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Tag: Technology

Cobalt: Mined By Children For Use In Your Favorite Gadgets’ Rechargeable Batteries

Posted in Journalism, and MintPress News

In recent years, activists and independent media have brought attention to “conflict minerals,” key components in technology that are often sourced from war-torn countries. And a recent report from a major human rights group sounds the alarm on a largely overlooked metal that’s being mined by thousands of children and underpaid adults in Africa.

Amnesty International issued the results of its detailed investigation into the sourcing of cobalt, a rare metal that forms a crucial ingredient of lithium-based rechargeable batteries, in a Jan. 19 report. According to the authors, more than half the world’s cobalt comes from Congo, including at least 20 percent which comes from so-called “artisanal miners” in the southern part of the country.

“These artisanal miners, referred to as ‘creuseurs’ in the DRC, mine by hand using the most basic tools to dig out rocks from tunnels deep underground,” according to the report, “This Is What We Die For.” “Artisanal miners include children as young as seven who scavenge for rocks containing cobalt in the discarded by-products of industrial mines, and who wash and sort the ore before it is sold.”

Hackers Reveal Illegal Spying Software Used By World Governments To Silence Dissent

Posted in Journalism, and MintPress News

Last weekend, news broke on social media of a massive hack against a major, controversial security software company that sold surveillance software to government agencies. A hacker who attacked another security firm last year is taking credit for the audacious break in that saw hundreds of gigabytes of stolen data leaked onto bittorrent.

Hacking Team, the Italian software company that fell victim to the unknown hackers, proudly billed itself as a vendor of surveillance software to police forces, with the motto, “Rely on us.” Reporters Without Borders had already cited Hacking Team as one of their “enemies of the Internet.” But, as the hack revealed, the corporation’s clients also included governments from countries to which sales are banned by the United Nations as a result of their repressive regimes’ repeated human rights’ violations.

News of the hack reached Twitter on Sunday night, while many were asleep or distracted by the women’s world cup, briefly spawning the humorous, trending hashtag #IsHackingTeamAwakeYet:

How Glenn Greenwald & Facebook Learned To Stop Worrying & Love Encryption

Posted in Journalism, and MintPress News

Facebook now offers users the ability to encrypt their notification emails using PGP, a freely available encryption method proven to thwart NSA surveillance. It’s the latest attempt by social media and other Internet providers to offer increased privacy to their users in the wake of the Edward Snowden leaks.

PGP, which stands for “Pretty Good Privacy,” is a freely available encryption standard that’s been available for decades. PGP encryption works through a technique called asymmetric encryption. Users of the software create both a private and a public encryption key. The public key can be shared freely with anyone who wants to send encrypted messages, and those messages can only be read by the person who holds the private key and its associated password.

The new feature, launched Monday, offers users the option to upload a public PGP key to Facebook. With this feature enabled, Facebook notification emails will only be legible to their intended recipient, using the corresponding password and private encryption key. Without encryption, anyone with access to a user’s email (potentially including hackers, police, or government agencies) could read the contents of private messages included in some notification emails.