Security Researcher Christopher Soghoian on How to Use a Cellphone Without Being Spied On | Democracy Now!

o, again, the voice and text message services provided by your wireless carrier, if you’re just sending a text message through your phone or making a telephone call through your phone, those calls can be intercepted by your own government, by police and intelligence agencies. They can be intercepted by foreign governments who are operating domestically. They can be intercepted by sophisticated criminals and by hackers and by stalkers. You should not expect that those kinds of communications services can deliver real security.

On the other hand, there are now a number of apps and Internet-based services that you can run on your smartphone that will give you much, much more secure communications. So, Apple has built iMessage into its iPhone product for several years. If you have an iPhone and you’re sending a text message to someone else who has an iPhone, this is used by default. Those messages are encrypted in a strong way. They’re sent via Apple’s system, and it’s very, very difficult for governments to intercept those. If you’re using WhatsApp, which is a service now owned by Facebook and used by hundreds of millions of people around the world, if you’re using WhatsApp on Android, it’s encrypted, again, in a very strong way. And if you have an Android or iPhone, you can download third-party apps, the best of which are called Signal for iOS and TextSecure, T-E-X-T Secure, from Android. These are best-of-breed free applications made by top security researchers, and actually subsidized by the State Department and by the U.S. taxpayer. You can download these tools today. You can make encrypted telephone calls. You can send encrypted text messages. You can really up your game and protect your communications.

To be clear, if you are a target of a law enforcement or intelligence agency and they really care about you, they can hack into your phone, and these tools won’t stop that. But you can make it much more difficult. You can make it so that they have to work really hard.

via Security Researcher Christopher Soghoian on How to Use a Cellphone Without Being Spied On | Democracy Now!.

Scientists will be forced to knock on doors under health research grant changes – Health – CBC News

To understand what’s going on requires a short primer on how medical research is funded in Canada.

Most of the country’s health scientists apply for funding through the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, which receives just over a billion dollars a year from Ottawa for health science research.

About half of that money is awarded through an open competition, in a process so competitive that only around 15 per cent of those who apply are successful in securing research grants.

And scientists were already upset about new rules in that open competition. It overhauled a long standing peer review process where scientists met to discuss which grants were the best candidates for funding. It also set aside almost half of the money to fund a small number of large labs or collaborations, leaving the rest of the scientists to compete for limited funding opportunities.

‘Many of these resource industries are the cause of many of our health problems so to get funding from them would be problematic.’

– Rod McCormick

Those changes had already “imposed significant anxiety and confusion among researchers,” according to one letter sent to the head of CIHR.

Now, adding to that confusion, is a new series of changes that will affect the structure of the CIHR’s 13 research institutes, which specialize in areas such as aboriginal health, child health, gender studies, nutrition, and aging.

The institutes each have their own independent advisory board, and they award grants based on priorities they establish within each institute, to focus on specialized areas of research.

Or at least that’s how it used to be.

Now, in a decision making process described as “shrouded in secrecy,” the CIHR is implementing changes that risk pitting one institute against the other as their budgets are cut in half.

The other half of the money is being pooled into a common fund, and to access that money the institutes will have to compete with each other, and the scientists will have to knock on doors to find matching external funding.

It’s a requirement that has raised particular concerns at the Institute for Aboriginal People’s Health, where researchers fear they have few options for finding those matching funds.

“Unfortunately for aboriginal people, we don’t really have many organizations we can leverage with,” said Rod McCormick, who holds the B.C. Chair in Aboriginal Early Childhood Development at Thompson Rivers University in Kamloops, B.C. “I don’t think it’s a secret that the Harper government wants us to get our funding from resource industries. But many of these resource industries are the cause of many of our health problems so to get funding from them would be problematic.”

via Scientists will be forced to knock on doors under health research grant changes – Health – CBC News.

NRC to only pursue ‘commercially viable’ science | Canada | News | Toronto Sun

“Scientific discovery is not valuable unless it has commercial value,” John McDougall, president of the NRC, said in announcing the shift in the NRC’s research focus away from discovery science solely to research the government deems “commercially viable”.

via NRC to only pursue ‘commercially viable’ science | Canada | News | Toronto Sun.

Saskatoon scientist breaks silence about muzzling – Saskatchewan – CBC News

Waiser wrote two scientific papers for Environment Canada that were published in 2011 that looked at chemical pollutants (such as phosporus and ammonia) and pharmaceuticals (such as trace antibiotics) in Wascana Creek.

Both kinds of pollution were found downstream of the Regina sewage treatment plant west of the city.

Waiser says when CBC contacted her to talk about the research, Environment Canada higher-ups lowered the boom.

‘One of the first things they said after reading the two papers on Wascana Creek is that they didn’t want to upset the City of Regina.’

—Retired federal scientist Marley Waiser

“One of the first things they said after reading the two papers on Wascana Creek is that they didn’t want to upset the City of Regina,” she said.

Waiser was told that she needed media training before she could talk to reporters about her research.

via Saskatoon scientist breaks silence about muzzling – Saskatchewan – CBC News.