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

Snowden publicly condemns Russia's proposed surveillance law

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Edward Snowden has taken to Twitter to condemn Russia's proposed "Yarovaya law," which provides prison sentences of 7 years for writing favorably about "extremism" on the Internet, criminalizes failure to report "reliable" information about planned attacks, and requires online providers to retain at least six months' worth of users' communications, 3 years' worth of "metadata" and to provide backdoors to decrypt this material. Read the rest

US Customs and Border Protection wants to ask for your "online presence" at the border

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The week, the US CBP published a notice in the Federal Register proposing a change to the Form I-94 Arrival/Departure Record paperwork that visitors to the US fill out when they cross the border, in which they announce plans to ask travellers to "please enter information associated with your online presence." Read the rest

Stasi radio monitoring department, hard at work, 1980s

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Here's a small gallery of the East German secret police's 26th Division, hard at work during the 1980s. Read the rest

Russian bill mandates backdoors in all communications apps

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A pending "anti-terrorism" bill in the Duma would require all apps to contain backdoors to allow the secret police to spy on the country's messaging, in order to prevent teenagers from being "brainwashed" to "murder police officers." Read the rest

Your cable operator is spying on you and selling the data from your set-top box

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As the fight over the FCC's Unlock the Box plan heats up, the cable and satellite TV companies have pulled out all the stops in a bid to force you to continue spending more than $200/year to rent an insecure, power-hungry, badly designed set-top box, rather than introducing competition by letting you buy your cable-box on the open market. Read the rest

China's online astroturf is mostly produced by government workers as "extra duty"

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For many years, China watchers have written about the 50 Cent Army, contractors who are paid RMB0.50 per post to sing the praises of the government in online discussions of corruption, oppression and wrongdoing; but a new report from the Harvard Institute for Quantitative Science paints a radically different picture of Chinese networked social control. Read the rest

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