Loss of Privacy

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

Browsing Posts tagged surveillance

Never in human history have people been more connected than they are today — nor have they been more thoroughly monitored. Over the past year, the disclosures spurred by former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden have drawn public attention to the stunning surveillance capabilities of the American intelligence community, and the unprecedented volume of data they collect from hundreds of millions of people around the world. But the growth of government surveillance is by no means restricted to spies: Even ordinary law enforcement agencies increasingly employ sophisticated tracking technologies, from face recognition software to “Stingray” devices that can locate suspects by sniffing out their cellular phone signals. Are these tools a vital weapon against criminals and terrorists — or a threat to privacy and freedom? How should these tracking technologies be regulated by the Fourth Amendment and federal law? Can we reconcile the secrecy that spying demands with the transparency that democratic accountability requires?

This inaugural Cato Institute Surveillance Conference will explore these questions, guided by a diverse array of experts: top journalists and privacy advocates; lawyers and technologists; intelligence officials … and those who’ve been targets of surveillance. And for the more practically minded, a special Crypto Reception, following the Conference, will teach attendees how to use privacy-enhancing technologies to secure their own communications.

More videos are available at the Cato Institute. Though in separate videos, the entire conference is available to view online or download.

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Minister of law, Anders Anundsen, on the matter, December 13th:

“If this is true, such surveillance is completely unacceptable.”

Fast forward one single day to December 14th, and Anders Anundsen publishes a bill proposing that the police be able to use IMSI catchers — the exact same piece of equipment that it’s apparently unacceptable to set up close to The Storting — to surveil the mobile network without the need to go court for permission, and without any suspicion of crime.

More at Aftenposten and Reddit.

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elfonboxset

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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Several makers of police body cameras say their orders have grown in recent months, particularly since a police officer in Ferguson, Mo., shot 18-year-old Michael Brown. A grand jury decided Monday there is not enough evidence to charge the officer, Darren Wilson, with a crime.

Taser (TASR), best known for the line of stun guns bearing its name, said sales of its body cameras were up 30% in the third quarter, which included the Aug. 9 shooting of Brown.

Last week, the company said the San Francisco police department had ordered 160 cameras. The Los Angeles police department recently decided it would arm officers with Taser-brand cameras as well.

In all, over 1,200 police agencies are now using Taser cameras, said Sydney Siegmeth, and the company has sold over 100,000 of them, including cameras mounted on the stun guns themselves.

Similarly, Digital Ally (DGLY) said inquiries about its on-body cameras have increased six- or seven-fold, and sales are up three or four times the average.

More at CNN.

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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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