Stuart Breckenridge

Happy Birthday, iPhone

There’s only been one iPhone generation that I wasn’t part of: the first. In the UK the iPhone was only available on o2 and I was with T-Mobile. That fact, coupled with my contract renewal time-frame, meant that I upgraded to a different phone: LG Viewty.

While the rest of the world wishes the iPhone a happy birthday, I thought I’d jot down some thoughts about the LG Viewty.

The front of the phone was OK, while the back of the phone was hideous: the camera lens was huge but, to be fair, it did take really good pictures. It also had 120fps video and direct upload to YouTube (in 2007). The camera, in retrospect, was way ahead of its time.

The back panel of the phone was removable. The reason I know this was that mine was faulty and kept falling off. The whole phone had to be sent for repair for three weeks and during this time I was given a loaner feature phone with capacity for 100 text messages.

Anyway, while the Viewty’s operating system was LG’s, the user interface was an Adobe Flash variant…so it was unresponsive and buggy. The Viewty also came with a stylus and I used it maybe three times. Tapping buttons provided haptic feedback, but because it was a resistance based touchscreen you had to put in effort, and have patience, before said feedback was felt and your tap was registered.

After about three months I gave up with the Viewty and sold it on eBay. For the remainder of my contract I used a Sony Ericsson W580 that I bought in a rage from Argos.

I’m glad the iPhone 3G came along when it did.

Australia Pushing for Encryption Back Door

Here we go again. Tim Hardwick, via Macrumors:

Australia claimed the increasing use of strong encryption on smartphones and other devices was hindering law enforcement’s capacity to gather and act on intelligence, and said it wants tech companies to do much more to give intelligence and law enforcement agencies access to encrypted communications.

No politician anywhere, or at anytime, has been able to explain the benefits to the country of their respective security services having the ability to know everything about the public’s private communications.

Providing a back door to encrypted communications – breaking encryption – is something that would be abused by both domestic security services and bad actors1 alike.

  1. Foreign, domestic, political, commercial…the list is endless. ↩︎

European Parliament Committee Recommends End-to-End Encryption For All Electronic Communications

In a rare sign of complete competence, the European Parliament’s Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice, and Home Affairs recommendation on end-to-end encryption makes total sense. By Lucian Armasu, Tom’s Hardware:

The European Parliament’s (EP’s) Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice, and Home Affairs released a draft proposal for a new Regulation on Privacy and Electronic Communications. The draft recommends a regulation that will enforce end-to-end encryption on all communications to protect European Union citizens’ fundamental privacy rights. The committee also recommended a ban on backdoors.

Interestingly, the Committee also believe that metadata associated to data is within the scope of end-to-end encryption:

The metadata includes the numbers called, the websites visited, geographical location, the time, date and duration when an individual made a call etc., allowing precise conclusions to be drawn regarding the private lives of the persons involved in the electronic communication, such as their social relationships, their habits and activities of everyday life, their interests, tastes etc.

The protection of confidentiality of communications is also an essential condition for the respect of other related fundamental rights and freedoms, such as the protection of freedom of thought, conscience and religion, and freedom of expression and information.

I wonder how this would affect a company’s ability to comply with law enforcement requests for metadata? My assumption is they simply won’t be able to. Earlier this month, Tim Cook confirmed that Apple had provided metadata to UK authorities (via The Telegraph):

“Encryption doesn’t mean there’s no information,” said Cook. “Because metadata probably exists and metadata, if you’re putting together a profile, is very important.”

I don’t think this would be possible under the new recommendation.

Bringing the focus back to the Strong and Stable™ UK Government, there is still total incompetence when it comes to end-to-end encryption. Jonathan Haynes (via The Guardian):

She [Amber Rudd, Home Secretary] said she supports end-to-end encryption for families (presumably those using WhatsApp?), for banking and for business. But she insisted: “We also need to have a system whereby when the police have an investigation, where the security services have put forward a warrant signed off by the home secretary, we can get that information when a terrorist is involved.”

Ridge challenged Rudd that this was “incompatible with end-to-end encryption”. Rudd said it wasn’t. But Ridge is right: it is incompatible. As Cory Doctorow wrote when Cameron was suggesting the same thing: “It’s impossible to overstate how bonkers the idea of sabotaging cryptography is to people who understand information security.” A lot of things may have changed in two years but the government’s understanding of information security does not appear to be one of them.

iTunes UK Pricing of Modern Family Season 8

During a sale last year I bought seasons 1 - 7 of Modern Family on iTunes (UK) for £34.99. Season 8 has been available on iTunes (US) for a little while at a price of $34.99 and I was expecting the UK price to be around £34.99 as well.

How wrong was I?

£54.78. It’s robbery.

Update (2017-06-26): The price of the HD version has dropped to £17.99. That’s a 67% reduction. I hope people who bought at the £54.78 price are recompensed.