Loss of Privacy

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

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RT talks to William Binney, whistleblower and former NSA crypto-mathematician who served in the agency for decades. Virtual privacy in US, Petraeus affair and whistleblowers’ odds in fight against the authorities are among key topics of this exclusive interview.


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From Viewpoint with Elliot Spitzer:

National Security Agency whistle-blowers Thomas Drake, former senior official, Kirk Wiebe, former senior analyst, and William Binney, former technical director, return to “Viewpoint” to talk about their allegations that the NSA has conducted illegal domestic surveillance. All three men are providing evidence in a lawsuit by the Electronic Frontier Foundation against the NSA.

Binney mentions an NSA facility currently under construction in Bluffdale, Utah: “That facility alone can probably hold somewhere close to a hundred years’ worth of the communications of the world.” Binney continues, “Once you accumulate that kind of data — they’re accumulating against everybody — [it's] resident in programs that can pull it together in timelines and things like that and let them see into your life.”

This is the Keynote speech given by William Binney at HOPE 9 (Hackers On Planet Earth) on NSA spying.


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From Technically Personal:

The algorithms that the NSA has created, according to whistle blower William Binney, are actually a part of the Big Data Research and Development Initiative, which has the official purpose to improve the tools and techniques needed to access, organize, and glean discoveries from huge volumes of digital data. William goes on by saying that the algorithms will go through the data base looking at everybody.

On this complicated, opaque subject, Sanchez is among the most informed observers in America. His best guess at what’s really going on: The NSA is collecting and saving vast amounts of private date, like phone calls, emails, and text messages; and rather than asking whether the Fourth Amendment permits them to put all of this information on a hard drive, they’re postponing questions about whether a search is constitutional or not until they want to query the database.

Essentially, the NSA is simply saving a copy of vast amounts of private data and they are going to keep the information in a database until they need it. They also claim that they aren’t breaking the law by copying this information and keeping it in a database without a warrant because they don’t need a warrant until they need to query the database.

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What kind of data is your cell phone company collecting? Malte Spitz wasn’t too worried when he asked his operator in Germany to share information stored about him. Multiple unanswered requests and a lawsuit later, Spitz received 35,830 lines of code — a detailed, nearly minute-by-minute account of half a year of his life.

Malte Spitz asked his cell phone carrier what it knew about him–and mapped what he found out.

More at Reddit.

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British Airways is suffering a backlash from privacy advocates after they announced their plans to create dossiers on their passengers by using Google to search for photos and other information about its passengers.

The airline said it wanted to be able to deliver a more personal touch by researching passengers. The “Know Me” programme will use Google images to find pictures of passengers so that staff can approach them as they arrive at the terminal or plane.

BA staff will also search individual data held by the airline, including if a regular traveller has experienced problems on previous flights, such as delays, so that crew are primed to apologise.

Jo Boswell, head of customer analysis at BA, said: “We’re essentially trying to recreate the feeling of recognition you get in a favourite restaurant when you’re welcomed there, but in our case it will be delivered by thousands of staff to millions of customers. This is just the start — the system has a myriad of possibilities for the future.”

No, just no. A restaurant that a person frequents is a small business. If a person wants to visit Chilis for dinner every Friday and have ribs, that’s fine. People in the community will recognize them. If they go to Chilis in another state, no one there is going to recognize them. That’s the way it should be.

It’s highly creepy for strangers that you are likely to never see again to know personal details about you, including what you look like because an airline did some data mining on you. It’s creepy and borderline stalkerish.

“The most recent advancement of the system enables the British Airways team to search Google images for a photo of specific customers so they can recognise them and proactively approach them. The airline is aiming to send 4,500 personal recognition messages a day by the end of the year.”

Why would anyone think this is a good thing? Who determined that it’s okay for an airline to start playing detective and putting information in a dossier about us? How do we even know that this information is correct? If it’s not, how do we change it?

British Airways has however, been added to my list of airlines I will never fly on so long as this policy is in place.

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