Tag Archives | Big Brother

Google Transparency Report Reveals That Governments Are Seeking More About You Than Ever Before

Big BrotherElinor Mills reports on CNet News:

A new report from Google shows a rise in government requests for user account data and content removal, including a request by one unnamed law enforcement agency to remove YouTube videos of police brutality — which the company refused.

The latest Google Transparency Report, also shows historic traffic patterns on Google services via graphs with spikes and drops indicating outages that, in some cases, indicate attempts by governments to block access to Google or the Internet. For instance, all Google servers were inaccessible in Libya during the first six months of this year, as was YouTube in China.

But the truly interesting data are the statistics on requests made to the company by governments for either access to user data or to remove content.

Some countries had large amounts of user data requests. The United States leads that pack, with 5,950 such requests pertaining to more than 11,000 users or accounts, and to which Google complied 93 percent of the time.

Read the rest
Continue Reading

German Government Spyware Transforms Citizen’s Computers Into ‘Big Brother’-Type Surveillance Devices

CCCDiscovered by the Chaos Computer Club, reports GlobalPost:

The use of so-called “Trojan horse” software by authorities in a number of German states came to light after the Computer Chaos Club, a hacker group, published details of their examination of spyware planted on a laptop in Bavaria.

It found that the software — developed by a private company called DigiTask for the Bavarian police — was capable of much more than just monitoring internet phone calls. It could take screenshots, remotely add files and control a computer’s microphone or webcam to monitor the person’s home. However, the authorities insist that they did not deploy these functions. Investigations are ongoing.

Graham Cluley, a senior technology consultant with British computer security firm Sophos, which also analyzed the software, said that the spyware could “automatically update itself over the internet, so new functionality can be added. It can be used to install new software onto the computer, so people could actually alter the contents of a suspect’s hard drive.”

The scandal has led politicians and security experts to look at whether the country’s already stringent privacy laws need firming up.

Read the rest
Continue Reading

DARPA Tech Invades iPhones Now with Siri

Siri Is Watching Tim Stevens on Endgadget said this was happening back in '09. For all those who rushed out to get the new iPhone, if you are using Siri, you are giving a hell lot of personal info to Apple:
Microsoft's little Clippy, the uppity paperclip who just wanted to help, never got a lick of respect in the ten years he graced the Office suite. He's long-since gone, but his legacy lives on through a DARPA project called CALO: the Cognitive Assistant that Learns and Organizes. It's intended for use to streamline tedious activities by military personnel, like scheduling meetings and prioritizing e-mails, but there are a few non-com spin-offs intended as well, like an iPhone app called Siri due to hit the App Store sometime this year. Siri will have more of a consumer angle, helping to find product reviews and make reservations, but we're hoping a taste of its military upbringing shines through.
Continue Reading

Our Hypocritical Surveillance State

TruthDavid Sirota writes at Salon.com:

With the Obama administration considering federal civil-rights investigations into police brutality, some local police departments have reacted not by cleaning up their act, but instead by intensifying their ongoing efforts to stop citizens from even documenting police misconduct in the first place.

Earlier this summer, Rochester authorities arrested Emily Good for videotaping police while on her own property — and then later used parking tickets to try to punish and intimidate those protesting Good’s arrest. In Las Vegas, it was even worse — the Las Vegas Review-Journal on Friday reported that a police not only arrested Mitchell Crooks but then beat him to a pulp — all for the “crime” of innocently videotaping them from his own driveway. Importantly, Crooks may have been specifically marked for police revenge after he had made headlines in 2002 by documenting Inglewood, California police beating a 16-year-old boy.

The hypocrisy of police trying to stop citizens from videotaping their public actions should be obvious in this, the Patriot Act Age.

Read the rest
Continue Reading

This Vehicle Registration Plate Surveillance System Is a Warning to Us All

Knight RiderNo CCTV has teamed up with Privacy International and Big Brother Watch to challenge the legality of the Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) [also known as ALPR in North America] camera network in the UK. A complaint has been sent to the Information Commissioners Office (ICO) against a so-called ANPR “Ring of Steel” that is being constructed around the town of Royston in Hertfordshire — but for Royston read any town in the UK.


The Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) has constructed a network of cameras across the country without any public or parliamentary debate. These cameras record the number plate of each and every vehicle that passes, sometimes taking a photograph of the car and its occupants. The number plate is then compared to a “hotlist” of vehicles of interest, and whether or not the plate is on that list (ie a “hit”), all information gathered is stored for between two and five years.… Read the rest

Continue Reading

Know Your Email Senders’ Political Donations

img_inboxCreepy and cool -- an add-on tool from the Sunlight Foundation that, with a single click, gives you the hidden political allegiances of both companies or institutions and family, friends, and coworkers. Perhaps someday when you apply for a job or an apartment, your boss or landlord will use it on you:
Inbox Influence provides details on both the sender of the email and the company from which it was sent. With it, you can even see how your friends and family have given to political campaigns. Perhaps Uncle Joe has more mainstream views after all?
Continue Reading

New Russian ATMs To Contain Lie-Detectors, Facial Recognition

Eye Dilate“While Sberbank’s technology might strike Westerners as too intrusive, many Russians already assume the government can watch or listen to them when it chooses to.” Andrew E. Kramer writes in The New York Times:

MOSCOW — Russia’s biggest retail bank is testing a machine that the old K.G.B. might have loved, an A.T.M. with a built-in lie detector intended to prevent consumer credit fraud.

Consumers with no previous relationship with the bank could talk to the machine to apply for a credit card, with no human intervention required on the bank’s end.

The machine scans a passport, records fingerprints and takes a three-dimensional scan for facial recognition. And it uses voice-analysis software to help assess whether the person is truthfully answering questions that include “Are you employed?” and “At this moment, do you have any other outstanding loans?”

The voice-analysis system was developed by the Speech Technology Center, a company whose other big clients include the Federal Security Service — the Russian domestic intelligence agency descended from the Soviet K.G.B.

Read the rest
Continue Reading

How To Disappear Completely

5721E7FD3912AE8DB6B0FB_LargeCSO interviews skip tracer Frank Ahearn about how to vanish from society, skipping off to a tropical island or a clean start in North Dakota, if you don’t want to be found. The key is to put out a flood of misinformation:

You can’t legally change an identity. Identities are kind of this myth. Where do you get one from? And how do you know where it’s from and that it hasn’t been given to fifty other people? Who knows if it’s on the Megan’s Law list or if it belongs to someone who owes the IRS $100,000?

But sometimes you can open a corporation, depending on what you do, and work on a 1099. So, what we do in a nutshell, is make you a virtual entity where you work for this corporation. You lease your apartment through this corporation, your electricity, your phone. Everything about you exists under the corporation.

Read the rest
Continue Reading

Every Six Hours, The NSA Gathers As Much Data As The Library of Congress Has

NSADan Nosowitz writes on Popular Science:
The National Security Agency is, by nature, an extreme example of the e-hoarder. And as the governmental organization responsible for things like, say, gathering intelligence on such Persons of Interest as Osama bin Laden, that impulse makes sense--though once you hear the specifics, it still seems pretty incredible. In a story about the bin Laden mission, the NSA very casually dropped a number: Every six hours, the agency collects as much data as is stored in the entire Library of Congress. That data includes transcripts of phone calls and in-house discussions, video and audio surveillance, and a massive amount of photography. "The volume of data they're pulling in is huge," said John V. Parachini, director of the Intelligence Policy Center at RAND. "One criticism we might make of our [intelligence] community is that we're collection-obsessed — we pull in everything — and we don't spend enough time or money to try and understand what do we have and how can we act upon it."
Continue Reading