Technology writer Faine Greenwood has a great piece in Slate about the expansion of police drone surveillance fleets. While there are still many, many reasons to worry about abuses of drone technology and mass surveillance in general, Greenwood takes a look at the legal, technical, and practical limitations of these policing methods. Greenwood essentially argues that, as much as American police officers love to think of themselves as special military tactical forces (often treating normal-ass citizens like enemy combatants), they're really just cosplaying, and their use of drones is part of that:
Read the rest
Unlike a Predator—which is capable of staying aloft for more than a day—these small drones usually have short battery lives, from as little as 16 minutes, when carrying a very heavy camera, to 35 minutes when carrying a lighter sensor. (Drone evasion tip: If you think you’re being followed, duck under a shelter or a convenient tree. You can probably wait the drone’s battery out.)
Police drone users are largely not exempt from the same rules that other drone users must abide by, which include restrictions on flight over people, at night, and beyond the pilot’s “visual line of sight.”
While a police drone can certainly chase someone for a bit, that doesn’t mean police can readily use drone-collected imagery to identify who that person is. In my research for this piece, I couldn’t find a single example of U.S. law enforcement using facial recognition technology and drone imagery to identify someone in the real world. This almost certainly isn’t because police don’t want to, or because they’ve been legally barred from doing so.
The so-called Wuhan Coronavirus has killed more than 700 people, mostly in Mainland China, and the outbreak continues to spread with new cases on new continents. In China, Novel coronavirus 2019-nCoV is also exposing the surveillance state -- apps show locations of the infected, heat-sensing cameras spot feverish disease suspects, and identify them even with ubiquitous paper face masks on. Read the rest
There have been some tweets going around about a "wearable face projector" being employed at the ongoing protests in Hong Kong.
It's essentially the same as the scramble suits from Philip K. Dick's A Scanner Darkly—instead of disguising yourself as someone else, it disguises you as everyone else, projecting a constantly shifting visage that drives the facial recognition AI crazy. It certainly makes sense that someone would try to use something like this in Hong Kong, where the mere act of protecting one's identity in public is now punishable by a USD3,200 fine.
Except… it's not from the Hong Kong protests. It's actually an art project by Jing-Cai Liu, an industrial design student at Eindhoven University of Technology in the Netherlands. Liu had come up with the concept of a wearable face projector as an undergrad at the University of the Arts in Utrecht. "In the future, the advertisement could call your name when you walk along the streets," she writes on her website:
Read the rest
Mega databanks and high-resolution cameras in the streets stock hundreds of exabytes a year. But who has access to this data? It is possible that it could have commercial use, hence not only retail companies but also the advertisement industry could be very interested in this data in the coming future. They would hope to gain these personal data and information as much as they can.
The companies would know your personal interests and may set different retail strategies for you.
Starting next year you won't be able to board a plane without REAL ID.
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
NYT: "The New York Police Department has abandoned a secretive program that dispatched plainclothes detectives into Muslim neighborhoods to eavesdrop on conversations and built detailed files on where people ate, prayed and shopped, the department said." Translation: NYPD creates new secret secretive program to spy on Muslims. (Thanks, Matthew!) Read the rest
Stingrays are cell phone tracking and monitoring devices disguised as cell phone towers. Harris, the corporation that sells the majority of stingrays, "profited an average of over $533 million in each of the last five years," according to filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission. Ars Techica reports that "Harris requires its law enforcement clients to sign ... nondisclosure agreements that forbid those agencies from publicly revealing whether they use the stingray."
Look, we got the cyperpunk dystopia of our dreams!
Cities won't talk about spying devices disguised as cell phone towers
(Image: Cogdogblog CC share-alike) Read the rest
Here's Edward Snowden controlling a telepresence robot on the stage of TED, being interviewed by Chris Anderson. Watch the full video, recorded today at TED 2104. Read the rest
The NSA has a research facility in Bluffdale, Utah. It's loaded with "metadata-gathering computers that currently require 1.7 million gallons of water a day" to keep them cool. Utah representative Marc Roberts (R) has introduced HB161, which would shut off their water supply. If the bill passes, how will the federal government respond? Read the rest
Bill Moyers spoke with investigative reporter Julia Angwin, author of the new book Dragnet Nation: A Quest for Privacy, Security and Freedom in a World of Relentless Surveillance. The full episode is above.
BILL MOYERS: What has happened to the Fourth Amendment? That's supposed to protect “the right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects against unreasonable searches and seizures” such as you have just described?
JULIA ANGWIN: Right. Well, the thing is, the Fourth Amendment protects the actual physical walls of your home. And so in fact, the police still need a search warrant to knock on the door and come in. But the problem is, technology has reached into our homes in other ways and essentially there's an exception to the Fourth Amendment for that.
There's something called the Third Party Doctrine. Which is a Supreme Court precedent that basically says once you give your data to a third party, whether it's a bank, a telephone company, then you have lost your privacy interest in it. And so the police can get it there. Well, nowadays, our papers and effects that we used to store at home, we basically store outside the home at these digital places - Google, even our online banking. And so then there's a much lower standard for the government to get this information.
Moyers' website is a good resource for news about government surveillance, lobbyist interference, the rise of the US plutocracy, and unpunished banking industry crimes. It's like Infowars for sane people. Read the rest
Matthew says, "The Glendale [California] Unified School District has hired Geo Listening ["Your students are crying for help. We have heard these cries of despair, and for help and attention, loud and clear from students themselves via their public postings on social networks"]to eavesdrop and monitor students’ public posts on websites like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram."
District-Wide Social Media Eavesdropping Program Begins Read the rest
This, writes Gawker's John Cook, is a taxi used in "NYPD's indiscriminate and probably illegal spying program." According to the two Pulitzer Prize–winning authors of the book, Enemies Within, it's a "real yellow cab, complete with an authentic taxi medallion registered under a fake name used by the department's intelligence division to conduct surveillance operations."
It's mainly used to keep tabs on activities around New York's mosques, say the book's authors, Matt Apuzzo and Adam Goldman.
Cook's advice, "If you hail this cab, don't tip."
This is the NYPD's Secret Spy Cab Read the rest
Apple has a patent to disable "one or more functional or operational aspects of a wireless device, such as upon the occurrence of a certain event." For instance, the patent states, "Covert police or government operations may require complete 'blackout' conditions."
Larry Press has posted example photos of police or government operations that would have benefited from a such a kill switch. (Via IP) Read the rest
Todd Krainin of Reason TV produced this mini-documentary about how "audio-visual recording technologies are fundamentally changing the privacy-versus-security debate in cities all across America." It's called "Surveillance State: Maryland is Listening to You." Read the rest
According to Marc Ambinder and D.B. Grady's new book Deep State: Inside the Government Secrecy Industry, the secretive National Security Agency spying programs have become institutionalized, and have grown, since 9/11.
Shane Harris at the Washingtonian read through the book's account of these sweeping and controversial surveillance programs, conducted under the code name "Ragtime":
Ragtime, which appears in official reports by the abbreviation RT, consists of four parts.
Ragtime-A involves US-based interception of all foreign-to-foreign counterterrorism-related data; Ragtime-B deals with data from foreign governments that transits through the US; Ragtime-C deals with counterproliferation actvities;
and then there's Ragtime-P, which will probably be of greatest interest to those who continue to demand more information from the NSA about what it does in the United States.
P stands for Patriot Act. Ragtime-P is the remnant of the original President’s Surveillance Program, the name given to so-called "warrantless wiretapping" activities after 9/11, in which one end of a phone call or an e-mail terminated inside the United States. That collection has since been brought under law, but civil liberties groups, journalists, and legal scholars continue to seek more information about what it entailed, who was targeted, and what authorities exist today for domestic intelligence-gathering.
Harris, who is an experienced national security reporter, analyzes some of those findings in his Washingtonian item. You can buy a copy of the book here (released Feb. 14, 2013).
(HT: Laura Poitras/Freedom of the Press Foundation) Read the rest