Posts tagged "surveillance"
What happens when a spy agency spies on the Congressional body that was created to keep spying in check in the first place? What are the implications of the CIA spying on the Senate?
That is exactly what Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., head of the Senate Intelligence Committee, asserts has happened. In a scathing address to the Senate, Feinstein, who has been a strong advocate of the intelligence community in the past, accused the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) of violating “the separation of powers principles embodied in the United States Constitution including the Speech and Debate clause”.
This accusation stems from an agreement between the committee and the agency to allow committee aides to review millions of confidential documents related to the post 9/11 Bush administration detention program for handling terror suspects. In the process of reviewing these documents, staffers came across an internal review of the agency’s practices. When the CIA became aware of this, Feinstein claims they searched the network — including the committee’s internal network — and removed the documents.
NSA Angry Birds are Stalking You
So you’ve had a rough day at the office. You plop down on your couch with a cold beverage nearby, ready to let the day go. You have twenty minutes until your chicken pot pie dings, and the thought of chicken reminds you of, well… Angry Birds. Harmless fun. NOT!
While you may be enjoying a mindless game, somewhere far off in cyber land others are just beginning to work very hard. WHO THEY ARE: advertising companies and intelligence agencies alike. WHAT THEY ARE DOING TO YOU: gathering all of the most personal data off of your mobile device: everything from your name, age, sex, location, and perhaps even your political alignment or sexual orientation—and lots more!
Does your digital footprint expose your secrets to the wrong people?
National Public Radio and the Center for Investigative Reporting recently presented a four part series about privacy (online and off) called, Your Digital Trail. To get the gist of how little privacy you have as a result of the social media, credit cards and mobile technology you use, watch this accurate and eye-opening explanation of how you are constantly being tracked.
Marketers, data aggregators, advertisers, the government and even criminals have access to a vivid picture of who you are. NPR calls it your digital trail; for years, I’ve referred to it as your digital footprint. Let’s take quick look of what makes up your digital footprint.
It seems I’ve spent a lot of time lately writing about the Surveillance Economy. This may be a strange expression to some, so I’ll define it as the use and exploitation of our location information derived from traffic surveillance cameras, new technologies like Google Glass and cell phone GPS tracking, among others. Recent topics we’ve covered include the NSA PRISM scandal, hacking Google Glass, Homeland Security’s seizures of electronic devices when crossing borders, and even drone use. Some of those may seem to be out there in a world that doesn’t affect us directly, but here’s one that hits very close to home for anyone who owns a vehicle.
The American Civil Liberties Union released a report in July of 2013 entitled You Are Being Tracked that outlines the use of automatic license plate readers. These devices, which can be mounted on police cars or on objects like road signs or overpasses, use small, high-speed cameras to photograph thousands of plates per minute. They effectively collect and store information about not only vehicles of potential or known criminals, but everybody who drives a car!
And in the latest installment of “breaking news” that shouldn’t surprise you at all…
…FBI Director Robert S. Mueller III admitted that the United States has used drones over US airspace. It was the first time an FBI official publicly admitted such a program exists, but if you want to believe pop culture (the latest Bourne installment, a recent Castle episode, the Call of Duty video game), drone use is more common than we think.
What we know:
- Drones (or unmanned, remotely piloted aircraft) have been used since the early 1900s, for various purposes, primarily military and law enforcement, though there are increasing demands for public use.
- The Drug Enforcement Agency and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives have both tested drones for use in investigations.
- The Federal Aviation Administration has to approve all drone use in US airspace.
I’m in the business of encouraging people to keep their guard up. I’m always telling people to watch for signs of something that doesn’t feel quite right, take precautionary measures, and stay informed. But even I have to question the tactics some are recommending when it comes to reacting to the NSA PRISM surveillance program leaked by Edward Snowden. In a previous post on this topic, I said it isn’t a black or white argument, but some people are asking you to make it one.
Best-selling author, technology expert and Columbia Law School professor, Tim Wu, has said that web users have a responsibility to quit Internet companies like Google, Facebook, Apple, Yahoo and Skype if it is indeed verified that they have been collaborating with the NSA. In fact, Wu bluntly proclaimed, “Quit Facebook and use another search engine. It’s simple. It’s nice to keep in touch with your friends. But I think if you find out if it’s true that these companies are involved in these surveillance programs you should just quit.” Wu acknowledged that there is still much to learn about this program and admitted it was no surprise that PRISM exists, saying, “When you have enormous concentrations of data in a few hands, spying becomes very easy.”
When you log onto the Verizon Precision Market Insights website, the giant catch phrase that jumps out at you in bold red letters is:
“Know your audience more precisely.
Drive your business more effectively.”
Verizon is pulling no punches when it comes to letting advertisers know that they have valuable data- OUR data- and they’re willing to share it. For a price of course. Phone carriers, who see a continued decline in contract subscriber growth and voice calls, are hoping to generate new sources of revenue by selling the data they collect about us. They already collect information about user location and Web surfing and application use (which informs them about such things as travels, interests and demographics) to adjust their networks to handle traffic better. Now they have begun to sell this data.
Do you value national security? Do you want to live free of fear from random terrorist acts like the Boston Marathon bombing? Do you value your privacy? Should you be allowed to act in legal ways without others (namely, the government) digitally eavesdropping on your secrets?
A former data spy is asking us to decide where we stand on the spectrum separating security and privacy. Edward Snowden, 29, a former contractor to the National Security Agency (the guys and gals in charge of wire-tapping phones and internet traffic) and an employee of the CIA, leaked classified documents to reporters about two far-reaching U.S. surveillance programs. Fearing government reprisal, Snowden is hiding in Hong Kong, a country he believes has “a spirited commitment to free speech and the right of political dissent”.
Privacy. Or lack of it, to be specific. This past week, nude photos of Duchess Catherine (formerly Kate Middleton) were published in several French tabloids. The photos were taken from hundreds of meters away using sophisticated photographic equipment to capture a moment meant to be highly private.
Also this week, Mitt Romney was secretly videotaped at a small fundraising event dismissing 47% of the electorate as victims who take advantage of government and the taxation system.
Put aside for a minute what you think of Kate or Mitt, and ask yourself what you BELIEVE about our right to privacy.
Some people say that in the digital surveillance age, you are naive to think that anything is private. Everything outside of your own walls is fair game. But Romney and the Duchess thought that they were operating inside of their own walls. Others argue that we are entering a dangerous age of constant surveillance, and that the government and corporations are gaining too much access to our images, words and thoughts.