Tag Archives: Information Technology

IP address does not constitute a person, judge rules in copyright suit

IP address does not constitute a person judge rules in copyright suit IP address does not constitute a person, judge rules in copyright suit

A Florida judge has ruled that a copyright holder may not sue a person because their computer was used to illegally download content. It’s the latest in a series of decisions making it more difficult for so-called copyright trolls to sue alleged pirates.
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When a copyright holder – whether it be Warner Bros., Interscope records, or another media company – tries to file suit against internet users who downloaded their content without paying, they generally identify that user with their computer’s IP address. That method of using an IP as the computer’s fingerprint has been a reliable legal method since piracy became commonplace over 10 years ago.

Yet judges have become more familiar with the intricacies of piracy as time has gone on, with a number of recent rulings deciding that an IP address alone is not enough to determine whether someone downloaded something illegally. Florida District Court Judge Ursula Ungaro has become the latest to fall on that side of the issue.

Malibu Media, a pornography distributor that filed more than 1,000 suits in 2013 alone, asked Ungaro to issue a subpoena against a suspected pirate known only by their IP address. The user, “174.61.81.171,” was accused of sharing Malibu Media content without the company’s permission. However, Ungaro pressed the company to explain how they gained the evidence against 174.61.81.171.

According to TorrentFreak, Malibu Media explained that its software was able to ascertain that the downloader was in a residential address and not a WiFi hotspot, meaning they had to be guilty of downloading the movie. Not so, according to Ungaro, who wrote that even if Malibu Media can prove that a specific internet connection was used, that does not prove who was sitting at the keyboard.

Plaintiff has shown that the geolocation software can provide a location for an infringing IP address; however, Plaintiff has not shown how this geolocation software can establish the identity of the Defendant,” she wrote. “There is nothing that links the IP address location to the identity of the person actually downloading and viewing Plaintiff’s videos, and establishing whether that person lives in this district.”

Thus Judge Urgano dismissed the case, marking what could be an important landmark for wrongly accused pirates who could find themselves on the hook for fines in the tens of thousands of dollars.

Even if this IP address is located within a residence, the geolocation software cannot identify who has access to that residence’s computer and who would actually be using it to infringe Plaintiff’s copyright,” she wrote, as quoted by TorrentFreak.

The ruling does not apply to all future cases, although it is the latest in a trend that no longer favors copyright holders. Late last year, Judge Stephanie Rose ruled that a copyright holder may not sue hundreds of suspected pirates in Iowa based only on their IP addresses. Plaintiffs have created such scenarios by asserting that if one person downloads a torrent link, they do so by linking to other users, thereby creating a conspiracy.

Although each plaintiff has alleged that the defendants in each case were in the same swarm based on the same hash value, participation in a specific swarm is too imprecise a factor absent additional information relating to the alleged copyright infringement to support joinder,” the judge wrote, adding that the idea of conspiracy is “implausible at best.”

While more judges seem to be becoming more sympathetic, scores of people will still be forced to reckon with companies like Malibu Media. The company, according to the Electronic Frontier Foundation, intimidates people into paying thousands of dollars, even if they’re innocent of copying or uploading movies illegally.

Among the titles on that list are many adult films with very embarrassing titles. The lawyers then send a copy of the court filing to the subscriber along with a demand for money,” the digital rights group explained. “The threat is obvious – either pay up, point a finger at a friend of family member, or be named in a public lawsuit as a habitual user of hardcore porn.”

Source: RT

Largest single personal data hack ever? 360mn stolen account credentials found online

Largest single personal data hack ever 360mn stolen account credentials found online Largest single personal data hack ever? 360mn stolen account credentials found online

A cyber security firm has reported a “mind boggling” cache of stolen credentials which has been put up for sale on online black markets. A total of 360 million accounts were affected in a series of hacks, one of which seems to be the biggest in history.
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Alex Holden, chief information security officer of Hold Security LLC, said that the firm had uncovered the data over the past three weeks.

He said that 360 million personal account records were obtained in separate attacks, but one single attack seems to have obtained some 105 million records which could make it the biggest single data breach to date, Reuters reports. “The sheer volume is overwhelming,” said Holden in a statement on Tuesday.

“These mind boggling figures are not meant to scare you and they are a product of multiple breaches which we are independently investigating. This is a call to action,” he added.

Hold Security said that as well as 360 million credentials, hackers were also selling 1.25 billion email addresses, which may be of interest to spammers.

The huge treasure trove of personal details includes user names, which are most often email addresses, and passwords, which in most cases are unencrypted.

Hold Security uncovered a similar breach in October last year, but the tens of millions of records had encrypted passwords, which made them much more difficult for hackers to use.

“In October 2013, Hold Security identified the biggest ever public disclosure of 153 million stolen credentials from Adobe Systems Inc. One month later we identified another large breach of 42 million credentials from Cupid Media,”
 Hold Security said in statement.

Largest single personal data hack ever 360mn stolen account credentials found online 2 Largest single personal data hack ever? 360mn stolen account credentials found online

 

Holden said he believes that in many cases the latest theft has yet to be publically reported and that the companies that have been attacked are unaware of it. He added that he will notify the companies concerned as soon as his staff has identified them.

“We have staff working around the clock to identify the victims,”
 he said.

However, he did say that the email addresses in question are from major providers such as AOL Inc, Google Inc, Yahoo Inc, and Microsoft Corp, as well as “almost all” Fortune 500 companies and nonprofit organizations.

Heather Bearfield, who runs cybersecurity for an accounting firm Marcum LLP, told Reuters that while she had no information about Hold Security’s findings, she believed that it was quite plausible as hackers can do more with stolen credentials than they can with stolen credit cards, as people often use the same login and password for many different accounts.

“They can get access to your actual bank account. That is huge. That is not necessarily recoverable funds,”she said.

The latest revelation by Hold Security comes just months after the US retailer Target announced that 110 million of their customers had their data stolen by hackers. Target and the credit and debit card companies concerned said that consumers do not bear much risk as funds are rapidly refunded in fraud losses.

Source: RT

Limit surveillance to ‘terrorist communication,’ says outgoing NSA boss

Limit surveillance to ‘terrorist communication’ says outgoing NSA boss Limit surveillance to ‘terrorist communication,’ says outgoing NSA boss

General Keith Alexander, the soon-to-be departed chief of the NSA, admitted Thursday in front of a congressional committee that the massive intelligence agency may be open to extracting less, or more targeted metadata from communication companies.
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Classified documents leaked last summer by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden revealed that the intelligence agency currently compels at least three major telephone providers – Verizon, Sprint, and AT&T – to turn over call information on millions of Americans. Among that information, known as metadata, is the duration of the call, the time the call was made, who the phone call was to, and where it originated.

Snowden disclosed a trove of secret information about US intelligence activity to the press, but the collection of phone metadata has been perhaps the most controversial, in part because of its sheer breadth.

Senator Carl Levin (D-MI) was among those hoping to find more when, at a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing, he asked Alexander how the metadata is collected and stored.

Chairman, I think there are three options that you put on the table,” Alexander replied. “You mentioned the government holding it, the ISPs holding it. I think there is yet another option where we look at what data you actually need and only get that data.

Can we come up with a capability that just gets those that are predicated on a terrorist communication? I think you have those three options that I’ve put on the table,” he continued. “Those are three of the ones that I think need to be clearly discussed and the merits from both sides, they have pros and cons on the agility that you would have with the program.”

Alexander was referring to possible reforms to the NSA set forth by US intelligence and law enforcement leaders earlier this week. US President Obama, who has said he is open to reforming the surveillance programs after public scrutiny, tasked the attorney general and other administration officials to propose theories on how the phone metadata collection program could remain in use.

The most radical proposal, according to anonymous sources who spoke to the Wall Street Journal, would be to entirely abandon the collection of telephony metadata. Officials are also considering turning that vast datalog over to a government agency other than the NSA – either the FBI or Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, perhaps.

Alexander’s testimony seemed to indicate that the scenario the administration is taking most seriously is leaving the trove metadata with the phone company, with the NSA only forcing the company to handover information about numbers thought to be involved in a web of terrorism.

It’s impossible to guess exactly what Alexander’s intentions are, though, because of the general’s reputation as a surveillance hawk. One unnamed intelligence source told the Washington Post in 2013 that Alexander organized the mass collection of Iraqi telecommunication information as a measure against terror attacks on US troops there. That official implied that Alexander had brought the same approach stateside.

Rather than look for a single needle in the haystack, [Alexander’s] approach was, ‘Let’s collect the whole haystack,’” he said. “Collect it all, tag it, store it…And whatever it is you want, you go searching for it.”

Alexander, the public face of the NSA, has kept that stance even in the face of public pressure and questions from lawmakers. He said in October that the NSA could scale back the eavesdropping on foreign leaders, but that the indiscriminate interception should continue, even if the data is turned over to a third party.

I would love to give this hornet’s nest to someone else, to say: ‘You get stung by this.’ But don’t drop it, because that’s our country, and if you drop it, the chance of that a terrorist attack gets through increases,” he said.

Previous reports indicated that the outgoing Alexander would relinquish his position as director by March or April 2014. Administration sources insisted that plans for his departure had been in the works before the Snowden leak, but the agency has been dogged by question and criticism for more than six months.

The true tragedy in all this is the way the press has articulated [the NSA] as the villains when what they are doing is protecting the country and [doing] what we have asked them to do,” Alexander said.

Source: RT

Apple security flaw could be a backdoor for the NSA

Apple security flaw could be a backdoor for the NSA Apple security flaw could be a backdoor for the NSA

Was the National Security Agency exploiting two just-discovered security flaws to hack into the iPhones and Apple computers of certain targets? Some skeptics are saying there is cause to be concerned about recent coincidences regarding the NSA and Apple.
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Within hours of one another over the weekend, Apple acknowledged that it had discovered critical vulnerabilities in both its iOS and OSX operating systems that, if exploited correctly, would put thought-to-be-secure communications into the hands of skilled hackers.

“An attacker with a privileged network position may capture or modify data in sessions protected by SSL/TLS,” the company announced.

Apple has since taken steps to supposedly patch up the flaw that affected mobile devices running its iOS operating system, such as iPhones, but has yet to unveil any fix for the OSX used by desktop and laptop computers. As experts investigated the issue through the weekend, though, many couldn’t help but consider the likelihood — no matter how modicum — that the United States’ secretive spy agency exploited those security flaws to conduct surveillance on targets.

On Saturday, Apple enthusiast and blogger John Gruber noted on his personal website that information contained within internal NSA documents leaked by former intelligence contractor Edward Snowden last year coincide closely with the release of the affected mobile operating system, iOS 6.

According to a NSA slideshow leaked by Mr. Snowden last June, the US government has since 2007 relied on a program named PRISM that enables the agency to collect data “directly from the servers” of Microsoft, Yahoo, Google, Facebook and others. The most recent addition to that list, however, was Apple, which the NSA said it was only able to exploit using PRISM since October 2012.

The affected operating system — iOS 6.0 — was released days earlier on September 24, 2012.

These facts, Gruber blogged, “prove nothing” and are “purely circumstantial.” Nevertheless, he wrote, “the shoe fits.”

With the iOS vulnerability being blamed on a single line of erroneous code, Gruber considered a number of possibilities to explain how that happened.

Conspiratorially, one could suppose the NSA planted the bug, through an employee mole, perhaps. Innocuously, the Occam’s Razor explanation would be that this was an inadvertent error on the part of an Apple engineer,” he wrote.

Once the bug was in place, the NSA wouldn’t even have needed to find it by manually reading the source code. All they would need are automated tests using spoofed certificates that they run against each new release of every OS. Apple releases iOS, the NSA’s automated spoofed certificate testing finds the vulnerability, and boom, Apple gets ‘added’ to PRISM.

Gruber said he sees five possible scenarios, or “levels of paranoia,” as he put it:

Nothing. The NSA was not aware of this vulnerability.
The NSA knew about it, but never exploited it.
The NSA knew about it, and exploited it.
NSA itself planted it surreptitiously.
Apple, complicit with the NSA, added it.

Of course, Guber added, there is always the possibility that “this is all a coincidence.” He certainly wasn’t the only one to consider it, though.

Again, all of this is circumstantial and speculative, and Apple has come out numerous times vehemently denying its involvement in any NSA program,” iDownloadblog’s Cody Lee wrote on Monday. “But the timing is rather odd, and it makes you wonder how such a serious bug went undiscovered for over a year.”

Indeed, Apple has since the start of the Snowden leaks adamantly fended off allegations concerning a possible collusion with the NSA. On December 31, 2013, the company even issued a statement insisting “Apple has never worked with the NSA to create a backdoor in any of our products, including iPhone.”

We will continue to use our resources to stay ahead of malicious hackers and defend our customers from security attacks, regardless of who’s behind them,” Apple said then — nearly two months after acknowledging the major security vulnerability discovered last week.

At the time, though, Apple was responding to another serious allegation that, if correct, gives much more credence to the latest accusations. The Dec. 31 statement was sent hours after security researcher Jacob Appelbaum presented previously unpublished NSA slides at a hacking conference in Germany, including some where the spy agency boasted about being able to infiltrate any iPhone owned by a targeted person.

The NSA, Appelbaum said, “literally claim that any time they target an iOS device, that it will succeed for implantation.”

“Either they have a huge collection of exploits that work against Apple products — meaning they are hoarding information about critical systems American companies product and sabotaging them — or Apple sabotages it themselves.”

Last year, RT reported that the NSA entered into a contract in 2012 with VUPEN, a French security company that sells so-called 0-day exploits to governments and agencies so that vulnerabilities and flaws can be abused before the affected product’s owner is even made aware. It’s likely just another major coincidence that fits the time frame eerily well, but that contract was signed only days before iOS 6 was released — and, coincidentally, days before the NSA boasted about being able to access Apple communications through its PRISM program.

Source: RT

Bush cyberczar: NSA created ‘the potential for a police state’

richard clarke Bush cyberczar: NSA created ‘the potential for a police state’

The former cyber advisor under President George W. Bush had some harsh words for the United States National Security Agency during an address in California on Monday: “get out of the business of fucking with encryption standards.”
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That was the recommendation that famed cyberczar Richard Clarke made while speaking earlier this week at the at the Cloud Security Alliance summit in San Francisco.

Clarke, 63, served as a counterterrorism advisor for President Bill Clinton in the 1990s and later assisted his successor, Mr. Bush, as the special advisor on cybersecurity for that administration through 2003. Most recently, though, Clarke was assigned to a five-person panel assembled by Pres. Obama late last year that was tasked with assessing the NSA’s operations in the midst of ongoing and ever-damaging leaks disclosed by former intelligence contractor Edward Snowden. In December, that group suggested 46 changes for the Obama administration to consider in order rein in the secretive spy agency.

Speaking during Monday’s conference, however, Clarke opened up about some of the more personal suggestions he has for the NSA, and even some insight about what the future may have in store for the agency if they continue to collect intelligence from seemingly all corners of the Earth.

“In terms of collecting intelligence, they are very good. Far better than you could imagine,” Clarke said.“But they have created, with the growth of technologies, the potential for a police state.”

“If you’re not specific, an agency that bugs phones is going to bug phones,” he added, according to the Tech Target blog, Search Security“The NSA is an organization that’s like a hammer, and everything looks like a nail.”

Even if the NSA scales back such hacking operations in the future as Pres. Obama suggested and limits who the US targets and how, Clarke said during Monday’s address that another type of interference favored by the agency — influencing and intentionally degrading encryption standards — need to be scraped.

Since June, those Snowden leaks have exposed an array of previously covert NSA operations, including programs that put the emails of foreign leaders and phone data pertaining to millions of Americans into the hands of the US government. According to Clarke, though, the NSA’s handling of encryption standards — as exposed by Snowden — has serious repercussions.

In September, leaked documents courtesy of Mr. Snowden showed the NSA has invested millions of dollars to be able to decrypt “large amounts” of supposedly secure data, an operation that spies at Britain’s GCHQ called “an aggressive, multipronged effort to break widely used Internet encryption technologies.” Then in December, further Snowden documents showed that RSA, a private company considered a staple of the computer security industry, had secretly entered into a $10 million contract with the NSA to create a government-friendly “backdoor” in its products.

Because of the NSA’s efforts, Clarke said during Monday’s event, “the trust in encryption has been greatly eroded.”

“The encryption standards need to be trusted,” he said, according to Infosecurity Magazine“The US government has to get out of the business of fucking around with encryption standards.”

“We need to rebuild the trust in encryption; we need to have the US government forced some way into ensuring this happens,” he said.

When Clarke and four other Obama-appointed experts weighed in on the NSA’s programs for the report released in December, the group said they were “unaware of any vulnerability created by the US government in generally available commercial software that puts users at risk of criminal hackers or foreign governments decrypting their data. Moreover, it appears that in the vast majority of generally used, commercially available encryption software, there is no vulnerability, or ‘backdoor,’ that makes it possible for the US government or anyone else to achieve unauthorized access.”

As part of the group’s recommendations, they advised that the NSA “not engineer vulnerabilities into the encryption algorithms that guard global commerce” and “not demand changes in any product by any vendor for the purpose of undermining the security or integrity of the product, or to ease NSA’s clandestine collection of information by users of the product.”

Source: RT

Hundreds of tiny satellites could soon deliver free internet worldwide

Hundreds of tiny satellites could soon deliver free internet worldwide Hundreds of tiny satellites could soon deliver free internet worldwide
Developers say they are less than a year away from deploying prototype satellites that could someday soon broadcast free and universal internet all over the globe from high in orbit.
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The “Outernet” project being bankrolled by the Media Development Investment Fund (MDIF) of New York is currently in the midst of conducting technical assessment of the project, but say by June they hope to develop test satellite in order to see how long-range WiFi would work if beamed down by a tiny 10x10x10-centimeter payload called a CubeSat.

If all goes as planned, a test CubeSat will be sent into orbit next January, and within a few years there could be hundreds of similar devices circling the Earth and sending back down internet signals. Once that is accomplished, countries that largely censor the web — like China and North Korea — would be hard-pressed to restrict internet access without also going into orbit.

“We exist to support the flow of independent news, information, and debate that people need to build free, thriving societies,” MDIF President Peter Whitehead told the National Journal recently. “It enables fuller participation in public life, holds the powerful to account and protects the rights of the individual.”

To accomplish as much, though, MDIF is facing a rather uphill battle, at least with regards to funding. Funny enough, sending hundreds of tiny WiFi ready satellites into orbit isn’t as inexpensive as one might imagine.

Syed Karim, MDIF’s director of innovation, told the National Journal’s Alex Brown that it would take only three years and $12 billion to get the project up and running.

But “We don’t have $12 billion,” Karim said, “so we’ll do as much as we can with CubeSats and broadcast data.”

Broadcasting data,” Outernet says on their website, “allows citizens to reduce their reliance on costly internet data plans in places where monthly fees are too expensive for average citizens. And offering continuously updated web content from space bypasses censorship of the Internet.”

Around 40 percent of the planet currently doesn’t have access to any sort of internet service, the company claims, but basic CubeSats could send one-way signals down to earth to deliver news or content through a “global notification system during emergencies and natural disasters,” their website says.

Access to knowledge and information is a human right and Outernet will guarantee this right by taking a practical approach to information delivery. By transmitting digital content to mobile devices, simple antennae and existing satellite dishes, a basic level of news, information, education and entertainment will be available to all of humanity.” If they can succeed with that, then Outernet hopes to start figuring a way to let customers send data back to the CubeSats, ideally creating free, “two-way internet access for everyone” in a few years’ time.

During a recent question-and-answer session on the website Reddit, Karim explained that the Outernet project is already being more affordable because some of the most expensive aspects of the endeavor, at least with regards to research, have already been considered by other entrepreneurial space experts.

There isn’t a lot of raw research that is being done here; much of what is being described has already been proven by other small satellite programs and experiments,” Karim said.

There’s really nothing that is technically impossible to this,” he added. “But at the prospect of telecoms operators trying to shut the project down before it gets off the ground,” Karim said, “We will fight… and win.”

Meanwhile, his group is gunning to figure out how to make that dream a reality without going over budget. Getting one of those tiny CubeSats into orbit could cost upwards of $100,000, Brown reported, and slightly larger satellites being considered by Outernet could run three times that.

We want to stay as small as possible, because size and weight are directly related to dollars,” Karim said. “Much of the size is dictated by power requirements and the solar panels needed satisfy those requirements.”

Source: RT

Seattle considering $1.6 million facial recognition surveillance system

Seattle considering 1.6 million facial recognition surveillance system Seattle considering $1.6 million facial recognition surveillance system

Privacy advocates in the Pacific Northwest are squaring off with local police over plans to install a system that would link surveillance camera video with databases containing photographs of hundreds of thousands of area residents.
Continue reading «Seattle considering http://esearchspot.com/WP/seattle-considering-1-6-million-facial-recognition-surveillance-system/.6 million facial recognition surveillance system»

In Seattle, Washington, the City Council will soon decide on whether or not they should approve an ordinance that green-lights a $1.6 million federal grant, a large chunk of which will be used to purchase sophisticated facial recognition software that supporters of the measure say would help stop crime.

Those Department of Homeland Security dollars would let the Seattle police pay for software that digitally scans surveillance camera footage and then tries to match images of the individuals caught on tape with any one of the 350,000-or-so people who have been photographed previously by King County, Washington law enforcement.

“An officer has to reasonably believe that a person has been involved in a crime or committed a crime”before they begin to use the program, Assistant Seattle Police Chief Carmen Best told KIRO-TV this week

Once the facial recognition software is initiated, though, it scours a collection containing close to a half-a-million area residents — including many who may never have been convicted of a crime.

That database, members of the local Seattle Privacy anti-surveillance collective say, is composed of more than just the mug shots of convicted criminals. Images of anyone ever arrested and booked are included in that system, regardless of whether or not they were ever ultimately convicted of a crime. And according to a recent post on the Seattle Privacy website attributed to founding member Jan Bultmann, there has already been mention of perhaps someday including the driver’s license photos of the millions of adults across Washington state into that same system.

As currently proposed, though, “It would be a great way to expedite some searching we’re already doing,”Assistant Chief Best said of the plans during a City Council committee meeting earlier this month, the Seattle CrossCut reported“This only allows us to do it much more quickly and much more efficiently, with a little bit more efficacy.”

On Wednesday this week, the City Council’s Public Safety, Civil Rights and Technology Committee met to discuss whether or not it should approve that DHS Urban Area Security Initiative (UASI) grant in the amount of $1,645,955, and in turn purchase that “booking photo comparison software” and also amend the Seattle Police Department manual to include a section on properly using the product. The full council is now expected to vote on the measure early next month, but in the meantime privacy advocates are asking the city to consider the possible implications of moving forward.

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Of particular concern, Seattle Privacy says, is the city’s rather sordid past with regards to not just surveillance, but police misconduct. The Seattle PD has previously used DHS money to fund spy projects later canned over public outcry, and a federal investigation concluded by the United States Department of Justice in 2012 found that local officers acted in an “unconstitutional and excessive manner” during nearly 20 percent of all instances involving the use of force.

“Anytime you’ve got the officers, you know, routinely — 20 percent of the time — violating our constitutional rights, that’s a huge problem,” Chris Stearns, a lawyer on the city’s Human Rights Commission, told NPR after the DOJ report was released.

But nearly two years later, the city is again being blasted by civil rights advocates for allegedly being in violation of another constitutional guarantee — the Fourth Amendment’s right to be free from unlawful searches. Although the Seattle PD has promised it won’t use its booking photo comparison software to track suspects on-the-fly if the project has moved forward, opponents fear residents will be worried over the possibility of 24/7 monitoring to enough of a degree that will impact how people associate and assemble in public.

The Booking Photo Comparison Software, Seattle resident Phil Mocek argued at Wednesday’s meeting,“may be used to target activists and do real-time ID of people on the street,” according to a tweet by Seattle Privacy founding member Lee Colleton. And while the Seattle PD’s draft manual for using that system currently includes provisions preventing a link-up with live camera feeds, it does not include any measures saying how long police might wait to watch a recording, be it five seconds, five minutes or five hours.

Once that data is recorded, Public Safety Committee Chair Bruce Harrell told KIRO-TV this week, Seattle law enforcement may elect to share it elsewhere.

“There may be times when the federal government may want to look at that database that may be very appropriate if we have an international terrorist here that might have committed a misdemeanor,” he said.

With the Seattle PD draft rules currently mandating a 42 month retention period, any activity captured if and when the system is approved — even a misdemeanor — can be used by city and federal authorities alike to look for persons of interest three-and-a-half-years down the road.

Despite the possible Orwellian outcome, though, opponents of the measure fear city officials aren’t adequately considering the potential consequences. One witness to Wednesday’s meeting remarked that none of the four testifying experts were privacy advocates, but rather came from either the Seattle PD or DHS, with the exception of a lone Seattle Human Rights Commission representative.

“We need to get some independent technical expertise outside of SPD chain of command to audit this equipment,” Seattle Privacy’s Bultmann opined. Her group has since stated on their website that they will be marking up the draft document themselves “to give councilmembers an example of what a through independent technical review with an eye toward privacy and security would look like, and how useful it would be.”

Should Bultmann succeed, then the surveillance program may in fact meet its maker before ever getting off the ground. Strangely enough, it wouldn’t be the first spy program to be stopped in its tracks lately in Seattle. In November the city was forced to deactivate a wireless mesh network system installed in secret across Seattle after privacy advocates exposed how it could be used to track the locations of anyone with a mobile phone in real-time. And among similar outcry, the Seattle PD last February said they wouldn’t proceed with plans to start using surveillance drones across the city.

“DHS has spent billions in black surveillance budgets that brought us drones and cameras we’re not even using,” Bultmann said during Wednesday’s meeting.

“Drones give law enforcement agencies unprecedented abilities to engage in surveillance and intrude on people’s privacy,” Doug Honig, a spokesman for the American Civil Liberties Union of Washington, said in an email to Reuters when the police pulled the plug on the plan earlier in February.

According to the ACLU, however, the facial recognition system being requested by the Seattle PD doesn’t raise any red flags as of right now. ACLU of Washington privacy counsel Doug Klunder told CrossCut recently that the police actually approached his civil rights group while drafting procedures for the surveillance system, and he thinks “This policy does a good job of limiting [the software] to proper uses.”

Two states away, however, the ACLU of California is asking city officials in Oakland, CA to reconsider an eerily similar surveillance system being planned there with federal funds. The City Council there voted on Tuesday to postpone a vote pertaining to the future of that major surveillance hub under construction — the Domain Awareness Center, or DAC — after 79 speakers signed up to rally against the project during the hearing.

Tuesday’s meeting in Oakland ended after more than four hours with the council agreeing to wait another two weeks before deciding if they should proceed with plans to use $1.6 million they’ve been offered by the DHS to proceed with the next stage, phase 2. The city installed 137 security cameras on the Port of Oakland, 50 traffic cameras across town and a system of gunshot-detecting microphones as part of the recently completed phase 1.

Source: RT

Homeland Security seeking to develop massive license plate database

homeland security to activate national license plate recognition database Homeland Security seeking to develop massive license plate database

The US Department of Homeland Security is hoping to find a private company that is technologically capable of providing a system that will track license plates across the nation, according to a new report.
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A government proposal noticed by various media outlets including The Washington Post on Tuesday shows that DHS is trying to gain the ability to sift through large amounts of data collected from roadside surveillance cameras and law enforcement license plate readers.

The justification given on the document in question is that the database will be able to identify and track immigrants who entered the United States illegally and are on the run from authorities. The method could easily create such a vast network of information, though, that American citizens suspected of no wrongdoing could easily be snagged in the dragnet and unknowingly have their information shared between police agencies.

Homeland Security seeking to develop massive license plate database Homeland Security seeking to develop massive license plate database

A spokeswoman for the Immigrations and Customs Enforcement agency (ICE), which falls under DHS authority, said the information would only be used in a way that it would not put civil liberties at risk.

It is important to note that this database would be run by a commercial enterprise and the data would be collected and stored by the commercial enterprise, not the government,” Gillian Christensen told the Post, adding that the huge sum of data “could only be accessed in conjunction with ongoing criminal investigations or to locate wanted individuals.”

ICE first issued a solicitation last week asking for bids from contractors willing to build the database. Hypothetically, police officers would use a police camera or even their own smartphone to snap a photo of an individual’s license plate and compare those numbers with a so-called “hot list” of plates already stored in the national register. Police would be permitted to access the network 24-hours a day, seven days a week.

Perhaps not surprisingly, as reverberations from the National Security Agency surveillance leak continue to be felt around the world, civil liberties advocates are not sold on the new idea.

Ultimately, you’re creating a national database of location information,” Jennifer Lynch, a staff attorney with the Electronic Frontier Foundation, told the Post on Tuesday. “When all that data is compiled and aggregated you can track somebody as they go through their life.”

Prospective luddites considering relocation to the wilderness should consider, though, that police already use a system similar to the one proposed. Local authorities have teamed up with commercial services to gather license plate data for a number of reasons, with traffic safety perhaps the most common. Police looking into suspected criminal meetings, for instance, have compared the information obtained by their own eyes to much smaller lists.

The technology in use today basically replaces an old analog function – your eyeballs,” said Chris Metaxas, the chief executive of DRN, one of the largest databases of license plate information in the country. “It’s the same thing as a guy holding his head out the window, looking down the block and writing license plate numbers down and comparing them against a list. The technology just makes things better and more productive.”

Source: RT

‘Reckless & unlawful’: Assange calls for probe into NSA ‘manhunt’ on WikiLeaks

Assange NSA manhunt wikileaks ‘Reckless & unlawful’: Assange calls for probe into NSA ‘manhunt’ on WikiLeaks

Julian Assange has called on the White House to appoint a special prosecutor to investigate NSA spying on WikiLeaks. Secret documents have revealed how the NSA spied on WikiLeaks and its followers, seeking to classify it as “a malicious foreign actor.”
Continue reading «‘Reckless & unlawful’: Assange calls for probe into NSA ‘manhunt’ on WikiLeaks»

In its latest release of US government documents, WikiLeaks has accused the National Security Agency of tracking its members and followers. WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has called the NSA’s espionage program “reckless and illegal” and has demanded Washington open an investigation into the claims.

“News that the NSA planned these operations at the level of its Office of the General Counsel is especially troubling,” Assange said in a statement on WikiLeaks’ website. “Today, we call on the White House to appoint a special prosecutor to investigate the extent of the NSA’s criminal activity against the media, including WikiLeaks, its staff, its associates and its supporters.” 

The NSA went to great lengths in an attempt to justify its surveillance. According to 2011 documents leaked by Edward Snowden to The Intercept, the agency was considering classifying WikiLeaks as a“malicious foreign actor” which would have given the NSA more extensive surveillance powers. Moreover, Julian Assange was put on a so-called “manhunting” target list along with suspected Al-Qaeda terrorists.

The government entry into the “Manhunting Timeline” in 2010 describes the program as part of “an international effort to focus the legal element of national power upon non-state actor Assange, and the human network that supports WikiLeaks.”

The documents also note that the NSA considered classifying the torrent website Pirate Bay as a“malicious foreign actor.” The documents are inconclusive as to whether the site was finally classified as such, but classification would have meant the NSA gathered information on anyone – including American citizens – communicating with the organization for any reason.

The NSA was not alone in its sweeping espionage on the whistleblowing organization. It also enlisted its allies in the Five Eyes spying network (UK, New Zealand, Australia and Canada) as well as other nations. In documents dating back from August 2010, the US urged 10 other countries with forces in Afghanistan to consider pressing criminal charges against Julian Assange - “founder of the rogue WikiLeaks internet website and responsible for the unauthorized publication of over 70,000 classified documents covering the war in Afghanistan.”

 

 

The documents show the UK’s spy agency, the GCHQ played a significant role in monitoring the visitors to the WikiLeaks site. A leaked PowerPoint presentation details a program – created by Britain’s GCHQ and distributed amongst the Five Eyes in 2012 – that was especially designed to keep an eye on the site’s visitors. 

As part of the program – dubbed “Anti-crisis girl” in the documents – the GCHQ hauled in massive amounts of data from phone networks, internet cables and satellites.‘No respect for the rule of law’
The new revelations prompted immediate reaction from Julian Assange who decried both the NSA and the GCHQ for acting with total impunity. 

“The NSA and its UK accomplices show no respect for the rule of law,”
 he said in a statement on WikiLeaks’ site. “But there is a cost to conducting illicit actions against a media organization.”

WikiLeaks’ lawyer Judge Baltasar Garzon is now preparing an appropriate response to the new information and the organization has pledged that those responsible will be brought to justice. Garzon said the new documents are a testament to the fact the repression facing WikiLeaks is still very much alive. 

“The paradox is that Julian Assange and the WikiLeaks organization are being treated as a threat instead of what they are: a journalist and a media organization that are exercising their fundamental right to receive and impart information in its original form, free from omission and censorship, free from partisan interests, free from economic or political pressure,” he told the Intercept. 

Both the NSA and the GCHQ have so far refrained on commenting on the new claims from WikiLeaks.

Clapper admits NSA should have been ‘transparent from the outset’ on surveillance

james clapper nsa Clapper admits NSA should have been ‘transparent from the outset’ on surveillance

The Director of National Intelligence has admitted that, in hindsight, the US intelligence community would have been smarter to disclose some details about how telephone records belonging to millions of Americans have been collected for years.
Continue reading «Clapper admits NSA should have been ‘transparent from the outset’ on surveillance»

Perhaps more than any other Obama administration official, James Clapper has been the target of the most criticism, sarcasm, and outright fury since Edward Snowden leaked a trove of classified National Security Agency documents. He has staunchly defended the government’s interpretation of section 215 of the Patriot Act, under which it argues that secret collection of phone data is legal.

Now, in an exclusive interview with The Daily Beast, Clapper appears to have admitted that many of the problems currently plaguing intelligence community are self-inflicted and could have been avoided.

I probably shouldn’t say this, but I will,” Clapper said Monday. “Had we been transparent about this from the outset right after 9/11 – which is the genesis of the 215 program – and said both to the American people and to their elected representatives, we need to cover this gap, we need to make sure this never happens to us again, so here is what we are going to set up, here is how it’s going to work, and why we have to do it, and here are the safeguards…We wouldn’t have had the problem we had.”

The director went on to say that the Snowden leaks has been a painful learning experience, adding that the ongoing public debate about security vs. privacy would not be going on had the government been forthright with the American people after the terrorist attacks on September 11.

What did us in here, what worked against us was this shocking revelation,” he said. “I don’t think it would be of any greater concern to most Americans than fingerprints. Well people kind of accept that because they know about it. But had we been transparent about it and say here’s one more thing we have to do as citizens for the common good, just like we have to go to airports two hours early and take our shoes off, all the other things we do for the common good, this is one more thing.”

Clapper was a prominent target of critics of domestic surveillance and the press at large because of his claim at a congressional hearing months before the Snowden leak that the government does not collect information on millions of Americans. The response to that question, posed by longtime NSA opponent Senator Ron Wyden (D-Ore), has led legislators and privacy advocates calling on Obama to fire Clapper and reform the surveillance apparatus.

Since his embarrassing misstep was first revealed Clapper has made public scores of documents and opinions written by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, which has consistently authorized the phone collection program. He told The Daily Beast those pages are proof that Section 215 is not an unchecked imposition on Americans’ civil liberties.

For me it was not some massive assault on civil liberties and privacy because of what we actually do and the safeguards that are put on this,” he said. “To guard against perhaps these days a low probability but a very (high) impact thing if it happens…I buy fire insurance ever since I retired, the wife and I bought a house out here and we buy fire insurance every years. Never had a fire. But I am not gonna quit buying my fire insurance, same kind of thing.”

Clapper’s admission Monday that national security officials would have been better served to be more open about domestic snooping was welcomed by his usual critics. Ben Wizner, the director of the American Civil Liberties Union’s Speech, Privacy and Technology Project who also serves as legal counsel to Edward Snowden, said the director’s comments are fair.

If Clapper is suggesting that the American people should have been consulted before the NSA engaged in a mass phone call tracking program, I empathetically agree,” he told the Daily Beast. “Whether we would have consented to that at the time will never be known, we are now having a debate in Congress and in the courts that we should have had then.”

As for why Clapper told a congressional hearing that the NSA was not collecting data on Americans, the intel chief says he “misunderstood” the question.

Source: RT