* Posts by DougS

12862 posts • joined 12 Feb 2011

FBI channels Kafka with new rules on slurping Americans' private data

DougS Silver badge

Reap what you sow

When you can't trust the government, the only thing to do is treat them like any other criminal wanting to invade your privacy. That's why I applaud Apple's stand, and their further movement toward making it impossible for them to even be capable of doing what the FBI is asking in the future by preventing DFU mode software updates. I hope they also make it so the end user controls the encryption key for ALL iCloud data, not just the more sensitive stuff like passwords and health records as currently.

If Apple makes themselves completely helpless to aid the government in searching your phone or iCloud data even in the presence of a valid court order this fight will be forced out in the open. No more false cloak of secrecy in the name of "national security" as with PRISM. Once destroyed, trust can never be regained.

If the end result of this fight is that the government forces a backdoor for themselves via a law that US tech companies have no choice but to comply with, I sure hope Apple does it only for iPhones sold in the US. The US would have a hard time explaining to the rest of the world why they need a backdoor for phones sold in the UK or China and not expect backdoors left for those countries as well - and US tech companies would rightfully talk about the smoking ruin that would make the US economy if they were forced to sell such damaged products worldwide. If they make Apple sell bugged iPhones in the US you can bet I'll be having my next one shipped from overseas! And maybe send an email to the FBI Director with a picture of me unboxing my non-US phone with a picture of my middle finger included for good measure!

Obama puts down his encrypted phone long enough to tell us: Knock it off with the encryption

DougS Silver badge

You need to use the more expensive political strength bullshit detector if you want to use it on statements by presidents, congressmen, or candidates for those positions. The politician grade units use special unobtainium circuitry that can handle bullshit at neutron star densities which you will regularly encounter in the statements of a seasoned politician (warning, it may still explode if exposed to statements by Donald Trump, as his bullshit regularly reaches quark star densities)

DougS Silver badge


Are you really stupid enough to believe this is a liberal vs. conservative issue? Go look at the stand all the republican candidates for president have taken. They all support the FBI as well, none are standing with Apple.

DougS Silver badge

Re: I think he's discovered that it doesn't matter what he says

All the racists fled the democratic party in the 60s because of LBJ signing the Civil Rights Act in 1964, and became republicans. And now Trump supporters. The "democrat bedsheet party" you mention died about 50 years ago.

What's next? FBI telling us to turn iPhones into pocket spy bugs? It'll happen, says Apple exec

DougS Silver badge

Re: RE: Pocket Spy Bugs

If Apple was still working with the spooks under some secret law that covers them, Google, Microsoft, Facebook and everyone else, why would either side bother with this public spectacle? This issue was not on anyone's radar before, so it would only draw attention to it and possibly cause someone in the know with teh government, Apple or other involved tech companies to squeal.

The problem with large scale conspiracies is the more people know the more likely it will be revealed.

DougS Silver badge

Re: RE: Pocket Spy Bugs

They were the last to fold of all the companies listed, and the extent of each company's cooperation isn't clear from the NSA slide. Apple has been taking steps over the past couple years to make it more difficult for them to even be ABLE to cooperate with the government, so they are never again in a position where secret laws can be used against them without public knowledge. If they don't have a way to access information, no one needs to worry about them providing it.

DougS Silver badge

Bugging your phone

They can turn on microphones by placing a silent call, which is supposedly allowed via the baseband code (which is written by Qualcomm) or possibly via the SIM. iOS itself doesn't have a backdoor for this, but they don't need one since Apple (nor Google, Microsoft, etc.) has no control over the baseband code or the code run in the SIM.

Perhaps one of the reasons Apple is reportedly talking to Intel about licensing their LTE technology is that Apple wants to license it and include it in their SoC - and maintain the baseband code themselves so if any nasty surprises are in there they can fix them. Another good reaosn to do away with the physical SIM (which is a computer in its own right and runs its own OS using closed code) and go to a software one - close another avenue for the NSA to snoop on you.

Reprogrammble routers axed by TP-Link as FCC bans custom firmware

DougS Silver badge


Since they are going to install country code specific firmware on the ones they sell, I'm sure there must be a way for it to preserve the country code setting in the boot ROM so it can't be overridden via a firmware update. Then you can still use DD-WRT, just can't change the country code setting and use bands that are illegal in the US.

Linux fans may be in for disappointment with SQL Server 2016 port

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Re: Perfectly understandable

Linux supports a lot more CPU cores than Windows, so the idea that Windows has better scalability is ludicrous.

Besides, the limitation isn't "you can use only 2 cores on Linux" but that the business intelligence suite isn't supported. They just decided that releasing the main SQL Server that most people use earlier was preferred over waiting until stuff like BI that a minority use had been ported and fully tested.

Feds tell court: Apple 'deliberately raised technological barriers' to thwart iPhone warrant

DougS Silver badge

Apple cooperation with China

What Apple is providing the Chinese is the same thing they provide the US today - and have already provided for this phone. iCloud data. The reason China wanted iCloud data stored inside China wasn't because that is necessary for them to be able to get Apple to hand it over, but because they were concerned the US would force Amazon (Apple currently houses iCloud data on Amazon's cloud) to turn over iCloud data on Chinese citizens.

Apple hasn't created a custom iOS to hack the iPhone for China like the FBI is requesting. That's how those 74% of requests were handled - if they had a "backdoor" built in for China like some fools allege, that 74% would be 100%.

The reason for China's special Wifi protocol is more because China wants their own standards so they don't have to pay licensing fees on the technology. That's why they have TD-LTE instead of being compatible with the world standard for LTE. There may be some weakness built in to their wifi standard that makes it easier for them to spy, but I doubt it - that would make it easier for other governments to spy on Chinese citizens as well.

DougS Silver badge

Re: FBI doesn't need the code

The US government no longer cares about illegal evidence where terrorism is concerned, or they wouldn't have instituted mass spying on US citizens, rendition or death by drone on suspects, etc.

Today terrorism is the crime so bad they can ignore the constitution, tomorrow it is pedophilia, maybe someday it is all sorts of crimes.

Chinese boffins grow new eye lenses using stem cells

DougS Silver badge


They aren't all fixed focus, look up accommodating interocular lenses. They can provide the range of accommodation you have later in life when you generally have cataracts, but not the range you have when you are young (but they are working on that too...and will probably beat the general availability of regrown natural lenses)

DougS Silver badge

Re: So they've "solvedcd" a problem that does not really exist?

Not only that, if it becomes cheap and easy to regrow your lens that solves other problems like loss of close vision as you age and your lens loses its pliability. If you could go to the doctor at age 45 or whenever you start noticing your close vision being impacted, and have your lens replaced with new lens of your very own that give you the close vision of a child isn't that worth something? Or do you think you look good wearing reading glasses?

European commish considers probing Android, again

DougS Silver badge

Why does looking into Google preclude looking into Microsoft? Seems you are a Google supporter who has his knickers in a twist.

Google emits Android N developer preview early to smoke out bugs

DougS Silver badge

"Those who like Android" is a few percent of the people who buy Android. Most people are buying Samsung or HTC, not Android. Likewise most iPhone buyers buy Apple, not iOS.

You aren't going to get people to choose a phone just because it makes updating to newer versions easier. At least not unless there's the equivalent of few things like Nimda and I.Love.You hitting large swathes of Android users - and even then you'd probably see Samsung just backporting fixes for serious holes into older versions of Android even if Google won't.

No one complains about "Windows fragmentation" even though we see regular stats showing how many people are running XP, Vista, 7, 8, 8.1 and 10 on their PCs. it doesn't matter for securing PCs (well except for those still on XP) since Microsoft continues patching older versions. Maybe Google would have more luck getting OEMs to provide security patches if they produced patches for version 4.4.3 or whatever so it would be very easy for OEMs to integrate the change into their codebase instead of asking them to go all the way to version 6.x to get the fix. Thing is, Google doesn't care, they get money selling ads to those people no matter what version of Android they're running.

Approved: Master plan to end US gov control of internet's highest level

DougS Silver badge

Re: Nobody

I'm not sure, we might still be the least worst - the bar in the US seems pretty low but looking around at what other countries are doing I can't help but find a lot of dysfunction everywhere I look.

We'd probably be better handing off the internet to a benevolent dictator like Linus. I'm sure he doesn't want it, so let's saddle one of the people most responsible for the modern internet like Vint Cerf or Tim Berners-Lee with running it. Its their fault, so they get drafted with this thankless task :)

DougS Silver badge

You assume the root servers are in control

They are not. Unless you run your own nameserver, you are depending on the delegation of the nameservers you use - probably your ISP's. If something "big" enough happens that the root server admins decide to take a walk, do you think they will all act in unison? Maybe, maybe not. Do you think that all countries will decide that's for the best, or that their governments or leading ISPs might set up their own alternate roots that become the defacto roots for citizens of that country?

The result of discord large enough to cause the root server admins to break from ICANN would probably fragment the internet. Maybe it doesn't matter for those in the west, since the US and EU are likely to be on the same page, but if you live elsewhere who knows where things fall. Sure, you could point to a different nameserver or run your own and choose the root you want, but you can do that today. Few do, because the alternate roots are mostly useless for general internet use (yeah there's the dark web, but that's 95% criminal or at least dark grey)

Sites like Amazon, CNN and the Register aren't going to set up residence on all the alternate roots that might spring up if the internet fractures. Large swathes of people might simply be cut off - they could reach them, but they won't configure themselves to be able to do so either due to ignorance or because they don't care to bother, so the effect will be the same. We might see a blog with spy photos of the next iPhone or something, that links to a site in China but we can't follow the link because it relies on use of an alternate DNS root we aren't set up for - and we don't know which one (maybe we'll need an http extension to list the DNS root in a URL...)

In a decade we might look back fondly on how small the internet made the world seem back in 2016, if the internet and web fractures into a dozen pieces down the road.

US chap sharpens paradigm-busting scissors

DougS Silver badge
IT Angle

IT angle?

Can't believe no one added the usual "IT angle?" complaint. I was waiting for the inevitable response of "90 degrees".

FBI says NY judge went too far in ruling the FBI went too far in forcing Apple to unlock iPhone

DougS Silver badge

Re: I bet real money...

iOS software is cryptographically signed by Apple, it is impossible to change the code after Apple signs it. If they make it so it only runs on one specific phone by checking the serial number, it is guaranteed it will only ever run on that one specific phone.

The problem is that this won't be the only request the FBI and other law enforcement agencies make. The NYPD alone has 173 phones they say they will ask Apple to unlock using the FBI's argument if the FBI prevails. There would be thousands of requests per year just in the US alone, it isn't feasible to create a custom iOS for each one when you start receiving a dozen new requests every day. That's before you add the rest of the world, whom Apple will have little excuse to avoid cooperating with when they're cooperating with US law enforcement.

DougS Silver badge

Re: I bet real money...

While I agree, I think these arguments distract from Apple's position and make it appear one is saying "well it would be OK if they knew there was stuff on this phone, but because we there is good reason to believe there's nothing on it they shouldn't force Apple to do it". They shouldn't be able to order Apple to do this even if they had evidence there was important data on the phone! The precedent would still be set!

The pro-FBI crowd only wants to focus on "what if they find something of value that saves lives - by standing in the way Apple could cost lives etc. etc." They ignore the lives that might be cost if this precedent is set. It isn't like the law enforcement world is free of corruption. Arresting someone on made up charges or with planted evidence, and getting a judge to issue a court order to force Apple to unlock a phone could result in the death of a witness against police taking bribes or someone who takes video of an unjustified police shooting.

Some innocent people may die as a result of terrorism or other criminal activity if the ruling goes Apple's way but other innocent people may die if the ruling goes the FBI's way and a precedent is set that adds this capability to law enforcement's toolbag. No one should be under any illusion this is a one sided deal where lives are lost only if Apple prevails.

DougS Silver badge

Re: Helping with our enquiries ...

Who owns the phone and whether they are OK with breaking into it is irrelevant for whether the court should be able to order Apple to do something when they are blameless for either the mass shooting in one case or drug dealing in the other.

The All Writs Act, if interpreted the way the FBI wants, would seem to allow them to compel any business to give them anything they want if they can argue it will help with the prosecution of a case. Maybe the NYPD wants the Mandarin Oriental to give them a block of suites to help them in a sting operation. Maybe they want Chase Manhattan to give them a $1 billion credit line. Why is forcing Apple to produce a special build of iOS OK but those things will remain out of bounds?

Look at the RICO laws, which were passed on the promise they would only ever be used to help prosecute the Mafia, since existing laws didn't do a good job of handling it. Now they are used for all sorts of things totally unrelated to the Mafia, which is only a tiny percentage of overall RICO cases. Give them an inch, they'll take a mile. That judge was quite correct to be worried about handing them that sort of power from the All Writs Act.

Google-backed British startup ‘stole our code’, says US marketing firm

DougS Silver badge

@Tom 13 "sucks to be the plaintiff"

Doesn't matter what they signed, if their code was stolen that's a copyright violation.

Stealing their "idea", I agree, if they didn't make them sign something they're stupid. Since the article said they were a startup, probably it was the guys responsible for the startup who were uneducated in how to run a business and thought "we're smart, why do we need to hire a lawyer to tell us what we already know?"

Home Ebola testing with a Tricorder? There's an app for that

DougS Silver badge

Re: With an iPhone?

Presumably there's an app on the iPhone that does some number crunching to produce the results. The PCR kit just produces numbers, they have to be interpreted to give the yes/no answer. Using a phone allows easily sending results to where they need to go, network connectivity if wifi is not available, ability to call/text to alert the proper organizations when a positive result is found, etc.

Given how expensive the PCR kit 'peripheral' is, worrying about the price of an iPhone was probably not on their radar. The company that makes the PCR kit may not even have an Android version of their app.

Boffins bust biometrics with inkjet printer

DougS Silver badge

Re: Not Surprised

The more tricky you get with stuff like veins and blood flow the greater the number of false negatives which will make for a frustrating user experience. Easier to just implant a chip in your finger and be done with it.

Devil icon (or closest thing to it) since I just suggested a special mark you must have before you're allowed to buy or sell!

With Facebook shafted, India now belongs to Google

DougS Silver badge

Re: Come on India...

Talent, yes. Funding sources, perhaps not. Companies like Google and Facebook have scale that allows them to monetize this a lot better than a new entrant. And can afford for it to run at a loss for a while and perhaps even fail.

Californian tycoons stole my sharing economy, says Lily Cole

DougS Silver badge

Re: Newsflash

I think this would be a much better example, especially given that it is based on a true story:


Solus: A welcome ground-up break from the Linux herd

DougS Silver badge

Oh good

There aren't enough Linux distros, package managers and Linux GUIs out there, so glad people are still taking the time to reinvent the wheel.

Accenture leans back, receives £86m Met Police contract

DougS Silver badge

Of course it does, that's the result anyone would expect. Still, it costs less so CIOs pursue it because they can collect bonuses based on cost cutting and use that to step up the ladder to a bigger job. Taking care to leave before things get to the point where there is more energy expended finger pointing than fixing things and shit hits the fan.

GCHQ: Crypto's great, we're your mate, don't be like that and hate

DougS Silver badge

Re: chutzpah

Supposedly there was some pressure applied to Diffie et al to not publish, luckily they did not give in or we'd all be struggling with unwieldly secret key encryption.

Apple: FBI request threatens kids, electricity grid, liberty

DougS Silver badge

Re: There is a backdoor.already

There's a timeout on being able to use the fingerprint reader on the iPhone, after which it requires the password. It also requires the password when it is first booted (so if you are about to get arrested, power off your phone or touch the wrong finger to it 3-4 times in succession)

The way the fingerprint reader works on the iPhone is that your actual password is stored in the secure enclave (so it must get your password from you when you first boot the phone to allow this) so yes it is less secure. But that's a problem with biometrics in general - doesn't matter if you use fingerprints, irises, palm veins or whatever. Fingerprints and irises are particularly bad because they are trivially lifted in public places unless you go everywhere in gloves and sunglasses.

DougS Silver badge

Re: Time for a compromise?

If the software for JUST THIS ONE PHONE was released in the wild, sure. How likely is that, given that the FBI already has a dozen other phones they want to do this with, the NYPD has 173, and undoubtedly there are thousands of others in the US alone.

It will quickly become impossibly unwieldy to create a custom version of iOS that runs on just that one phone in each case, so it will become necessary to create a generic FBiOS at that point.

If you think that won't happen, tell me where I'm wrong in this scenario. I sure hope you don't believe the FBI's original assertion that this is about "just one phone" because Comey himself has already backed down off that claim.

DougS Silver badge

iCloud backups

Yes, I would like to see them add the ability to have my full iCloud backups encrypted by a key that only I control. Currently that's true for files that have certain protections (like passwords stored with apps) but files that have 'no protection' status in iOS are encrypted with a key Apple controls which allows them to decrypt the content.

Since iMessage data is among the things that have 'no protection' (there are reasons for that, and it isn't something that would be that easy to change) it leaves something to be desired, which is why I've never used iCloud and backup to iTunes exclusively. Part of the reason for this is because if it is protected by a key you control and you lose it, you lose your backups - i.e. ease of use. I think that's fine, just allow a more secure option for those who choose it, with appropriate warnings of 'if you forget your iCloud backup key (password) you will lose access to the iCloud backups of your phone'. Since you already have an iCloud password, and that can't be used as this key, nor can your device password (otherwise you couldn't restore to a new device if yours was lost) they would need to allow you to create yet another password....that's hard to get across to customers and create a simple UI for...

DougS Silver badge

Re: Time for a compromise?

Apple was already working on a change that would remove the ability to update software on a locked phone (which was done for convenience...i.e. it allowed recovery from a bad flash)

And no, this is not like a safe manufacturer cracking a safe. It is like a safe manufacturer being ordered by the court to create a special tool that allows breaking into EVERY safe they make, but the FBI saying "but you can bring the safe into your lab and use this tool on it rather than give it to us so that's OK". The problem is that the FBI will come back and ask them to do this for a lot of other safes. And the safe manufacturer will have this tool in their possession, where the possibility exists for it to be copied by an unscrupulous employee (or one that has had his family kidnapped and is under duress) or a burglar (i.e. hacker) could break in and steal a copy of it.

DougS Silver badge

Re: Cognitive Dissonance

I don't read the Reg's coverage of this as negative to Apple. As stated, you see what you want to see, so if you look for bias against Apple you'll find it if you look hard enough. I imagine there are a few readers who support the FBI who think the Reg's coverage is pro Apple and highly biased against the FBI.

DougS Silver badge

Re: "Apple works mighty hard to ensure its products are secure"

I'm not sure why you thinking assembling them in the US would be any more secure than building them in China. Being able to see all the parts that go in it as it is being put together isn't any different than taking one apart and seeing the parts that way. Either way they have no access to alter the software or get hold of Apple's signing key, which is probably located in only a single secure room in Apple's HQ.

If China thought they could get some special information from access to where they are being assembled, it isn't like getting that access would be difficult if they were assembled in the US. They manage to infiltrate US nuclear weapons research programs, so I think getting access to a factory where many thousands of people assemble phones wouldn't present much of a challenge!

Bill Clinton killed off internet taxes, says Australian politician

DougS Silver badge

People won't vote to be taxed

But they would vote to have roads, schools, police and so on. That's theoretically why we elect a government, because leaving decisions like this up to a popular vote isn't going to work so well so we have people to make the hard decisions for us.

At least that's the theory...mob rule might be better than the dysfunctional government we've got in the US these days.

DougS Silver badge

Re: Idiot

Presumably sales tax to make up for the revenue lost to states from people buying stuff on the internet which avoids it (not including the further loss of sales/property tax when internet based businesses that didn't bear those costs were able to undercut local businesses and cause them to eventually close)

Not saying 'taxing the internet' would be a good thing, but it is pretty damn obvious no one is talking about taxing this on the ISP level. If you pay a few bucks a month in taxes on whatever you pay your ISP, even a year's worth doesn't make up for the sales tax lost if you buy your new $1000 TV through Amazon and pay no sales tax.

Google splats more bad Android security bugs with patches your mobe will probably never see

DougS Silver badge

Re: Complaints

My parents iPad 2 seems just fine to me running iOS 9. I can't do a side by side comparison with all the intervening versions but there's no problem with its performance from my perspective.

When a new iOS version is released, you typically hear complaints "my old device xx got slower!" but a month or so later when the .1 version is released you hear "my old device xx is faster" so I think they probably don't get a lot of testing on older versions when developing a new iOS release. That's not surprising - you'd expect Apple employees, developers and the public interested enough to beta test to be likely to have newer hardware. After release when it gets installed on them Apple will investigate the specific complaints and resolve them in the updates.

So the solution is to probably hold off on updating a bit if you have older hardware, and hit the .1 release or even .2 if you want to be sure.

DougS Silver badge

Re: Friends don't let friends...

Unless you're going to take on the task of rooting it etc. to install something else, telling your non-techie friends "buy this model because you can install something better on it" is going to get you a glazed over look in return. That's like telling them to buy a particular model of car because it makes replacing the struts an easier DIY project.

And if do perform that service for them, you will become their tech support for life. Good luck with that.

Open trucker comms lets Shodan snoops alter routes, tap CANs buses.

DougS Silver badge


This looks to be rather modern software - note the references to Android in the list of commands in the picture. Somehow someone designed something in the last few years, and decided that access via telnet was fine despite SSH having been around for a couple decades now.

I'm not sure how best to solve this. You want some reasonable security precautions like encrypted communications and a requirement to not use default/guessable passwords, but if you put a security professional on the development team you'll not only bear his cost but the cost of the design decisions he'll enforce to justify his existence (don't try to tell me the typical security pro wouldn't come up with a dozen theoretical attacks that raise hardware cost to defend against)

Then there's the problem of what exactly Android is being used for here. If the version of Android is customized, as you'd guess it must be since this GPRS telematics device is only sort of like a phone, then good luck getting it patched against all the known Android holes. Using Android here is sort of the opposite of 'security through obscurity'...'insecurity through ubiquity' I guess.

Dead Steve Jobs is still a crook – and Apple must cough up $450m for over-pricing ebooks

DougS Silver badge

You don't base fines on trying to hurt the company, but on making up for the harm. Even when calculating the harm that $450 million was calculated in a pretty generous fashion. Should buyers of e-books during this time get a full refund for the purchase price of the e-book, rather than just a refund of the difference of what the price would have been under Amazon's "sell at a loss" strategy? Why do they deserve that? If they don't get that extra money, who should? The lawyers?

It isn't as though Apple makes its billions off e-books. Heck, I'm pretty sure they never made anywhere remotely close to $450 million off e-books.

DougS Silver badge

Re: hubris

What Apple did was wrong, and they deserve to be punished. But Amazon is also in the wrong, they're just playing the long game of waiting until they've killed off all alternate means of buying books like brick&mortar stores and e-book competitors before they exercise their monopoly powers.

Or are people foolish enough to think that Amazon will continue selling e-books at a loss forever?

Aye, AI: Cambridge's Dr Sean Holden talks to El Reg about our robot overlords

DougS Silver badge

Re: Games

Yes I hate the typical AI excuse of calling it a 'moving target' because stuff that they figure out "no longer looks like AI". Bullshit. The AI people are the ones who decided that a chess playing, and later Go playing computer qualifies as AI.

Anything that is based on logic alone is not AI as far as I'm concerned - humans have the element of deductive reasoning and creativity and that is what makes our intelligence unique from that of an automaton that plays chess or solves a Sudoko. Since it isn't easy to model solving a problem that requires creativity, I'll settle for playing a game like Mao where the rules can't be programmed in and the main task of the AI is to figure them out for themselves.

That's something a four year old could do (if motivated) so we'll worry about what a 25 year old human can do down the road. But at least that would show me something that isn't basically programming in the set of constraints and letting loose a ton of computing power to find the optimal (or most optimal in the time allowed) answer.

Microsoft: Ditch your phone biz and do crazy hardware experiments

DougS Silver badge

Re: Continuum'd

I've been saying that Apple should do something like Continuum for about four years now. I'm sure they've looked at it, and maybe they have been developing it but are still polishing it, but I think that's the future for casual users and especially the third world.

So I think Microsoft should continue with their Windows Phone effort they just need to modify it somewhat. First off, announce an end of support for ARM based Windows Phones, go x86 only. That way they can run a real Windows GUI with real Windows apps when connected to a monitor and keyboard/mouse, and you don't need to bother with the stupid 'universal apps' no one wants. That's why the Surface is popular - no one liked it as a Microsoft tablet that runs universal apps but they do like it as a very light Windows laptop that runs regular Windows apps.

That's how they need to position Continuum. Then people can buy a Windows phone instead of a Windows PC, and keep people in the Windows world. Otherwise they'll risk having them leave Windows behind with an iPad (which is totally fine if you mostly just browse and email, and aren't doing stuff like writing term papers or editing spreadsheets) Or leaving them behind if/when Apple comes up with Continuum like support to run OS X apps on your phone, or Google makes a 'good enough' version of Linux the average person is willing to tolerate to do the same with Android.

DougS Silver badge

Re: "looks for ways of getting people to write Universal apps"

Is that 30% really stopping anyone more writing them? No, it is the fact that there is no one is buying Windows Phones, meaning you will make a pittance whether you collect 70% or 100% of the top line revenue.

They don't need universal apps for their tablet, because people don't use Surface as a tablet. They use it as a laptop, and run laptop apps on it. Even Google can't get people interested in writing tablet apps for Android, or even making the UI anything more than "same as on the phone, only bigger".

French parliament votes to jail tech execs who refuse to decrypt data

DougS Silver badge

Re: Irrelevant to Apple, even if they pass it

If France wanted to take things that far then Apple could close their operations in that country by closing the Apple Stores there and refusing to sell iPhones to residents. Would cost them much less losing the French as customers then compromising security due to France's stupid laws.

DougS Silver badge

Re: Irrelevant to Apple, even if they pass it

The 'backdoor' the FBI wishes to create relies on the phone being able to accept a software update from DFU mode without any password or other authentication being provided. Apple said they were already working on software changes that will close that "hole" (it isn't really a hole since it was deliberate in the design as a convenience for users to recover from botched updates, but now that the FBI has made it a problem, that needs to be changed) Assuming the software change is delivered no later than with iOS 10, and probably sooner, 80% of iOS devices (or thereabouts) will therefore be immune to the FBI strategy by the end of the year.

Obviously, being software, it could be undone with a future software change - but that would take things one HUGE step further. Instead of the court ordering Apple to create and apply a special software update to one phone (at a time) the government would have to pass a law requiring Apple to change its software to open that hole back up and apply it to ALL phones. That's a much bigger step, and considering that public opinion is 50/50 at best for opening up one terrorist iPhone there's no way such a law could ever be passed to open up a hole on EVERY iPhone.

I'm sure the iPhone 7 was already going to include improved hardware enforcement of security policies currently controlled by software, and that will continue in the future. Security is a process, and as new things are learned (like "the government might to try force us to create custom software to hack our own security measures") those lessons are applied to future software and hardware designs. Until the FBI asked for this court order, Apple had never considered the need for defending against being forced to create custom software loads. Now that they are aware of this new threat, they are working on software and eventually hardware solutions to eliminate not just this threat but any similar threat where they are compelled by outside agencies to use their unique access to iOS to compromise an iPhone. If they make such action impossible, they can honestly say what is being asked for is beyond their power.

If nothing else, further improved security/privacy may be a reason to upgrade your iPhone, so maybe the FBI will help Apple make a little more money in the long run. That would be rather ironic given that the FBI deliberately chose to file this case publicly instead of under seal like Apple requested, likely hoping the threat of negative publicity from what the FBI assumed would be a slam dunk PR win would force Apple to go along and set the precedent they are looking for.

How the FBI will lose its iPhone fight, thanks to 'West Coast Law'

DougS Silver badge

Re: Indeed

Maybe, maybe not. The question is whether the firmware of the secure enclave is possible to update in DFU mode (or at all) which would allow overriding that (the counter isn't "in hardware" it is in the secure enclave which is basically a tiny computer on the A7/A8/A9 SoC, which of course runs its own software independent of (but in communication with) iOS.

DougS Silver badge

Re: Hyperbole

Actually it can be simply updated with new code without triggering the wipe. All iPhones support software update in DFU mode while connected via USB to iTunes. No password or authentication of any type required. That was deliberate, to allow recovery from a bad flash. Now that they know that 'convenience' feature might be used for evil by having the government force them to create custom software, they are already working on removing that ability in the next iOS update.

That won't affect this phone, or any other phone collected by the FBI or various law enforcement agencies. But it will affect the iPhones they collect a year from now, which will very likely have this update installed.

Google gives ringing endorsement to US VPN providers with 'right to be forgotten' expansion

DougS Silver badge

Google and copyright laws

Google follows US copyright laws because they are an American company and US copyright laws are probably the world's most restrictive so it is the 'safest' choice as they don't have to worry about someone from Ghana coming along and claiming something that is public domain in the US is copyrighted there.

If you want search engines to follow the more relaxed laws of some other country, you probably need to start a search engine in that other country. US copyright holders may come after you anyway, so make sure it is in a country that is not subject to undue influence from US courts and that your search engine doesn't have any presence in the US (i.e. servers, registrar, etc.)

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