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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 ‘Security’ Category

    Privacy International: Identity theft persists in Pakistan’s biometric era

    Wednesday, August 13th, 2014

    Privacy International recently looked into identity theft in Pakistan, a country that has registered many of its inhabitants’ biometric information and issued computerized national identification cards:

    Even in the world of biometric identity and strong systems, people are able to obtain fraudulent identity cards by changing their particular details, or, in some cases, only the photo ID. The former Chairman of [National Database and Registration Authority (NADRA), the independent government agency responsible for the management of the entire national database system], Tariq Malik also said that given increasing levels of forgery and misuse in other personal documents, now is the hour to get expired identity cards renewed. He said that the menace of bogus identity cards could be wiped out by updating personal biometric details in the national database. [...]

    NADRA reports that it has deployed a state-of-the-art facial matching system with the capabilities to stop fraud and forgery in identity documents, yet people are still able to obtain forged identity cards. This was very puzzling to understand given the supposed surety, accuracy and privacy of NADRA database that such a scam was still happening even after the introduction of new chip-based identity cards.

    Read the full article for more information on identity theft in Pakistan.

    Washington Post: Feds to study illegal use of spy gear

    Tuesday, August 12th, 2014

    The Washington Post reports that the Federal Communications Commission will investigate the reported misuse of surveillance technology to spy on ordinary individuals:

    The Federal Communications Commission has established a task force to study reported misuse of surveillance technology that can intercept cellular signals to locate people, monitor their calls and send malicious software to their phones.

    The powerful technology — called an IMSI catcher, though also referred to by the trade name “Stingray” — is produced by several major surveillance companies and widely used by police and intelligence services around the world.

    The FCC, in response to questions from U.S. Rep. Alan M. Grayson (D-Fla.), plans to study the extent to which criminal gangs and foreign intelligence services are using the devices against Americans. [...] Read more »

    Associated Press: Surveillance cameras raise privacy concerns

    Tuesday, August 12th, 2014

    The Associated Press reports on privacy questions concerning surveillance cameras in South Sioux City, Nebraska. (I’ve written a lot about privacy and camera surveillance in the archives, including the proliferation of surveillance technology in cities getting funding from the federal Department of Homeland Security.)

    ll told, about 90 cameras are posted in the 6-square-mile community – or one for every 149 residents. Most are on municipal buildings, but some – like those near the waterfront – are free-standing.

    While numerous communities have camera systems, Amy Miller, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Nebraska, said the proliferation and use of the devices in South Sioux City is concerning from a privacy point of view. She questions the effectiveness of using them for minor crimes like littering. [...]

    The system is maintained by South Sioux City Information Technology Director Dan Feenstra. Some cameras have a zoom function, are recorded and can be used for evidence. The network has been paid for through various funding streams, including post-9/11 federal funding for increased security. The city in 2004 received a $457,226 U.S. Department of Homeland Security grant for information technology.

    McClatchy: Rogue Cellphone Tracker Alarms Seattle Privacy Activists

    Friday, August 8th, 2014

    McClatchy News Service reports that there are substantial privacy and civil liberty questions concerning surveillance technology that the Seattle Police Department has bought:

    More than a year after Seattle police promised to not turn on a network of surveillance cameras and communication nodes installed as part of a federal port-security grant, the department still hasn’t released a draft policy on how it will use the equipment and protect citizen privacy.

    The installation of the 30 cameras and a wireless mesh broadband network came shortly after the Police Department’s purchase of two aerial drones, also with a Homeland Security grant, and also without public notice. [...]

    Now, privacy and civil-liberties advocates say the city needs to enact a strong review process to guide how information is collected, stored, shared and protected, rather than leaving the guidelines to various departments. [...]

    The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Washington, which questioned the law-enforcement value of both the drones and surveillance cameras, agrees that the city needs to develop policies that narrowly define how technology will be used and who will have access to it. [...] Read more »

    Missouri Passes Constitutional Amendment to Protect Electronic Privacy

    Thursday, August 7th, 2014

    On Tuesday, Missouri voters passed a constitutional amendment to protect electronic privacy. Here’s what the amendment said: “Shall the Missouri Constitution be amended so that the people shall be secure in their electronic communications and data from unreasonable searches and seizures as they are now likewise secure in their persons, homes, papers and effects?” The Associated Press reports that the vote on Amendment 9 was: YES: 728,549, 74.756 percent; NO: 246,020, 25.244 percent. AP reports, “Supporters said the broader legal definition will help guard against excessive government intrusion such as the recent National Security Agency eavesdropping scandal.” Republican state Sen. Rob Schaaf, who co-sponsored the measure with Republican Sen. Bob Dixon, told Time that the “overwhelming support for Amendment 9 reflects the emotion that Missourians feel about the invasion of their privacy.”

     

     

    Marketwatch: Would you trade privacy for national security?

    Thursday, August 7th, 2014

    Marketwatch reports on a new survey from the Public Affairs Council concerning attitudes about privacy:

    Only 42% of Americans say they are willing to give up some privacy for national security, according to a new survey released by the Public Affairs Council, the national organization for public affairs professionals. And that number goes down to 25% when it comes to Americans willing to trade their privacy for lower prices, the survey found.

    Republicans (39%) are less likely than Democrats (45%) to say they are willing to trade some privacy for better national security. But Doug Pinkham, president of the Public Affairs Council, says this may be attributable to the fact that there’s a Democratic president in the White House. The country appears to be more polarized in recent years, too, he adds. [...]

    Despite concerns among consumer advocates about the privacy policies of companies such as Facebook and Apple, and how much information they can glean from a person’s smartphone use, there’s been a surge in the trust Americans put in technology companies. Some 83% of respondents in the Public Affairs Council survey say technology companies are at least as trustworthy as the average major company, while only 53% of people felt that way when that question was posed in 2011.