Loss of Privacy

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

Browsing Posts tagged spying

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Professor Laura Pinto, a digital technology professor at the University of Ontario Institute of Technology, says that there might be something more to that elf sitting on your child’s shelf each night.

In her paper, Who’s the Boss, published by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, Laura Pinto argues Santa’s spying little helper “sets up children for dangerous, uncritical acceptance of power structures.”

Based on a modern-day Christmas fairy tale, the Elf on the Shelf takes up residence in children’s homes for the month of December. Each night, it flies back to the North Pole to update Santa, a.k.a. “the boss,” on the kids’ activities, both “naughty” and “nice.”

“You’re teaching (kids) a bigger lesson, which is that it’s OK for other people to spy on you and you’re not entitled to privacy,” she told the Star. And while it might be done in the spirit of fun, she said the messaging could be problematic down the road. She likened the relationship between elf, “an external form of non-familial surveillance,” and children to state and citizen.

“If you grow up thinking it’s cool for the elves to watch me and report back to Santa, well, then it’s cool for the NSA to watch me and report back to the government.”

Pinto isn’t the only one who’s worried about the elf.

Emma Waverman, a blogger with Today’s Parent, is also unimpressed with the elf.

“It’s a little creepy, this idea that this elf is watching you all the time,” she said. But her main beef is the use of a threat — not getting presents — to produce good behaviour.

“It makes the motivation to behave something that’s external,” she said. “If I’m not around or if the elf is not around, do they act crazy?”

Psychotherapist and parenting expert Alyson Schafer took a similar position; the Elf on the Shelf is an extension of the “naughty or nice list,” she said.

“Someone’s commercializing on confused parents who will just do anything that feels good if they think they can get their kid to act better.”

While some people don’t think the elf is that big of a deal and is just a nice Christmas gift, combining the elf with other surveillance tools children also encounter, such as tracking at school, it’s another small piece that conditions children to not question authority and forces them to live with the possibility of being in trouble when not conforming to what authority figures say is correct behavior.

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An unprecedented grab of personal data: this programme reveals that a communications firm not only handed over its own information to GCHQ, but also allowed access to the internet traffic of another telecoms company.

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Criminals aren’t the only people who desire privacy. The United Nations recognizes privacy as a fundamental human right, and many countries protect their citizens’ privacy rights explicitly in their constitutions. As the ACLU says, “Privacy is a fundamental part of a dignified life.” It enables freedom of expression and individual autonomy without fear of reprisal.

The “nothing to hide” argument also goes against the principle of “innocent until proven guilty,” a principle which the justice systems of many countries in the world follow. Instead, constant government surveillance of its citizens assumes that all of them are criminals who have something to hide.

Add to all that the fact that we don’t even know for sure why they’re watching us, and what they’re doing with all our data, and we have even more reasons to be suspicious of the constant surveillance.

But there is something you can do to protect your information while browsing online, and it doesn’t require you to be an IT expert or technical genius. Using the TOR browser, you can remain anonymous online and protect your right to privacy. Here’s how to get started.

TOR for Newbies: How & Why to Use it - Via Who Is Hosting This: The Blog

Source: WhoIsHostingThis.com

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From NBC:

Snowden walked out of the NSA with tens of thousands of documents on thumb drives, documents that he says he has released to journalists. These documents disclosed the global reach of U.S. intelligence, including descriptions of government surveillance of U.S. telephone and email records, tapping of undersea fiber-optic cables carrying internet traffic, and accessing Yahoo and Google’s internal user data without either company’s knowledge.

When Williams asked, “Do you see yourself as a patriot,” Snowden answered immediately.

“I do,” he said. “I think patriot is a word that’s — that’s thrown around so much that it can devalued nowadays. But being a patriot doesn’t mean prioritizing service to government above all else. Being a patriot means knowing when to protect your country, knowing when to protect your Constitution, knowing when to protect your countrymen from the — the violations of and encroachments of adversaries. And those adversaries don’t have to be foreign countries. They can be bad policies. They can be officials who, you know, need a little bit more accountability. They can be mistakes of government and — and simple overreach and — and things that — that should never have been tried, or — or that went wrong.”

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