Monday, March 7, 2016

Farewell Ray Tomlinson

The internet will be a bit sadder place as e-mail inventor Ray Tomlinson passed away.

By: Ringo Bones 

The internet pioneer and e-mail inventor Ray Tomlinson passed away on Saturday, March 5, 2016 at the age of 74 of an apparent heart attack. The US computer programmer came up with the idea of electronic messages that could be sent from one network to another back in 1971. His invention included the ground-breaking use of the “@” symbol in e-mail addresses, which is now standard. 

Ray Tomlinson has sent what is now regarded as the first e-mail while working in Boston as an engineer for the research company Bolt, Beranek and Newman. The firm played a big role in developing an early version of the internet, known as Arpanet. However, Tomlinson later said he could not remember what was in that first test message, describing it as “completely forgettable”. His work was recognized by his peers back in 2012, when he was inducted into the Internet Hall of Fame. 

45 years after the first ever e-mail was sent, such form of internet communication has become so ubiquitous that it has even become a topic of political contention – i.e. US Presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton’s ongoing e-mail scandal. And despite of the widespread popularity of “newfangled” social media networks that only began during the first decade of the 21st Century, sending messages and other electronic files via e-mail is still the de rigueur method used by some due to its ease of use in relation to its security in comparison to upstart social media accounts. Will e-mail accounts like those pioneered by Ray Tomlinson as we know it still be around 50 years from now or will it be finally superseded by some much improved version wholly different from what we currently use? 

Saturday, March 5, 2016

Apple Versus FBI iPhone Fight: Setting A Dangerous Legal Precedent?

The legal tussle seems like foreshadowing our increasingly “Orwellian Present” but is the current Apple versus FBI iPhone transcend mere legal rigmarole and sets a dangerous legal privacy precedent?

By: Ringo Bones 

The ongoing legal fight between the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation and Apple over a specific iPhone 5C owned and used by one of the Islamic State inspired terrorists involved in the San Bernardino, California massacre that happened back in December 2015 is setting up a dangerous legal precedent to everyone who holds dear their right to privacy and civil liberties. The FBI justifies their right to access the “locked contents” of the particular iPhone 5C citing that it is necessary to keep Americans safe from future attacks but is it really that cut-and-died? Other leading tech companies like Google, Amazon and others have sided with Apple in preserving their customers right to privacy and it also raises another question if the rumors are true that the FBI already has the world’s top “White Hat Hackers” working for them – would asking Apple to provide them with a back-door access to the San Bernardino iPhone 5C proof of laziness in the part of the FBI in performing its day-to-day law enforcement related telecommunications forensic duties? 

Currently, the federal government seeks a dramatic extension of a 1977 Supreme Court case of New York Telephone to cover ever-evolving technologies. But lawyers in Apple’s camp argue that it is dangerous to extend that limited endorsement of judicial power over third parties to situations the U.S. Supreme Court never could have envisioned. From a legal perspective, what the FBI currently wants for all intents and purposes sets up a dangerous legal precedent because the federal government’s demand here, at its core, is unbound by any legal limits. It would set a dangerous precedent, in which the federal government could sidestep established legal procedures authorized by thorough, nuanced statutes to obtain users’ data in ways not (yet?) contemplated by lawmakers. 

The way the iPhone 5C’s security feature works is that it automatically erases all of the phone’s data contents after 10 invalid password attempts are entered. But are “White Hat Hackers” currently in tenure of the FBI have the requisite skills to sidestep this clever security set-up? After all, there are rumors circulating out there that the tenured coders at Apple who made possible the clever anti-hack safeguard of the iPhone 5C has “allegedly” based their codes on those “500 to 600 US dollar unhackable phones” that were made by Lockheed Martin and Boeing back in 2005 that had been issued on critical VIPs working for the US State Department.