Archive for the ‘privacy’ Category

Why GOP Congressman Killed Web Privacy: ‘Nobody’s got to use the Internet’

April 28, 2017

Why GOP Congressman Killed Web Privacy: 'Nobody's got to use the Internet'

At at recent Town Hall, 73-year-old Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner (R-WI, 5) explained why he and his fellow Republicans voted to allow your Internet Service Provider to sell your browsing history:

“Nobody’s got to use the Internet. … And the thing is that if you start regulating the Internet like a utility, if we did that right at the beginning, we would have no Internet. … Internet companies have invested an awful lot of money in having almost universal service now. The fact is is that, you know, I don’t think it’s my job to tell you that you cannot get advertising for your information being sold. My job, I think, is to tell you that you have the opportunity to do it, and then you take it upon yourself to make that choice. … That’s what the law has been, and I think we ought to have more choices rather than fewer choices with the government controlling our everyday lives.”

You may recall that the Internet (and the Web as we know it) was developed by government, with your federal tax dollars.

More:

“‘Nobody’s got to use the Internet’: A GOP lawmaker’s response to concerns about Web privacy,” Kristine Phillips, Washington Post

“Why one Republican voted to kill privacy rules: ‘Nobody has to use the Internet,’” Jon Brodkin, Ars Technica

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Congress: Kiss Internet Privacy Goodbye

March 30, 2017

Congress: Kiss Internet Privacy Goodbye

The Internet was already a surveillance state, but now Congress has removed your last vestige of Web privacy by passing a bill to allow your Internet service provider (ISP) — AT&T, Comcast, Verizon,  Spectrum (Time Warner Cable) — to gather your browsing history data and sell it. You won’t be able to opt out. Under the last administration, the FCC had ruled that ISPs are public utilities like electricity and telephone companies, and subscribers are entitled to privacy protections. After all, your phone company can’t eavesdrop on your conversations, and even the government needs a warrant to find out who you called.

But Republicans in both houses passed legislation that allows Comcast and the like to sell your browsing history, and the current president says he’ll sign it. ISPs will be able to sell data about your shopping, video streaming, medical needs, political views, and personal life.

There may be new business opportunities here. Maybe ISPs will blackmail you into preserving your privacy by paying more for a premium private service tier.

More:

“The 265 members of Congress who sold you out to ISPs, and how much it cost to buy them,” T.C. Sottek, The Verge

“House Dems launch pro-broadband privacy petition,” Ali Breland, The Hill

“Protesters raise more than $200,000 to buy Congress’s browsing histories,” Travis M. Andrews, Washington Post

“The Conservative Case Against Trashing Online Privacy Rules,” Klint Finley, Wired

“Dems urge Trump to veto bill blocking online privacy rule,” Associated Press

Update:

“Lawmakers Who Championed Repeal of Web Browsing Privacy Protections Raked in Telecom Campaign Cash,” Lee Fang, The Intercept

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Image by Mike Licht. Download a copy here. Creative Commons license; credit Mike Licht, NotionsCapital.com

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My Microwave Oven Is Spying On Me

March 15, 2017

My Microwave Oven Is Spying On Me

My microwave oven is spying on me! Kellyanne Conway told me so:

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Can Hackers Hijack Wi-Fi Barbie Doll to Spy On Your Kids?

December 4, 2015

Can Hackers Hijack Wi-Fi Barbie Doll to Spy On Your Kids?

The Mattel corporation has introduced the Hello Barbie ™ interactive doll that not only talks, it listens. And records your kid’s conversation with her. And connects to Wi-Fi so her recordings can be analyzed by the ToyTalk ™ voice-recognition software, and the information shared with parents or … who knows.  What could possibly go wrong?

Plenty, say Matt Jakubowski of LookingGlass Cyber Solutions and Andrew Browne of Lavasoft’s malware lab. Like Wi-Fi baby monitors, the dolls can be hacked by 3rd parties, and we’re not talking about Barbie’s Princess Tea Parties here, but persons of bad intent. ToyTalk says that’s not so, that Barbie’s software cannot be hacked. Frankly, we will reserve judgement until we can ask Hello Barbie ™ about this in person.

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The Surveillance Society

May 4, 2015

The Surveillance Society

We live in “the surveillance society,” observes Megan Garber:

 “… surveillance is distributed and small-sized and iterative. It is a logical extension of the hot-mic moment, of the caught-on-tape trope, of the blooper reel—and also, in its way, of the role cameras have recently played in exposing crime and police brutality.”

“… technology is making it harder to differentiate between the people we perform and the people we are.”

— “Britt McHenry and the Upsides of a Surveillance Society,” Megan Garber, The Atlantic

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Court Okays Secret Government Internet Switch

February 25, 2015

Court Okays Secret Government Internet Switch

From the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC):

“The federal court of appeals based in Washington, DC has ruled that the Department of Homeland Security may withhold from the public a secret procedure for shutting down cell phone service. EPIC pursued the DHS policy after government officials in San Francisco disabled cell phone service during a peaceful protest in 2011. EPIC sued DHS when the agency failed to release the criteria for network shutdowns. A federal judge ruled in EPIC’s favor. On appeal, the D.C. Circuit held for the DHS but said that the agency might still be required to disclose some portions of the protocol.”

— “In EPIC v. DHS, DC Circuit Backs Agency Secrecy on ‘Internet Kill Switch,'” EPIC.org

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Drone Defense

December 9, 2014

Drone Defense

On September 26th, a man in Lower Township, NJ shot down a neighbor’s drone quadcopter that was hovering over his yard and taking photos. Police decided that the small aircraft posed no immediate threat, and arrested the gunman on weapons and criminal mischief charges. Laws about personal drone incursions aren’t clear, so this case may establish precedent.

More:

— “Man Shoots Down Drone, Lawyers Scratch Their Heads,” Kelsey D. Atherton, Popular Science

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Image (“Drone Shooting, after Henry Thomas Alken”) by Mike Licht. Download a copy here. Creative Commons license; credit Mike Licht, NotionsCapital.com

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Cellphone Spies in the Sky

November 16, 2014

Cellphone Spies in the Sky

The Wall Street Journal reports that, for the last seven years, the U.S. Marshals Service has flown Cessna aircraft over America’s cities, collecting cellphone location data from thousands of people with “dirtbox” devices that mimic cellular towers. The Marshals Service, a unit of the Department of Justice, predominately searches for federal fugitives, but its Special Operations Group conducts “tactical operations for sensitive and classified missions involving homeland security, national emergencies, domestic crises and the intelligence community.” Flying spying and data harvesting on such a broad scale raises serious Fourth Amendment questions.

More:

“Report: Secret government program uses aircraft for mass cellphone surveillance,” Gail Sullivan, Washington Post

“WSJ: A Secret U.S. Spy Program Is Using Planes to Target Cell Phones,” Kate Knibbs, Gizmodo

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Image (“Flying Phone Spy, after a 1964 comic book”) by Mike Licht. Download a copy here. Creative Commons license; credit Mike Licht, NotionsCapital.com 

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The Stalker Economy

December 4, 2013

The Stalker Economy

“Surveillance is the business model of the Internet ….”

— “‘Stalker economy’ here to stay,” Bruce Schneier, CNN

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Comments are welcome if they are on-topic, substantive, concise, and not boring or obscene. Comments may be edited for clarity and length.

Stop Spying!

October 21, 2013

Stop Spying!
More than 570,000 people have signed the StopWatching.Us petition demanding that Congress probe the NSA’s Internet spying programs and reform the USA PATRIOT Act and the FISA< Amendments Act that allow it.

StopWatching.Us is broad bipartisan coalition of organizations including the ACLU, American Library Association,  the Electronic Frontier Foundation, Fight for the Future, Free Press, Freedom Works, the Libertarian Party, Montgomery County Civil Rights Coalition, MoveOn.org, Mozilla, National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, PEN American Center, RootsAction.org, Women in Media & News, World Wide Web Foundation, Writers Guild of America West, and many others. They’re all gathering in Washington DC on Saturday, October 26th to protest against mass surveillance. Participants will gather at Columbus Circle in front of Union Station at Noon and march to the Capitol Reflecting Pool. More here.

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