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The Switchboard: NSA collection included millions of address book contacts

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NSA collects millions of e-mail address books globally. The National Security Agency has downloaded the address book contacts from hundreds of millions of e-mail and instant messaging accounts worldwide, The Washington Post has learned. Unlike the phone records surveillance that's overseen by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, this program operates beyond judicial oversight because the collection takes place overseas, and it likely affects American citizens because it is incapable of limiting what's gathered to foreign intelligence targets. "Taken together, the data would enable the NSA, if permitted, to draw detailed maps of a person’s life, as told by personal, professional, political and religious connections. The picture can also be misleading, creating false “associations” with ex-spouses or people with whom an account holder has had no contact in many years."

Yahoo to make SSL encryption the default for webmail users. The company has agreed to enable SSL encryption for users of its e-mail service beginning in January, reports The Switch's own Andrea Peterson, along with Barton Gellman and Ashkan Soltani. The decision comes years after other high-profile companies such as Google, Microsoft and Facebook adopted the standard. "These moves to encryption for free webmail services constitute a major privacy gain for users, but there are other circumstances where data associated with e-mail could be less secure. For instance, the e-mail apps on some mobile devices may not support the SSL encryption standard, exposing users on those devices to possible snooping by third parties."

Feds demand Supreme Court thwart challenge to NSA phone spying The Justice Department is arguing that because court orders for NSA bulk metadata collection can only be challenged by the recipients of those orders, the Supreme Court should throw out a petition filed by the Electronic Privacy Information Center on the subject, according to Wired. "Not once, however, has a telco challenged the program."

Twitter now lets you receive direct messages from any follower. The service has long restricted direct messaging to two people who mutually follow one another. The change now makes it possible for a brand's customer, for example, to send private tweets to a brand-managed account, according to the Verge. "'If you check this option, any Twitter user that follows you will be able to send you a DM, regardless of whether you decide to follow them back,' says a note before the option is turned on."

Gauging iPhone 5C demand. A study of Apple SKUs by the financial-services firm Robert W. Baird reveals that while Apple's second-tier iPhone is generally in stock in many places, it is still selling, reports AllThingsD. "'… Different stores have been running out of stock of a variety of SKUs, rather than just one or two stores always running out of stock of the same SKU,' Power explained. 'This implies that while the iPhone 5c is easily found, its inventory is not sitting stagnant.'