Weekly Newsletter March

This Week’s Top Stories

Julian Assange delivered a speech at SXSW yesterday. Assange participated in a ‘virtual’ interview with Benjamin Palmer from the Barbarian Group to talk about surveillance and democracy on the web. A recording of the hour-long interview is on YouTube and The Guardian has also written a summary piece. Both Edward Snowden and Glenn Greenwald will appear for virtual interviews on Monday.

Snowden tried to go through official channels over ten times before leaking the highly controversial NSA program. The Washington Post reported that Snowden reached out to over 10 officials before finally taking matters into his own hands. The NSA previously told the Washington Post that Snowden never made any attempt to do so.

Experts say government cyber-intelligence is compromising online security. San Francisco held the annual RSA conference last week where cyber enthusiasts gathered from all around the world. Many security experts are worried that the tools used by the NSA could be acquired by black-hat hackers.

A Vietnamese blogger was sentenced to two years in prison for “abusing democratic reforms”. Truong Duy Nhat was convicted under article 258 of the penal code. Nhat denied that he broke the law in his criticisms of the government, but his defense didn’t hold up in court.

Wikileaks cable from 2006 hinted at possible Russian invasion of Ukraine. Joshua Keating from Slate uncovered cables on Wikileaks dating back to 2006 that foreshadowed the events that have unfolded in Ukraine. The cable warned of instability in Crimea and the potential threat from pro-Russians.

British politician accuses Google of storing private patient data. Prominent Tory MP Sarah Wollaston brought to light that private health data from the NHS is being stored on Google servers. Wollaston tweeted, “So HES [hospital episode statistics] data uploaded to ‘google’s immense army of servers’, who consented to that?”

Facebook is rumored to be acquiring solar-powered drone manufacturer Titan Aerospace for $60 million. Sources from TechCrunch indicate that Facebook is purchasing the drone manufacturer to help increase internet access in the developing world. Facebook wants to ensure that every new user connected to the internet starts using Facebook.

Eurotech companies using streetlights to expand cellphone coverage. The average US mobile phone user consumed 1.2 gigabytes of data a month over cellular networks which was double the average amount used in 2012. European based companies Ericsson and Phillips revealed a new project last Monday which will incorporate cellphone antennas into LED streetlights.


Has Privacy Become a Luxury? Long gone are the days when we had to pay for news and mail. It’s not cheap to buy privacy, as Julia Angwin on the New York Times explains.

Government Surveillance – This is Just the Beginning. Privacy researcher Christopher Soghoian gave a TED talk (8 minutes) on the proliferation of private enterprises selling surveillance software to governments around the world. 

A Visit to Haiti, and the biggest Hellraiser I Know. Bill Gates recounts his visit to Haiti last week and the tremendous work Paul Farmer has done with Partners in Health (PIH), a non-profit that runs medical clinics at 12 sites in Haiti.

Subscribe to The Grand Signal Weekly