Loss of Privacy

Keeping you informed on recent losses to privacy and civil rights worldwide.

Browsing Posts published in November, 2011

When the officer asked if he knew why the police were talking to him I would have said yes, but it is not this guy’s fault that someone freaked out and called the cops because he was walking down the street legally. It is the job of a citizen to know the law. Obviously, the person who called the cops doesn’t know the law or what rights they have as a citizen.

flattr this!

In Farmington Hills, Michigan intelligent lights will soon be keeping a watchful eye over its citizens. But is it really for entertainment and safety or a gross invasion of privacy?

“In each lighting fixture or each lighting pole, there is processor very much like an iPhone. And it takes inputs and outputs and talks back and forth. And the poles actually talk to each other,” said Ron Harwood.

When you step come into view of the street light, there is a camera that spots you, and the person on the other side sees you by white specs on a black screen. The camera senses that somebody is there, and if wants, it can even take your picture.

The system is also capable of recording conversations making critics cry invasion of privacy.

“This is not a system with spook technology. It’s much more transparent. It can just talk to you and say, don’t fall over Niagara Falls,” said Harwood.

It may be able to just make a stupid joke about Niagara Falls, but the fact that it can spot you, track you, and record your conversations is, indeed, spook technology. It’s worrisome that people are simply accepting a program such as this as the normal course of events. If no one in Farmington Hills fights against it, it will start showing up elsewhere in the United States.

flattr this!

Earlier this week, Presidental hopeful, Mitt Romney, spoke at a town hall meeting in Iowa that he supports an expansion of the controversial E-Verify program for employment. Currently, the program checks the legal status of new employees, but Romney would push it further.

Mitt Romney backed a national ID system and government pre-approval of all new hires in the country. It’s a stunning amount of power he wants the federal government to have.

You’ve got to crack down on employers that hire people that are illegal, and that means you have to have a system that identifies who’s here legally, with a biometric card that has: this is the person, they’re allowed to work here. You say to an employer, you look at that card, you swipe it in your computer, you type in the number, it instantly tells you whether they’re legal or not.

The E-Verify system is a biometric identification system that is a direct response from Congress as a part of immigration reform. Despite the fact that the government continually tells us that an E-Verify or national ID system would solve our illegal immigration problem, it will never work.

A mandatory national EEV system would have substantial costs yet still fail to prevent illegal immigration. It would deny a sizable percentage of law-abiding American citizens the ability to work legally. Deemed ineligible by a database, millions each year would go pleading to the Department of Homeland Security and the Social Security Administration for the right to work. By increasing the value of committing identity fraud, EEV would cause that crime’s rates to rise.

Creating an accurate EEV system would require a national identification (ID) system, costing about $20 billion to create and hundreds of millions more per year to operate. Even if it were free, the country should reject a national ID system. It would cause law-abiding American citizens to lose more of their privacy as government records about them grew and were converted to untold new purposes. “Mission creep” all but guarantees that the federal government would use an EEV system to extend federal regulatory control over Americans’ lives even further.

The E-Verify system is inaccurate fifty-percent [pdf] of the time costing employees thousands of dollars in rectifying the situation. If implemented nationwide, it would cost small business owners billions in additional taxes.

Our immigration system is broken, but this is not the way to fix it. Immigrants, illegal or legal, play an extremely important part in American society. Removing them with a system that only works half the time not only hurts the immigrants and citizens caught up in the system, but every American who relies on the goods and services that they provide.

flattr this!

Researchers at Wuhan University, National Research Council of Canada and the Center for Functional Genomics at the University at Albany have been working together to create GMO rice that contains human blood protein chemically identical to human serum albumin. This protein is normally obtained by extracting it from blood donors. It is then used to treat patients with burns and liver disease, but blood donors can now be bypassed with a GMO synthetic version.

Read the rest of my article at The Daily Censored.

flattr this!

Rhapsody has announced that they will be shutting down their RAX DRM encumbered music system and that users will have until November 7, 2011 to convert any music downloaded before July, 2008.

On November 7th, 2011 Rhapsody/RealNetworks will no longer support certain music files you purchased before July 2008. These songs will continue to play after November 7th unless you change to a new computer or substantially update your current computer. However, we strongly recommend you back up these RAX tracks to audio CD to ensure you can continue to enjoy your music.

Once you take this small step, you can continue to play these tracks on your audio CD or rip them to any format you desire and play them on your PC.

Please don’t delay – after we shut off support for RAX files, you will not be able to play them if you move to a new computer or upgrade your operating system.

While Rhapsody is allowing its customers to back up and convert their music, it is not as easy as they claim. If you own a few tracks, it might by easy, but if you own hundreds or thousands of music tracks, it becomes a cumbersome and time-consuming task.

There is also a question of legality. While Rhapsody is telling people how to circumvent the RAX DRM, it may not legally be able to. According to US law, unless Rhapsody owns the copyrights to the songs that use RAX DRM, then they are actually aiding others in breaking the law.

Section 103 (17 U.S.C Sec. 1201(a)(1)) of the DMCA states:

Q No person shall circumvent a technological measure that effectively controls access to a work protected under this title.

….

(A) to 「circumvent a technological measure」 means to descramble a scrambled work, to decrypt an encrypted work, or otherwise to avoid, bypass, remove, deactivate, or impair a technological measure, without the authority of the copyright owner; and

(B) a technological measure 「effectively controls access to a work」 if the measure, in the ordinary course of its operation, requires the application of information, or a process or a treatment, with the authority of the copyright owner, to gain access to the work.

In the closing of Rhapsody’s RAX DRM, we see, yet again, how the music industry is punishing those who wish to legally purchase digital music. There are so many of these companies that have shut down over the past ten years that it is difficult to fault those who turn to piracy. By doing so, users do not have to worry about the DRM. They also do not worry about making upgrades to their computers and risking the loss of their music. They also do not have to worry about the limits of how many computers they can keep their music on. They simply listen to their music where ever and whenever they want. After experiencing ten years of attempting to do the right thing only to be screwed over again and again, why would anyone want to return to unhelpful DRM schemes?

flattr this!