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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

    EU Court: European Union Data Retention Directive Is Invalid

    Wednesday, April 9th, 2014

    The Court of Justice of the European Union announced that it has ruled (pdf) that the EU’s Data Retention Directive is invalid. The court said:

    The Court observes first of all that the data to be retained make it possible, in particular, (1) to know the identity of the person with whom a subscriber or registered user has communicated and by what means, (2) to identify the time of the communication as well as the place from which that communication took place and (3) to know the frequency of the communications of the subscriber or registered user with certain persons during a given period. Those data, taken as a whole, may provide very precise information on the private lives of the persons whose data are retained, such as the habits of everyday life, permanent or temporary places of residence, daily or other movements, activities carried out, social relationships and the social environments frequented. Read more »

    Washington Post: Yahoo’s uphill battle to secure its users’ privacy

    Tuesday, April 8th, 2014

    The Washington Post reports on attempts by Internet services company Yahoo to better protect its users’ privacy:

    On Wednesday, Yahoo’s freshly minted Chief Information Security Officer Alex Stamos announced the company had implemented a series of stronger security and privacy measures, including securing traffic that moves between their servers and encrypting most search queries automatically.

    This is a major step for Yahoo which has been dogged by critics for years for lagging behind its competitors on some basic privacy and security measures. In a Tumblr post, the company proclaims its latest announcement is only the start of a broader mission “to not only make Yahoo secure, but improve the security of the overall web ecosystem.”

    But although Yahoo, Google, and others have upped their security game in light of the revelations about National Security Agency spying over the last year, the tracking practices tech firms rely on for advertising also appear to have made some covert government operations easier. [...] Read more »

    Guardian (UK): Smart cities: are you willing to trade privacy for efficiency?

    Tuesday, April 8th, 2014

    The Guardian reports onquestions of privacy concerning “smart” cities — where data is increasingly collected on the habits of citizens and residents:

    Privacy must play an instrumental role in any smart city strategy otherwise citizens might fear the introduction of other innovative technology, according to an executive at one of the world’s largest infrastructure companies.

    Wim Elfrink, executive vice president of industry solutions and chief globalisation officer of Cisco, heads up the company’s smart cities team and warned that if cities did not give citizens the choice of whether or not to allow the government to use their data, they might opt-out of future initiatives. [...]

    A number of councils have already installed a number of sensors around London with the aim of creating a smarter city. This is done through collecting large amounts of data – from information about available parking spaces, electricity usage and even refuse levels – before then analysing it and understanding problems they may not know existed. Read more »

    Wall Street Journal: Federal Agents Pierce Tor Web-Anonymity Tool

    Thursday, April 3rd, 2014

    The Wall Street Journal reports that federal law enforcement officials have been able to find their way around some tools that individuals use to go online anonymously:

    WASHINGTON—Law-enforcement agencies are increasingly finding ways to unmask users of a popular Web browser designed to hide identities and allow individuals to exist online anonymously.

    To keep their identities secret, users and administrators of a recently shuttered child-pornography website used a browser called Tor that obscures the source of Web traffic, authorities said in March. Agents from Homeland Security Investigations tracked many of them down anyway, largely because of mistakes that even some of the most sophisticated users eventually make.

    Tor and other programs designed to hide users’ identity online have grown in popularity as people try to protect their privacy in an age of digital surveillance. When paired with bitcoin or other virtual currencies that don’t use the banking system, Tor can help hide the identities of people behind financial transactions. Such programs also have become a tool for those seeking to evade the law, including child-pornography traders, hackers and other criminals, creating challenges for law enforcement. [...] Read more »

    New York Times: A Nudge on Digital Privacy Law From E.U. Official

    Wednesday, April 2nd, 2014

    The New York Times reports that Peter Hustinx, the European Data Protection Supervisor, is urging on changes to a European data privacy law:

    BRUSSELS — The top data protection official for the European Union called Tuesday for member governments to restore public trust in the Internet by pressing ahead with an overhaul of the bloc’s electronic privacy laws by the end of this year.

    The official, Peter Hustinx, the European data protection supervisor, also called on President Obama to stick to his pledge to review American privacy rules in the wake of disclosures that have exposed the vast reach of government surveillance that has shaken trans-Atlantic relations.

    Legislation to revamp European digital privacy law has been in the works since November 2010, when the European Union’s justice commissioner, Vivian Reding, first proposed updating rules set during the mid-1990s in the early part of the Internet era. She presented her version of the legislation in January 2012. Read more »

    Onion satire: Google Opt Out Feature Lets Users Protect Privacy By Moving To Remote Village

    Friday, March 28th, 2014

    Here’s something funny for Friday. The Onion satirical Web site has a video: “Google Opt Out Feature Lets Users Protect Privacy By Moving To Remote Village.” The description: Web users who choose to move to the desolate village are guaranteed an environment free from Google products and natural light from the sun.