Loss of Privacy

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

Browsing Posts in USA Privacy

The appeal is obvious, especially for cash-strapped, high-crime cities such as Oakland, Calif. City leaders there say they simply don’t have the tax base to pay for the number of police officers they need, so they’ve looked toward “domain awareness” as a kind of force multiplier.

For the past couple of years, the city of Oakland has worked with the Port of Oakland to build its own version of the system. It’s called the Domain Awareness Center, or DAC. The federal government is paying for it with Homeland Security grants. But as the project grew, so did opposition.

After last summer’s revelations of domestic spying by the National Security Agency, protesters started showing up en masse at Oakland City Council meetings. One signed in for the public comment period as “Edward Snowden”; another stood up to videorecord the council while supporters cheered and jeered. In November, protesters became so raucous, they forced the council to clear the hall.

Source.

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How and why the US government surveils on its citizens.

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You have a right to privacy. How about when you are driving around Manhattan? Maybe not.

On January 7, 2014, the New York Civil Liberties Union sent the New York State Department of Transportation, the New York City Department of Transportation and the NYPD formal legal requests for information on how they use E-ZPass readers to track and record New Yorkers’ movements. The request was filed after several recent press reports documented the use of E-ZPass readers to collect information on law-abiding New Yorkers far from toll plazas.

“New Yorkers have a right to know if their use of toll-paying technology is secretly being used to track their innocent comings and goings,” said NYCLU Executive Director Donna Lieberman. “No one should have to trade their privacy to pay a $10 toll.

“The NYCLU’s video shows the E-ZPass detector – the device that looks like a cow – going off almost constantly during a drive through Midtown and Lower Manhattan — in areas free of toll collection booths. In the area around 34th Street and Seventh Avenue, the cow lit up continuously for several blocks. It even detected a signal directly in front of the NYCLU’s office in the Wall Street area.

“An E-ZPass is a great convenience, but the technology in it can easily be misused. Given the potential for abuse when the government systematically starts collecting information about the day-to-day activities of law-abiding people, it is essential that there be clear and explicit limitations on how E-ZPass readers are used,” NYCLU Legislative Counsel Nate Vogel said. “The public should know if, how and why we are being tracked.”

The NYCLU’s Freedom of Information requests specifically seek information about the criteria and purpose for installing E-ZPass readers; the location of E-ZPass readers, including, any information distinguishing those used to collect tolls and those used for other purposes; privacy policies and marketing materials describing the types of data that can be collected by E-ZPass readers, when it will be collected and how it will be used; and how the New York City Department of Transportation shares data with other entities, including but not limited to the NYPD, the FBI and the Drug Enforcement Administration.

Find out more at nyclu, or follow us on Facebook and Twitter to find out more as the story develops.

You can also read more about E-ZPass tags from Kashmir Hill.

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Michigan based Illuminating Concepts has begun testing their Intellistreets system on the streets of Las Vegas.

The system is entirely adaptable. The lights are currently being tested in Las Vegas but they could soon be positioned on public streets throughout the city.

They look like ordinary street poles but they’re actually capable of a wide variety of features from playing music, to broadcasting messages via voice and digital display. It’s all controlled by an Ipad or a similar-type of device.

“Actually, there’s a server that’s housed by the company that’s providing this product and we’re communicating with just a wireless, wi-fi connection,” Roheloder said.

“This technology, you know is taking us to a place where, you know, you’ll essentially be monitored from the moment you leave your home till the moment you get home,” said civil rights activist Daphne Lee.

And this system would never be hacked or abused in any way whatsoever.

Illuminating concepts, the company who designed Intellistreets, say the processors store and analyze data, soundtracks, announcements, commercials and even video files.

According to its own marketing video, the lights they manufacture are adaptable and capable of adding cameras for surveillance and security and even recording devices.

“Right now our intention is not to have any cameras or recording devices…it’s just to provide output out there, not to get any feed or video feed coming back,” said Las Vegas public works director, Jorge Servantes.

It’s not their intention now, but as soon as a government grant allows it to start, you can be sure recording will begin.

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The Glendale Unified School District in California has hired Geo Listening to monitor its middle and high school students’ social media posts both during the school day and after. Under the banner of school and student safety, the district intends to monitor its students’ actions.

Chris Frydrych, the CEO of Geo Listening said, “We have provided information to school districts, which has led to numerous successful interventions on behalf of students that intended self-harm, suicide, bullying, truancy, substance abuse, and vandalism. We monitor only public posts to social networks. We do not monitor privatized pages, SMS, MMS, email, phone calls, voicemails.”

School districts are supposed to be about education. Over reaching on that goal and spying on students is teaching them to accept spying in all aspects of their lives as they grow up. The schools’ jurisdiction should end at the property line of the school. It should not be prying into the private lives of its students after school hours. It is a violation of privacy and First Amendment laws under 18 USC Sections 241,242 and 42 USC Sections 1983, 1985, 1986 of the United States.

This system will only succeed in forcing students to suppress any written speech they may have had and teach them that anything they say will, eventually, be used against them.

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