Twitter takes step to make it harder to spy on its users

Nov 24 2013, 07:13 IST
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A year and a half ago, Twitter was first served completely over HTTPS. (Reuters) A year and a half ago, Twitter was first served completely over HTTPS. (Reuters)
SummaryA year and a half ago, Twitter was first served completely over HTTPS.

Twitter Inc said it has implemented a security technology that makes it harder to spy on its users and called on other Internet firms to do the same, as Web providers look to thwart spying by government intelligence agencies.

The online messaging service, which began scrambling communications in 2011 using traditional HTTPS encryption, said on Friday it has added an advanced layer of protection for HTTPS known as “forward secrecy.”

“A year and a half ago, Twitter was first served completely over HTTPS,” the company said in a blog posting. “Since then, it has become clearer and clearer how important that step was to protecting our users’ privacy.”

Twitter’s move is the latest response from US Internet firms following disclosures by former spy agency contractor Edward Snowden about widespread, classified US government surveillance programs.

Facebook Inc, Google Inc, Microsoft Corp and Yahoo Inc have publicly complained that the government does not let them disclose data collection efforts.

Some have adopted new privacy technologies to better secure user data.

Forward secrecy prevents attackers from exploiting one potential weakness in HTTPS, which is that large quantities of data can be unscrambled if any spies are able to steal a single private “key” that is then used to encrypt all the data, said Dan Kaminsky, a well-known Internet security expert.

The more advanced technique repeatedly creates individual keys as new communications sessions are opened, making it impossible to use a master key to decrypt them, Kaminsky said.

“It is a good thing to do,” he said. “I’m glad this is the direction the industry is taking.”

Photographer wins $1.2 m from companies that took pics off Twitter

New York: A federal jury on Friday ordered two media companies to pay $1.2 million to a freelance photojournalist for their unauthorised use of photographs he posted to Twitter.

The jury found that Agence France-Presse and Getty Images willfully violated the Copyright Act when they used photos Daniel Morel took in his native Haiti after the 2010 earthquake that killed more than 250,000 people, Morel’s lawyer, Joseph Baio, said.

The case is one of the first to address how images that individuals make available to the public through social media can be used by third parties for commercial purposes. “We believe that this is the first time that these defendants or any other major digital licensor of photography have been found liable for willful violations of the Copyright Act,” Baio said.

Lawyers for AFP and Getty did not

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