Search


Intersection: Sidewalks & Public Space

Chapter by Melissa Ngo

"The Myth of Security Under Camera Surveillance"


  • Categories


  • Archives

    « Home

    Archive for the ‘International’ Category

    Washington Post: Maker of StealthGenie, an app used for spying, indicted in Virginia

    Tuesday, September 30th, 2014

    The Washington Post reports that the chief executive of the company that makes a mobile app for spying on individuals has been indicted by federal officials:

    Federal officials have indicted the Pakistani maker of a popular smartphone app designed for spying on a user’s children or romantic partner, the first case of its kind in the burgeoning market for private-sector surveillance software built for iPhones and Android devices.

    The program, called StealthGenie, allows users to monitor nearly all forms of a target’s communications — calls, texts, social media postings — while also tracking the smartphone’s location and secretly activating its microphone to make recordings.

    While similar to technology used by police to track suspects, its use by private individuals allegedly violates federal law. Activists against domestic violence have long expressed concern that surveillance software can lead to attacks on women suspected of infidelity.

    Article 29 Working Party Releases Opinion on Internet of Things

    Friday, September 26th, 2014

    The EU’s Article 29 Working Party on the Protection of Individuals with regard to the Processing of Personal Data has released “Opinion 8/2014 on the on Recent Developments on the Internet of Things” (Working Party pdf; archive pdf). We’ve discussed before  the “Internet of Things,” which is a computerized network of physical objects. In IoT, sensors and data storage devices embedded in objects interact with Web services. (For more on privacy and the IoT, see a Center for Democracy and Technology report that I consulted on and contributed to, “Building the Digital Out-Of-Home Privacy Infrastructure.”) The Working Party writes in its summary:

    The Internet of Things (IoT) is on the threshold of integration into the lives of European citizens. The viability of many projects in the IoT still remains to be confirmed but “smart things” are being made available which monitor and communicate with our homes, cars, work environment and physical activities. Already today, connected devices successfully meet the needs of EU citizens on the large-scale markets of quantified self and domotics. The IoT thus hold significant prospects of growth for a great number of innovating and creative EU companies, whether big or small, which operate on these markets.

    The WP29 is keen that such expectations are met, in the interests of both citizens and industry in the EU. Yet, these expected benefits must also respect the many privacy and security challenges which can be associated with the IoT. Many questions arise around the vulnerability of these devices, often deployed outside a traditional IT structure and lacking sufficient security built into them. Data losses, infection by malware, but also unauthorized access to personal data, intrusive use of wearable devices, or unlawful surveillance are as many risks that stakeholders in the IoT must address to attract prospective end-users of their products or services. 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 »

    Home Depot Confirms Massive Breach of Customers’ Financial Data

    Tuesday, September 9th, 2014

    KrebsOnSecurity reported last week that retailer Home Depot suffered a massive security breach that affected the privacy of millions of customers’ financial information. On Monday, the site reported: “The apparent credit and debit card breach uncovered last week at Home Depot was aided in part by a new variant of the malicious software program that stole card account data from cash registers at Target last December, according to sources close to the investigation.” Now, the New York Times is reporting that Home Depot has confirmed the security breach affecting U.S. and Canadian customers:

    Home Depot confirmed on Monday that hackers had broken into its in-store payments systems, in what could be the largest known breach of a retail company’s computer network.

    The retailer said the exact number of customers affected was still not clear. But a person briefed on the investigation said the total number of credit card numbers stolen at Home Depot could top 60 million. By comparison, the breach last year at Target, the largest known attack to date, affected 40 million cardholders.

    The breach may have affected any customer at Home Depot stores in the United States and Canada from April to early last week, said Paula Drake, a company spokeswoman. [...] Read more »

    International Business Times: Sorry, Your Face is Maxed Out: Face Recognition Payment App Unveiled in China

    Wednesday, September 3rd, 2014

    The International Business Times reports that Chinese academics say they have developed a new system of facial-recognition software that is able to collect data on individuals’ faces from 91 angles. The biometric data system is to be used as a payment system, which could raise privacy questions:  

    Academics at the Chongqing Institute of Green and Intelligent Technology in southwest China say they have developed a new system of face-recognition software which could radically change the way we shop.

    Shoppers would be snapped with a special camera which collects information about the face from 91 angles. Thisinformation is then analysed using two million sets of data. The whole process takes just a few seconds. In 1,000 tests the system was reported to be accurate on 998 occasions. [...]

    The software can even factor in changes to faces caused by the ravages of time – and shopping. The system could be launched in the second half of 2015.

    The Chinese system isn’t the first to use face-recognition as a shopping tool: Finnish company Uniqul unveiled a similar device in 2013.