More good stuff on surveillance – 4/27

Here is my sixteenth list of good stuff on our surveillance society. A few articles of interest.

The depth, breadth, and speed of the surveillance continues to astound me.

4/21 – Schneier on Security – Hacker Detained by FBI after Tweeting about Airplane Software Vulnerabilities – Check out the speed of surveillance in this story.

While in the air from Denver to New York, a security researcher joked in a tweet about hacking specific airplane systems. When he landed, the FBI detained him for a 4 hour interrogation and confiscated his electronics.

Okay, so a guy made a bad joke and it got taken seriously. Ho hum, you may say until you think about it from the perspective Mr. Scheneier suggested.

Look what happened in just a few hours:

  • A surveillance system tracked all (or perhaps just his) tweets,
  • searched for comments that referred to specific airplane systems,
  • identified the tweet suggested hacking said systems,
  • identified the person,
  • located sender in real-time (on a plane inbound to Syracuse),
  • contacted the FBI with instructions to reprioritize assignment for two agents,
  • briefed the agents on the issues, and
  • got the FBI agents to the gate before the plane landed.

That is some extremely serious surveillance.

2/20 – Schneier on Security – NSA/GCHQ Hacks SIM Card Database and Steals Billions of Keys – The supermassive spy agencies broke into a Dutch manufacturer of SIM cards and walked out with the keys to decrypt billions of cellphones. That means they can listen to those encrypted calls as fast as the person receiving a call from those phones.

1/20 – USA Today – New police radars can ‘see’ inside homesFor two years, more than fifty agencies, including the FBI and US Marshalls, have been using a device that will detect whether anyone is on the other side of a wall and how far away the person is. The analogy is radar. This technology specifically allows looking inside a building. This came to light in a court case in which the indications from use of the detection device was the probable cause to believe someone was inside a building. First court case said this is acceptable under the 4th amendment.

1/27 – Wall Street Journal – U.S. Spies on Millions of Drivers – The federal DEA has a nationwide program of sensors that read license plates of cars and captures photos of the driver and occupant. Over 100 sensors were in place in 2011. Program also captures feeds from an undisclosed number of state and local police agencies who have programs set up to scan license plates. This gives DEA a real-time ability to watch for specific individuals.

The information database is available to state and local law enforcement. Thus local police agencies have real-time access to everyone else’s data.

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