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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

    Missouri Passes Constitutional Amendment to Protect Electronic Privacy

    Thursday, August 7th, 2014

    On Tuesday, Missouri voters passed a constitutional amendment to protect electronic privacy. Here’s what the amendment said: “Shall the Missouri Constitution be amended so that the people shall be secure in their electronic communications and data from unreasonable searches and seizures as they are now likewise secure in their persons, homes, papers and effects?” The Associated Press reports that the vote on Amendment 9 was: YES: 728,549, 74.756 percent; NO: 246,020, 25.244 percent. AP reports, “Supporters said the broader legal definition will help guard against excessive government intrusion such as the recent National Security Agency eavesdropping scandal.” Republican state Sen. Rob Schaaf, who co-sponsored the measure with Republican Sen. Bob Dixon, told Time that the “overwhelming support for Amendment 9 reflects the emotion that Missourians feel about the invasion of their privacy.”

     

     

    Marketwatch: Would you trade privacy for national security?

    Thursday, August 7th, 2014

    Marketwatch reports on a new survey from the Public Affairs Council concerning attitudes about privacy:

    Only 42% of Americans say they are willing to give up some privacy for national security, according to a new survey released by the Public Affairs Council, the national organization for public affairs professionals. And that number goes down to 25% when it comes to Americans willing to trade their privacy for lower prices, the survey found.

    Republicans (39%) are less likely than Democrats (45%) to say they are willing to trade some privacy for better national security. But Doug Pinkham, president of the Public Affairs Council, says this may be attributable to the fact that there’s a Democratic president in the White House. The country appears to be more polarized in recent years, too, he adds. [...]

    Despite concerns among consumer advocates about the privacy policies of companies such as Facebook and Apple, and how much information they can glean from a person’s smartphone use, there’s been a surge in the trust Americans put in technology companies. Some 83% of respondents in the Public Affairs Council survey say technology companies are at least as trustworthy as the average major company, while only 53% of people felt that way when that question was posed in 2011.

    Associated Press: Illinois drone law extended to private operators

    Wednesday, August 6th, 2014

    The Associated Press reports that Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn (D) has signed SB2937 (html; archive pdf), now known as Public Act 98-0831, amending the state’s Freedom from Drone Surveillance Act to include private operators of aerial drones (also known as “unmanned aerial vehicles” or “unmanned aircraft systems,” UAV or UAS), which can be used to conduct surveillance in the United States. (For more on drones and privacy, read this previous post.) The new legislation, the Associated Press reports, extends “state drone regulations to private craft.”

    Reuters: Internet privacy service Tor warns users it was attacked

    Thursday, July 31st, 2014

    Reuters reports that Tor, an anonymization network for online activities, told users that it had been attacked:

    Tor, the prominent system for protecting Internet privacy, said on Wednesday many of its users trying to reach hidden sites might have been identified by government-funded researchers.

    In a note on the nonprofit’s website, Tor Project leader Roger Dingledine said the service had identified computers on its network that had been quietly altering Tor traffic for five months in an attempt to unmask users connecting to what are known as “hidden services.”

    Dingledine said it was “likely” the attacking computers, which were removed on July 4, were operated on behalf of two researchers at the Software Engineering Institute, which is housed at Carnegie-Mellon University, but funded mainly by the U.S. Department of Defense.

    The pair had been scheduled to speak on identifying Tor users at the Black Hat security conference next month. After Tor developers complained to Carnegie-Mellon, officials there said the research had not been cleared and canceled the talk. Read more »

    Newsweek: New Bill Takes Aim at NSA’s Bulk Phone Data Collection

    Tuesday, July 29th, 2014

    Newsweek reports on a new bill from Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vermont), chairman of the Judiciary Committee, that seeks to reform the National Security Agency’s controversial bulk telephone data collection surveillance program, which was revealed by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden. (In related news, the ACLU and HRW have released a report on how NSA surveillance programs harm journalism, “With Liberty to Monitor All: How Large-Scale US Surveillance is Harming Journalism, Law, and American Democracy.” Also, the Open Technology Institute has released a report on the cost of the NSA surveillance program, “Surveillance Costs: The NSA’s Impact on the Economy, Internet Freedom & Cybersecurity.”)

    Newsweek reports:

    Earlier today, Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), the Chairman of the SenateJudiciary Committee, introduced a bill aimed at reining in some of the NSA’s most controversial digital surveillance practices including the bulk collection of Americans’ telephone records. [...]

    The USA Freedom Act of 2014 is a revised version of the USA Freedom Act legislation that, back in October, was introduced in the Senate by Leahy and in the House by Representative Jim Sensenbrenner (R-Wis.). A weaker version of the bill ultimately passed in the House back in May. Leahy, meanwhile, has been working with Congress and the White House to develop a stronger version in the Senate. The result has the support of the administration and, according to Leahy’s press office, “a wide range of privacy and civil liberties groups.” [...] Read more »

    Ars Technica: Russia publicly joins war on Tor privacy with $111,000 bounty

    Tuesday, July 29th, 2014

    Ars Technica reports that Russia has posted a reward for technology that can identify the users of Tor, an anonymization network for online activities:

    In a notice on the Russian government’s procurement portal under the title “Perform research, code ‘TOR’ (Navy),” originally posted on July 11, the [Russian Ministry of Internal Affairs (MVD)] announced it was seeking proposals for researchers to ”study the possibility of obtaining technical information about users and users equipment on the Tor anonymous network.” The competition, which is open only to Russian citizens and companies, requires entrants to pay a 195,000 ruble (approximately $5,555) application fee. Proposals are due by August 13, and a winner of the contract will be chosen by August 20.

    The MVD had previously sought to ban the use of any anonymizing software. That proposal was dropped last year. However, a new “blogger law” passed in April, which goes into effect in August, requires all bloggers with an audience of over 3,000 readers to register their identity with the government—and enforcement of the law could be made difficult if bloggers use the Tor network to retain their anonymity.

    Tor has been the constant target of intelligence agencies and other entities seeking to unmask anonymous Internet users.