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Thread: Countering Lawful Abuses of Digital Surveillance

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jun 2015

    Default Countering Lawful Abuses of Digital Surveillance

    For the technically inclined

    Against the Law: Countering Lawful Abuses of Digital Surveillance
    bunnie Huang, Edward Snowden

    As a class, investigative journalists face a heightened risk of retaliation for their work. Conservative figures from the Committee to Protect Journalists show at least 1,240 journalists killed for their work since 1992; this figure includes only deaths where the motive could be confirmed[1]. Unfortunately, recent advances in technology are giving rise to a circumstance where journalists are being betrayed by their own tools: their smartphones can be transformed into tracking devices. Governments and powerful political institutions are actively exploiting the unwitting emissions of phones, leaving journalists, activists, and rights workers in a new position of constant vulnerability. This work aims to give journalists a tool for observing when their smart phones are creating emissions, even when the devices are supposed to be in airplane mode. We propose to accomplish this via direct introspection of signals controlling the phone's radio hardware. The Introspection Engine will be an open source, user-inspectable and field-verifiable module attached to an existing smart phone that makes no assumptions about the trustworthiness of the phone's operating system.
    The less people know, the more stubbornly they know it. (Osho)

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Apr 2012

    Default Re: Countering Lawful Abuses of Digital Surveillance

    Don’t just blame Facebook for taking your data – most online publishers are at it too
    Online surveillance is rife but there are plenty of tools available to help preserve your privacy

    … ad-blocking software told {Doc Searls, one of the elder statesman of the web} ... about the Times ... The software had detected no fewer than 13 hidden trackers ... (I’ve just checked and my Ghostery plug-in has detected 19.)

    And the point of this? The NYT is just doing what every other publication that lives off “adtech” does: tracker-based advertising ...

    This is what security guru Bruce Schneier meant when he observed that “surveillance is the business model of the internet” … The fundamental truth highlighted by Schneier’s aphorism is that the vast majority of internet users have entered into a Faustian bargain. These publications, Searls wrote, “don’t just open the kimonos of their readers. They bring readers’ bare digital necks to vampires ravenous for the blood of personal data, all for the purpose of aiming ‘interest-based’ advertising at those same readers.”

    The big question for those of us who study this stuff is whether internet users really appreciate the nature of that pact …


    Big though Facebook is, however, it’s only the tip of the web iceberg. And it’s there that change will have to come if the data vampires are to be vanquished. The good news is that we already have some useful tools available – most of them free – to every internet user; and some potentially heavy artillery is arriving in May. On the tools front, there are browser plug-ins such as Disconnect Private Browsing, Privacy Badger and Ghostery. Installing any one of these tends to administer a salutary shock, because they instantly reveal (and enable you to block) the startling number of snoopers who are covertly tracking your online activity. And anyone who uses public wifi in cafes, airports and other places really ought to fork out for some VPN (Virtual Private Network) software to protect them from tracking and preserve their anonymity. In our current online world, only the paranoid thrive.

    The heavy weaponry is the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which becomes law in May. It says that people must be able to easily learn who has their personal data, and what they are doing with it. And it mandates that people must have confidence that no other parties receive these data. If it’s rigorously enforced (which could be a big “if” unless data protection authorities are properly resourced) it could blow a massive hole in the covert ad-tracking racket – and oblige us to find less abusive and dysfunctional business models to support our online addiction. So let’s resolve not to allow the coming crisis to go to waste.
    And see the relevant part of Doc Searls' Weblog:

    Facebook’s Cambridge Analytica problems are nothing compared to what’s coming for all of online publishing
    "Just stick to the idea that science is just about making descriptive models of natural phenomena, whose emergent predictions are tested to destruction" - Woof!
    "Science is what we have learned about how to keep from fooling ourselves" - Richard Feynman

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