More good stuff on surveillance – 9/15

Haven’t mentioned any good stuff on our surveillance society for a few months. Here’s a few articles of interest:

Downside of technology (cross-posted from previous post

because it has significance on the surveillance society we are in)

9/6 – The Economist – The two towers – Junk science is putting innocent people in jail – Cell phone calls don’t necessarily go to the nearest tower.

Based on loads, signal strength, and other factors, any specific call could go to any tower within distance. The unsupported and invalid assumption that every call will only go to the nearest tower is being used as evidence against innocent people.

9/9 – TechDirt – Turns Out Cell Phone Locations Data Is Not Even Close to Accurate, But Everyone Falls For It – Points to and comments on the Economist story above. Technology is wonderful and produces lots of cool data. The challenge is figuring out how in the world to interpret the data correctly.

Tracking and eavesdropping

7/21 – ProPublica – Meet the Online Tracking Device That is Virtually Impossible to Block – Canvas fingerprinting is the newest way to track every place you visit on the net. Ad blocking, anti-virus, and all the other programs you have to prevent tracking won’t work. Soon to be released research report says the software was found on 5% of the 100,000 most popular websites. In a tweet, Kendall Taggart, of Center for Investigative Research, said the tracking software is running on That means this is a little brother (state/local governments, not the feds) and baby brother (commercial firms) taking over your privacy in addition to big brother.

8/8 – Schneier on Security – Eavesdropping by Visual Vibrations – I recall hearing a long time ago that it was possible to eavesdrop on a conversation by hitting the window of the room with a laser and ‘reading’ the vibration on the window to hear the conversation. So, it isn’t much surprise to hear researchers can measure the tiny vibrations on (foil-lined) potato chip bag in a room and hear the conversation. Article at MIT News: Extracting audio from visual information.

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