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Technology 17 February 2020

The Week in Internet News: CIA Had Encryption Backdoor for Decades

Grant Gross
By Grant GrossTechnology Reporter

We’re watching you: The U.S. CIA secretly had an ownership stake in Swiss encryption company Crypto AG for decades and was able to read encrypted messages sent using the company’s technology, the Washington Post reports. West German intelligence agencies worked with the CIA. Forbes columnist Jody Westby called for a congressional investigation.

We’re watching you, part two: Meanwhile, Russia’s Federal Security Service has ordered some large Internet companies in the country to give it continuous access to their systems, the New York Times reports. The FSB has targeted more than 200 companies, including popular messenger service Telegram, social network VK. and classified advertisement website Avito.ru.

Big bucks for space-based Internet: Astranis, a satellite Internet startup focused on bringing service to underserved areas, has raised $90 million in new funding, Fortune says. The new funding will help Astranis deploy its first satellite, focused on providing Internet service in Alaska.

Not so fast: Satellites, however, have some downsides, according to a story on TheConversation.com. Satellites are vulnerable to cyberattacks, with hackers potentially able to shut them down or even turn them into weapons, the story suggests.

New privacy push: U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, a New York Democrat, has proposed a new federal privacy agency to protect consumers, CNBC notes. The new Data Protection Agency would protect people against online companies that “have built major empires of data with information about our private lives,” she said. “They’re processing that information with increasingly complex and sophisticated algorithms. And they’re making a whole lot of money off of it.”

Future privacy pushes: Meanwhile, a $550 million privacy settlement agreed to by Facebook over alleged violations of an Illinois privacy law may spur more state privacy legislation, CFO.com says. Only a handful of states have similar biometric privacy laws, but other states are considering them after the settlement. The Illinois law, targeting facial recognition and similar technologies, has led to hundreds of lawsuits.

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Disclaimer: Viewpoints expressed in this post are those of the author and may or may not reflect official Internet Society positions.

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