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Europe’s top court confirms no mass surveillance without limits

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Europe’s top court has delivered another slap-down to indiscriminate government mass surveillance regimes.

In a ruling today the CJEU has made it clear that national security concerns do not exclude EU Member States from the need to comply with general principles of EU law such as proportionality and respect for fundamental rights to privacy, data protection and freedom of expression.

However the court has also allowed for derogations, saying that a pressing national security threat can justify limited and temporary bulk data collection and retention — capped to ‘what is strictly necessary’.

While threats to public security or the need to combat serious crime may also allow for targeted retention of data provided it’s accompanied by ‘effective safeguards’ and reviewed by a court or independent authority.

The reference to the CJEU joined a number of cases, including legal challenges brought by rights advocacy group Privacy International to bulk collection powers baked into the UK’s Investigatory Powers Act; a La Quadrature du Net (and others’) challenge to a 2015 French decree related to specialized intelligence services; and a challenge to Belgium’s 2016 law on collection and retention of comms data.

Civil rights campaigners had been eagerly awaiting today’s judgements from the Grand Chamber, following an opinion by an advisor to the court in January which implied certain EU Member States’ surveillance regimes were breaching the law.

At the time of writing key complainants had yet to issue a response.

Of course a government agency’s definition of how much data collection is ‘strictly necessary’ in a national security context (or, indeed, what constitutes an ‘effective safeguard’) may be rather different to the benchmark of civil rights advocacy groups — so it seems unlikely this ruling will be the last time the CJEU is asked to clarify where the legal limits of mass surveillance lie.

Additionally, the judgement raises interesting questions over the UK’s chances of gaining a data protection adequacy agreement from the European Commission — as it leaves the EU in 2021 at the end of the brexit transition process this year — something it needs for digital data flows from the EU to continue uninterrupted as now.

The problem is the UK’s Investigatory Powers Act (IPA) gives government agencies broad powers to intercept and retain digital communications — but here the CJEU is making it clear that such bulk powers must be the exception, not the statutory rule.

So, again, a battle over definitions could be looming…

Questions have also been raised, via a legal challenge to the IPA in the UK, over its security agencies’ handling of intercepted data — with a court being told last year of systematic breaches of safeguards set out in the legislation. Such revelations also do not bode well for ‘adequacy’.

Another interesting component of today’s CJEU judgement suggests that in EU states with indiscriminate mass surveillance regimes there could be grounds for overturning individual criminal convictions which are based on evidence obtained via such illegal surveillance.

On this, the court writes in a press release: “As EU law currently stands, it is for national law alone to determine the rules relating to the admissibility and assessment, in criminal proceedings against persons suspected of having committed serious criminal offences, of information and evidence obtained by the retention of data in breach of EU law. However, the Court specifies that the directive on privacy and electronic communications, interpreted in the light of the principle of effectiveness, requires national criminal courts to disregard information and evidence obtained by means of the general and indiscriminate retention of traffic and location data in breach of EU law, in the context of such criminal proceedings, where those persons suspected of having committed criminal offences are not in a position to comment effectively on that information and evidence.”

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Buy the AirPods Pro for $200 Before This Rare Offer Disappears

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Best Tech DealsBest Tech DealsThe best tech deals from around the web, updated daily.

Apple AirPods Pro | $200 | Amazon
Apple AirPods Pro | $200 | B&H Photo

If you’re an iPhone user with some cash to blow, skip the pretenders and even the lesser AirPods to go for something better. The AirPods Pro stepped the game up with rubber tips, noise cancellation, and better overall audio quality. They’re a bit expensive and the price has dropped bit by bit over time, leading up to today’s opportunity to save $50 on a pair of your own, complete with a wireless charging case. With active noise canceling, automatic pairing on iPhones and iPads, and water/sweat resistance, picking ‘em now is a no-brainer if you were already in the market for them.

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We saw these drop just before Amazon Prime Day, and the price has held steady since. However, B&H Photo has a similar offer that’s set to expire October 30, which may be a signal that the opportunity is about to pass. Be sure to get your order in while there’s still time!

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This story was originally published by Quentyn Kennemer on 5/1/2020 and updated by Gabe Carey with new information on 10/27/2020.


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The 10 Best Deals of October 29, 2020

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Gif: Juliana Clark

Best Deals of the DayBest Deals of the DayThe best deals from around the web, updated daily.

Thursday’s Best Deals | Kinja Deals

It’s October 29, and we at Kinja Deals are here to bring you the top 10 deals of the day. Protect your data by purchasing a plan from NordVPN. Snag that 55″ Smart TV you’ve been saving up for from TCL. Get started on those DIY home repairs with the RYOBI One+ 3-Tool Combo Kit.

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And if you’re still looking for more savings, take a look at Thursday’s best deals overall.

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In his roundup of the best VPNs at Gizmodo, Andrew Couts called NordVPN “fast and easy to use,” citing accessibility and affordability as reasons to subscribe. Though it’s almost always marked down from its $287 list price, the 2-year plan is nonetheless the cheapest option to get started with the service and continue using it long-term. For a limited time only, though, it’s not only 68% off, bringing your total to just $89 for 730 days, but it also comes with an extra plan on top of that—chosen at random by the Nordic gods. Couts says in his abbreviated review:

No matter what you pay, you’ll get access to more than 5,400 servers in more than 60 countries, a bunch of features you may or may not want, and, because the company is based in Panama, assurances that your data—or lack of data, as the case may be—is outside of U.S. and European jurisdictions. Like every other VPN on this list, NordVPN claims to have a “strict no-logs policy,” so most of your data isn’t collected, the company says. It does still collect your email address, payment information, and the timestamp of the last time you launched the VPN.

But NordVPN isn’t without its downsized. “…some researchers have found that it sends your email address and Google Ad ID to a marketing company when you register through the Android app and contains some trackers,” Couts explains. “Another downside is that some of NordVPN’s servers are rented, which means another company you need to trust is in the mix. And yes, one of those servers got hacked in 2018.”

Still, if you want the one of the most reliable VPN clients, with the budget to support its robust infrastructure, you can’t go wrong with NordVPN. Plus, with availability on virtually every platform you can think of—from macOS to Android TV—it’s equal parts ubiquitous and acclaimed. Endorsed by PCMag, Wired, CNET, Business Insider, and more, it may be time to board the Nord hype train if you’re somehow unwedded to a VPN already.

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This deal was originally published by Gabe Carey.

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Best Buy has an insane deal going for a brand new 55″ 4K TCL smart TV. It’s the S434, which is pretty baseline for TCL’s lineup, but at just $200, there’s little to complain about. TCL’s panels are plenty sharp and accurate, and with this set, you’ll get HDR10 compliance for enhanced color and brightness in supported games and video content. This model has Android TV onboard for all your app needs, and with an included voice remote, all your favorite content is just a shout away with the help of Google Assistant.

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This deal was originally published by Quentyn Kennemer.

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For a short time, you can grab an Eight Sleep Pod Pro Cover for $1359+. Here’s the deets from one of our wonderful writers, Chaya:

Ranging from $1,445 to $1,745 depending on the size of your bed (or $175 off using our exclusive promo code KINJA175), the Pod Pro Cover from popular mattress brand Eight Sleep turns ANY mattress into a five-star sleeping experience. In short, Eight Sleep took the very best technology from their mattress and turned it into what is essentially a cover that transforms any bed into a smart bed. The encasement is placed on top of your current mattress and appends bed cooling and heating technology, a virtually silent vibration alarm system, sleep tracking, and a whole lot more. The cover is a two-part system: the encasement, which retrofits your mattress for a “PerfectFit TM” and the Active Grid cover, which adheres securely to the encasement to make your new smart bed manageable by app. A water hose and small hub connected to the Active Grid make the whole thing possible so that you can keep the rest of the bedding you’ve already got—no unnecessary spending or excess waste required.

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Grab it before it’s gone!

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This deal was originally published by Ignacia Fulcher.

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If you’re planning on getting your hands dirty with a DIY project at home, now is arguably the best time to do it since, well, you’re stuck there most of the time anyway. But, of course, in order to pull it off successfully, you’ll need the right tools for the job. Fortunately, the RYOBI One+ three-tool combo kit includes everything you’ll need to start cutting and drilling your way through the pain. For $99—a whopping 64% off—you can fetch a cordless drill, circular saw, and reciprocating saw with a single 1.5Ah battery to share between the three. An 18W charger keeps your power tools revved up and ready to go whenever you need ‘em most. To sweeten the deal, a carry bag can also be found in the box.

Save $177 on this versatile, multi-purpose kit today and get three essential utilities for the price of one. At The Home Depot, discounts like these don’t last long, so jump on it before stock runs out!

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This deal was originally published by Gabe Carey.

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Sony’s new WH-1000XM4 headphones are leading the way in their noise-cancellation technology, alongside the gestures that come with these new models. They were down to $298 during Prime Day and $284 at Newegg just a couple of weeks ago, but BuyDig is piledriving the competition with a $278 sticker price today.

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They will pause the track once it detects you’re speaking, and will also switch off the noise-cancellation when a hand is put on the right-cup. They feature fantastic sound and are able to be paired for up to two devices, so you can switch between your phone and your tablet with ease.

This deal was originally posted by Daryl Baxter.

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Though they’re mostly for keeping things clean, even towels get dirty eventually. Sure, it might’ve started as a way to rinse off after a shower karaoke sesh, but eventually that white will start to fade and might not look as nice hanging up. Or maybe after a few too many pup accidents in the house, it’s just time for a new set of linens.

Huckberry’s Turkish towels usually sell for a bit over $40, but right now they’re down to just below $30, and you’re getting some pretty fancy looking towels for your money. The striped towels come in plenty of variants to match your decor, and their unique design will certainly earn a few compliments if we’re ever safe to have people over.

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This deal was originally published by Jordan McMahon.

Echo Auto | $20 | Amazon

Echo Auto | $20 | Amazon
Graphic: Ignacia Fulcher

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If you want all your Alexa tunes playing in your car then you’re in luck! For $20, which is a good 60% off the original list price, you can connect to the Alexa app on your phone and play music through your vehicle’s speakers via auxiliary or Bluetooth. The Echo Auto has eight microphones so it can hear your voice through loud noises throughout the duration of your trip. You’ll also be able to stream Amazon music, Apple Music, Spotify, and other services with just the sound of your voice. I would grab this deal before it is gone!

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This deal was originally published by Ignacia Fulcher. 

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I don’t know about you, but as a tangental Star Wars fan, I only made it through the first season of The Mandalorian because of Baby Yoda. Luckily, the masses have done us all a favor and gave us what we all need—a plush of our favorite character for a decent $18. You can cuddle with him when the new season drops in a few days. Thank me later.

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This deal was originally published by Ignacia Fulcher.

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Animal Crossing: New Horizons is all about vibing out and literally minding your business, so why not hop on a themed Nintendo Switch for $270? It’s refurbished via Best Buy Geek Squad, so there’s a 90-day warranty if things go wrong. You’ll get the Joy-Cons in those calming colors which just set up a mood of relaxation. And while you’re at it, if you still haven’t bought it, Animal Crossing: New Horizons is only $50, $10 off its original list price. What are you waiting for? That weird owl thing is waiting for you.

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This deal was originally published by Ignacia Fulcher.

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If you’re an iPhone user with some cash to blow, skip the pretenders and even the lesser AirPods to go for something better. The AirPods Pro stepped the game up with rubber tips, noise cancellation, and better overall audio quality. They’re a bit expensive and the price has dropped bit by bit over time, leading up to today’s opportunity to save $50 on a pair of your own, complete with a wireless charging case. With active noise canceling, automatic pairing on iPhones and iPads, and water/sweat resistance, picking ‘em now is a no-brainer if you were already in the market for them.

We saw these drop just before Amazon Prime Day, and the price has held steady since. However, B&H Photo has a similar offer that’s set to expire October 30, which may be a signal that the opportunity is about to pass. Be sure to get your order in while there’s still time!

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This deal was originally published by Quentyn Kennemer.


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Through the End of the Week, Get an Extra Plan Free When You Sign up for 2 Years of NordVPN

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Best Tech DealsBest Tech DealsThe best tech deals from around the web, updated daily.

2 Years + One Free Plan | $89 | NordVPN

In his roundup of the best VPNs at Gizmodo, Andrew Couts called NordVPN “fast and easy to use,” citing accessibility and affordability as reasons to subscribe. Though it’s almost always marked down from its $287 list price, the 2-year plan is nonetheless the cheapest option to get started with the service and continue using it long-term. For a limited time only, though, it’s not only 68% off, bringing your total to just $89 for 730 days, but it also comes with an extra plan on top of that—chosen at random by the Nordic gods. Couts says in his abbreviated review:

No matter what you pay, you’ll get access to more than 5,400 servers in more than 60 countries, a bunch of features you may or may not want, and, because the company is based in Panama, assurances that your data—or lack of data, as the case may be—is outside of U.S. and European jurisdictions. Like every other VPN on this list, NordVPN claims to have a “strict no-logs policy,” so most of your data isn’t collected, the company says. It does still collect your email address, payment information, and the timestamp of the last time you launched the VPN.

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But NordVPN isn’t without its downsized. “…some researchers have found that it sends your email address and Google Ad ID to a marketing company when you register through the Android app and contains some trackers,” Couts explains. “Another downside is that some of NordVPN’s servers are rented, which means another company you need to trust is in the mix. And yes, one of those servers got hacked in 2018.”

Still, if you want the one of the most reliable VPN clients, with the budget to support its robust infrastructure, you can’t go wrong with NordVPN. Plus, with availability on virtually every platform you can think of—from macOS to Android TV—it’s equal parts ubiquitous and acclaimed. Endorsed by PCMag, Wired, CNET, Business Insider, and more, it may be time to board the Nord hype train if you’re somehow unwedded to a VPN already.

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