Loss of Privacy

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

VeriChip, the corporation known for human-implantable RFID microchips, bought Steel Vault back in September. Steel Vault is a company that specializes in identity theft protection, credit monitoring, and credit reports. Together, they will become PositiveID.

The formation of PositiveID represents the convergence of a pioneer in personal health records, VeriChip, with a leader in the identity security space, Steel Vault, focused on access and security of a consumer’s critical data. The companies believe that joining personal health records and identity security solutions provides a solid foundation for organic growth and a strong, flexible platform for future offers.

Commenting on the transaction, Mr. Silverman stated, “We believe the acquisition of Steel Vault will provide a powerful platform to differentiate ourselves among both the consumer and medical community. PositiveID will be the first company of its kind to combine a successful identity security business with one of the world’s first personal health records through our Health Link business. PositiveID will address some of the most important issues affecting our society today with our identification tools and technologies for consumers and businesses.”

Combining medical records on the same chip as your credit score is quite scary. One would assume that there would be blocks put into place so that your financial details stay out of the hands of the medical world and vice versa, however, the link between the two is evident and PositiveID has not stated how the chips will be secured.

Your entire life should not be stored on an RFID chip. While some argue that making your health information readily accessible to medical personnel, there is no need to combine it with your financial information.

Continued Silverman, “VeriChip will be able to market its personal health record offerings to the rapidly growing customers of Steel Vault, while Steel Vault should be able to further expand its customer base by offering a unique suite of both security and healthcare offerings. As we focus on securing consumers’ financial information and addressing the critical need for secure, online personal health records, we believe we are well positioned to benefit from federal stimulus funding. We will keep patients involved in their health care as medical records migrate to the Internet.”

Personally, I do not want my health information all over the Internet. Yes, that includes the “what if it could save your life” scenarios that people keep throwing out as a positive reason to have such a system. These systems have been proven time and again that they cannot be 100% secured. If my data is at risk, then keep it on paper. I’ve traveled around the world and never had a problem. The likelihood that I would need my medical data on the Internet is slim at best.

Identity theft is the number one crime in the United States and as many as 10 million people are victims each year. Additionally, medical errors contribute to countless deaths each year due to a lack of or incorrect patient information. PositiveID will address the significant market need to monitor critical data on an ongoing basis to protect consumers and ensure data integrity and safety.

PositiveID says they will address the significant need for this monitoring, yet they don’t detail how they will do it. Stating that they will monitor it on an ongoing basis is impossible. If you force every citizen in America to have their data online, you cannot simply monitor it constantly. Breaches will occur. Jackasses will monitor the data. People with something to gain will sell the data. It’s a nightmare just waiting to happen, yet we are willing to sit back and say, “Sure, make my data less secure.”

Right now, my medical information lies in two places. One is in my old pediatrician’s office basement. I know this because I needed a copy of something and it took several weeks (I was not in a hurry) because they were in a locked room in the basement of the office. The other is in my doctor’s office. Everything is a paper copy. You physically have to search to find my information. If this information is placed online, you can find out my details and change it remotely.

What happens if I am old and forgetful and someone hacks into the system and changes my medicine or dosages? What happens if that break in is by someone who works in my doctor’s office and is authorized to change my medical data. Is the constantly monitored system going to pick this up? There are simply not enough people to watch the ever changing data in people’s files to be able to catch slip ups.

Computers can only output data that you’ve put in. It is not capable of the subtle changes a human would pick up. That is why we need to be vigilant in jumping into situations that haven’t been researched or thought out. In this case, the human is worth more than the stock’s bottom line and we should remember this before we so readily put so much of our personal, private information into the public’s hands.

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Cryptome has posted Microsoft’s forensic toolkit known as COFEE.

You can get it here.

The user guide is here.

This is meant to be used on a thumb drive and is for tinkering purposes only.

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I’ve been meaning to make a post for the last few weeks about The Daily Censored.  I’ve been writing for them for a while now and I’ll continue to do so as long as they’ll have me.  I’m trying to make a point to write at least once a week for them.

Most of the stories there will continue to focus on privacy issues, so for those of you reading here for the past three years, you can expect more of the same from my posts there.  I have started a new category, called The Daily Censored, to let all the readers of Loss of Privacy know when I’ve made a new post so you can have over there and check it out.

You can visit their entire site here and my posts here.

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Everyone hates getting speeding tickets, but they hate red light speeding tickets even more. Texas and Ohio hate them so much that they voted against them in local elections last week.

Three cities Tuesday — two in Ohio, one in Texas — voted to rip the things down. In College Station, Tex., the camera manufacturer and their subcontractors reportedly spent $60,000 campaigning to keep them in place, more than five times the amount raised by the opposition, and lost anyway. Voters in Chillicothe, Ohio, went against the cameras at a rate of 72 percent. In Heath, Ohio, the mayor got caught removing anti-camera campaign signs from an intersection. He, and the cameras, got sent packing.

Nationwide, there have been something like 11 elections on automated enforcement. Your vote total: Revolting Peasants 11, Machines 0.

Yet cities continue to install the machines, mainly because they are such great revenue generators. It takes a rejection on a ballot for city officials to get the clue that people don’t want these machines in their town.

And why do people hate them so much? You can’t argue with a machine.

Ash, the College Station activist, started his campaign because he said they were a violation of due process, that there was no appeal beyond a municipal hearing. Red-light or speed cameras or both are banned in all or part of 14 states. The Republican governor of Mississippi kicked them out of the Magnolia State earlier this year. The Democratic governor of Montana did the same in July. Sulphur, La., put the issue to a vote in April — and 86 percent of the populace voted to get rid of them.

In 2005, then-Gov. Robert Ehrlich (R) vetoed the Maryland bill that eventually authorized cameras in Montgomery County, because, he said, it was a blatant “revenue-raising measure” that designated four- and six-lane highways to be “residential neighborhoods” and allowed a jurisdiction to “charge, try and convict an individual solely through the use of a photograph.”

His veto was overridden. With a conviction rate of 99.7%, it’s no wonder municipalities want red light cameras.

There isn’t all good news for the cameras. Arizona is fighting it vigorously. People simply hate these machines and will do whatever it takes to get rid of them.

…And, not funny at all, a technician was servicing a speed camera on Loop 101 in Phoenix back in April. An irate motorist shot him to death.

Overseas, people in Finland have destroyed them with explosives. Vandals in Britain attack them at the rate of 100 a year.

While traffic accidents have decreased, the numbers have fallen across the board, not just places with traffic cameras. There is considerable conflicting data on whether or not the camera help prevent or cause accidents, but it is clear that the citizens do not want them. Given the fact that the yellow lights are purposefully shortened to generate more money, is it any wonder?

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