Cory Doctorow summarizes the problem with the idea that sensitive personal information can be removed responsibly from big data: computer scientists are pretty sure that's impossible.
A new Snowden leak reported on the CBC reveals that secretive Canadian spy-agency CSEC was illegally spying on Canadians by collecting information from the free Wifi service in major airports and cross-referencing it with intercepted information from Wifi at cafes, libraries and other public places in Canada.
The agency is prohibited from spying on Canadians without a warrant, but it captured data on all travellers in a Canadian airport, ensuring that it captured an enormous amount of sensitive information about Canadians. It claims that because it did not "target" Canadians (that is, it spied on everyone, regardless of nationality), they somehow weren't "spying" on Canadians.
The CBC article features a brilliant and incandescent Ron Diebert (who runs the Citizenlab centre at the University of Toronto and wrote one of the best books on Internet surveillance, Black Code), and an equally outraged Ann Cavoukian, the Ontario privacy commissioner, who is one of the most savvy privacy advocates in any government. Read the rest
This week on the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation's excellent Search Engine podcast, host Jesse Brown has posted part one of a fantastic interview with Ann Cavoukian about the risks associated with RFID-enabled identity cards and other personal objects and devices.
Jesse frames the issue as well as I've heard it ever framed: "They freak me out. Not because I think there's some kind of sinister government conspiracy behind them, but because the idea of every dude walking around with a thirty foot cloud of data emanating from his pants is so tantalizing that it invites sinister conspiracies. It challenges criminals' brains to come up with ways to defraud us. It woos law enforcement to blur or bend or rewrite the rules. That is how filled with FAIL arphid tags are."
Podcast #24 is up!
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CBC's Search Engine back in podcast form - Boing Boing
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Cory's CBC radio column on Digital Lysenkoism - Boing Boing
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Audio from Bruce Sterling's "Arphid nor RFID" rant - Boing Boing
Dutch RFID transit pass cracked and cloned - Boing Boing
Britain will make foreigners carry RFID identity cards and will ... Read the rest
Michael Geist's "C-61 in 61 Seconds" Youtube competition -- in which netizens were encouraged to make 61-second videos explaining what was wrong with Canada's proposed equivalent to the US DMCA -- has just come to end. Judges that include BNL's Stephen Page and Ontario Privacy Commissioner Ann Cavoukian selected three entries as their winners.
The bill is dead -- thanks to the election that was just called -- but one thing we know about bad copyright legislation is that it's tenacious.
C-61 in 61 Seconds - The Winners Read the rest
Here's a one-hour video of a magnificent lecture from Canada's Ontario's Information and Privacy Commissioner, Dr Ann Cavoukian, to the University of Waterloo's Computer Science Club. The talk is called "Privacy by Design," and it charges technologists to build tools that minimize the collection and retention of personally identifying information, and to consider a complete, end-to-end, comprehensive framework for protecting user privacy. As Mitch Kapor said when he founded EFF, "architecture is politics" -- when you design tools that have wiretappable elements, you invite wiretapping. When you design tools that retain user data, you invite identity thieves and overreaching subpoenas.
Cavoukian argues that privacy and security are not zero-sum, that privacy is just as important in the "post-9/11 world" as it was before, and that you don't need to give up one to get the other. She addresses specific privacy-protection computer science techniques, and cites Kim Cameron's wonderful Seven Laws of Identity (I wish Kim would approach trusted computing with the same skepticism that he brought to identity issues, but that doesn't take away from his excellent work there).
There's something incredibly refreshing about hearing a high-ranking government official say things like, "Privacy is integral to freedom. You cannot have a free and democratic society without privacy. When a state morphs from a democracy into a totalitarian regime, the first thread to unravel is privacy."
(via /.) Read the rest