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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

    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.

    Reuters: Flaws could expose users of privacy-protecting software, researchers say

    Friday, July 25th, 2014

    Reuters reports that researchers have found a flaw in privacy-protective system Invisible Internet Project:

    Researchers have found a flaw that could expose the identities of people using a privacy-oriented operating system touted by Edward Snowden, just two days after widely used anonymity service Tor acknowledged a similar problem.

    The most recent finding concerns a complex, heavily encrypted networking program called the Invisible Internet Project, or I2P. Used to send messages and run websites anonymously, I2P ships along with the specialized operating system “Tails,” which former U.S. spy contractor Snowden used to communicate with journalists in secret.

    Though a core purpose of I2P is to obscure the Internet Protocol addresses of its roughly 30,000 users, anyone who visits a booby-trapped website could have their true address revealed, making it likely that their name could be exposed as well, according to researchers at Exodus Intelligence. [...] Read more »

    IT News (Australia): Academics get personal over big data

    Wednesday, July 16th, 2014

    We’ve discussed the pitfalls of various anonymization or “de-identification” techniques and how the information can be “deanonymized” or re-identified, leading to privacy problems for individuals. In 2009, University of Colorado law professor Paul Ohm discussed “the surprising failure of anonymization,” and said, “Data can either be useful or perfectly anonymous but never both.” He said anonymization’s failure “should trigger a sea change in the law, because nearly every information privacy law or regulation grants a get-out-of-jail-free card to those who anonymize their data.”

    Now, IT News reports on a research paper, “No silver bullet: De-identification still doesn’t work” (pdf), by Princeton’s Arvind Narayanan and Edward W. Felten concerning the continued privacy problems with de-identification of personal information. (Felten was chief technologist for the Federal Trade Commission and has been a consultant for various federal agencies.) The new paper is a response to one recently published by ITIF researcher Daniel Castro and Ontario privacy commissioner Ann Cavoukian, “Big Data and Innovation, Setting the Record Straight: De-identification Does Work” (pdf).

    IT News reports:

    Scholars at Princeton University have delivered a stinging rebuke to the ‘big data’ movement, insisting that today’s data de-identification tools are not sufficient to ensure privacy. [...] Read more »

    Update on PCLOB Report on the Surveillance Program Operated Pursuant to Section 702 of FISA

    Wednesday, July 2nd, 2014

    Today, the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board (PCLOB), an independent oversight agency within the executive branch, voted on a “Report on the Surveillance Program Operated Pursuant to Section 702 of FISA” (pdf). In January, the board released a report on the NSA’s surveillance program that collects telephone records in bulk in which it said that NSA program is illegal and should be ended. That report was a strong statement for privacy and civil liberties. Unfortunately, the report that the board released on Section 702 today is not. The board has concluded that the program, which authorized the government to target foreigners reasonably believed to be located overseas, is legal.

    The board noted that the Section 702 program does raise privacy issues, but its proposals fall short of what are needed for real reform to protect individuals’ privacy and civil liberties. The board says, “The Section 702 program has enabled the government to acquire a greater range of foreign intelligence than it otherwise would have been able to obtain — and to do so quickly and effectively. [...] The program has proven valuable in the government’s efforts to combat terrorism as well as in other areas of foreign intelligence.” Read more »

    Pre-release Version of PCLOB Report on the Surveillance Program Operated Pursuant to Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act

    Tuesday, July 1st, 2014

    The Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board (PCLOB), an independent oversight agency within the executive branch, has published a pre-release version of its “Report on the Surveillance Program Operated Pursuant to Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act” (PCLOB pdf; archive pdf). The board says: “Although the report will not become official and the final version will not be posted until after the Board votes on July 2nd, this pre-release copy is now available for members of the press (with no embargo) and the public to preview the Board’s findings and recommendations.” The board is set to vote tomorrow at a 10 a.m. meeting that members of the public can attend. More info on the meeting is here. The report was released less than an hour ago, so I haven’t had a chance to review it, but I will soon and set out my thoughts.