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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 ‘Civil liberties’ Category

    Opinion at Guardian (UK): Privacy technology everyone can use would make us all more secure

    Tuesday, September 23rd, 2014

    In an opinion column at the Guardian, Cory Doctorow discusses the need for privacy-protective technology that is easy for the general public to use:

    Internet privacy tools have an unfortunate but well-deserved reputation for being technically difficult and bothersome. There’s a persistent story that says that there is an intrinsic, irreducible complexity to the problem of keeping your communications from being snooped on and keeping your data from leaking that makes it the exclusive domain of spies and the professionally paranoid.

    I don’t believe it. I think that the real reason that privacy is so user-unfriendly is that the case for privacy is intensely technical. [...]

    You don’t need to be a technical expert to understand privacy risks anymore. [...]

    The time has come to create privacy tools for normal people – people with a normal level of technical competence. That is, all of us, no matter what our level of technical expertise, need privacy. Some privacy measures do require extraordinary technical competence; if you’re Edward Snowden, with the entire NSA bearing down on your communications, you will need to be a real expert to keep your information secure. But the kind of privacy that makes you immune to mass surveillance and attacks-of-opportunity from voyeurs, identity thieves and other bad guys is attainable by anyone. Read more »

    Associated Press: As police scan millions of license plates, civil libertarians question how info is being used

    Monday, September 22nd, 2014

    We’ve discussed the privacy and civil liberty issues connected with the use of license-plate-scanner recognition technology to gather and record drivers’ movements. Often, we don’t know what the restrictions are on the collection and use of the data. (See a previous post for more information on the camera surveillance technology.) Now, the Associated Press reports on privacy and civil liberty questions as the camera surveillance systems are proliferating nationwide:

    LOS ANGELES — A rapidly expanding digital network that uses cameras mounted to traffic signals and police cruisers captures the movements of millions of vehicles across the U.S., regardless of whether the drivers are being investigated by law enforcement.

    The license plate scanning systems have multiplied across the U.S. over the last decade, funded largely by Homeland Security grants, and judges recently have upheld authorities’ rights to keep details from hundreds of millions of scans a secret from the public. Read more »

    Washington Post: Newest Androids will join iPhones in offering default encryption, blocking police

    Friday, September 19th, 2014

    The Washington Post reports that Google’s Android mobile operating system is following in the footsteps of Apple’s iOS. Apple recently announced that iOS 8 (released Wednesday) has encryption that the company cannot break, which means that it could not give iOS users’ data to law enforcement officials with a valid warrant. The Post reports:

    The next generation of Google’s Android operating system, due for release next month, will encrypt data by default for the first time, the company said Thursday, raising yet another barrier to police gaining access to the troves of personal data typically kept on smartphones.

    Android has offered optional encryption on some devices since 2011, but security experts say few users have known how to turn on the feature. Now Google is designing the activation procedures for new Android devices so that encryption happens automatically; only somebody who enters a device’s password will be able to see the pictures, videos and communications stored on those smartphones. [...] Read more »

    Washington Post: Tech firm tries to pull back curtain on surveillance efforts in Washington

    Friday, September 19th, 2014

    The Washington Post reports that experts are searching and unveiling surveillance equipment that spies on the public in Washington, D.C.:

    The man was Aaron Turner, chief executive of Integricell, a mobile security company. The specially outfitted smartphones, he said, are designed to act like high-tech divining rods that warn users of suspicious mobile activity, potentially indicating surveillance equipment used by police, intelligence agencies and others to track people and snoop on their calls.

    Known as IMSI catchers, for the unique identifying phone code called an IMSI, the surveillance devices trick mobile phones into thinking they have logged onto legitimate cell networks, such as Verizon or AT&T, when in fact the signals have been hijacked.

    For years, researchers have warned of the growing prevalence of the equipment, and Turner said the spygear is rife throughout the Washington area. Read more »

    Privacy and Apple’s Latest Mobile Operating System, iOS 8

    Thursday, September 18th, 2014

    Apple has released its latest mobile operating system, iOS 8. There are a variety of privacy-related features and changes. However, users must also be careful to check their privacy settings. For example, be sure to check the Frequent Locations setting. If you had it turned off, it will turn itself back on when you upgrade to iOS 8. There is also the possibility that Location Tracking services were turned on automatically for some apps, as well.

    One big privacy and security change has to do with the company’s ability to unlock data for law enforcement officials who have a valid search warrant. The Washington Post reports: ”The move, announced with the publication of a new privacy policy tied to the release of Apple’s latest mobile operating system, iOS 8, amounts to an engineering solution to a legal quandary: Rather than comply with binding court orders, Apple has reworked its latest encryption in a way that prevents the company — or anyone but the device’s owner — from gaining access to the vast troves of user data typically stored on smartphones or tablet computers.” Read more »

    Opinion at Boston Globe: Surveillance and privacy

    Wednesday, September 17th, 2014

    In an opinion column for the Boston Globe, Alan M. Dershowitz (a professor emeritus at Harvard Law School) discusses surveillance, privacy, and the case of former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden, who  revealed several surveillance programs by the agency. Dershowitz writes:

    THE RECENT disclosure by Edward Snowden of the US government’s wide net of surveillance has stimulated an emotional debate about security, privacy, and secrecy. We have learned from Snowden that the National Security Agency engages in virtually unchecked monitoring of all sorts of communications that were thought to be private but that we now know are maintained in secret government databases.

    Three fundamental issues are raised by these disclosures: Was it proper for the government to conduct such massive surveillance and to maintain such extensive files? Was it proper for the government to keep its surveillance program secret from the public? If not, did this governmental impropriety justify the unlawful disclosure of so much classified information by Snowden? Read more »