Tag Archives | Privacy

TSA: What Is it Good For?

The-Simpsons-vs-the-TSA(TSA) isn’t as effective at detecting suspicious characters as one might think. The Government Accounting Office (GAO) has reviewed the TSA’s Screening Passengers by Observation Techniques (SPOT) program was evaluated at being “the same or slightly better than chance.”

The SPOT program since 2007 cost $900 million. The TSA has failed to collect consistent data to prove the effectiveness of the behavioral detection program; worse yet, the SPOT program was initiated without any scientific validation. For reason, the GAO has recommended that Congress cut off funding to this program, something that the Department of Homeland Security disagrees with.

You think that’s bad? That’s only the tip of the damning iceberg.

Anti-TSA activist Johnathan Corbett, who filed a lawsuit against the agency on the faulty nature of their body scanners found a particularly revealing document that declares the probability of terrorists hijacking planes in the United States.

VIA TechDirt

Jonathan Corbett, a long-time vocal critic of TSA body scanners, has been engaged in a lawsuit against the government concerning the constitutionality of those scanners.

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Big Brother’s Loyal Sister: How Dianne Feinstein Is Betraying Civil Liberties

Diane Feinstein

Diane Feinstein

Ever since the first big revelations about the National Security Agency five months ago, Dianne Feinstein has been in overdrive to defend the surveillance state. As chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee, she generates an abundance of fog, weasel words, anti-whistleblower slander and bogus notions of reform — while methodically stabbing civil liberties in the back.

Feinstein’s powerful service to Big Brother, reaching new heights in recent months, is just getting started. She’s hard at work to muddy all the waters of public discourse she can — striving to protect the NSA from real legislative remedies while serving as a key political enabler for President Obama’s shameless abuse of the First, Fourth and Fifth Amendments.

Last Sunday, on CBS, when Feinstein told “Face the Nation” viewers that Edward Snowden has done “enormous disservice to our country,” it was one of her more restrained smears. In June, when Snowden first went public as a whistleblower, Feinstein quickly declared that he had committed “an act of treason.” Since then, she has refused to tone down the claim.… Read the rest

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The First Bitcoin ATM

Could this be the stepping stone to the exchange of completely electronic currency?

Bitcoin ATM

VIA NBC NEWS

VANCOUVER (Reuters) – A silver and blue ATM, perched up next to the espresso bar in a trendy Vancouver coffee shop, could launch a new era for
the digital currency bitcoin, offering an almost instant way to exchange the world’s leading virtual money for cash.

The value of a bitcoin soared from $13 in January to a high of $266 in April as more businesses and consumers used them to buy and sell online. Some investors are also treating bitcoins like gold, using them to hedge against currency fluctuations and speculating on their rise.

The kiosk, which looks like the average ATM but with hand and barcode scanners, opened for business on Tuesday and by mid-morning people were lined up to swap their bitcoins for cash, or to deposit cash to buy more bitcoins.

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I’m Tired of the U.S. Government Spying On Me. So I’m Running for President of France

Ted Rall, President of France

Ted Rall, President of France

Ted Rall, cartoonist, columnist & author of After We Kill You, We Will Welcome You Back as Honored Guests: Unembedded in Afghanistan explains why he wants to be President of France, via Medium:

The NSA’s tap on Angela Merkel’s phone is one too many

“Yes,” said O’Brien, “we can turn it off. We have that privilege.” — Orwell, 1984

“Spying between friends, that’s just not done.” —Angela Merkel

The government has spied on me since 9/11. And I’m tired of it.

So I’m running for President of France. (Hang on, mes amis. I’ll explain in a minute.)

It’s not the lack of privacy. As a New Yorker, I’m used to that. I’m sick of the loud clicks on my phone and the ridiculous extra voices (“Do you think he can hear me?”). The inordinate volume of dropped calls. Emails that vanish from my inbox and reappear, sometimes in the wrong folder days later — or never.

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The Private Companies Helping Cops Spy on Protesters

John Knefel reviews promotional materials for private spy companies showing that mass surveillance technology is being sold to police departments as a way to monitor dissent, for Rolling Stone:

Graphic from 3iMIND with heading "Profile A Target"

Graphic from 3iMIND with heading “Profile A Target”

The documents leaked to media outlets by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden this year have brought national intelligence gathering and surveillance operations under a level of scrutiny not seen in decades. Often left out of this conversation, though, is the massive private surveillance industry that provides services to law enforcement, defense agencies and corporations in the U.S. and abroad – a sprawling constellation of companies and municipalities. “It’s a circle where everyone [in these industries] is benefitting,” says Eric King, lead researcher of watchdog group Privacy International. “Everyone gets more powerful, and richer.”

Promotional materials for numerous private spy companies boast of how law enforcement organizations can use their products to monitor people at protests or other large crowds – including by keeping tabs on individual people’s social media presence.

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European Union To Curb Transfer Of Internet Data To United States

networkThe Guardian reports that under new laws, American internet companies improperly sharing Europeans’ personal data (with the U.S. government or otherwise) will face billions of dollars in fines:

New European rules aimed at curbing questionable transfers of data from EU countries to the US are being finalised in Brussels in the first concrete reaction to the Edward Snowden disclosures on US and British mass surveillance of digital communications.

The draft would make it harder for the big US internet servers and social media providers to transfer European data to third countries, subject them to EU law rather than secret American court orders, and authorise swingeing fines possibly running into the billions for the first time for not complying with the new rules.

Data privacy in the EU is currently under the authority of national governments with standards varying enormously across the 28 countries, complicating efforts to arrive at satisfactory data transfer agreements with the US.

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How to Protect Ourselves on Social Networks and from Data Collection Systems of Governments and Corporations

via chycho
privacyaa042956_447980

I. What’s Going On

Online, we are both a product for corporations and a person of interest to governments (2, 3).

Corporations are taking advantage of these times by changing their privacy policies so that they can track us, use us, and sell us whatever their algorithms decide that we need or want based on data they have acquired about our movements, contacts, desires, fantasies, or kinks. Governments on the other hand are using our data to make sure that we will never acquire enough power to change any policies that we deem to be a threat to our happiness, livelihood, or survival. In essence, we are at war with these organizations and we should act as such:

“…this is truly unprecedented in history. And what we’re seeing is secrecy and surveillance are completely subverting security and liberty, not just in the United States, but for many, many citizens around the world.”

This corporate misconduct and government surveillance is threatening the internet (2, 3), the original purpose of which was to create an “open architecture networking” system where “a globally interconnected set of computers” would allow “everyone” to “quickly access data and programs from any site”.

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The Manufacture of “Surveillance by Consent” Part 2 – Is Mass Surveillance So Bad If You Can’t See It?

One nation under CCTV
Image by T.J.Blackwell

In the dark ages known as the twentieth century, mass surveillance of entire populations was a sport practised only by elitist totalitarian states . Those unlucky enough to live in a what was then termed a “free country”, had to sit on the sidelines and simply imagine what it was like to be subject to constant state intrusion.

But times change, and after several wars of the twentieth century (including the war to end all wars) mass surveillance was finally liberated. The liberators of surveillance even adopted a snappy slogan to help spread their evangelic message, which today is more commonly used than that one about washing up liquid – “nothing to hide, nothing to fear”. Don’t bother de-constructing this slogan in any way – just marvel at its symmetry and its almost Shakespearean rhythm.

You see the secret to success of the architects of “surveillance for all” was they spotted that surveillance is so much easier to sell to the masses when it’s invisible.… Read the rest

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Surveillance State Hurts U.S. Economy: Lavabit Likely to Move Overseas

via chycho

CaptureIn a sign of things to come for the U.S. tech industry, Ladar Levison, the owner of Lavabit, the secure private encrypted email provider that shut down after 10 years of operation (2, 3) because he decided not to abide by the demands made by the United States government to spy on their 400,000 plus users, explains that if he loses his case against the U.S. government he will most likely hand over his company to someone overseas and let them run it. It’s important to note that the U.S. government already new that this would be the end result, that revelations about NSA’s PRISM program would hurt American Technology companies, but they didn’t really care.

Levison clarifies his position in the following interview on Democracy Now!. The segment in which he makes these comments occurs at approximately the 11 minute mark, but the whole interview is well worth watching, especially the part just before these comments where he explains how the U.S.Read the rest

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The NSA Is Watching Your Online Dating Profile

unsplash1Are you a match? From an NPR piece on surveillance, corporations and the government absorbing data from dating sites in order to reveal the real you:

Examples from the series include online dating sites, like OKCupid.com. The report shows how profile questions on the site about things like drug use, religious beliefs and more were transmitted to a data tracking company, along with the user’s IP address.

When you log in with a username and password to sites like Gmail, Amazon or OKCupid, your behavior can be linked to your real name or email address. Software privacy specialist Ashkan Soltani said personally identifying information also can unintentionally “leak” to third parties, even if companies say they have no need for such data; it’s not clear what happens to the information once it falls into their hands.

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