More good stuff on surveillance – 2-20-14

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

Big brother

1-16 – Schneier on Security – Today I Briefed Congress on the NSA – Mr. Schneier visited for an hour with six Members of Congress. Apparently they haven’t been getting much information from the NSA (seems to me a fairly serious oversight/constitutional issue) and wanted some description from someone who has access to the Snowdon documents to explain what’s going on at the NSA (see previous parenthetical comment re: oversight failures).

Good. Perhaps a few congress critters are getting a clue.

It’s unsettling they have to get someone from outside government who doesn’t have a security clearance to explain what classified activities are taking place inside the government. I guess someone needs to tell them about….

1-16 – The Guardian – NSA collects millions of text messages daily in ‘untargeted’ global sweep – In April 2011, the agency gathered 194 million texts. I’m guessing the number is higher today. They shared all the data with the British intel agency GCHQ after “minimizing” data of US citizens. From the article I’m not sure if “minimize” means removing the data or setting up a filter so it can be screened from users. In any event, the program involves gathering the contents of texts, not just metadata.

Very limited, not-yet modified, sorta’ kinda’ hangout – 1-19 – Daily Caller – Top CIA official admits ‘minor’ abuses of NSA database – Former deputy director of the CIA under two administrations admitted there have been a few, but only a few, abuses of the NSA database by NSA staff, but they were minor, very minor.  Some of the abusers may have, possibly, perhaps, actually been fired.  Presumably the remainder are free to continue browsing.

1-22 – Schneier on Security – Questioning the Efficacy of NSA’s Bulk-Collection Program– In addition to all the other concerns, two separate studies argue gathering up every piece of information about every American and non-American the NSA can lay their ears on is ineffective. It doesn’t stop terrorist incidents. See article for two great summaries.

1-27 – The Guardian – NSA and GCHP target ‘leaky’ phone apps liek Angry Bids o scoop user data – Some apps, Angry Birds is one, broadcast a lot of information about the user while the game is being played.  It’s not a surprise the information from leaky apps is hoovered up.  Depending on how an app developer writes their code, a little or a lot of info can be pulled while using the app.

Little brother

If it’s called ‘big brother’ when the NSA ‘hoovers’ every piece of information in can find, then when private companies do the same thing on a small-scale it’s called ‘little brother’. Here’s the Ford Motor entry to the little brother story:

1-8 – Business Insider – Ford Exec: “We Know Everyone Who Breaks The Law’ Thanks To Our GPS In Your Car – VP of Marketing pointed out the GPS devices built into Ford vehicles tracks speed and location data, thus telling the company when and where you were speeding. But they don’t share that info with anyone else.

Never mind – 1-9 – Detroit News – Ford exec apologizes for saying company tracks customers with GPS – The marketing VP walked back his comments. The company vehemently denounced them.  The explanation? They only track that info when you give them consent. In other words, if you use the navigation system, your data is tracked. So you can relax. Ford only knows about your speeding if you use their navigation system.  They don’t track ‘everyone.’ By that failure in logic I guess we can be relieved that the NSA only tracks our phone info if we use our phone.

Middle brother

1-14 – Washington Post – Border-patrol drones being borrowed by other agencies more often than previously knownCustoms and Border Protection has 10 Predator B drones that are unarmed. They have sophisticated radar that can track movement on the ground and can track individuals. In 2010, 2011, and 2012, they flew 687 missions for local, state, and other federal agencies. Specific agencies were not disclosed in response to an FOIA request from EFF.

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