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Friday News: Wireless ISP allegedly blocks email encryption; Whisper v. Guardian on privacy; diversity in publishing; and 33 free Philip K. Dick stories

Friday News: Wireless ISP allegedly blocks email encryption; Whisper v. Guardian...

In the second instance, Golden Frog shows that a wireless broadband Internet access provider is interfering with its users’ ability to encrypt their SMTP email traffic. This broadband provider is overwriting the content of users’ communications and actively blocking STARTTLS encryption. This is a man-in-the-middle attack that prevents customers from using the applications of their choosing and directly prevents users from protecting their privacy.

This is scary. If ISPs are actively trying to block the use of encryption, it shows how they might seek to block the use of VPNs and other important security protection measures, leaving all of us less safe. Golden Frog provides more details of what’s happening in this case. . . –Tech Dirt

Among other things, Whisper Editor-in-Chief Neetzan Zimmerman says:

Whisper does not collect nor store any personally identifiable information (PII) from users and is anonymous. To be clear, Whisper does not collect nor store: name, physical address, phone number, email address, or any other form of PII. The privacy of our users is not violated in any of the circumstances suggested in the Guardian story. The Guardian staff, including its CEO and multiple members of the US editorial team, have met with, partnered, and worked with Whisper since February 2014 and published multiple stories utilizing Whispers, with full understanding of our guidelines. The Guardian’s assumptions that Whisper is gathering information about users and violating user’s privacy are false.

The Guardian insists:

The company behind Whisper, the social media app that promises users anonymity and claims to be the “the safest place on the internet”, is tracking the location of its users, including some who have specifically asked not to be followed.

The practice of monitoring the whereabouts of Whisper users – including those who have expressly opted out of geolocation services – will alarm users, who are encouraged to disclose intimate details about their private and professional lives.

Whisper is also sharing information with the US Department of Defense gleaned from smartphones it knows are used from military bases, and developing a version of its app to conform with Chinese censorship laws. –The Guardian

Let’s go back to some of those stats that Chris was throwing out. Do publishers just not think there’s an audience for work by writers of color?

[Chris] Jackson: No, I don’t think that’s true. I would say what’s happening in some of the larger publishing companies is that they’re publishing fewer books generally than they have in the past, and so they’re trying to publish those to audiences that they think they have mastered, they’ve already identified. And there’s a lot of data now in the way there wasn’t in the past, which can cut two ways. The olden days of “gut feelings” is passing away, and that’s not such a bad thing—gut feelings are often laced with implicit and untested biases. But my fear about more data-driven publishing is that it leads to companies engineered to sell books to people they’ve already identified.

And that means that it’s almost like, if you got on the boat already, you’re in. But if you’re not on the boat already…then the boat’s gone, and you’re not getting in. So lots of audiences that haven’t been as identifiable or easy to reach, or whatever, I think you have a lot more trouble with those kinds of books.

The good thing is that there are a lot of writers who are finding ways to get themselves out there without needing a publishing machine the way that they did in the past. –Scratch Magazine

If you’re not intimately familiar with his novels, then you assuredly know major films based on Dick’s work – Blade Runner, Total Recall, A Scanner Darkly and Minority Report. Today, we bring you another way to get acquainted with his writing. We’re presenting a selection of Dick’s stories available for free on the web. Below we have culled together 33 short stories from our two collections, 600 Free eBooks for iPad, Kindle & Other Devices and 550 Free Audio Books: Download Great Books for Free. The stories, it appears, are all in the public domain. –Open Culture

Thursday News: B&N defers digital audio plans, George RR Martin plans rest of series, rare audio readings, and multi-function jewelry

Thursday News: B&N defers digital audio plans, George RR Martin plans...

B&N Plans Return to Digital Audiobooks – Publishers Weekly is reporting that Barnes and Noble, which recent announced that it was closing its downloadable audio book business, is still interested in physical audiobooks, and will, at some point in the future, be re-introducing some form of digital audiobook. Filed under things that make you go hmm.

The spokesperson continued: “We have plans to provide customers with a more well integrated digital audio experience at a future date yet to be determined. We apologize to our customers for the inconvenience and ask for their patience.” –Publishers Weekly

George R.R. Martin talks “Game of Thrones” publishing plans – So the fact that George R.R. Martin is even talking about finishing the Song of Ice and Fire series seems like pretty fantastic news to fans, but now there is confusion, excitement, and perhaps even disappointment over the possibility that the series might extend to eight, rather than seven, books. Has the cable series affected the timeframe in which readers can expect the rest of the series, do you think, or is there no connection.

“My plan is to finish in seven,” he told Entertainment Weekly. “But my original plan was to finish in three. I write the stories and they grow. I deal with certain things and sometimes I find myself not at the end of a story. My plan right now is still seven. But first I have to finish Book Six. Get back to me when I’m half-way through Book Seven and then maybe I’ll tell you something more meaningful.” –CBS News

19 Rare Recordings of Famous Authors – Given the post above about audiobooks, check out these remarkable audio recordings from authors including Walt Whitman, Virginia Woolf, Arthur Conan Doyle, Tennyson, and Langston Hughes. Apparently Thomas Edison recorded Whitman reading “America.”  –Mental Floss

A Necklace to Save You From That Awkward Date – For weeks, every time I opened my Yahoo homepage this article would come up. Finally, I clicked on it, and was like, hmm, how many Romance novel heroines need this kind of device?! Apparently it calls your cellphone so you can get yourself out of a bad date. It’s called the Guardian Angel and also comes in bracelet form for a mere $120. On a more serious note, it can also transmit an SOS message to an emergency contact, with a link to the wearer’s location.

“Especially in a workplace or social scenario, there can be social penalties for confronting harassers directly,” said Corinna Lim, AWARE executive director, in the press release. “The Guardian Angel can help defuse some harassment situations. The emergency contact function also empowers women to more easily seek help in cases of serious threat.” –ABC News