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Intersection: Sidewalks & Public Space

Chapter by Melissa Ngo

"The Myth of Security Under Camera Surveillance"


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    Archive for the ‘Cameras’ Category

    Wall Street Journal: Sotomayor: Americans Should be Alarmed by Spread of Drones

    Tuesday, September 16th, 2014

    The Wall Street Journal reports on comments by U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor concerning privacy and aerial drones (also known as “unmanned aerial vehicles” or “unmanned aircraft systems,” UAV or UAS). For more on drones and privacy, read this previous post. The Journal reports:

    Americans should be more concerned about their privacy being invaded by the spread of drones, Justice Sonia Sotomayor told an Oklahoma City audience on Thursday.

    Speaking before a group of faculty members and students at Oklahoma City University’s law school on Sept. 11, Justice Sotomayor said “frightening” changes in surveillance technology should encourage citizens to take a more active role in the privacy debate. She said she’s particularly troubled by the potential for commercial and government drones to compromise personal privacy.

    International Business Times: Sorry, Your Face is Maxed Out: Face Recognition Payment App Unveiled in China

    Wednesday, September 3rd, 2014

    The International Business Times reports that Chinese academics say they have developed a new system of facial-recognition software that is able to collect data on individuals’ faces from 91 angles. The biometric data system is to be used as a payment system, which could raise privacy questions:  

    Academics at the Chongqing Institute of Green and Intelligent Technology in southwest China say they have developed a new system of face-recognition software which could radically change the way we shop.

    Shoppers would be snapped with a special camera which collects information about the face from 91 angles. Thisinformation is then analysed using two million sets of data. The whole process takes just a few seconds. In 1,000 tests the system was reported to be accurate on 998 occasions. [...]

    The software can even factor in changes to faces caused by the ravages of time – and shopping. The system could be launched in the second half of 2015.

    The Chinese system isn’t the first to use face-recognition as a shopping tool: Finnish company Uniqul unveiled a similar device in 2013.

    Washington Post: Leaks of nude celebrity photos raise concerns about security of the cloud

    Tuesday, September 2nd, 2014

    The Washington Post reports on the privacy and security questions that arise from the recent hacks of celebrities’ cloud-based accounts, hacks that led to the unauthorized publication of nude photographs of the celebrities. (“Cloud computing” is where you upload, store and access your data at an online service owned or operated by others. Microsoft, Apple and many others offer these services.) The Post reports:

    The leaking of hundreds of private and intimate photographs of Hollywood celebrities cast new doubt on the security of popular online storage sites Monday as investigators probed for explanations of the high-profile breach.

    Privacy experts joined Hollywood publicists in denouncing the leaks, which flooded Web sites over the weekend with nude images of more than a half-dozen A-list actresses and performers, including Jennifer Lawrence, the Oscar-winning star of “The Hunger Games” and “Silver Linings Playbook.” Read more »

    Forbes: Whoops, Anyone Could Watch California City’s Police Surveillance Cameras

    Monday, August 18th, 2014

    Forbes reports that Thomas “T.K.” Kinsey and Dustin Hoffman of Exigent Systems, an IT company, were able to hack into the surveillance system of law enforcement in Redlands, Calif.:

    Redlands has over 140 surveillance cameras around the 70,000-person town that have helped the police spot and stop drunk drivers, brawlers, vandals, and people illegally smoking in parks, according to a case study on the site of Leverage Information Systems, the company that provided the camera system. [...]

    The cameras were deployed as a mesh network, with camera nodes popping up as “available wireless networks” dubbed with names that were far from stealth, such as “RPD – West End.” The cameras used a proprietary mesh protocol to communicate but were not password-protected. Hoffman and Kinsey said that the protocol was fairly easily reverse-engineered and that tapping into the network was then easy, requiring no specialized hardware, and allowing anyone to have a police-eye’s view of the town. “All you need is a little Linux knowledge and some $20 Wi-Fi hardware,” says Hoffman. He and Kinsey mapped what the cameras watched, including the entrance to an adult video store. Read more »

    Associated Press: Surveillance cameras raise privacy concerns

    Tuesday, August 12th, 2014

    The Associated Press reports on privacy questions concerning surveillance cameras in South Sioux City, Nebraska. (I’ve written a lot about privacy and camera surveillance in the archives, including the proliferation of surveillance technology in cities getting funding from the federal Department of Homeland Security.)

    ll told, about 90 cameras are posted in the 6-square-mile community – or one for every 149 residents. Most are on municipal buildings, but some – like those near the waterfront – are free-standing.

    While numerous communities have camera systems, Amy Miller, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Nebraska, said the proliferation and use of the devices in South Sioux City is concerning from a privacy point of view. She questions the effectiveness of using them for minor crimes like littering. [...]

    The system is maintained by South Sioux City Information Technology Director Dan Feenstra. Some cameras have a zoom function, are recorded and can be used for evidence. The network has been paid for through various funding streams, including post-9/11 federal funding for increased security. The city in 2004 received a $457,226 U.S. Department of Homeland Security grant for information technology.

    McClatchy: Rogue Cellphone Tracker Alarms Seattle Privacy Activists

    Friday, August 8th, 2014

    McClatchy News Service reports that there are substantial privacy and civil liberty questions concerning surveillance technology that the Seattle Police Department has bought:

    More than a year after Seattle police promised to not turn on a network of surveillance cameras and communication nodes installed as part of a federal port-security grant, the department still hasn’t released a draft policy on how it will use the equipment and protect citizen privacy.

    The installation of the 30 cameras and a wireless mesh broadband network came shortly after the Police Department’s purchase of two aerial drones, also with a Homeland Security grant, and also without public notice. [...]

    Now, privacy and civil-liberties advocates say the city needs to enact a strong review process to guide how information is collected, stored, shared and protected, rather than leaving the guidelines to various departments. [...]

    The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Washington, which questioned the law-enforcement value of both the drones and surveillance cameras, agrees that the city needs to develop policies that narrowly define how technology will be used and who will have access to it. [...] Read more »