The government of Syria uses made-in-California technology from BlueCoat Systems to censor the Internet and spy on its pro-democracy activists (who are regularly arrested and tortured, not to mention slaughtered wholesale.) Amesys of France and FinFisher of the UK aided brutal dictators in Egypt and Libya. Sweden’s Teliasonera allegedly took up the same cudgel in Belarus, Uzbekistan, Azerbaijan, Tajikistan, Georgia and Kazakhstan. McAfee and Nokia Siemens have done the same in Bahrain, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait.
Meanwhile, back in the USA, Bain Capital recently bought a Chinese video-surveillance company reportedly “used to intimidate and monitor political and religious dissidents,” and Cisco “has marketed its routers to China specifically as a tool of repression.” You can’t help but be impressed by how globalized the oppression-technology industry has become.
So what privacy/surveillance story caused an eruption of outrage this week? Yes, you guessed it: SceneTap, a startup that uses facial-recognition software to (anonymously) track demographics at bars and clubs in major American cities in real time. Forget the dissidents risking their lives for democracy: what matters is that the hipsters are creeped out! …
In January of 2012, the US Congress passed legislation that will open up the US sky to unmanned drones. The robotic aircraft will be used for military and police operations and will add to America’s current arsenal of around 7,000 drones. According to some accounts, peaceful protest might be a reason that feds would deploy the unmanned craft. There are currently 300 active drone permits in the US, but will that soon swell out of control? Amie Stepanovich, a member of the National Security Council for EPIC, joins us for more. POSTED FROM DISINFORMATION
When Tom Cruise had to break into police headquarters inMinority Report, the futuristic crime thriller, he got past the iris scanners with ease: He just swapped out his eyeballs.
CIA agents may find that just a little beyond the call of duty. But meanwhile, they’ve got to come up with something else: The increasing deployment of iris scanners and biometric passports at worldwide airports, hotels and business headquarters, designed to catch terrorists and criminals, are playing havoc with operations that require CIA spies to travel under false identities.
Busy spy crossroads such as Dubai, Jordan, India and many EU points of entry are employing iris scanners to link eyeballs irrevocably to a particular name. Likewise, the increasing use of biometric passports, which are embedded with microchips containing a person’s face, sex, fingerprints, date and place of birth, and other personal data, are increasingly replacing the old paper ones. For a clandestine field operative, flying under a false name could be a one-way ticket to a headquarters desk, since they’re irrevocably chained to whatever name and passport they used.
Google Will Now Pay You To Track Everything You Do Online, Via A Black Box
Would you sell off your privacy in return for a $5 gift card every three months? Ars Technica reports:
Google quietly started up the Screenwise data collection program Tuesday night, taking the e-mail addresses of people interested in “add[ing] a browser extension that will share with Google the sites you visit and how you use them.” For their participation, Google offers users a $5 Amazon gift card for every three months they stay with the program. Less publicly, Google also started looking for people who would install a piece of hardware on their network to do more extensive monitoring.
Ah, the social network. A Boston Phoenix story detailing law enforcement’s hunt for “Craigslist Killer” Philip Markoff reveals what Facebook sends to the cops when they subpoena your profile information (a topic about which Facebook has been very tight-lipped). What do the police receive? All of your wall posts and shares, everyone you’ve ever friended or defriended, every photo you’ve ever been tagged in (even if private or deleted), all of your “likes”, and your entire step-by-step history of activity, including every time you’ve viewed anyone’s profile: POSTED FROM DISINFORMATION
Warning, the results of this may scare you — it might be better if you didn’t know. From Mozilla:
Collusion is an experimental add-on for Firefox and allows you to see all the third parties that are tracking your movements across the Web. It will show, in real time, how that data creates a spider-web of interaction between companies and other trackers. POSTED FROM DISINFORMATION
Homeland Security Manual Lists Government Key Words For Monitoring Social Media
Ever complain on Facebook that you were feeling “sick?” Told your friends to “watch” a certain TV show? Left a comment on a media website about government “pork?”
If you did any of those things, or tweeted about your recent vacation in “Mexico” or a shopping trip to “Target,” the Department of Homeland Security may have noticed.
In the latest revelation of how the federal government is monitoring social media and online news outlets, the Electronic Privacy Information Center has posted online a 2011 Department of Homeland Security manual that includes hundreds of key words (such as those above) and search terms used to detect possible terrorism, unfolding natural disasters and public health threats. The center, a privacy watchdog group, filed a Freedom of Information Act request and then sued to obtain the release of the documents.
The 39-page “Analyst’s Desktop Binder” used by the department’s National Operations Center includes no-brainer words like “”attack,” “epidemic” and “Al Qaeda” (with various spellings). But the list also includes words that can be interpreted as either menacing or innocent depending on the context, such as “exercise,” “drill,” “wave,” “initiative,” “relief” and “organization.”