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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 ‘First Amendment’ Category

    Center for Investigative Reporting and KQED: Hollywood-style surveillance technology inches closer to reality

    Tuesday, April 15th, 2014

    The Center for Investigative Reporting and KQED looked into emerging surveillance technologies that could have a significant impact on the privacy rights of individuals:

    [Ross McNutt] and his Ohio-based company, Persistent Surveillance Systems, persuaded the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department to use his surveillance technology to monitor Compton’s streets from the air and track suspects from the moment the snatching occurred.

    The system, known as wide-area surveillance, is something of a time machine – the entire city is filmed and recorded in real time. Imagine Google Earth with a rewind button and the ability to play back the movement of cars and people as they scurry about the city. [...]

    McNutt who holds a doctorate in rapid product development, helped build wide-area surveillance to hunt down bombing suspects in Iraq and Afghanistan. He decided that clusters of high-powered surveillance cameras attached to the belly of small civilian aircraft could be a game-changer in U.S. law enforcement. [...]

    The Center for Investigative Reporting and KQED teamed up to take an inside look at the emerging technologies that could revolutionize policing – and how intrusively the public is monitored by the government. The technology is forcing the public and law enforcement to answer a central question: When have police crossed the line from safer streets to expansive surveillance that threatens to undermine the nation’s constitutional values? Read more »

    Associated Press: Teens adept at social media get privacy training

    Monday, April 14th, 2014

    The Associated Press reports on a privacy program at St. Michael School in suburban St. Louis. The program is based a privacy curriculum based on one released by the Fordham Law School’s Center for Law and Information Policy. AP reports:

    CLAYTON, Mo. — In an age of increased online government surveillance and targeted social media ads, the notion of privacy as a classroom subject worthy of distinct study is gaining momentum far beyond the narrow niches of First Amendment lawyers and computer hackers.

    Using a privacy curriculum developed at Fordham Law School in New York, educators there and at another dozen of the country’s top law schools want to equip adolescents growing up in a digital world with a user manual that has little to do with apps and pixel resolution.

    At the St. Michael School in suburban St. Louis, middle-school students recently learned how to manage their digital reputations. Led by a law-student instructor from nearby Washington University, the preteens discussed how facial recognition software is used everywhere from Facebook to the local mall. As the cellphone increasingly becomes an early adolescent rite of passage, they debated the legal and ethical issues raised by spending hours each day online or texting with friends. […] 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 »

    Wall Street Journal: Give Me Back My Online Privacy

    Tuesday, March 25th, 2014

    The Wall Street Journal reports that individuals are seeking to protect their privacy by using new technology and tools:

    These days, it seems privacy is under assault from all sides. Your phone can track your location, your thermostat learns your personal habits, Facebook FB -4.67% knows the most intimate details about your life—and U.S. intelligence agencies are racing to sweep up reams of data.

    With every swipe, click and login, people are sharing ever-growing amounts of information about themselves—but now they’re getting tired of the consequences. And they’re starting to fight back.

    More people are turning to a new wave of tools that let them cover their footsteps online or let them know who’s watching them. [...]

    The fears about privacy are widespread. According to the Pew Research Center, half of Americans—up from 33% in 2009—are concerned about the wealth of personal data on the Internet. Read more »

    Update: Two Proposals, from Obama and House, Would End NSA’s Bulk Data Collection

    Monday, March 24th, 2014

    To recap: There has been considerable controversy about the privacy and civil liberties implications of the bulk telephone data collection program revealed by former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden. (He revealed several surveillance programs by the agency.) The Review Group on Intelligence and Communications Technologies (created by President Obama in August after the Snowden revelations) issued a report (archive pdf) recommending against the telephone call record database. Recently, the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board (PCLOB), an independent oversight agency within the executive branch, released a report (archive pdf) on the NSA’s surveillance program that collects telephone records in bulk saying the NSA surveillance program is illegal and should be ended.

    Now, there are two proposals that would end the NSA bulk telephone data collection program. In January, Obama announced reforms and proposed changes to the NSA surveillance programs, including the call record database surveillance program. The full transcript is here. Obama also issued a “Presidential Policy Directive, PPD-28,” (pdf) concerning signals intelligence activities. The New York Times reports on the administration’s proposal:

    WASHINGTON — The Obama administration is preparing to unveil a legislative proposal for a far-reaching overhaul of the National Security Agency’s once-secret bulk phone records program in a way that — if approved by Congress — would end the aspect that has most alarmed privacy advocates since its existence was leaked last year, according to senior administration officials.

    Under the proposal, they said, N.S.A. would end its systematic collection of data about Americans’ calling habits. The records would be stay in the hands of phone companies, which would not be required to retain the data for any longer than they normally would. And the N.S.A. could obtain specific records only with permission from a judge, using a new kind of court order. [...] Read more »

    ACLU of California: Metadata: Piecing Together a Privacy Solution

    Friday, March 21st, 2014

    The ACLU of California has released a new policy paper, “Metadata: Piecing Together a Privacy Solution,” discussing the personal information that can be gleaned from metadata and what it means now that metadata is a target for surveillance by the National Security Agency and others. Here’s information from the introduction:

    Generally speaking, the government cannot record or obtain the contents of your communications without at least a search warrant. But “metadata,” information other than communications content, is often treated differently under the law. As a result, government entities ranging from local police departments to the NSA have asserted broad authority to acquire location information, associational data, records of purchases and financial transactions, and more, all of which can reveal intimate details of your life.

    And the government doesn’t merely believe that it can collect this kind of information without a search warrant — it is actually doing so, in quantities that beggar the imagination. Recent revelations about NSA surveillance programs reveal that the agency has attempted to obtain information about every phone call and every Internet communication carried by U.S. networks. Law enforcement agencies have tracked the location of individuals for months at a time. Telecommunications companies have revealed that they respond to millions of requests for information from law enforcement agencies at all levels, and at least one carrier provides the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) with access to records about every call that has crossed the carrier’s network since 1987. Yet despite the obvious privacy concerns that arise from these practices, all of this regularly occurs without the judicial oversight and checks and balances that the Constitution requires. […] Read more »