Wednesday, June 25, 2014

So, add a “smiley face” and don't bump your victim and all is good?
Joanna Small reports:
A woman called police to report a Peeping Tom, but not the traditional kind. She says a drone was looking into her downtown Seattle apartment window at Stewart Street and Terry Avenue, and the people operating it had camera equipment.
Seattle police say there’s only one way it could constitute a crime, and it’s hard to prove.
Read more on KIRO.
[From the article:
"People do have an expectation of privacy, and they should. But if somebody is outside and they can get a picture of you through your window, that's just living in the city, sorry,” Detective Patrick Michaud with the Seattle Police Department explained.
Seattle police admit there's not much they can do about drone complaints -- with one exception.
"If you feel threatened by it, or you get hit by it, feel free to tell a person, ‘Hey look, that's not cool,’ or you can call police and we can do the talking for you, if you wish,” Michaud concluded.
That's what happened in this case, and police say they're investigating as best they can. SPD actually tried to launch its own drone program, but the former mayor shut it down last year, citing privacy concerns.

“We can, therefore we must!”
Melissa Melton writes:
You think the big brother surveillance state is getting creepy here in America, check out what central banks are doing in other countries.
In line with the ongoing initiative of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and the Bankers’ Committee (comprising Chief Executives of the nation’s deposit money banks), banks across the country are to begin capturing of customer biometric data as part of Bank Verification Numbers (BVN).
The rollout of the BVN solution for the identification and verification of bank customers is expected to begin in 1,000 selected bank branches across Lagos, as a prelude to a nationwide rollout.
This is in alignment with the phased approach adopted in executing the three-tiered Know-Your-Customer (KYC) and cashless policy of the CBN.
Read more on Activist Post.
[From the Article:
… a new biometric program will require customers to sign up for a Bank Verification Number and present themselves at any branch for fingerprinting (all 10 fingers), facial image capture, and more.
No customer will be able to do any banking whatsoever without those fingerprints.
Some articles have also tossed around voice recognition and retina scans as well.

Is this merely, “See? We're the good guys!” Or, is there a business reason for this – it can't cost that much, can it? Or am I missing something entirely?
Microsoft's top lawyer: 'Future is bleak' if gov't bulk data collection continues
… Speaking Tuesday at a talk held at the Brookings Institution in Washington, DC, Smith said the US’s secret surveillance court is not held unaccountable [Doesn't anyone not edit no more? Bob] to the public, and as a result, is not "inclined to promote justice," as reported by the Wall Street Journal.
… Smith has upheld a public campaign for reform over this year. There is also a context to Smith's advocation of privacy, as Microsoft is currently resisting a warrant issued late last year by US authorities to force the tech giant to hand over email records of a European customer stored in Dublin, Ireland. Microsoft's reluctance to comply did not help the company win the case, and the firm is now appealing the judge's decision. However, Smith's comments have placed Microsoft firmly on one side of the surveillance row and may assure customers that even if the company fails, it will at least try to stop governmental overreach.

(Contrast with...)
Jonathan Brown reports:
Public bodies and private corporations including Internet giant Google are flouting the public’s right to access personal data being held on them, according to a major new international study.
Researchers found that nearly half of data holders either failed to disclose the private information they stored on citizens or did not give a legitimate reason for not doing so when asked.
Read more on The Independent.

(Related) One of several news snippets. Simplifies Right To Be Forgotten
A new site called has simplified the process of requesting Google grants you the right to be forgotten. “Anyone resident in Europe can request Google remove a link concerning them and their past behavior, and aims to make it as easy as possible to disappear from search results. Unfortunately, you need to sign up for an account, which is rather annoying.

In lieu of “Due Process” TSA has “No Particular Process.”
Speaking of due process, here’s a very significant decision by Judge Brown in the Latif case in the District of Oregon, about which Shirin Sinnar (in a guest post) and our very own Jen Daskal have blogged previously. In a nutshell, Judge Brown has ruled that the internal redress mechanisms provided by the government for getting off the no-fly list (along with the unclear appeals process) fails to afford adequate due process. I’m sure we’ll have much more to say about Judge Brown’s analysis in the coming days, but although this is only a district court decision, it’s potentially a Very Big Deal going forward.

Oh look, a burglar alert App!
Nest to Share User Information With Google for the First Time
Nest Labs is set to share some user information with corporate parent Google for the first time since its February acquisition.
Matt Rogers, a co-founder of the smart-thermostat maker, said in an interview that Google will connect some of its apps to Nest, allowing Google to know when Nest users are at home or not.
The integration will allow those users to set the temperature of their homes with voice commands to a Google mobile app. It will also allow Google’s personal digital assistant, Google Now, to set the temperature automatically when it detects, using a smartphone’s location-tracking abilities, that a user is returning home.
Users will have to opt in for their information to be shared with Google, Rogers said.
… The news comes as Nest said it will allow developers of appliances, light fixtures, garage door openers and more to access user information, part of Nest’s bid to be the operating system for the smart home.

Have we become “over-Apped?” Why is there an App for that? Do I really need to watch a video of my garage door opening when I'm 20 feet away? (and why would I open it from anywhere else in the world?)
Introducing the First Smartphone-Based Garage Door Opener With Built-in Video and Recording Functionality
… The company announced today an enhancement to its popular GoGogate product, allowing existing and new GoGogate customers to use video and video recording to track opening and closing of their garage doors via their smartphone, computer or tablet anywhere in the world.

“Hey, we're Californians. We'll vote for anything we find amusing – logical or not.”
TurnItOff reports:
In the face of opposition lobbying from the California Sheriffs Association and two former NSA analysts, the California Assembly Public Safety Committee voted unanimously to approve a bipartisan bill which creates a mechanism to turn off all material support and assistance, including water and electricity resources, from California to federal mass surveillance programs. The vote was 7-0.
Dubbed the 4th Amendment Protection Act, Senate Bill 828 (SB828) passed the State Senate last month by a vote of 29-1, and is just two votes away from reaching Gov. Brown’s desk.
Well, okay, it still has to get out of another committee and then survive a full vote by the Assembly, but even so, I’m impressed the bill’s gotten this far. Here’s the text of the bill:
Chapter 32.5 (commencing with Section 7599) is added to Division 7 of Title 1 of the Government Code, to read:
CHAPTER 32.5. The 4th Amendment Protection Act
7599. The state shall not provide material support, participation, or assistance to any federal agency attempting the illegal and unconstitutional collection of electronic data or metadata, without consent, of any person not based on a valid warrant that particularly describes the person, place, and thing to be searched or seized, seized or a court order, or in accordance with judicially recognized exceptions to warrant requirements.
Read more on TurnItOff.

(On the other hand...)
Nigel Duara of AP reports:
A federal judge has affirmed the legality of the U.S. government’s bulk collection of phone and email data from foreign nationals living outside the country — including their contact with U.S. citizens — in denying a man’s motion to dismiss his terrorism conviction.
It was the first legal challenge to the government’s bulk data-collection program of non-U.S. citizens living overseas after revelations about massive, warrantless surveillance were made public by former National Security Agency employee Edward Snowden.
Read more on Huffington Post.
You can access the opinion and order in United States v. Mohamud here (pdf)

For my Computer Security students.
Researchers Out Spy Tools That Let Governments Hack Your Smartphone
Researchers from Kaspersky Lab and Citizen Lab have uncovered new details on advanced surveillance tools offered by the Italian company HackingTeam, including never before seen implants for smartphones running on iOS and Android.
Sergey Golovanov, Principal Security Researcher at Kaspersky Lab and Marquis-Boire presented the research (PDF) at a press event in London on Tuesday.

For all my students.
Do the Benefits of College Still Outweigh the Costs?
by Sabrina I. Pacifici on Jun 24, 2014
In recent years, students have been paying more to attend college and earning less upon graduation—trends that have led many observers to question whether a college education remains a good investment. However, an analysis of the economic returns to college since the 1970s demonstrates that the benefits of both a bachelor’s degree and an associate’s degree still tend to outweigh the costs, with both degrees earning a return of about 15 percent over the past decade. The return has remained high in spite of rising tuition and falling earnings because the wages of those without a college degree have also been falling, keeping the college wage premium near an all-time high while reducing the opportunity cost of going to school.”

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