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Personal information belonging to 144,000 Canadians breached at federal departments and agencies over the past two years

Catharine Tunney, CBC »

Federal departments or agencies have mishandled personal information belonging to 144,000 Canadians over the past two years, according to new figures tabled in the House of Commons — and not everyone who was swept up in a privacy breach was told about it.

The new figures were included in the federal government’s answer to an order paper question filed by Conservative MP Dean Allison late last month. The nearly 800-page response didn’t offer an explanation for the errors, which range in seriousness from minor hiccups to serious breaches involving sensitive personal information.


The Canada Revenue Agency leads the pack in breaches, with more than 3,005 separate incidents affecting close to 60,000 Canadians between Jan. 1, 2018 and Dec. 10, 2019.

The department blames the breaches on misdirected mail, security incidents and employee misconduct.

Even the keepers of Canada’s official secrets aren’t immune. The Canadian Security Intelligence Service, the Communications Security Establishment and the RCMP all reported missteps as well.

The Department of National Defence said most of its 170 breaches, which affected more than 2,000 people, were due to inappropriate access to, or use or disclosure of, personal information.

Apple dropped plan for encrypting iCloud after FBI complained about the initiative

Joseph Menn, Reuters »

Apple Inc. dropped plans to let iPhone users fully encrypt backups of their devices in the company’s iCloud service after the FBI complained that the move would harm investigations, six sources familiar with the matter told Reuters.

The long-running tug of war between investigators’ concerns about security and tech companies’ desire for user privacy moved back into the public spotlight last week, as U.S. Attorney General William Barr took the rare step of publicly calling on Apple to unlock two iPhones used by a Saudi Air Force officer who shot dead three Americans at a Pensacola, Florida naval base last month.

James Vincent, The Verge » Apple can’t read your on-device data, but it can read your iCloud backups

This information is encrypted to stop attackers, but Apple holds the keys to decrypt it and shares it with police and governments when legally required.

Jon Brodkin, Ars Technica »

Apple has not implemented end-to-end encryption for iCloud Backup, the service that lets customers back up their iPhones and iPads to Apple servers, or for iCloud Drive. The iCloud Backup and iCloud Drive data sets are encrypted at rest and in transit, but Apple has the key to unlock them and can thus give decrypted versions to law enforcement.

More » AppleInsider, Tom’s Guide

Could this be the start of a technology backlash among young people

The study is published by Deloitte, one of the world’s big consultancies.

Jakob Moll, Nieman Lab »

A recently published survey looking at smartphone usage in the Nordic countries contained an astonishing number. In the 18- to 24-year-old age group, only 87 percent said they “own or have ready access to” a smartphone. That was the lowest of all the other adult age groups surveyed — including 65- to 75-year-olds.


87 out of 100 is a high proportion, mind you. But it’s still surprising to many of us that a significant proportion of the youngest adults turn their backs on a device most consider an extra limb.

Russia successfully disconnected from the internet

Russia claims to have successfully completed a series of tests that disconnected the whole country from the internet.

Catalin Cimpanu, ZDNet »

The goal was to test if the country’s national internet infrastructure — known inside Russia as RuNet — could function without access to the global DNS system and the external internet.

Internet traffic was re-routed internally, effectively making Russia’s RuNet the world’s largest intranet.

The government did not reveal any technical details about the tests and what exactly they consisted of. It only said that the government tested several disconnection scenarios, including a scenario that simulated a hostile cyber-attack from a foreign country.

More » TechSpot

The reliability of facial recognition and artificial intelligence has come under scrutiny

AI is being widely deployed, sold to the public and users as being more reliable. We aren’t there yet, but security agencies and corporate interests are putting our safety and security at risk.

Jeff John Roberts, writing in Fortune Magazine »

Masks and simple photographs are enough to fool some facial recognition technology, highlighting a major shortcoming in what is billed as a more effective security tool.


More alarming were the tests deployed at transportation hubs. At the self-boarding terminal in Schiphol Airport, the Netherlands’ largest airport, the Kneron team tricked the sensor with just a photo on a phone screen. The team also says it was able to gain access in this way to rail stations in China where commuters use facial recognition to pay their fare and board trains.

The transportation experiments raise concerns about terrorism at a time when security agencies are exploring facial recognition as a means of saving money and improving efficiency. In the case of the payment tablets, the ability to fool WeChat and AliPay with masks raises the specter of fraud and identity theft.

Canadian courts powerless to order Facebook to hand over private messages

Result » Canadian federal legislators need to enact legislation that will be enforceable within Canadian jurisdiction.

If Facebook, and others, want to operate within Canadian borders, they must be expected to work within Canadian society’s rules, regulations, and customs.

Kate Dubinski, writing in CBC News »

The case involved Facebook messages that police in London, Ont., wanted to access in order to proceed with a homicide investigation and trial.

Because Facebook is an American company, the usual legal process involves Canadian authorities applying for evidence, in this case from the Facebook Messenger app, through a mutual legal assistance treaty (MLAT). The treaty has been used for decades by police on both sides of the border to get access to physical evidence.

In this case, a judge issued a production order — essentially a legal order for Facebook to give up the information. Authorities thought that would be quicker than the treaty process, which takes about four months.

But when it became clear this fall Facebook would fight tooth and nail against having to comply with a Canadian judge’s order, the Crown applied through the MLAT for the messages and received them.

Read the whole article in CBC News »

Apple commits US$2.5 billion to help combat housing crisis in California

Google and Microsoft have recently made similar announcements.

Apple’s US$2.5 billion commitment will include a US$1 billon affordable housing investment fund, a US$1 billion first-time homebuyer mortgage assistance fund, US$300 million in Apple-owned and available land for housing, a US$150 million Bay Area housing fund, and US$50 million earmarked for supporting “vulnerable populations.”

Apple Press Release »

Apple today announced a comprehensive $2.5 billion plan to help address the housing availability and affordability crisis in California. As costs skyrocket for renters and potential homebuyers — and as the availability of affordable housing fails to keep pace with the region’s growth — community members like teachers, firefighters, first responders and service workers are increasingly having to make the difficult choice to leave behind the community they have long called home. Nearly 30,000 people left San Francisco between April and June of this year and homeownership in the Bay Area is at a seven-year low.

Read the whole press release »

With these announcements, these tech companies are recognizing they have contributed to the housing problems.

More » NY Times, Reuters, WSJ, Axios, Engadget, The Mac Observer, MacRumors, Apple Insider

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