Archive for the ‘communication’ Category

BTC – Digital Privacy, like most things over 35 years of age,  is in need of a little in need of shaping up around the middle as Senators push to update to electronic privacy law in spite of elections.

Almost on cue, Washington domestic intelligence agencies are expressing resistance to this new regimen of reduced budget diet and political exercise to cut the fat.

To start, DHS is asking to be exempted from the dated provisions in the 1974 Privacy Act in a new National Proposed Rule or NPRM concerning “electronic records”.  Yes, that would include e-mail, phone calls and anything else that creates a record from an electronic pulse. This is possibly so they won’t have to pass an additional appropriations bill or comply with the development of more stringent Privacy codes designed to protect citizens from non-criminal surveillance.

“The Department of Homeland Security is giving concurrent notice of a newly established system of records pursuant to the Privacy Act of 1974 [EPCA] for the “Department of Homeland Security/ALL-031 Information Sharing Environment Suspicious Activity Reporting Initiative System of Records” and this proposed rulemaking. In this proposed rulemaking, the Department proposes to exempt portions of the system of records from one or more provisions of the Privacy Act because of criminal, civil, and administrative enforcement requirements.”

[They are seeking public input on this for the next 19 days.]

NPRM’s are a chronic source of irritation for electronic privacy advocates seeking ways to cut funding to bureacratic tech adoptions in local and national governance; which are later used for broad public surveillance.  Domestic federal intelligence agencies, like the FBI, are trying to hang onto the vagueries which allow them to veer into places they have no right to go.  However, in all fairness, the government is only one aspect of our society where upgrades to the EPCA will face resistance.

Wireless, social networking, and cloud computing companies, like Google, have been compromising the public cache, divesting analytics, or information gained by use of their technology, for profit or for leverage in a tough economy.  Strange concessions from these companies have started to emerge, maybe to demonstrate how they can change their evil ways.  Perhaps more so they won’t get the heavy legal hit expected if the EPCA gets the legal upgrade necessary to constrict the private tap of consumer information being abused today.

One thing is clear ; as the EPCA is updated it should end the festive looting of your private digital records at the convenience of the US government and private information brokers.

RELATED NEWS:  Stephen Colbert’s, Colbertlist 

Contrary to public statements made by the Transportation Security Administration, full-body airport scanners do have the ability to store and transmit images, according to documents obtained by the Electronic Privacy Information Center.

The documents, which include technical specifications and vendor contracts, indicate that the TSA requires vendors to provide equipment that can store and send images of screened passengers when in testing mode, according to CNN.

The TSA has stated publicly on its website, in videos and in statements to the press that images cannot be stored on the machines and that images are deleted from the scanners once an airport operator has examined them. The administration has also insisted that the machines are incapable of sending images.

But a TSA official acknowledged to CNN that the machines do have these capabilities when set to “test mode.”

The official said these functions are disabled before the machines are delivered to airports and that there is no way for screeners in airports to put the machines into test mode to enable the functions. The official, however, would not elaborate on what specific protections, if any, are in place to prevent airport personnel from putting the machines in test mode.

The TSA also asserts that the machines are not networked, so they cannot be accessed by hackers.

c/o Daily Mail UK>> No2ID

Telecoms firms have accused the Government of acting like the East German Stasi over plans to force them to store the details of every phone call for at least a year.

Under the proposals, the details of every email sent and website visited will also be recorded to help the police and security services fight crime and terrorism.

But mobile phone companies have attacked the plans as a massive assault on privacy and warned it could be the first step towards a centralised ‘Big Brother’ database.

They have also told the Home Office that the scheme is deeply flawed.

The criticism of Britain’s growing ‘surveillance culture’ was made in a series of responses to an official consultation on the plans, which have been obtained by The Mail on Sunday.

T-Mobile said in its submission that it was a ‘particularly sensitive’ time as many people were commemorating the 20th anniversary of the protests that led to the collapse of ‘surveillance states in Eastern Europe’.

Martin Hopkins, head of data protection and disclosure, said: ‘It would be extremely ironic if we at T-Mobile (UK) Ltd had to acquire the surveillance functionality envisaged by the Consultation Document at the same time that our parent company, headquartered in Germany, was celebrating the 20th anniversary of the demise of the equivalent systems established by the Stasi in the federal states of the former East Germany.’

Equally trenchant was the response from Hutchinson 3G Uk Ltd, which read: ‘We take seriously the responsibility of safeguarding our customers’ information and data, and are unconvinced of the safeguards that the Government might make to protect against loss.’

The firm also said it had ‘substantial concerns’ over claims that public authorities would only be able to access data on a ‘case-by-case’ basis. It is understood hundreds of public bodies and quangos may also be able to obtain information from the system.

‘It is our belief the safeguards listed in this consultation are incomplete and do not extend far enough,’ it added.

Orange and Vodafone were also highly critical, with a spokesman for Orange saying: ‘The proposals are clearly not about “maintaining” capabilities but rather about “enhancing” existing capabilities.

‘Any debate should address what many will see as a worrying extension of the so-called “surveillance culture”.’

Since October 2007, telecoms companies have been obliged to keep records for a year. Under the new legislation, however, they will also be required to organise it better – for example, by grouping calls made by the same person.

Internet service providers have been required to hold records on emails and website visits since April.

Police and security services can already obtain such information if they are given permission by the courts.

The public will reimburse internet service providers and telecoms companies for the costs associated with storing the billions of records.

A Home Office spokesman said: ‘The police and security services need to be able to use communication data in the fight against crime and terrorism. Communications data forms an important element of prosecution evidence in 95 per cent of the serious crime cases.

‘Access to communications data under the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act is subject to strict safeguards around how, when and by whom data is obtained.’

The activities of the Stasi, the former East Germany’s secret police, were memorably depicted in the Oscar-winning film The Lives Of Others, starring Ulrich Mühe. At the regime’s height, there were 200,000 agents and informers in a population of only 16million.

WASHINGTON — The National Security Agency is facing renewed scrutiny over the extent of its domestic surveillance program, with critics in Congress saying its recent intercepts of the private telephone calls and e-mail messages of Americans are broader than previously acknowledged, current and former officials said.