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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 ‘Fourth Amendment’ Category

    DHS Releases First Annual Privacy and Civil Liberties Assessment Report

    Wednesday, April 16th, 2014

    The Department of Homeland Security’s Privacy Office has released its first annual “Privacy and Civil Liberties Assessment Report” (DHS pdf; archive pdf). The office said, “Executive Order 13636, Improving Critical Infrastructure Cybersecurity, requires that senior agency officials for privacy and civil liberties assess the privacy and civil liberties impacts of the activities their respective departments and agencies have undertaken to implement the Executive Order, and to publish their assessments annually in a report compiled by the DHS Privacy Office and Office for Civil Rights and Civil Liberties. This is the first of the required annual reports.  It includes the DHS Privacy Office’s and Office for Civil Rights and Civil Liberties’ assessments of certain DHS activities under Section 4 of the Executive Order (enhanced threat information sharing with the private sector) as well as assessments conducted independently by the Department of the Treasury and the Departments of Defense, Justice, Commerce, Health and Human Services, Transportation, and Energy, and by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence and the General Services Administration.”

    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: 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 »

    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 »