Posts Tagged ‘Privacy’

Ignorance Is Futile:

It wasn’t until I saw my employer pull out a new Android phone recently did I realized the next level in privacy matters: business trade secrets.

You’d be hard pressed to find a much stauncher critic of cute & cuddly Google than yours truly, yet somehow I hadn’t pondered this realm. Of course I started with ‘No, now Google can track your every move, and listen in on your daily routine’, and of course in response I got “if I’m not a terrorist then what do I care”. Never mind that we all have only certain things that we’ll say in front of certain people, yet now we’re supposed embrace evil governments and corporations tracking our every move and cataloging our every breath of spoken word?

The thing about these phones is they don’t merely listen in while you talk on them, they listen in virtually all the time as we’ll see below. It stands to reason that the camera is also always looking for imagery worth cataloging. These arguments, and my barrage of many others were stonewalled with the general idea that “to stay competitive in the business world I need the latest technology”. After hearing this enough times it occurred to me that Google seems to have set themselves up for the ultimate scheme in mass scale industrial espionage.

I’ll remind everyone that federal law mandates that cell phone manufacturers include built-in GPS for ’9-1-1 locating’ (tracking) purposes. Furthermore, spook agencies such as the FBI can activate your phones microphone and listen in on anything the microphone can pick up. They can even do this while the phone is shut off, as reported by, believe it or not, Fox News:

In 2008, when Google was launching the Android, it became obvious to me that Google had set out to make people want to be tracked by GPS. Then and even still it just doesn’t occur to people that they’re being tracked by these devices. One odd Android launch applet even had you broadcasting your location to -whoever- to brag about when you’re cooking dinner. As they say, you can’t make this stuff up. Today they apparently have something on the order of 50,000 applets, and you can bet something around half of those have something to do with GPS.

Or course the federal government has had the ability to track us since at least 2005. Recently it was reported that Verizon and T-Mobile save your location information next to all of your phone call records. Meanwhile, back in February Obama’s Justice Dept. fought to keep the ‘right’ for virtually all law enforcement officers and agents to use our phones to to track and monitor us without a warrant.

So it’s already bad enough that we have this despotic government tracking us like slaves in a rat maze, even when it comes to industry trade secrets:

The most extensive claims yet came this spring in a report written for the European Parliament. The report says that the U.S.

National Security Agency, through an electronic surveillance system called Echelon, routinely tracks telephone, fax, and e-mail transmissions from around the world and passes on useful corporate intelligence to American companies.

Among the allegations: that the NSA fed information to Boeing and McDonnell Douglas enabling the companies to beat out European Airbus Industrie for a $ 6 billion contract; and that Raytheon received information that helped it win a $ 1.3 billion contract to provide radar to Brazil, edging out the French company Thomson-CSF. These claims follow previous allegations that the NSA supplied U.S. automakers with information that helped improve their competitiveness with the Japanese (see “Company Spies,” May/June 1994).
www.fas.org…

Hearing such allegations isn’t much of a surprise to me, but now we’re talking about a private corporation, Google (that is now partnered with the NSA), being on the direct receiving end of your communications and whereabouts.

As stated earlier, Google will also be listening on your entire day, not just your phone calls. This is a pretty easy allegation to make, considering that in 2006 Google went on the record stating that they’ll be listening to peoples daily routines by tapping their computer microphones, and with other ‘real world products’.

The idea appeared in Technology Review citing Peter Norvig, director of research at Google, who says these ideas will show up eventually in real Google products – sooner rather than later.

The idea is to use the existing PC microphone to listen to whatever is heard in the background, be it music, your phone going off or the TV turned down. The PC then identifies it, using fingerprinting, and then shows you relevant content, whether that’s adverts or search results, or a chat room on the subject.

And, of course, we wouldn’t put it past Google to store that information away, along with the search terms it keeps that you’ve used, and the web pages you have visited, to help it create a personalised profile that feeds you just the right kind of adverts/content. And given that it is trying to develop alternative approaches to TV advertising, it could go the extra step and help send “content relevant” advertising to your TV as well. www.theregister.co.uk…

So now we’re supposed to trust Google with our web searches, our web travels, emails, phone calls & text messages, GPS location, our daily routines and conversations, and a number of other things? This is the same Google who is directly linked with the NSA, CIA, DARPA, NASA and even the National Science Foundation. The NSF can’t be bad can they?

Take the example of “personal maps” explained by NSF bigshot Mihail Roco. In his book, “Progress in Convergence”, he supports the use of raw GPS data in tracking peoples personal daily movements. He explains:

“over the last years, estimating a person’s activities has gained increased interest in the artificial intelligence, robotics, and ubiquitous computing communities.”

He continues:

“the concept of a personal map, which is customized based on an individual’s behavior. A personal map includes personally significant places, such as home, a workplace, shopping centers, and meeting places and personally significant routes (i.e., the paths and transportation modes, such as foot, car, or bus, that the person usually uses to travel from place to place). In contrast with general maps, a personal map is customized and primarily useful for a given person. Because of the customization, it is well suited for recognizing an individual’s behavior and offering detailed personalized help.”

It goes on to highlight the use of AI powered personal maps to discriminate a targets activities, predict future movements and transportation modes and infer when the target has broken their ordinary routine. (See the full paper on this key point.)

So it sounds like the NSF has found in Google their solution to the “personal maps” ‘problem’. (Technocrats always refer to non-achieved ideas, no matter how alarming & dastardly, as “problems” that need to be ‘solved’.) This is assuming that the NSA hasn’t already been using AI “personal maps” software as described by Roco, but I posit that they likely needed Google’s advanced AI systems integrated into their own in order to effectively track and catalog everybody. Aside from the Google-NSF ‘merger’, I normally argue that it’s bad enough that the FedGov is tracking us, but at least by not using Android corporations like Google don’t have a direct link into our pockets. In any case, the NSA & Google ‘are a match made in hell‘.

Now consider Android’s Machine Vision features. One form that comes to mind is “Biowallet”, which is a biometric iris scanner applet that won in the first round of Google’s Android “developers challenge”. I hate to think of how many there must be out there who think it would be so cool to give their iris scan to Google and the federal government, using Android.

Another thrust in Google’s machine vision activities in recent years is video facial recognition and object recognition. Google’s quest is to monitor the real world in real time, like a reality TV version of Google Earth with Street View. By the way, Google acquired the technology to build Google Maps & Google Earth from a CIA venture firm project by In-Q-Tel. (www.resourceshelf.com… )

Neven Vision comes to Google with deep technology and expertise around automatically extracting information from a photo. It could be as simple as detecting whether or not a photo contains a person, or, one day, as complex as recognizing people, places, and objects. This technology just may make it a lot easier for you to organize and find the photos you care about. We don’t have any specific features to show off today, but we’re looking forward to having more to share with you soon.
www.searchenginejournal.com…

Here’s a recent example of another firms success in biometric identity acquisition:

Now many might say ‘they don’t have enough people to do all that work’, but Google’s mastery of artificial intelligence has The Machine do this work for them. Their system is so remarkable that when you use Google’s services you don’t only fund their operation, but you also help make it smarter to be even more powerful. As I argued in October 2008:

“An intelligent thinking machine would also needs ears, and ears they are giving it. Make a call to 1-800-GOOG411 and experience their speech recognition algorithms for yourself. No surprise that the service is free, because the more people use it the more you help them reach their goal of omniscience.”

As I was proven correct in November 2008:

If you own an iPhone, you can now be part of one of the most ambitious speech-recognition experiments ever launched. On Monday, Google announced that it had added voice search to its iPhone mobile application, allowing people to speak search terms into their phones and view the results on the screen.

Fortunately, Google also has a huge amount of data on how people use search, and it was able to use that to train its algorithms. If the system has trouble interpreting one word in a query, for instance, it can fall back on data about which terms are frequently grouped together.

Google also had a useful set of data correlating speech samples with written words, culled from its free directory service, Goog411. People call the service and say the name of a city and state, and then say the name of a business or category. According to Mike Cohen, a Google research scientist, voice samples from this service were the main source of acoustic data for training the system.

But the data that Google used to build the system pales in comparison to the data that it now has the chance to collect. “The nice thing about this application is that Google will collect all this speech data,” says Jim Glass, a principal research scientist at MIT. “And by getting all this data, they will improve their recognizer even more.” LINK

Which brings us back to the topic of Trade Secrets. The smarter their system becomes the better it will be able to collect and sort business trade secrets, ideas, concepts, methodologies, haggling skills, ‘dirt’, and so on. You’re literally handing them (and the government for that matter) the power to eavesdrop all of your business calls and activities, along with your ‘rolodex’ and any other little notes you store in the phone. Not only is this dangerous for your bottom line its dangerous for us all in creating a monster corporatist quazi-governmental institution wielding the power of “all of the worlds information”. This is so dangerous that we need to be alert to any others positioning themselves likewise.

SEE ALSO:

The Register:

Loveable Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg called his first few thousand users “dumb fucks” for trusting him with their data, published IM transcripts show. Facebook hasn’t disputed the authenticity of the transcript.

Zuckerberg was chatting with an unnamed friend, apparently in early 2004. Business Insider, which has a series of quite juicy anecdotes about Facebook’s early days, takes the credit for this one.

The exchange apparently ran like this:

Zuck: Yeah so if you ever need info about anyone at Harvard

Zuck: Just ask.

Zuck: I have over 4,000 emails, pictures, addresses, SNS

[Redacted Friend's Name]: What? How’d you manage that one?

Zuck: People just submitted it.

Zuck: I don’t know why.

Zuck: They “trust me”

Zuck: Dumb fucks

The founder was then 19, and he may have been joking. But humour tells you a lot. Some might say that this exchange shows Zuckerberg was not particularly aware of the trust issue in all its depth and complexity.

Facebook is currently in the spotlight for its relentlessly increasing exposure of data its users assumed was private. This is nicely illustrated in the interactive graphic you can find here or by clicking the piccie to the right.

In turn, its fall from grace has made backers of the ‘social media’ bubble quite nervous. Many new white collar nonjobs created since the mid-Noughties depend on the commercial value of your output, and persona;l information. (Both are invariably donated for free).

But there’s a problem.

Much of the data created by Web2.0rrhea is turning out to be quite useless for advertisers – or anyone else. Marketeers are having a harder time justifying the expenditure in sifting through the Web 2.0 septic tank for the odd useful nugget of information.

Facebook’s data stash is regarded as something quite special. It’s authenticated against a real person, and the users tend to be over 35 and middle class – the ideal demographic for selling high value goods and services. In addition, users have so far been ‘sticky’ to Facebook, something quite exceptional since social networks fall out of fashion (Friends Reunited, Friendster) as quickly as they attract users.

Facebook also has something else going for it – ordinary users regard it as the natural upgrade to Hotmail. In fact, once the crap has been peeled away, there may not be much more to Facebook than the Yahoo! or Hotmail Address Book with knobs on: the contact book is nicely integrated, uploading photos to share easier, while everything else is gravy. Unlike tech-savvy users, many people remain loyal to these for years.

Obama doesn’t want us to have to hassle around having to log into sites and services we use, fumbling around with passwords and online ‘handles’. Instead he wants to build an “Identity Ecosystem” where our personal identities are tied to every single device we use, right down to the flash memory chips we plug into our cameras and other devices.

Government Computer News:

Imagine signing on to your computer, logging onto a secure Web site or handling a sensitive document electronically — all without needing a user name or password.

The draft national strategy for building a new “identity ecosystem” that the Obama administration released June 25 would accomplish that, according to its developers. The ecosystem would base authentication on trusted digital identities instead.

The plan, named the National Strategy for Trusted Identities in Cyberspace, would lay a blueprint for an online environment in which online transactions for both the public and private sectors are more secure and trusted. The strategy identifies the federal government as “primary enabler, first adopter and key supporter” of the identity ecosystem.

In the language of the strategy, “In the envisioned identity ecosystem individuals, organizations, services, and devices would be able to trust each other because authoritative sources establish and authenticate their digital identities.” What that means in real terms is that trusted providers such as a bank would issue security credentials that would then be accepted by other online resources such as social networking sites and e-mail providers. Rather than using a user name and password, the person would have the crediential on a device that would authenticate his or her identity to the computer and, by extension, to services that accept the credential. The strategy includes references to smart cards, USB drives, mobile devices, software certificates and trusted computing modules as possible authentication technologies.

The strategy provides a hypothetical case of of a woman whose husband has recently been in the hospital. She is able to access his medical information using her cell phone because everyone involved in the information exchange uses a “trustmark” that signifies they adhere to the identity ecosystem framework.

Make sure you don’t lose your phone somewhere, or someone can log in and make purchases without even having your personal passwords. Forget about having multiple anonymous email addresses for logging into the various things you might do online. You wont need to worry about all that hassle anymore, Obama’s new version of Big Bro’ has it all covered.

Individuals going online to send e-mails, make purchases and check their medical records would be able to forgo the dizzying array of user names and passwords and instead obtain more secure credentials for completing those transactions, under a proposed White House cyberspace policy issued Friday.

The National Strategy for Trusted Identities in Cyberspace lays out the Obama administration’s strategy for enhancing the security of business conducted online. An interagency team, led by the Homeland Security Department, spent a year developing the strategy, seeking input from about 70 industry advisory councils and associations.
www.federaltimes.com…

The title of the thrust is itself a euphemism. Titles such as ‘Identity Dragnet’, or ‘Identity Tracker’ just don’t ring a bell the way the cute and cuddly, all loving, all caring “Identity ECOSYSTEM’ does.

From the document:

Privacy protection and voluntary participation are pillars of the Identity Ecosystem. The Identity Ecosystem protects anonymous parties by keeping their identity a secret and sharing only the information necessary to complete the transaction. For example, the Identity Ecosystem allows an individual to provide age without releasing birth date, name, address, or other identifying data. At the other end of the spectrum, the Identity Ecosystem supports transactions that require high assurance of a participant’s identity. The Identity Ecosystem reduces the risk of exploitation of information by DRAFT National Strategy for Trusted Identities in Cyberspace June 25, 2010 2 unauthorized access through more robust access control techniques. Finally, participation in the Identity Ecosystem is voluntary for both organizations and individuals.

Sure it will start off voluntary, and then a ‘cyber attack’ ‘will occur’ and there you go they have the involuntary framework already in place. National ID has nothing on this, at all.

This isn’t just about bank security, it’s about everything from sending emails etc.

And of course they’ll word it where there’s privacy, but the Big Bro’ WILL know everything that each and everyone of us is doing. They’ve already proven total disregard to privacy laws and due process in literally every possible facet of the realm, don’t forget.

And it isn’t just your bank card, it is EVERY single device and component thereof.

Even if it were feasible, which apparently they think it is after spending a year developing it, this is one of the worst ideas I’ve seen yet out of either BushCo. or ObamaCo.

Thinking further, them merely building the infrastructure to be able to do this will in effect make it so. If they can do it, they will, as government proves again and again.

Do they really need to have my name attached to my video card, memory sticks, CPU, monitors, motherboard, cable modem, wireless Internet router, camera, flash memory sticks, mouse, keyboard, printer, DVD burner and hard disks? (to use just one example)

I often figure they already do. Perhaps this is their way of publicly legitimizing it much how BushCo. handled unveiling Total Information Awareness NSA spying on the grand scale, Fusion Centers and all of that.

People forget that Congress ruled TIA as unconstitutional, and ordered it to be shut down.

September 26, 2003
Privacy and civil-rights groups have hailed Congress’ decision to effectively kill a controversial Pentagon program to construct a powerful computerized surveillance system that critics feared would lead to unprecedented spying into the private lives of U.S. citizens.

The final bill also banned the government from using the technology envisioned by TIA in any other program.

The House of Representatives voted 407-15 to approve the conference committee’s bill on Wednesday, while the Senate approved it Thursday by a vote of 95-0.

“Congress has reaffirmed the fundamental privacy rights of all Americans,” said Timothy Edgar, legislative counsel for the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) which had lobbied against the TIA since its existence was first exposed by the New York Times one year ago. “This is a resounding victory for individual liberty.”
www.globalissues.org…

Now it has been applied far and wide, into every department and agency, and this new measure is the icing on the cake.

Maybe it’s also about knowing when we sell individual components to our friends, so they can swoop in and tax us for it.

WASHINGTON — Fighting homegrown terrorism by monitoring Internet communications is a civil liberties trade-off the U.S. government must make to beef up national security, the nation’s homeland security chief said Friday.

As terrorists increasingly recruit U.S. citizens, the government needs to constantly balance Americans’ civil rights and privacy with the need to keep people safe, said Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano.

But finding that balance has become more complex as homegrown terrorists have used the Internet to reach out to extremists abroad for inspiration and training. Those contacts have spurred a recent rash of U.S.-based terror plots and incidents.

“The First Amendment protects radical opinions, but we need the legal tools to do things like monitor the recruitment of terrorists via the Internet,” Napolitano told a gathering of the American Constitution Society for Law and Policy.

FULL STORY

Someone told me about this story today, and sure enough it’s real. This is how it happens: they put cameras up in intersections and everyone gets used to it. Then they put them in crime ridden areas, and people get used to that. Next thing you know cameras are everywhere, including hundreds of hidden cameras in every neighborhood in the US, like in the UK or as being proposed by “HoodEyes.com”.

This spring, deputies will begin using 20 cameras mounted on utility poles to zoom in on the University Area’s trouble spots.

The cameras can provide clear images of license plates three blocks away. They can show whether a quarter on the sidewalk landed heads or tails. And they can see into darkness using infrared technology.

Even when not monitored by humans, they will record around the clock, with the video stored for review days or weeks later.

“Who wouldn’t want a cop standing on your corner?” said Maj. J.R. Burton, the commander for the sheriff’s district covering the University Area. “That’s essentially what you’ve got now with the video camera on that corner.”

A $1.3 million federal grant paid to install the cameras, a first for the Sheriff’s Office, in an area bounded by N 23rd Street and Fowler, Bearss and Nebraska avenues. www.tampabay.com…

While trying to find this story I stumbled upon this “HoodEyes” outfit:

The neighborhoods of Tampa have to be protected and it’s always important to have eyes all over the neighborhood. Notify your neighborhood association about having these eyes installed throughout your Tampa neighborhood. With one life to live, it’s important to protect yourself as well as your neighbors.

Hello Tampa! It just takes one time for someone to break into a home, destroy the home, and commit murder. Once this is complete, it’s done, no going back and saying, Gee! I wish I had protected my home, myself, and my family. In Tampa, neighborhoods have to work together and do what it takes to protect their home. An Tampa home is the same as any home in any neighborhood across the Country and it needs to be protected. Come on Tampa, it’s good to have a home security system, but is this the final answer? No! We need to protect our Tampa streets and Tampa neighborhoods by installing our Hood Eyes around the whole neighborhood. These eyes will give everyone the opportunity to feel better and safe.

Here’s an example Tampa! Let’s say there’s a bunch of teenagers in the street fighting and it’s getting worse by the minute. Well, first thing you do is contact your local Tampa police department. Well, if it’s not a murder or a cop hurt, then there’s no telling how long they’ll take to get there. With hood eyes installed all around the neighborhood, this will be monitored by a local representative and the neighborhood hoodeye security will get there within minutes. Not only is the best way to do it but everything will be on camera! When the real police get there, all problems have been solved.

The people of Tampa asks, How is this paid for? Well, with neighborhood association fees, a couple of dollars here and there will pay for what’s needed to make the neighborhoods of Tampa safe. We need these camera devices and security patrol in every neighborhood across the Country. If a murder or crime is committed, then it’s too late! You cannot do anything about the situation if it’s already occurred. These hood eyes will prevent the crime or murder from ever happening. We need to stand up to the associations and demand that security is needed in every neighborhood, no matter how fancy, how rich, how poor, or how run down it is! Wake up Tampa and have the hood eyes in every neighborhood!
tampa.hoodeyes.com…

Whether it’s nighttime or daytime, crimes will always be committed. Security systems do work, to a certain extent! With our camera eyes placed in hundreds of locations, we’re always watching your neighborhood. If a crime is being committed, we will no about it, within seconds.

With contracts with neighborhood associations across the Country, our system allows everyone the convenience of having this 24 hour a day security without any hassles and just costing dollars. Any suspicious activity within a neighborhood will be reported within seconds as well as recorded for future evidence. We have become the top neighborhood watch across the Nation.
www.hoodeyes.com…

When you browse through their site you see every state and city listed, where they’re trying to get this in place.

Hoodeyes.com WHOIS information:

Domain name: hoodeyes.com
Registrant Contact:  EE Nation
Patricia Maggio ()
11511 Katy Freeway, ste 383
Houston, TEXAS 77079
US
whois.domaintools.com…

“EE Nation” is some inconspicuous ‘spam’ looking site that is linked to a ton of other sites:
www.eenation.com…

But another interesting one is “ReaperEyes.com:

Whether it’s in a nightclub, restaurant, or casino, Reaper eyes will be watching you! With partners across the Country, we’re able to put cameras in spots untouchable and not noticed. These cameras will have a live stream, allowing dispatchers to notice something out of the ordinary. If someone looks intoxicated, the police will be notified and they will be going to jail! www.reapereyes.com…

Hmm. Perhaps the HoodEyes thing is a dead end, but the fact is Homeland Security is now creeping into residential neighborhoods via these police cameras and it won’t stop there with the public so limber.

Now in case you’re saying to yourself  ‘so what I don’t do anything wrong let them watch me’, hold your breath.

You say good, but how much have you thought it through? Where should it end? Since a few blocks of a metropolitan area are crime ridden then that justifies when in a couple years they’ll have these creeping in everywhere? The criminals will just move over to areas with no cameras.

You don’t mind one of these outside your house able to look into your windows and see what’s going on even in the dark, being watched by both the local police and the federal Homeland Security?? You don’t mind having cameras track you from the time you leave your driveway until you get to wherever it is you’re going, including unflattering things / places?

How far is too far? Apparently you don’t mind being monitored and tracked every moment you spend outside of your home… how about listened to? Should they also listen to every possible thing you say? What if you want to talk dirty to your lady/man? You don’t mind perverts listening in on it? And never mind hackers.

And what about tyrannical laws? In a free society, where we’re told we’re free but we’re not, people shouldn’t be able to use their own judgment and risks about laws they don’t agree with as long as they aren’t hurting other people?

These are our HOMES we’re talking about here. This isn’t the sidewalk in downtown anymore. This isn’t the intersection. People should have the dignity to do unflattering things with total privacy.

What about inside your home? Have cameras and microphones in there listening and watching that? Which rooms are sacred? What is to remain sacred, anymore? And is it worth it? How many times were YOU mugged before and after the cameras? Out of your entire population, what percentage died per year from terrorism?

You don’t mind police and feds being able to look into your windows in the dark and see you or your family members nude??? Oh, and in case you try to argue that you don’t mind black & white cameras seeing you naked through a dark window, guess again:

Color Night Vision

The Contrast Enhanced (Retrofit) goggle configuration (CANVS Patent-Pending) represents a unique capability. It allows immediate insertion of the core CANVS Color Night Vision Goggle technology into all areas of operation currently utilizing binocular night vision goggles. This technology can be retrofitted into all existing binocular systems, including but not limited to: AN/AVS-6 and 9, AN/PVS-5A, B, and C, M908, M909, M915A, AN/PVS-15, AN/AVS-502 low profile goggle, Wide Field of View, and Panoramic Goggle configurations. www.canvs.com…

Hey unless voyeurism is your thing that’s cool. Everybody wants to be a celebrity these days. Watch me! Watch me Uncle Sam!