Tag Archives | Privacy

Americans’ Cellphones Targeted in Secret U.S. Spy Program

The Wall Street Journal reveals yet another sneaky US Government domestic spying surveillance program:

The Justice Department is scooping up data from thousands of mobile phones through devices deployed on airplanes that mimic cellphone towers, a high-tech hunt for criminal suspects that is snagging a large number of innocent Americans, according to people familiar with the operations.

The U.S. Marshals Service program, which became fully functional around 2007, operates Cessna aircraft from at least five metropolitan-area airports, with a flying range covering most of the U.S. population, according to people familiar with the program.

Planes are equipped with devices—some known as “dirtboxes” to law-enforcement officials because of the initials of the Boeing Co. unit that produces them—which mimic cell towers of large telecommunications firms and trick cellphones into reporting their unique registration information.

The technology in the two-foot-square device enables investigators to scoop data from tens of thousands of cellphones in a single flight, collecting their identifying information and general location, these people said.

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Secure Messaging Scorecard – Which apps and tools actually keep your messages safe?

Maurizio Pesce (CC BY 2.0)

Maurizio Pesce (CC BY 2.0)

via Electronic Frontier Foundation:

In the face of widespread Internet surveillance, we need a secure and practical means of talking to each other from our phones and computers. Many companies offer “secure messaging” products—but are these systems actually secure? We decided to find out, in the first phase of a new EFF Campaign for Secure & Usable Crypto.

This scorecard represents only the first phase of the campaign. In later phases, we are planning to offer closer examinations of the usability and security of the tools that score the highest here. As such, the results in the scorecard below should not be read as endorsements of individual tools or guarantees of their security; they are merely indications that the projects are on the right track.

Read More at EFF: https://www.eff.org/secure-messaging-scorecard

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Why You Should Be Afraid Of Your Smart TV

Michael Price isn’t generally a tin-foil hat wearing crank. In fact he’s counsel in the Liberty and National Security Program at the Brennan Center for Justice at NYU School of Law (i.e., part of the establishment). But now he’s getting the tin foil ready as a result of his new privacy-smashing Smart TV, as he relates at Salon:

I just bought a new TV. The old one had a good run, but after the volume got stuck on 63, I decided it was time to replace it. I am now the owner of a new “smart” TV, which promises to deliver streaming multimedia content, games, apps, social media and Internet browsing. Oh, and TV too.

LG smart TV

The only problem is that I’m now afraid to use it. You would be too — if you read through the 46-page privacy policy.

The amount of data this thing collects is staggering. It logs where, when, how and for how long you use the TV.

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Terms of Service: Al Jazeera’s Cool Web Comic About Big Data

Could you see any stalwart of the mainstream media in America using the medium of an online comic to address the tensions that so-called Big Data present? Upstart Al Jazeera America commissioned cartoonist Josh Neufeld and reporter Michael Keller to create a graphic novella that you can read here online and you’ll also find download links for iBooks, ePub and PDF versions. This is the first page:

Screen Shot 2014-10-29 at 4.06.04 PM

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Ed Snowden Taught Me To Smuggle Secrets Past Incredible Danger. Now I Teach You

Edward Snowden-2.jpg

Edward Snowden by Laura Poitras / Praxis Films (CC)

Micah Lee was staff technologist for the Electronic Frontier Foundation and chief technology officer of the Freedom of the Press Foundation when he was first contacted by Edward Snowden. He tells us what he learned about smuggling secrets at The Intercept:

Late on the evening of January 11, 2013, someone sent me an interesting email. It was encrypted, and sent from the sort of anonymous email service that smart people use when they want to hide their identity. Sitting at the kitchen table in the small cottage where I lived in Berkeley with my wife and two cats, I decrypted it.

The anonymous emailer wanted to know if I could help him communicate securely with Laura Poitras, the documentary filmmaker who had repeatedly cast a critical eye on American foreign policy.

From: anon108@■■■■■■■■■
To: Micah Lee
Date: Fri, 11 Jan 2013

Micah,

I’m a friend. I need to get information securely to Laura Poitras and her alone, but I can’t find an email/gpg key for her.

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Electronic Frontier Foundation: Know Your Rights

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via EFF:

Your computer, phone, and other digital devices hold vast amounts of personal information about you and your family. This sensitive data is worth protecting from prying eyes, including those of the government.

EFF has designed this guide to help you understand your rights if officers try to search the data stored on your computer or portable electronic device, or seize it for further examination somewhere else. Keep in mind that the Fourth Amendment is the minimum standard, and your specific state may have stronger protections.

Read More.

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Adobe’s e-book reader sends your reading logs back to Adobe—in plain text

"Adobe even logs what you read in Digital Editions' instruction manual."

“Adobe even logs what you read in Digital Editions’ instruction manual.”

via Ars Technica:

Adobe’s Digital Editions e-book and PDF reader—an application used by thousands of libraries to give patrons access to electronic lending libraries—actively logs and reports every document readers add to their local “library” along with what users do with those files. Even worse, the logs are transmitted over the Internet in the clear, allowing anyone who can monitor network traffic (such as the National Security Agency, Internet service providers and cable companies, or others sharing a public Wi-Fi network) to follow along over readers’ shoulders.

Ars has independently verified the logging of e-reader activity with the use of a packet capture tool. The exposure of data was first discovered by Nate Hoffelder of The Digital Reader, who reported the issue to Adobe but received no reply.

Digital Editions (DE) has been used by many public libraries as a recommended application for patrons wanting to borrow electronic books (particularly with the Overdrive e-book lending system), because it can enforce digital rights management rules on how long a book may be read for.

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The police are spending thousands of dollars to distribute spyware to parents

via Flickr (CC by 2.0)

via Flickr (CC by 2.0)

via Vox:

It’s standard advice that parents should monitor what their young children do online. For many parents, that means having the computer in a public area so they can see what’s on the screen as their kids surf the web. But some police departments are pushing a far more intrusive option: installing spyware on your computer to monitor every single keystroke your children make.

An investigation by the Electronic Frontier Foundation has found that dozens of police departments around the country are distributing software called ComputerCOP. The software has two features. One is a search engine that lets parents search a computer’s hard drive for pornographic images as well as files relating to sensitive subjects such as drugs and violence. But the other is a keylogger, a program that records every key typed and sends it to a third-party server.

Police departments pay a few dollars per copy to ComputerCOP, and in return they get the software in customized packaging that prominently features the department that paid for the software.

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Apple Locks Out NSA with iPhone 6

By download.net.pl - mobile via Flickr (CC by 2.0).

By download.net.pl – mobile via Flickr (CC by 2.0).

via The New York Times:

WASHINGTON — Devoted customers of Apple products these days worry about whether the new iPhone 6 will bend in their jean pockets. The National Security Agency and the nation’s law enforcement agencies have a different concern: that the smartphone is the first of a post-Snowden generation of equipment that will disrupt their investigative abilities.

The phone encrypts emails, photos and contacts based on a complex mathematical algorithm that uses a code created by, and unique to, the phone’s user — and that Apple says it will not possess.

The result, the company is essentially saying, is that if Apple is sent a court order demanding that the contents of an iPhone 6 be provided to intelligence agencies or law enforcement, it will turn over gibberish, along with a note saying that to decode the phone’s emails, contacts and photos, investigators will have to break the code or get the code from the phone’s owner.

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Wearable computing and privacy invasions you might want to think about now

Google Glass © Rijans007/Wikimedia Commons, 2013. Via Flickr.

Google Glass © Rijans007/Wikimedia Commons, 2013. Via Flickr.

This article was originally published on The Conversation.
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By Tom Foulsham, University of Essex

Are you being recorded? Thanks to the ubiquity of CCTV and camera phones, the answer is more than ever before likely to be “Yes”. Add to this the growth of wearable technology such as Google Glass and people are increasingly exposed to devices that can monitor and record them, whether they realise it or not.

The privacy implications are obvious, but also interesting to psychologists such as myself, are how such invasions of privacy – real or perceived – change the way people behave in everyday life.

My colleagues and I have been examining the ways people change their behaviour when they are being recorded. In a typical psychology experiment, participants are aware that they are being watched, and a range of equipment monitors their responses, from computers and cameras to eye-trackers and electrodes.… Read the rest

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