Loss of Privacy

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

Browsing Posts tagged photograph

In response to the Rolling Stone cover story of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, photos of his capture were released by Sgt. Sean Murphy, a tactical photographer with the Massachusetts State Police. Apparently, without reading the article, Murphy decided that Rolling Stone was, somehow, glamorizing Tsarnaev. Murphy only concentrated on the cover photo and made his decision without ever looking at the article or the details of the story. However, the photos that Murphy released reveal how the police in America have armed themselves unnecessarily into a quasi-military force.




The reality is that the police have become the real face of terror. They are given extreme leeway in performing their job. They have been armed “to the teeth” in response to 9/11, yet all their weapons and tactical outfits do is instill fear. They didn’t stop Tsarnaev. The truth is that you will never be able to stop someone determined to do harm. All the guns, vests, and other tactical gear in the world isn’t going to stop a terrorist. It is there to control the people and create an illusion of safety.

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EDIT: 16 September 2012: I woke up this morning and discovered many more photos on imgur.

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A redditor took this photo of the TSA at work at the Lynx central bus station in Orlando, Florida.

This is more security theater. A terrorist isn’t going to board at the central station. They’re going to board farther out and ride the bus into downtown. Even if they did, as soon as they see the TSA, they just turn around and leave. But, hey, if it makes us “feel” safer, they must be doing something right. Right?

We all knew this was coming. The government promised it wasn’t. We knew we were being lied to then. Why aren’t we doing more to stop this now?

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Last Friday, Washington, DC’s police chief issued new general orders to all its police officers. Entitled, Video Recording, Photographing, and Audio Recording of Metropolitan Police Department Members by the Public, it aims to make clear how police are to act when encountering individuals using such electronic equipment.

The order, which was part of the settlement of an ACLU lawsuit, includes some very interesting, groundbreaking provisions.

The order reminds police officers in Washington that:

•    Still and video photography “of places, buildings, structures and events are common and lawful activities.”

•    A bystander has the right under the First Amendment to observe and record members [of the police force] in the public discharge of their duties.”

•    A bystander has the same right to take photographs or make records as a member of the media” as long as the bystander has a right to be where he or she is.

These orders are in effect as long as the general public do not impede or interfere with normal police duties. The police can also still confiscate a cell phone if they believe there is evidence of a crime on it.

1. If a person is photographing or recording police activity from a position that impedes or interferes with the safety of members or their ability to perform their duties, a member may direct the person to move to a position that will not interfere. However, a member shall not order the person to stop photographing or recording.

2. If a person is photographing or recording police activity from a position that impedes or threatens the safety of members of the public, a member shall direct the person to move to a position that will not interfere. However, members shall not order the person to stop photographing or recording.

3. A person’s recording of members’ activity from a safe distance, and absent any attendant action that obstructs the activity or threatens the safety of the member(s), does not constitute interference.

4. A person has the right to express criticism of the police activity being observed. So long as that expression does not jeopardize the safety of any member, suspect or bystander; and so long as that expression does not violate the law or incite others to violate the law, the expression does not constitute interference.

They are not to tell you to stop recording and they cannot take your camera. If probable cause exists, the police officer is required to have his/her supervisor present and, under no circumstances is anything to be erased.

You can read more at the ACLU and Ars Technica.

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In the past week, two stories have arisen that should give any Facebook user concern over the privacy of their Facebook accounts.

Facebook has introduced its timeline feature in which old posts would be available under their new, and downgraded, privacy settings. Users need to clean up their histories themselves as Facebook has enabled this option for everyone.

If you logged onto Facebook yesterday, perhaps you caught a link at the top of the News Feed that read: “About Ads: Ever wonder how Facebook makes money? Get the details.” The answers provided some context on the news that starting in January, Facebook will start integrating a type of ad, called “sponsored stories,” that display your friends faces next to content they have “liked” in larger-sized ads your News Feed mix. “Facebook makes its money from showing you ads,” the company told consumers yesterday and with the ramp up to its spring 2012 IPO, the social network is getting serious about that endeavor.

In what seemed like an unrelated move, in September, Facebook announced a brand new type of profile called Timeline, where your whole personal history is laid out by month-by-month, all the way back to your birth. At the time, Facebook described it to consumers as a chance to: “Share and highlight your most memorable posts, photos and life events on your timeline. This is where you can tell your story from beginning, to middle, to now.” By the end of this year all 800 million plus Facebook profiles will have been converted to this new interface.

Timeline is centered around making Facebook money.

Disguising ads as your friends’ updates is being offered up as an antidote to the dismal click-through rates for traditional web advertising. Sponsored stories in your feed and sidebar ads based on your friends’ likes will become ubiquitous. Indeed in marketing materials, Facebook says these new premium ads are 90 percent accurate, compared to the industry average of 35 percent. “When people hear about you [the brand] from friends, they listen.”

sponsored stories are different from ads in that a user’s name or profile might appear alongside the ad,  ”If you’ve liked that business’s page, the story about you liking the page (including your name or profile photo) may be paired with the ad your friends see.”

Facebook is currently being sued in California over the issue of ads that people have liked. It depends on the users how much they will tolerate from Facebook’s new sponsored stories in their Timeline.

In Australia, the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) found that it is perfectly legal for anyone to take photos from facebook and use them in their news stories as the photos are not private.

“The ACMA made it clear that while it considers the use of privacy settings an important consideration when assessing material obtained from social networking sites, the actual settings are not determinative,” the regulator noted.

Instead, the regulator will determine matters taken before it on a case-by-case basis.

The ACMA’s CyberSmart web site advises that “even if your profile is private, you can’t control what your friends do with the information you post”.

“Don’t post photos or information that you wouldn’t want anyone else to see,” it states.

Here, the ACMA is advising people that you shouldn’t really trust anything on Facebook because 1) it’s not going to be private anyway and 2) if you don’t want your information shared, don’t share it. A person may assume that, since they have tagged a photo as private, if they share it with just one other person, their control of that photograph is now out of their hands. Anyone who sees the photograph can copy it and move it to a more public area on their Facebook page or send them to a third party. Although the sharing of the photograph violates copyright, the question of any damage done is still up for debate.

It is understandable that the general public’s idea of privacy and Facebook’s are diametrically opposed. The public only wants certain people to see their information. Facebook desires to monetize everything about a person, thus the less private it is the better for the company. The general consensus on Facebook, or any other social networking site, is that nothing on Facebook is private. It doesn’t matter if you’ve marked something as private. Consider that it isn’t private and the information will be leaked one way or another.

Always remember, if you are not paying for the service, you are not the customer, you are the product. On free social networking sites, such as Facebook, your information is worth money to Facebook and they will use it to make a profit.

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