Loss of Privacy

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

Yes, you read that right.  It’s a law.  It begins November 1, 2009.  If you have an abortion in Oklahoma, all the personal details of your abortion, excluding your name will be listed.

Here are the first eight questions that women will have to reveal:
1. Date of abortion
2. County in which abortion performed
3. Age of mother
4. Marital status of mother
(married, divorced, separated, widowed, or never married)
5. Race of mother
6. Years of education of mother
(specify highest year completed)
7. State or foreign country of residence of mother
8. Total number of previous pregnancies of the mother
Live Births
Induced Abortions

With these details, once could easily deduce who the woman was, particularly if it is a smaller county.

Fortunately, The Center for Reproductive Rights is challenging the law.  In their lawsuit, they argue that the law violates the Oklahoma Constitution because it covers more than one subject.  This tactic was successful in the past when Oklahoma’s abortion ultrasound law was struck down.

One would imagine that this would be a HIPAA violation, thus, automatically, making it illegal.  This law is nothing but scare tactics to put fear into women and force them to carry a fetus to term.

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Pigs are smart.  They can find hidden food using mirrors and appear to have some complex cognitive abilities.  Now, they’ve even figured out how to beat RFID tags to get more food.

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The public is now being courted to play a new “game” in which individual citizens in the UK will be watching CCTV cameras and be monetarily rewarded for reporting crime.  Internet Eyes is the name of the game and it is hoped that British citizens will enjoy participating.

Viewers are anonymously monitoring random video feeds streamed from privately owned establishments.  At no time can Viewers designate or control the video feeds they receive and the locations of the feeds are not disclosed.

The instant a Viewer monitors an event, an alert can be sent directly to the owner of that live camera feed. The alert is sent along with a screen grab, identifying the image you have observed. Only the first alert received by the camera owner is accepted.

The camera owner will then feedback (rate) the result of the alert. Their feedback is converted into points and entered into a Viewers monthly league table. At the end of each month the highest scoring Viewer will receive the reward money; this could be split in the event of a tie.

Viewers register for free with no recurring fees. Each Viewer has 3 x alerts per month allocated to their account for free. Viewers are able to ‘top up’ their alerts through PayPal if they so desire. The free allocations of alerts are limited to prevent system abuse.

There are many questions about this system.  If you flag something as suspicious and you get a point, who gets notified?  Does the business find out immediately or do they call the police?  If they want you to watch numerous feeds, how quickly will your three false alarms trigger a banning?

This system is ripe for abuse and, I suspect, many pranks will be pulled via Internet Eyes.

…businessman Tony Morgan, a former restaurant owner, said it would give local businesses protection against petty criminals, and act as a deterrent once ‘Internet Eyes patrol here’ signs are prominently displayed.

He will charge those who use the service, which could eventually include local authorities and even police forces as well as shop owners, £20 a week per camera to have their CCTV included on the site – amounting to thousands each year.

Ah, so it’s a protection racket masquerading as a crime prevention tool.  You pay money for a system that might work.  You get people to watch, who might be the magical monthly winner.  Then, you sit at home, collect all that cash and claim that you’re doing good for the community.

I know that, if I were a criminal, I would be interested in such a system as well.  I can join as a player, watch the cameras, and plot my crimes.  It doesn’t matter if the feeds are anonymously sent.  If you know the area, you can still plot out crimes.

The other problem is that this appears more of a conditioning tool, getting people used to being watched all the time.  As it stands, although there are millions of cameras in the UK, only one in a thousand is watched.  Now, if they make a game out of it, more cameras are watched, but people don’t take it seriously.  Eventually, the “gamers” will become regular employees and, by then, it will be too late to complain about your privacy.

I’m starting to have Fahrenheit 451 flashbacks now.

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Social Hacking has released its detailed report of its month of Facebook bugs.

The Month of Facebook Bugs, or FAXX Hacks, is a series of reports on vulnerabilities in Facebook applications. The series was a volunteer research project coordinated by an anonymous blogger known as theharmonyguy. All of the vulnerabilities were reported to Facebook and/or relevant application developers prior to their publication.

This series concentrates on XSS bugs.

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If researchers get their way, you may, one day, be able to walk through the airport as freely as you did before 9/11.  That’s the good news.  Unfortunately, it means that every single movement you make will be scrutinized, creating an even more disturbing airport experience than already exists.

The Homeland Security-funded project is Future Attribute Screening Technology, or FAST. Instead of focusing on whether you have hidden explosives or whether you’re carrying a weapon, sensors and cameras located at security checkpoints would measure the natural signals coming from your body — your heart rate, breathing, eye movement, body temperature and fidgeting.

Those physiological signs, measured together, will indicate whether you might have the desire or intent to do harm, project manager Robert Burns said.

Or, it could be something else.  You’re in an airport.  You’re afraid of flying.  You’re already freaking out.  Now, you freak out more about accidentally tripping the sensors, except you freaked out too much and did, indeed trip the sensors.

You could also be drunk, high, or smoking a cigarette.  These all alter your heart rate.

FAST could be used wherever there are special security concerns, including stadiums, convention centers, federal buildings, mass transit centers and airports.

Civil liberties groups maintain this screening technology is an invasion of privacy.

“Nobody has the right to look at my intimate bodily functions, my breathing, my perspiration rate, my heart rate, from afar,” said Joe Stanley of the ACLU.

While this is an invasion of privacy, it’s even more so when added to the fact that the airlines already keep a record of your race, sex, destination, length of vacation, what credit cards you use, and what’s in your luggage.  Now, you must ensure that you have the right emotions as you saunter through the airport.

Making people FEEL safe is not a good idea.  It’s security theater.  Invading people’s privacy only serves to piss them off.  We are guaranteed the right to be secure in our persons.  Using technology that may or may not detect perceived behavior is never a good idea.  Thinking something is not doing something.  If it were, I’d have murdered about 527 people by now.  I hate waiting on lines.  If I’m in line for more than five minutes.  The longer I wait, the angrier I get.  Every time I fly, I have about 15 people that I’d like to kill so I can get through the line quicker.

This program will, in the end, be used to profile “certain” individuals instead of being used for its intended purpose.  It’s just a way of hiding that fact.  A few drug traffickers are likely to be caught with this system and it will be hailed as a great device that everyone needs.  In the end, we’ll lose a little bit more of our privacy, having been subjected to naked xray body scans and behavioral scanning, but we’ll still believe we’re safe because nothing has blown up.  Using general measures to detect specific actions is flawed from the start and is why we should cut our losses while we can, lest we not learn from failed systems we’ve already spent millions on.

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