Tag Archives | Surveillance

Yes, You Are Under Surveillance

disinformation staffers often joke that all of their communications are being monitored, but guess what, you’re under surveillance too. Julia Angwin explains for The Week:

Anti1984 We are living in a Dragnet Nation — a world of indiscriminate tracking where institutions are stockpiling data about individuals at an unprecedented pace. The rise of indiscriminate tracking is powered by the same forces that have brought us the technology we love so much — powerful computing on our desktops, laptops, tablets, and smartphones.

Before computers were commonplace, it was expensive and difficult to track individuals. Governments kept records only of occasions, such as birth, marriage, property ownership, and death. Companies kept records when a customer bought something and filled out a warranty card or joined a loyalty club. But technology has made it cheap and easy for institutions of all kinds to keep records about almost every moment of our lives.

The combination of massive computing power, smaller and smaller devices, and cheap storage has enabled a huge increase in indiscriminate tracking of personal data.

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From the Pages of Barry Ween: What We Would All Like to Do and Say to the Minions of the Surveillance State

via chycho

barry_wee_8

Barry Ween is a fictional “10-year-old boy who secretly possesses the most powerful intellect on Earth”. His escapades are brilliantly depicted by Judd Winick in the pages of “The Adventures of Barry Ween, Boy Genius”.

Barry is a genius, and we’re not talking about the regular Einstein type of genius, or beyond belief Tesla genius, we’re talking about 350 I.Q. “by far the smartest organism on the planet” genius. We’re talking about “self-awareness-in-the-womb-smart” (click images to enlarge).

Being the smartest creature to ever walk this earth, he realizes early on that for his safety and the safety of those that he loves, he would have to remain hidden. After all, we all know what humanity is capable of once fear of the incomprehensible and the unknown takes hold.

His first few years were long and arduous but he withstood them, and at the age of 10 he acquired enough freedom to explore the limits of science and understanding, albeit, still in secret.

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NSA’s Desperation for Secrecy Leads to Stupidity, Alienating the Hacker Community

nsa_General_Keith_B._Alexander_in_service_uniform
via chycho

In 2012 we witnessed NSA’s Director Gen. Keith Alexander put on a black t-shirt and jeans and head out to DEF CON, “one of the world’s largest annual hacker conventions”, in search of the youngest and brightest minds in our society to join his ilk:

“‘In this room, this room right here, is the talent our nation needs to secure cyberspace,’ Alexander told the standing-room-only audience at DefCon, a grassroots gathering in Las Vegas expected to draw a record 16,000 attendees this year. ‘We need great talent. We don’t pay as high as everybody else, but we’re fun to be around.’”

DEF CON 20 By General Keith B Alexander Shared Values Shared Response [sic]

We all know that top government officials lie, this should be obvious to everyone, especially after watching the “National Director of Intelligence James Clapper commit perjury when he testified before the Senate” when he stated that the NSA does “not wittingly” spy on Americans, but the lies that Gen.

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The NSA Plans on Infecting Millions of Computers With Malware: Here’s How

o-NSA-PHONE-RECORD-COLLECTION-facebookLike sketchy porn sites, faux internet contests and websites offering to clean your PC for free, the NSA hopes to infect millions of computers with malware. Glenn Greenwald’s The Intercept has the story. If you’re interested in NSA coverage, I recommend it.

Via The Intercept

Top-secret documents reveal that the National Security Agency is dramatically expanding its ability to covertly hack into computers on a mass scale by using automated systems that reduce the level of human oversight in the process.

The classified files – provided previously by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden – contain new details about groundbreaking surveillance technology the agency has developed to infect potentially millions of computers worldwide with malware “implants.” The clandestine initiative enables the NSA to break into targeted computers and to siphon out data from foreign Internet and phone networks.

The covert infrastructure that supports the hacking efforts operates from the agency’s headquarters in Fort Meade, Maryland, and from eavesdropping bases in the United Kingdom and Japan.

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The East German Stasi Collected Metadata, Too

A21l7FJJulia Angwin, author of Dragnet Nation, authored an interesting article at Information Liberation on the East German secret police. They collected “harmless metadata” too, but didn’t have anywhere near the power of our own NSA.

Via Information Liberation:

The East German secret police, known as the Stasi, were an infamously intrusive secret police force. They amassed dossiers on about one quarter of the population of the country during the Communist regime.

But their spycraft — while incredibly invasive — was also technologically primitive by today’s standards. While researching my book Dragnet Nation, I obtained the above hand drawn social network graph and other files from the Stasi Archive in Berlin, where German citizens can see files kept about them and media can access some files, with the names of the people who were monitored removed.

The graphic shows forty-six connections, linking a target to various people (an “aunt,” “Operational Case Jentzsch,” presumably Bernd Jentzsch, an East German poet who defected to the West in 1976), places (“church”), and meetings (“by post, by phone, meeting in Hungary”).

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Rethinking Privacy: Google Glass Harassment & The Coming Age of Sousveillance

PIC: Antonio Zugaldia (CC)

PIC: Antonio Zugaldia (CC)

“A lack of transparency results in distrust and a deep sense of insecurity.” – Dalai Lama

A woman was recently accosted at a bar in San Francisco for wearing Google Glass, and while I can sympathize to a certain degree with those disgruntled patrons who had not agreed to be recorded while out in public, I cannot help but wonder:  do these same individuals share a similar sense of outrage over the illegal monitoring and recording of all our digital data by the NSA? Many view Glass as a further intrusion of privacy, and as wearable/recordable tech becomes increasingly ubiquitous we are probably going to start seeing signs like these popping up in stores and restaurants all over the place.

This tech will force us to reconsider previously held notions of “public versus private” and that is not necessarily a bad thing, but another question worth asking might be: could this tech – when used responsibly – potentially help us to regain some sense of equilibrium and empowerment against the current surveillance state?… Read the rest

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Julian Assange at SXSW: ‘People Are Products Sold to Advertisers’

Picture: Espen Moe (CC)

Picture: Espen Moe (CC)

Julian Assange Skyped into music and culture festival South by Southwest to address the masses. He had some choice words for interviewer Benjamin Palmer of digital advertising firm the Barbarian Group.

Industry site AdAge reported that Assange was referring to Google when he made the comment, but I can’t help to wonder if he had meant to include the Barbarian Group, as well as SXSW’s ubiquitous corporate sponsors. He also made some other interesting comments about the NSA and the “military occupation of the internet,” which you can read here.

I found one full video of the event, and I can’t guarantee it will be live for very long. It’s after the jump. Watch it while you can

AdAge

It was still one of the more interesting and different sessions for SXSW attendees, who thus far have been inundated as expected with expensive and often pointless brand activations.

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The NSA Has Their Own ‘Dear Abby’

PIC: Rob Speed (CC)

PIC: Rob Speed (CC)

One of Edward Snowden’s leaks revealed this incredible bit of absurdity: The agency has its own “Dear Abby” type advice column titled “Ask Zelda”. Incredibly enough, one of the published columns is a response to an NSA employee who complains about a boss and his team of “snitches” spying on casual conversations with coworkers. For an extra dose of irony, check out the department the employee works in…

Via The Intercept.

What if the National Security Agency had its own advice columnist? What would the eavesdroppers ask about?

You don’t need to guess. An NSA official, writing under the pen name “Zelda,” has actually served at the agency as a Dear Abby for spies. Her “Ask Zelda!” columns, distributed on the agency’s intranet and accessible only to those with the proper security clearance, are among the documents leaked by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden. The columns are often amusing – topics include co-workers falling asleep on the job, sodas being stolen from shared fridges, supervisors not responding to emails, and office-mates who smell bad.

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How To Think About The Origins Of The American Surveillance State

slaveryMatt Stoller on understanding that the United States was birthed as a surveillance society:

American political surveillance is older than the republic itself.

Think about it this way. Slaves were controlled in a largely totalitarian society, even before the American Revolution, and this lasted until the Civil War. This society involved radical restrictions on peoples’ ability to read, travel, work for pay, trade, own property, marry, and not be physically and mentally abused. At the core of slavery was an aggressive need for control, it was the mother of all totalitarian surveillance cultures. This surveillance didn’t just involve slaves, but surveillance of those who sought to free slaves via such institutions as the Underground Railroad.

After slavery and a brief interlude of Reconstruction, sharecropping and segregation took its place, and sharecropping was enforced by a reign of terror by both legal institutions like local police and commercial monopolies of credit, railroads, and farm supplies, and extra-legal institutions like the KKK.

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How Your Car Is Tracking You

Photo: usien (CC)

Photo: usien (CC)

Got a new car? Like the GPS navigation? Live traffic updates? The Detroit News describes how high tech in vehicles puts drivers’ privacy up for grabs:

Every time a motorist slides in behind the wheel, odds are that car or truck is gathering information: How aggressively the driver accelerated, whether the speed limit was observed, how hard the brake pedal was applied. And beyond driving habits, where and when the car was driven, what route was taken and whether the seat belt was buckled.

Few laws or regulations address ownership of data collected by infotainment and navigation systems in dashboards and by electronic black boxes under hoods. Auto data privacy is the industry equivalent of the Wild West, according to automotive industry and law experts.

Should drivers expect information collected by their cars to be private? Can police or other government agencies get their hands on recorded data after a crash to review drivers’ whereabouts if they’re suspected of a crime?

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