More good stuff on surveillance – 1-7-14

Here is my ninth list of good stuff on our surveillance society that I’d like talk about but only have time to recommend with a quick comment.

1-3 – The Atlantic – How the NSA Threatens National Security – Bruce Schneier points out the extreme level of compromised systems caused by the NSA spying fiasco is a serious threat to national security.

It is also breaking systems that we have spent decades building in America. It is breaking us financially and diplomatically. It is tearing down our political, legal, commercial, and technical systems. It is destroying trust in government, tech companies, and the internet itself.

As for the potential for abuse, here’s an experiment for you.

Think of someone who in your view was a really bad player in American history. Depending where you are on the political spectrum, you could choose either J. Edgar Hoover, FDR, Joe McCarthy, or LBJ. Now imagine what that person you so dislike could have done if the NSA spying info had been around when that person was in power. It is quite unsettling.

Mr. Schneier’s article points out the severity of the issues at hand and how difficult it will be to generate a fix.

There’s more to be concerned about than the government

We live in a surveillance society. It is not just the three-letter federal agencies who are watching us. Other levels of government are as well. Also very important is that all the commercial internet services are watching us. Only with them it is with our consent.

1-4 – Empoprise-BI – But Steven, the social tech companies are service their customers – My friend John Bredhoft points out that Google declares on their webpage they have a million customers. There are hundreds of millions of users, but only one million customers.

How can that be?

Their customers are advertisers. You, as a user, are their product.

It’s the same with Facebook and all the other social media sites. Here’s the rule-of-thumb: if you are using a free service, then you are the product, not the customer.

Unintended consequences of spying

12-31 – Independent – IT firms lose billions after NSA scandal expose by whistleblower Edward Snowden – IBM and Cisco are seeing their sales in Asia drop. Billions of lost sales. Growing pushback from EU countries to develop software that isn’t wide open to the snooping.

More government spying news

12-28 – Washington Post – 2013 is the year that proved your ‘paranoid’ friend right – Check out the second paragraph for a non-technical recap of the known activities of the NSA to gather everything they can about everyone they can reach.  People who used to say such things were considered a koo-koo bird tin foil hat wearing abducted-by-alien conspiracy nut. Now another huge spying technique that would have set off a political firestorm 30 years ago is ho-hum news, not worthy of the front page.

12-31 – New York Daily News – iSpy! NSA has near-total access to targeted iPhones – Documents released by Mr. Snowden claim the NSA has been able to remotely hack 100% of the iPhones that were targeted for hacking. Not some phones. Not most of the time. 100%.

Claim from the agency means if they want inside your phone, they will get there.

1-2-14 – Wall Street Journal – Apple Denies Working With NSA on iPhone Backdoor – Apple denies knowing about the backdoor and denies helping the NSA. If the hack gets inside your iPhone, it can turn your phone into a quite powerful surveillance tool. The inserted software has…

…ability to access the device’s data, activate the phone’s microphone or camera, intercept text messages or narrow down a user’s location using cell towers.

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