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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

    Update: DNI Releases Interim Progress Report on Implementing PPD-28

    Monday, October 20th, 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. Federal judges have issued conflicting rulings on the surveillance program. In January, Obama announced reforms and proposed changes to the NSA surveillance programs, including the call record database surveillance program. Obama also issued a “Presidential Policy Directive, PPD-28,” (pdf) concerning signals intelligence activities.

    Now, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence has issued an interim progress report (DNI pdf; archive pdf) on implementing PPD-28. In an announcement, Robert Litt, general counsel for the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, and Alexander W. Joel, civil liberties protection officer for the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, said the report “articulates key principles for agencies to incorporate in their policies and procedures, including some which afford protections that go beyond those explicitly outlined in PPD-28. These principles include the following: Ensuring that privacy and civil liberties are integral considerations in signals intelligence activities.”

    NSA Releases Second Transparency Report

    Thursday, October 9th, 2014

    The National Security Agency, which has faced considerable criticism from the public and lawmakers since revelations by former contractor Edward Snowden concerning the agency’s broad surveillance programs, recently released its second transparency report.

     The document focuses on the civil liberties and privacy protection practices of NSA in the course of targeted signals intelligence activities under Executive Order 12333. Fair Information Practice Principles (FIPPs), the widely accepted framework of defining principles used by federal agencies to evaluate how systems, processes, or programs impact individual privacy, were used as the basis for assesssment.

    The report details numerous efforts designed to protect civil liberties and privacy protections in six of the eight FIPPs (Purpose Specification; Data Minimization; Use Limitation; Data Quality and Integrity; Security; and Accountability and Auditing). These protections are underpinned by NSA’s enterprise activities, documented compliance program, and investments in people, training, tools and technology. Read more »

    Ars Technica: Adobe’s e-book reader sends your reading logs back to Adobe—in plain text

    Wednesday, October 8th, 2014

    Ars Technica reports on a privacy and security issue concerning ebooks and Adobe’s popular Digital Editions ebooks and PDF reader (which is used by many libraries):

    Adobe’s Digital Editions e-book and PDF reader—an application used by thousands of libraries to give patrons access to electronic lending libraries—actively logs and reports every document readers add to their local “library” along with what users do with those files. Even worse, the logs are transmitted over the Internet in the clear, allowing anyone who can monitor network traffic (such as the National Security Agency, Internet service providers and cable companies, or others sharing a public Wi-Fi network) to follow along over readers’ shoulders.

    Ars has independently verified the logging of e-reader activity with the use of a packet capture tool. The exposure of data was first discovered by Nate Hoffelder of The Digital Reader, who reported the issue to Adobe but received no reply. [...] 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 »

    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 »

    Hill: Tech giants demand vote on email privacy bill

    Friday, September 12th, 2014

    The Hill reports that technology companies including Google, Microsoft and Yahoo are pushing for Congress to vote on the E-mail Privacy Act, which would update the 1986 Electronic Communications Privacy Act (“ECPA,” also known as Title 18 § 2511 of the United States Code).

    Google, Microsoft, AOL, Yahoo and scores of other technology titans are demanding congressional leaders allow a vote on a bill to grant new privacy protections to people’s emails.

    The companies want a vote on the Email Privacy Act, a bill that counts more than half of the House as co-sponsors. The bill has yet to move since it was introduced last summer, and a companion measure in the Senate is also awaiting action.

    The legislation would update the 1986 Electronic Communications Privacy Act, which allows police to conduct warrantless searches of people’s emails and other information stored on the “cloud” that are more than 180 days old. Critics on both sides of the aisle say the law is antiquated and undermines people’s privacy. [...] Read more »