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Archive for the ‘Privacy’ Category

Facing up to the law: increasing surveillance raises privacy concerns

February 12, 2013 Comments off

smh.com

I spy the use of facial recognition systems by law enforcement agencies is becoming more widespread. Illustration: Sam Bennett

ABOUT 15,000 people have had images of their faces captured on an Australian Federal Police database in its first year of operation, igniting fears that the rise of facial recognition systems will lead to CCTV cameras being installed on every street corner.

The database includes pictures of alleged criminals who may not know their images are on file.

The AFP say facial recognition may eventually be considered as credible as fingerprints, but images on their database are not being shared with state police forces. Sharing images on a national database could be possible by 2015.

The president of Australian Councils for Civil Liberties, Terry O’Gorman, said it was troubling that technologies such as facial and number plate recognition had become so widespread and there appeared to be no independent monitoring of the impacts on privacy.

The justification for widespread CCTV has also been questioned, with a report by police in London, the most spied-upon city in the world, showing that only one crime was solved per 1000 cameras.

An AFP forensic and data centres biometrics co-ordinator, Simon Walsh, said international agencies were Read more…

LAPD Uses Anti-Terrorism Devise to Track Cellphone Users

January 29, 2013 1 comment

allgov.com

The Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) is using an anti-terrorism device that indiscriminately sweeps up cellphone communications of innocent bystanders during burglary, drug and murder investigations.

LA Weekly wrote back in September that the police agency purchased Stingray technology in 2006 using Department of Homeland Security (DHS) funds, and is deploying the portable equipment for routine police operations. DHS grant documents said the device was intended for “regional terrorism investigations.”

Stingray pretends that it is a cell tower and fools wireless phones into establishing a connection. Once connected, it can establish cell location and download information of people who are not suspects in an investigation, raising all sorts of privacy issues.

Information obtained by the First Amendment Coalition under the California Public Records Act indicates that LAPD used Stingray 21 times in a four-month period last year. While carriers like AT&T and Sprint typically require a court order before granting law enforcement access to cellphone data, it is not clear that LAPD is asking the courts for a warrant.

Privacy advocates argue that accessing phones with Stingray constitutes a “search and seizure” under the Constitution’s Fourth Amendment, and requires a warrant. The FBI has argued it doesn’t need a warrant because cellphone users have no reasonable expectation of privacy. The U.S.Supreme Court has not yet ruled on the issue.

The records viewed by LA Weekly seemed to indicate that judges were not fully apprised of Stingray’s scope; that it was sweeping a range of cellphones rather than a specific suspect’s phone.

LAPD refuses to comment on Stingray, which is reportedly also being used by local law enforcement in Fort Worth, Texas, Gilbert, Arizona, and Miami.

–Ken Broder

Americans endorse spycams, getting used to drones

January 19, 2013 Comments off

wnd.com

drone_20

A new poll has uncovered a “shocking willingness” on the part of Americans to give up their privacy and freedoms for the sake of “safety,” just at a time when the Obama administration is launching an assault on the self-defense rights guarded by the Second Amendment.

“As leaders in Washington prepare an assault on the Second Amendment, a majority of Americans – 61 percent – said they believe that domestic use of drones by government and law enforcement agencies represents a violation of people’s right to privacy,” said Fritz Wenzel, president of Wenzel Strategies.

It was his public-opinion research and media consulting company, Wenzel Strategies, that released the results of a telephone poll conducted for WND. It was taken Jan. 9-12 and carries a margin of error of plus or minus 3.22 percentage points.

Wenzel said the federal government “has announced plans to use drones domestically in certain circumstances, and the survey finding that 20 percent are Read more…

Categories: Privacy, United States Tags: ,

Big Google is watching you

January 16, 2013 Comments off

businessspectator.com

While travelling overseas at Christmas we naturally turned off mobile data on our phones to avoid being ripped off by the phone companies’ rapacious data roaming charges.

Instead, everywhere I went I asked for the Wi-Fi password and sometimes didn’t even need one. No problem, although using Google maps to get around in the street was impossible.

 

In fact with all three phone networks in Australia whacking up their data prices, I’m thinking of turning off mobile data at home as well. There’s more and more public Wi-Fi around and although the domestic Read more…

Disney World’s RFID Tracking Bracelets Are A Slippery Slope, Warns Privacy Advocate

January 10, 2013 Comments off

ibtimes.com

Image: http://disneyparks.disney.go.com

Disney wants to show you a whole new world, but not everyone is feeling the love.

On Monday, the Walt Disney Company (NYSE:DIS) announced an ambitious plan to transform the visitor experience at its Disney World Resort near Orlando, Fla. The MyMagic+ program, which will roll out this spring, combines an interactive website and mobile app with an all-purpose electronic bracelet that acts as a guest’s room key, theme-park ticket and payment account all rolled into one. The bracelets, dubbed MagicBands, will also track which rides visitors use, which characters they interact with, where they go and what they buy within the park.

The bracelets monitor behavior with radio-frequency identification technology, or RFID, a wireless tracking system that transfers data from tiny tags attached to objects. RFID has long been used to track product inventory in various industries, but it has become increasingly invasive over the last decade, with tags being implanted in I.D. badges, transit cards and even passports.

In a blog post, Tom Staggs, chairman of Disney Parks and Resorts, stated that Read more…

Judge: Texas school can force student to wear RFID badge

January 10, 2013 Comments off

salon.com

Before you know it all driver licenses, public work badges, bus passes, etc. will be tracked/ traced.   The Mark of the Beast is coming folks! It is a matter of time before everything is consolidated…

Judge: Texas school can force student to wear RFID badge (Credit: Oleg Golovnev /Shutterstock)

A federal judge in Texas ruled Tuesday that a San Antonio high school was permitted to expel or transfer a student if she refused to wear the school’s mandated identification badges.

Last year Northside Independent School District began issuing school IDs embedded with RFID chips, which monitor students’ movements from when they arrive at school until when they leave. One student, 15-year-old Andrea Hernandez was suspended when she refused to wear the ID badge on (albeit slightly loopy) religious grounds — her parents believed the RFID chip to be “the Mark of the Beast.”

Hernandez sued the school district, who tried to accommodate the girl and her family by saying they would remove the RFID chip from her badge, but that she would still need to wear the badge itself. Wired explained that Hernandez family continued to take issue:

The girl’s father, Steven, wrote the school district explaining why Read more…

Big Brother or peeping tom? UK installs CCTV in school bathrooms, changing rooms

September 13, 2012 1 comment

rt.com

AFP Photo / Jacques Demarthon

AFP Photo / Jacques Demarthon

Over 200 UK state schools have installed cameras in bathrooms and changing rooms to monitor students, a recent surveillance survey reported. British parents will likely be shocked by the study’s findings.

­The survey is based on a freedom of information request conducted by Big Brother Watch, an anti-surveillance activist group. The group said they were shaken by the results, which was much higher and more extensive than expected.

The report “will come as a shock to many parents”, Nick Pickles, Director of Big Brother Watch said. “Schools need to come clean about why they are using these cameras and what is happening to the footage”.

- 47,806 cameras used in 2,107 schools
- 207 schools have 825 cameras in changing rooms and bathrooms
- 90% of schools use CCTV cameras
- 54 UK schools have 1 camera or more per 15 pupils
- 106,710 CCTV cameras estimated in high schools and academies in England, Scotland and Wales

A total of 825 cameras were installed in Read more…

Is Privacy Dead? 4 Government and Private Entities Conspiring to Track Everything You Do Online and Off

September 12, 2012 Comments off

alternet.org

Americans’ personal privacy is being crushed by the rise of a four-headed corporate-state surveillance system.  The four “heads” are: federal government agencies; state and local law enforcement entities; telecoms, web sites & Internet “apps” companies; and private data aggregators (sometimes referred to as commercial data warehouses).

Conventional analysis treats these four domains of data gathering as separate and distinct; government agencies focus on security issues and corporate entities are concerned with commerce. Some overlap can be expected as, for example, in case of a terrorist attack or an online banking fraud.  In both cases, an actual crime occurred.

But what happens when the boundary separating or restricting corporate-state collaboration, e.g., an exceptional crime-fighting incident, erodes and becomes the taken-for-granted operating environment, the new normal?  Perhaps most troubling, what happens when the traditional safeguards offered by “watchdog” courts or regulatory organizations no longer seem to matter?  What does it say that the entities designed to Read more…

Cispa approved by House but critics urge Senate to block ‘horrible’ bill

April 27, 2012 Comments off

guardian

cispa wikipedia

Cispa has undergone several amendments, but Michelle Richardson of the ACLU said: ‘Cispa goes too far for little reason’. Photograph: Rex Features

Free speech advocates are calling for the Senate to block controversial cybersecurity legislation they claim will give the US authorities unprecedented access to online communications.

The House of Representatives on Thursday ignored the threat of a White House veto to pass the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act (Cispa). The bill aims to make it easier for companies to share information collected on the internet with the federal government in order to help prevent electronic attacks from cybercriminals, foreign governments and terrorists.

Sponsors of the bill have made several amendments to Cispa in the past week, but critics say the bill still threatens to overrule existing privacy protections for citizens, and hands the National Security Agency too much power to access and use people’s private information.

The Center for Democracy and Technology said it was “disappointed that Cispa passed Read more…

New Microchip Knows Your Location To Within Centimeters

April 11, 2012 Comments off

Forget a chip in your forehead – the ‘mark of the beast’ is the cell phone

Paul Joseph Watson
Infowars.com
Tuesday, April 10, 2012

The development of a new microchip for cell phones that knows the user’s location to within a few centimeters confirms the fact that contrary to biblical fears about mandatory implantable microchips, people have willingly exchanged their privacy for convenience and that the cell phone itself is the de facto “mark of the beast”.

“Broadcom has just rolled out a chip for smart phones that promises to indicate location ultra-precisely, possibly within a few centimeters, vertically and horizontally, indoors and out,” reports MIT Technology Review.

“In theory, the new chip can even determine what floor of a building you’re on, thanks to its ability to integrate information from the atmospheric pressure sensor on many models of Android phones. The company calls abilities like this “ubiquitous navigation,” and the idea is that it will enable a new kind of e-commerce predicated on the fact that shopkeepers will know the moment you walk by their front door, or when you are looking at a particular product, and can offer you coupons at that instant.”

Over 82% of Americans own cell phones, with around half of these being smart phones. In the near future, the majority of Americans will own smart phones that will have the ability to track their location down to a few centimeters.

With the effort to legally establish surveillance drones as a legitimate tool in domestic law enforcement, authorities could save a lot of time and money by simply requesting cell phone companies provide real-time tracking of suspects via their smart phones.

Indeed, Apple, Google and Microsoft have all been caught secretly tracking the physical locations of their users and Read more…

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