Home » Posts tagged 'privacy'

Tag Archives: privacy

Olduvai
Click on image to purchase

Olduvai III: Catacylsm
Click on image to purchase

Post categories

Privacy Advocates Celebrate as Massachusetts City Becomes Second in US to Ban Facial Recognition Technology

Privacy Advocates Celebrate as Massachusetts City Becomes Second in US to Ban Facial Recognition Technology

“The city is sending a bold statement that it won’t sit by idly while the dystopian technology further outpaces our civil liberties protections and harms privacy, racial and gender justice, and freedom of speech.”

a facial recognition system for law enforcement

A display shows a facial recognition system for law enforcement during the NVIDIA GPU Technology Conference in Washington, D.C. on Nov. 1, 2017. (Photo: Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images)

Civil liberties advocates around the country celebrated after Somerville, Massachusetts on Thursday became the second city in the United States to bar local government—including law enforcement—from using facial recognition technology.

“Facial recognition can be used to track our every movement, supercharge racial profiling and discrimination, target political dissidents, and control nearly every aspect of our lives.”
—Evan Greer, Fight for the Future

By approving the ordinance, Somerville is “joining a growing nationwide movement to bring the technology under democratic control,” Kade Crockford, director of the ACLU of Massachusetts Technology for Liberty Program, said in a statement to the news website Wicked Local North of Boston.

“The city is sending a bold statement that it won’t sit by idly while the dystopian technology further outpaces our civil liberties protections and harms privacy, racial and gender justice, and freedom of speech,” Crockford added.

BREAKING: Somerville just became the first East Coast city to ban government use of face recognition technology.

The Massachusetts city joins a growing nationwide movement to bring the technology under democratic control before it further harms our civil liberties and privacy. https://twitter.com/onekade/status/1144413996486987786 …Replying to @onekade

Wicked Local reported that the ACLU of Massachusetts—which launched a “Press Pause on Face Surveillance” campaign earlier this month to highlight mounting concerns about how the technology can be used and abused—worked on the ordinance with Ben Ewen-Campen, the Somerville City Council member who introduced it.

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Is Facial Recognition Destroying our Right to Privacy?

Is Facial Recognition Destroying our Right to Privacy? 

The recent Financial Times investigation revealed that Microsoft had collected discreetly a facial recognition database of some 10 million images of some 100,000 people. They apparently used it for facial recognition software. When the FT began investigating, Microsoft discretely deleted the database. The public dataset, called ‘MS Celeb,’ included images of ‘celebrities’ pulled from the internet, but also contained photos of ‘arguably private individuals,’ often without their knowledge or consent, the FT found.

The classic film, the Minority Report, takes place where facial recognition is just using eye scans. To become invisible, he goes through a procedure where he gets eye transplants to hide his identity. This scene shows that when walking through a store, they scan his eyes and offer advertising tailored to preferences. There is no question that this technology can become much like the movie but using facial recognition eliminating the option of just getting our eyes replaced.

Already there are government agencies using facial recognition to look for people walking in public places. New York Police Department’s facial recognition system, includes image alteration and the use of non-suspect images. They are using facial recognition in Britain to look for criminals, but it is apparently wrong 96% of the time. There has even been lawsuits filed over this intrusive approach. San Francisco banned the police from using facial recognition. There are companies offering facial recognition for police.

There is no question that facial recognition poses a significant threat to our privacy and could hamper First Amendment-protected protests and other legal activities. Anyone who exercises their right to join some protest can find their faces suddenly recorded into a secret database that pops up on any encounter with governments.

The Price of Participating in Society is the Sacrifice of Privacy and Self

The Price of Participating in Society is the Sacrifice of Privacy and Self

In what is arguably one of the most craven opportunistic moves by a business/media group to increase its circulation/profitability, on 10 April the New York Times (NYT) embarked on what it describes as its Privacy ProjectA day later on 11 April, no doubt with the NYT’s foreknowledge of what was to come thanks to an unofficial US government tip, Ecuador revoked Julian Assange’s (Wikileaks founder) asylum in its UK Embassy and fed him to the British Police dogs eagerly awaiting to arrest him and dump him in jail.

In May 2017 I wrote that Assange was doomed from the get-go to be arrested and handed over to the US Government and that it would only be a matter of time before Edward Snowden befell a similar fate.

Chelsea Manning’s leaked information made WikiLeaks and its founder, Julian Assange, a household name. It also made them permanent enemies of the US State. In 2010, Assange released a video that he called Collateral Murder. The video shows an airstrike in which Iraqi journalists are killed. Other releases based on Manning’s leak were known as the Afghan Diary and Iraq War Logs. The diplomatic cables exposed some of the silly machinations of the US State Department and the over classification of documents.

Meanwhile, mainstream media (MSM) outlets like the New York Times and Washington Post feasted on the leaks and gave them prominent coverage daily, even as they excoriated Assange and his merry band of leakers. The MSM believes that WikiLeaks is not “real” journalism even as they used the classified material Assange provided to bolster their subscription numbers. Aren’t they accessories to Assange’s crime? Apparently they are not.

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

RCMP Has Yet to Complete Privacy Assessment on Social Media Surveillance Tech

RCMP Has Yet to Complete Privacy Assessment on Social Media Surveillance Tech

Calling ‘Project Wide Awake’ a test lets police dodge assessments, says BCCLA.

RCMPSurveillanceMonitors.jpg
The RCMP has been monitoring Canadians’ social media use for at least a year, but has yet to file a required report on the impact on personal privacy. Photo from Pixabay.

An RCMP spokesperson said the “Project Wide Awake” program is still in the design stage — which is short of “official” implementation that requires a report on effects to personal privacy.

Micheal Vonn of the BC Civil Liberties Association isn’t surprised. She said a claim that a project is in the design stage is typical of the steps that police use to dodge public accountability checks for new technologies.

Project Wide Awake, first reported by The Tyee, is an RCMP initiative to monitor Canadians’ social media use. The initial claimed use was to respond to existing criminal investigations, but the RCMP expanded the program to use monitoring to prevent potential crimes.

The RCMP has been using social media monitoring software since at least February 2018. But the force has classified the project as in a “design phase” while it is taking steps towards officially implementing it, it stated. 

Canada’s Privacy Commissioner guidelines state that departments “must submit final PIA [privacy impact assessments] before they implement programs or services.” The measure is a safeguard to ensure privacy impacts are assessed before programs are in place. The institution must also prepare a publicly available summary of its findings on the assessments.

The RCMP told The Tyee this month that Project Wide Awake was in the design stage. But it also confirmed the software had been available to the RCMP for criminal investigative and intelligence purposes for more than a year.

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

RCMP’s Social Media Surveillance Symptom of Broad Threat to Privacy, Says BCCLA

RCMP’s Social Media Surveillance Symptom of Broad Threat to Privacy, Says BCCLA

Micheal Vonn isn’t surprised by RCMP’s ‘Project Wide Awake’ — but she’s worried.

AppIcons.jpg
‘For most people, to hear that the police may be collecting their social media offerings for analysis — for future crime — is pretty shocking.’ Photo from Pixabay.

It’s not surprising the RCMP is using sophisticated software to monitor the social media activities of Canadians, said Micheal Vonn, policy director of the BC Civil Liberties Association.

But it is worrying, she said.

On Monday The Tyee revealed the existence of the RCMP’s “Project Wide Awake,” which monitors the social media activities of Canadians on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and other platforms. 

The program’s expansion last year with sophisticated monitoring software appears to undermine the RCMP’s 2017 claim to the federal Privacy Commissioner that the project’s surveillance was “reactive” — done to gather information after a crime was committed.

The operation is now monitoring people’s online activities to see if they might commit a crime.

“I’m not surprised, but only because I spend a lot of time in this world,” said Vonn. “For most people, to hear that the police may be collecting their social media offerings for analysis, for future crime, is pretty shocking.”

But we’ve been heading in this direction for decades, Vonn said. Intelligence-based policing — the notion that if we have more information on citizens, we’ll have more effective policing — is in many ways uncontroversial, she noted.

A segment of the population wants police to gather more information about others. “Oh good, watch those guys, we don’t like them,” said Vonn. 

But when people realize how much it could impact their own lives, they quickly become concerned, she said.

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Apple has disabled group FaceTime calls after it was humiliated on Data Privacy Day by a bug that lets people listen in on you

Apple has disabled group FaceTime calls after it was humiliated on Data Privacy Day by a bug that lets people listen in on you

Tim Cook.JPG
Apple CEO Tim Cook.
  • Apple temporarily disabled group FaceTime calls after it was alerted to a major bug, which allows iPhone or iPad users to secretly hear what someone is saying before they answer the call.
  • Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey was among those advising people to disable FaceTime until Apple releases a fix, which it said could be as early as this week.
  • The bug is acutely embarrassing for Apple, which has long touted its privacy credentials. It also surfaced on Data Privacy Day, when CEO Tim Cook called for privacy reforms.

Apple has been carefully cultivating its image as the prince of privacy in Silicon Valley over recent months. 

The iPhone maker has tried to cement its reputation has the defender of its users’ data through speeches, thinly disguised attacks on rivals like Facebook, and giant Las Vegas billboards at CES. But on Monday, the shine of Apple’s rhetoric was smudged by an embarrassing FaceTime bug. 

The bug allows an iPhone or iPad user to secretly hear what someone is saying before they answer the call. Apple has now temporarily shut down group FaceTime calls, which trigger the bug. 

The issue surfaced on Twitter and Snapchat and quickly went viral, even making its way up to the Twitter CEO himself, Jack Dorsey, who advised his followers to disable FaceTime while Apple figures out a fix.

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

How To Be Invisible On The Internet

Everywhere you look, concerns are mounting about internet privacy.

Although giving up your data was once an afterthought when gaining access to the newest internet services such as Facebook and Uber, as Visual Capitalist’s Jeff Desjardins notes, many people have had their perspective altered by various recent scandals, billions of dollars of cybertheft, and a growing discomfort around how their personal data may be used in the future.

More people want to opt out of this data collection, but aside from disconnecting entirely or taking ludicrous measures to safeguard information, there aren’t many great options available to limit what is seen and known about you online.

THE NEXT BEST THING

It may not be realistic to use Tor for all online browsing, so why not instead look at taking more practical steps to reducing your internet footprint?

Today’s infographic comes to us from CashNetUSA, and it gives a step-by-step guide – that anyone can follow – to limit the amount of personal data that gets collected on the internet.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Here’s Facebook’s Former “Privacy Sherpa” Discussing How to Harm Your Facebook Privacy

HERE’S FACEBOOK’S FORMER “PRIVACY SHERPA” DISCUSSING HOW TO HARM YOUR FACEBOOK PRIVACY

IN 2015, RISING star, Stanford University graduate, winner of the 13th season of “Survivor,” and Facebook executive Yul Kwon was profiled by the news outlet Fusion, which described him as “the guy standing between Facebook and its next privacy disaster,” guiding the company’s engineers through the dicey territory of personal data collection. Kwon described himself in the piece as a “privacy sherpa.” But the day it published, Kwon was apparently chatting with other Facebook staffers about how the company could vacuum up the call logs of its users without the Android operating system getting in the way by asking for the user for specific permission, according to confidential Facebook documents released today by the British Parliament.

“This would allow us to upgrade users without subjecting them to an Android permissions dialog.”

The document, part of a larger 250-page parliamentary trove, shows what appears to be a copied-and-pasted recap of an internal chat conversation between various Facebook staffers and Kwon, who was then the company’s deputy chief privacy officer and is currently working as a product management director, according to his LinkedIn profile.

The conversation centered around an internal push to change which data Facebook’s Android app had access to, to grant the software the ability to record a user’s text messages and call history, to interact with bluetooth beacons installed by physical stores, and to offer better customized friend suggestions and news feed rankings . This would be a momentous decision for any company, to say nothing of one with Facebook’s privacy track record and reputation, even in 2015, of sprinting through ethical minefields. “This is a pretty high-risk thing to do from a PR perspective but it appears that the growth team will charge ahead and do it,” Michael LeBeau, a Facebook product manager, is quoted in the document as saying of the change.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Surveillance Cameras Equipped With Thermal Imaging Allow Police To Identify People By Their Gender, Body Size And Skin Color

Surveillance Cameras Equipped With Thermal Imaging Allow Police To Identify People By Their Gender, Body Size And Skin Color

BriefCam’s “Transforming Video into Actionable Intelligence” allows law enforcement and retailers to secretly identify people by their gender, body size, color, direction, speed and more.

BriefCam’s Video Synopsis version V allows police and retail stores to use surveillance cameras to identify individuals and cars in real-time.

BriefCam is the industry’s leading provider of Video Synopsis® solutions for rapid video review and search, real-time alerting and quantitative video insights. By transforming raw video into actionable intelligence. (Source)

What is really disturbing about the video, is no one knows where it is being used and by whom. BriefCam’s limited disclosures claim it is being used by top law enforcement agencies and governments, but that’s it.

BriefCam admits that the Statue of Liberty, the Empire State Building, Disney, the Javits Convention Center and Smart City initiatives in Boston and Beverly Hills are using Video Synopsis.

Watchlisting or “real-time alerting” goes hand-in-hand with biometric surveillance cameras.

NEC’s NeoFace Watch software is being showcased at the International Security Expo 2018. NEC admits facial recognition is integral to smart cities.

NEC and NPS will showcase a vast range of safety solutions to overcome challenges facing cities; including facial recognition system, automated fingerprint identification system (AFIS), CONNECT police platform, and video analytics solution.  The solutions will form part of Safer Cities that NEC and NPS aim to build, to contribute to realize a safe and secure society for all citizens.

BriefCam, like NEC, is so good at spying on everyone that even Homeland Security is impressed.

Aaron Miller, Director of the Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness for the City of New Orleans said:

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Canada Secretly Collected Banking Information From 500,000 Canadians Without Their Knowledge

As it turns out, Silicon Valley tech giants aren’t the only institutions surreptitiously collecting massive troves of sensitive data from unsuspecting consumers. On Friday, Canada’s the Global Times published a report exposing a recently launched data collection program adopted by StatCan, the Canadian government’s economic research agency, that the agency introduced to help it collect more accurate data about consumers’ spending habits. The agency has asked Canada’s nine largest banks to turn over all the transaction records and sensitive identifying financial information (including customer’s social insurance numbers) for 500,000 randomly selected Canadians. The agency will collect and crunch this data as part of its statistical research and then, at the end of the year, it will produce a new list of 500,000 Canadians, and perform all of the same operations with their data.

Statcan

After being called out by Global News, the agency explained that the data would be anonymized shortly after being compiled (meaning that all identifying information, like consumers’ SINs, would be removed).

“Canadians should know we are not accessing all of the payments data for all Canadians. It’s a small sample relative to the total number of households,” he said. “Our access to this data is permitted through both the Privacy Act and the Statistics Act.”

But that’s not exactly true. The fact that it didn’t publicly disclose the plan has left some Canadians feeling uneasy. Given that Canada has a population of roughly 20 million people, the likelihood that any one individuals’ information will be collected. To be sure, the agency said in a letter to Canada’s privacy commissioner that the data would only be used for statistics purposes. But a former privacy regulator who spoke with GN said she was “shocked” to learn of the program.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

The Future of Privacy

The Future of Privacy

Roughly one hundred years ago, the people who “ran things,” – the drivers behind governments, big business and banking – formulated a concept which became known by a number of names, but, predominantly, as the “New World Order.”

The concept was to put an end to unnecessary competition and warfare and have a central, unelected group of people run the entire world. It was not considered necessary to completely eliminate individual countries; the idea was to control them all centrally. It also didn’t necessarily mean that wars would end. Warfare can be quite useful for rulers, as they provide an excellent distraction from resentment toward the leaders who impose control over a people.

Ever since that time, this same rough group of people has continued generationally. Sometimes, but not always, the family names change. Useful people are added on and less useful ones removed. But the concept itself has continued, evolved and, in fact, gained strength.

But, as yet, the process remains incomplete. Several facets to a New World Order are not yet in place. It’s proven difficult to “fool all of the people all of the time,” so the effort to subjugate an entire world has taken more time than originally anticipated.

An essential component of this control is the elimination of the personal holding of wealth. Whilst the leaders intend to expand their own wealth in an unlimited fashion, they seek to suppress the ability of the average person to increase his own wealth. Wealth leads to independence and independence from a New World Order is unacceptable. Wealth gives people options. They must be taught to accept being herded like cattle and being compliant, or they will become troublesome.

Not surprising then, that, recently, organisations like the OECD have been created to eliminate the individual’s ability to create and maintain wealth for his own benefit.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Empire of Lies: Are ‘We the People’ Useful Idiots in the Digital Age?

“Back in the heyday of the old Soviet Union, a phrase evolved to describe gullible western intellectuals who came to visit Russia and failed to notice the human and other costs of building a communist utopia. The phrase was “useful idiots” and it applied to a good many people who should have known better. I now propose a new, analogous term more appropriate for the age in which we live: useful hypocrites. That’s you and me, folks, and it’s how the masters of the digital universe see us. And they have pretty good reasons for seeing us that way. They hear us whingeing about privacy, security, surveillance, etc., but notice that despite our complaints and suspicions, we appear to do nothing about it. In other words, we say one thing and do another, which is as good a working definition of hypocrisy as one could hope for.”—John Naughton, The Guardian

“Who needs direct repression,” asked philosopher Slavoj Zizek, “when one can convince the chicken to walk freely into the slaughterhouse?”

In an Orwellian age where war equals peace, surveillance equals safety, and tolerance equals intolerance of uncomfortable truths and politically incorrect ideas, “we the people” have gotten very good at walking freely into the slaughterhouse, all the while convincing ourselves that the prison walls enclosing us within the American police state are there for our protection.

Call it doublespeak, call it hypocrisy, call it delusion, call it whatever you like, but the fact remains that while we claim to value freedom, privacy, individuality, equality, diversity, accountability, and government transparency, our actions and those of our government rulers contradict these much-vaunted principles at every turn.

For instance, we claim to disdain the jaded mindset of the Washington elite, and yet we continue to re-elect politicians who lie, cheat and steal.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Freedom Where Did You Go?

Freedom Where Did You Go?

My Generation is the last one to have known privacy and to have lived out most of our lives in freedom.

I remember when driving licenses did not have photos and most certainly not fingerprints. A driving license was issued on proof of birth date alone.

Prior to the appearance of automobiles IDs did not exist in democratic nations. You were who you said you were.

The intrusive questions that accost us every day, even when doing something simple as reporting a telephone or Internet connection being out or inquiring about a credit card charge, were impermissible. I remember when you could telephone a utility company, for example, have the telephone answered no later than the third ring with a real person on the line who could clear up the problem in a few minutes without having to know your Social Security number and your mother’s maiden name. Today, after half an hour with robot voices asking intrusive questions you might finally get a real person somewhere in Asia who is controlled by such a tight system of rules that the person is, in effect, a robot. The person is not permitted to use any judgment or discretion and you listen to advertisements for another half hour while you wait for a supervisor who promises to have the matter looked into.

The minute you go online, you are subject to collection of information about yourself. You don’t even know it is being collected.

According to reports, soon our stoves, refrigerators, and microwave ovens will be reporting on us. The new cars already do.

When privacy disappears, there are no private persons. So what do people become? They become Big Brother’s subjects.

We are at that point now.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Google Suppresses Memo Revealing Plans to Closely Track Search Users in China

Illustration: Soohee Cho/The Intercept

GOOGLE SUPPRESSES MEMO REVEALING PLANS TO CLOSELY TRACK SEARCH USERS IN CHINA

GOOGLE BOSSES HAVE forced employees to delete a confidential memo circulating inside the company that revealed explosive details about a plan to launch a censored search engine in China, The Intercept has learned.

The memo, authored by a Google engineer who was asked to work on the project, disclosed that the search system, codenamed Dragonfly, would require users to log in to perform searches, track their location — and share the resulting history with a Chinese partner who would have “unilateral access” to the data.

The memo was shared earlier this month among a group of Google employees who have been organizing internal protests over the censored search system, which has been designed to remove content that China’s authoritarian Communist Party regime views as sensitive, such as information about democracy, human rights, and peaceful protest.

According to three sources familiar with the incident, Google leadership discovered the memo and were furious that secret details about the China censorship were being passed between employees who were not supposed to have any knowledge about it. Subsequently, Google human resources personnel emailed employees who were believed to have accessed or saved copies of the memo and ordered them to immediately delete it from their computers. Emails demanding deletion of the memo contained “pixel trackers” that notified human resource managers when their messages had been read, recipients determined.

The Dragonfly memo reveals that a prototype of the censored search engine was being developed as an app for both Android and iOS devices, and would force users to sign in so they could use the service. The memo confirms, as The Intercept first reported last week, that users’ searches would be associated with their personal phone number.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Apple’s Mysterious New ‘Trust Score’ For iPhone Users Leaves Many Unanswered Questions

Like Facebook (and the Chinese Communist Party) before it, Apple is now assigning users of its products a “trust” score that is based on users’ call and email habits, the Sun reports. The new ratings were added as part of the latest iOS 12 update, as VentureBeatexplains.

Apple’s promise of transparency regarding user data means that any new privacy policy update might reveal that it’s doing something new and weird with your data.

[…]

Alongside yesterday’s releases of iOS 12, tvOS 12, and watchOS 5, Apple quietly updated some of its iTunes Store terms and privacy disclosures, including one standout provision: It’s now using an abstracted summary of your phone calls or emails as an anti-fraud measure.

The provision appears in the iTunes store and privacy windows of iOS and tvOS devices. An Apple spokesperson clarified that the score is meant to stop unauthorized iTunes purchases, but as VentureBeat explains, the trust score is unusual for several reasons – not least of which being that users can’t make phone calls or send emails on Apple TVs. Indeed, the only thing Apple customers can say for sure is that the company’s disclosure leaves many unanswered questions.

Trust

Aside from the obvious inconsistencies surrounding the Apple TV, it’s also unclear how recording and tracking the number of calls or emails made from an iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch will help Apple verify a user’s identity. One would think, as Venturebeat points out, that Apple could simply rely on serial numbers or SIM cards. Perhaps the company feels that verifying the device isn’t enough, and that it needs to go further to make sure the person using the device is the same. Still, exactly how the company will go about accomplishing this is suspiciously unclear.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Olduvai IV: Courage
In progress...

Olduvai II: Exodus
Click on image to purchase