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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

    Associated Press: California enacts strict student privacy law

    Wednesday, October 1st, 2014

    The Associated Press reports that California Gov. Jerry Brown (D) has signed SB1177, a bill concerning student privacy rights:

    SB1177 by Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg, D-Sacramento, prohibits companies from using students’ personal information for profit.

    It makes companies responsible for protecting any personal information that they gather from elementary and high school students through websites, online applications and other services.

    The bill requires providers to use the data only for school purposes and bans the sale of students’ personal information to advertisers and third parties.

    Brown also approved a related bill, AB1584, by Assemblywoman Joan Buchanan, D-Alamo, that says student information collected by outside companies remains the property of school districts.

     

    Los Angeles Times: Growing use of police body cameras raises privacy concerns

    Monday, September 29th, 2014

    The Los Angeles Times reports that local police departments nationwide are increasingly attaching body cameras to officers. This has raised privacy and civil liberties questions. The Times reports:

    The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department and the Los Angeles Police Department, along with police in New York, Chicago and Washington, have launched pilot programs to test cameras for wider deployment.

    But equipping police with such devices also raises new and unsettled issues over privacy at a time when many Americans have been critical of the kind of powerful government surveillance measures that technology has made possible.

    For many departments, questions remain about when officers should be allowed to turn off such cameras — especially in cases involving domestic violence or rape victims — and the extent to which video could be made public. [...] Read more »

    Article 29 Working Party Releases Opinion on Internet of Things

    Friday, September 26th, 2014

    The EU’s Article 29 Working Party on the Protection of Individuals with regard to the Processing of Personal Data has released “Opinion 8/2014 on the on Recent Developments on the Internet of Things” (Working Party pdf; archive pdf). We’ve discussed before  the “Internet of Things,” which is a computerized network of physical objects. In IoT, sensors and data storage devices embedded in objects interact with Web services. (For more on privacy and the IoT, see a Center for Democracy and Technology report that I consulted on and contributed to, “Building the Digital Out-Of-Home Privacy Infrastructure.”) The Working Party writes in its summary:

    The Internet of Things (IoT) is on the threshold of integration into the lives of European citizens. The viability of many projects in the IoT still remains to be confirmed but “smart things” are being made available which monitor and communicate with our homes, cars, work environment and physical activities. Already today, connected devices successfully meet the needs of EU citizens on the large-scale markets of quantified self and domotics. The IoT thus hold significant prospects of growth for a great number of innovating and creative EU companies, whether big or small, which operate on these markets.

    The WP29 is keen that such expectations are met, in the interests of both citizens and industry in the EU. Yet, these expected benefits must also respect the many privacy and security challenges which can be associated with the IoT. Many questions arise around the vulnerability of these devices, often deployed outside a traditional IT structure and lacking sufficient security built into them. Data losses, infection by malware, but also unauthorized access to personal data, intrusive use of wearable devices, or unlawful surveillance are as many risks that stakeholders in the IoT must address to attract prospective end-users of their products or services. Read more »

    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 »