We're back with another round of interesting non-standard news and links from the world of tech, apps, and dev.
In this edition:
- 🕵️♂️ Democracies are spying on citizens.
- 💵 A $3 billion Silk Road seizure will erase Ross Ulbricht's debt.
- 🤯 Thousands of popular sites can see what you type.
📰 From the Newsroom
Democracies are spying on citizens, and big tech companies aren't happy 🔍
Arab politicians are leading a movement to examine the state's relationship with NSO (an Israeli tech firm). Last fall, an investigation by the watchdog group identified Pegasus (an NSO-designed spyware technology) infections on the phones of six Palestinian activists. The spyware can collect the contents of phones, gaining access to photographs, texts, cameras, and microphones for real-time surveillance. Yikes.
- Concerns were raised regarding whether Pegasus had facilitated Jamal Khashoggi's murder.
- Bin Salman (the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia) has denied involvement.
- NSO executives argue that, in an unregulated field, they are attempting to construct a compliance committee. They now maintain a list of countries at risk of misuse based on human rights indicators from Freedom House.
- The Pegasus Project, a collaborative reporting of news outlets, has iterated the connection between NSO Group and anti-democratic states.
- Three activists have recently informed NSO and the Saudi Arabia and U.A.E governments that they plan to sue over the alleged Pegasus infections.
A trove of stolen bitcoin will pay dark web creator Ross Ulbricht's $135 million restitution 💰
In 2015, dark web creator Ross Ulbricht was ordered to pay over $183 million in restitution. Last year, prosecutors signed an agreement with Ulbrich that some of the newfound trove of Silk Road bitcoins, stolen by an unnamed hacker, will be used for paying the damages.
- This move to use the unearthed stash of bitcoins was a deal between the Justice Department and Ulbricht to avoid a potential claim of money ownership.
- The Southern District of New York Justice Department prosecutors who handled Ulbricht's case were not involved or aware of the restitution payment agreement.
- Recent sales of NFTs inspired by Ulbricht's work garnered over $6 million, with the funds going to a trust for Ulbricht's defense.
Thousands of the top websites use keyloggers to see what you type in forms (before you even hit Submit) ⌨️
New research has revealed that an eyebrow-raising number of websites are collecting data while you enter it into online forms. This happens even before you hit the Submit button, since the sites begin collecting data as you type. Among the 52 websites researchers crawled for password leaks last year, they discovered that many third parties are capturing password data before submission.
- The study was conducted by researchers from KU Leuven, Radboud University, and the University of Lausanne. It involved crawling and analyzing the top 100,000 websites.
- They discovered that 1,844 websites gathered a European Union user's email address without consent. A shocking 2,950 sites logged a US user's email in some form.
- These findings indicate that deleting form data before submission might not be enough to prevent your information from being collected. So the researchers built a Firefox extension called LeakInspector to help identify rogue form collections.
⛓️ Ten Must See Links of the Month
- New social media app BeReal encourages people to post photos for friends, but with a few surprising twists.
- Imagine taking a gadget into a locker room or a meet and greet with professional athletes and being able to gather and sequence their DNA.
- Dummy in flight: Boeing's Starliner space taxi started its second test flight to the space station.
- Getting tired of meeting fatigue? New Cisco conferencing devices might have a healing remedy.
- Since January, nearly 50 startups have made significant layoffs, signalling trouble ahead for early-stage startups facing an economic downturn.
- Synesthesia TikTok? There's a corner of TikTok where users claim they can smell colors, taste sounds, and see music.
- YouTuber CoffeeZilla is exposing crypto scams.
- Masterschool, a network of tech career-training schools, has raised a $100 million seed funding round.
- After more than two decades, Apple is phasing out its cornerstone product - the iPod.
- Spotify is testing a feature that would allow select artists to promote NFTs.
🎤 It’s How They Said It
🧮 The numbers game
- Looks matter. A new study revealed that half of consumers agree that their impressions of a company are dependent on its website design.
- Cybersecurity market revenue is expected to reach $146.30 billion this year. The largest market segment, IT services, is projected to reach a market volume of $69.62 billion.
- Today, there are over 1,000 billion-dollar “Unicorn” startups across the globe, with the most valuable being TikTok's parent company Bytedance.
That's it for the week. If you have links to share, then my emails are always open. Simply reply to this email to land in my inbox.
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Have a great month, - John