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Black-Bag Jobs

"Don't worry Mr. President, we have Kansas surrounded." Warrantless searches: they're not just for wiretaps anymore. U.S. News and World Report probes the Bush administration's covert drive to conduct physical searches of American homes without court approval.
posted by digaman on Mar 19, 2006 - 52 comments

But I was in a different country! That doesn't count right? RIGHT!?

Don't date him girl! Good news for the paranoid. Invasive site for documenting those unsavory men who have cheated on women. The rebuttal: warning: flash site with annoying birds. bugmenot
posted by AllesKlar on Mar 13, 2006 - 40 comments

For anything but privacy, there's MasterCard

DHS monitors your credit card payments. (via)
posted by trondant on Mar 2, 2006 - 56 comments

are they matched to the access code and do you keep a record of what code is mailed to what person?

So if you run the CD in your personal computer, by the end of it, the Minnesota GOP will not only know what you think on particular issues, but also who you are. --a cd being sent out to home by the Minnesota GOP is polling people who use the cd, sending their personal info, including name, address, and phone, among other info, back to party headquarters. No privacy policy or statement identifying what the cd does is visible anywhere: ...As far as I could tell, nothing tells you that the answers are about to be e-mailed or otherwise transmitted to the Minnesota GOP. So you finish, and then the phone rings. "Hello, Mr/Mrs. Voters, it's Joe and I notice you support gun control and the marriage amendment, would you like to donate some money to us?" That might startle the person who may have thought he/she was viewing the presentation in the privacy of the computer room. ...
posted by amberglow on Feb 28, 2006 - 80 comments

Pirating Firefox?

You can't just give away free software! Or can you? Firefox's copyleft premise destroys U.K. anti-piracy laws. Gervase Markham takes on a U.K. official who wants to arrest pirates for distributing firefox.
posted by FeldBum on Feb 23, 2006 - 14 comments

Houston Loves You

NewsFilter: I know a lot of people are concerned about Big Brother, but my response to that is, if you are not doing anything wrong, why should you worry about it?
posted by I Love Tacos on Feb 18, 2006 - 154 comments

Loose lips sink ships. Yahoo helps China jail dissidents again.

WTF, Yahoo‽ How many Chinese are you going to help put into the hell of Chinese prison, Terry, Jerry, and David?
posted by five fresh fish on Feb 8, 2006 - 26 comments

Information is not knowledge.

Privacy? No thanks.
posted by I Love Tacos on Feb 2, 2006 - 12 comments

Google Images Censored in China

Google Images Censored in China A picture says 1000 words, and Google.cn is censoring them all. Check out the side-by-side screens of a search for "tiananmen+square" in Google.com and Google.cn images. Looks like a nice place, with little historical significance. You can try the search yourself. The text on the bottom left is the censorship disclaimer. Very different than our results. A far cry from Google's claim that they do not censor results. Nice to know that they stand up to the government here but not abroad.

A good spoof of the whole thing.
posted by FeldBum on Jan 30, 2006 - 57 comments

FTC imposes $10M fine against ChoicePoint for data breach

FTC imposes $10M fine against ChoicePoint for data breach The U.S. Federal Trade Commission has fined ChoicePoint $10 million for a data breach that allowed identity thieves posing as legitimate businesses to steal social security numbers, credit reports, and other data from nearly 140,000 people. This is the largest fine ever levied by the FTC. ChoicePoint also has to set up a 'trust fund' for people victimized by identity thieves. From the article: 'As part of its agreement with the FTC, ChoicePoint will also have to submit to comprehensive security audits every two years for the next 20 years.'" BusinessWeek has additional info. Perhaps there might be hope for individual privacy after all. Let's all keep our fingers crossed.
posted by mk1gti on Jan 26, 2006 - 22 comments

Privacy and the need or right to know

NSA,FISA, and Privacy It is of course the president who finally approves of actions that may or may not be deemed legal but before 9/11, this is what he had been advised to consider "The largest U.S. spy agency warned the incoming Bush administration in its "Transition 2001" report that the Information Age required rethinking the policies and authorities that kept the National Security Agency in compliance with the Constitution's 4th Amendment prohibition on "unreasonable searches and seizures" without warrant and "probable cause," according to an updated briefing book of declassified NSA documents posted today on the World Wide Web. If this is the sort of reading you enjoy, then by all means dig about here: But then Windows allowed NSA to have a sure access to your machine . And by now we all know that Google will fight the government on making its search data base available in order to protect your privacy.(Reality: to protect Google stuff). And if you worry about search engines tracking you and making data available, then here is a workaround
posted by Postroad on Jan 20, 2006 - 16 comments

Information wants to be free.

Wikipedia wrangling once more: the entire German edition was shut down this week over the contents of a single entry. The parents of the article's subject, a German hacker who died in 1998 under mysterious circumstances, are displeased with his real name being disclosed in the encyclopedia. It is now back online; however, the future of the family's efforts is currently unclear, not only due to the German order's debatable validity in the US - but also because the order was, initially at least, mistakenly addressed to St. Petersburg, Russia, instead of St. Petersburg, Florida.
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane on Jan 20, 2006 - 18 comments

Feds want Google search records

Feds want Google search records according to Mercury News. John Batelle has some analysis as well. This isn't looking too good. Google promises to fight it, but even if they do, does a loss still hurt them the same amount?
posted by rhyax on Jan 18, 2006 - 53 comments

Geeks wear tinfoil hats too!

National Information Exchange Model (NIEM) Sometimes, its the unheralded steps, that take you most quickly to your destination. On October 7, 2005, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS), the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ), and their associated domains announced the first release of the National Information Exchange Model (NIEM) Version 0.1. NIEM "establishes a single standard XML foundation for exchanging information between DHS, DOJ, and supporting domains, such as Justice, Emergency Management, and Intelligence." The release of this specification, and the development of the systems that utilize it may actually be the cataylst for more 'progress' in information mining on the individual than most other, well publicized efforts. NIEM Mission: "To assist in developing a unified strategy, partnerships, and technical implementations for national information sharing — laying the foundation for local, state, tribal, and federal interoperability by joining together communities of interest." When you say it like that, it sounds sort of cool!
posted by sfts2 on Jan 12, 2006 - 19 comments

Your Phone Records, Cheap

Psst... I know you called your girlfriend last night. No, not the one you live with. The naughty hottie that she doesn't know about. I know this because I paid a website $110 to buy your cell-phone records, which they delivered in two hours. Did you know that your private phone records are for sale?
posted by digaman on Jan 7, 2006 - 49 comments

Mohan also declined to say how often or in what volume CBP might be opening mail.

Private Mail--Not. ...Goodman, an 81-year-old retired University of Kansas history professor, received a letter from his friend in the Philippines that had been opened and resealed with a strip of dark green tape bearing the words “by Border Protection” and carrying the official Homeland Security seal. ...the agency can, will and does open mail coming to U.S. citizens that originates from a foreign country whenever it’s deemed necessary. ...
posted by amberglow on Jan 6, 2006 - 54 comments

The Agency That Could Be Big Brother

The Agency That Could Be Big Brother [when this guy talks about NSA, he is authoritative] "DEEP in a remote, fog-layered hollow near Sugar Grove, W.Va., hidden by fortress-like mountains, sits the country's largest eavesdropping bug. Located in a "radio quiet" zone, the station's large parabolic dishes secretly and silently sweep in millions of private telephone calls and e-mail messages an hour"...
posted by Postroad on Dec 26, 2005 - 100 comments

Because there just haven't been enough government scandals lately...

Federal surveillance of over a hundred homes, businesses, mosques, warehouses and other sites has been conducted without warrants, according to a new USNews report. Indications are that the persons so targeted were US citizens. "In numerous cases, the monitoring required investigators to go on to the property under surveillance, although no search warrants or court orders were ever obtained, according to those with knowledge of the program. Some participants were threatened with loss of their jobs when they questioned the legality of the operation, according to these accounts."
posted by darkstar on Dec 23, 2005 - 131 comments

Swingers Clubs ruled legal in Canada

Newsfilter: Sex Clubs OK in Canada ruled the Supreme Court yesterday in a 7-2 decision that drastically alters the definition of indecency in this country. What will be the results of this far-reaching change? Will gay bathhouses and marijuana growing be affected? Will there be anti-social behaviour? "Now harm, rather than community standards, is the key yardstick that will be used to measure the point at which constitutional freedoms can be limited".
posted by stinkycheese on Dec 22, 2005 - 213 comments

Hello, 1984?

Our Domestic Intelligence Crisis Federal Appeals Court Judge Richard Posner imagines a world in which US citizens are constantly under electronic surveillance.... and is totally okay with it. Once you accept Posner's premise that "machine collection and processing of data cannot, as such, invade privacy," how far are we from cameras and microphones in private homes. After all, there is no privacy invasion so long as it is only a computer flagging "suspicious" activity, right?
posted by GregW on Dec 21, 2005 - 164 comments

Echelon: 60 Minutes discussion

Echelon This is what we know--or do not know--about NSA prgram called Echelon, from 60 Minute show (TV) in 2000. If we assume this what had been going on and there were some sort of restraints for internal spying, then what is going on now? This evening I had heard on radio that the White House claimed that only calls going in and out of the country might be monitored. But this early interview suggests that such calls were monitored previous to the "new" approach. Why were legal restraints put in place calling for judicial hearings? Because of spying abuse done under Nixon. Those restraints are now removed.
posted by Postroad on Dec 19, 2005 - 158 comments

Who are you and what have you done with my Senate?

Senate Blocks Patriot Act Renewal In a 52-47 vote, the Republican majority was unable to obtain the 60 votes necessary to end the bipartisan fillibuster. Roll call is in the title link as well as here, Patriot Act provisions set to expire on 12/31 via CNN.
posted by rzklkng on Dec 16, 2005 - 158 comments

So much for #31#

$110 gets you last 100 calls made by any cellphone. Apparently it is legal.
posted by riffola on Nov 29, 2005 - 26 comments

The one-sided "debate" about judges

Dahlia Lithwick in Slate urges Democrats to grow a spine, and use the Alito hearings to provide the American public with some liberal talking points for a change. "If the Scalias, Thomases, Alitos, and Borks of the world had their way ... there would be no meaningful gun control. States could have official churches. Hard-fought federal worker, environmental, and civil rights protections would disintegrate. What you currently think of as the right to privacy would disappear. These are the questions Senate Democrats need to ask of Sam Alito: Should property rights trump individual rights? Should the right to privacy be interpreted as narrowly as the framers might have intended? Do you believe that a return to the morals and mores of two centuries ago is in the best interest of this nation?"
posted by snoktruix on Nov 7, 2005 - 76 comments

the 28th Amendment?

A explicit Right to Privacy Amendment? Dan Savage asks: why can't we have one?--...Here we are, decades after Griswold, and social conservatives and liberals are constantly arguing about whether or not the right to privacy, which is a popular right (naturally enough), and one to which most Americans believe they're entitled, is actually a right to which Americans are entitled, constitutionally-speaking. ... It affects all aspects of our lives-- from sexuality to procreation to speech to property to employment to housing, so isn't it time?
Europe has one, in the European Convention on Human Rights : Article 8-the right to respect for private and family life, home and correspondence. ...Article 8 offers general protection for a person’s private and family life, home and correspondence from arbitrary interference by the State. This right affects a large number of areas of life ranging from surveillance to sexual identity - it is framed extremely broadly. However, the right to respect for these aspects of privacy under Article 8 is qualified. ...
posted by amberglow on Nov 3, 2005 - 50 comments

" You cannot name a Canadian prime minister who has done as many significant things as I did, because there are none"

As author Peter C. Newman writes in an explosive new book: "He bugs us still." : The Secret Mulroney Tapes: Unguarded Confessions of a Prime Minister is due for release this fall, and it's safe to say that it will likely be the most intimate and personal behind the scenes look at what a Canadian Prime Minister is actually thinking. That's because it's based on alleged secret tapings of private conversations between Brian Mulroney and Peter Newman, the man enlisted to write Mulroney's biography. Oh, and it's really juicy (for Canadian politics junkies at least). On Trudeau:"He didn't want anybody to succeed where he had failed. Trudeau's contribution was not to build Canada but to destroy it, and I had to come in and save it. Three times I've achieved unanimity. In 16 years, he couldn't do it once, the 'great statesman.'"
posted by loquax on Sep 12, 2005 - 79 comments

D to the N to A

DNA: frightening government privacy invasion tool of tomorrow or beautiful source of personal art today?
posted by mathowie on Sep 11, 2005 - 18 comments

Please turn off all cameras before entering club

View the Pacific Walrus community at Alaska's Walrus Island State Game Sanctuary via their handy webcam. However, do your viewing soon as the camera will be going offline for several weeks starting tomorrow due to annual hunting by Alaskan Natives and their wishes for privacy . (yes, the animals in the last link are seals, but it illustrates why they don't want this broadcast live)
posted by numlok on Sep 8, 2005 - 3 comments

Google blacklists journalists for Googling?

Google blacklists CNET reporters? An article about privacy issues that highlighted the potential for abuse if logs of search terms linked with IP addresses are combined by search companies with address and phone data, angered Google CEO Eric Schmidt enough to blacklist CNET reporters for a year, at least according to the bottom of this CNET story. The article begins with information about Schmidt found via Google searches, and goes on to "question Google's ability to adequately balance the heavy burden of safeguarding consumer privacy rights with the pull toward intermingling and mining data for ever more lucrative targeted advertising."
posted by mediareport on Aug 7, 2005 - 18 comments

Big Brother Nixes Happy Hour

Big Brother Nixes Happy Hour National Labor Relations Board Green Lights Ban on Off-Duty Fraternizing Among Co-Workers It is a regular pastime for co-workers to chat during a coffee break, at a union hall, or over a beer about workplace issues, good grilling recipes, and celebrity gossip. Yet a recent ruling by the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) allows employers to ban off-duty fraternizing among co-workers, severely weakening the rights of free association and speech, and violating basic standards of privacy for America's workers.
posted by jackspace on Jul 29, 2005 - 50 comments

Today's fear, uncertainty, and doubt brought to you by the internets.

Internets: Serious Business! These last few months have seen an increase in the attacks on the participatory culture of the web. The mainstream establishments, both political and corporate, have been looking with a cautious eye towards this new developing place. So far we've established that blogs can get you fired, keep you from getting a job, give pedophiles a place to ruminate on snatching your children, threaten journalistic integrity *snicker*, endanger the marketing , product planning, and product life cycles for automobile manufacturers, can infect your computer with virii, and have all sorts of negative consequences. The internets (both of them) can cause your children to be charmed, seduced, and addicted by readily available porn, and can also provide access to extremist radical and fundamentalist groups, prompting Congress to discuss more restrictive legislation (NSFW), but only for the porn. It has even been claimed that the web has given "Al Qaeda wings". P2P is blamed as causing record loses by the music industry, despite their investments in local station marketing payola. The FEC has held public hearings attended by both hemispheres of the blogosphere (amazingly in near-agreement) discussing the regulation of political speech online. The figureheads of a certain political party fear that their affiliated slice of the blogosphere may be too far-left. Newspapers and TV are leading the charge, with the internet standing in for pharmaceutical scares, yo-yo diets, and missing white women. The question is, how will the libertarian-minded digerati respond to this very real attack on the essence of web culture?
posted by rzklkng on Jul 29, 2005 - 34 comments

Blogging unanonymously

Domains by Proxy is a fairly popular service run by GoDaddy that aims to protect your personal info from whois requests. The domains by proxy homepage has links to law enforcement and civil subpoena policies, making it sound like you actually have to do something deemed illegal by a judge or officer to get outed. One blogger found out something as simple as a letter from a local lawyer was enough to reveal all his personal details in a whois request, without ever being notified beforehand. Might be worth reading up on EFF's guide to anon blogging if you ever start a whistleblower site.
posted by mathowie on Jul 18, 2005 - 26 comments

Stealing Osama's Identity

Security, the TSA, and the No-Fly List You would think that our National Security apparatus would be like the TV series "24", with the most ingenious and sophisticated technology available. You would be wrong. Disclaimer: TSA is not an intelligent intelligence agency. Here's a blurb from the resume of the designer(Kenneth Mack) of the application the airline industry uses for *PDF* managing their employee data and the cross-checking them with the no-fly list:
- Sr. Developer: Developed a program [for Goddard Technologies] that uses the "No-Fly List" Excel spreadsheet, provided by the FAA and the database of badged employees to permute the name combinations. It takes into consideration multiple first and middle names, with Soundex and the various "initial" combinations. This program reduced the time for comparison from 3 days to 10 minutes.
The scary yet interesting part of all of this is that the No-Fly List is nothing more than a password-protected spreadsheet (see this PDF). One would guess our Government's geeks would know that it's a bad idea to send email attachments containing social security numbers and dates of birth, unencrypted, over the internets, even if they might be terrorists.
posted by rzklkng on Jul 15, 2005 - 30 comments

Parents are fighting back

Leave My Child Alone! --a new group teaching parents how to stop the very intrusive recruitment tactics of the military, including getting their kids off the Pentagon's list of 30 million potential recruits,: (...a joint effort of the Defense Department and a private contractor, disclosed last week, to build a database of 30 million 16- to 25-year-olds, complete with Social Security numbers, racial and ethnic identification codes, grade point averages and phone numbers. The database is to be scoured for youngsters that the Pentagon believes can be persuaded to join the military...), and getting your kids off the School district records lists (School districts are required under Section 9528 of the No Child Left Behind Act to release student records to military recruiters or risk losing funding, but they are also required to inform families of their Opt Out rights. Notification varies wildly across districts, and it's a bit of a crapshoot whether families know or not.)
More on this from Bob Herbert here: The Army's Hard Sell
posted by amberglow on Jun 29, 2005 - 68 comments

Private vs pubic shutter control

The ongoing battle on shutter control continues between military, commercial and non-profit NGO entities, just as Google Maps finishes adding the rest of the world to its site (even if the detail is lacking). And when Israel restricts the rest of the satellite imagery companies to 2-metre resolution, for whatever reason, should the rest of us expect the same level of privacy as commercial and military satellites continue on an exponential path to greater resolutions?
posted by Rothko on Jun 18, 2005 - 19 comments

a failure for the Fourth Amendment

LossofPrivacyFilter: 1) Patriot Act Expansion Bill Approved in Secret, which now provides a new ‘administrative subpoena’ authority (that) would let the FBI write and approve its own search orders for intelligence investigations, without prior judicial approval. ...Flying in the face of the Fourth Amendment, this power would let agents seize personal records from medical facilities, libraries, hotels, gun dealers, banks and any other businesses without any specific facts connecting those records to any criminal activity or a foreign agent. ..., and from the Justice Department: 2) Most health care employees can't be prosecuted for stealing personal data, and finally, 3) Citibank admits losing 4 million customer files.
These 3 examples all within the past few days--any others i missed?
posted by amberglow on Jun 8, 2005 - 31 comments

technophobia?

Technophobia? or ignorance? or mendacity? A Minnesota appeals court has ruled that the presence of encryption software on a computer may be viewed as evidence of criminal intent. The specific crime here aside, why is encryption - and by extension privacy - viewed as something seedy?
posted by Smedleyman on May 27, 2005 - 10 comments

Backscatter Technology at Airports

"It shows nipples. It shows the clear outline of genitals." Fact: airport security is not effective against a determined terrorist. Response: "backscatter" imaging. Your trip through security will look like this. The security personnel will see something like this. It's safe! It's effective! Except for fat terrorists ("a weapon or explosives pack could be tucked into flabby body folds that won't be penetrated by the scanner") and people with guns in their body cavities.
posted by Gordon Smith on May 24, 2005 - 102 comments

Oh hell no!

Take action and FAX your Senators (for free!) in opposition to the RealID bill up for voting tommorow on May 10th. Do it now, don't wait. Bury your Senators in protest of this terrible legislation. (via BoingBoing, Slashdot, IM, and more. Spread the word.)
posted by loquacious on May 9, 2005 - 103 comments

Click Click

"The number of secret court-authorized wiretaps across the country surged by 19 percent last year, according to court records which also showed that not a single application was denied."
posted by knave on Apr 29, 2005 - 20 comments

Google is not your friend.

Google is watching you.... "My Search History lets you easily view and manage your search history from any computer." Given the continuing concerns about Google's respect for privacy, is this a good thing?
posted by jefgodesky on Apr 21, 2005 - 43 comments

A New Approach

Unexpected Features in Acrobat 7: A company called Remote Approach offers a feature to PDF authors to allow them to track the dissemination of their documents. Linux Weekly News reports, "After doing a little research, we found that Adobe's Reader was connecting to http://www.remoteapproach.com/remoteapproach/logging.asp each time we opened the document."
posted by knave on Apr 13, 2005 - 36 comments

Freaky cool or just freaky?

Google Maps now does satellite images which is pretty cool (zoom all the way in), and what everyone predicted they would do with the Keyhole software company they bought. The part that freaks me out is finding my own house with my own car in the driveway, taken last fall (by the looks of construction in the neighborhood). I guess it's time for all of us to have our Streisand moment and wonder when satellite imagery has gotten too good. [via]
posted by mathowie on Apr 4, 2005 - 132 comments

AIM owns you.

"You waive any right to privacy." AOL has just updated the terms of service for Instant Messanger, which include agreeing to the new requirement that AOL owns everything you write, has the right to reproduce it at will, and that you waive all requirements for prior approval to do so.
posted by XQUZYPHYR on Mar 13, 2005 - 72 comments

the odd couple

wolves join federal sheep board (via dailyrotten)
posted by Tryptophan-5ht on Mar 6, 2005 - 16 comments

I spy with my little eye encrypted darknets on the horizon

we have talked about darknets before. The motivation exists. Some solutions exist, speculation is prevalent. What would it take for you to become faceless.
posted by sourbrew on Mar 1, 2005 - 6 comments

Heck... it works for our cattle

Brittan Elementary, a rural Californian school, has begun requiring their students to wear RFID tags manufactured by Alien Technology. This was done without parental consent and is mandatory. The ACLU is less than enthusiastic.
posted by cedar on Feb 13, 2005 - 28 comments

No, He's Not Your Puppy, He's Your Narc

Canadian Couple Offers Drug Dog for Hire (Reuters link)
A couple bought a dog trained to sniff drugs for $20,000 and now they will hire it out to sniff around your kid's stuff to see if they've been doing drugs within the last 30 days for a mere $20 a sniff (they also have a sliding scale for businesses that need them).
Where to draw the line between concern and obsession for keeping one's children safe? Some sites are keeping tabs on the infringement of children's rights including privacy. Which begs the question, Do Children Have a Right to Privacy?
posted by fenriq on Feb 4, 2005 - 46 comments

Love is complicated. Megan's Law database is simple.

In California, a registered sex offender uses the Megan's Law database as a source for potential dates. He searched for men in the database, and then sent several men a letter looking for sex or friendship, explaining how they could look up his profile in the same system. Turns out that it is illegal for a registered sex offender to access the database of registered sex offenders. (first FPP for me)
posted by stevil on Feb 4, 2005 - 64 comments

Goodbye Carnivore?

Carnivore, the gold standard for conspiracy theory, has apparently been mothballed. An interesting element of this is that Carnivore has been removed from service not because it is invasive of civil liberties, but rather because it has failed to perform against commercially-available monitoring technologies. Of course, since we do not know what those technologies *are*, it may be that they have built into them considerations of individual rights to privacy that Carnivore could not be altered to respect. However, given the drift of the US on matters of data privacy, this seems unlikely... So, what are the programmes that do it better than Carnivore? What do they have to offer that Carniviore doesn't, or is it just the ISPs are now offering information straight to the government? And does this mean that it is no longer fashionable to append long strings of exciting-sounding nouns to emails? (Apologies if this is old news to the more plugged-in - this report has only just been released under FOI)
posted by tannhauser on Jan 16, 2005 - 27 comments

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