Tag Archives | Surveillance

Verizon Says U.S. Authorities Made 320,000 Requests For Customer Data Last Year

smartphoneThis is, of course, setting aside the much broader data collection conducted by the NSA. PCWorld writes:

Verizon Communications received more than 320,000 requests for customer information from U.S. federal, state and local law enforcement agencies in 2013, more than 100 times the number of requests from any other country, the telecom carrier said in its first surveillance transparency report.

Verizon received more than 164,000 subpoenas from U.S. law enforcement agencies and nearly 71,000 court orders, including more than 6,300 pen-register or trap-and-trace orders and nearly 1,500 wiretap orders last year, Verizon said.

Verizon is one of a handful of tech and telecom companies that have begun to publish surveillance transparency reports after revelations last year of U.S. National Security Agency programs by former contractor Edward Snowden.

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A Running List of What We Know the NSA Can Do. So Far.

Jody Avirgan of The Brian Lehrer Show on NPR is compiling a list of the NSA’s fearsome powers to spy on us. All of us. Here’s a sample of what he’s got on his list so far:

  • It can track the numbers of both parties on a phone call, as well location, time and duration. (More)
  • It can hack Chinese phones and text messages. (More)
  • It can set up fake internet cafes. (More)
  • It can spy on foreign leaders’ cell phones. (More)
  • It can tap underwater fiber-optic cables. (More)
  • It can track communication within media organizations like Al-Jazeera. (More)
  • It can hack into the UN video conferencing system. (More)
  • It can track bank transactions. (More)
  • It can monitor text messages. (More)
  • It can access your email, chat, and web browsing history. (More)
  • It can map your social networks.
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The Secrets Your Phone Shares About You

HK TST East Peninsula Centre sidewalk Three 3 Smartphone shop Nov-2012It may not come as a surprise that police and other government agencies can track your location via your mobile phone, but did you realize that many local businesses are doing the same thing or more? Elizabeth Dwoskin reports for the Wall Street Journal that businesses are increasingly installing sensors to track nearby potential customers:

Fan Zhang, the owner of Happy Child, a trendy Asian restaurant in downtown Toronto, knows that 170 of his customers went clubbing in November. He knows that 250 went to the gym that month, and that 216 came in from Yorkville, an upscale neighborhood.

And he gleans this information without his customers’ knowledge, or ever asking them a single question.

Mr. Zhang is a client of Turnstyle Solutions Inc., a year-old local company that has placed sensors in about 200 businesses within a 0.7 mile radius in downtown Toronto to track shoppers as they move in the city.

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Cameras And Devices Will Soon Decode, Store, And Track Your Emotions

Emotient is one of many companies that plan to capture, analyze, and sell emotional information:

Emotient is the leading authority on facial expression recognition and analysis technologies that are enabling a future of emotion aware computing.

The company began at the Machine Perception Lab at University of California, San Diego, and has since attracted industry leaders across the realms of business, technology and science.

Emotient’s flagship products are the FACET™ SDK, a high-accuracy, cost effective and adaptive software development kit, and FACET™ Vision, a fully featured desktop application for automated facial expression analysis and video annotation. With a camera-enabled device, our system can quickly process facial detection and automated expression analysis in real-time.

Our leading-edge software detects and tracks primary expressions of emotion and blended composites of multiple emotions. Fortune 500 companies, market research firms, and a growing number of vertical markets are ideally suited to leverage facial expression data.

 

emotient

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No Warrant, No Problem: How the Government Can Get Your Digital Data

This review by Theodoric Meyer and Peter Maass at ProPublica by is a must read for any American who wants to know which of their digital breadcrumbs are being picked up by the police and other government agencies:

The government isn’t allowed to wiretap American citizens without a warrant from a judge. But there are plenty of legal ways for law enforcement, from the local sheriff to the FBI to the Internal Revenue Service, to snoop on the digital trails you create every day. Authorities can often obtain your emails and texts by going to Google or AT&T with a simple subpoena that doesn’t require showing probable cause of a crime. And recent revelations about classified National Security Agency surveillance programs show that the government is regularly sweeping up data on Americans’ telephone calls and has the capability to access emails, files, online chats and other data — all under secret oversight by a special federal court.

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Hi Def Cameras Can Now Capture The Reflection Of Your Face In Someone Else’s Eye

“Zoom in. Now enhance.” – Deckard, Bladerunner.

Via BoingBoing:

In Identifiable Images of Bystanders Extracted from Corneal Reflections, British psychology researchers Rob Jenkins and Christie Kerr show that recognizable images of the faces of unpictured bystanders can be captured from modern, high-resolution photography by zooming in on subjects’ eyes to see the reflections in their corneas. The researchers asked experimental subjects to identify faces captured from these zoomed-in images and found that they were able to do so with a high degree of reliability.

Read the rest at BoingBoing.

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Houston Cops to Wear Body Cams

Screen Shot 2013-12-28 at 10.22.18 AMCop Block reports that some Houston cops will be waring body cameras. Step toward public accountability? Latest signs of an encroaching surveillance state?

Via Cop Block:

Over the past few weeks 100 Houston police employees have been given wearable body cameras. The head of their outfit – Charles McClelland – said that, “in trying to be accountable to the public, and being open and transparent, we’re very excited about this” and listed as benefits a lessening of citizen complaints, more convictions in court, better attitudes adjusted on both sides of the camera, and an officer safety enhancement as the video can be used for training purposes. But are body cams a step in the right direction or just the latest attempt to try to maintain authority?

As 90% of police interactions happen away from the area captured by dash cams, McClelland noted that that these body cams will make moot that need.

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U.S. Federal Judge Rules NSA Phone Surveillance Lawful

o-NSA-PHONE-RECORD-COLLECTION-facebookLooks like the U.S. Supreme Court will be taking a look at the NSA’s dubious activities. From AFP:

A US judge ruled Friday that the National Security Agency’s mass surveillance of telephone calls is lawful, igniting a legal conflict that the Supreme Court may ultimately have to resolve.

Federal judge William Pauley in New York threw out a petition from the American Civil Liberties Union and said the program was vital in preventing an Al-Qaeda terror attack on American soil.

Ten days earlier, however, another federal judge in Washington declared that this “almost Orwellian” surveillance is probably unconstitutional, laying the groundwork for a protracted legal fight.

“The question for this court is whether the government’s bulk telephony metadata program is lawful. This court finds it is,” said the 54-page ruling published in New York on Friday.

Edward Snowden, a former NSA contractor, sent shockwaves around the world this year by revealing the extent of Washington’s electronic eavesdropping on millions of private calls.

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The UK Surveillance State’s Finest Export: Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR)

Alexandria VA Dodge Charger Police Car ANPR

A City of Alexandria Dodge Charger police car equipped with mobile ANPR. Two forward facing ANPR units are mounted on the trunk of this vehicle. Photo: Something Original (CC)

Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) might not sound quite as invasive to your privacy as it actually is. James Bridle, perhaps flush with worldwide attention from his much admired Surveillance Spaulder, has written a tremendous history of ANPR, starting in Britain 30 years ago and now aggressively used around the world. In this portion of his lengthy essay at Medium, he discusses ANPR in the United States:

In the United States, implementations have multiplied many times over in recent years. Thanks to lobbying and financial support from insurance companies, Oklahoma and Arizona, among other states, have introduced extensive ANPR networks aimed at catching uninsured drivers. Other deployments, meanwhile, have a more familiar feeling.

When the city of San Leandro, California, purchased ANPR cameras for its police force in 2009, local resident Michael Katz-Lacabe, using a Freedom of Information request, discovered that his car had been captured by the system more than 100 times in a matter of months.

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Surveillance Spaulder Device Alerts Wearer To Surveillance Cameras

Not surprisingly, a wearable “Surveillance Spaulder” hails from the surveillance capital of the western world: London. James Bridle made the CCTV surveillance detector for Wearable Futures’ Futures 10 exhibition. He explains at his blog:

The spaulder is a traditional component of medieval plate armour, designed to protect the wearer from unexpected and unseen blows from above. The Surveillance Spaulder continues this tradition into the present day – and the electromagnetic spectrum – alerting the wearer to the violence of ubiquitous surveillance.

Surveillance Spaulder from stml on Vimeo.

The spaulder contains a CCTV detector, based on a design by anonymous security researcher Puking Monkey. The detector filters the light it collects through a 730nm bandpass filter to isolate the infrared lighting used in most commonly-deployed CCTV cameras. When it receives a signal, it pulses electric current through a pair of transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS) pads attached to the wearer’s shoulder, causing them to twitch sharply.

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