The National Security Agency is reportedly considering ending the mass surveillance program that gathered data about hundreds of millions of telephone call records each year, including ones by Americans. Read the rest
Since 2001, the NSA has secretly ingested the calling records of virtually every US mobile phone subscriber, with the covert participation of the mobile carries; the program -- authorized by a secret order of then-president GW Bush -- remained secret until it was disclosed through documents provided to journalists by the whistleblower Edward Snowden. Read the rest
There's been quite a bit of bad ink surrounding Tesla electric vehicles this year: delays in production, growing rumors about subpar customer service, former employees blowing the whistle on dangerous, indifferent working conditions in Tesla assembly plants and logistical woes to name a few. According to The Washington Post, Tesla owners in China can add in-car state surveillance to the list.
Apparently, the Chinese government has demanded that Tesla vehicles purchased in China send a steady stream of information concerning the vehicle's whereabouts and who knows what else to the Chinese government, in real-time. It's some greasy, invasive bullshit that comes at a time when China, under the leadership of Xi Jinping, has been cracking down on dissent, privacy and freedoms in the country.
At the very least, Tesla isn't alone: other makers of electric vehicles are being forced to make their customers' information available to the Chinese government as well.
From The Washington Post:
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More than 200 manufacturers, including Tesla, Volkswagen, BMW, Daimler, Ford, General Motors, Nissan, Mitsubishi and U.S.-listed electric vehicle start-up NIO, transmit position information and dozens of other data points to government-backed monitoring centers, The Associated Press has found. Generally, it happens without car owners’ knowledge.
The automakers say they are merely complying with local laws, which apply only to alternative energy vehicles. Chinese officials say the data is used for analytics to improve public safety, facilitate industrial development and infrastructure planning, and to prevent fraud in subsidy programs.
But other countries that are major markets for electronic vehicles — the United States, Japan, across Europe — do not collect this kind of real-time data.
The Supreme Court has ruled in the closely watched Carpenter v. United States case, which questioned the constitutionality of warrantless location surveillance, a widespread practice among US law enforcement and surveillance agencies. Read the rest
Spain's got a stiffy for football, or soccer, if you must.
When a football match is on, just about everyone in the country loses their minds. TVs are gathered round, siestas are forgone, and team songs, in any bar you chance, will be full of scarf-swinging loons banging on tables and screaming for every goal. It’s loud, chaotic and lovely. For many Spaniards, catching a game while on the go involves downloading a smartphone app fronted by Spain’s national football league, Liga de Fútbol Profesional. Available for iOS and Android handsets, the La Liga app is not only licensed to stream football games, but also lets users keep track of the stats for their favorite teams and players.
Oh, it also tracks your every move and taps your smartphone's microphone, supposedly in the name of helping to root out unauthorized match broadcasts in bars, restaurants and cafes.
From El Dario, via Google Translate:
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The Liga de Fútbol Profesional, the body that runs the most important sports competition in Spain, is using mobile phones of football fans to spy on bars and other public establishments that put matches for their clients. Millions of people in Spain have this application on their phone, which accumulates more than 10 million downloads, according to data from Google and Apple.
All of these people can become undercover informants for La Liga and the owners of football television broadcasting rights. If they give their consent for the app to use the device's microphone (which is common in many applications), they are actually giving permission for La Liga to remotely activate the phone's microphone and try to detect if what it sounds like is a bar or public establishment where a football match is being projected without paying the fee established by the chains that own the broadcasting rights.
A group of exiled Turkish human rights lawyers have published an in-depth history of how Recep Tayyip Erdogan's Turkish government has described Bylock, an encrypted messenging app, whose 1x1 analytics pixel was used as the basis for accusing tens -- if not hundreds -- of thousands of Turks of treason, with consequences ranging from loss of employment and ostracization to imprisonment, to torture, to suicide. Read the rest
When Congress voted last week to renew the NSA's controversial Section 702 powers, which gives the spy agency the power to conduct mass, secret, warrantless surveillance on Americans, they also voted down a bipartisan amendment that would have limited the president's ability to abuse these powers, injecting the barest minimum of accountability and proportionality into a system that Republican and Democratic presidents alike have abused for decades. Read the rest
Back in 2015, Canada's failing, doomed Conservative government introduced Bill C-51, a far-reaching mass surveillance bill that read like PATRIOT Act fanfic; Justin Trudeau, leader of what was then a minority opposition party, whipped his MPs to vote for it, allowing it to pass, and cynically admitting that he was only turning this into law because he didn't want to give the Conservatives a rhetorical stick to beat him with in the next election -- he promised that once he was Prime Minister, he'd fix it. Read the rest
Two of the NSA's mass surveillance programs revealed by Edward Snowden are Prism (which give the NSA "bulk data" access to the servers of Apple, Facebook, Google, Microsoft, Yahoo and others) and Upstream (through which the NSA taps the internet's fiber optic backbones). Both are possible because of Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, which expires this year. Read the rest