Motel owner spent 30 years spying on his guests' sex lives, considered himself a "researcher"

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In 1980, New Yorker stalwart Gay Talese received a handwritten note by special-delivery: it was from Gerald Foos, a Colorado motel owner, and he revealed that he had been spying on his customers' sex lives for decades and taking meticulous notes, which he offered to share with Talese for his upcoming book, Thy Neighbor's Wife, a now-classic investigation into the hidden sex lives of Americans. Read the rest

Tax investigators and bill collectors use Rich Kids of Instagram to uncover oligarchs' hidden millions

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One of the perks of being insanely wealthy is you can hide your money, so when you rip people off or hide your taxes or divorce your spouse, your victims can't figure out how to get their due. Read the rest

The price of stealing an identity is crashing, with no bottom in sight

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The sharp increase in known, unpatched vulnerabilities in the tools we use to access the Internet has caused the price of exploits is falling through the floor. Read the rest

The US Government's domestic spy-planes take weekends and holidays off

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If you spend enough time looking at Flightradar24's data about fly-overs of American cities, you can figure out where and when the feds are flying domestic spy-aircraft, watching for the tell-tale circling patterns and mapping the planes' owners to companies that investigative journalists have revealed to be fake cut-outs for the FBI. Read the rest

Artist installs sculptures that are also Tor nodes in the world's galleries

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Trevor Paglen and Jacob Appelbaum collaborate to create beautiful, acrylic-encased computers that are also Tor nodes, anonymizing data that passes through them, and install the in art galleries all over the world, so that patrons can communicate and browse anonymously, while learning about anonymity and Tor. Read the rest

Surveillance has reversed the net's capacity for social change

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Sociologists describe the "spiral of silence": people with socially unpopular ideas fear that they're the only ones who think that way, and say nothing, and their silence convinces others that they, too are alone, begetting yet more silence. Read the rest

Justice Department to drop 'FBI vs. Apple' case, because they've unlocked the iPhone

Tashfeen Malik, left, and Syed Farook died on Dec. 2, 2015, in a gun battle with authorities several hours after their assault on a gathering of Farook's colleagues in San Bernardino, Calif., that left 14 people dead.

The #FBIvsApple legal case may be over, but the fight over security, privacy, and the right to live free of surveillance has just begun. The Justice Department is expected to drop its legal action against Apple, possibly as soon as today, because an 'outside method' to bypass security on the San Bernardino gunman's iPhone has proven successful, a federal law enforcement official said Monday.

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Silverpush says it's not in the ultrasonic audio-tracker ad-beacons business anymore

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Silverpush, the company that pioneered covert ultrasonic audio beacons that let advertisers link your activity on phones, tablets and laptops, says it will no longer sell the technology and does not want to be associated with the idea any longer. Read the rest

Privacy concerns at the heart of the evolving web

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Hulk Hogan's courtroom sex-tape victory signifies how much the web has already changed, writes John Hermann: casual privacy invasion only disgusts readers who are all-too-aware that they might be next.

In 2012, the vast majority of Twitter posts that linked to Gawker’s video were lighthearted jokes — about Mr. Bollea’s physique, about the humiliation of a childhood idol, about fame-seeking… [but by] 2014, when hackers posted hundreds of photos obtained from celebrities’ private accounts. Publications that had previously trafficked in leaked nude photos — including Gawker Media properties and sites like BuzzFeed — shied away from publishing them.

Lurking in the background: Facebook, its policies and preferences. Read the rest

McAfee shovelware emits tracking beacons

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Researchers at Duo Labs bought a "stack" of OEM laptops and audited the preinstalled shovelware they came with, looking specifically at the security implications of the default settings. Read the rest

First-ever Tor node in a Canadian library

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Library workers at Western University's Graduate Resource Centre in London, Ontario, had a workshop from Alison Macrina, the library organiser whose Library Freedom Project won a battle with the US DHS over a library in New Hampshire that was offering a Tor exit node as part of a global network that delivers privacy, censorship resistance, and anonymity to all comers. Read the rest

The post-Snowden digital divide: the ability to understand and use privacy tools

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Ian Clark's long academic paper in the Journal of Radical Librarianship takes a while to get to the point, but when it arrives, it's a very, very good one: in the post-Snowden era, we can no longer address the "digital divide" just by providing access -- we also have to teach people how their online usage is spied on, how that will harm them, and what to do about it. Read the rest

BRITONS: Act now to kill the Snoopers Charter

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Ed from the UK Open Rights Group writes, "Right now, the Government is ramming a new snooping law through Parliament. The Investigatory Powers Bill would force companies such as Sky, BT, Google and Facebook to keep detailed records of what we do online for a year -- even if we are not suspected of committing any crime whatsoever." Read the rest

French Parliament votes to imprison tech execs for refusal to decrypt

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Amendment 90 to France's penal reform bill provides for five year prison sentences and €350,000 fines for companies that refuse to accede to law enforcement demands to decrypt devices. Read the rest

Apple vs FBI: The privacy disaster is inevitable, but we can prevent the catastrophe

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My new Guardian column, Forget Apple's fight with the FBI – our privacy catastrophe has only just begun, explains how surveillance advocates have changed their arguments: 20 years ago, they argued that the lack of commercial success for privacy tools showed that the public didn't mind surveillance; today, they dismiss Apple's use of cryptographic tools as a "marketing stunt" and treat the proportionality of surveillance as a settled question. Read the rest

Some ad-blockers are tracking you, shaking down publishers, and showing you ads

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The ad-subsidized Web is at a crossroads: faced with pressure from social media platform, publishers are accepting ever-more-intrusive ads, which combine with the mounting public concern over privacy and tracking to encourage ad-blocking, which, in turn, makes publishers more desperate and more biddable to the darkest surveillance and pop-up desires of advertisers. Read the rest

Today, Congress finally showed it's willing to fight the FBI on encryption

FBI Director James Comey arrives for a House Judiciary hearing on "The Encryption Tightrope: Balancing Americans' Security and Privacy" on Capitol Hill in Washington March 1, 2016. REUTERS

It took a while, but FBI director Jim Comey got a little bit of the grilling he has earned in the FBI vs. Apple case. Freedom of the Press Foundation's Trevor Timm writes on today's House Judiciary Committee hearings on Capitol Hill, at which both the government and the Cupertino tech giant were represented.

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