Tag Archives | Surveillance

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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The Surveillance State is Metaphorical: They’re Already in Your Head

sacredsigilsservitor3Now, I’m not saying I’m a supporter of the surveillance state or anything like that. It’s hyper creepy as all get out. As a matter of fact, before I even get into that level of sketch I’ll first focus on the bright side. One thing that no one seems to philosophically contemplate nearly enough these days is how quickly we’ve plunged ourselves into increasingly fantasy centric lifestyles. Why is that? Our lives are cripplingly boring and we’re forced into these alternate dimensions of thought as a reflex. I mean, how many of us actually find any sort of fulfillment in our supposed “careers”. Like 2% optimistically? I think I’m being generous with that. I mean, increasingly intertwined mind rape corporations are currently taking home record profits, and who the fuck grows up thinking, “I want to work at the Pizza Hut corporate office one day.” Fucking no one….ever…and yet, uber boring places like that are where a crap ton of us end up, gladly, because the alternative is further selling our lives down the rabbit hole of higher education, which may or may not make things better for us and costs an ass ton of money.… Read the rest

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NYPD Is Beta-Testing Google Glass For Law Enforcement

google glassSoon police may instantly know the identity and personal background of everyone they see, VentureBeat reports:

Google Glass may soon become a favored tool for law enforcement agencies in the United States.

The New York City Police Department’s massive and controversial intelligence and analytics unit is evaluating whether Google Glass is a decent fit for investigating terrorists and helping cops lock up bad guys, VentureBeat has learned.

The department recently received several pairs of the modernist-looking specs to test out. “We’re trying them out, mostly for patrol purposes,” a ranking New York City law enforcement official told VentureBeat. Wireless facial recognition software is one potential use.

The glasses are currently only available through Google’s Glass Explorer program, in which people who interested in acquiring them first apply and then receive notification from Google on whether it accepts or denies their application. Respondents who get the green light must pay $1,500 for the privilege.

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Red Light Surveillance Camera Vendor Bribed Govt. Officials In 13 States

Pic: Derrek Jensen (PD)

Pic: Derrek Jensen (PD)

What cost, freedom? Um, baseball game tickets, apparently. (Also acceptable: A buck o’five.)

Via Raw Story:

A fired executive from one of New Jersey’s red-light camera vendors contends in a lawsuit filed in Arizona that the company provided lavish gifts and bribes to government officials in 13 states — including New Jersey — to secure new contracts.

The brief but bombshell reference to New Jersey and other states in a 13-page counterclaim was made by Aaron Rosenberg, former nationwide lead salesman for Redflex Traffic Systems of Phoenix. He did not mention specific municipalities from any of the states.

Rosenberg noted in the suit that Redflex “bestowed gifts and bribes on … officials in dozens of municipalities within, but not limited to the following states: California, Washington, Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, Colorado, Massachusetts, North Carolina, Florida, New Jersey, Tennessee, Virginia, and Georgia.”

He said Redflex bribed local officials with meals, golf outings and tickets to professional football and baseball games.

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