Tag Archives | Privacy

Creep Theory

technocreep[disinfo ed.'s note: the following is a chapter excerpt from Technocreep: The Surrender of Privacy and the Capitalization of Intimacy by Thomas P. Keenan]

Things were both brutal and creepy in the Paleolithic era as our ancestors struggled to survive. Homo erectus, Homo habilis, and Homo neanderthalensis all had the technologies appropriate to their time: stone tools, clothing, and most especially fire. Recent plant ash and charred bone evidence from the Wonderwerk Cave in South Africa show that, even a million years ago, early hominids harnessed the power of fire on a routine basis.

We can only imagine how bizarre the astounding transformation of matter by fire would have appeared to these people. They would have been as unsettled by this mystery as we are when we walk by a billboard and it displays something we just mentioned in a tweet. They figured it out, and so will we, but not without some burned fingers.… Read the rest

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Disney World’s MagicBand: ‘Welcome to Dataland, Princess’

Cinderella Castle.jpg

“Cinderella Castle” by Katie Rommel-Esham. Licensed under CC-BY-SA-3.0-us via Wikimedia Commons.

Ian Bogost’s essay at Medium analyzes the unabashed tracking of customers at Disney World, where “Dataland suggests that once data surveillance becomes transactional, it rapidly becomes exhibitionist.” He and his family have just arrived in the Magic Kingdom and been issued with their MagicBand bracelets:

…Later, after deploying my MagicBand to allow entry into our hotel room, I read the My Disney Experience FAQ, which explains the operation of the MagicBand. It’s an uncharacteristic offering for a company so devoted to “magic” as a black-boxed secret sauce. I learn that in addition to the expected RFID allowing short-range communication at touch-points—room entry, park admission, and points of purchase—the MagicBand also includes a long-range radio transceiver, which communicates with receivers located throughout the Disney properties. The FAQ clarifies, in the vaguest possible way, that these long-range readers are used “to deliver personalized experiences…as well as provide information that helps us improve the overall experience in our parks.”

Disney assures guests that the MagicBands do not store any personal information, just a code used to reference your account in Disney databases.

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Almost everyone involved in developing Tor was (or is) funded by the US Government

Tor-logo-2011-flatTor users, beware. Yasha Levine casts doubt on the privacy of the dark net’s favorite anonymity tool, at Pando:

“The United States government can’t simply run an anonymity system for everybody and then use it themselves only. Because then every time a connection came from it people would say, “Oh, it’s another CIA agent.” If those are the only people using the network.”

—Roger Dingledine, co-founder of the Tor Network, 2004

In early July, hacker Jacob Appelbaum and two other security experts published a blockbuster story in conjunction with the German press. They had obtained leaked top secret NSA documents and source code showing that the surveillance agency had targeted and potentially penetrated the Tor Network, a widely used privacy tool considered to be the holy grail of online anonymity.

Internet privacy activists and organizations reacted to the news with shock. For the past decade, they had been promoting Tor as a scrappy but extremely effective grassroots technology that can protect journalists, dissidents and whistleblowers from powerful government forces that want to track their every move online.

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A New Privacy Deal is in the Works Between US & EU

Flags_of_European_UnionRelations are somewhat tense between the European Union and the United States after the US was caught spying on EU countries. The Obama administration is now trying to quell any mistrust with a new privacy deal.

European Union citizens who have experienced breaches in their online privacy at the hands of state authorities while in the U.S. could be protected by American laws, under plans announced on Wednesday.

In a move that paves the way for a key data protection deal between the two governments, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder said the Obama administration is looking to extend the guarantees made under the country’s Privacy Act to EU citizens. Currently, Europeans are not protected under this law, which allows U.S. citizens to see and correct records about themselves and challenge the misuse of the information.

‘Legislative action by the U.S. Congress establishing enforceable judicial redress rights for Europeans in the U.S.

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High Tech Lamp Posts To Collect Massive Amounts Of Data In Chicago

2014_6_25_sensorsChicago, one of America’s already most surveilled city, may be getting a new set of potentially privacy invading equipment installed in the downtown area this summer. Called “The Array of Things,” sensors attached to lamp posts and streetlights will measure everything from the weather to foot traffic in the area, using data collected from cell phones. While its creators say they won’t keep any personal information, privacy advocates are still skeptical.

Aaron Cynic writes at Chicagoist:

Researchers hope to gain deeper insight into how Chicago lives and breathes via an ambitious sounding system of sensors placed on lamp posts throughout the city. The “Array of Things,” a project coordinated by the Chicago Department of Innovation and Technology and the Urban Center for Computation and Data as part of “Initiative 3” in the City’s technology plan. The project is funded by a $200,000 grant from Argonne National Laboratories.… Read the rest

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U.S. Supreme Court Updates Legal Understanding of Privacy Rights

The United States Supreme Court has banned warrantless cell phone searches, effectively updating the legal framework of privacy rights to keep up with 21st century technology. This report from the Washington Times:

No mobile phone

The Supreme Court ruled Wednesday that police cannot go snooping through people’s cell phones without a warrant, in a unanimous decision that amounts to a major statement in favor of privacy rights.

Police agencies had argued that searching through the data on cell phones was no different than asking someone to turn out his pockets, but the justices rejected that, saying a cell phone is more fundamental.

The ruling amounts to a 21st century update to legal understanding of privacy rights.

“The fact that technology now allows an individual to carry such information in his hand does not make the information any less worthy of the protection for which the Founders fought,” Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr.

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Noam Chomsky: A Surveillance State Beyond Imagination Is Being Created in One of the World’s Freest Countries

Photo courtesy of Duncan Rawlinson

Photo courtesy of Duncan Rawlinson

No prize for guessing which country leftie professor Noam Chomsky is referring to in his article for Alternet:

In the past several months, we have been provided with instructive lessons on the nature of state power and the forces that drive state policy. And on a closely related matter: the subtle, differentiated concept of transparency.

The source of the instruction, of course, is the trove of documents about the National Security Agency surveillance system released by the courageous fighter for freedom Edward J. Snowden, expertly summarized and analyzed by his collaborator Glenn Greenwald in his new book, ” No Place to Hide.”

The documents unveil a remarkable project to expose to state scrutiny vital information about every person who falls within the grasp of the colossus – in principle, every person linked to the modern electronic society.

Nothing so ambitious was imagined by the dystopian prophets of grim totalitarian worlds ahead.

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Reset The Net

It’s Reset The Net day:

The problem
The NSA is exploiting weak links in Internet security to spy on the entire world, twisting the Internet we love into something it was never meant to be: a panopticon.

The solution
We can’t stop targeted attacks, but we *can* stop mass surveillance, by building proven security into the everyday Internet.

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8th June 2014 – Time For Big Brother to Retire!

On 8th June George Orwell’s surveillance crazed czar of surveillance Big Brother will be 65 years old (in literary years). To mark the date we urge all lovers of freedom to take part in the annual 1984 Action Day and to call for Big Brother to hang up his high visibility surveillance jacket and retire.

Orwell’s novel ’1984′ was first published on 8th June 1949. Now, sixty-five years later and thirty years after the book’s title year, few if any of Orwell’s warnings have been heeded. The slogans of the book’s ruling party: “War is Peace, Freedom is Slavery, Ignorance is Strength” are encoded in the marketing style propaganda of modern political parties. A surveillance state has been built all around us whilst we are encouraged to “share” our concerns in a modern reworking of the 2 minute hate – the 140 character tweet fest – hash tag “what about that funny dog!”

We are living in the dystopian world of ’1984′ now.… Read the rest

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Can We Stop America’s Surveillance State?

crazy eddieWith the publication of Glenn Greenwald’s new book on Edward Snowden and the NSA, the state surveillance issue is back in full force as if it ever went away.

Purloined formerly top-secret NSA documents are now there for the downloading, even as the calls for truth and privacy buttressed by irrefutable information, has run up against the institutional armor of the surveillance state that has little respect for public opinion or calls for “reform.”

Every day, there are new stories showing duplicity in high places and revealing the existence of new tracking technologies and forced and voluntary collusion between the secret agency and its many “partners” in the private sector. PBS Frontline is out with one more expose.

Just as the publication of the Pentagon Papers in l971 did not end the Vietnam War, the leaks from a world of questionable ‘intelligence” has only made our Spymasters more determined.

There was four more years of carnage after Daniel Ellsberg dropped the hidden history of our intervention in Vietnam showing how officials knew the truth even as they fed the public a litany of lies to keep a profitable if murderous enterprise going.… Read the rest

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