Associated Press

WikiLeaks says it will work with tech firms to defeat CIA hacking

WikiLeaks will work with technology companies to help defend them against the CIA's hacking tools, WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange said. The approach sets up a potential conflict between Silicon Valley firms eager to protect their products and an agency stung by the radical transparency group's disclosures.

In an online news conference, Assange acknowledged that some companies had asked for more details about the CIA cyberespionage toolkit whose existence he purportedly revealed in a massive leak published March 7. “We have decided to work with them, to give them some exclusive access to some of the technical details we have, so that fixes can be pushed out,” Assange said. Once tech firms had patched their products, he said, he would release the full data of the hacking tools to the public.

Yahoo salvages Verizon deal by giving Verizon a $350-million discount

Yahoo is taking a $350-million hit on its previously announced $4.8-billion sale to Verizon Communications in a concession for security lapses that exposed personal information stored in more than 1 billion Yahoo user accounts. The revised agreement announced Feb 21 eases investor worries that Verizon would demand a discount of at least $1 billion or cancel the deal entirely. The hacking bombshells, disclosed after the two companies agreed on a sale, represent the two biggest security breaches in Internet history. The security breaches raised concerns that people might decrease their usage of Yahoo email and other digital services that Verizon is buying. A smaller audience makes Yahoo's services less valuable because it reduces the opportunities to show ads — the main reason that Verizon struck the deal seven months ago.

Yahoo warns users of potential malicious activity on their accounts

Yahoo Inc. is warning users of potentially malicious activity on their accounts between 2015 and 2016. It's the latest development in the Internet company's investigation of a mega-breach that exposed 1 billion users' data a few years ago. Yahoo confirmed that it was notifying users that their accounts had potentially been compromised, but it declined to say how many people were affected.

In a statement, the company tied some of the potential compromises to what it has described as the “state-sponsored actor” responsible for the theft of private data from more than 1 billion user accounts in 2013 and 2014. The stolen data included email addresses, birth dates and answers to security questions. The catastrophic breach raised questions about Yahoo's security and destabilized the company's deal to sell its email service, websites and mobile applications to Verizon Communications Inc.

Is President Trump Seeking Softball Questions?

President Donald Trump managed to avoid questions about hot-button issues facing the White House — such as the future of national security adviser Michael Flynn and a North Korean missile launch — in a news conference where selected reporters asked non-challenging questions and other, shouted-out inquiries were ignored. The president selected his questioners: Scott Thuman from Washington's local ABC News affiliate and Kaitlan Collins of The Daily Caller, a conservative website founded in 2010 by Fox News Channel anchor Tucker Carlson. "Personnel questions are interesting, but our readers want substance. They don't want Washington bull----. They want to know where the next war is going to be," Collins said.

Gov. Kasich to newspaper editors: 'I want you to survive'

Gov. John Kasich (R-OH) repeated his belief in the importance of the free press as tensions between the media and the administration of President Donald Trump remain high. The former congressman and 2016 presidential contender declined to directly take on President Trump, who he refused to endorse, campaign with or vote for in 2016, while speaking to editors and publishers convened by the Ohio Newspaper Association. But Gov Kasich said he wanted to see the industry survive and thrive. "I'd like to stand for all of you, for all of you who have real content, for all of you who've decided in a really crazy, changing world that your point of view, your editorials, your writings, your articles are critically important," Gov Kasich said.

Lawsuits blame Facebook and Twitter in terror attacks in Paris, Brussels

The families of victims of terror attacks in Paris, Brussels and Israel are blaming social media companies including Facebook and Twitter for facilitating communications among terrorists. Twitter says it has suspended hundreds of thousands of user accounts in the past 18 months for threatening or promoting acts of terrorism. But that isn't enough, say lawyers for the families of terror victims, including a brother and sister killed in 2016's bomb attacks in Brussels and an American college student who died in Paris.

In a string of lawsuits filed in New York, they say they want Twitter and Facebook to pay damages for failing to stop violent extremists from using their platforms to recruit followers, intimidate enemies and raise money. "If you or I tried to send money to Hamas, you wouldn't get around the block," said Robert Tolchin, a lawyer for the families of Brussels attack victims Alexander and Sascha Pinczowski and Paris massacre victim Nohemi Gonzalez. "Banks are required to check before they do any wire transfers. Why is it any different to provide a communications platform to Hamas, to ISIS?"

US privacy board in disarray before Trump takes office

The five-member Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board in disarray just weeks before President-elect Donald Trump takes office. It will have only two remaining members as of Jan. 7 — and zero Democrats, even though it is required to operate as an independent, bipartisan agency.

The vacancies mean it will lack the minimum three members required to conduct business and can work only on ongoing projects. Trump would have to nominate new members who would have to be confirmed by the Senate. Jim Dempsey, a Democrat, will leave the board Jan. 3 because for months the Senate has not confirmed his re-nomination by President Barack Barack Obama. And former US Judge Patricia Wald, the only other Democrat, informed the White House this month that she intends to retire effective Jan. 7. The board also will lose its executive director, Sharon Bradford Franklin, who apparently plans to step down before Trump's presidency. One of the board's two remaining Republicans, Rachel Brand, whose term officially expires in January, could continue through March. If Trump were to move forward with any board nomination, she may continue through the end of the year. Should Brand leave, Republican Elisebeth Collins would become the last board member; her term ends in January 2020.

House Oversight and Government Reform Committee urges clearer guidance on cellphone technology

Clearer guidelines are needed for law enforcement's use of secretive and intrusive cellphone tracking technology, and police and federal agents should be upfront with a judge about their deployment, the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee said in a report.

The report examines the use of cell-site simulators by federal, state and local law enforcement agencies. The technology works by mimicking a cellphone tower, allowing law enforcement to collect basic data — such as a unique subscriber number — from cellphones in a particular area or neighborhood. The data can help police determine the location of a targeted phone without the user even making a call or sending a text message. The surveillance devices have been broadly adopted by police departments and federal agencies, which see them as vital in helping track the location of criminal suspects. But the technology has raised Fourth Amendment concerns among privacy advocates for its ability to collect data not only about the targets of an investigation but also innocent bystanders who happen to be within range of the simulator device.

21st Century Fox to take over European broadcaster Sky

21st Century Fox and Sky PLC say they have agreed on a $14.6-billion takeover of the British broadcaster by the US-based media giant. The deal announced Dec 15 values Sky shares at $13.41 each. It is not expected to be complete before the end of 2017. Rupert Murdoch's Fox already owns just over 39% of Sky. An earlier attempt to acquire the rest was scuttled by the 2011 phone-hacking scandal that rocked his British newspapers. Taking control of Sky would give 21st Century Fox, which owns cable networks Fox News, FX and the Fox broadcast channel and a major Hollywood film studio, a distributor in Europe. Sky has 22 million customers in the UK, Ireland, Germany, Austria and Italy.

Gov Walker announces $35.5 million plan to expand broadband in rural areas

Gov Scott Walker (R-WI) is asking the state Legislature to pass a bill that allocates about $35 million to expand broadband and technology in rural areas. Gov Walker was in Seymour (WI) where a year ago he held the first of more than 70 listening sessions in the past year. The governor says a re-occurring theme at the sessions has been access to reliable broadband Internet.

The proposed legislation provides an additional $35.5 million for broadband expansion efforts and TEACH grants over the next three fiscal years. The TEACH program provides money to schools, libraries, and other educational institutions to upgrade technology and train teachers from small and rural school districts. The funding comes from a surplus in the Universal Service Fund, which was established in 1993 to address telecommunications needs.