates in real time on Google.” It’s a believable explanation until you see this Google Posts profile from “Andrew Jewelers” in Buffalo, New York, (spotted by Mike Blumenthal), which is definitely not a presidential candidate.
The landing page says the “experimental” feature is “only available to the 2016 US presidential candidates” (Andrew Jewelers for president!), but those of us not running for office can join a waitlist as Google plans to “make it available to other prominent figures and organizations.” – Ars Technica