The Weird, Dark History of 8chan

Brennan, photographed in New City in 2014. But when Brennan’s wife opens the door to his apartment on an afternoon earlier this year, two small dogs pinging excitedly across the tiled floor and around his electric wheelchair, he looks far older. A pair of glasses sit slightly crooked on his face. He jokes about the weight he has gained since moving to the Philippines in 2014, where he lives in part because of the cheaper cost of living compared to the United States. Brennan split fully with the current owner of 8chan last year, but even in this new phase of his life—wife and dogs and all—his role as the gatekeeper of one of the internet’s most controversial sites remains …

New York’s Revenge Porn Law Is a Flawed Step Forward

Governor Andrew Cuomo signed a bill into law this week criminalizing the spread of nonconsensual pornography, making New York the forty-sixth state to implement such protections for its residents. Unlike many “revenge porn” laws before it, New York’s version includes private right of action in addition to criminal penalties, allowing victims take additional steps like suing the perpetrator for money, or demanding that a website take down their illegally shared images. It’s undoubtedly progress—but also an object lesson in how US legislators fail to fully understand the problem they’re trying to solve. Sharing another person’s private nude images online is now a Class A misdemeanor in New York. Victims will also be able to obtain an order of protection, and …

The Window to Rein In Facial Recognition Is Closing

In the wake of jarring revelations about how United States law enforcement agencies have deployed facial recognition, Congress seemed, for a moment, galvanized to act. Based on a Homeland Security Committee hearing in the House Wednesday, that moment appears to be fading—as hundreds of local, state, and federal law enforcement officials continue to amass and access the controversial data every day. Some municipalities—San Francisco and Somerville, Massachusetts, among them—have proactively banned law enforcement's use of facial recognition. And more localized entities, like the New York State Education Department, have barred it in certain circumstances as well. And even police bodycam maker Axon has declined to incorporate it into its products. But the longer Congress waits to act on a broader …

GoDaddy Takes Down 15,000 Spammy ‘Snake Oil’ Subdomains

You’ve seen the ads in your email or online: Celebrities supposedly hawking miracle weight-loss cures or galaxy brain supplements. They’re endemic to the web, as deeply ingrained as hashtags and puppies. But even though plenty of people fall for them, no one ever really does anything about it. Of all the security threats online, spam ranks pretty low on the priority list. Which is why it’s surprising, and welcome, that GoDaddy and security firm Palo Alto Networks’ Unit 42 have taken down 15,000 subdomains dedicated to selling those phony pharmaceuticals under false pretenses. The two-year investigation that led them there offers some useful insights into what makes these campaigns tick. Spamalot The details vary slightly from one spam scam to …

On the Trail of the Robocall King

PART ONE Those posts did offer a few clues: The calls came over VoIP and seemed to be a classic bait and switch. If you were on the line, you’d hear a recorded female voice saying that you’d received TripAdvisor credits that could be redeemed for a vacation. The “credits” might be for $999 or $2,000—the amounts differed—but you’d be instructed to press 1 to take advantage of the incredible offer and then be transferred to a live operator. Neither the credits nor the name Trip­Advisor would be mentioned again. Instead, the operator would pitch an unrelated offer: a cruise, a resort, an all-inclusive stay at a beachfront hotel. Drawing from angry postings and tips on the TripAdvisor forums, Garvin …

In the Face of Danger, Were Turning to Surveillance

When school began in Lockport, New York, this past fall, the halls were lined not just with posters and lockers, but cameras. Over the summer, a brand new $4 million facial recognition system was installed by the school district in the town’s eight schools from elementary to high school. The system scans the faces of students as they roam the halls, looking for faces that have been uploaded and flagged as dangerous. "Any way that we can improve safety and security in schools is always money well spent," David Lowry, president of the Lockport Education Association, told the Lockport Union-Sun & Journal. Two months before those students filed into their schools in Lockport, Taylor Swift performed a concert at the …