Baltimore police respond to report they secretly spied on city with aerial surveillance tech from Iraq War

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A report out this week from Bloomberg says that since January, 2016, people in the city of Baltimore, Maryland have secretly and periodically been spied on by police using cameras in the sky. Authorities today effectively admitted that the report is accurate.

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Was NSA Hacked? Leak from 'Shadow Brokers' suggests so, Russian intelligence suspected

GARY CAMERON/REUTERS

As our Cory Doctorow reported previously, a previously unheard of hacker group calling themselves The Shadow Brokers announced this week it had stolen a trove of ready-to-use cyber weapons from The Equation Group (previously), an advanced cyberweapons dealer believed to be operating on behalf of, or within, the NSA.

The Shadow Brokers are auctioning the weaponized malware off to the highest bidder. Read the rest

Thai telcoms regulator wants tourists to use location-tracking SIMs

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Thailand’s National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission has proposed issuing tracking-chips to all visitors to the country, which would allow the government to monitor the movements of all foreign nationals while in-country, in order to "locate them which will help if there are some tourists who overstay or run away (from police)." Read the rest

DoJ to judges: use Tor to protect your internet connection

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This summer, DoJ Cybercrime Lab director Ovie Carroll presented at a Federal Judicial Seminar in San Diego, attended by over 100 US federal judges, where he recommended that the judges should use Tor -- The Onion Router, subject of much handwringing and serious technological assaults from the US government, but which is also primarily funded by the USG -- to protect their personal information while using their home and work computers. Read the rest

BBC will use surveillance powers to sniff Britons' wifi and find license-cheats

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If you live in the UK and watch live TV or use the Iplayer video-on-demand service, you have to pay a "license fee" that directly supports public media in the UK (in other countries, public media is funded out of the tax-coffers, but in the UK, it's a direct transfer from viewers to the media, which is meant to make the BBC independent of the whims of government and thus more able to hold it to account). Read the rest

SURVEY: Your views on US Customs' plan to search your social media at the border

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Deji from Access Now writes, "You remember that spooky story about the U.S. screening everyone’s social media 'presence' at the border? Well, now there’s a way to tell the government exactly what you think about it." Read the rest

Brexit is a victory for mass surveillance; EU rules Snoopers Charter is illegal

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Before Theresa May became Prime Minister of the UK, she was the Pry Minister of the UK, the principle proponent of the Snoopers Charter, a sweeping domestic surveillance bill that the European Court of Justice's Advocate General has just found to be excessive under EU law. Read the rest

UK Royal Society's #1 cybersecurity recommendation: don't backdoor crypto

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The Royal Society, once presided over by Isaac Newton, is one of Britain's most respected learned institutions: that's why it matters so much that the organisation's new report, "Progress and research in cybersecurity," begins by demanding that government "must commit to preserving the robustness of encryption, including end-to-end encryption, and promoting its widespread use. Encryption is a foundational security technology that is needed to build user trust, improve security standards and fully realise the benefits of digital systems." Read the rest

For the first time, a federal judge has thrown out police surveillance evidence from a "Stingray" device

Stingrays -- the trade name for an "IMSI catcher," a fake cellphone tower that tricks cellphones into emitting their unique ID numbers and sometimes harvests SMSes, calls, and other data -- are the most controversial and secretive law-enforcement tools in modern American policing. Harris, the company that manufactures the devices, swears police departments to silence about their use, a situation that's led to cops lying to judges and even a federal raid on a Florida police department to steal stingray records before they could be introduced in open court. Read the rest

How to kick Pokemon Go out of your Google account

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A privacy trainwreck: Pokemon Go, the hit augmented reality game that's seeing kids and adults alike scouring the real world looking for monsters to nab, quietly gets "full access" to players' Google accounts. And check out the small print that goes with it. Read the rest

Hidden "anti-crime" mics are proliferating on US public transit, recording riders' conversations

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New Jersey public transit was forced to remove the bugs it had installed on its light rail system after a public outcry, but Baltimore's buses and subways remain resolutely under audio surveillance, while in Oakland, the cops hid mics around bus-shelters near the courthouses to capture audio of defendants and their lawyers discussing their cases. Read the rest

Peak indifference: privacy as a public health issue

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My latest Locus column, "Peak Indifference", draws a comparison between the history of the "debate" about the harms of smoking (a debate manufactured by disinformation merchants with a stake in the controversy) and the current debate about the harms of surveillance and data-collection, whose proponents say "privacy is dead," while meaning, "I would be richer if your privacy were dead." Read the rest

Researchers find over 100 spying Tor nodes that attempt to compromise darknet sites

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When it comes to accessing public websites, Tor has an intrinsic security problem: though the nodes between your computer and the public internet are unable to see where the traffic is coming from or going to, the final hop in the network (known as an exit node) gets to know what webserver you are connecting to. Read the rest

Leaked FBI documents reveal secret rules for spying on journalists with National Security Letters

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Today, The Intercept published leaked documents that contain the FBI’s secret rules for targeting journalists and sources with National Security Letters (NSLs)—the controversial and unconstitutional warrantless tool the FBI uses to conduct surveillance without any court supervision whatsoever.

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Facebook: We did ‘a test’ last year using some people's location data to suggest friends

Photo: Reuters

Facebook recently told Fusion reporter Kashmir Hill that Facebook uses location data to recommend friends. People freaked out. Facebook retracted the statement. Then, the social media giant said what, that's crazy, LOL, no. No, we didn't do that at all. Now, Facebook’s communications team tells Hill the confusion arose “because there was a brief time when the social network used location for friend suggestions,” which involved a small percentage of Facebook users and stopped last year.

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How many US wiretap requests were rejected in 2015? Not a single one.

ZDNet
A new federal report shows that the number of surveillance requests skyrocketed in 2015, and that courts approved every single one of them. That's right, not one single wiretap request was rejected during 2015.

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Moral economy and software development: software without politics is recipe for totalitarianism

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Maciej Cegłowski (previously) keynoted the Society for the Advancement of Socio-Economics conference with a characteristically brilliant speech about the "moral economy of tech" -- that is, the way that treating social problems like software problems allows techies to absolve themselves of the moral consequences of their actions and the harms that result. Read the rest

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