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NLPWESSEX, natural law publishing

"I don't think in the last two or three hundred years we've faced such a concatenation
of  problems all at the same time.... If we are to solve the issues that are ahead of us,

we are going to need to think in completely different ways."

  Paddy Ashdown, High Representative for Bosnia and Herzegovina 2002 - 2006



** To Go Direct To Current Surveillance News Reports - Click Here **
To Go Direct To 2008 - 2011 Surveillance News Reports Archive - Click Here **


Surveillance Society News Reports







2008 & Earlier

Selected News Extracts 2008 - 2011


"Sir Richard Dearlove, Britain’s former chief spymaster has said the country should start spying on its Eurozone neighbours to protect the economy as the common currency is wracked by national defaults. Sir Richard Dearlove, who served as head of MI6 until 2004, said that Britain must not be 'squeamish' about using the intelligence services to defend its economic interests. The former C said central banks like the Bank of England maintained extensive networks of contacts to secure information on future developments. But specialist intelligence agencies should also undertake the task of financial security. 'I am addressing the future of the euro and how defaults affect us economically,' he told the Global Strategy Forum. 'Efficient central bankers should be able to handle themselves but I am indicating they could and might need help from time to time on the currency issue.' Sir Richard added that 2008 financial crisis had changed his views on the role of intelligence agencies in protecting the economy. Britain needed to be 'forewarned and forearmed’ in anticipation of a future crisis. He said: 'I don’t think we should be squeamish about using all means to protect ourselves financially.'.... As one of the highest regarded global spy agencies, the Secret Intelligence Service, or MI6, has deep ties with its intelligence counterparts across Europe. Sir Richard acknowledged that MI6 was a leader in efforts to integrate Europe’s intelligence agencies. By ordering the foreign intelligence agency to actively spy on its partners, the government would risk a backlash from the country’s closest neighbours and allies. Countries vulnerable to quitting the euro would be sure to view the move as an act of selfishness at a time of national weakness.... Sir Richard noted that the Bank of England had effectively intelligence capabilities – though it did not classify these activities as spying. As such MI6 would play a subordinate role to the Bank. Sir Richard was appointed head of MI6 in 1999 and was head of the organisation during the September 11 attacks on the US by al Qaeda. When he retired in 2004, the final year of his career had been overshadowed by controversy over the dossier used by the government to accuse Iraq of pursuing a secret Weapons of Mass Destruction programme.'
Britain should start spying on Eurozone neighbours, former MI6 chief says
Telegraph, 5 July 2011


"The top-secret world the government created in response to the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, has become so large, so unwieldy and so secretive that no one knows how much money it costs, how many people it employs, how many programs exist within it or exactly how many agencies do the same work.... In Washington and the surrounding area, 33 building complexes for top-secret intelligence work are under construction or have been built since September 2001. Together they occupy the equivalent of almost three Pentagons or 22 U.S. Capitol buildings - about 17 million square feet of space."
A hidden world, growing beyond control
Washington Post, 19 July 2010


"A former head of MI5 has accused the government of exploiting the fear of terrorism and trying to bring in laws that restrict civil liberties. In an interview in a Spanish newspaper, published in the Daily Telegraph, Dame Stella Rimington, 73, also accuses the US of 'tortures'....Dame Stella, who stood down as the director general of the security service in 1996, has previously been critical of the government's policies, including its attempts to extend pre-charge detention for terror suspects to 42 days and the controversial plan to introduce ID cards. 'It would be better that the government recognised that there are risks, rather than frightening people in order to be able to pass laws which restrict civil liberties, precisely one of the objects of terrorism - that we live in fear and under a police state,' she told the Spanish newspaper La Vanguardia...."
Ministers 'using fear of terror'
BBC Online, 17 February 2009

"With Google’s Latitude, parents will be able to swoop down like helicopters on their children, whirr around their heads and chase them away from the games arcade and back to do their French verbs....However Orwellian it sounds, don’t worry. The police and security services can already track you down from your phone without any help from Google..."
Sloping off could soon be a thing of the past
London Times, 5 February 2009

"Over the past few days, at trade fairs from Las Vegas to Seoul, a constant theme has been the unstoppable advance of 'FRT', the benign abbreviation favoured by industry insiders. We learnt that Apple's iPhoto update will automatically scan your photos to detect people's faces and group them accordingly, and that Lenovo's new PC will log on users by monitoring their facial patterns....So let's understand this: governments and police are planning to implement increasingly accurate surveillance technologies that are unnoticeable, cheap, pervasive, ubiquitous, and searchable in real time. And private businesses, from bars to workplaces, will also operate such systems, whose data trail may well be sold on or leaked to third parties - let's say, insurance companies that have an interest in knowing about your unhealthy lifestyle, or your ex-spouse who wants evidence that you can afford higher maintenance payments. Rather than jump up and down with rage - you never know who is watching through the window - you have a duty now, as a citizen, to question this stealthy rush towards permanent individual surveillance. A Government already obsessed with pursuing an unworkable and unnecessary identity-card database must be held to account."
Let's face it, soon Big Brother will have no trouble recognising you
London Times, 13 January 2009


"Our privacy is being invaded by the world's security services in every second of every day, as a routine matter. Vast quantities of information are collected by commercial enterprises such as Google or Tesco. Against these invasions of our privacy we have little or no protection."
Lord Rees-Mogg
London Times, 25 July 2008


"Officials from the top of Government to lowly council officers will be  given unprecedented powers to access details of every phone call in Britain under laws coming into force tomorrow. The new rules compel phone companies to retain information, however  private, about all landline and mobile calls, and make them available to some 795 public bodies and quangos.  The move, enacted by the personal decree of Home Secretary Jacqui Smith, will give police and security services a right they have long demanded: to delve at will into the phone records of British citizens and businesses. The Government will be given access to details of every phone call in Britain. ....The initiative, formulated in the wake of the Madrid and London terrorist attacks of 2004 and 2005, was put forward as a vital tool in the fight against terrorism ....  Files will also be kept on the sending and receipt of text messages. By 2009 the Government plans to extend the rules to cover internet use: the websites we have visited, the people we have emailed and phone calls made over the net.... The new measures were implemented after the Home Secretary signed a 'statutory instrument' on July 26. The process allows the Government to alter  laws
without a full act of Parliament."

Big Brother Britain: Government and councils to spy on ALL our phones
DAILY/SUNDAY MAIL, 29 September 2007


"The FBI appears to have begun using a novel form of electronic surveillance in criminal investigations: remotely activating a mobile phone's microphone and using it to eavesdrop on nearby conversations. ......Kaplan's opinion said that the eavesdropping technique 'functioned whether the phone was powered on or off.' Some handsets can't be fully powered down without removing the battery.....Security-conscious corporate executives routinely remove the batteries from their cell phones, he added....A BBC article from 2004 reported that intelligence agencies routinely employ the remote-activiation method. 'A mobile sitting on the desk of a politician or businessman can act as a powerful, undetectable bug,' the article said, 'enabling them to be activated at a later date to pick up sounds even when the receiver is down.'........ A 2003 lawsuit revealed that the FBI was able to surreptitiously turn on the built-in microphones in automotive systems like General Motors' OnStar to snoop on passengers' conversations. When FBI agents remotely activated the system and were listening in, passengers in the vehicle could not tell that their conversations were being monitored. Malicious hackers have followed suit. A report last year said Spanish authorities had detained a man who write a Trojan horse that secretly activated a computer's video camera and forwarded him the recordings."
FBI taps cell phone mic as eavesdropping tool
ZDNetNews, 1 December 2006


"Police in Israel say they have uncovered a huge industrial spying ring which used computer viruses to probe the systems of many major companies. At least 15 Israeli firms have been implicated in the espionage plot, with 18 people arrested in Israel and two more held by British police. Among those under suspicion are major Israeli telecoms and media companies. Police say the companies used a 'Trojan horse' computer virus written by an Israeli to hack into rivals' systems. Interpol and the authorities in Britain, Germany and the US are already involved in investigating the espionage, which Israeli police fear may involve major international companies."
Israeli firms 'ran vast spy ring'
BBC Online, 31 May 2005


'We Need A New Way Of Thinking' - Consciousness-Based Education

2008 - 2011 Archive
2011 - 2010 - 2009 - 2008 & Earlier

"Meet the Brossarts, a North Dakota family deemed so dangerous that the local sheriff needed unleashed an unmanned Predator drone to help bring them in. The Brossart's alleged crime? They wouldn't give back three cows and their calves that wandered onto their 3,000-acre farm this summer. The same aerial vehicles used by the CIA to track down and assassinate terrorists and militants in Pakistan and Afghanistan are now being deployed by cops to spy on Americans in their own backyards. ... The Brossarts are the first known subjects of the high-flying new surveillance technology that the federal government has made available to some local sheriffs and police chiefs - all without Congressional approval or search warrants. Local authorities say the Brossarts are known for being armed, anti-government separatists whose sprawling farm is used as a compound. .... increasingly, the federal government and local police agencies are using ... drones to spy criminal suspects in America with sophisticated high-resolution cameras, heat sensors and radar. All of it comes without a warrant. ... Allowing local sheriffs and police chiefs access to spy planes happened without public discussion or the approval of Congress. And it has privacy advocates crying foul, saying the unregulated use of the drones is intrusive.... All of the surveillance occurred without a search warrant because the Supreme Court has long ruled that anything visible from the air, even if it's on private property, can be subject to police spying. However, privacy experts say that predator drones, which can silently fly for 20 hours nonstop, dramatically surpasses the spying power that any police helicopter or airplane can achieve."
Meet the North Dakota family of anti-government separatists busted by cops using a Predator drone... after 'stealing six cows'
Mail, 13 December 2011

"Mass interception of entire populations is not only a reality, it is a secret new industry spanning 25 countries. It sounds like something out of Hollywood, but as of today, mass interception systems, built by Western intelligence contractors, including for ’political opponents’ are a reality. Today WikiLeaks began releasing a database of hundreds of documents from as many as 160 intelligence contractors in the mass surveillance industry. Working with Bugged Planet and Privacy International, as well as media organizations form six countries – ARD in Germany, The Bureau of Investigative Journalism in the UK, The Hindu in India, L’Espresso in Italy, OWNI in France and the Washington Post in the U.S. Wikileaks is shining a light on this secret industry that has boomed since September 11, 2001 and is worth billions of dollars per year. WikiLeaks has released 287 documents today, but the Spy Files project is ongoing and further information will be released this week and into next year. International surveillance companies are based in the more technologically sophisticated countries, and they sell their technology on to every country of the world. This industry is, in practice, unregulated. Intelligence agencies, military forces and police authorities are able to silently, and on mass, and secretly intercept calls and take over computers without the help or knowledge of the telecommunication providers. Users’ physical location can be tracked if they are carrying a mobile phone, even if it is only on stand by. But the WikiLeaks Spy Files are more than just about ’good Western countries’ exporting to ’bad developing world countries’. Western companies are also selling a vast range of mass surveillance equipment to Western intelligence agencies. In traditional spy stories, intelligence agencies like MI5 bug the phone of one or two people of interest. In the last ten years systems for indiscriminate, mass surveillance have become the norm. Intelligence companies such as VASTech secretly sell equipment to permanently record the phone calls of entire nations. Others record the location of every mobile phone in a city, down to 50 meters. Systems to infect every Facebook user, or smart-phone owner of an entire population group are on the intelligence market...... In January 2011, the National Security Agency broke ground on a $1.5 billion facility in the Utah desert that is designed to store terabytes of domestic and foreign intelligence data forever and process it for years to come. Telecommunication companies are forthcoming when it comes to disclosing client information to the authorities - no matter the country. Headlines during August’s unrest in the UK exposed how Research in Motion (RIM), makers of the Blackberry, offered to help the government identify their clients. RIM has been in similar negotiations to share BlackBerry Messenger data with the governments of India, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates. There are commercial firms that now sell special software that analyze this data and turn it into powerful tools that can be used by military and intelligence agencies.... Across the world, mass surveillance contractors are helping intelligence agencies spy on individuals and ‘communities of interest’ on an industrial scale. The Wikileaks Spy Files reveal the details of which companies are making billions selling sophisticated tracking tools to government buyers, flouting export rules, and turning a blind eye to dictatorial regimes that abuse human rights."
The Spyfiles
Wikileaks, 1 December 2011

"A piece of keystroke-sniffing software called Carrier IQ has been embedded so deeply in millions of HTC and Samsung-built Android devices that it’s tough to spot and nearly impossible to remove, as 25-year old Connecticut systems administrator Trevor Eckhart revealed in a video Tuesday. That’s not just creepy, says Paul Ohm, a former Justice Department prosecutor and law professor at the University of Colorado Law School. He thinks it’s also likely grounds for a class action lawsuit based on a federal wiretapping law. 'If CarrierIQ has gotten the handset manufactures to install secret software that records keystrokes intended for text messaging and the Internet and are sending some of that information back somewhere, this is very likely a federal wiretap.' he says. 'And that gives the people wiretapped the right to sue and provides for significant monetary damages.' As Eckhart’s analysis of the company’s training videos and the debugging logs on his own HTC Evo handset have shown, Carrier IQ captures every keystroke on a device as well as location and other data, and potentially makes that data available to Carrier IQ’s customers. ... Eckhart has found the application on Samsung, HTC, Nokia and RIM devices, and Carrier IQ claims on its website that it has installed the program on more than 140 million handsets."
Phone 'Rootkit' Maker Carrier IQ May Have Violated Wiretap Law In Millions Of Cases
Forbes, 30 November 2011

"An Android app developer has published what he says is conclusive proof that millions of smartphones are secretly monitoring the key presses, geographic locations, and received messages of its users. In a YouTube video posted on Monday, Trevor Eckhart showed how software from a Silicon Valley company known as Carrier IQ recorded in real time the keys he pressed into a stock EVO handset, which he had reset to factory settings just prior to the demonstration. Using a packet sniffer while his device was in airplane mode, he demonstrated how each numeric tap and every received text message is logged by the software. Ironically, he says, the Carrier IQ software recorded the 'hello world' dispatch even before it was displayed on his handset. Eckhart then connected the device to a Wi-Fi network and pointed his browser at Google. Even though he denied the search giant's request that he share his physical location, the Carrier IQ software recorded it. The secret app then recorded the precise input of his search query – again, 'hello world' – even though he typed it into a page that uses the SSL, or secure sockets layer, protocol to encrypt data sent between the device and the servers. 'We can see that Carrier IQ is querying these strings over my wireless network [with] no 3G connectivity and it is reading HTTPS,' the 25-year-old Eckhart says."
BUSTED! Secret app on millions of phones logs key taps
The Register, 30 November 2011

"WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange blasted the mainstream media, Washington, banks and the Internet itself as he addressed journalists in Hong Kong on Monday via videolink from house arrest in England. Fresh from accepting a top award for journalism from the prestigious Walkley Foundation in his native Australia on Sunday, Assange spoke to the News World Summit in Hong Kong before keeping a regular appointment with the police....The Internet itself had become 'the most significant surveillance machine that we have ever seen,' Assange said in reference to the amount of information people give about themselves online. 'It's not an age of transparency at all ... the amount of secret information is more than ever before,' he said, adding that information flows in but is not flowing out of governments and other powerful organisations. 'I see that really is our big battle. The technology gives and the technology takes away,' he added."
Internet has become 'surveillance machine': Julian Assange
AFP, 28 November 2011

"The most senior figure in the US military has warned that the number of threats facing his country and its allies have increased over the last decade and that the armed forces must be kept strong to fight back. In his first speech since taking over as chairman of the joint chiefs of staff, General Martin Dempsey told an audience in London on Monday that meeting the new challenges in a time of austerity would require a transformation in military thinking. He highlighted the cyber threat as one of the most pressing, and said more needed to be done to counter the dangers online."
US faces more threats than decade ago, warns head of its military
Guardian, 28 November 2011

"'Big Brother' technology which monitors mobile phones remotely - without warning you that this is happening - is already in use in many major British retail chains, MailOnline can reveal. The technology has quietly been in use in the UK for four years in several 'major' High Street malls and department stores, with little or no publicity. It raises serious questions about privacy - and this weekend the launch of the technology in the U.S. for the post-Thanksgiving sales was been greeted with a storm of controversy. Thanks to the widespread use of CCTV, Britain is already the most 'watched' society on Earth. Unlike with CCTV, though, victims of 'Footpaths' scanning often get no warning they are being watched. The surveillance is not for their safety, either - it's for pure commercial gain. 'Our FootPath technology allows us to monitor the path you take as you travel through premises belonging to any of our clients,' says Path Intelligence, the company behind the technology. The technology is already in use in several 'major' retail chains in the UK - although the company's CEO refused to say which. 'We have been installed in various places since 2008,' CEO Sharon Biggar told MailOnline today. When entering premises with Footpath technology, the customer receives no warning that their mobile phone signal is being monitored bar a small sign somewhere on the premises. Crucially, though, they do not receive an option to 'opt-out' of being scanned. Customers on all networks will be scanned by Footpath, and no current mobile phone has a 'defence' against such scanners. The only way to be safe is simply to switch off. 'FootPath works by detecting a frequently changing signal from your mobile phone,' says the company. 'This random signal is detected by a number of our units within the premises. 'We combine the information detected from the mobile phone signal with a proprietary mathematical algorithm developed by us. This allows us to determine your path through premises equipped with our receiver units.' 'We cannot store individual mobile phone numbers and do not read SMS texts or phone calls,' says Ms Biggar. 'We 'hash' the data immediately so that no computer or person within Path Intelligence ever knows the number.' Privacy advocates worry, though, that merely harvesting that sort of data leaves stores open to hackers or employees misusing the information. 'Store security cameras are a bigger privacy violation - they CAN identify you.' 'Sat-navs such as TomTom also already scan for mobile phone signals to work out where there are traffic jams.' Ms Biggar says the technology is largely used to help stores redesign to maximise sales."
Shops are secretly tracking your every move by snooping on your mobile - WITHOUT asking permission
Mail, 28 November 2011

"In recent weeks, Facebook has been wrangling with the Federal Trade Commission over whether the social media website is violating users' privacy by making public too much of their personal information. Far more quietly, another debate is brewing over a different side of online privacy: what Facebook is learning about those who visit its website. Facebook officials are now acknowledging that the social media giant has been able to create a running log of the web pages that each of its 800 million or so members has visited during the previous 90 days. Facebook also keeps close track of where millions more non-members of the social network go on the Web, after they visit a Facebook web page for any reason. To do this, the company relies on tracking cookie technologies similar to the controversial systems used by Google, Adobe, Microsoft, Yahoo and others in the online advertising industry, says Arturo Bejar, Facebook's engineering director. Facebook's efforts to track the browsing habits of visitors to its site have made the company a player in the 'Do Not Track' debate, which focuses on whether consumers should be able to prevent websites from tracking the consumers' online activity. For online business and social media sites, such information can be particularly valuable in helping them tailor online ads to specific visitors. But privacy advocates worry about how else the information might be used, and whether it might be sold to third parties. New guidelines for online privacy are being hashed out in Congress and by the World Wide Web Consortium, which sets standards for the Internet. If privacy advocates get their way, consumers soon could be empowered to stop or limit tech companies and ad networks from tracking them wherever they go online. But the online advertising industry has dug in its heels, trying to retain the current self-regulatory system."
Facebook tracking is under scrutiny
USA Today, 15 November 2011

"A council has been accused of a ‘staggering invasion of privacy’ after announcing it plans to record every conversation that takes place in taxi cabs. Oxford City Council will fit all of its 652 taxis with at least one CCTV camera to record all conversations between passengers from the moment the engine starts running. Civil liberties campaign group Big Brother Watch has said it will complain to the Information Commissioner over the scheme. Nick Pickles, the campaign group's director, said: ‘This is a staggering invasion of privacy, being done with no evidence, no consultation and a total disregard for civil liberties.' ‘Big Brother now has big ears, and they are eavesdropping on your conversations with absolutely no justification.’ He added: ‘Given that one rail route to Witney [David Cameron's constituency] is through Oxford, we'll be letting the Prime Minister know that his staff might want to avoid using Oxford cabs.’ A spokeswoman for Oxford City Council said video and audio would run all the time in the cabs but officials will only be allowed to view the material if there has been a complaint.' The authority said complaints against both taxi drivers and passengers had increased year on year and without CCTV the allegations 'amount to one persons word against the other'. Complaints included overcharging, sexual assaults and attacks on drivers."
Council accused of a 'staggering invasion of privacy' as it plans to record EVERY conversation that takes place in taxi cabs
Mail, 14 November 2011

"When James Hay was invited to join Facebook by an old university acquaintance on Friday, he began tapping in his registration details with a hint of trepidation. Having ignored the social networking behemoth for several years, Hay, 27, figured he would be a 'Billy no-mates' and it would take him months to build up a collection of online friends. Yet within seconds of keying in his email address Hay, who works for a television production company in London, was surprised to be sent a list of 45 people he might know. 'It felt as if Facebook already knew a whole load of stuff about me before I had even signed up,' he said. 'It was spooky.' It transpires that the company, which boasts 800m users worldwide, has been accumulating information about people who have not even joined the site — and without their knowledge or consent. Many who are invited to sign up receive a list of suggested friends before they even hand over any personal details. These so-called 'shadow profiles' are mainly the result of two key actions by Facebook. The site stores names that are searched for by existing users. If someone is not already on Facebook, they could be alerted to who was looking for them when they do eventually sign up. The company also encourages users to synchronise the contacts in their email address books with their Facebook account. This instantly gives the company access to that user’s full list of real-life friends and acquaintances. The acquisition of such information about non-users is now being investigated by Ireland’s Data Protection Commissioner (IDPC) as part of a series of complaints about Facebook’s practices that challenge whether it has breached European privacy laws. Facebook retains every IP address from which a user logs on to the site, helping the company to identify home and work computers for each user."
Not on Facebook? It still has a fix on you
Sunday Times, 6 November 2011, Print Edition, P13

"The astonishing extent of Britain’s surveillance society was revealed for the first time yesterday. Three million snooping operations have been carried out over the past decade under controversial anti-terror laws. They include tens of thousands of undercover missions by councils and other state bodies which are not responsible for law enforcement. Cases include a family who were spied on to check they were not cheating on school catchment area rules and so-called ‘bin criminals’.The campaign group Justice is demanding the hugely controversial Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act – under which all the operations were authorised – be scrapped altogether.  RIPA, billed as ‘anti-terror legislation’, was passed by Labour in 2000 supposedly to regulate snooping by public bodies. But Justice, which has campaigned on privacy matters for decades, says the result has been a huge increase in intrusive surveillance. Since the Act was passed, there have been:  More than 20,000 warrants for the interception of phone calls, emails and internet use;  * At least 2.7million requests for communication data, including phone bills and location information; * More than 4,000 authorisations for intrusive surveillance, such as planting a bug in a person’s house; * At least 186,133 authorisations for directed (covert) surveillance by law enforcement agencies; * 61,317 directed surveillance operations by other public bodies, including councils;  * 43,391 authorisations for ‘covert human intelligence sources’. In total, the report says there have been around three million decisions taken by state bodies under RIPA, not including authorisations given to the security and intelligence services.   Yet fewer than 5,000 of these – just 0.16 per cent – were approved by judges. In the remaining cases, they required only the approval of a bureaucrat or, in a small number of cases involving large scale intrusion, a Secretary of State."
Big Brother's THREE MILLION targets: Massive surge in intrusive surveillance by state snoopers
Mail, 4 November 2011"

"During the last two years, Facebook has made a bewildering number of changes to its site - many of which can see personal data being laid open to advertisers, 'friends of friends' or the world. These changes often happen with no warning, and little explanation. In the last 18 months, Facebook has changed its privacy policies eight times - including changes that automatically tell people where you are, and a change that let third parties access users' telephone numbers and addresses. In a survey, 48 of users agreed that, 'I can't keep up with the number of changes Facebook has made to its data security settings.'Dr Robert Reid, scientific policy advisor for Which Computing, which conducted the survey said, 'Multiple changes per month to long-winded policies that are barely notified to users is leaving consumers of the social network feeling confused and powerless.'Sixty per cent of the 953 users surveyed said that they felt worried about, 'People who are not my friends accessing information about me on Facebook.'... A worrying 19 per cent of users said that they had never changed their privacy settings. This potentially leaves open information such as phone numbers, addresses and email addresses, which could be used in identity theft."
Half of Facebook users 'can't keep up' with site's snooping policies as privacy rules change EIGHT times in two years
Mail, 3 November 2011

"Britain's largest police force is operating covert surveillance technology that can masquerade as a mobile phone network, transmitting a signal that allows authorities to shut off phones remotely, intercept communications and gather data about thousands of users in a targeted area. The surveillance system has been procured by the Metropolitan police from Leeds-based company Datong plc, which counts the US Secret Service, the Ministry of Defence and regimes in the Middle East among its customers. Strictly classified under government protocol as 'Listed X', it can emit a signal over an area of up to an estimated 10 sq km, forcing hundreds of mobile phones per minute to release their unique IMSI and IMEI identity codes, which can be used to track a person's movements in real time. The disclosure has caused concern among lawyers and privacy groups that large numbers of innocent people could be unwittingly implicated in covert intelligence gathering. The Met has refused to confirm whether the system is used in public order situations, such as during large protests or demonstrations."
Met police using surveillance system to monitor mobile phones
Guardian, 30 October 2011

"Google faced down demands from a US law enforcement agency to take down YouTube videos allegedly showing police brutality earlier this year, figures released for the first time show. The technology giant's biannual transparency report shows that Google refused the demands from the unnamed authority in the first half of this year. According to the report, Google separately declined orders by other police authorities to remove videos that allegedly defamed law enforcement officials. The demands formed part of a 70% rise in takedown requests from the US government or police, and were revealed as part of an effort to highlight online censorship around the world. Figures revealed for the first time show that the US demanded private information about more than 11,000 Google users between January and June this year, almost equal to the number of requests made by 25 other developed countries, including the UK and Russia. Governments around the world requested private data about 25,440 people in the first half of this year, with 11,057 of those people in the US. It is the first time Google has released details about how many of its users are targeted by authorities, as opposed to the number of requests made by countries."
Google: US law enforcement tried to get videos removed from YouTube
Guardian, 25 October 2011

"Facebook Ireland is under fire for allegedly creating 'shadow profiles' on both users and nonusers alike. The startling charges against the social-networking giant come from the Irish Data Protection Commissioner (IDC), which, Fox News reports today, is launching a 'comprehensive' investigation against Facebook Ireland for extracting data from current users--without their consent or knowledge--and building 'extensive profiles' on people who haven't even signed on for the service. Names, phone numbers, e-mail addresses, work information, and perhaps even more sensitive information such as sexual orientation, political affiliations, and religious beliefs are being collected and could possibly be misused, Irish authorities claim."
Facebook Ireland accused of creating 'shadow profiles' on users, nonusers
CNet, 21 October 2011

"Council snoopers went through the bins of more than 30,000 families last year. The figure was double that of the previous year, despite a Coalition pledge to stamp out the intrusive practice. It was revealed in response to a Freedom of Information Act request by the Daily Mail. We can reveal that inspectors are building up a disturbingly detailed profile of families’ lives by rifling through their rubbish in secret. In some cases, they divide the contents into 13 main categories and 52 sub-categories of waste. Councils claim it is so householders can be targeted for future recycling efforts such as leafleting campaigns. But campaigners fear this data could be passed to other departments such as health or social services. The audits, which are held on a database, can reveal an extraordinarily sophisticated portrait from what sort of foods are eaten and what kind of goods are bought in a particular street. Inspectors, often hired in from the private sector, check supermarket labels, types of unwanted food – and even examine the contents of discarded mail. Councils were accused yesterday of using Big Brother tactics to ‘spy on residents with alarming frequency and for ever more spurious reasons’."
Big Brother bin searches double in a single year as councils snoop through the rubbish of 30,000 families
Mail, 16 October 2011

"A German hacker organization claims to have cracked spying software allegedly used by German authorities. The Trojan horse has functions which go way beyond those allowed by German law. The news has sparked a wave of outrage among politicians and media commentators. It sounds like something out of George Orwell's novel '1984' -- a computer program that can remotely control someone's computer without their knowledge, search its complete contents and use it to conduct audio-visual surveillance via the microphone or webcam. But the spy software that the famous German hacker organization Chaos Computer Club has obtained is not used by criminals looking to steal credit-card data or send spam e-mails. If the CCC is to be believed, the so-called 'Trojan horse' software was used by German authorities. The case has already triggered a political shockwave in the country and could have far-reaching consequences. On Saturday, the CCC announced that it had been given hard drives containing a 'state spying software' which had allegedly been used by German investigators to carry out surveillance of Internet communication. The organization had analyzed the software and found it to be full of defects. They also found that it transmitted information via a server located in the US. As well as its surveillance functions, it could be used to plant files on an individual's computer. It was also not sufficiently protected, so that third parties with the necessary technical skills could hijack the Trojan horse's functions for their own ends. The software possibly violated German law, the organization said. So-called Trojan horse software can be surreptitiously delivered by a harmless-looking e-mail and installed on a user's computer without their knowledge, where it can be used to, for example, scan the contents of a hard drive.... If the CCC's claims are true, then the software has functions which were expressly forbidden by Germany's highest court, the Federal Constitutional Court, in a landmark 2008 ruling which significantly restricted what was allowed in terms of online surveillance. The court also specified that online spying was only permissible if there was concrete evidence of danger to individuals or society. German politicians from all sides of the political spectrum have reacted to the news with alarm. Government spokesman Steffen Seibert said that Chancellor Angela Merkel was taking the CCC's allegations very seriously."
Electronic Surveillance Scandal Hits Germany
Der Speigel, 10 October 2011

"While it had been rumored it's unfortunately now confirmed that California governor Jerry Brown has sold out your privacy to law enforcement. After a bad court ruling gave law enforcement the ability to search your mobile phone during a traffic stop, the California legislature realized the ridiculousness of the situation and passed the bill requiring a warrant pretty quickly. But, unfortunately, despite widespread support for it, Governor Brown has vetoed the bill, meaning that your mobile phones are fair game for searches without a warrant."
CA Governor Lets Police Search Your Smartphones At Traffic Stops
Tech Dirt, 10 October 2011

"Facebook has been caught telling porkies by an Australian technologist whose revelations that the site tracks its 800 million users even when they are logged out have embroiled Facebook in a global public policy – and legal – nightmare. Facebook's assurances that 'we have no interest in tracking people' have been laid bare by a new Facebook patent, dated this month, that describes a method 'for tracking information about the activities of users of a social networking system while on another domain'."
Facebook's privacy lie: Aussie exposes 'tracking' as new patent uncovered
Syndney Morning Herald, 4 October 2011

"Many wireless carriers keep people's cellphone data for more than a year, according to a Justice Department document released by the American Civil Liberties Union. The government document was meant to help law enforcement agents who were seeking cellphone records for their investigations. The ACLU obtained the document as part of a Freedom of Information Act request for records on how law enforcement agencies use cellphone data. According to the 2010 document, the four national wireless carriers all keep records of which cellphone towers a phone uses for at least a year. This information could potentially be used to determine a person's location. T-Mobile officially keeps the cell tower data for four to six months, but the document notes that the period is 'really a year or more.' AT&T keeps all cell tower records since July 2008, Verizon keeps the data for one rolling year and Sprint keeps the information for 18 to 24 months."
ACLU finds Justice report on cellphone companies storing data for years
The Hill, 1 October 2011

"Internet companies such as Google, Twitter and Facebook are increasingly co-opted for surveillance work as the information they gather proves irresistible to law enforcement agencies, Web experts said this week. Although such companies try to keep their users' information private, their business models depend on exploiting it to sell targeted advertising, and when governments demand they hand it over, they have little choice but to comply. Suggestions that BlackBerry maker RIM might give user data to British police after its messenger service was used to coordinate riots this summer caused outrage -- as has the spying on social media users by more oppressive governments. But the vast amount of personal information that companies like Google collect to run their businesses has become simply too valuable for police and governments to ignore, delegates to the Internet Governance Forum in Nairobi said. 'When the possibility exists for information to be obtained that wasn't possible before, it's entirely understandable that law enforcement is interested,' Google's Chief Internet Evangelist Vint Cerf told Reuters in an interview."
Internet firms co-opted for surveillance: experts
Reuters, 30 September 2011

"Microsoft allegedly tracks the location of its mobile customers even after users request that tracking software be turned off, according to a new lawsuit. The proposed class action, filed in a Seattle federal court on Wednesday, says Microsoft intentionally designed camera software on the Windows Phone 7 operating system to ignore customer requests that they not be tracked. A Microsoft representative could not immediately be reached for comment. The lawsuit comes after concerns surfaced earlier this year that Apple's iPhones collected location data and stored it for up to a year, even when location software was supposedly turned off. Apple issued a patch to fix the problem. However, the revelation prompted renewed scrutiny of the nexus between location and privacy. At a hearing in May, U.S. lawmakers accused the tech industry of exploiting location data for marketing purposes -- a potentially multibillion-dollar industry -- without getting proper consent from millions of Americans. The lawsuit against Microsoft cites a letter the company sent to Congress, in which Microsoft said it only collects geolocation data with the express consent of the user."
Microsoft 'intentionally designed software for phones to track customers without their consent'
Mail, 1 September 2011

"A sleepy Home Counties market town has become the first in Britain to have every car passing through it tracked by police cameras. Royston, in Hertfordshire, has had a set of police cameras installed on every road leading in and out of it, recording the numberplate of every vehicle that passes them. The automatic number-plate recognition system will check the plates against a variety of databases, studying them for links to crimes, and insurance and tax records, and alerting police accordingly.  There were just seven incidents of vehicle crime in the town last month, and residents believe the unmarked cameras are an invasion of their privacy. The system, due to be switched on in the next few days, also allows police to compile 'hotlists' of vehicles that they are interested in... Details of the cars movements will stay on police records for two years, or five if the car is connected to a crime, the Guardian reported."
Big Brother is watching you: The town where EVERY car is tracked by police cameras
Mail, 30 July 2011

"Two key senators want to know if the leader of the vast U.S. intelligence apparatus believes it’s legal for spooks to track where you go through your iPhone. In a letter that Sens. Mark Udall (D-Colorado) and Ron Wyden (D-Oregon) will send later on Thursday, obtained by Danger Room, the senators ask Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, 'Do government agencies have the authority to collect the geolocation information of American citizens for intelligence purposes?' Both senators are members of the panel overseeing the 16 intelligence agencies. In May, they sounded warnings that the Obama administration was secretly reinterpreting the Patriot Act to allow a broader amount of domestic surveillance than it had publicly disclosed.... Geolocation is a particular interest of Wyden’s. Technically, there are few obstacles to clandestine geodata collection, since most mobile phones feature built-in GPS.... The 2008 FISA Amendments Act that blessed the Bush administration’s warrantless surveillance programs allowed intelligence agencies greater leeway to collect metadata on Americans’ communications abroad. It’s unclear to the senators if that or any other law prompted the spy community to move into geolocation collection. That’s why Wyden and Udall want 'unclassified answers' from Clapper. If Clapper thinks his spies can go after U.S. citizens’ geodata, they want the 'specific statutory basis' for that collection, along with a description of any 'judicial review or approval by particular officials' that might accompany it. They also want to know if Clapper thinks there’s any affirmative legal 'prohibition' to geodata collection by spies, if the spy chief doesn’t think it’s legal."
Senators Ask Spy Chief: Are You Tracking Us Through Our iPhones?
Wired, 14 July 2011

"Before hitting the streets, Oakland police officer Huy Nguyen's routine usually goes something like this: Gun ready? Check. Bulletproof vest strapped? Check. Body camera secured? Check. Wait, body camera? 'It feels uncomfortable when I don't have it,' Nguyen said of the video camera that is smaller than a smartphone and is worn on his chest. 'You can never be too safe.' Oakland and hundreds of other police departments across the country are equipping officers with tiny body cameras to record anything from a traffic stop to a hot vehicle pursuit to an unfolding violent crime. The mini cameras have even spawned a new cable reality TV series, Police POV, which uses police video from Cincinnati, Chattanooga and Fort Smith, Ark. Whether attached to shirt lapels or small headsets, the cameras are intended to provide more transparency and security to officers on the street and to reduce the number of misconduct complaints and potential lawsuits."
Police officers wearing cameras
Associated Press, 10 July 2011

"Bugging a phone is by several orders of seriousness a graver intrusion than accessing messages.... Hacking into the phone messages of a missing girl was one grisly (and for the News of the World catastrophic) example of a species of espionage that has been commonplace."
Matthew Parris - This outrage over hacking is hugely overblown
London Times, 9 July 2011, P19

"Sir Richard Dearlove, Britain’s former chief spymaster has said the country should start spying on its Eurozone neighbours to protect the economy as the common currency is wracked by national defaults. Sir Richard Dearlove, who served as head of MI6 until 2004, said that Britain must not be 'squeamish' about using the intelligence services to defend its economic interests. The former C said central banks like the Bank of England maintained extensive networks of contacts to secure information on future developments. But specialist intelligence agencies should also undertake the task of financial security. 'I am addressing the future of the euro and how defaults affect us economically,' he told the Global Strategy Forum. 'Efficient central bankers should be able to handle themselves but I am indicating they could and might need help from time to time on the currency issue.' Sir Richard added that 2008 financial crisis had changed his views on the role of intelligence agencies in protecting the economy. Britain needed to be 'forewarned and forearmed’ in anticipation of a future crisis. He said: 'I don’t think we should be squeamish about using all means to protect ourselves financially.'.... As one of the highest regarded global spy agencies, the Secret Intelligence Service, or MI6, has deep ties with its intelligence counterparts across Europe. Sir Richard acknowledged that MI6 was a leader in efforts to integrate Europe’s intelligence agencies. By ordering the foreign intelligence agency to actively spy on its partners, the government would risk a backlash from the country’s closest neighbours and allies. Countries vulnerable to quitting the euro would be sure to view the move as an act of selfishness at a time of national weakness.... Sir Richard noted that the Bank of England had effectively intelligence capabilities – though it did not classify these activities as spying. As such MI6 would play a subordinate role to the Bank. Sir Richard was appointed head of MI6 in 1999 and was head of the organisation during the September 11 attacks on the US by al Qaeda. When he retired in 2004, the final year of his career had been overshadowed by controversy over the dossier used by the government to accuse Iraq of pursuing a secret Weapons of Mass Destruction programme.”
Britain should start spying on Eurozone neighbours, former MI6 chief says
Telegraph, 5 July 2011

"Authorities in Britain are more likely to request details about internet users than in any other country, according to Google. A report by the search engine website reveals that law enforcement officials and government agencies made 1,162 separate requests for data from the company in just six months. When population sizes are taken into account, the figure puts Britain second in a table of 26 developed countries. Singapore - which has been condemned by human rights groups for its authoritarian regime - topped the table while Australia came third with 345 requests and France came fourth with 1,021 requests. The U.S. was fifth in the table with 4,601 requests for information in the second half of last year."
British Government leads the world in internet snooping, Google reveals as it publishes its transparency report
Mail, 29 June 2011

"Google has been forced to take action after it was reported the search giant publicises the estimated locations of millions of iPhones, laptios and other devices with wi-fi connections. The practice meant that if a user had wi-fi turned on, previous whereabouts of your device - such as your home, office, or even restaurants you frequent - were visible on the web for all to see. But when it was detailed in an exclusive CNET report the practice launched a new row over embattled Google's privacy standards. Android phones with location services enabled on them regularly beam the hardware IDs of wi-fi devices in the area back to Google. The same happens with Microsoft, Apple and Skyhook Wireless as part of each company's race to map the street addresses of various access points and routers around the globe, CNET explained. However both Google and Skyhook Wireless make the data publicly available on the internet. That means that if someone knows your hardware ID - or your MAC address - they can trace a physical address that Google associates with you, such as your home or office address. They can even trace your favourite restaurant or your gym - anywhere you go frequently that has wi-fi."
Google forced to change privacy practices after report the search giant publicises the home addresses of wi-fi users
Mail, 27 June 2011

"When President Eisenhower left office in 1960, he provided the American people with a warning. 'In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist.' Sixty years later, the military-industrial complex has been joined by another unprecedented centre of what has increasingly proven to be 'misplaced power': the dozens of secretive firms known collectively as the intelligence contracting industry. Last February, three of these firms – HBGary Federal, Palantir and Berico, known collectively as Team Themis – were discovered to have conspired to hire out their information war capabilities to corporations which hoped to strike back at perceived enemies, including US activist groups, WikiLeaks and journalist Glenn Greenwald. That such a dangerous new dynamic was now in play was only revealed due to a raid by hackers associated with the Anonymous collective, resulting in the dissemination of more than 70,000 emails to and from executives at HBGary Federal and its parent company HBGary. After having spent several months studying those emails and otherwise investigating the industry depicted therein, I have revealed my summary of a classified US intelligence programme known as Romas/COIN, as well as its upcoming replacement, known as Odyssey. The programme appears to allow for the large-scale monitoring of social networks by way of such things as natural language processing, semantic analysis, latent semantic indexing and IT intrusion. At the same time, it also entails the dissemination of some unknown degree of information to a given population through a variety of means – without any hint that the actual source is US intelligence. Scattered discussions of Arab translation services may indicate that the programme targets the Middle East....Altogether, the existence and nature of Romas/COIN should confirm what many had already come to realise over the past few years, in particular: the US and other states have no intention of allowing populations to conduct their affairs without scrutiny. Such states ought not complain when they find themselves subjected to similar scrutiny – as will increasingly become the case over the next several years."
Barrett Brown - A sinister cyber-surveillance scheme exposed
Guardian, Comment Is Free, 22 June 2011

"If you have Wi-Fi turned on, the previous whereabouts of your computer or mobile device may be visible on the Web for anyone to see. Google publishes the estimated location of millions of iPhones, laptops, and other devices with Wi-Fi connections, a practice that represents the latest twist in a series of revelations this year about wireless devices and privacy, CNET has learned. Android phones with location services enabled regularly beam the unique hardware IDs of nearby Wi-Fi devices back to Google, a similar practice followed by Microsoft, Apple, and Skyhook Wireless as part of each company's effort to map the street addresses of access points and routers around the globe. That benefits users by helping their mobile devices determine locations faster than they could with GPS alone..... Only Google and Skyhook Wireless, however, make their location databases linking hardware IDs to street addresses publicly available on the Internet, which raises novel privacy concerns when the IDs they're tracking are mobile. If someone knows your hardware ID, he may be able to find a physical address that the companies associate with you--even if you never intended it to become public. Tests performed over the last week by CNET and security researcher Ashkan Soltani showed that approximately 10 percent of laptops and mobile phones using Wi-Fi appear to be listed by Google as corresponding to street addresses. Skyhook Wireless' list of matches appears to be closer to 5 percent. 'I was surprised to see such precise data on where my laptop--and I--used to live,' says Nick Doty, a lecturer at the University of California at Berkeley who co-teaches the Technology and Policy Lab. Entering Doty's unique hardware ID into Google's database returns his former home in the Capitol Hill neighborhood in Seattle. Here's how it works: Wi-Fi-enabled devices, including PCs, iPhones, iPads, and Android phones, transmit a unique hardware identifier, called a MAC address, to anyone within a radius of approximately 100 to 200 feet. If someone captures or already knows that unique address, Google and Skyhook's services can reveal a previous location where that device was located, a practice that can reveal personal information including home or work addresses or even the addresses of restaurants frequented."
Exclusive: Google's Web mapping can track your phone
CNetNews, 15 June 2011

"Private computer experts advised U.S. officials on how cyberattacks could damage Libya’s oil and gas infrastructure and rob Moammar Gadhafi’s regime of crucial oil revenue, according to a study obtained by hackers. It remains unclear who commissioned 'Project Cyber Dawn' and how much of a role the U.S. government played in it, but it shows the increasing amount of work being done by private companies in exposing foreign governments’ vulnerabilities to cyber attack. 'For the private sector to be making recommendations ... that’s a level of ambition that you would not have seen until very recently,' said Eli Jellenc, a cyber security expert with VeriSign Inc. who is not linked to the study or its authors. The study outlined ways to disable the coastal refinery at Ras Lanouf using a computer virus similar to the Stuxnet worm that led to a breakdown in Iran’s enrichment program late last year. It catalogued several pieces of potentially exposed computer hardware used at the refinery. The study was discussed in some of nearly 1,000 emails stolen by hacking group Lulz Security from Delaware-based Internet surveillance firm Unveillance, LLC as part of an effort to show how vulnerable data can be. Most of the emails detail the day-to-day trivia of running a small technology startup, but others concern an effort to scout out vulnerabilities in Gadhafi’s electronic infrastructure. Cyberwarfare has assumed an increasingly high profile following dramatic computer attacks on Google, Inc., U.S. defense contractors and the IMF. This month, the Pentagon is expected to release policy on whether some cyber attacks should be considered acts of war and when a U.S. cyber attack might be justified."
Leaked study shows companies advised Pentagon on cyber-sabotage against Libya
Associated Press, 13 June 2011

"When young dissidents in Egypt were organizing an election-monitoring project last fall, they discussed their plans over Skype, the popular Internet phone service, believing it to be secure. But someone else was listening in—Egypt's security service. An internal memo from the 'Electronic Penetration Department' even boasted it had intercepted one conversation in which an activist stressed the importance of using Skype 'because it cannot be penetrated online by any security device." Skype, which Microsoft Corp. is acquiring for $8.5 billion, is best known as a cheap way to make international phone calls. But the Luxembourg-based service also is the communications tool of choice for dissidents around the world because its powerful encryption technology evades traditional wiretaps. Throughout the recent Middle East uprisings, protesters have used Skype for confidential video conferences, phone calls, instant messages and file exchanges. In Iran, opposition leaders and dissidents used Skype to plot strategy and organize a February protest. Skype also is a favorite among activists in Saudi Arabia and Vietnam, according to State Department cables released by WikiLeaks. In March, following the Egyptian revolution that toppled President Hosni Mubarak, some activists raided the headquarters of Amn Al Dowla, the state security agency, uncovering the secret memo about intercepting Skype calls. In addition, 26-year-old activist Basem Fathi says he found files describing his love life and trips to the beach, apparently gleaned from intercepted emails and phone calls. 'I believe that they were collecting every little detail they were hearing from our mouths and putting them in a file,' he says. A cottage industry of U.S. and other companies is now designing and selling tools that can be used to block or eavesdrop on Skype conversations. One technique: Using special "spyware," or software that intercepts an audio stream from a computer—thereby hearing what's being said and effectively bypassing Skype's encryption. Egypt's spy service last year tested one product, FinSpy, made by Britain's Gamma International UK Ltd., according to Egyptian government documents and Gamma's local reseller."
Mideast Uses Western Tools to Battle the Skype Rebellion
Wall St Journal, 1 June 2011

"The Pentagon has concluded that computer sabotage coming from another country can constitute an act of war, a finding that for the first time opens the door for the U.S. to respond using traditional military force. The Pentagon's first formal cyber strategy, unclassified portions of which are expected to become public next month, represents an early attempt to grapple with a changing world in which a hacker could pose as significant a threat to U.S. nuclear reactors, subways or pipelines as a hostile country's military. In part, the Pentagon intends its plan as a warning to potential adversaries of the consequences of attacking the U.S. in this way. 'If you shut down our power grid, maybe we will put a missile down one of your smokestacks,' said a military official. Recent attacks on the Pentagon's own systems—as well as the sabotaging of Iran's nuclear program via the Stuxnet computer worm—have given new urgency to U.S. efforts to develop a more formalized approach to cyber attacks. A key moment occurred in 2008, when at least one U.S. military computer system was penetrated. This weekend Lockheed Martin, a major military contractor, acknowledged that it had been the victim of an infiltration, while playing down its impact. The report will also spark a debate over a range of sensitive issues the Pentagon left unaddressed, including whether the U.S. can ever be certain about an attack's origin, and how to define when computer sabotage is serious enough to constitute an act of war. These questions have already been a topic of dispute within the military. One idea gaining momentum at the Pentagon is the notion of 'equivalence.' If a cyber attack produces the death, damage, destruction or high-level disruption that a traditional military attack would cause, then it would be a candidate for a 'use of force' consideration, which could merit retaliation."
Cyber Combat: Act of War
Wall St Journal, 31 May 2011

"It is impossible to hear about sexual or sex-crime scandals nowadays – whether that involving Dominique Strauss-Kahn or those of former New York Governor Eliot Spitzer, Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, or the half-dozen United States congressmen whose careers have ended in the past couple of years – without considering how they were exposed. What does it mean to live in a society in which surveillance is omnipresent? Like the heat beneath the proverbial boiling frogs, the level of surveillance in Western democracies has been ratcheted up slowly – but far faster than citizens can respond. In the US, for example, President George W. Bush’s Patriot Act is being extended, following a series of backroom deals. Americans do not want it, and they were not consulted when it was enacted by their representatives under the pressure of a government that demanded more power in the wake of the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. That does not seem to matter. A concerted effort is underway in the US – and in the United Kingdom – to 'brand' surveillance as positive. New York City subway passengers are now advised that they might experience random searches of their bags. Activists in America are now accustomed to assuming that their emails are being read and their phone calls monitored. Indeed, the telecom companies Verizon and AT&T have established areas on their premises for eavesdropping activity by the National Security Agency. The spate of sex scandals is a sign of more serious corruption and degradation than most commentators seem to realize. Yes, sex criminals must be punished; but political career after political career, especially in America, is ending because of consensual affairs. Consensual sex between adults is no one else’s business. But now that public figures – especially those deemed to be 'of interest' to intelligence agencies – are susceptible to being watched three-dimensionally, the chances of being compromised are far higher than they were in the days of the UK’s Profumo affair, which brought down a British defense secretary in the early 1960’s. And there is no end to this crash-and-burn surveillance strategy, owing to the nature of the information that is caught in the net. After all, the human sex drive, especially if it compels risky or self-destructive behavior, has held appeal for dramatists since the ancient Greeks, who originated the story of Achilles and his vulnerability. And, because sex scandals are always interesting to read about – certainly compared to yet another undeclared war, or a bailout that created jobs costing an estimated $850,000 each – they will always be useful diversions. Citizens’ attention can be channeled away from, say, major corporate theft and government malfeasance toward narratives involving two hapless individuals (and their wives and children, who are usually suffering quite enough without the media’s heavy breathing)."
Sex and Surveillance
Project Syndicate, 31 May 2011

"Remember section 215? It was a notorious provision of the USA Patriot Act, renewed on Thursday, that allowed the government to snoop on what library books you'd borrowed, what videos you'd rented, your medical records – anything, really, if investigators thought it might have something to do with terrorism, no matter how tangential. I wrote about it for the Boston Phoenix in 2003, as an example of the then budding excesses of the Bush-Cheney years. Well, section 215 is back – not that it ever went away. Charlie Savage reports in Friday's New York Times that two Democratic senators, Ron Wyden of Oregon and Mark Udall of Colorado, have accused the Obama administration of using Section 215 for purposes not intended by Congress. Russ Feingold, then a Democratic senator for Wisconsin, raised similar alarms in 2009. The senators know what the White House is up to because they were privy to secret testimony. But under Senate rules, they can't reveal what they learned. Thus they have demanded that the White House come clean with the public. 'Americans would be alarmed if they knew how this law is being carried out,' Udall is quoted as saying."
Dan Kennedy - From Bush to Obama, the snooping goes on
Guardian, Comment Is Free, 27 May 2011

"Documents left behind by the FBI in antiwar activist Mick Kelly's apartment are shedding light on why heavily armed special agents raided the homes and businesses of Kelly and 22 others last September. They believed that Kelly -- at 5-feet, 10 inches and 145 pounds -- was 'DANGEROUS,' according to an operation order Kelly's partner found. Kelly legally owns a handgun and a rifle. But what the misplaced paperwork really shows, several activists said on Wednesday, is that they have been targeted based on their political beliefs, their travels and the people they have met rather than any alleged support for terrorism. 'It reads like something out of the 1950s,' Kelly said, pointing to questions left behind for agents to ask -- including whether Kelly belongs to a socialist group or knows others who do. He does -- and that's not illegal, he said. FBI special agent Steve Warfield, a spokesman for the Minneapolis division, said the documents found by Kelly and his partner, Linden Gawboy, appear authentic. The case became public in September when the FBI raided homes and businesses in Minneapolis, Chicago and Michigan looking for evidence that people were providing 'material support' to terrorist groups in Colombia and the Middle East. In all, 23 people have received subpoenas to appear before a grand jury in Chicago. Officials with the U.S. attorney's office there have not given details about who they are investigating or what people are alleged to have done. No one has been charged in the case, and the activists have refused to testify. Gawboy found the documents in a file cabinet in the apartment she and Kelly share on April 30. Attorney Bruce Nestor, who has advised many of those who have been searched and subpoenaed, said the government's expanded definition of what is considered 'material support' has allowed agents to go beyond investigating those who give money or weapons -- which the Minnesota activists deny -- to investigating those who meet with people who belong to 'suspect' groups. The affidavits that justified the September searches have not been made public, he said, but 'I suspect they will refer to people hosting speakers ... and they will try to put that in an evil light.' Activists say the raids and subpoenas are the FBI's efforts to stifle their rights to free speech and free assembly. For instance, many of the suggested questions found in the paperwork dealt with who the activists know and with whom they have met."
Papers left behind by FBI decried by antiwar activists
Star Tribune, 18 May 2011

"More than 99% of Android phones are potentially leaking data that, if stolen, could be used to get the information they store online. The data being leaked is typically used to get at web-based services such as Google Calendar. The discovery was made by German security researchers looking at how Android phones handle identification information. Google has yet to comment on the loophole uncovered by the team. University of Ulm researchers Bastian Konings, Jens Nickels, and Florian Schaub made their discovery while watching how Android phones handle login credentials for web-based services. Many applications installed on Android phones interact with Google services by asking for an authentication token - essentially a digital ID card for that app. Once issued the token removes the need to keep logging in to a service for a given length of time. Sometimes, the study says, these tokens are sent in plain text over wireless networks. This makes the tokens easy to spot so criminals eavesdropping on the wi-fi traffic would be able to find and steal them, suggest the researchers. Armed with the token, criminals would be able to pose as a particular user and get at their personal information. Even worse, found the researchers, tokens are not bound to particular phones or time of use so they can be used to impersonate a handset almost anywhere. '[T]he adversary can gain full access to the calendar, contacts information, or private web albums of the respective Google user,' the researchers wrote in a blog post explaining their findings. Abuse of the loophole might mean some people lose data but other changes may be harder to spot. ' adversary could change the stored e-mail address of the victim's boss or business partners hoping to receive sensitive or confidential material pertaining to their business,' the team speculated."
Android handsets 'leak' personal data
BBC Online, 17 May 2011

"Cellphones that collect people's locations are only the tip of the iceberg: Auto makers, insurance companies and even shopping malls are experimenting with new ways to use this kind of data. Location information is emerging as one of the hottest commodities in the tracking industry—the field of companies that are building businesses based on people's data. Some companies are using the data to build better maps or analyze traffic patterns. Others send users advertisements for services near where they are located. Some insurers hope to use the data to provide discounts to better drivers. On Tuesday in Washington, D.C., a Senate Judiciary subcommittee plans a hearing to consider whether a federal law is required to protect consumer privacy on mobile devices. The hearing was spurred by the public outcry over recent findings that Apple Inc. and Google Inc. gather location-related data from iPhones and Android phones. Both companies are set to testify.... Currently, there is no comprehensive federal law that protects personal data—including location—from being shared or sold to commercial partners. Last December, the Journal's 'What They Know' series found that 47 of the 101 most popular smartphone apps sent location information to other companies. The use of this trove of sensitive data is proving controversial. Last month, TomTom NV, maker of in-car navigation devices, apologized for selling aggregated data from its devices to the Dutch government, which was using it to set speed traps. .... 'We did not foresee this type of usage,' said Harold Goddijn, TomTom's chief executive. He said the company 'fully understands some of [our] customers do not like this' and is taking steps to 'stop this type of usage in near future.' Insurance companies are starting to tap location and other data when drivers agree. Italy's Octo Telematics SpA makes technology that has been installed in more than 1.2 million cars in Europe that can send back aggregated data about a car's location, acceleration and other driving characteristics, said Nino Tarantino, Octo's chief in North America."
Latest Treasure Is Location Data
Wall St Journal, 10 May 2011

"Kathy Thomas knew she was under surveillance. The animal rights and environmental activist had been trailed daily by cops over several months, and had even been stopped on occasion by police and FBI agents. But when the surveillance seemed to halt suddenly in mid-2005 after she confronted one of the agents, she thought it was all over. Months went by without a peep from the FBI surveillance teams that had been tracking her in undercover vehicles and helicopters. That’s when it occurred to her to check her car. Rumors had been swirling among activists that the FBI might be using GPS to track them — two activists in Colorado discovered mysterious devices attached to their car bumpers in 2003 — so Thomas (a pseudonym) went out to the vehicle in a frenzy and ran her hands beneath the rear bumper. She was only half-surprised to find a small electronic device and foot-long battery wand secured to her metal fender with industrial-strength magnets. 'I think I must have found it right after they put it on, because there was no grime on it at all,' she told Threat Level recently. The use of GPS tracking devices is poised to become one of the most contentious privacy issues before the Supreme Court, if it agrees to hear an appeal filed by the Obama administration last month. The administration is seeking to overturn a ruling by a lower court that law enforcement officials must obtain a warrant before using a tracker."
Battle Brews Over FBI’s Warrantless GPS Tracking
Wired, 9 May 2011

"WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange called Facebook 'the most appalling spying machine ever invented' in an interview with Russia Today, pointing to the popular social networking site as one of the top tools for the U.S. to spy on its citizens. 'Here we have the world's most comprehensive database about people, their relationships, their names, their addresses, their locations, their communications with each other and their relatives, all sitting within the United States, all accessible to US Intelligence,' he said. 'Facebook, Google, Yahoo, all these major U.S. organizations have built-in infaces for US intelligence. Everyone should understand that when they add their friends to Facebook they are doing free work for the United States intelligence agencies,' he added."
WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange rails against Facebook, says it's a spy tool for US government
New York Daily News, 2 May 2011

"After a week of silence, Apple on Wednesday responded to widespread complaints about iPhones and iPads tracking their users' whereabouts by saying 'the iPhone is not logging your location' and announcing an upcoming mobile software update. The next version of Apple's iOS will store data about a phone's location for only seven days instead of for months, as was previously the case, the company says. Apple blamed the fact that so much location data had been stored on users' phones and computers on a software 'bug.' 'The reason the iPhone stores so much data is a bug we uncovered and plan to fix shortly,' the company said in a news release. 'We don't think the iPhone needs to store more than seven days of this data.' The software update will be released in a few weeks, Apple said. That update also will fix another apparent bug, which prevented iPhone and iPad 3G users from being able to turn off location logging on their mobile devices."
Apple blames iPhone tracking file on 'bug'
CNN, 27 April 2011

"In an effort to enhance online security and privacy, the Obama administration has proposed Americans obtain a single ID for all Internet sales and banking activity. But a new Rasmussen Reports poll finds most Americans want nothing to do with such an ID if the government is the one to issue it and hold the information. The Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey shows that just 13% of American Adults favor the issuing of a secure government credential to replace all traditional password protection systems for online sales and banking activities. Sixty percent (60%) oppose such a credential. Twenty-seven percent (27%) are not sure. Only eight percent (8%) of Americans would be willing to submit their personal financial and purchasing information to the government or a government contractor to receive a secure government credential for online transactions. Seventy-six percent (76%) would not be willing to submit this information for that purpose. Sixteen percent (16%) are undecided."
Poll: 60% Reject Government ID for Online Security
Cape Fear Business News, 25 April 2011

"Like Apple and Google, Microsoft collects records of the physical locations of customers who use its mobile operating system. Windows Phone 7, supported by manufacturers including Dell, HTC, LG, Nokia, and Samsung, transmits to Microsoft a miniature data dump including a unique device ID, details about nearby Wi-Fi networks, and the phone's GPS-derived exact latitude and longitude. A Microsoft representative was not immediately able to answer questions that CNET posed this afternoon, including how long the location histories are stored and how frequently the phone's coordinates are transmitted over the Internet. Windows Phone currently claims about a 6 percent market share but, according to IDC, will capture about 21 percent by 2015 thanks to Microsoft's partnership with Nokia. Microsoft does say, however, that location histories are not saved directly on the device. That's different from Apple's practice of recording the locations of visible cell towers on iPhone and iPad devices, which can result in more than a year's worth of data being quietly logged. Google's approach, by contrast, records only the last few dozen locations on Android phones."
Microsoft collects locations of Windows phone users
CNET News, 25 April 2011

"...the Buffalo homeowner didn't need long to figure out the reason for the early morning wake-up call from a swarm of federal agents. That new wireless router. He'd gotten fed up trying to set a password. Someone must have used his Internet connection, he thought. 'We know who you are! You downloaded thousands of images at 11:30 last night,' the man's lawyer, Barry Covert, recounted the agents saying. They referred to a screen name, 'Doldrum.' 'No, I didn't,' he insisted. 'Somebody else could have but I didn't do anything like that.' 'You're a creep ... just admit it,' they said. Law enforcement officials say the case is a cautionary tale. Their advice: Password-protect your wireless router...... It's unknown how often unsecured routers have brought legal trouble for subscribers. Besides the criminal investigations, the Internet is full of anecdotal accounts of people who've had to fight accusations of illegally downloading music or movies. Whether you're guilty or not, 'you look like the suspect,' said Orin Kerr, a professor at George Washington University Law School, who said that's just one of many reasons to secure home routers. Experts say the more savvy hackers can go beyond just connecting to the Internet on the host's dime and monitor Internet activity and steal passwords or other sensitive information. A study released in February provides a sense of how often computer users rely on the generosity — or technological shortcomings — of their neighbors to gain Internet access. The poll conducted for the Wi-Fi Alliance, the industry group that promotes wireless technology standards, found that among 1,054 Americans age 18 and older, 32 percent acknowledged trying to access a Wi-Fi network that wasn't theirs. An estimated 201 million households worldwide use Wi-Fi networks, according to the alliance. The same study, conducted by Wakefield Research, found that 40 percent said they would be more likely to trust someone with their house key than with their Wi-Fi network password. For some, though, leaving their wireless router open to outside use is a philosophical decision, a way of returning the favor for the times they've hopped on to someone else's network to check e-mail or download directions while away from home. 'I think it's convenient and polite to have an open Wi-Fi network,' said Rebecca Jeschke, whose home signal is accessible to anyone within range."
NY case underscores Wi-Fi privacy dangers
Associated Press, 24 April 2011

"Online adverts could soon start stalking you. A new way of working out where you are by looking at your internet connection could pin down your current location to within a few hundred metres. Similar techniques are already in use, but they are much less accurate. Every computer connected to the web has an internet protocol (IP) address, but there is no simple way to map this to a physical location. The current best system can be out by as much as 35 kilometres. Now, Yong Wang, a computer scientist at the University of Electronic Science and Technology of China in Chengdu, and colleagues at Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois, have used businesses and universities as landmarks to achieve much higher accuracy."
Internet probe can track you down to within 690 metres
New Scientist, 5 April 2011

"The most talked-about feature of Apple's iPhones and iPads these days isn't a clever new software application. It's a hidden digital record on every device of the locations where it has been used - a numerical travelogue that effectively traces its owner's movements by noting the times and places it has been used. The 'consolidated.db' file has been discussed by security researchers for months, but it didn't receive widespread attention until the O'Reilly Radar technology blog published an expose April 20. Within a day, two members of Congress had dashed off letters to Apple demanding more information, including an explanation of why the data were being collected and stored in unencrypted form. And now several European countries are launching their own investigations. Apple has remained mum, as it often does when its motives are questioned. But the issue here isn't what the company might do with the file. Alex Levinson, a computer forensics researcher who uncovered the file last year, says he's seen no evidence that Apple or application developers can extract it from iPhones or iPads. The only exception, Levinson believes, would be if the user hacked the device to install apps not approved by Apple. 'Jailbreaking' an iPhone or iPad undermines its built-in protections, raising the chance of a malicious app copying data from consolidated.db and transmitting it to someone else. The data can be examined, however, by anyone who takes physical possession of the device - a jealous lover, a thief, an attorney with a subpoena. The O'Reilly researchers greatly simplified the task by creating a program that culls the latitude and longitude information, then displays it on a map. As privacy threats go, this one seems pretty mild. The data don't show the precise locations where the device was used; instead, they compile the GPS coordinates of the cellphone towers and Wi-Fi access points the phone has been connected to. Unless you frequent the local red light district or lie to your spouse about the 'errands' you run, there's not much in consolidated.db to get worked up about. Granted, the data may be useful to the police, who have already started poring over suspects' phones for clues. But for law-abiding citizens, consolidated.db is likely to be less revealing than the text messages and emails stored on their devices. And although there doesn't seem to be a way for users to stop the location data from being logged, it's easy enough for them to program the device to scramble the information whenever it's removed to prevent it from being read by anyone else.So why all the fuss? Some of it stems from the suspicion that the devices are transmitting the logs back to Apple, which they don't appear to be doing. But another reason is the mystery around why the information is being recorded in the first place."
Those Snoopy iPhones
Los Angles Times, 23 April 2011

"The row over the privacy of mobile phone users escalated today as it was revealed that Google devices regularly transmit user locations back to the company. The new revelations come after Apple was this week slammed by several Congress members for the way user locations are being stored in unencrypted databases on the iPhone and iPad, sometimes stretching back several months. In Google's case an Android HTC phone tracked its location every few seconds and transmitted the data back to Google several times an hour, according to new research by security analyst Samy Kamkar for the Wall Street Journal. It also transmitted the name, location and signal strength of any close Wi-Fi networks and the phone's unique identifier. Both Google and Apple have previously admitted they are using location data to build massive databases of Wi-Fi hotspots. This can then be used to pinpoint individual's locations via their mobile phones, which in turn could help the companies tap into the huge market for location-based services, currently worth $2.9billion. This figure is expected to rise to a staggering $8.3billion in 2014, according to research company Gartner. Location data is some of the most valuable information a mobile phone can provide, since it can tell advertisers not only where someone's been, but also where they might be going — and what they might be inclined to buy when they get there."
How wide does this go? Now Google devices 'found to transmit user locations back to the company'
Mail, 22 April 2011

"Apple Inc (AAPL.O) must clear up 'a string of open questions' about user data stored by its iPhone, iPad, and other devices, a spokesman for Germany's consumer protection ministry said on Thursday. The call follows a similar request made by U.S. Senator Al Franken on Wednesday, which cited a report by security researchers alleging the company's iOS4 operating system secretly compiled customers' location data in a hidden file. 'Apple must reveal where, for how long, and for what purpose the data is saved, who has access to it, and how it is protecting against unauthorised access,' ministry spokesman Holger Eichele said. 'The secret collection and storage of a smart phone's location data would be a major invasion of privacy,' he added. Germany has particularly strong data protection laws, and companies such as social networking site Facebook and search engine Google have faced challenges here from regulators."
Germany says wants clarity on iPhone data storage
Reuters, 21 April 2011

"The 'Universal Forensic Extraction Device' sounds like the perfect cell phone snooping gadget. Its maker, Israel-based Cellbrite, says it can copy all the content in a cell phone -- including contacts, text messages, call history, and pictures -- within a few minutes. Even deleted texts and other data can be restored by UFED 2.0, the latest version of the product, it says. And it really is a universal tool. The firm says UFED works with 3,000 cell phone models, representing 95 percent of the handset market. Coming soon, the firm says on its website: 'Additional major breakthroughs, including comprehensive iPhone physical solution; Android physical support – allowing bypassing of user lock code, (Windows Phone) support, and much more.' For good measure, UFEC can extract information from GPS units in most cars....The U.S. Supreme Court is currently mulling a related issue involving the use of persistent GPS monitoring of suspects without a warrant. In that case, the FBI placed a GPS monitoring device on a suspect's car without a warrant and then tracked his driving for driving weeks. The Department of Justice says the technique is akin to surveillance on public roads, but a federal appeals court ruled that such aggregation of movements over time constituted a Fourth Amendment violation. Because the ruling conflicts with other appeals court rulings in similar cases, the Department of Justice recently asked the Supreme Court to take the case and settle the matter."
Red Tape - Gadget gives cops quick access to cell phone data
MSNBC, 21 April 2011

"Security researchers have discovered that Apple's iPhone keeps track of where you go – and saves every detail of it to a secret file on the device which is then copied to the owner's computer when the two are synchronised. The file contains the latitude and longitude of the phone's recorded coordinates along with a timestamp, meaning that anyone who stole the phone or the computer could discover details about the owner's movements using a simple program. For some phones, there could be almost a year's worth of data stored, as the recording of data seems to have started with Apple's iOS 4 update to the phone's operating system, released in June 2010. 'Apple has made it possible for almost anybody – a jealous spouse, a private detective – with access to your phone or computer to get detailed information about where you've been,' said Pete Warden, one of the researchers. Only the iPhone records the user's location in this way, say Warden and Alasdair Allan, the data scientists who discovered the file and are presenting their findings at the Where 2.0 conference in San Francisco on Wednesday. 'Alasdair has looked for similar tracking code in [Google's] Android phones and couldn't find any,' said Warden. 'We haven't come across any instances of other phone manufacturers doing this.' Simon Davies, director of the pressure group Privacy International, said: 'This is a worrying discovery. Location is one of the most sensitive elements in anyone's life – just think where people go in the evening. The existence of that data creates a real threat to privacy. The absence of notice to users or any control option can only stem from an ignorance about privacy at the design stage.' Warden and Allan point out that the file is moved onto new devices when an old one is replaced: 'Apple might have new features in mind that require a history of your location, but that's our specualtion. The fact that [the file] is transferred across [to a new iPhone or iPad] when you migrate is evidence that the data-gathering isn't accidental.' But they said it does not seem to be transmitted to Apple itself....They have blogged about their discovery at O'Reilly's Radar site, noting that 'why this data is stored and how Apple intends to use it — or not — are important questions that need to be explored.'... Apple can legitimately claim that it has permission to collect the data: near the end of the 15,200-word terms and conditions for its iTunes program, used to synchronise with iPhones, iPods and iPads, is an 86-word paragraph about 'location-based services'. It says that 'Apple and our partners and licensees may collect, use, and share precise location data, including the real-time geographic location of your Apple computer or device. This location data is collected anonymously in a form that does not personally identify you and is used by Apple and our partners and licensees to provide and improve location-based products and services. For example, we may share geographic location with application providers when you opt in to their location services."
iPhone keeps record of everywhere you go
Guardian, 20 April 2011

"Cellphone users say they want more privacy, and app makers are listening. No, they're not listening to user requests. They're literally listening to the sounds in your office, kitchen, living room and bedroom. A new class of smartphone app has emerged that uses the microphone built into your phone as a covert listening device -- a 'bug,' in common parlance. But according to app makers, it's not a bug. It's a feature! The apps use ambient sounds to figure out what you're paying attention to. It's the next best thing to reading your mind. The issue was brought to the world's attention recently on a podcast called This Week in Tech. Host Leo Laporte and his panel shocked listeners by unmasking three popular apps that activate your phone's microphone to collect sound patterns from inside your home, meeting, office or wherever you are. The apps are Color, Shopkick and IntoNow, all of which activate the microphones in users' iPhone or Android devices in order to gather contextual information that provides some benefit to the user.   Color uses your iPhone's or Android phone's microphone to detect when people are in the same room. The data on ambient noise is combined with color and lighting information from the camera to figure out who's inside, who's outside, who's in one room, and who's in another, so the app can auto-generate spontaneous temporary social networks of people who are sharing the same experience. Shopkick works on both iPhone and Android devices. One feature of the app is to reward users for simply walking into participating stores, which include Target, Best Buy, Macy's, American Eagle Outfitters, Sports Authority, Crate & Barrel and many others. Users don't have to press any button. Shopkick listens through your cellphone for inaudible sounds generated in the stores by a special device. IntoNow is an iOS app that allows social networking during TV shows. The app listens with your iPhone or iPad to identify what you're watching. The company claims 2.6 million 'broadcast airings' (TV shows or segments) in its database. A similar app created for fans of the TV show Grey's Anatomy uses your iPad's microphone to identify exactly where you are in the show, so it can display content relevant to specific scenes.  While IntoNow is based on the company's own SoundPrint technology, the Grey's Anatomy app is built on Nielsen's Media-Sync platform. Obviously, the idea that app companies are eavesdropping on private moments creeps everybody out. But all these apps try to get around user revulsion by recording not actual sounds, but sound patterns, which are then uploaded to a server as data and compared with the patterns of other sounds....You should know that any data that can be gathered, will be gathered. Since the new microphone-hijacking apps are still around, we now know that listening in on users is OK. So, what's possible with current technology? By listening in on your phone, capturing 'patterns,' then sending that data back to servers, marketers can determine the following: * Your gender, and the gender of people you talk to. * Your approximate age, and the ages of the people you talk to. * What time you go to bed, and what time you wake up. * What you watch on TV and listen to on the radio. * How much of your time you spend alone, and how much with others. * Whether you live in a big city or a small town. *What form of transportation you use to get to work."
Snooping: It's not a crime, it's a feature
Computerworld, 16 April 2011

"The first time Greenpeace USA realised they had a security problem was in April 2008 when Mark Floegel, senior investigator with the environmental organisation, took a call from a colleague. 'He told me Jim Ridgeway, a reporter with Mother Jones, was writing a piece and would call me for comment. I didn't know what he was talking about,' Floegel said. Ridgeway revealed Greenpeace had been 'targeted' by a private security company and that a trove of sensitive documents was stashed in a Maryland storage locker. Greenpeace, no stranger to black ops - covert, sometimes illicit and deniable operations - was about to get a window into an alleged nexus between corporate titans and private security companies. The documents were stored by John Dodd, the millionaire heir to a local beer distributorship and the prime investor in a now-defunct private security company, Beckett Brown International. The company was set up in 1995 after a chance meeting in a Maryland bar connected Dodd to several ex-Secret Service officers who wanted to get into private security. Dodd provided $700,000 on the proviso he owned BBI until it was repaid. Before long, business was booming. By 2001, relations between Dodd and BBI had soured. When he learned staff were 'sterilising the office', shredding records before closing shop, Dodd drove a truck to the firm's Maryland address and retrieved piles of documents. Dodd began reading documents and, says Floegel, began to suspect 'criminal activity' and contacted 'victims'. Greenpeace recovered 20 boxes of documents. They included confidential employee details such as email passwords, Social Security numbers, donor payments, privileged attorney-client conversations and strategic plans to fight climate change, ocean pollution, genetic engineering and other campaigns. The boxes also had BBI work logs, plus documents sent to defendants and clients such as Wal-Mart, Halliburton, the National Rifle Association, the Carlyle Group and Monsanto. The documents, many posted on the Greenpeace USA site, make intriguing reading. The 'BBI Targets' include Friends of the Earth, the Centre for Food Safety and the National Environmental Trust/GE Food Alert, and various scientists and individuals, as well as Greenpeace, with various handwritten notes listing addresses and phone numbers. It is this cache that Greenpeace has mined for evidence in a lawsuit levelled against a handful of ex-BBI employees. The defendants also include two public relations firms, Dezenhall Resources and Ketchum and two multinationals, chemical giants Dow Chemical and Sasol America. Greenpeace has filed a detailed complaint and the case is proceeding in a Washington DC courtroom. 'It took several months to sift through the records,' says Floegel. He says they reveal a narrative of BBI activity, including client reports advising, 'Greenpeace will do this, Greenpeace will do that'. It is a window into a murky world where BBI, whose staff included ex-CIA and Secret Service officers, allegedly reported to Dezenhall and Ketchum who, in turn, channelled confidential material, allegedly filched from Greenpeace, to Dow and Sasol. The complaint accuses defendants of "clandestine and unlawful activities", claiming they stole confidential documents, conducted illicit surveillance - sometimes using off-duty policemen - and 'in all likelihood' broke into Greenpeace offices and other locations between 1998-2000. It cites at least 200 illegal actions in this period. One email, found in 'Ketchum Dow emails and docs', and addressed to Timothy Ward, then BBI's 'director of investigative services', reveals a global dimension to BBI activities, as the BBI man discusses a 'sensitive all-source intelligence collection effort' on foreign greens. The defendants' aim, says Greenpeace, was to disrupt campaigns against 'the companies' activities that were damaging to the environment', including the impact of toxins leaked from a Sasol plant in Louisiana and Dow's production of dioxins and genetically modified organisms."
Greenpeace finds itself in cross hairs
New Zealand Herald, 5 March 2011

"It's recently been revealed that the U.S. government contracted HBGary Federal for the development of software which could create multiple fake social media profiles to manipulate and sway public opinion on controversial issues by promoting propaganda. It could also be used as surveillance to find public opinions with points of view the powers-that-be didn't like. It could then potentially have their 'fake' people run smear campaigns against those 'real' people. As disturbing as this is, it's not really new for U.S. intelligence or private intelligence firms to do the dirty work behind closed doors. EFF previously warned that Big Brother wants to be your friend for social media surveillance. While the FBI Intelligence Information Report Handbook (PDF) mentioned using 'covert accounts' to access protected information, other government agencies endorsed using security exploits to access protected information..... The 6th Contracting Squadron at MacDill Air Force Base sought the development of Persona Management Software which could be used for creating and managing fake profiles on social media sites to distort the truth and make it appear as if there was a generally accepted agreement on controversial issues. 'Personas must be able to appear to originate in nearly any part of the world and can interact through conventional online services and social media platforms.'... According to Redacted News, the leaked emails showed how names can be cross-referenced across social media sites to collect information on people and then used to gain access to those social ciricles. The emails also talked of how Facebook could be used to spread government messages..."
Army of Fake Social Media Friends to Promote Propaganda
ComputerWorld, 23 February 2011

"It's recently been revealed that the U.S. government contracted HBGary Federal for the development of software which could create multiple fake social media profiles to manipulate and sway public opinion on controversial issues by promoting propaganda. It could also be used as surveillance to find public opinions with points of view the powers-that-be didn't like. It could then potentially have their "fake" people run smear campaigns against those "real" people. As disturbing as this is, it's not really new for U.S. intelligence or private intelligence firms to do the dirty work behind closed doors....According to Redacted News, the leaked emails showed how names can be cross-referenced across social media sites to collect information on people and then used to gain access to those social ciricles. The emails also talked of how Facebook could be used to spread government messages: 'Even the most restrictive and security conscious of persons can be exploited. Through the targeting and information reconnaissance phase, a person's hometown and high school will be revealed. An adversary can create a account at the same high school and year and find out people you went to high school with that do not have Facebook accounts, then create the account and send a friend request. Under the mutual friend decision, which is where most people can be exploited, an adversary can look at a targets friend list if it is exposed and find a targets most socially promiscuous friends, the ones that have over 300-500 friends, friend them to develop mutual friends before sending a friend request to the target. To that end friend's accounts can be compromised and used to post malicious material to a targets wall. When choosing to participate in social media an individual is only as protected as his/her weakest friend.'"
Army of Fake Social Media Friends to Promote Propaganda
PC World, 23 February 2011

"Some startling figures tumbled out on rampant phone tapping in the country when telecom service provider Reliance Communications told the Supreme Court on Monday that the authorities had asked it to tap 1.51 lakh phone numbers in a five-year span between 2006 and 2010. This works out to an average of over 30,000 telephone interceptions every year by a single service provider on the orders of various law enforcing agencies. Or, over 82 telephones were intercepted every day by a single service provider....If Reliance's ratio of phones tapped to the number of its subscribers were to be taken as representative and applied to other service providers, it is a fair assumption that government agencies were tapping more than one lakh phones every year. In Delhi alone, Reliance tapped a total of 3,588 phones in 2005 when the teledensity was low compared to today. It also included Amar Singh's number which was put under surveillance — allegedly on a forged letter from Delhi Police."
Over 1 lakh phones are tapped every year
Times of India, 15 February 2011

"Private spying by large corporations into the affairs of environmental groups, as revealed by the Guardian, is nothing new in the US. Last November, as Mother Jones reported, Greenpeace went into federal district court in Washington, seeking an injunction against Dow Chemical Company and Sasol North America for meddling in its internal affairs. (Sasol is the big South African energy company with operations, including chemicals, in the US.) Greenpeace is claiming these two multinational chemical outfits between 1998 and 2000 set up a clandestine operation to break into Greenpeace Washington offices to steal 'confidential information and trade secrets', go through its trash cans, conducted surveillance of its employees and ran an undercover operation to penetrate and disrupt the organisation's campaigns involving climate change, genetic foods and chemical pollution. According to the suit, the chemical companies and their PR firms employed a now-defunct private detective firm called Beckett Brown International (BBI) to do the dirty work. The companies have denied the allegations; detailed responses to the Greenpeace complaint are due soon."
The dirty history of corporate spying
Guardian, Comment Is Free, 15 February 2011

"The Obama administration's Justice Department has asserted that the FBI can obtain telephone records of international calls made from the U.S. without any formal legal process or court oversight, according to a document obtained by McClatchy. That assertion was revealed — perhaps inadvertently — by the department in its response to a McClatchy request for a copy of a secret Justice Department memo. Critics say the legal position is flawed and creates a potential loophole that could lead to a repeat of FBI abuses that were supposed to have been stopped in 2006. The controversy over the telephone records is a legacy of the Bush administration's war on terror. Critics say the Obama administration appears to be continuing many of the most controversial tactics of that strategy, including the assertion of sweeping executive powers."
Obama assertion: FBI can get phone records without oversight
McClatchy Newspapers, 11 February 2011

"The US Justice Department wants Internet service providers and cell phone companies to be required to hold on to records for longer to help with criminal prosecutions.... Kate Dean, executive director of the Internet Service Provider Association, said broad mandatory data retention requirements would be 'fraught with legal, technical and practical challenges.' Dean said they would require 'an entire industry to retain billions of discrete electronic records due to the possibility that a tiny percentage of them might contain evidence related to a crime.'"
Justice Department seeks to have all web surfing tracked
Agence France Presse, 25 January 2011

"A police spy married an activist he met while undercover in the environmental protest movement and then went on to have children with her, the Guardian can reveal. He is the fourth spy now to have been identified as an undercover police officer engaged in the covert surveillance of eco-activists. Three of those spies are accused of having had sexual relationships with the people they were targeting. The details of the activities of the fourth spy, who is still a serving Metropolitan police officer, emerged as the senior police officer managing the crisis in undercover operations insisted that officers were strictly banned from having sexual relationships with their targets. Jon Murphy, the chief constable of Merseyside, told the Guardian it was 'never acceptable' for undercover officers to sleep with people they were targeting.... The Guardian also today fully identifies two of the other undercover officers involved in spying on the eco-activists, previously called Officer A and B.Their names and photographs were not used after representations from senior police, but both have now been extracted from undercover roles in other investigations, and they can be named as Lynn Watson and Mark Jacobs."
Undercover policeman married activist he was sent to spy on
Guardian, 19 December 2010

"It's the flip-side of enjoying instant communication with your friends. Facebook has courted a fresh privacy row by allowing developers of apps access to sensitive information including telephone numbers and addresses. The social networking site announced the change on its blog, saying: 'We are now making a user's address and mobile phone number accessible.' Internet security analysts and privacy experts are now advising people to remove their phone numbers and addresses from the site. While Facebook users must grant individual applications permission to access their details, it is likely that many who have clicked their approval plenty of times before will not notice the change in terms. They will pass on their contact details unknowingly, leaving them more vulnerable to becoming victims of spam, it is feared. Graham Cluley, of IT security firm Sophos, said: 'The ability to access users' home addresses will also open up more opportunities for identity theft, combined with the other data that can already be extracted from Facebook users' profiles. 'You have to ask yourself - is Facebook putting the safety of its 500-plus million users as a top priority with this move?' Facebook, which gives advertisers the ability to target users according to their stated interests, geographical location and other insights, has been criticised increasingly over the years for how it handles the privacy of its account holders.... it is often unclear who exactly is behind the small and seemingly harmless pieces of software available via Facebook, which many users enjoy signing up for in order to brighten up their profile pages or to play games or quizzes with friends. Facebook has opted against a systematic program of vetting potential applications, such as that by Apple. The website therefore inevitably hosts a number of potentially rogue, independent applications that have been designed by third parties to misleadingly gain access to users' information, and farm it out on as wide a scale as possible."
Facebook users advised to remove personal details after developers gain access to phone numbers and addresses
Daily Mail, 18 January 2011

"An undercover policeman who spent seven years living as an environmental activist has claimed that at least 15 other agents had infiltrated the movement and disclosed that sexual entanglements with them were commonplace. Mark Kennedy, 41, a former Metropolitan Police officer who posed as a climate change protester known as 'Mark Stone', spoke out about the 'grey and murky' world of undercover policing in which he said 'really bad stuff' was secretly going on. Last week the £1 million trial of six environmental activists accused of plotting to break into the Ratcliffe-on-Soar coal-fired power station in Nottinghamshire collapsed amid questions over Mr Kennedy’s involvement. The Independent Police Complaints Commission is now investigating whether Nottinghamshire Police withheld secret recordings made by Mr Kennedy showing that those accused were innocent of conspiracy from the prosecution. In an interview with the Mail on Sunday the former policeman said he had been 'hung out to dry' by his former handlers in the National Public Order Intelligence Unit (NPOIU) which sent him to infiltrate radical environmental groups in 2003. He insisted that he had been instrumental in preventing 'bloodshed' amid clashes between police and protesters and claimed that key intelligence he had gathered had been passed to Tony Blair and other European leaders.... Mr Kennedy also disclosed that he knew of at least 15 other undercover police who had infiltrated the movement and said that by the time he left in 2009 there were at least four others. 'The world of undercover policing is grey and murky,' he said. 'There is some bad stuff going on, really bad stuff.' The scale of public money invested in such operations was also laid bare as he disclosed that in addition to his £50,000-a-year salary, his handlers paid up to £200,000 a year into a secret bank account to help him maintain his cover."
Mark Kennedy: 15 other undercover police infiltrated green movement
Telegraph, 16 January 2011

"Police chiefs are being called on to review the way long-term undercover operations are handled amid growing concerns about the secretive unit at the heart of their spying operation. The lawyer and former director of public prosecutions Lord Macdonald said the handling of undercover officers appeared to be 'alarming' and 'opaque' after Mark Kennedy was unmasked as an undercover police officer spying on the environmental movement. 'There should be published guidelines,' said Macdonald. 'It is particularly important that the public understands what the principles and what the rules are. The fact this operation is so opaque, nobody knows how it was run, what the objectives were, why it ran for so long, I think that's quite alarming.' Claims made against police include that during his seven years as a spy Kennedy acted as an agent provocateur and had a string of sexual relationships with fellow activists. But the case has also highlighted the role of the secretive police intelligence units overseen by the Association of Chief Police Officers (Acpo) to which both Kennedy and a second undercover officer known as Officer A had been seconded. 'There is this whole issue of what Acpo is,' said Macdonald. 'It's a limited company. It's an odd sort of organisation. There should be published guidelines, there should be a debate about it. The police should invite comment and discussion ... The whole purpose is to maintain public confidence.' The furtive apparatus that oversees the police fight against 'domestic extremists' dates back to the late 1990s animal rights militants were its focus. Many were prepared to resort to violence, intimidating scientists, sending letter bombs and, most notoriously, digging up a grandmother's grave. The police took an aggressive stance that led to the jailing of many of key animal rights figures. But according to critics, once this threat had subsided the officers who had built up the infiltration units sought new targets to justify their budgets and existence. Environmentalists say the burgeoning green movement fitted the bill. They say police were given licence to carry out widespread and intrusive surveillance of entire legitimate organisations. In the late 1990s the remit was extended to 'include all forms of domestic extremism, criminality and public disorder associated with cause-led groups'. Police dismiss the claims, insisting they only monitor the minority on the far left and right who might commit crimes such as damaging property or trespass to promote their political aims. There are three little-known 'domestic extremism' units working under the direction of Detective Chief Superintendent Adrian Tudway. Concerns have been growing about their accountability and subject to agreement they will be taken over by the Met under a 'lead force' agreement – the same way the Met has overall command of national counter-terrorism operations. Tudway, the 'national co-ordinator for domestic extremism', commands about 100 staff and has a budget of about £9m a year. By far the biggest segment of this 'domestic extremism' apparatus is the National Public Order Intelligence Unit (NPOIU), which has been compiling a database of protesters and campaign groups across the country since 1999. It is believed several undercover police officers – including Kennedy and Officer A – had been living long-term in the environmental movement, feeding intelligence back to NPOIU. With around 60 to 70 staff, NPOIU costs £5m a year to run, according to the latest official figures. Its budget has doubled in the last five years. Housed at a secret location in London, its official remit is 'to gather, assess, analyse and disseminate intelligence and information relating to criminal activities in the United Kingdom where there is a threat of crime or to public order which arises from domestic extremism or protest activity'. Essentially it is pooling intelligence from special branch officers, uniformed surveillance teams and undercover officers that can be shared with police forces around the country. Sensitive information from undercover officers, other informants in protest groups and covert intercepts are handled by a section of the NPOIU called the Confidential Intelligence Unit. The database contains descriptions of people, their nicknames or pseudonyms, reports of their activities and photographs of them. The only activists so far confirmed to be on the database are 85-year-old John Catt and his daughter Linda, two peaceful campaigners from Brighton. John Catt often goes to demonstrations, where he likes to take out his sketch pad and draw the scene. Police files revealed how the NPOIU had logged their presence at more than 80 lawful demonstrations over four years, recording details such as their appearance and slogans on their T-shirts.....Catt and his daughter deny any involvement in criminal activity and neither of them have criminal records. Anton Setchell, the police chief who was previously in charge of 'domestic extremism', told the Guardian in 2009 that it was possible that protesters with no criminal record were on the database but police would have to justify their inclusion. 'Just because you have no criminal record does not mean that you are not of interest to the police,' he said. 'Everyone who has got a criminal record did not have one once.' The second organisation is known as the National Extremism Tactical Co-ordination Unit (Netcu). It gives out advice to police forces, companies, universities and other organisations to cope with protests that it believes will be unlawful. The Cambridgeshire-based unit, set up in 2004, liaises with thousands of companies in aviation, energy, research, farming and retail. The third unit, the National Domestic Extremism Team, was set up in 2005 and consists of detectives who assist police forces around the UK."
Rein in undercover police units, says former DPP
Guardian, 13 January 2011

"The California Supreme Court allowed police Monday to search arrestees' cell phones without a warrant, saying defendants lose their privacy rights for any items they're carrying when taken into custody. Under U.S. Supreme Court precedents, 'this loss of privacy allows police not only to seize anything of importance they find on the arrestee's body ... but also to open and examine what they find,' the state court said in a 5-2 ruling. The majority, led by Justice Ming Chin, relied on decisions in the 1970s by the nation's high court upholding searches of cigarette packages and clothing that officers seized during an arrest and examined later without seeking a warrant from a judge. The dissenting justices said those rulings shouldn't be extended to modern cell phones that can store huge amounts of data. Monday's decision allows police 'to rummage at leisure through the wealth of personal and business information that can be carried on a mobile phone or handheld computer merely because the device was taken from an arrestee's person,' said Justice Kathryn Mickle Werdegar, joined in dissent by Justice Carlos Moreno. They argued that police should obtain a warrant - by convincing a judge that they will probably find incriminating evidence - before searching a cell phone."
Court OKs searches of cell phones without warrant
San Francisco Chronicle, 4 January 2010

"Police in Delaware may soon be unable to use global positioning systems (GPS) to keep tabs on a suspect unless they have a court-signed warrant, thanks to a recent ruling by a superior court judge who cited famed author George Orwell in her decision. In striking down evidence obtained through warrantless GPS tracking, Delaware Judge Jan R. Jurden wrote that 'an Orwellian state is now technologically feasible,' adding that 'without adequate judicial preservation of privacy, there is nothing to protect our citizens from being tracked 24/7.' The ruling goes against a federal appeals court's decision last summer that allowed warrantless tracking by GPS. Jurden was ruling on the case of Michael D. Holden, who police say was pulled over with 10 lbs. of marijuana in his car last February. Holden was allegedly named by a DEA task force informant in 2009, and in early 2010, without obtaining a warrant, police placed a GPS device on his car, allowing them to follow him whenever he used the vehicle."
Judge warns of ‘Orwellian state’ in warrantless GPS tracking case
Raw Story, 30 December 2010

"Scores of foxhunters can sit easier in their saddles on the biggest day of the sport’s calendar today after a judge cast doubt on the legality of covert filming by anti-hunt activists.  The ruling, in a case that cannot yet be reported, lays down that covert surveillance by third parties must be authorised in line with procedures in the Regulation of Investigating Powers Act (Ripa). The Home Office says that the Act must be used in accordance with the European Convention on Human Rights. 'It also requires, in particular, those authorising the use of covert techniques to give proper consideration to whether their use is necessary and proportionate,' official guidance states. This suggests that the type of speculative surveillance carried out by some organisations and hunt monitors cannot be authorised because it is not necessary or proportionate for the prevention or detection of an offence under the Hunting Act. The Association of Chief Police Officers (Acpo) is so anxious that forces may be acting unlawfully that it has asked for advice from the Crown Prosecution Service."
Judge casts doubt on legality of covert filming by anti-hunt activists
London Times, 26 December 2009

"Your digital camera may embed metadata into photographs with the camera's serial number or your location. Your printer may be incorporating a secret code on every page it prints which could be used to identify the printer and potentially the person who used it. If Apple puts a particularly creepy patent it has recently applied for into use, you can look forward to a day when your iPhone may record your voice, take a picture of your location, record your heartbeat, and send that information back to the mothership. This is traitorware: devices that act behind your back to betray your privacy. Perhaps the most notable example of traitorware was the Sony rootkit. In 2005 Sony BMG produced CD's which clandestinely installed a rootkit onto PC's that provided administrative-level access to the users' computer. The copy-protected music CD’s would surreptitiously install its DRM technology onto PC’s. Ostensibly, Sony was trying prevent consumers from making multiple copies of their CD’s, but the software also rendered the CD incompatible with many CD-ROM players in PC’s, CD players in cars, and DVD players. Additionally, the software left a back door open on all infected PC’s which would give Sony, or any hacker familiar with the rootkit, control over the PC. And if a consumer should have the temerity to find the rootkit and try to remove the offending drivers, the software would execute code designed to disable the CD drive and trash the PC. Traitorware is sometimes included in products with less obviously malicious intent. Printer dots were added to certain color laser printers as a forensics tool for law enforcement, where it could help authenticate documents or identify forgeries. Apple’s scary-sounding patent for the iPhone is meant to help locate and disable the phone if it is lost of stolen. Don’t let these good intentions fool you—software that hides itself from you while it gives your personal data away to a third party is dangerous and dishonest. As the Sony BMG rootkit demonstrates, it may even leave your device wide open to attacks from third parties."
What is Traitorware?
Electronic Frontier Foundation, 23 December 2010

"One of the hallmarks of an authoritarian government is its fixation on hiding everything it does behind a wall of secrecy while simultaneously monitoring, invading and collecting files on everything its citizenry does.  Based on the Francis Bacon aphorism that 'knowledge is power,' this is the extreme imbalance that renders the ruling class omnipotent and citizens powerless. In The Washington Post today, Dana Priest and William Arkin continue their 'Top Secret America' series by describing how America's vast and growing Surveillance State now encompasses state and local law enforcement agencies, collecting and storing always-growing amounts of information about even the most innocuous activities undertaken by citizens suspected of no wrongdoing.... Today, the Post reporters document how surveillance and enforcement methods pioneered in America's foreign wars and occupations are being rapidly imported into domestic surveillance (wireless fingerprint scanners, military-grade infrared cameras, biometric face scanners, drones on the border).... Meanwhile, the Obama Department of Homeland Security has rapidly expanded the scope and invasiveness of domestic surveillance programs -- justified, needless to say, in the name of Terrorism..... The results are predictable.  Huge amounts of post/9-11 anti-Terrorism money flooded state and local agencies that confront virtually no Terrorism threats, and they thus use these funds to purchase technologies -- bought from the private-sector industry that controls and operates government surveillance programs -- for vastly increased monitoring and file-keeping on ordinary citizens suspected of no wrongdoing.  The always-increasing cooperation between federal, state and local agencies -- and among and within federal agencies -- has spawned massive data bases of information containing the activities of millions of American citizens.  'There are 96 million sets of fingerprints' in the FBI's data base, the Post reports.  Moreover, the FBI uses its 'suspicious activities record' program (SAR) to collect and store endless amounts of information about innocent Americans... Even the FBI admits the huge waste all of this is -- ''Ninety-nine percent doesn't pan out or lead to anything' said Richard Lambert Jr., the special agent in charge of the FBI's Knoxville office -- but, as history conclusively proves, data collected on citizens will be put to some use even if it reveals no criminality. ... To understand the breadth of the Surveillance State, recall this sentence from the original Priest/Arkin article:  'Every day, collection systems at the National Security Agency intercept and store 1.7 billion e-mails, phone calls and other types of communications.'  As Arkin and Priest document today, there are few safeguards on how all this data is used and abused.  Local police departments routinely meet with neoconservative groups insisting that all domestic Muslim communities are a potential threat and must be subjected to intensive surveillance and infiltration.  Groups engaged in plainly legal and protected political dissent have been subjected to these government surveillance programs.  What we have, in sum, is a vast, uncontrolled and increasingly invasive surveillance state that knows and collects more and more information about the activities of more and more citizens. But what makes all of this particularly ominous is that -- as the WikiLeaks conflict demonstrates -- this all takes place next to an always-expanding wall of secrecy behind which the Government's own conduct is hidden from public view.  Just consider the Government's reaction to the disclosures by WikiLeaks of information which even it -- in moments of candor -- acknowledges have caused no real damage:  disclosed information that, critically, was protected by relatively low-level secrecy designations and (in contrast to the Pentagon Papers) none of which was designated 'Top Secret.'.... That's the mindset of the U.S. Government:  everything it does of any significance can and should be shielded from public view; anyone who shines light on what it does is an Enemy who must be destroyed; but nothing you do should be beyond its monitoring and storing eyes.  And what's most remarkable about this -- though, given the full-scale bipartisan consensus over it, not surprising -- is how eagerly submissive much of the citizenry is to this imbalance. .... the imbalance has become so extreme -- the Government now watches much of the citizenry behind a fully opaque one-way mirror -- that the dangers should be obvious.  And this is all supposed to be the other way around:  it's government officials who are supposed to operate out in the open, while ordinary citizens are entitled to privacy.  Yet we've reversed that dynamic almost completely.  And even with 9/11 now 9 years behind us, the trends continue only in one direction."
Glenn Greenwald - The government's one-way mirror
Salon, 20 December 2010

"Few devices know more personal details about people than the smartphones in their pockets: phone numbers, current location, often the owner's real name—even a unique ID number that can never be changed or turned off. These phones don't keep secrets. They are sharing this personal data widely and regularly, a Wall Street Journal investigation has found. An examination of 101 popular smartphone 'apps'—games and other software applications for iPhone and Android phones—showed that 56 transmitted the phone's unique device ID to other companies without users' awareness or consent. Forty-seven apps transmitted the phone's location in some way. Five sent age, gender and other personal details to outsiders. The findings reveal the intrusive effort by online-tracking companies to gather personal data about people in order to flesh out detailed dossiers on them. Among the apps tested, the iPhone apps transmitted more data than the apps on phones using Google Inc.'s Android operating system. Because of the test's size, it's not known if the pattern holds among the hundreds of thousands of apps available. Apps sharing the most information included TextPlus 4, a popular iPhone app for text messaging. It sent the phone's unique ID number to eight ad companies and the phone's zip code, along with the user's age and gender, to two of them.... 'In the world of mobile, there is no anonymity,' says Michael Becker of the Mobile Marketing Association, an industry trade group. A cellphone is 'always with us. It's always on.'... Smartphone users are all but powerless to limit the tracking. With few exceptions, app users can't 'opt out' of phone tracking, as is possible, in limited form, on regular computers. On computers it is also possible to block or delete 'cookies,' which are tiny tracking files. These techniques generally don't work on cellphone apps.... The Journal also tested its own iPhone app; it didn't send information to outsiders. The Journal doesn't have an Android phone app. Among all apps tested, the most widely shared detail was the unique ID number assigned to every phone. It is effectively a 'supercookie,' says Vishal Gurbuxani, co-founder of Mobclix Inc., an exchange for mobile advertisers. On iPhones, this number is the 'UDID,' or Unique Device Identifier. Android IDs go by other names. These IDs are set by phone makers, carriers or makers of the operating system, and typically can't be blocked or deleted. 'The great thing about mobile is you can't clear a UDID like you can a cookie,' says Meghan O'Holleran of Traffic Marketplace, an Internet ad network that is expanding into mobile apps. 'That's how we track everything.' Ms. O'Holleran says Traffic Marketplace, a unit of Epic Media Group, monitors smartphone users whenever it can. 'We watch what apps you download, how frequently you use them, how much time you spend on them, how deep into the app you go,' she says. She says the data is aggregated and not linked to an individual.... By tracking a phone's location, Mobclix also makes a 'best guess' of where a person lives, says Mr. Gurbuxani, the Mobclix executive. Mobclix then matches that location with spending and demographic data from Nielsen Co. In roughly a quarter-second, Mobclix can place a user in one of 150 'segments' it offers to advertisers, from 'green enthusiasts' to 'soccer moms.' For example, 'die hard gamers' are 15-to-25-year-old males with more than 20 apps on their phones who use an app for more than 20 minutes at a time."
Your Apps Are Watching You
Wall St Journal, 18 December 2010

"I don't want to live in a world where everyone is watched all the time.... Everyone everywhere should be able to speak and read and form their own beliefs without being monitored..... It's not just the state. If it wanted to, Google could overthrow any country in the world. Google has enough dirt to destroy every marriage in America.... I love Google. And I love the people there. Sergey Brin and Larry Page are cool. But I'm terrified of the next generation that takes over. A benevolent dictatorship is still a dictatorship. At some point people are going to realize that Google has everything on everyone. Most of all, they can see what questions you're asking, in real time. Quite literally, they can read your mind."
Jacob Appelbaum, the only known American member of Wikileaks
The American Wikileaks Hacker
Rolling Stone, 1 December 2010

"More than two years ago, Mother Jones exposed a private security firm run by former Secret Service agents that had spied on an array of environmental groups on behalf of corporate clients, in some cases infiltrating unsuspecting organizations with operatives posing as activists. Now, one of the targets of this corporate espionage is fighting back. On Monday, Greenpeace filed suit in federal district court in Washington, DC, against the Dow Chemical Company and Sasol North America, charging that the two multinational chemical manufacturers sought to thwart its environmental campaigns against genetically engineered foods and chemical pollution through elaborate undercover operations. Also named in the suit are Dezenhall Resources and Ketchum, public relations firms hired by Sasol and Dow respectively, and four ex-employees of that now-defunct security firm, Beckett Brown International (BBI). The suit charges that between 1998 and 2000 the chemical companies, the PR firms, and BBI 'conspired to and did surveil, infiltrate and steal confidential information from Greenpeace with the intention of preempting, blunting or thwarting its environmental campaigns. These unlawful activities included trespassing on the property of Greenpeace, infiltrating its offices, meetings and electronic communications under false pretenses and/or by force, and by these means, stealing confidential documents, data and trade secrets from Greenpeace.' Greenpeace is seeking an injunction against further trespass and thefts of trade secrets, as well as compensatory and punitive damages. The lawsuit stems from an April 2008 Mother Jones article that detailed a series of black ops carried out by BBI against Greenpeace and other environmental groups. The story was based largely on internal BBI records made available to the magazine by John Dodd, a principal investor and officer of BBI. At the time, Dodd said he decided to come forward after discovering that BBI's employees had defrauded him and engaged in unscrupulous snooping on activist groups and other targets. Mother Jones reporters sifted through thousands of pages of internal documents that included billing records, surveillance reports, and email correspondence from undercover operatives in Washington and Lake Charles, Louisiana. Contained in the trove were a variety of internal Greenpeace records, including strategy memos, campaign plans, donor lists, and documents that included credit card information and the social security numbers of Greenpeace employees. Also unearthed were similar records belonging to other organizations, including Friends of the Earth, GE Food Alert, the Center for Food Safety, and Fenton Communications, a PR firm that represents various environmental groups."
Greenpeace Sues Chemical and PR Firms for 'Unlawful' Spying
Mother Jones, 29 November 2010

"The police are seeking powers to shut down websites deemed to be engaged in 'criminal' activity. The Serious and Organised Crime Agency (SOCA) has tabled a plan for Nominet, which oversees .uk web addresses, to be given the domain closing power. Nominet said the idea was only a proposal and invited people to join the debate on the form of the final policy. IT lawyers said the proposal would be 'worrying' if it led to websites going offline without judicial oversight. 'It's not policy at this stage,' said Eleanor Bradley, director of operations at Nominet."
Police seek powers to shut websites
BBC Online, 26 November 2010

"Robert S. Mueller III, the director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, traveled to Silicon Valley on Tuesday to meet with top executives of several technology firms about a proposal to make it easier to wiretap Internet users. Mr. Mueller and the F.B.I.’s general counsel, Valerie Caproni, were scheduled to meet with senior managers of several major companies, including Google and Facebook, according to several people familiar with the discussions. How Mr. Mueller’s proposal was received was not clear. 'I can confirm that F.B.I. Director Robert Mueller is visiting Facebook during his trip to Silicon Valley,' said Andrew Noyes, Facebook’s public policy manager. Michael Kortan, an F.B.I. spokesman, acknowledged the meetings but did not elaborate. Mr. Mueller wants to expand a 1994 law, the Communications Assistance for Law Enforcement Act, to impose regulations on Internet companies. The law requires phone and broadband network access providers like Verizon and Comcast to make sure they can immediately comply when presented with a court wiretapping order. Law enforcement officials want the 1994 law to also cover Internet companies because people increasingly communicate online. An interagency task force of Obama administration officials is trying to develop legislation for the plan, and submit it to Congress early next year. The Commerce Department and State Department have questioned whether it would inhibit innovation, as well as whether repressive regimes might harness the same capabilities to identify political dissidents, according to officials familiar with the discussions. Under the proposal, firms would have to design systems to intercept and unscramble encrypted messages. Services based overseas would have to route communications through a server on United States soil where they could be wiretapped."
F.B.I. Seeks Wider Wiretap Law for Web
New York Times, 16 November 2010

"Britain is heading for a new surveillance state of unmanned spy drones, GPS tracking of employees and profiling through social networking sites, the information watchdog has warned. The relentless march of the surveillance society has seen snooping techniques 'intensify and expand' at such a pace that regulators are struggling to keep up, according to Christopher Graham, the Information Commissioner. Despite moves by the Coalition Government to row back intrusions of privacy, a new wave of monitoring risks making the spy state greater than ever. Mr Graham's predecessor warned in 2006 that the UK could be 'sleepwalking into a surveillance society' and an updated report for him today said such concerns are 'no less cogent' in 2010..... It said that 'visual, covert, database and other forms of surveillance have proceeded apace' and that much of it 'goes beyond the limits of what is tolerable in a society'. Britons are already the most watched citizens in the democratic world because of an army of surveillance systems including CCTV, cameras that track vehicles, vast Government databases and the sharing of personal data such as air passenger details."
Warning of new era of surveillance state
Daily Telegraph, 12 November 2010

"A mother took a council to court yesterday after it used surveillance powers designed to combat terrorism to establish whether she had lied to get her children into a 'good' school. Jenny Paton, her partner and three children were followed for nearly three weeks by officers from Poole Borough Council, using the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act (Ripa). They wrongly suspected that she did not live in the school’s catchment area. Speaking before a two-day hearing of the Investigatory Powers Tribunal, Ms Paton, 40, poured scorn on the council’s actions. She said: 'Some of the operational aspects are ludicrous and completely outrageous and I think we all need protecting from the way local authorities are using Ripa. This is about saying ‘no more’. Let’s have more safeguards and better scrutiny.' She asked why the officials, if they doubted her story, did not knock on her front door and speak to her....Ripa was introduced in 2000 to define when covert techniques, such as secret filming, could be used by police, local councils and benefit fraud teams. The powers have been used almost 50,000 times by public authorities such as local councils and the health service since 2002. After public alarm the Government is about to curb the powers that councils have gained under Ripa. Local authorities have used legislation intended to tackle terrorism and serious crime to deal with minor offences such as dog fouling. Conway council in Wales used the Act to spy on a worker who claimed to be sick, and Kensington and Chelsea council in London used it to monitor the misuse of a disabled parking badge. Under reform plans, set out yesterday, junior council officials will lose their power to authorise surveillance operations on behalf of local authorities. There are, however, plans to extend its use to allow officials to trace parents who refuse to pay child support. Investigators will be given access to the phone and internet records of thousands of fathers who do not co- operate with the Child Maintenance and Enforcement Commission."
School place dispute mother sues council over use of terror powers
London Times, 6 November 2009

"Vernon Bogdanor, the Professor of Government at the University of Oxford, argues in his book The New British Constitution that a series of measures including devolution legislation, the Human Rights Act and the abolition of the House of Lords have already replaced one constitutional system with another. The fundamental codes that govern our relationship with the state are being rewritten and we are supine. Yet increasingly the State’s tentacles strangle us with a sinister if well-intentioned paternalism. The fear of paedophiles and terrorists has made potential criminals of us all. We are watched by cameras, monitored by agencies, registered on databases. The State can eavesdrop on phone calls, spy on our bank accounts. British citizens can be detained without trial. We have no protection against Parliament, when the party that dominates it decides to dominate us. It is time for a written constitution, ratified by the people. Professor Bogdanor argues that one reason we have never codified our constitution is that statements of citizens’ rights typically mark a new beginning, a birth, or rebirth of a new state. Our tortuous relationship with Europe could be such a catalyst. Our country is being reborn as a satellite of Europe yet, as the revolution is a bloodless one, it passes without protest. We are alone among the member states in not having a written constitution. This makes us vulnerable to European creep, and the dribbling away of civil liberties."
How to protect ourselves from Eurocreep
London Times, 6 November 2009

"Even the most law-abiding driver might feel a shiver down the spine when spotting this speed camera at the roadside. For as well as detecting speeding, it is packed with gizmos that check number plates to make sure insurance and tax are up to date. It also measures the distance between vehicles to spot tailgating and takes pictures of the inside of the car – to make sure you are wearing a seat belt. The latest weapon in speed camera technology can capture footage from 150ft away. It is the first to detect multiple offences at the same time and is connected to police computers via satellite, so that prosecutions can be started within seconds of any offence. Development of the system, known as Asset – Advanced Safety and Driver Support for Essential Road Transport – is being funded with around £7million of European money. It is undergoing testing in Finland and is expected to be deployed across Europe from 2013, with each unit costing £50,000.... The ‘Big Brother’-style set-up takes various pictures before filing details back to a central database via a GPS system. The equipment automatically destroys images over a month old and those in which no traffic violation is evident. Its testing comes at a time when the Government has cut central funding for speed cameras and reduced the road safety budget by £38million."
Scariest speed camera of all... It checks your insurance, tax and even whether you are tailgating or not wearing a seatbelt
Daily Mail, 3 November 2010

"Every email, phone call and website visit is to be recorded and stored after the Coalition Government revived controversial Big Brother snooping plans. It will allow security services and the police to spy on the activities of every Briton who uses a phone or the internet. Moves to make every communications provider store details for at least a year will be unveiled later this year sparking fresh fears over a return of the surveillance state. The plans were shelved by the Labour Government last December but the Home Office is now ready to revive them. It comes despite the Coalition Agreement promised to 'end the storage of internet and email records without good reason'. Any suggestion of a central 'super database' has been ruled out but the plans are expected to involve service providers storing all users details for a set period of time. That will allow the security and police authorities to track every phone call, email, text message and website visit made by the public if they argue it is needed to tackle crime or terrorism. The information will include who is contacting whom, when and where and which websites are visited, but not the content of the conversations or messages.... Isabella Sankey, director of policy at Liberty, said: 'One of the early and welcome promises of the new Government was to ‘end the blanket storage of internet and email records’.  'Any move to amass more of our sensitive data and increase powers for processing would amount to a significant U-turn. The terrifying ambitions of a group of senior Whitehall technocrats must not trump the personal privacy of law abiding Britons.' Guy Herbert, general secretary of the No2ID campaign group, said: 'We should not be surprised that the interests of bureaucratic empires outrank liberty.  'It is disappointing that the new ministers seem to be continuing their predecessors' tradition of credulousness.'"
Every email and website to be stored
Daily Telegraph, 20 October 2010

"Law enforcement and counterterrorism officials, citing lapses in compliance with surveillance orders, are pushing to overhaul a federal law that requires phone and broadband carriers to ensure that their networks can be wiretapped, federal officials say. The officials say tougher legislation is needed because some telecommunications companies in recent years have begun new services and made system upgrades that caused technical problems for surveillance. They want to increase legal incentives and penalties aimed at pushing carriers like Verizon, AT&T, and Comcast to ensure that any network changes will not disrupt their ability to conduct wiretaps. An Obama administration task force that includes officials from the Justice and Commerce Departments, the F.B.I. and other agencies recently began working on draft legislation to strengthen and expand the Communications Assistance to Law Enforcement Act, a 1994 law that says telephone and broadband companies must design their services so that they can begin conducting surveillance of a target immediately after being presented with a court order."
Officials Push to Bolster Law on Wiretapping
New York Times, 18 October 2010

"Fans of James Bond know that biometric systems can be fooled to gain access to secure areas: now a US National Research Council report commissioned by the CIA, DARPA and the Department of Homeland Security confirms it. Never mind using severed fingers or 'retinal transplants' to dupe security systems. The natural changes that occur due to age and health - and the fact that prints from the same finger can differ because of dirt or moisture - mean that anyone can unwittingly fool the technology, leaving such systems 'inherently fallible', according to the report. It recommends that system designers wishing to improve their systems do so by considering any identification as likely but not definitive, and by developing methods to accommodate the inevitable mistakes."
Anyone can dupe biometric scanner
New Scientist, 2 October 2010

"A computer virus dubbed the world’s 'first cyber superweapon' and which may have been designed to attack Iran’s nuclear facilities has found a new target — China. The Stuxnet computer worm has wreaked havoc in China, infecting millions of computers around the country, state media reported this week. Stuxnet is feared by experts around the globe as it can break into computers that control machinery at the heart of industry, allowing an attacker to assume control of critical systems like pumps, motors, alarms and valves. It could, technically, make factory boilers explode, destroy gas pipelines or even cause a nuclear plant to malfunction. The virus targets control systems made by German industrial giant Siemens that are commonly used to manage water supplies, oil rigs, power plants and other industrial facilities."
Millions of Computers Hit by Virus Across China
Agence France Presse, 30 September 2010

"Developers of email, instant-messaging and voice-over-internet-protocol applications would be forced to redesign their services so their contents can be intercepted by law enforcement agents armed with legal wiretap orders under federal legislation reported on Monday by The New York Times. The legislation would, among other things, require cellphone carriers, websites and other types of service providers to have a way to unscramble encrypted communications traveling over their networks, the report said. It specifically mentions companies such as Research in Motion and Skype, which are popular in part because their cellular communications and VoIP services respectively are widely regarded as offering robust encryption that's impractical if not impossible for government agents to crack."
Feds want backdoors built into VoIP and email
The Register, 27 September 2010

"Federal law enforcement and national security officials are preparing to seek sweeping new regulations for the Internet, arguing that their ability to wiretap criminal and terrorism suspects is 'going dark' as people increasingly communicate online instead of by telephone. Essentially, officials want Congress to require all services that enable communications — including encrypted e-mail transmitters like BlackBerry, social networking Web sites like Facebook and software that allows direct 'peer to peer' messaging like Skype — to be technically capable of complying if served with a wiretap order. The mandate would include being able to intercept and unscramble encrypted messages. The bill, which the Obama administration plans to submit to lawmakers next year, raises fresh questions about how to balance security needs with protecting privacy and fostering innovation. And because security services around the world face the same problem, it could set an example that is copied globally."
U.S. Tries to Make It Easier to Wiretap the Internet
New York Times, 27 September 2010

"Cyberterrorism is such a threat that the U.S. president should have the authority to shut down the Internet in the event of an attack, Former CIA Director Michael Hayden said. Hayden made the comments during a visit to San Antonio where he was meeting with military and civilian officials to discuss cyber security. The U.S. military has a new Cyber Command which is to begin operations on October 1. Hayden said the president currently does not have the authority to shut down the Internet in an emergency."
U.S. should be able to shut Internet, former CIA chief says
Reuters, 26 September 2010

"A computer virus that has infected more than 60,000 machines in Iran may be a sophisticated cyber-warfare attack on Iran’s clandestine nuclear arms programme, software experts have told The Times. The 'Stuxnet Worm' was detected in July but has since evolved through a number of refinements. This virus is distinct because it is designed to attack the software that controls machinery in a specific industrial installation. Industry experts have speculated that the target could be the Natanz facility, where Iran conducts its nuclear enrichment programme. Western computer software engineers have spent months examining the virus, which remains focused on Iran, although smaller outbreaks have occurred in Indonesia, India and Pakistan. 'It is fairly safe to say that Iran or a specific organisation within Iran was the target,' Kevin Hogan, head of the Dublin global response centre for Symantec, an internet security company, said. While warning that much about the Stuxnet Worm remained unclear, he said: 'The virus searches for the Siemens Simatic Step 7 programme [which] allows a pipeline substation to function or a petrol refinery, sewage treatment plant, potentially a nuclear processing plant. Stuxnet modifies the programmes in those devices, it is very implementation specific.' The Siemens software is used for controlling and monitoring temperature within an industrial plant. Alan Bentley, senior vice-president of the IT security specialist Lumension, described the virus as 'the most refined piece of malware ever discovered'. Features of the Stuxnet virus have led industry experts to speculate that a nation state may be behind its creation, with Israel and the US the most obvious suspects. They cited as one such feature the sophisticated nature of the programme, which exploits four previously unknown flaws within the Windows software used by most computers."
Stuxnet Worm computer virus ‘aims to sabotage Iran’s nuclear plant’
London Times, 25 September 2010

"The FBI improperly opened investigations into Greenpeace and other animal rights and anti-war groups after the September 11 attacks of 2001, the US government has admitted. Inspector-General Glenn Fine said the FBI tactics were 'troubling' because they singled out some of domestic groups for investigations that ran for up to five years and were extended 'without adequate basis'. He said: 'In several cases there was little indication of any possible federal crimes. In some cases, the FBI classified some investigations relating to non-violent civil disobedience under its Acts of Terrorism classification.' As well as Greenpeace, groups that were investigated included People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals and anti-war groups the Catholic Worker and the Thomas Merton Centre in Pittsburgh."
FBI investigated Greenpeace for terror links after 9/11
Daily Telegraph, 21 September 2010

"Pennsylvania lawmakers plan to investigate claims that a company hired to provide information to the state's Office of Homeland Security was gathering information on groups who staged various protests and rallies. The Senate Veterans Affairs and Emergency Preparedness Committee has scheduled a Sept. 27 hearing in Harrisburg regarding the Institute of Terrorism Research and Response. Committee chair Sen. Lisa Baker, R-Luzerne, said she wants to know if people were targeted for exercising their rights of free speech and assembly. Gov. Ed Rendell on Tuesday apologized to the groups, who became the subject of regular anti-terrorism bulletins distributed by his homeland security director, James Powers. The governor said he was embarrassed to learn of the bulletins, and added he's canceling a $125,000 contract with the Philadelphia-based company. He did not fire Powers. The bulletins were shared with representatives of the natural gas industry because of concern over acts of vandalism at wells in the Marcellus Shale region."
Pa. Lawmakers to investigate security bulletins
ABC News, 18 September 2010

"FBI agents improperly opened investigations into Greenpeace and several other domestic advocacy groups following the Sept. 11 terror attacks in 2001, and put names of some of their members on terror watch lists with evidence that turned out to be 'factually weak,' the Department of Justice said Monday. However, the internal review by Inspector General Glenn Fine did not conclude that the FBI purposely targeted the groups or their members, as many civil liberties advocates had charged after anti-Iraq war rallies and other protests were held during the administration of President George W. Bush. Rather, Fine said, the FBI tactics appeared 'troubling' in singling out some of the domestic groups for investigations that ran for up to five years, and were extended 'without adequate basis.' He also questioned why the FBI continued to maintain investigative files against the groups."
FBI began probes of Greenpeace, other groups, after 9/11
McClatchy-Tribune News Service, 20 September 2010

"An obscure York nonprofit with ties to Philadelphia University and Jerusalem is behind the state Homeland Security agency's monitoring of protesters, environmentalists and gays, documents show. The Institute of Terrorism Research and Response is headed by Michael Perelman, who formerly worked for the York City Police Department, and Aaron Richman, a former police captain in the Israeli capital, according to filings with the Pennsylvania Department of State. Gov. Ed Rendell apologized Tuesday after the disclosure that the state Office of Homeland Security paid the institute $125,000 for weekly reports the agency used to put Marcellus shale hearings and a gay and lesbian festival on terror watch lists for law enforcement. 'We are appalled at what we have learned so far about these reports,' said Witold Walczak, legal director for the ACLU of Pennsylvania. 'It all smacks of J. Edgar Hoover. Saying that no harm was done is simplistic. Just raising questions about a group or a person can cause harm. Dissent does not equal danger.' Perelman declined to comment but provided a statement that explained in general terms what his organization does..."
Ex-police devised 'terror list' in Pennsylvania
Pittsburg Tribune-Review, 16 September 2010

"Smart phones do many things these days: surf the Internet, send e-mail, take photos and video (and — oh, yes — send and receive calls). But one thing they can do that phone companies don't advertise is spy on you. As long as you don't leave home without your phone, that handy gadget keeps a record of everywhere you go — a record the government can then get from your telephone company. The law is unclear about how easy it should be for the government to get its hands on this locational data — which can reveal whether you've been going to church, attending a Tea Party rally, spending the night at a date's house or visiting a cancer-treatment center. A federal appeals court ruled last week that in some cases the government may need a search warrant. And while that's a step forward, it's not good enough. The rule should be that the government always needs a warrant to access your cell-phone records and obtain data about where you have been. When you carry a cell phone, it is constantly sending signals about where you are. It 'pings' nearby cell-phone towers about every seven seconds so it can be ready to make and receive calls. When it does, the phone is also telling the company that owns the towers where you are at that moment — data the company then stores away indefinitely. There is also a second kind of locational data that phone companies have, thanks to a GPS chip that is embedded in most smart phones now. This is even more accurate — unlike the towers, which can only pinpoint a general area where you may be, GPS can often reveal exactly where you are at any given moment within a matter of meters. 'About 90% of Americans are walking around with a portable tracking device all the time, and they have no idea,' says Christopher Calabrese, a lawyer with the American Civil Liberties Union's Washington office..... The federal government's position is that it should be able to get most of this data if it decides it is relevant to an investigation, with no need for a search warrant. If the government needs a warrant, it would have to show a judge evidence that there was probable cause to believe that the cell-phone user committed a crime — an important level of protection. Without this requirement, the government can get locational data pretty much anytime it wants. It is not hard to imagine that the government could also one day use cell-phone data to stifle dissent. Cell-phone records could tell them who attended an antigovernment rally. It could also tell them who is going into the opposition party's headquarters or into the home of someone they have questions about. Cell-phone data may be the most efficient way ever invented for a government to spy on its people — since people are planting the devices on themselves and even paying the monthly bills. The KGB never had anything like it. And, indeed, the U.S. government already appears to be sweeping up a lot of data from completely innocent people. The ACLU recently told Congress of a case in which, while looking for data on a suspect, the FBI apparently used a dragnet approach and took data on another 180 people. The FBI has said that if it does happen to gather data on innocent people in the course of conducting an investigation, it keeps that information for as long as 20 years....Last week, the Philadelphia-based U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit pushed back. A federal magistrate judge, in a good and strong decision, had ruled that the government must always get a warrant if it wants cell-phone data. The appeals court scaled that back a bit, ruling that magistrate judges have the power to require the government to get a warrant, depending on the facts of the particular case. The fight over cell-phone tracking is similar to one now going on in the courts over GPS devices — specifically, whether the government needs a warrant to place a GPS device on someone's car."
What Your Cell Phone Could Be Telling the Government
TIME, 15 September 2010

"Over the past several years, entities closely linked to the private security firm Blackwater have provided intelligence, training and security services to US and foreign governments as well as several multinational corporations, including Monsanto, Chevron, the Walt Disney Company, Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines and banking giants Deutsche Bank and Barclays, according to documents obtained by The Nation. Blackwater's work for corporations and government agencies was contracted using two companies owned by Blackwater's owner and founder, Erik Prince: Total Intelligence Solutions and the Terrorism Research Center (TRC). Prince is listed as the chairman of both companies in internal company documents, which show how the web of companies functions as a highly coordinated operation. Officials from Total Intelligence, TRC and Blackwater (which now calls itself Xe Services) did not respond to numerous requests for comment for this article. One of the most incendiary details in the documents is that Blackwater, through Total Intelligence, sought to become the 'intel arm' of Monsanto, offering to provide operatives to infiltrate activist groups organizing against the multinational biotech firm.....Through Total Intelligence and the Terrorism Research Center, Blackwater also did business with a range of multinational corporations. According to internal Total Intelligence communications, biotech giant Monsanto—the world's largest supplier of genetically modified seeds—hired the firm in 2008–09. The relationship between the two companies appears to have been solidified in January 2008 when Total Intelligence chair Cofer Black traveled to Zurich to meet with Kevin Wilson, Monsanto's security manager for global issues..... After the meeting in Zurich, Black sent an e-mail to other Blackwater executives, including to Prince and Prado at their Blackwater e-mail addresses. Black wrote that Wilson 'understands that we can span collection from internet, to reach out, to boots on the ground on legit basis protecting the Monsanto [brand] name.... Ahead of the curve info and insight/heads up is what he is looking for.' Black added that Total Intelligence 'would develop into acting as intel arm of Monsanto.' Black also noted that Monsanto was concerned about animal rights activists and that they discussed how Blackwater 'could have our person(s) actually join [activist] group(s) legally.' Black wrote that initial payments to Total Intelligence would be paid out of Monsanto's 'generous protection budget' but would eventually become a line item in the company's annual budget. He estimated the potential payments to Total Intelligence at between $100,000 and $500,000. According to documents, Monsanto paid Total Intelligence $127,000 in 2008 and $105,000 in 2009....Reached by telephone and asked about the meeting with Black in Zurich, Monsanto's Wilson initially said, 'I'm not going to discuss it with you.' In a subsequent e-mail to The Nation, Wilson confirmed he met Black in Zurich and that Monsanto hired Total Intelligence in 2008 and worked with the company until early 2010."
Blackwater's Black Ops
The Nation, 15 September 2010

"A mind reading machine is a step closer to reality after scientists discovered a way of translating people's thoughts into words. Researchers have been able to translate brain signals into speech using sensors attached to the surface of the brain for the first time. The breakthrough, which is up to 90 per cent accurate, offers a way to communicate for paralysed patients who cannot speak and could eventually lead to being able to read anyone thoughts. .... The experimental breakthrough came when the team attached two button sized grids of 16 tiny electrodes to the speech centres of the brain of an epileptic patient. The sensors were attached to the surface of the brain The patient had had part of his skull removed for another operation to treat his condition. Using the electrodes, the scientists recorded brain signals in a computer as the patient repeatedly read each of 10 words that might be useful to a paralysed person: yes, no, hot, cold, hungry, thirsty, hello, goodbye, more and less. Then they got him to repeat the words to the computer and it was able to match the brain signals for each word 76 per cent to 90 per cent of the time. The computer picked up the patinet's brain waves as he talked and did not use any voice recognition software. Because just thinking a word – and not saying it – is thought to produce the same brain signals, Prof Greger and his team believe that soon they will be able to have translation device and voice box that repeats the word you are thinking."
'Mind-reading machine' can convert thoughts into speech
Daily Telegraph, 8 September 2010

"Fears about loss of privacy are being voiced as India gears up to launch an ambitious scheme to biometrically identify and number each of its 1.2 billion inhabitants. In September, officials from the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI), armed with fingerprinting machines, iris scanners and cameras hooked to laptops, will fan out across the towns and villages of southern Andhra Pradesh state in the first phase of the project whose aim is to give every Indian a lifelong Unique ID (UID) number. 'The UID is soft infrastructure, much like mobile telephony, important to connect individuals to the broader economy,' explains Nandan Nilekani, chairman of the UIDAI and listed in 2009 by Time magazine as among the world's 100 most influential people..... In talks and television interviews, Nilekani has maintained that the benefits of the UID project far outweigh its risks.' 'It's worth taking on the project and trying to mitigate the risks so that we get the outcomes we want,' he told the CNN-IBN television channel in an interview. But the possibility of religious profiling by state governments or misuse by caste lobbies is real. This is because the central government has decided to include caste as a category in the UID questionnaire to be filled out by applicants.Because identity is already a potent issue and the trigger for frequent identity-related conflict – such as the 2002 anti-Muslim riots in Gujarat that left 2,000 people dead – any exercise that enhances identification is fraught."
Fears of Privacy Loss Pursue Ambitious ID Project
Inter Press Service, 6 September 2010

"Coulsongate is throwing some very important light into a very murky area. It now seems clear that the police knew that the private investigator Glenn Mulcaire and the News of the World royal reporter Clive Goodman had illegally intercepted the voicemail messages of many more politicians, sportsmen, celebrities and others than just the 8 for which they were jailed.  The New York Times has quoted detectives, however,  as alleging they did not pursue these investigations because of their close relationship with Murdoch’s newspaper. This raises key questions about Britain’s power structure and how it works..... A central tenet of a civilised and democratic society is that the various power institutions – the political system, the banks and financial sector, industrial corporations, criminal justice and security services, and the media – must operate independently and at arm’s length from each other in a manner that is transparent and accountable.   If they are found covertly to collude with each other in order to give surreptitious and improper assistance to one of the other powerful forces in society, it is a very serious threat about which Parliament should be urgently demanding a thorough and comprehensive public inquiry."
Police in league with Murdoch?
Michael Meacher MP (Blog), 5 September 2010

"The policeman who found the body of MI6 codebreaker Gareth Williams said it was submerged in ‘fluid’, The Mail on Sunday has learned. An inquest heard last week that the 31-year-old spy was padlocked in a sports hold-all and left in the bath of his two-bedroom flat in Pimlico, Central London. But the disclosure that he was also covered by liquid – not thought to be blood or water – has raised fears that a substance was used to accelerate decay and complicate toxicology tests..... speculation that he was the victim of a professional ‘hit’ was given credence last night after further details of his work were disclosed. ‘He was involved in some very sensitive projects, known as codeword protected,’ said a security expert. ‘This meant that only the people in his cell would know what he was working on, and nobody else in his organisation. ‘You are signed in to these projects and once you finish one you are signed out and you no longer have access to any data or news about what is happening in the project.’ ......‘It is an aggressive form of Bluetooth or similar wireless technology,’ said the security expert. He said such devices would be used by spies on the ground to steal data from the handsets of unsuspecting terrorists, organised criminals or officers from rival intelligence agencies. 'Traditionally, there has been a separation of MI6 and GCHQ,’ said the expert. ‘MI6 has been full of the James Bond types working on the ground and GCHQ is filled with boffins with beards who are doing their scientific stuff.  ‘But recently there has been a merger of these agencies’ work and Williams was at the forefront of that. This was why he was on secondment to MI6.’ He added that Mr Williams did similar work when he had stints at the National Security Agency in America. The NSA is the equivalent of GCHQ and has been leading the West’s attempts to intercept communication between Al Qaeda cells. Mr Williams worked for the Special Delivery Team, a unit set up in the NSA to create advanced bugging and intercepting devices."
Was body of MI6 spy submerged in mystery fluid to speed up decay?
Mail On Sunday, 5 September 2010

"John Prescott tonight demanded the Metropolitan police reopen its investigation into the News of the World phone-hacking scandal as the Observer revealed that Scotland Yard holds News International documents suggesting that he was a target when deputy prime minister. Two invoices held by the Met mention Prescott by name. They appear to show that News International, owner of the NoW, paid Glenn Mulcaire, the private investigator at the heart of the scandal, for his help on stories relating to the deputy PM. Lord Prescott spoke of his anger that the information, spelled out in a letter from the Yard's legal services directorate, emerged only after he was given a series of personal reassurances by detectives at the highest level that there was 'no evidence' his phone may have been hacked. The invoices are both dated May 2006, at a time when Prescott was the subject of intense media scrutiny following revelations that he had had an affair with his secretary, Tracey Temple. There is also a piece of paper obtained from Mulcaire on which the name 'John Prescott' is written. The only other legible word on this document is 'Hull'."
John Prescott furious over unrevealed link to phone-hacking scandal
Guardian, 4 September 2010

"Investigators have found no evidence so far that murdered MI6 spy Gareth Williams was gay, it emerged yesterday. His family and friends have said there was nothing to suggest he was gay and have reacted furiously to ‘untruths’ that he led a colourful homosexual lifestyle, claiming the rumours could be government smears aimed at discrediting him. Police inquiries have supported their view that he was not gay. Scotland Yard has denied speculation that gay paraphernalia was discovered in the flat or that there is any link to a male escort. Mr Williams was found dead last Monday at his £400,000 flat in Pimlico, central London, just half a mile from MI6 headquarters. His body was discovered in the bath stuffed into a sports holdall.... One line of enquiry is that the cipher and codes specialist could have died in a bizarre accident and that his body was later put in the bag. Detectives are also looking at whether he may have been killed by a foreign intelligence agency seeking to stop his work on intercepting messages and code-breaking, the Telegraph reported. The Metropolitan police continue to describe his death as ‘suspicious and unexplained’. A security source said any ‘unexplained’ movements of money in the Mr Williams’ bank accounts were being scrutinised for clues as to how he met his death. It emerged yesterday that Mr Williams was thought to have made at least two trips to Afghanistan, helping break coded Taliban messages at MI6’s key listening station in Kabul. He is also said to have played an important role in the development of a highly sensitive and secret electronic intelligence gathering system called Echelon and was helping with a new system to monitor internet phone calls such as Skype."
Police find 'no evidence' that dead MI6 agent was gay
Daily Mail, 30 August 2010

"The Pentagon is contemplating an aggressive approach to defending its computer systems that includes preemptive actions such as knocking out parts of an adversary's computer network overseas - but it is still wrestling with how to pursue the strategy legally. The department is developing a range of weapons capabilities, including tools that would allow 'attack and exploitation of adversary information systems' and that can 'deceive, deny, disrupt, degrade and destroy' information and information systems, according to Defense Department budget documents. But officials are reluctant to use the tools until questions of international law and technical feasibility are resolved, and that has proved to be a major challenge for policymakers. Government lawyers and some officials question whether the Pentagon could take such action without violating international law or other countries' sovereignty."
Pentagon considers preemptive strikes as part of cyber-defense strategy
Washington Post, 28 August 2010

"Government agents can sneak onto your property in the middle of the night, put a GPS device on the bottom of your car and keep track of everywhere you go. This doesn't violate your Fourth Amendment rights, because you do not have any reasonable expectation of privacy in your own driveway - and no reasonable expectation that the government isn't tracking your movements. That is the bizarre - and scary - rule that now applies in California and eight other Western states. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, which covers this vast jurisdiction, recently decided the government can monitor you in this way virtually anytime it wants - with no need for a search warrant. It is a dangerous decision - one that, as the dissenting judges warned, could turn America into the sort of totalitarian state imagined by George Orwell. It is particularly offensive because the judges added insult to injury with some shocking class bias: the little personal privacy that still exists, the court suggested, should belong mainly to the rich.... if government agents can track people with secretly planted GPS devices virtually anytime they want, without having to go to a court for a warrant, we are one step closer to a classic police state — with technology taking on the role of the KGB or the East German Stasi. Fortunately, other courts are coming to a different conclusion from the Ninth Circuit's — including the influential U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. That court ruled, also this month, that tracking for an extended period of time with GPS is an invasion of privacy that requires a warrant. The issue is likely to end up in the Supreme Court."
The Government Can Use GPS to Track Your Moves
TIME, 25 August 2010

"Israeli government claims that it does not spy on the United States are intended for the media and popular consumption. The reality is that Israel’s intelligence agencies target the United States intensively, particularly in pursuit of military and dual-use civilian technology. Among nations considered to be friendly to Washington, Israel leads all others in its active espionage directed against American companies and the Defense Department. It also dominates two commercial sectors that enable it to extend its reach inside America’s domestic infrastructure: airline and telecommunications security. Israel is believed to have the ability to monitor nearly all phone records originating in the United States, while numerous Israeli air-travel security companies are known to act as the local Mossad stations....FBI sources indicate that the increase in Mossad activity is a major problem, particularly when Israelis are posing as U.S. government officials, but they also note that there is little they can do to stop it as the Justice Department refuses to initiate any punitive action or prosecutions of the Mossad officers who have been identified as involved in the illegal activity.....Stewart Nozette appears to be headed towards eventual freedom as his case drags on through the District of Columbia courts. Nozette, an aerospace scientist with a top secret clearance and access to highly sensitive information, offered to sell classified material to a man he believed to be a Mossad officer, but who instead turned out to be with the FBI. Nozette has been in jail since October, but he has now been granted an additional 90-day delay so his lawyers can review the documents in the government’s case, many of which are classified. If Nozette demands that sensitive information be used in his defense, his case will likely follow the pattern set in the nine-times-postponed trial of AIPAC spies Steve Rosen and Keith Weissman, who were ultimately acquitted in April 2009 when prosecutors determined that they could not make their case without doing significant damage to national security. A month after Rosen and Weissman were freed, Ben-Ami Kadish, who admitted to providing defense secrets to Israel while working as an engineer at Picatinny Arsenal in New Jersey, walked out of a Manhattan court after paying a fine. He did no jail time and continues to receive his substantial Defense Department pension. The mainstream media reported the Rosen and Weissman trial intermittently, but there was virtually no coverage of Ben-Ami Kadish, and there has been even less of Nozette."
Philip Giraldi, former CIA Officer

Mossad in America
American Conservative, 23 August 2010

"A Liberal Democrat adviser to Nick Clegg has called on Scotland Yard to explain why it held his details as well as Clegg’s name on a secret police database. Fiyaz Mughal, who advises the deputy prime minister on combating violent extremism, wrote to Sir Paul Stephenson, the Metropolitan police commissioner, last week demanding to know why surveillance officers logged his identity on the database after he spoke at a peaceful rally in Trafalgar Square. A spokesman for Clegg, who will be running the country this week while David Cameron is on holiday, said he would look into the matter. Details of the surveillance appear on a police criminal intelligence report of a rally last year to protest against the BBC’s refusal to broadcast a charity appeal for Gaza. A team of surveillance officers from the forward intelligence team of the Met’s public order unit were watching the demonstration to gather information about various protesters linked to groups including Stop the War and the Socialist Workers party. Although they were spying only on the demonstrators, they noted the presence of several speakers. One of them was Mughal, who was identified in the log as 'the inter-faith adviser to Nick Clegg of the Liberal Democrats'. Another was Jeremy Corbyn, the Labour MP for Islington North. Corbyn was unavailable for comment this weekend. But Mughal expressed his fury in a letter to Stephenson. 'It seems that simply speaking at a lawful demonstration warrants a criminal intelligence report,' he wrote. 'Such activity by the Met, in my opinion, is tantamount to an intrusion into the human and civil rights of citizens who are undertaking their legitimate right to demonstrate.' Shami Chakrabarti, director of Liberty, the human rights group, said the Met needed stricter controls on what information is placed in databases. 'It is bad enough that swaggering officers from so-called ‘forward intelligence’ use aggressive photography and other tactics to discourage peaceful protest and turn activists into enemies of the state,' she said."
Clegg aide on secret Yard database
Sunday Times, 15 August 2010

" stalking is prompted by tiny files hidden inside... computers. These secretly identify their age, location, favourite movies, love of gadgets, the books they buy — sometimes even the words they type into websites. This data is packaged and sold to companies seeking customers. Welcome to the shadowy world of 'behavioural advertising', where the tastes, dreams, desires and family size of unsuspecting internet users are for sale to advertisers and even governments. ... How does it work? At its heart the technique relies on innocuous-sounding programs or software called cookies and beacons. They are either dumped onto your computer or identify it (and you) when you log onto a website. This allows all your movements on the internet to be tracked, often in real time.... Last week The Wall Street Journal tested the world’s top 50 websites to find out just how many cookies, beacons and other trackers they fed into your computer. The 50 sites installed 3,180 tracking files on a test computer used in the survey. Only one, the online encyclopedia Wikipedia, installed none. One of those studied, the search engine Google, insisted last week that it did not store details of what individuals searched for, other than anonymously. So if you searched for something such as 'hair loss treatments', it would not sell on that information to interested parties. However, users of Google’s email service have been astonished by its seeming perspicacity....When you visit the auction site eBay or the travel site Expedia, information about what you were looking for and some basic information on the sort of person you are will be auctioned within seconds on a data exchange run by BlueKai, a Seattle-based firm. Every day BlueKai sells 50m pieces of information about individuals’ browsing habits so that advertisers can respond immediately. 'Advertisers have always collected information on people,' according to Emma Wilson, managing director of Harvest Digital, an ad agency. 'In the last year or so that has multiplied exponentially. You don’t know the specifics of each person — no one has my name and address, for instance — but ads that know my age, where I live and what I buy can follow me around Facebook or track me across the internet.' Some tracking companies pair up your online behaviour with data from other sources about household income, geography, family size and education to make well informed guesses in real time about what you might be about to do — or how much you might be able to spend — and sell those conclusions....Advertisers argue that the information they collect is anonymous but Professor Lilian Edwards, who teaches internet law at Sheffield University, warns that 'it is incredibly easy to de-anonymise data. If you are a household with more than an average number of children, for example, you are very easy to identify.'.... Data monitoring of this kind has alarmed campaigners for some time. In 2004 Richard Thomas, the then information commissioner, whose job it is to protect the public’s private information, sounded an urgent warning: 'My anxiety is that we are sleepwalking into a surveillance society where much more information is collected about people, accessible to far more people shared across many more boundaries than British society would feel comfortable with.' Edwards fears that that point has already arrived. 'Things have got desperately out of control,' she said. 'The problem isn’t just the ads, it’s the entire database held on you and how that database is combined with external research using quantitative methods. How do you know they haven’t made two plus two equal five? You may be branded a credit risk or affiliated with terrorist organisations without knowing it. And once it’s out, it is very, very hard to put the genie back in the bottle.' There is no doubt governments are in the market for this kind of data. Last week Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates announced that they would ban some services available on BlackBerry smartphones. The problem was that the encryption on the phones was so good that it made it very difficult for the governments to spy on people’s email messages. Most observers agree that many people are unaware they can opt out of the constant monitoring and also that the means of doing so is too complex. Until recently the social media site Facebook required users to click 50 times to activate privacy settings."
Every click you make they’ll be watching you
Sunday Times, 8 August 2010

"A semi-secret government contractor that calls itself Project Vigilant surfaced at the Defcon security conference Sunday with a series of revelations: that it monitors the traffic of 12 regional Internet service providers, hands much of that information to federal agencies, and encouraged one of its 'volunteers,' researcher Adrian Lamo, to inform the federal government about the alleged source of a controversial video of civilian deaths in Iraq leaked to whistle-blower site Wikileaks in April. Chet Uber, the director of Fort Pierce, Fl.-based Project Vigilant, says that he personally asked Lamo to meet with federal authorities to out the source of a video published by Wikileaks showing a U.S. Apache helicopter killing several civilians and two journalists in a suburb of Baghdad, a clip that Wikileaks labeled 'Collateral Murder.' Lamo, who Uber said worked as an 'adversary characterization' analyst for Project Vigilant, had struck up an online friendship with Bradley Manning, a former U.S. Army intelligence analyst who currently faces criminal charges for releasing the classified video. In June, Uber said he learned from Lamo’s father that the young researcher had identified Manning as the video’s source, and pressured him to meet with federal agencies to name Manning as Wikileaks’ whistleblower. He then arranged a meeting with employees of 'three letter' agencies and Lamo, who Uber said had mixed feelings about informing on Manning. 'I’m the one who called the U.S. government,' Uber said. 'All the people who say that Adrian is a narc, he did a patriotic thing. He sees all kinds of hacks, and he was seriously worried about people dying.' Uber says that Lamo later called him from the meeting, regretting his decision to inform on Manning. 'I’m in a meeting with five guys and I don’t want to do this,' Uber says Lamo told him at the time. Uber says he responded, 'You don’t have any choice, you’ve got to do this.' 'I said, ‘They’re not going to throw you in jail,’' Uber said. '‘Give them everything you have.’' Wikileaks didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment. IDG reporter Robert McMillan confirmed Uber’s relationship with Lamo, who told McMillan that 'Mr. Uber was, among a few others, an instrumental voice in helping me come to my ultimate decision.' Uber’s Wikileaks revelation is one of the first public statements from the semi-secret Project Vigilant. He says the 600-person 'volunteer' organization functions as a government contractor bridging public and private sector security efforts. Its mission: to use a variety of intelligence-gathering efforts to help the government attribute hacking incidents. 'Bad actors do bad things and you have to prove that they did them,' says Uber. 'Attribution is the hardest problem in computer security.' According to Uber, one of Project Vigilant’s manifold methods for gathering intelligence includes collecting information from a dozen regional U.S. Internet service providers (ISPs). Uber declined to name those ISPs, but said that because the companies included a provision allowing them to share users’ Internet activities with third parties in their end user license agreements (EULAs), Vigilant was able to legally gather data from those Internet carriers and use it to craft reports for federal agencies. A Vigilant press release says that the organization tracks more than 250 million IP addresses a day and can 'develop portfolios on any name, screen name or IP address.' 'We don’t do anything illegal,' says Uber. 'If an ISP has a EULA to let us monitor traffic, we can work with them. If they don’t, we can’t.' And whether that massive data gathering violates privacy? The organization says it never looks at personally identifying information, though just how it defines that information isn’t clear, nor is how it scrubs its data mining for sensitive details. ISP monitoring is just one form of intelligence that Vigilant employs, says Uber. It also gathers a variety of open source intelligence and employs numerous agents around the world."
Stealthy Government Contractor Monitors U.S. Internet Providers, Worked With Wikileaks Informant
Forbes (blog), 1 August 2010

"iPhones generally store more data than other high-end phones -- and investigators such as Fazio frequently can tap in to that information for evidence. And while some phone users routinely delete information from their devices, that step is seldom as final as it seems. 'When you hit the delete button, it's never really deleted,' Fazio said. The devices can help police learn where you've been, what you were doing there and whether you've got something to hide. Former hacker Jonathan Zdziarski, author of iPhone Forensics (O'Reilly Media) for law enforcement, said the devices 'are people's companions today. They organize people's lives.' And if you're doing something criminal, something about it is probably going to go through that phone: • Every time an iPhone user closes out of the built-in mapping application, the phone snaps a screenshot and stores it. Savvy law-enforcement agents armed with search warrants can use those snapshots to see if a suspect is lying about whereabouts during a crime. • iPhone photos are embedded with GEO tags and identifying information, meaning that photos posted online might not only include GPS coordinates of where the picture was taken, but also the serial number of the phone that took it. • Even more information is stored by the applications themselves, including the user's browser history. That data is meant in part to direct custom-tailored advertisements to the user, but experts said some of it could be useful to police. Clearing out user histories isn't enough to clean the device of that data, said John B. Minor, a member of the International Society of Forensic Computer Examiners. Just as users can take and store a picture of their iPhone's screen, the phone itself automatically shoots and stores hundreds of such images as people close out one application to use another. 'Those screen snapshots can contain images of e-mails or proof of activities that might be inculpatory or exculpatory,' Minor said. • The keyboard cache logs everything that you type in to learn autocorrect so that it can correct a user's typing mistakes. Apple doesn't store that cache very securely, Zdziarski contended, so someone with know-how could recover months of typing in the order in which it was typed, even if the e-mail or text it was part of has long since been deleted."
Cops love iPhone data trail
Chicago Sun-Times, 1 August 2010

"One of the fastest-growing businesses on the Internet, a Wall Street Journal investigation has found, is the business of spying on Internet users. The Journal conducted a comprehensive study that assesses and analyzes the broad array of cookies and other surveillance technology that companies are deploying on Internet users. It reveals that the tracking of consumers has grown both far more pervasive and far more intrusive than is realized by all but a handful of people in the vanguard of the industry. • The study found that the nation's 50 top websites on average installed 64 pieces of tracking technology onto the computers of visitors, usually with no warning. A dozen sites each installed more than a hundred. The nonprofit Wikipedia installed none. • Tracking technology is getting smarter and more intrusive. Monitoring used to be limited mainly to "cookie" files that record websites people visit. But the Journal found new tools that scan in real time what people are doing on a Web page, then instantly assess location, income, shopping interests and even medical conditions. Some tools surreptitiously re-spawn themselves even after users try to delete them. • These profiles of individuals, constantly refreshed, are bought and sold on stock-market-like exchanges that have sprung up in the past 18 months. The new technologies are transforming the Internet economy. Advertisers once primarily bought ads on specific Web pages—a car ad on a car site. Now, advertisers are paying a premium to follow people around the Internet, wherever they go, with highly specific marketing messages. In between the Internet user and the advertiser, the Journal identified more than 100 middlemen—tracking companies, data brokers and advertising networks—competing to meet the growing demand for data on individual behavior and interests."
The Web's New Gold Mine: Your Secrets
Wall St Journal, 30 July 2010

"The Obama administration is seeking to make it easier for the FBI to compel companies to turn over records of an individual's Internet activity without a court order if agents deem the information relevant to a terrorism or intelligence investigation. The administration wants to add just four words -- 'electronic communication transactional records' -- to a list of items that the law says the FBI may demand without a judge's approval. Government lawyers say this category of information includes the addresses to which an Internet user sends e-mail; the times and dates e-mail was sent and received; and possibly a user's browser history. It does not include, the lawyers hasten to point out, the 'content' of e-mail or other Internet communication. But what officials portray as a technical clarification designed to remedy a legal ambiguity strikes industry lawyers and privacy advocates as an expansion of the power the government wields through so-called national security letters. These missives, which can be issued by an FBI field office on its own authority, require the recipient to provide the requested information and to keep the request secret. They are the mechanism the government would use to obtain the electronic records."
White House proposal would ease FBI access to records of Internet activity
Washington Post, 29 July 2010

"The privacy of millions of Facebook users has been jeopardised after some of their details were harvested and published on the internet. An online security consultant who wished to highlight the social networking site's privacy issues published a list of data taken from more than 100million users' profiles. Ron Bowles used a piece of code to scan Facebook profiles, collecting data not hidden by the user's privacy settings. The list has been shared as a downloadable file which has now spread rapidly across the internet, prompting anger and concern from millions of users around the world....Simon Davies, from the watchdog Privacy International, told BBC news that Facebook had been given ample warning that something like this would happen. He said: 'Facebook should have anticipated this attack and put measures in place to prevent it. 'It is inconceivable that a firm with hundreds of engineers couldn't have imagined a trawl of this magnitude and there's an argument to be heard that Facebook have acted with negligence. 'It adds to the confusion which has long surrounded the privacy settings - people don't fully understand them and this is the result,' he said."
Facebook privacy fears for 100m users as their personal details are published on file-sharing site
Daily Mail, 29 July 2010

"The Archbishop of York yesterday revealed he has been stopped and searched by police eight times, as he warned new anti-terrorist powers are a threat to civil liberties. Dr John Sentamu said police should not be able to ask for someone's bank accounts to be frozen merely because they are suspected of terrorism. The Ugandan-born Archbishop told peers that he had been stopped and searched by officers because he had been suspected of crime, warning that the new asset-freezing law could lead to people losing their money and property just because their faces did not fit. His warning is likely to carry weight with ministers because of his powerful record both as an opponent of racism and a critic of left-wing 'multiculturalism'. Dr Sentamu, who is second to the Archbishop of Canterbury in the Church of England hierarchy, was speaking in the Lords on the Terrorist Asset-Freezing Bill. The law, which is not opposed by Labour, would allow the courts to freeze assets on 'reasonable suspicion' that someone is a terrorist, rather than the more demanding rules that there must be a 'reasonable belief' of their involvement in terrorism. Revealing his experience of being stopped and searched, the Archbishop said: 'When the policeman suddenly realised that I was a bishop, that didn't stop me being stopped and searched.' And he claimed that such police checks were often on the basis of 'he doesn't look like one of us'."
Archbishop of York Dr John Sentamu stopped and searched by police EIGHT times
Daily Mail, 28 July 2010

"The personal details of several Kiwi celebrities have been released by hackers as proof they have cracked Hell Pizza's customer database. Private information including passwords, email and home addresses, phone numbers - plus pizza orders - have fallen into the hands of the anonymous cyber hackers. Hell have called in police and it has raised fears that they could access the personal details of hundreds of thousands of New Zealanders. The company warned its 230,000 customers to change their internet passwords in an email on Friday night.... Executive director Martin Cocker from NetSafe said if Hell Pizza has been breached it was embarrassing for them not to know. However, he said it was good Hell Pizza had warned customers as there was no legal obligation to do so."
Police called over pizza hack
New Zealand Herald, 25 July 2010

"The Ministry of Truth was how George Orwell described the mechanism used by government to control information in his seminal novel 1984. A recent trip to Europe has convinced me that the governments of the world have been rocked by the power of the internet and are seeking to gain control of it so that they will have a virtual monopoly on information that the public is able to access. In Italy, Germany, and Britain the anonymous internet that most Americans are still familiar with is slowly being modified. If one goes into an internet café it is now legally required in most countries in the European Union to present a government issued form of identification. When I used an internet connection at a Venice hotel, my passport was demanded as a precondition and the inner page, containing all my personal information, was scanned and a copy made for the Ministry of the Interior -- which controls the police force. The copy is retained and linked to the transaction. For home computers, the IP address of the service used is similarly recorded for identification purposes. All records of each and every internet usage, to include credit information and keystrokes that register everything that is written or sent, is accessible to the government authorities on demand, not through the action of a court or an independent authority. That means that there is de facto no right to privacy and a government bureaucrat decides what can and cannot be 'reviewed' by the authorities. Currently, the records are maintained for a period of six months but there is a drive to make the retention period even longer.... all of the arguments for intervention are essentially themselves fraudulent and are in reality being exploited by those who favor big government and state control. The anonymity and low cost nature of the internet means that it can be used to express views that are unpopular or unconventional, which is its strength. It is sometimes used for criminal behavior because it is a mechanism, not because there is something intrinsic in it that makes it a choice of wrongdoers. Before it existed, fraud was carried out through the postal service and over the telephone. Pornography circulated freely by other means. As for the security argument, the tiny number of actual terrorists who use the internet do so because it is there and it is accessible. If it did not exist, they would find other ways to communicate, just as they did in pre-internet days. In fact, intelligence sources report that internet use by terrorists is rare because of persistent government monitoring of the websites..... The real reason for controlling the internet is to restrict access to information, something every government seeks to do. If the American Departments of Defense and Homeland Security and Senator Lieberman have their way, new cybersecurity laws will enable Obama's administration to take control of the internet in the event of a national crisis. How that national crisis might be defined would be up to the White House but there have been some precedents that suggest that the response would hardly be respectful of the Bill of Rights. Many countries already monitor and censor the internet on a regular basis, forbidding access to numerous sites that they consider to be subversive or immoral. During recent unrest, the governments of both Iran and China effectively shut down the internet by taking control of or blocking servers.... As this article was being written, a story broke reporting that Wordpress host Blogetery had been shut down by United States authorities along with all 73,000 Blogetery-hosted blogs. The company's ISP is claiming that it had to terminate Blogetery's account immediately after being ordered to do so by law enforcement officials 'due to material hosted on the server.' The extreme response implies a possible presumed terrorist connection, but it is important to note that no one was charged with any actual offense, revealing that the government can close down sites based only on suspicion. It is also likely only a matter of time before Obama's internet warfare teams surface either at the Defense Department or at State. Deliberately overloading and attacking the internet to damage its credibility, witness the numerous sites that have been 'hacked' and have had to cease or restrict their activities. But the moves afoot to create a legal framework to completely shut the internet down and thereby control the 'message' are far more dangerous. American citizens who are concerned about maintaining their few remaining liberties should sound the alarm and tell the politicians that we don't need more government abridgement of our First Amendment rights."
Philip Giraldi - Former CIA Counter-Terrorism Officer
Obama's War on the Internet
Campaign For Liberty, 19 July 2010

"A controversial covert surveillance system that records the public's conversations is being used in Britain. The technology, called Sigard, monitors movements and speech to detect signs of threatening behaviour. Its designers claim the system can anticipate anti-social behaviour and violence by analysing the information picked up its sensors. They say alerts are then sent to police, nightclub bouncers or shop security staff, which allow them to nip trouble in the bud before arguments spiral into violence. The devices are designed to distinguish between distress calls, threatening behaviour and general shouting. The system, produced by Sound Intelligence, is being used in Dutch prisons, city centres and Amsterdam's Central Rail Station. Coventry City Council is funding a pilot project which has for six months and has installed seven devices in the nightlife area on the High Street. Dylan Sharpe, from Big Brother Watch, said: 'There can be no justification for giving councils or the police the capability to listen in on private conversations. 'There is enormous potential for abuse, or a misheard word, causing unnecessary harm with this sort of intrusive and overbearing surveillance.' A CV1 spokesman said: 'We had the system for six months. It is no longer in use.' No one from the organisation was available to comment on whether the trial was a success. The new Coalition Government has announced a review of the use of CCTV with a pledge to tilt the balance away from snooping by the authorities to defend civil liberties."
Surveillance system monitors conversations
Daily Telegraph, 4 July 2010

"Europe has signed a deal to hand over all bank transaction data to the US in order to help the ongoing war on terrorism. The SWIFT agreement was signed yesterday in Brussels by Spanish minister for home affairs Alfredo Pérez Rubalcaba and the US embassy's economic economic officer to the EU, Michael Dodman."
Europe approves US mass data grab
The Register, 29 June 2010

"... suspicious spouses, protective parents, and concerned companies are turning to cheap and hard-to-detect commerical spyware apps to monitor your mobile communications..... A decade ago the idea that anyone with little technical skill could turn a cell phone into a snooping device was basically unrealistic. But as the smart-phone market proliferates—it grew 86 percent in the United States alone last year—so do all the ethical kinks that come with it. Among them is a growing sector of perfectly legal smart-phone spyware apps that are peddled as tools for catching a cheating spouse or monitoring the kids when they’re away from home. But what they can effectively do, for as little as $15 or as much as several hundred, is track a person with a precision once relegated to federal authorities. 'Not only can you look at a person’s e-mail or listen to their calls, in some cases you can also just turn on the microphone [on a smart phone] and listen to what the person is doing any time you want,' says Chris Wysopal, cofounder and CTO of Veracode, a software-security company....Turning what is essentially cell-phone-bugging software into a business model is not a bad idea, technically speaking. The smart-phone market—largely dominated by the Symbian, Research in Motion, and iPhone operating systems—has 47 million users in the United States and is expected to exceed 1 billion worldwide by 2014, according to Parks Associates, a market-research firm. In most cases, people’s lives are tethered to these handsets. It’s how we e-mail, text, search, and, on occasion, even call someone. And the dependence just continues to grow. Last year consumers paid for and downloaded more than 670 million apps that can turn a phone into everything from a book reader to a compass. Smart-phone users effectively carry a real-time snapshot of what happens in their daily lives. This is what makes the smart phone the perfect way to track someone....Among the top commercial spyware vendors who have ventured into this space are FlexiSPY, MobiStealth, and Mobile Spy. While the services vary, what they do is essentially the same. According to all three spyware Web sites, a person must have legal access to a smart phone to install a piece of spyware. For example, if you’re spying on a family member, that means the phone is family property. If you’re an employer monitoring your employee, the phone should be company-owned. To install the spyware, you have to have the phone in your possession for at least a few minutes to download the app. (There are apps that can be downloaded remotely, but that’s less common and not legal.) In Mobile Spy’s case, once the software is installed, you can log into your Mobile Spy web account to view e-mails, text messages, pictures taken, videos shot, calendar entries, incoming and outgoing calls, and GPS coordinates. MobiStealth and FlexiSPY take it a step further and allow a person to remotely record any conversations that take place near the cell phone. 'The most threatening [part] is that it’s pretty impossible to tell if this is happening to you,' says Mislan. That’s because once the spyware app is on the phone it is virtually undetectable to the average user. There is no typical corresponding app icon, nor is it listed on any menu. At best, it may show up with a generic name like 'iPhone app' or 'BlackBerry app,' so that it appears to be a regular part of the system. There is nothing illegal about making these apps, and almost all makers have disclaimers on their Web sites warning people not to use their products illegally.... If the software is already on a phone, Mislan says there is little that consumers can do on their own to confirm this. Even if you’re positive you are being spied on, doing something like replacing the SIM card is not always enough to wipe a phone clean of the problem. In some cases, Mislan advises consumers to reach out to companies like SMobile Systems that offer security solutions for cell phones—a growing market in themselves. Wysopal says that as with so much that’s technology-related, something big has to break before things change in the smart phone–spyware space. 'You’ll have to see someone important, like a politician, have their phone compromised,' he says. 'If that happened, it would be a wake-up call.'
Is Someone Spying On Your Cell-Phone Calls?
Newsweek, 29 June 2010

"Details of a spying deal between Britain and the US are made public today, more than 60 years after it came into force. Headed 'top secret', the UKUSA Agreement was drawn up after the Second World War to enable the two allies to share almost all information gathered on foreign governments, military forces and other organisations. The seven-page document, released by the National Archives, formed the basis for co-operation between London and Washington throughout the Cold War and beyond, in an arrangement unparalleled in Western intelligence. Ed Hampshire, principal records specialist at the National Archives, said: 'The agreement represented a crucial moment in the development of the ‘special relationship’ between the two wartime allies and captured the spirit and practice of the signals intelligence co-operation which had evolved on an ad hoc basis during the Second World War. Today intelligence sharing between Britain’s MI6 and the US is well established, although it has come under pressure recently because of concerns over alleged human rights violations, including the secret rendition by the CIA of British residents. National sensitivities were overcome and the deal was finalised on March 5, 1946, although it took 60 years for Britain’s Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) to confirm that it even existed. The areas covered are listed as: '1) collection of traffic; 2) acquisition of communication documents and equipment; 3) traffic analysis; 4) cryptanalysis; 5) decryption and translation; 6) acquisition of information regarding communication organisations, practices, procedures, and equipment.' The pact stressed that the exchange of intelligence would be unrestricted, except when both sides agreed that specific information could be excluded. 'It is the intention of each party to limit such exceptions to the absolute minimum.' Britain and Washington also pledged not to collect intelligence against each other or to tell any 'third party' about the accord’s existence.The UKUSA Agreement was extended later to include three other English-speaking nations: Canada in 1948 and Australia and New Zealand in 1956. It forms the foundation for co-operation in signals intelligence between these five countries today."
Secrets of spying deal between Britain and US unveiled after 60 years
London Times, 25 June 2010

"Apple updated its privacy policy today, with an important, and dare we say creepy new paragraph about location information. If you agree to the changes, (which you must do in order to download anything via the iTunes store) you agree to let Apple collect store and share 'precise location data, including the real-time geographic location of your Apple computer or device.' Apple says that the data is 'collected anonymously in a form that does not personally identify you,' but for some reason we don't find this very comforting at all. There appears to be no way to opt-out of this data collection without giving up the ability to download apps."
Privacy Change: Apple Knows Where Your Phone Is And Is Telling People
The Consumerist, 21 June 2010

"Every Google web search could be stored for up to two years under a controversial new EU plan that has the backing of more than 300 Euro-MEPs. 'Written Declaration 29' is intended to be used as an early warning system to stop paedophiles by logging what they look for using search engines. But civil liberty groups have hit out at the proposal which they say is a 'completely unjustifiable' intrusion into citizens' privacy. And they claim that there is no evidence that it would even be effective in trapping paedophiles who would never use search engines like Google to look for child pornography. The declaration, sponsored by an Italian and a Slovakian MEP, claims that it is 'essential to ensure that the internet continues to afford a high level of virtual democracy, which does not present any threat to women and children.' The motion asks for Directive 2006/24/EC to be extended to all web search engines, which would include Google, as part of a European early warning system for paedophiles. The directive came into effect in the March following the 2005 London terror attacks and lets EU member states monitor and store personal emails and other internet activity for up to two years for counter-terrorism puposes. Simon Davies, director of Privacy International which campaigns for tougher privacy laws, said: 'Most paedophiles operate through chatrooms and private communication rather than search engines like Google so they would not be affected,' he added."
Every Google search to be logged and saved for two years under new Euro MP plan
Daily Mail, 7 June 2010

"Some of Britain’s biggest firms were last night accused of ‘spying’ on their customers after they admitted ‘listening in’ on disgruntled conversations on the internet. The companies include BT, which uses specially developed software to scan for negative comments about it on websites including Twitter, Facebook and YouTube. Budget airline easyJet, mobile-phone retailer Carphone Warehouse and banks including Lloyds TSB are also monitoring social networking sites to see what is being said about them. The firms claim there is nothing sinister about the practice, with BT insisting it is merely acting as ‘a fly on the wall’ to ‘listen and engage with our customers’. But privacy campaigners have accused them of ‘outright spying’ while legal experts have suggested that firms making unsolicited approaches to customers could fall foul of data protection laws."
How 'BT Sarah' spies on your Facebook account: secret new software allows BT and other firms to trawl internet looking for disgruntled customers
Mail, 6 June 2010

"The £4.5bn national identity card scheme is to be scrapped within 100 days, the home secretary, Theresa May, announced today. The 15,000 identity cards already issued are to be cancelled without any refund of the £30 fee to holders within a month of the legislation reaching the statute book. Abolishing the cards and associated register will be the first piece of legislation introduced to parliament by the new government. May said the identity documents bill will invalidate all existing cards. The role of the identity commissioner, created in an effort to prevent data blunders and leaks, will be abolished. The government said the move will save £86m over four years and avoid £800m in costs over the next 10 years that would have been raised by increased charges. An allied decision to cancel the next generation of biometric fingerprint passports will save a further £134m over four years. Savings to the public under the whole package will total £1bn. The publication of the identity documents bill today marks the end of an eight-year Whitehall struggle over compulsory identity cards since they were first floated by the then-home secretary David Blunkett in the aftermath of 9/11. More than 5.4m combined passport and identity cards were due to be issued when the scheme was started in earnest next year. This was projected to rise to 10m ID cards/passports being issued ever year from 2016 onwards.... The next generation of 'biometric' passports is also due to be cancelled. They were due to include electronic fingerprints alongside the existing digitised photograph already included in chips in the latest passports."
ID cards scheme to be scrapped within 100 days
Guardian, 27 May 2010

"Google Inc. said an internal investigation has discovered that the roving vans the company uses to create its online mapping services were mistakenly collecting data about websites people were visiting over wireless networks. The Internet giant said it would stop collecting Wi-Fi data from its StreetView vans, which workers drive to capture street images and to locate Wi-Fi networks. The company said it would dispose of the data it had accidentally collected. Alan Eustace, senior vice president of engineering and research for Google, wrote in a blog post that the company uncovered the mistake while responding to a German data-protection agency's request for it to audit the Wi-Fi data, amid mounting concerns that Google's practices violated users' privacy. Google had previously said it was collecting the location of Wi-Fi hot spots from its StreetView vehicles, but not the information being transmitted over those networks by users."
Google Says It Mistakenly Collected Data on Web Usage
Wall St Journal, 14 May 2010

"Google has refused to rule out extending controversial facial recognition technology, despite being hit by a storm of complaints over privacy. The internet search giant already offers one facial recognition feature through its Picasa photo software, which scans your pictures and suggests matches with other pictures that may include the same people. Google's CEO Eric Schmidt would not rule out a further roll-out, saying: 'It is important that we continue to innovate.'.... With facial recognition a face is detected and tagged by the user. It is then rotated so that the eyes are level and scaled to a uniform size and compared with all the other pictures on the user's database. The system then displays any close matches. There are fears this technology could be added to the Google Goggles tool, which was launched last year. This currently allows people to search for inanimate objects, like the Eiffel Tower, on the internet by taking a picture of it on a mobile phone. However, if combined with facial recognition software, customers could use it to identify strangers on the street. In theory this could make it very easy to track someone's private information down just by taking a picture of them."
Google refuses to rule out face recognition technology despite privacy rows
Daily Mail, 12 May 2010

"Identity cards will be scrapped under plans announced by the new Conservative and Lib Dem coalition government, new Home Secretary Theresa May has said. Their abolition is among measures the parties have agreed to reverse what they say was 'the substantial erosion' of civil liberties in recent years. Other proposals include reforms to the DNA database, tighter regulation of CCTV and a review of libel laws. Labour claims ID cards help tackle benefit fraud and identity theft. The Tories and Lib Dems have both opposed ID cards from the outset, arguing they are expensive, intrusive and have done little to tackle the most serious threats to society such as terrorism and organised crime. In a statement, the Home Office said it would announce 'in due course' how the process of rescinding ID cards and the accompanying National Identity Register would move forward.... The new government is also proposing to scrap all future biometric passports and the Contact Point Database as part of a new so-called 'Freedom or Great Repeal Bill'. It wants to 'roll back' powers it says were taken by the state under Labour and has pledged to defend trial by jury, restore rights to non-violent protest, end the storage of internet and email records without good reason, introduce safeguards against the 'misuse' of anti-terrorism legislation. The new government also wants extra safeguards over the retention of people's DNA by the police."
Identity cards set to be scrapped
BBC Online, 12 May 2010

"The US must prepare itself for a full-scale cyber attack which could cause death and destruction across the country in less than 15 minutes, the former anti-terrorism Tsar to Bill Clinton and George W Bush has warned. Richard Clarke claims that America's lack of preparation for the annexing of its computer system by terrorists could lead to an 'electronic Pearl Harbor'. In his warning, Mr Clarke paints a doomsday scenario in which the problems start with the collapse of one of Pentagon's computer networks. Soon internet service providers are in meltdown. Reports come in of large refinery fires and explosions in Philadelphia and Houston. Chemical plants malfunction, releasing lethal clouds of chlorine. Air traffic controllers report several mid-air collisions, while subway trains crash in New York, Washington and Los Angeles. More than 150 cities are suddenly blacked out. Tens of thousands of Americans die in an attack comparable to a nuclear bomb in its devastation. Yet it would take no more than 15 minutes and involve not a single terrorist or soldier setting foot in the United States. The scenario is contained the pages of his book, Cyber War: The Next National Security Threat, written with Robert Knake.... 'The biggest secret about cyber war may be that at the very same time the US prepares for offensive cyber war, it is continuing policies that make it impossible to defend effectively from cyber attack,' says the book. In part, the US has been hampered by the unforeseeable success of the internet and expansion of computerised networks, which are now used in almost every aspect of industry but have led to a hazardous degree of over-dependence..... Meanwhile America may have invented the internet, but at least 30 nations have created offensive cyber-war capabilities, which aim to plant a variety of viruses and bugs into key utility, military and financial systems of other states. The authors are convinced that there will at some point be a cyber-war between two nations and are concerned that such a conflict would 'lower the threshold' for a war with bombs and bullets. Ironically, the United States is currently far more vulnerable to cyberwar than Russia or China, or even North Korea, because those countries have not only concentrated on their cyber defences but are less reliant on the internet. 'We must have the ability to turn off our connection to the internet and still be able to continue to operate,' Mr Knake, a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, told the Daily Telegraph. 'Relying on a system as precarious as the internet is a big mistake. It is a fundamentally insecure ecosystem that is ripe for conflict and gives countries with disadvantages in conventional weapons an asymmetrical advantage.' Britain, as a nanny state more tolerant of government interference, is far better prepared than its giant ally across the Atlantic."
Cyber attack 'could fell US within 15 minutes'
Telegraph, 7 May 2010

"We marched into Baghdad on flimsy evidence and we might be about to make the same mistake in cyberspace. Over the past few weeks, there has been a steady drumbeat of alarmist rhetoric about potential threats online. At a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing this month, chairman Carl Levin said that 'cyberweapons and cyberattacks potentially can be devastating, approaching weapons of mass destruction in their effects.'..... The cyberalarmist rhetoric conflates the various threats we might face into one big ball of fear, uncertainty, and doubt. This week for example, the director of the Central Intelligence Agency announced that a cyberattack could be the next Pearl Harbor. Cyberwar, cyberespionage, cyberterrorism, cybercrime – these are all disparate threats. Some are more real than others, and they each have different causes, motivations, manifestations, and implications. As a result, there will probably be different appropriate responses for each. Unfortunately, the popular discussion largely clumps them into the vague and essentially meaningless 'cyberthreat' category. Let’s take a deep breath. Before we can effectively address any of these amorphous 'cyberthreats,' we must first identify what, specifically, these threats are and to what extent the federal government plays a role in defending against them. The war metaphor may be useful rhetoric, but it is a poor analogy to the dispersed and different threats that both public and private information technology systems face. The fact is, as long as we have had networks, they have been under attack. But over the past 20 years network operators have developed effective detection, prevention, and mitigation strategies. This is why we should be wary of calls for more government supervision of the Internet...And there’s the fact that we have seen a wasteful military-industrial complex develop before, and in this rush to 'protect' we might be seeing a new one blossoming now. The greater the threat is perceived to be – and the less clearly it is defined – the better it is for defense contractors like Booz Allen Hamilton, which last week landed $34 million in Defense Department cybersecurity contracts.....At the heart of calls for federal involvement in cybersecurity is the proposition that we reengineer the Internet to facilitate better tracking of users in order to pinpoint the origin of attacks. The Rockefeller-Snowe bill looks to develop such a 'secure domain name addressing system.' That’s a slippery slope. And there’s the fact that we have seen a wasteful military-industrial complex develop before, and in this rush to 'protect' we might be seeing a new one blossoming now. The greater the threat is perceived to be – and the less clearly it is defined – the better it is for defense contractors like Booz Allen Hamilton, which last week landed $34 million in Defense Department cybersecurity contracts. That money could certainly be put to better use right now. Anyone concerned about net neutrality or civil liberties – in particular online privacy and anonymity – should take notice. Before the country is swept by fear and we react too quickly to the 'gathering threat' of cyberattacks, we should pause to calmly consider the risks involved and the alternatives available to us."
Cyberattacks - Washington is hyping the threat to justify regulating the Internet
Christian Science Monitor, 29 April 2010

"US software firm Retina-X Studios on Tuesday released a more vigilant version of its Mobile Spy program that captures every email and picture from BlackBerry smartphones. 'We invite you to open your eyes to the real actions of what your child or employee does on your BlackBerry device,' Retina-X chief executive James Johns said in a release. 'What if they are being dishonest or worse? The advantages of knowing the answers are far better than not knowing at all.' The previous version of Mobile Spy software kept track of text messaging and telephone calls, providing online access to data by employers, parents or whoever else is paying for smartphone accounts. New Mobile Spy 4.0 software also provides employers or parents with smartphone contacts, calendar events, memos and records of which mobile phone towers a device was within range range of, according to Retina-X. 'These new abilities help parents and employers track the activities of their monitored phones with greater accuracy,' the Arizona-based company said in a release. 'This new feature gives parents a way to monitor whether or not a teenager is sending naughty pictures. Employers can find out if company secrets are being snapped for later retrieval.' Versions of Mobile Spy are available for iPhone devices as well as for smartphones running on Android, Symbian, or Windows Mobile software, according to the Retina-X website."
Spy software watches BlackBerry email/photos
Agence France Presse, 27 April 2010

"The first town in Britain to scrap fixed speed cameras has seen no increase in accidents, it was revealed yesterday. But the number of motorists prosecuted for speeding there dropped by more than 40 per cent. Swindon switched off its cameras over claims they were a ' blatant tax on the motorist' which did nothing to improve safety. Yesterday, supporters of the move hailed the figures as proof they were right. Now the Conservative-run council has urged other authorities to follow suit, saying the money can be better spent on other measures to cut casualties. In the six months after the fixed cameras were switched off at the end of July, nine accidents were recorded - the same number as in the equivalent period the year before. Between August last year and January, there were seven minor injury accidents and two serious ones - neither fatal - at the four sites monitored by the cameras. In the six months from August 2008 there were eight minor accidents and one fatal. A comparison of speeding fines issued over the two six-month periods reveals a drop of 42 per cent - from 3,681 to 2,120. Of the 2008-09 total, 1,393 motorists were caught by the fixed cameras that have now been deactivated - the rest by mobile cameras, which remain in use. The fall was revealed in figures released under the Freedom of Information Act. It means the Government - which receives income from the fixed cameras - has lost revenue of around £80,000. Yesterday, Swindon Council leader Roderick Bluh said: 'Fixed speed cameras are more about fund-raising than road safety. These figures completely vindicate our position.'"
Town that scrapped 'motorist tax' speed cameras sees no increase in accidents
Daily Mail, 24 April 2010

"Speed cameras which communicate with each other by satellite are being secretly tested on British roads. The hi-tech devices can follow drivers’ progress for miles to calculate whether they have broken speed limits. Combining number plate recognition technology with global positioning satellites, they can be set up in a network to monitor tens of thousands of cars over huge areas for the smallest breach. Known as SpeedSpike, the system uses similar methods of recognition as the cameras which enforce the congestion charge in London, and allow two cameras to 'talk' to each other if a vehicle appears to have travelled too far in too short a space of time. After a covert national trial which has not been publicised until now, just days after a report showed motorists have been fined almost £1billion in speeding tickets under Labour, authorities hope the new cameras will enable them to re-create the system used on motorway contraflows.... Conservative MP Geoffrey Cox, whose Devon constituency is close to the Cornish test site, said fundamental questions had to be addressed before such an 'alarming' level of surveillance was extended. He said: 'You always have to ask if it is really necessary to watch over people, to spy on them and film them. 'We will get to a point where it becomes routine and it should never be a matter of routine that the state spies on its citizens.'"
High-tech speed cameras which use satellites to track motorists on secret trial in Britain
Daily Mail, 21 April 2010

"MI5 used hidden electronic surveillance equipment to secretly monitor 10 Downing Street, the Cabinet and at least five Prime Ministers, The Mail on Sunday can reveal. The extraordinary disclosure comes despite a succession of parliamentary statements that no such bugging ever took place. And it follows a behind-the-scenes row in which senior Whitehall civil servants – backed by Prime Minister Gordon Brown – attempted to suppress the revelation. The Mail on Sunday has learned that top-secret files held by the Security Service show it installed electronic listening devices in three highly sensitive areas of No10 – the Cabinet Room, the Waiting Room and the Prime Minister’s study. It means that for nearly 15 years, all Cabinet meetings, the offices of senior officials and all visitors to the Prime Minister – including foreign leaders – were being bugged. The disclosure is highly shocking in its own right but it will also bring genuine concerns as to why the Cabinet Office still wants to suppress it. Comments from MI5 chief Jonathan Evans suggest that the attempted block was not done on grounds of national security but for wider public interest reasons. This must raise the possibility that the bugging was carried out for political purposes and officials do not want to admit it went on in the past because similar operations are continuing today. It is understood that the top-secret MI5 file on the operation is short and does not reveal why the bugs were installed. Crucially, the documents also fail to answer whether all the Prime Ministers in office during the period of the operation, from 1963 to 1977, were told that their conversations were monitored. The files also contain no ‘product’ – transcripts of conversations overheard by the devices – suggesting that the bugs, while working, were not being actively used by MI5. It is unknown, however, if the devices were being monitored by any other agency, including GCHQ, the Government’s eavesdropping centre, or MI6. Details of the surveillance operation were due to be revealed in The Defence Of The Realm, the official history of MI5 written by highly respected Cambridge University historian Professor Christopher Andrew. It is understood MI5 believed there were no national security concerns over the disclosures. But weeks before the book’s publication late last year, the Cabinet Office – which oversees MI5 for the Prime Minister – ruled that the references had to be removed on unspecified public interest grounds. Its insistence led to a behind-the-scenes row with Prof Andrew, who wrote of ‘one significant excision’ which was ‘I believe, hard to justify’. The comments by the historian have prompted significant speculation over what he was forced to remove. Now this newspaper can reveal the deletions relate to the eavesdropping devices that were first installed in Downing Street in July 1963 at the request of the then Prime Minister, Harold Macmillan..... The bugs remained in Downing Street throughout Douglas-Home’s term and also the premierships of his successors Harold Wilson and Edward Heath. In all, the equipment monitored the most sensitive areas of Downing Street for around 15 years. It was finally removed on the orders of James Callaghan in about 1977, the year after he took office. The files do not make it clear whether Prime Ministers Heath and Wilson knew there were surveillance devices in No10. The revelation that there were bugs in Downing Street will add to conspiracy theories surrounding the alleged plot to overthrow Wilson. Indeed Wilson’s actions while in office suggest he was never told his office had been bugged. Seemingly obsessed by the idea that he and other MPs were under surveillance, he introduced the Wilson Doctrine – still in place today – which bans the bugging of MPs’ telephone calls..... After Wilson stepped down, he co-operated with a book suggesting there had been a plot by Right-wing intelligence officers to undermine him. The claim was later supported by former senior MI5 officer Peter Wright in his banned Spycatcher memoir. It also prompted Callaghan, Wilson’s successor, to launch an investigation into the allegations. The MI5 files indicate that it was Callaghan who finally ordered the surveillance devices to be removed from Downing Street. Despite this, Callaghan made a statement to the House of Commons denying that No10 had ever been bugged. He said: ‘The Prime Minister is satisfied that at no time has the Security Service or any other British intelligence or security agency, either of its own accord or at someone else’s request, undertaken electronic surveillance in No 10 Downing Street.’ The first indication of the Whitehall cover-up over the bugging operation was revealed by Prof Andrew in the preface of his book."
Revealed: How MI5 bugged 10 Downing Street, the Cabinet and at least five Prime Ministers for 15 YEARS
Mail On Sunday, 18 April 2010

"When Harold Macmillan called in MI5 in 1963 and asked it to bug his office, he thought the whole world was coming apart, writes Stephen Dorrill. He was trying to keep a lid on an unprecedented level of scandal that threatened to undermine his Tory Government and confidence in the British Establishment.... Macmillan felt he could not trust anybody – but turned for counsel to Dick White, director-general of foreign intelligence service MI6. It is possible that White suggested installing the listening devices in No10 as some kind of insurance policy..... The level of official paranoia at the time cannot be underestimated. But it is the revelation that the bugs were still in place in Downing Street during Harold Wilson’s two administrations, between 1964 and 1970 and 1974 to 1976, which is the most startling. Wilson believed that elements of the Establishment and members of MI5 and MI6 were plotting against him.... Now, despite countless official denials, it appears that Wilson – whose claims that he was under surveillance are often dismissed as the ramblings of an ill and paranoid man – was right."
Stephen Dorril, author of 'MI6 – Fifty Years of Special Operations'
So was Wilson right to be ‘paranoid’ about being spied on?
Mail On Sunday, 18 April 2010

"At a warehouse in New Jersey, 6,000 used copy machines sit ready to be sold. CBS News chief investigative correspondent Armen Keteyian reports almost every one of them holds a secret. Nearly every digital copier built since 2002 contains a hard drive - like the one on your personal computer - storing an image of every document copied, scanned, or emailed by the machine. In the process, it's turned an office staple into a digital time-bomb packed with highly-personal or sensitive data.  If you're in the identity theft business it seems this would be a pot of gold. 'The type of information we see on these machines with the social security numbers, birth certificates, bank records, income tax forms,' John Juntunen said, 'that information would be very valuable.' Juntunen's Sacramento-based company Digital Copier Security developed software called 'INFOSWEEP' that can scrub all the data on hard drives. He's been trying to warn people about the potential risk - with no luck. 'Nobody wants to step up and say, 'we see the problem, and we need to solve it,' Juntunen said.  This past February, CBS News went with Juntunen to a warehouse in New Jersey, one of 25 across the country, to see how hard it would be to buy a used copier loaded with documents. It turns out ... it's pretty easy."
Digital Photocopiers Loaded With Secrets
CBS News, 15 April 2010

"In 2006 and 2007, Siobhan Gorman, a highly regarded intelligence reporter for the Baltimore Sun, wrote a series of articles about how the National Security Agency was (mis)managing a highly sensitive, very expensive collection program known as Trailblazer. Relying on interviews with current and former senior intelligence officials as well as internal documents, Gorman was able to show that the NSA's 'state-of-the art tool for sifting through an ocean of modern-day digital communications' was a boondoggle of sorts -- and that the agency had removed several of the privacy safeguards that were put in place to protect domestic conversations and e-mails from being stored and monitored. A program known as 'Thin Thread,' which had proved its worth to the NSA before 9/11 and which contained several civil liberties safeguards, was abandoned in favor of Trailblazer because the latter program, according to Gorman's sources, 'had more political support' and was a favorite of then NSA-director Michael Hayden's."
NSA Employee Indicted for 'Trailblazer' Leaks
Atlantic, 15 April 2010

"The home secretary has revealed plans for primary legislation requiring passport applicants to be fingerprinted and enrolled on the National Identity Register.  Alan Johnson said the move would convert the current small-scale identity card programme into a scheme eventually covering the vast majority of the population. In response to a question from his Conservative shadow Chris Grayling, Johnson said: 'The provisions of the Identity Cards Act 2006 will be amended by further primary legislation, so that everyone aged 16 and over who applies for a British passport will have the choice of being issued with an identity card or a passport (or both documents) and for their identity details, including facial image and fingerprint biometrics, to be recorded on the same National Identity Register.' The use of primary legislation could make such a bill hard to pass through parliament, even if Labour forms the next government, as the Liberal Democrat as well as Conservative parties oppose identity cards. With an election likely to be held on 6 May, opinion polls suggest a narrow victory for the Conservatives or a hung parliament as the likely outcome. As the government plans to link passport applications to the ID scheme by 2012, legislation would be required in the first couple of years of the new parliament. Research by Kable last year found that scrapping identity cards and fingerprinting for passports would save £3.08bn over a decade, whereas scrapping the cards but retaining fingerprinting would reduce the saving to £2.2bn. The government plans to require all 10 fingerprints for passport and ID applications, although only two will be held on the document's chip."
Gov't plans fingerprint passport bill
ZDNet, 30 March 2010

"All counter-terrorism laws passed since 11 September 2001 should be reviewed to see if they are still necessary, says a committee of MPs and peers. It questioned whether ministers could legitimately argue, nine years on, that a 'public emergency threatening the life of the nation' remained.....   It said the government should drop entirely its plan to extend the period terrorism suspects can be held without charge from 28 to 42 days. The plan was shelved in the face of opposition in the House of Lords but remains as a draft bill, to be enacted if needed. The committee said the draft bill was 'alarmingly broad'. The need for the current 28-day limit, extended from 14 days in 2005, should be revisited and bail should be considered 'in principle' for some terrorist suspects, the committee said. It complained that the intelligence agencies' insistence on control over the examination and transcription of intercept evidence - like phone taps - amounted to a 'de facto veto' of efforts to see it used as evidence in court.... It added: 'In our view it devalues the idea of a 'public emergency' to declare it in 2001, and then to continue to assert it more than eight years later.' The committee has already called for a full inquiry into claims UK security services were complicit in the torture of terrorism suspects - a claim denied by the head of MI6..... The wide-ranging report also says the independent reviewer of terrorism laws - currently Lord Carlisle - should be appointed by, and report directly to Parliament and criticises the head of MI5, Jonathan Evans, for choosing not to appear before the committee in public. The committee's chairman, the Labour MP Andrew Dismore, said: 'There is no question that we face a serious threat from terrorism, or that we need legislation to counter that threat. The question is, are the counter-terror measures we have in place justifiable, on an ongoing basis, in light of the most up-to-date information we have.'"
Review all anti-terrorism laws, say MPs
BBC Online, 25 March 2010

"All public services could be delivered online within four years under an ambitious pledge by Gordon Brown to create a paperless state and save billions of pounds, The Times has learnt. Tens of thousands of public sector jobs could go in Jobcentres, benefit offices, passport centres and town halls if face-to-face transactions are scrapped in favour of cheaper and more efficient online form-filling. On Monday the Prime Minister will announce plans that he claims could save billions of pounds over four years by making dealing with the State as easy as internet banking or shopping on Amazon. Cash will also be saved on postage stamps, telephone calls and government buildings as the switch to the internet leads to the phasing out of call centres and benefit offices. The aim is that within a year, everybody in the country should have a personalised website through which they would be able to find out about local services and do business with the Government. A unique identifier will allow citizens to apply for a place for their child at school, book a doctor’s appointment, claim benefits, get a new passport, pay council tax or register a car from their computer at home. Over the next three years, the secure site will be expanded to allow people to interact with their children’s teachers or ask medical advice from their doctor through a government version of Facebook. But union leaders and privacy experts immediately warned that the Government’s record on IT projects was already catastrophic and there would be key concerns about privacy, data protection and fraud. In addition many elderly, disabled and undereducated people find it difficult to carry out transactions online."
Government webpage for every citizen in the race to create a paperless society
London Times, 20 March 2010

"Harry was a Russian secret service agent who spoke perfect English and wore cowboy boots with his uniform. I never knew what his face looked like because he wore a mask during the lengthy interrogation sessions he put me through during five days of captivity in Federal Security Service (FSB) hands in Chechnya in 1999. The first item taken from me by Harry and his friends was my laptop. I was as much unnerved as relieved when it was returned on my release. 'I can have it back?' 'Yeah, have it back,' the FSB agent replied, and laughed. Within 24 hours of arriving home in London the laptop was deluged with spam, pornography and Russian hate mail, eventually crashing completely. The act was more a digital slap on the wrist than the attacks that the Russians would allegedly inflict on entire countries several years later, but it was my first experience of cyberwar. The incident came to mind eight years later on a February morning in Helmand, southern Afghanistan, when I heard a Royal Marines colonel briefing his officers. He mentioned, almost as an aside, that one of the men’s e-mail accounts had been closed after being compromised by a 'hostile intelligence agency'. In other words, someone hacked into a soldier’s computer to see what might be found there. Last December, in Sri Lanka, a senior UN official confided to me that his e-mails were being intercepted by a 'key log' program that allowed everything he wrote and received to be read by an intelligence agency. Today barely a week passes without the phrase 'cyberattack' in the news. It is a loose term, incorporating everything from criminal hacking and commercial espionage to attempts to seize control of weapon systems or sabotage national infrastructures. Britain is treating the surge of hostile computer activity seriously enough to have established two organisations last year to co-ordinate, assess and expand its cyber strategy. The Office for Cyber Security (OCS), established by the Cabinet Office, was created in the autumn after a warning by intelligence chiefs that China may have acquired the ability to cripple key points of infrastructure such as telecommunications. Whitehall departments were allegedly first targeted by Chinese hackers in 2007. Later that year Jonathan Evans, director-general of MI5, wrote to 300 chief executives warning of potential Chinese hacking attacks and data theft. In the year up to November 2009 Britain suffered 300 cyber intrusions — defined as a sophisticated attempt, successful or not, to steal data or sabotage systems — on government and military networks..... The majority of attacks have been to obtain funds from commercial organisations, and a full assault on a country’s banks, stock market, energy grid, telecommunications and health systems is more likely if countries are already in a 'hot' war. There are several other potential triggers, however. In 2007 Estonian ministries, banks and newspapers were bombarded with denial-of-service attacks — mass requests for information that cause systems to crash — for several days after the Government moved a Soviet war memorial in the capital, Tallinn. In 2008 Georgia complained of similar attacks during its brief conflict with Russia over the breakaway province of South Ossetia. The Russians were blamed in both cases, although they denied involvement.... The murky world of cyberwar is inhabited by small-time hackers, criminal syndicates and people operating with the support of their government. 'Everything that happens to us is called an ‘attack’,' said a senior official with a lead role in British cyber operations, '[but] most of what we see on a large scale ... is about the exfiltration of data — theft, not an attack.' There exists, however, an overlap between the interests of hostile state intelligence agencies and cybercriminal syndicates seeking to steal intellectual data for profit. Russian cybercrime syndicates, better known as partnerka, lead commercial espionage in Europe and are known to have links with Harry and his comrades in the FSB. China has its own dedicated cyber operations headquarters within the People’s Liberation Army but also holds top rank in the league of cyberhostile countries — the list used by Western security companies to warn business clients of cyber-threat. The West’s nuclear strategy was based on deterrence — the assurance that a guaranteed second strike would prevent a first strike from coming. Yet cyberwar is more complex because the attacks have certain things in common: they are fast, cheap and hard to trace. 'Attribution is unbelievably difficult,' admitted Lord West. 'These guys could attack [as if it was from] your site — the attacks would come in from different nodes in a strange way that you can’t even identify. Follow the attack back and it gets to you — but it wasn’t you.' The sophistication of commercial and state-sponsored activity has developed immensely since the attacks on Estonia and Georgia, with denial-of-service operations now considered relatively low-grade. More worrying is 'zero-day malware' — an unidentifiable new generation of Trojan programs that are implanted into a host computer and lie dormant until activated. 'Let’s say that someone has received an e-mail that looks like it’s from someone they know, about a subject they feel comfortable with,' said Ian McGurk, associate director for information security at Control Risks, a security consultancy. 'As a consequence they trust the material. If there’s an attachment — a photograph, a Word document, whatever — embedded within that attachment is some sort of malicious code that is going to install itself on the machine. That machine is then compromised, and a Trojan is installed that can search for information.' As well as transmitting information back to its handler, zero-day malware can also hand a computer to outside control before going on to infect an entire system. Raimund Genes, the chief technical officer ofTrend Micro, said: 'We grew up fearing the mushroom cloud, now we should fear a roomful of hackers with their electricity and internet bills paid for by a government.'”
Britain applies military thinking to the growing spectre of cyberwar
London Times, 8 March 2010

"Almost 1,700 people, also including car park attendants and dog wardens, already have powers to hand out a string of fines and even take photographs of low level offenders under the Community Safety Accreditation Scheme. But the Government has quietly announced it plans to review the scheme with chief police officers to see how it can be expanded further. Rank and file officers warned the move is 'blurring the lines' of legitimate law enforcement and is creating a 'third tier' of policing.  Even chief constables are now cautious over the scheme following it's rapid growth, which has seen numbers increase by a fifth in just 12 months. It will further fuel concerns that, with increasing budget pressures, the Government is keen to push for policing on the cheap."
Hundreds more town hall staff to get police-style powers
Daily Telegraph, 8 March 2010

"Elvis died in 1977. But that didn’t prevent hackers from inserting his digital photo into a U.K. passport, and using it at a self-service passport machine at Amsterdam’s Schiphol airport to gain clearance to board a plane.This incident occurred in September 2008. But this security vulnerability persists, as proven by the recent assassination of Mahmoud al-Mabhouh, a senior Hamas operative, in a Dubai hotel on January 20…The alleged killers of Mr. Mabhouh included 11 people holding U.K. and other European passports. All of the killers used passports containing fake photographs and signatures. Naturally, this wasn’t supposed to happen. When governments began issuing digitally encoded passports a few years ago, it was supposed to improve border security....the 'ultra-secure' RFID chips digital passports contain can be cloned with about $100 worth of off-the-shelf electronic equipment. As a result, we have teams of assassins and who-knows-who-else roaming the world with digitally modified passports. Indeed, digital passports actually are far less secure than their predecessors.The reason is that digital passports—and indeed digital data in general—suffers from an inherent security flaw…If you take a non-digital passport and try to modify it physically, it’s very hard to do so without leaving some evidence of what you’ve done. There might be smudges, ink marks, or microscopic impressions of a razor blade used to cut out an old photo and insert a new one.But with our new 'ultra-secure' digital passports, if you figure out how to change the data on the RFID chip, the earlier data vanishes. There’s absolutely no trace of the tampering.... even before governments issued the first digital passports, hackers cracked the encryption codes. Indeed, as far back as 2006, hackers demonstrated how a simple microchip reader purchased off the Internet could clone all the information in a U.K. passport’s 'ultra-secure' RFID chip.... Surely, the governments that assured us that RFID passports represented a huge security advance knew the risks of relying on digital technology. The only possible conclusion was that they had a hidden agenda for introducing them—an agenda having nothing to do with security....The purpose of the database is to create a 'lifetime personal travel history' of anyone who holds a passport. Your photograph, your fingerprints, and details of each entry, exit or transit will be part of your dossier in a 'biographic and biometric travel history database.' This data can be shared with anyone your government chooses. Potentially, it could be shared with any of the 150 countries that have introduced, or have promised to introduce, RFID-equipped passports."
Sovereign: Elvis Presley’s Ultra-Secure, 2008 Passport?
The Sovereign Society, 4 March 2010

"Who remembers Echelon, the top-secret telecommunications spy network said to be run by the US and allied Anglophone nations, and to be triggered as soon as certain key words or phrases are spoken on the phone? A lot of you, we'd guess. So it's interesting to note that Pentagon boffins have now stated that perhaps the most intriguing reputed capability of Echelon - the ability to automatically pick out words of interest and flag that conversation up as important to its human masters - doesn't work. Or anyway, it only works on good, clear lines: a noisy or degraded signal frustrates it. The news comes as part of a solicitation from the Pentagon crazytech bureau, DARPA, in which the maverick military mayhem mavens request assistance with building a Robust Automatic Transcription of Speech (RATS) system. According to DARPA: Existing transcription and translation and speech signal processing technologies are insufficient for working with noisy or degraded speech signals that are of importance to current and future Department of Defense (DoD) operations. Currently, there is no technological solution [our emphasis] which effectively addresses this kind of noisy and distorted speech signal, so operational units are forced to allocate significant human resources for this task. One should note that America's feared National Security Agency (NSA, generally thought to be in charge of Echelon) is actually an arm of the DoD, not a civilian organisation. DARPA says that the proposed RATS system should be able to tackle noisy audio signals and tell on its own whether they are speech or something else such as music. It should then be able to identify the language being spoken, and tell whether the speaker is a person of interest using voiceprint technology. Finally, the RATS software should be able to 'identify specific words or phrases from a list of items in the language being spoken' - just what Echelon is supposed to be able to do already, only DARPA assure us that no such tech exists. Or anyway, none able to tackle a noisy signal....The DARPA solicitation can be read here in pdf."
Echelon computers can't cope with bad lines
The Register, 16 February 2010

"Even though police are tapping into the locations of mobile phones thousands of times a year, the legal ground rules remain unclear, and federal privacy laws written a generation ago are ambiguous at best. On Friday, the first federal appeals court to consider the topic will hear oral arguments (PDF) in a case that could establish new standards for locating wireless devices. In that case, the Obama administration has argued that warrantless tracking is permitted because Americans enjoy no 'reasonable expectation of privacy' in their--or at least their cell phones'--whereabouts. U.S. Department of Justice lawyers say that 'a customer's Fourth Amendment rights are not violated when the phone company reveals to the government its own records" that show where a mobile device placed and received calls. Those claims have alarmed the ACLU and other civil liberties groups, which have opposed the Justice Department's request and plan to tell the U.S. Third Circuit Court of Appeals in Philadelphia that Americans' privacy deserves more protection and judicial oversight than what the administration has proposed. 'This is a critical question for privacy in the 21st century,' says Kevin Bankston, an attorney at the Electronic Frontier Foundation who will be arguing on Friday. 'If the courts do side with the government, that means that everywhere we go, in the real world and online, will be an open book to the government unprotected by the Fourth Amendment.'"
Feds push for tracking cell phones
CNET News, 11 February 2010

"Chip-and-PIN readers can be tricked into accepting transactions without a valid personal identification number, opening the door to fraud, researchers have found. Researchers at Cambridge University have found a fundamental flaw in the EMV — Europay, MasterCard, Visa — protocol that underlies chip-and-PIN validation for debit and credit cards. As a consequence, a device can be created to modify and intercept communications between a card and a point-of-sale terminal, and fool the terminal into accepting that a PIN verification has succeeded. 'Chip and PIN is fundamentally broken,' Professor Ross Anderson of Cambridge University told ZDNet UK. 'Banks and merchants rely on the words 'Verified by PIN' on receipts, but they don't mean anything.' The researchers conducted an attack that succeeded in tricking a card reader into authenticating a transaction, even though no valid PIN was entered. In a later test, they managed to authenticate transactions, without the correct PIN, with valid cards from six different card issuers. Those issuers were Barclaycard, Co-operative Bank, Halifax, Bank of Scotland, HSBC and John Lewis."
Chip and PIN is broken, say researchers
ZDNet, 11 February 2010

"Privacy campaigners expressed shock last night after it emerged that large amounts of confidential personal information held about British citizens on a giant computer network spanning the European Union could be accessed by more than 500,000 terminals. The figure was revealed in a Council of the European Union document examining proposals to establish a new agency, based in France, that would manage much of the 27 EU member states' shared data. But the sheer number of access points to the Schengen Information System (SIS) – which holds information regarding immigration status, arrest ­warrants, entries on the police national ­computer and a multitude of personal details – has triggered concerns about the security of the data. Statewatch, a group that monitors civil liberties in Europe, said it was aware of a case in Belgium where personal information extracted from the system by an official was sold to an organised criminal gang."
500,000 EU computers can access private British data
Guardian, 7 February 2010

"We've heard a lot about security issues with the iPhone, but the BlackBerry isn't immune to threats from malicious apps. Tyler Shields, a senior researcher at the Veracode Research Lab, has written a piece of spyware that allowed me to shoot an SMS command to his phone and have his contact list forwarded to my e-mail address in a demonstration. With another short text command, I was able to get his BlackBerry to e-mail me any SMS messages he sends. And if I had wanted--and he had allowed me--I could have seen a log of all his calls, monitored his inbound text messages, tracked his location in real-time based on the GPS (Global Positioning System) in his device and turned his microphone on to listen to conversations in the room and record them. 'It's trivial to write this type of code using the mobile provider's own API [application programming interface] they provide to any developer,' Shields said in an interview in advance of his talk on the spyware scheduled for the ShmooCon security show on Sunday....He calls his program 'TXSBBSpy' and is releasing the source code but not an executable version of it. 'My goal is to show how easy it is to create mobile spyware,' he said. TXSBBSpy 'can take data from the phone, both in real-time and in snapshots, and send it off via SMS or e-mail to any Web server or TCP [Transmission Control Protocol] or UDP [User Diagram Protocol] network connections,' Shields said. While I was able to control the spyware using text messages sent from my mobile phone, the spyware had to be first installed on his BlackBerry for the snooping to work. This can be done by sending the target victim an e-mail or text with a link to a Web page where the spyware is surreptitiously installed. Or it can be hidden inside a legitimate-looking app downloaded from the App Store.  The risks are similar to those posed by Swiss researcher Nicolas Seriot in his iPhone spyware demo at the Black Hat DC security conference on Wednesday. 'These types of behaviors we're demonstrating will be universal across all mobile platforms,' Shields said."
BlackBerry has spyware risk too, researcher says
CNET News, 7 February 2010

"Britain's armed forces could be used on a regular basis on the streets of Britain to confront the threat of terrorism, under the terms of a strategic defence review announced yesterday. Two of the six 'key questions' to be considered by the SDR will focus on domestic threats which 'cannot be separated from international security', according to a Green Paper setting out the grounds for a full scale review to start after the election. Decisions need to be made on the 'balance between focusing on our territory and region and engaging threats at a distance' and 'what contribution the armed forces should make in ensuring security and contributing to resilience within the UK'."
Army may patrol streets to confront terror threat
Independent, 4 February 2010

"The Home Office has created a new unit to oversee a massive increase in surveillance of the internet, The Register has learned, quashing suggestions the plans are on hold until after the election. The new Communications Capabilities Directorate (CCD) has been created as a structure to implement the £2bn Interception Modernisation Programme (IMP), sources said. The CCD is staffed by the same officials who have have been working on IMP since 2007, but it establishes the project on a more formal basis in the Home Office. It is not yet included on the Home Office's list of directorates. The intelligence and law enforcement agencies have pushed hard for new laws to force communications providers to store details of who contacts whom, when, where and how via the internet. However, following a consultation last year, when the Home Office's plans were heavily criticised by ISPs and mobile companies, it was widely assumed progress on IMP would slow or stop. The CCD has continued meeting with industry to try to allay concerns about the project's costs, effect on customer privacy and technical feasibility.....Officials envisage communications providers will maintain giant databases of everything their customers do online, incluing email, social networking, web browsing and making VoIP calls. They want providers to process the mass of data to link it to individuals, to make it easier for authorities to access. Access to communications data is currently governed by the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act. Under European legslation ISPs are required to retain basic information about what their customers do online, but not to open their data packets to record who they contact on Facebook, for example."
Home Office spawns new unit to expand internet surveillance
The Register, 28 January 2010

"Internet users are being spied on in their own home as the Government uses the threat of terrorism and the spread of child pornography to justify launching a dramatic expansion of surveillance society, according to a leading academic. The authorities have taken 'advantage of the terrorist bombing in London' to erode civil liberties, according to Professor Ian Walden, an expert on internet communication and online security. He said today’s 'Orwellian' surveillance of our online habits was even more intrusive than the introduction of CCTV on Britain's streets. 'You can now hide cameras but generally cameras are a physical manifestation of surveillance. With the internet, you are sitting at home which you think is private, but of course it is declared a public space because your service provider knows everywhere you’ve gone, everything you’ve downloaded, it knows everything, potentially', he told The Daily Telegraph. His comments come after the Government announced it was pressing ahead with privately held 'Big Brother' databases that opposition leaders said amounted to 'state-spying' and a form of 'covert surveillance' on the public. The police and security services are set to monitor every phone call, text message, email and website visit made by private citizens. The details are set to be stored for a year and will be available for monitoring by government bodies. All telecoms companies and internet service providers will be required by law to keep a record of every customer's personal communications, showing who they have contacted, when and where, as well as the websites they have visited. Ministers had originally wanted to store the information on a single government run database, but backed down after privacy concerns were raised. 'Once happy to leave cyberspace ‘unregulated’, Governments, including that of the UK, seem increasingly willing to encroach on what we do, say and see over the Internet,' said Professor Walden, head of the Institute of Computer and Communications Law at Queen Mary, University of London. He warned that increasing use of social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter will give the authorities access to information about individuals' private lives....Professor Walden, a former trustee on the Internet Watch Foundation, the industry self regulatory body, said that problems such as child pornography, illegal file sharing and terrorism are used to justify ‘Big Brother-like’ scrutiny of all internet activity, even though the vast majority of web users are law abiding. 'The police clearly took advantage of the terrorist bombing in London to get an agenda, which has been around for years, pushed to the forefront' he said. 'They would never have got Government support for data retention, which became a European issue, without the Madrid and London bombings.' The 2004 Madrid bombers used one shared web based email account to make plans, rather than exchanging messages that could be intercepted....'Concerns from civil liberty groups are we will lose the liberties that we thought we had without necessarily notifying us. Why does the data on all of us have to be retained in order to find out about those that are bad?' He highlighted the danger of laws created to catch dangerous criminals later being manipulated to spy on millions on households. Local councils have been criticised for using anti-terrorism (RIPA) laws to snoop on residents suspected of littering and dog fouling offences. 'My concern is that its easy policy-making… if you say it’s against terrorism and it’s against child pornography then nobody is going to say no.' His comments echo those made by Dame Stella Rimington, the former head of MI5, who last year accused ministers of interfering with people's privacy and playing straight into the hands of terrorists, by creating a 'police state'. The shift towards greater state control of online content, and how it will impinge on our rights, will be discussed by Professor Walden in his inaugural lecture at Queen Mary, University of London on Wednesday 3 February 2010."
Terrorism and child pornography used to justify surveillance society, says academic
Telegraph, 23 January 2010

"A series of botched IT projects has left taxpayers with a bill of more than £26bn for computer systems that have suffered severe delays, run millions of pounds over budget or have been cancelled altogether. An investigation by The Independent has found that the total cost of Labour's 10 most notorious IT failures is equivalent to more than half of the budget for Britain's schools last year. Parliament's spending watchdog has described the projects as 'fundamentally flawed' and blamed ministers for 'stupendous incompetence' in managing them."
Labour's computer blunders cost £26bn
Independent, 19 January 2010

"The £8.1 billion rollout of smart meters in Britain could be knocked off course unless the Government and Ofgem, the energy regulator, act urgently to convince the public that the information provided by the meters will be held securely. Fears that data on energy consumption could be misused by criminals, police or insurance companies have curtailed the compulsory introduction of the meters in the Netherlands, according to a report by Datamonitor, the market analyst. Dutch consumer and privacy organisations were concerned that information relayed as frequently as every 15 minutes could allow employees of utility companies to see when properties were empty or when householders had bought expensive new gadgets. Smart meters, which are due to be rolled out to the UK’s 26 million households by 2020, are fitted with information and communications technology so that they can send data and receive instructions. The intention is that they will transform the energy industry — enabling the transition to a low-carbon economy — but utilities have been frustrated at the delay to agreeing a common model and standards for use. Now Datamonitor is warning that the introduction of smart metering will rival the creation of the internet as a telecommunications project and will stretch utility industry practices and processes to breaking point."
Security fears threaten smart meter plan
London Times, 14 Janauary 2010


"Telecoms firms have accused the Government of acting like the East German Stasi over plans to force them to store the details of every phone call for at least a year. Under the proposals, the details of every email sent and website visited will also be recorded to help the police and security services fight crime and terrorism. But mobile phone companies have attacked the plans as a massive assault on privacy and warned it could be the first step towards a centralised ‘Big Brother’ database.   They have also told the Home Office that the scheme is deeply flawed. The criticism of Britain’s growing ‘surveillance culture’ was made in a series of responses to an official consultation on the plans, which have been obtained by The Mail on Sunday. T-Mobile said in its submission that it was a ‘particularly sensitive’ time as many people were commemorating the 20th anniversary of the protests that led to the collapse of ‘surveillance states in Eastern Europe’. Martin Hopkins, head of data protection and disclosure, said: ‘It would be extremely ironic if we at T-Mobile (UK) Ltd had to acquire the surveillance functionality envisaged by the Consultation Document at the same time that our parent company, headquartered in Germany, was celebrating the 20th anniversary of the demise of the equivalent systems established by the Stasi in the federal states of the former East Germany.’"
Telecom firms' fury at plan for 'Stasi' checks on every phone call and email
Mail, 27 December 2009

"Scores of foxhunters can sit easier in their saddles on the biggest day of the sport’s calendar today after a judge cast doubt on the legality of covert filming by anti-hunt activists.  The ruling, in a case that cannot yet be reported, lays down that covert surveillance by third parties must be authorised in line with procedures in the Regulation of Investigating Powers Act (Ripa). The Home Office says that the Act must be used in accordance with the European Convention on Human Rights. 'It also requires, in particular, those authorising the use of covert techniques to give proper consideration to whether their use is necessary and proportionate,' official guidance states. This suggests that the type of speculative surveillance carried out by some organisations and hunt monitors cannot be authorised because it is not necessary or proportionate for the prevention or detection of an offence under the Hunting Act. The Association of Chief Police Officers (Acpo) is so anxious that forces may be acting unlawfully that it has asked for advice from the Crown Prosecution Service."
Judge casts doubt on legality of covert filming by anti-hunt activists
London Times, 26 December 2009

"A plan to allow phone tap evidence in courts was left in tatters today as a review said it was unworkable. In a victory for M15, Gordon Brown's proposal to introduce intercept evidence at criminal trials was quietly shelved as a report said it would cost billions. Critics said the decision marked another creeping extension of the Government's secret justice agenda. It means that potentially important information gained via phone tap recordings and email interceptions will not be available to juries. Civil liberty campaigners say the bar on intercept evidence will only be used as an excuse for more secret inquiries. Ministers have already forced through plans for secret hearings into controversial deaths to replace a jury inquest if sensitive intelligence information forms part of the evidence. It also means that authorities will have to continue using the secret Special Immigration Appeals Commission and control order hearings to keep tabs on suspects, who cannot be prosecuted as the intercept evidence against them cannot be put before a jury. Since 2007, the Government has been considering the use of covert surveillance intelligence in trials of terrorists and major crime bosses in a bid to secure more convictions. Legal and counter-terrorism sources believe that the extremist cleric Abu Hamza al-Masri could have been jailed for involvement in international kidnapping had intercept material been available to prosecutors. But the prospect of secret evidence ever being used in criminal courts in England and Wales appeared remote today as a review concluded it was not legally viable. A Whitehall official said storing all phone tap and email correspondence for use in criminal trials would require vast 'electronic warehouses', costing billions of pounds. An official report also warned that introducing such evidence would expose the techniques used in covert surveillance operations to terrorists and serious criminals.....Currently, police and the Security Service are not required to keep all the intercept material they record. Much of the conversation overheard through phone taps is not transcribed, with full records being kept only of key passages - none of which can be revealed to a jury in a suspect's trial. But evidence from phone tapping and other interceptions is widely used in other countries, including Australia and the United States, where it has been used to secure convictions against Mafia gangsters. Isabella Sankey, policy director at Liberty, said: 'The bar on intercept evidence is used by Government to justify a dangerous parallel legal system. 'Whether it’s control orders that bring punishment without trial, or ‘secret inquests’ for those killed on the State’s watch, the bar is used as excuse for ever more secrecy. 'We are the only common law country in the world to maintain such an illogical ban; its abolition is already long overdue.' MPs from across the political spectrum have urged the Government to reconsider. They argue that the use of intercept evidence, which is also supported by the former Director of Public Prosecutions Sir Ken Macdonald, could secure more terrorist convictions and reduce the need for some suspects to be placed under control orders. Liberal Democrat home affairs spokesman Chris Huhne said: 'If Australia and the United States can both use intercept evidence in court without the world coming to an end, it cannot be beyond the realms of British ingenuity to do the same."
Tapped phone calls won't be allowed in court, as Brown's plan is defeated
Daily Mail, 10 December 2009

"Many government buildings are now ringed with security barriers, and most senior politicians have got used to having bodyguards or armed policemen outside their homes. The threat of terrorism has also justified the proliferation of CCTV cameras and the storage of credit card transactions, mobile phone records and email, all of which have been produced in court whenever there is a major terrorist trial....."
Al-Qaeda and a decade of terror
Daily Telegraph, 7 December 2009

"The CIA  is to be given broad access to the bank records of millions of Britons under a European Union plan to fight terrorism. The Brussels agreement, which will come into force in two months’ time, requires the 27 EU member states to grant requests for banking information made by the United States under its terrorist finance tracking programme. In a little noticed information note released last week, the EU said it had agreed that Europeans would be compelled to release the information to the CIA 'as a matter of urgency'. The records will be kept in a US database for five years before being deleted. Critics say the system is 'lopsided' because there is no reciprocal arrangement under which the UK authorities can easily access the bank accounts of US citizens in America. They also say the plan to sift through cross-border and domestic EU bank accounts gives US intelligence more scope to consult our bank accounts than is granted to law enforcement agencies in the UK or the rest of Europe. In Britain and most of Europe a judge must authorise a specific search after receiving a sworn statement from a police officer. This weekend civil liberties groups and privacy campaigners said the surveillance programme, introduced as an emergency measure in 2001, was being imposed on Britain without a proper debate. Shami Chakrabarti, director of Liberty, said: 'The massive scope for transferring personal information from Europe to the United States is extremely worrying, especially in the absence of public debate or parliamentary scrutiny either at EU or domestic level.'.... The terrorist finance tracking programme mines thousands of transactions by sifting through records from the nerve centre of the global banking industry, a Belgian co-operative known as Swift. This routes about £3 billion between banks and other financial institutions each day. According to the EU information note, the United States can request “general data sets” under the scheme based on broad categories including 'relevant message types, geography and perceived terrorism threats'. The scheme is run out of the CIA’s headquarters in Langley, Virginia. The covert spying operation remained secret until 2006."
Brussels gives CIA the power to search UK bank records
Sunday Times, 6 December 2009

"Anyone who's a regular Google search user will know that the only way to avoid the company tracking your online activities is to log out of Gmail or whatever Google account you use. Not any more. As of last Friday, even searchers who aren't logged into Google in any way have their data tracked in the name of providing a 'better service'. The company explained: 'What we're doing today is expanding Personalized Search so that we can provide it to signed-out users as well. This addition enables us to customise search results for you based upon 180 days of search activity linked to an anonymous cookie in your browser.' However, if you've previously been a fan of the log-out method to avoid being tracked, there's still the option to disable the cookie by clicking a link at the top right of a search results page."
Google expands tracking to logged out users
TechRadar, 6 December 2009

"Yahoo isn’t happy that a detailed menu of the spying services it provides law enforcement agencies has leaked onto the web. Shortly after Threat Level reported this week that Yahoo had blocked the FOIA release of its law enforcement and intelligence price list, someone provided a copy of the company’s spying guide to the whistleblower site Cryptome. The 17-page guide describes Yahoo’s data retention policies and the surveillance capabilities it can provide law enforcement, with a pricing list for these services. Cryptome also published lawful data-interception guides for Cox Communications, SBC, Cingular, Nextel, GTE and other telecoms and service providers. But of all those companies, it appears to be Yahoo’s lawyers alone who have issued a DMCA takedown notice to Cryptome demanding the document be removed. Yahoo claims that publication of the document is a copyright violation, and gave Cryptome owner John Young a Thursday deadline for removing the document. So far, Young has refused....The price list that Yahoo tried to prevent the government from releasing to Soghoian appears in one small paragraph in the 17-page leaked document. According to this list, Yahoo charges the government about $30 to $40 for the contents, including e-mail, of a subscriber’s account. It charges $40 to $80 for the contents of a Yahoo group."
Yahoo Issues Takedown Notice for Spying Price List
Wired, 4 December 2009

".... it's important to distinguish between the government - the temporary, elected authors of national policy - and the state - the permanent bureaucratic and military apparatus superficially but not fully controlled by the reigning government..... If secrecy is necessary for national security and effective diplomacy, it is also inevitable that the prerogative of secrecy will be used to hide the misdeeds of the permanent state and its privileged agents.....  I suspect that there is no scheme of government oversight that will not eventually come under the indirect control of the generals, spies, and foreign-service officers it is meant to oversee."
W. W - In defence of WikiLeaks
Economist (Democracy In America Blog), 29 November 2010

"Plans to store information about every phone call, email and internet visit in the United Kingdom have in effect been abandoned by the Government. The Home Office confirmed the 'Big Brother' scheme had been delayed until after the election amid protests that it would be intrusive and open to abuse. Although ministers publicly insisted yesterday that they remained committed to the scheme, they have decided not to include the contentious measure in next week's Queen's Speech, the Government's final legislative programme before the election. The effect of this move could be to kill off the plans for years. The Conservatives have not ruled out reviving the idea but remain sceptical about the practicality of Labour's proposals....A Whitehall source told The Independent last night that the project, estimated to cost up to £2bn over 10 years, was 'in the very long grass'. Civil rights campaigners welcomed the move but warned that ministers were already responsible for introducing a range of databases and surveillance measures that breached basic liberties. The data retention proposals have been championed by the intelligence agencies and police as a vital tool for tracking terror plots and international crime syndicates....Civil liberties groups welcomed the shelving of the plan, but said basic freedoms remain under attack on a variety of fronts. Among the most controversial is the ID card scheme which has already been trialled at some airports. The scheme is set to be rolled out nationally by the end of the year, beginning in Manchester. Ministers now say that it will be voluntary."
Ministers cancel 'Big Brother' database
Independent, 10 November 2009

"All telecoms companies and internet service providers will be required by law to keep a record of every customer's personal communications, showing who they are contacting, when, where and which websites they are visiting. Despite widespread opposition over Britain's growing surveillance society, 653 public bodies will be given access to the confidential information, including police, local councils, the Financial Services Authority, the Ambulance Service, fire authorities and even prison governors. They will not require the permission of a judge or a magistrate to access the information, but simply the authorisation of a senior police officer or the equivalent of a deputy head of department at a local authority. Ministers had originally wanted to store the information on a massive Government-run database, but chose not to because of privacy concerns. However the Government announced yesterday it was pressing ahead with privately-held 'Big Brother' databases which opposition leaders said amount to 'state-spying' and a form of 'covert surveillance' on the public. It is doing so despite its own consultation showing there is little public support for the plans. The Home Office admitted that only a third of respondents to its six-month consultation on the issue supported its proposals, with 50 per cent fearing that the scheme lacked sufficient safeguards to protect the highly personal data from abuse. The new law will increase the amount of personal data which can be accessed by officials through the controversial Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act (RIPA), which is supposed to be used for combatting terrorism. Although most private firms already hold details of every customer's private calls and emails for their own business purposes, most only do so on an ad hoc basis and only for a period of several months. The new rules, known as the Intercept Modernisation Programme, will not only force communication companies to keep their records for longer, but to expand the type of data they keep to include details of every website their customers visit – effectively registering every click online. While public authorities will not be able to view the contents of these emails or phone calls – but they can see the internet addresses, dates, times and users of telephone numbers and texts. The firms involved in keeping the data, such as as Orange, BT and Vodafone, will be reimbursed at a cost to the taxpayer of £2billion over 10 years. Chris Grayling, shadow home secretary, said he had fears about the abuse of the data. 'The big danger in all of this is 'mission creep'. This Government keeps on introducing new powers to tackle terrorism and organised crime which end up being used for completely different purposes. We have to stop that from happening'. David Davis, the former shadow home secretary, added: 'What is being proposed is a highly intrusive procedure which would allow Government authorities to maintain covert surveillance on public use of telephones, texts, emails and internet access.' He added that the permission to access the data should be granted by judges or magistrates.....The latest figures on the use of the RIPA legislation by public bodies, show that state bodies including town halls made 519,260 requests last year - one every minute - to spy on the phone records and email accounts of members of the public. The number of requests has risen by 44 per cent in two years to a rate of 1,422 new cases every day, leading to claims of an abuse of using the powers for trivial matters such as littering and dog fouling. Shami Chakrabarti, director of Liberty, said: 'The Big Brother ambitions of a group of senior Whitehall technocrats are delayed but not diminished....'"
Every phone call, email and internet click stored by 'state spying' databases
Daily Telegraph, 9 November 2009

"The Home Office says it will push ahead with plans to ask communications firms to monitor all internet use. Ministers confirmed their intention despite concerns and opposition from some in the industry. The proposals include asking firms to retain information on how people use social networks such as Facebook. Some 40% of respondents to the Home Office's consultation opposed the plans - but ministers say communication interception needs to be updated.  Both the police and secret security services have legal powers in the UK to intercept communications in the interests of combating crime or threats to national security. But the rules largely focus on communications over telephones and do not cover the whole range of internet communications now being used. The Home Office says it wants to change the law to compel communication service providers (CSPs) to collect and retain records of communications from a wider range of internet sources, from social networks through to chatrooms and unorthodox methods, such as within online games. Ministers say that they do not want to create a single government-owned database and only intend to ask CSPs to hold a record of a contact, rather than the actual contents of what was said. Police and other agencies would then be able to ask CSPs for information on when a communication was sent and between whom. In theory, law enforcement agencies will be able to link that information to specific devices such as an individual's smartphone or laptop. The proposals are technically challenging, as they would require a CSP to sort and organise all third-party traffic coming and going through their systems. The estimated £2bn bill for the project includes compensation for the companies involved....Christopher Graham, the Information Commissioner responsible for overseeing the protection of private information, told the Home Office that while he recognised that the police needed to use communication data to stop crime, this in itself was not a justification to collect all possible data passing through the internet. 'The proposal represents a step change in the relationship between the citizen and the state,' said Mr Graham. 'For the first time, this proposal is asking CSPs to collect and create information they would not have previously held and to go further in conducting additional processing on that information. 'Evidence for this proposal must be available to demonstrate that such a step change is necessary and proportionate."
UK surveillance plan to go ahead
BBC Online, 9 November 2009

"Vernon Bogdanor, the Professor of Government at the University of Oxford, argues in his book The New British Constitution that a series of measures including devolution legislation, the Human Rights Act and the abolition of the House of Lords have already replaced one constitutional system with another. The fundamental codes that govern our relationship with the state are being rewritten and we are supine. Yet increasingly the State’s tentacles strangle us with a sinister if well-intentioned paternalism. The fear of paedophiles and terrorists has made potential criminals of us all. We are watched by cameras, monitored by agencies, registered on databases. The State can eavesdrop on phone calls, spy on our bank accounts. British citizens can be detained without trial. We have no protection against Parliament, when the party that dominates it decides to dominate us. It is time for a written constitution, ratified by the people. Professor Bogdanor argues that one reason we have never codified our constitution is that statements of citizens’ rights typically mark a new beginning, a birth, or rebirth of a new state. Our tortuous relationship with Europe could be such a catalyst. Our country is being reborn as a satellite of Europe yet, as the revolution is a bloodless one, it passes without protest. We are alone among the member states in not having a written constitution. This makes us vulnerable to European creep, and the dribbling away of civil liberties."
How to protect ourselves from Eurocreep
London Times, 6 November 2009

"A mother took a council to court yesterday after it used surveillance powers designed to combat terrorism to establish whether she had lied to get her children into a 'good' school. Jenny Paton, her partner and three children were followed for nearly three weeks by officers from Poole Borough Council, using the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act (Ripa). They wrongly suspected that she did not live in the school’s catchment area. Speaking before a two-day hearing of the Investigatory Powers Tribunal, Ms Paton, 40, poured scorn on the council’s actions. She said: 'Some of the operational aspects are ludicrous and completely outrageous and I think we all need protecting from the way local authorities are using Ripa. This is about saying ‘no more’. Let’s have more safeguards and better scrutiny.' She asked why the officials, if they doubted her story, did not knock on her front door and speak to her....Ripa was introduced in 2000 to define when covert techniques, such as secret filming, could be used by police, local councils and benefit fraud teams. The powers have been used almost 50,000 times by public authorities such as local councils and the health service since 2002. After public alarm the Government is about to curb the powers that councils have gained under Ripa. Local authorities have used legislation intended to tackle terrorism and serious crime to deal with minor offences such as dog fouling. Conway council in Wales used the Act to spy on a worker who claimed to be sick, and Kensington and Chelsea council in London used it to monitor the misuse of a disabled parking badge. Under reform plans, set out yesterday, junior council officials will lose their power to authorise surveillance operations on behalf of local authorities. There are, however, plans to extend its use to allow officials to trace parents who refuse to pay child support. Investigators will be given access to the phone and internet records of thousands of fathers who do not co- operate with the Child Maintenance and Enforcement Commission."
School place dispute mother sues council over use of terror powers
London Times, 6 November 2009

"Councils are to have their powers to snoop on the public curbed under government plans aimed at addressing alarm at the expansion of the surveillance state. Local authorities have used legislation intended to tackle terrorism and serious crime to deal with minor offences such as dog fouling. Under the plans, published today, relatively junior council officials will lose their power to authorise surveillance operations on behalf of local authorities. Alan Johnson, the Home Secretary, will say that only council chief executives and officials at director level will have the right to order investigations involving techniques such as eavesdropping, tracking vehicles and secret filming..... But the proposals stop short of meeting demands from the Local Government Association for greater involvement by councillors and the public in authorising and overseeing Ripa powers. The association called for local people to be co-opted on to a committee overseeing surveillance and also for senior local councillors to be responsible for authorising surveillance."
Alan Johnson announces plans to curb excessive council surveillance
London Times, 4 November 2009

"When governments turn their minds to economic stimulus, they usually end up in well-ploughed furrows. A tax break here, a consumer spending voucher there, and a nice public-works binge to round it all off. China may be among the first to realise there may be a useful stimulus effect from scaring the bejeezus out of the international business community. A rich seam of paranoia is already there, waiting to be mined. A senior executive at a global car manufacturer recently told me he had been warned by 'a three-letter agency from Virginia' to use a separate set of personal electronics when in China: a second laptop, BlackBerry and mobile. Otherwise, the (American spook) adviser added darkly, 'they' (Chinese spooks) will steal everything from the secret plans for car door handles to that online birthday card from your auntie. I asked a 'risk mitigation' expert (ex-British spook) what he thought of this. 'Everyone should have two of everything; basic sense,' he explained. How handy for the Chinese electronics industry, which produces most of these gizmos and is desperate to rekindle exports."
Japanese advertisers adopt the sick bag
London Times, 21 October 2009

"An astonishing £380 a minute will be spent on surveillance in a massive expansion of the Big Brother state. The £200million-a-year sum will give officials access to details of every internet click made by every citizen - on top of the email and telephone records already available. It is a 1,700 per cent increase on the cost of the current surveillance regime. Last night LibDem home affairs spokesman Chris Huhne described the sum as 'eye-watering'. 'There is already enough concern at the level of Government snooping,' he said. 'In an era of tough spending choices, it cannot be a justified response to the problems we face as a country to lavish millions of pounds a year on state spying. ' The increase in money spent on tapping phones and emails is all the more baffling when Britain is still one of the few countries not to allow intercept evidence in court, even in terrorist cases.' State bodies including councils are already making one request every minute to spy on the phone records and email accounts of members of the public. The number of snooping missions carried out by police, town halls and other government departments has rocketed by 44 per cent in two years to a rate of 1,381 new cases every day. Ministers say the five-year cost of the existing regime is £55.61million, an average of £11million a year. This is paid to phone companies and service providers to meet the cost of keeping and providing private information about customers. The cost of the new system emerged in a series of Parliamentary answers. It is to cover payments to internet service providers so they can store mountains of information about every customer for a minimum of 12 months, and set up new systems to cope. The actual content of calls and emails is not be kept - only who they were from or to, when they took place and where they were sent from. Police, security services and other public authorities can then request access to the data as part of investigations. Some 653 bodies are currently allowed access, including councils, the Financial Services Authority, the Ambulance Service and fire authorities and prison governors. The new rules allowing access to internet records will be introduced by Parliament before the end of the year. They are known as the Intercept Modernisation Programme. Ministers had originally wanted to store the information on a massive Government-run database, but chose not to because of privacy concerns. Yesterday Alex Deane, director of campaign group Big Brother Watch, said: 'The Government is preparing to make British people pay through the nose so that they can track our movements online.'"
Big Brother Britain: £380 a MINUTE spent on tracking your every click online
Daily Mail, 21 October 2009

"The man who led the investigation into the Soham murders has attacked the Government’s new vetting scheme, which will force 11 million adults to have formal criminal record checks. Retired Detective Chief Superintendent Chris Stevenson said that 'no amount of legislation, record keeping or checking' could prevent future murders of children by paedophiles. He accused ministers of creating a state of paranoia after the deaths of Holly Wells and Jessica Chapman in 2002. Mr Stevenson said that he felt compelled to voice his criticism after being ordered to stop taking pictures of his grandson at a village football match. He said that efforts to keep paedophiles at bay had gone too far and needed to get 'back on an even keel'.... Writing in The Times today, Mr Stevenson says: 'The furore that has gripped the nation since [Soham] has made us all paranoid. Is it in the interests of children?.... Are we feeding the paranoia that stops a grandfather taking a picture of his nine-year-old grandson playing football? Surely this cannot continue, someone needs to put things back on an even keel.”
Soham police officer attacks Government’s new vetting scheme
London Times, 15 September 2009
"The fears of Diana, Princess of Wales, for her safety and her preoccupation with surveillance were 'entirely justified', Michael Mansfield says today. The QC, the best-known brief at the Bar, says that the predictions of the late Princess 'came to pass' and that Britain has slid seamlessly into George Orwell’s 'Big Brother' society. In an extract from his autobiography published in The Times today, the QC says that it was 'utterly reasonable for the Princess to suppose that Big Brother was looking over her shoulder, that her telephone communications were being tapped and her movements by car were being tracked'. She had a 'credible and understandable basis for her belief', he says in Memoirs of a Radical Lawyer.... In his book the QC, 67, who is stepping down from full-time work at the Bar, condemns the 'surreal proposals' for a centralised database monitoring every call or e-mail. 'That these surreal proposals should even be contemplated shows how far beyond Orwell’s worst fears we have travelled. 'The whole idea of Big Brother is now part of mainstream cheap light entertainment . . . this is both sinister and symbolic.It’s Jim Carrey’s film The Truman Show for real.'”
Diana was right to be worried, says top QC, Michael Mansfield
London Times, 2 September 2009
"Internet companies and civil liberties groups were alarmed this spring when a U.S. Senate bill proposed handing the White House the power to disconnect private-sector computers from the Internet. They're not much happier about a revised version that aides to Sen. Jay Rockefeller, a West Virginia Democrat, have spent months drafting behind closed doors. CNET News has obtained a copy of the 55-page draft of S.773 (excerpt), which still appears to permit the president to seize temporary control of private-sector networks during a so-called cybersecurity emergency. The new version would allow the president to 'declare a cybersecurity emergency' relating to 'non-governmental' computer networks and do what's necessary to respond to the threat."
Bill would give president emergency control of Internet
CNet News, 28 August 2009
"The Home Office is unlikely to respond to an invitation to see how a UK identity card was cracked and cloned. A Home Office spokesman confirmed it had received an offer from Adam Laurie, an expert in radio frequency identification (RFID) technology, to demonstrate how he cloned a government-issued ID card with little more than a mobile phone and a laptop. The spokesman said the Home Office was developing an industry-wide approach to implementation and security issues associated with the card and could not respond to individual matters. He could not give details of how or when such an approach would be made.....Laurie told Computer Weekly that he was waiting for the Home Office to respond to his offer to disclose how he did it. He said it was normal among security researchers to give suppliers a chance to fix security breaches in their systems before taking the matter further. Laurie said he had been interested in security weaknesses with respect to the RFID technology used in the UK's e-Passports. He had wondered if there were similar weaknesses in the ID card, which is now being issued to foreign nationals. 'It turns out there are,' he said. Laurie corrected one aspect of earlier reports that he had changed and added information to the original card. 'What I did was use the information on the card as a template for a new card that I wrote my own data to,' he said. That data included a digitised picture of himself, his digitised fingerprints, and a message that read, 'I am a terrorist - shoot me on sight.' 'That data was read and accepted by the Golden Reader tool, which is the same reader used at border control to read the passports, and presumably by the readers that the Home Office has still to issue,' said Laurie. The Golden Reader tool was developed by secunet Security Networks AG for the German Federal Office for Information Security (BSI). It is a piece of software designed to read passports securely. It supports extensive cryptographic methods and has been used widely to test the interoperability of ID systems. A German researcher, Lukas Grunwald, demonstrated at the 2006 Black Hat security conference how he used Golden Reader to clone an ICAO (International Civil Aviation Organisation) e-Passport of the type issued in Britain."
Home Office unlikely to accept ID card cloner's offer of demonstration
Computer Weekly, 19 August 2009
"Twenty years ago today the world witnessed the power of the crowd. Hungary’s reformist communist Government permitted the pan-European picnic near the city of Sopron, on the border with Austria, as a symbol of its commitment to a united Europe. The border was to be opened so that about 100 dignitaries and officially approved picnickers could cross freely back and forth. But Hungary was crowded with thousands of East Germans desperate to escape to the West. Many camped near the site of the picnic, waiting for the crucial moment. When the border was opened at three o’clock they surged forward. The guards did not open fire. They stepped back and allowed the East Germans to break through. This, not the opening of the Berlin Wall in November, was the tipping point. August 19, 1989, accelerated a chain of events that brought down communism and the Soviet Union itself. Such is the power of the crowd. After 1989 Big Brother was no longer welcome in Budapest, Prague or Warsaw — he moved to London to be ever more warmly embraced by successive Labour administrations. The birthplace of political liberties, the home of the Magna Carta, is now one of the most intrusive democracies in the world. Labour governments have introduced surveillance and monitoring systems of which the communists could only dream. Of course, Britain is not a real police state. But it is certainly sliding further into authoritarianism.....supine citizens allow local and national government to intrude ever further into their daily lives, logging, tracking and recording everything from household waste disposal to mobile telephone use. These small changes seem to herald a more dramatic constitutional shift: the rewriting of the social contract under which citizens are apparently regarded not as active participants in society, but, at best as irritants to be monitored, and at worst as potential criminals to be pre-emptively arrested, just as George Orwell predicted in Nineteen Eighty-Four....When the communists [in Hungary] took over a town, for example, they did not appoint the mayor, but a deputy, to work behind the scenes and stealthily take control of the police and municipal administration. In my more cynical moments I imagine Labour ministers following a similar methodology. They would never say openly: 'We intend to criminalise public protest; to grant sweeping blanket powers of arrest to the police and change the very foundation of law, making citizens prove their innocence, rather than have the police and judiciary prove their guilt while demonstrating.'....changes are introduced stealthily, rarely debated by Parliament and are nodded through with the acquiescence of the Opposition, in the name of that useful catch-all 'security'. Whether by design or not, that seems to me to be happening.
Adam LeBor - Freedom is now flowing from West to East
London Times, 19 August 2009
"The extent of snooping in modern Britain is shocking. The scale of the state's prying was buried in the back of the annual report (pdf) from the interception of communications commissioner, Sir Paul Kennedy, one of a flurry of reports released by the government just before MPs broke for the summer recess. The report revealed that 504,073 requests for communication data were made by public bodies last year – a staggering 1,381 a day – one request for every minute of last year. Most of these requests were made by the police and security services. Many will be justified and proportionate. The sheer number of requests, however, is shocking. When requests first hit the half million mark in 2007, it was suggested that this was just part of the bedding-down process. In fact, surveillance seems to have settled at this level, 44% higher than the more modest numbers of 2006. Surveillance has soared even though the assessment of the terrorist threat has eased. State-sanctioned spying on one in every 78 adults every year cannot be a proportionate response to our problems. Neither the Home Office nor the commissioner have presented figures showing how useful such interceptions were in securing convictions, but we know that wholesale local authority use of physical snooping powers is often ineffective as well as intrusive. Only 9% of such surveillance helps with convictions. The argument in favour of such intrusion is always that those who have nothing to fear have nothing to hide, but that was also the argument that used to be made by the KGB in the Soviet Union to justify the recording of internal movements at every hour of the day and night. Free citizens should not have to justify themselves to their state, for it is the state that should serve the citizen. Privacy is a right in any civilised society. We have sleepwalked into a surveillance state without serious debate and without adequate safeguards. The government's infatuation with social control shows that it has misunderstood the lessons of George Orwell's 1984, which was a warning, and not a blueprint. We are not yet living under the Stasi, but we are living in a country whose proud liberal history is under threat. The requests for communications data were made under the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000. These 'Ripa' powers allowed the public bodies granted them the ability to authorise themselves to access 'communications data', details of when you sent or received an email or text or made a phone call, and to whom. The government promised when introducing them that these substantial powers would only be used to tackle terrorism and other serious crime. In reality, however, Ripa powers of physical surveillance have been used to spy on ordinary people for trivial offences, such as dog-fouling, over-filling their bins or lying about their children's school catchment area. It is the nature of bureaucratic creep: powers for one purpose prove handy for another. We can assume the same has happened with intercept. Originally, only nine organisations were authorised under Ripa powers, such as the police and the security services but now over 800 are, including all councils....The Liberal Democrats want better checks and balances. Leaving the power of issuing warrants for intercept communications with the home secretary, who is also in charge of the police, is like asking the fox to guard the henhouse. We must review the power to issue these warrants, restricting their use to serious crime or introducing extra checks by independent magistrates. The Conservatives, unbelievably, want to relax the rules governing the use of these powers for the police and the security services. The Labour-Tory consensus lives. Only the Liberal Democrats now stand four square against the surveillance state."
Chris Hune - Fighting the surveillance state
Guardian, Comment Is Free, 11 August 2009
"Britain has one and a half times as many surveillance cameras as communist , despite having a fraction of its population, shocking figures revealed yesterday. There are 4.2million closed circuit TV cameras here, one per every 14 people. But in police state China, which has a population of 1.3billion, there are just 2.75million cameras, the equivalent of one for every 472,000 of its citizens. from pressure group Privacy International said the astonishing statistic highlighted Britain's 'worrying obsession' with surveillance. 'Britain has established itself as the model state that the Chinese authorities would love to have,' he said. 'As far as surveillance goes, Britain has created the blueprint for the 21st century  non-democratic regime. 'It was not intended but it has certainly been the consequence.' It is estimated that Britain has 20 per cent of cameras globally and that each person in the country is caught on camera an average of 300 times daily."
Revealed: Big Brother Britain has more CCTV cameras  than China
Daily Mail, 11 August 2009

"A proposal to allow Cheltenham listening post GCHQ to monitor any email, phone call or website visit of people in the UK has been condemned by internet firms. The London Internet Exchange, which represents more than 330 companies, including BT, Virgin and Carphone Warehouse, says the Government's surveillance proposals are an 'unwarranted' invasion of people's privacy. The £2 billion project, pioneered by former Home Secretary Jacqui Smith, would allow the Benhall-based intelligence headquarters access to the records of internet providers in an effort to maintain its defences against terrorism. The firms will be asked to collect and store vast amounts of data, including from social networking sites such as Facebook, although intelligence workers will not be able to view the actual content of emails and phone calls. But the companies, who would have to co-operate with ministers for the scheme to be implemented, say the Government has misled the public about the extent to which it plans to monitor internet activity. A private submission from the London Internet Exchange to the Home Office said: 'We view the description of the Government's proposals as maintaining the capability as disingenuous – the volume of data the Government now proposes we should collect and retain will be unprecedented.'This is a purely political description that serves only to win consent by hiding the extent of the proposed extension of powers for the state.' The criticism is the latest blow to the scheme. Ms Smith was forced to abandon plans for a giant database of internet records in April following privacy concerns. She tried to salvage the project by announcing £2 billion of public money would instead be spent on helping internet providers to retain information for up to 12 months. But the London Internet Exchange said the proposals were unworkable. It said: 'We aren't aware of any existing equipment (an internet firm) could purchase that would enable it to acquire and retain such a wide range of data.'In some common cases it would be impossible in principle to obtain the information sought. A spokesman for GCHQ said: 'The Home Office has consulted publicly on its proposals. 'It recognises that this is a complex and sensitive subject with a fine balance to be made between protecting public safety and civil liberties. 'GCHQ is providing technical advice and support to the Home Office and has no plans to monitor all internet use and phone calls in Britain.'"
Internet firms condemn plans for GCHQ email access
This Is Gloucestershire, 4 August 2009

"Last year Gordon Brown proposed limited use of intercept evidence, gathered by intelligence agencies, in the courts.... Sir Paul Kennedy, the Interception of Communications Commissioner, who inspects intelligence and law enforcement agencies to ensure that intercept operations conform to the terms of the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act...recommended in his annual report that the Wilson doctrine — a 1966 ruling that MPs should never be subject to telephone bugging — should be abandoned. 'Why should MPs not be in the same position as everyone else?' Sir Paul said....many senior police and intelligence officials have serious concerns that disclosure of intercept material will benefit criminal and terrorist organisations by exposing human sources and revealing the sophisticated technology that they use in covert surveillance....Last year Downing Street asked Sir John Chilcot, who will chair the inquiry into the Iraq war, to examine the issues and he devised conditions under which intercept evidence might be introduced. Mr Brown said that it should be possible to find a way to use some intercept material as evidence, but added that key conditions on safeguarding national security would have to be met. Sir Paul said in his report that those conditions — which include agencies such as MI5 retaining control over the intercepted material — could not be met....In another report published yesterday, the Chief Surveillance Commissioner complained that senior police officers and public officials with powers to authorise covert surveillance did not understand their powers and were unwilling to be trained. Sir Christopher Rose said that he had been disturbed that one police force that was recommended to have training in the operation of surveillance legislation had asked for a two-day course instead of the required five days."
Gordon Brown's plans to use phone tapping evidence in court thrown into chaos
London Times, 22 July 2009
"A police force has suspended searches of people under controversial anti-terror laws after figures exposed the futility of the legislation. Hampshire Police conducted 3,481 stop and searches under Section 44 of the Terrorism Act in 2007/8 – but arrested no one in connection with terror. The statistics marked a huge increase on 2004/5, when the force carried out 275 stop and searches under Section 44, and a large jump from 2006/7 when there were 580. They are in sharp contrast to the similarsized neighbouring force, Thames Valley, which used the stop and search powers 244 times in 2007/08, making 40 arrests unconnected to terrorism. The decision to stop implementing the anti-terror laws was welcomed by civil liberties campaigners. Last month Lord Carlile, the independent reviewer of terror laws, accused police of making unjustified and ‘almost certainly’ illegal searches of white people to provide ‘racial balance’ to Government figures. In remarks which deepened the controversy surrounding the powers, Lord Carlile said he knew of cases where suspects were stopped by officers even though there was no evidence against them. Section 44 of the Terrorism Act 2000 gives police the right to stop and search anyone in a defined area without having grounds of ‘reasonable suspicion’."
Police force calls time on stop and search - after using power 3,400 times but failing to make single terror arrest
Daily Mail, 16 July 2009
"CCTV, RFID tags and GPS-enabled phones are among the technologies that can be used to keep track of your movements. The furore around the Chinese government’s Green Dam software has raised the issue of the way modern technology is used to monitor our daily lives. Here, we list seven of the technologies that can be used to keep track of your movements....Radio frequency identification chips are already widely used in supermarkets and shops for the purpose of stock control, but some people fear their use could be widened to monitor the habits and behaviour of ordinary citizens. At the moment, these tags, which are little bigger than a grain of sand, are embedded into pints of milk and library books. When paired with an RFID reader, the tags can help to provide detailed information about items, such as their location, or how many there are. Although most people are happy for RFID tags to be used in stores to monitor stock levels, they’re less happy about the idea of the chips still sending out a signal once they leave the shop. On a benign level, such tracking capabilities would mean a store would know that people in Hertfordshire prefer blue cashmere jumpers, while those in Aberdeen favour the brown versions. But on a more sinister level, it could also enable them to glean an unprecedented insight into our personal lives, and target their brands to us accordingly. To those people who fear a 'surveillance culture', the ability to tag and track everything from our food to our clothes would be the next step on an already slippery slope.... It now appears that some of the technology the Iranian authorities have been using to listen in on phone calls made on fixed-line phones and mobile handsets was sold to the government by Nokia Siemens, a joint venture between the Finnish phone maker and the German technology giant. Nokia Siemens said it believed the product was being used by the government to monitor calls, but some experts have speculated that it could also be used for a practice known as 'deep packet inspection' – a process that enables agencies to block communications, as well as monitor the nature of conversations and even covertly alter this for the purpose of propaganda and disinformation. Nokia Siemens, rocked by this association with a repressive regime, have pointed out that Iran is not the only country using its monitoring technology – many Western governments, including the UK and US, apparently use it for 'lawful intercepts'... Gunwharf Quays shopping centre in Portsmouth shot to fame last year when it was revealed that surveillance software was monitoring the signals given off by shoppers’ mobile phones to track their movements. The technology allowed researchers to tell when someone entered the shopping centre, what stores they visited, how long they spent in each one, and what time they left. It could even tell what route they took, and the country they were visiting from."
Big brother is watching: The technologies that keep track of you
Daily Telegraph, 2 July 2009
"A secret NSA surveillance database containing millions of intercepted foreign and domestic e-mails includes the personal correspondence of former President Bill Clinton, according to the New York Times. An NSA intelligence analyst was apparently investigated after accessing Clinton’s personal correspondence in the database, the paper reports, though it didn’t say how many of Clinton’s e-mails were captured or when the interception occurred. The database, codenamed Pinwale, allows NSA analysts to search through and read large volumes of e-mail messages, including correspondence to and from Americans.  Pinwale is likely the end point for data sucked from internet backbones into NSA-run surveillance rooms at AT&T facilities around the country. Those rooms were set up by the Bush administration following 9/11, and were finally legalized last year when Congress passed the FISA Amendments Act. The law gives the telecoms immunity for cooperating with the administration; it also opens the way for the NSA to lawfully spy on large groups of phone numbers and e-mail addresses in bulk, instead of having to obtain a warrant for each target. The NSA can collect the correspondence of Americans with a court order, or without one if the interception occurs incidentally while the agency is targeting people 'reasonably believed' to be overseas. But in 2005, the agency 'routinely examined large volumes of Americans’ e-mail messages without court warrants,' according to the Times, through this loophole. The paper reports today that the NSA is continuing to over-collect e-mail because of difficulties in filtering and distinguishing between foreign and domestic correspondence. If an American’s correspondence pops up in search results when analysts sift through the database, the analyst is allowed to read it, provided such messages account for no more than 30 percent of a search result, the paper reported. The NSA has claimed that the over-collection was inadvertent and corrected it each time the problem was discovered. But Rep. Rush Holt (D-New Jersey), chairman of the House Select Intelligence Oversight Panel, disputed this. 'Some actions are so flagrant that they can’t be accidental,' he told the Times."
NSA Secret Database Ensnared President Clinton’s Private E-mail
Wired, 17 June 2009

"All internet and phone traffic should be recorded to help the fight against terrorism, according to one of the UK's former spy chiefs. Civil rights campaigners have criticised ministers' plans to log details of such contact as 'Orwellian'. But Sir David Pepper, who ran the GCHQ listening centre for five years, told the BBC lives would be at risk if the state could not track communication. Agencies faced 'enormous pressure' to keep up with technology, he said. 'It's a constant arms race, if you like. As more technology, different technology becomes available, the balance will shift constantly.' The work of GCHQ, which provides intelligence on foreign and domestic threats, is so secretive that until the 1980s the government refused to discuss its existence....Last year, then Home Secretary Jacqui Smith announced plans for a database to record details of the times and dates of messages and phone calls but said the content of conversations would not be kept. She said such data was used as 'important evidence in 95% of serious crime cases' and in almost all security service operations....Details of the times, dates, duration and locations of mobile phone calls, numbers called, website visited and addresses e-mailed are already stored by telecoms companies for 12 months under a voluntary agreement. However, the Liberal Democrats said the government's plans were 'incompatible with a free country and a free people'. In February, the Lords constitution committee said electronic surveillance and collection of personal data had become 'pervasive' in British society. Its members said the situation threatened to undermine democracy."
UK 'must log' phone and web use
BBC Online, 7 June 2009

"The use of closed-circuit television in city and town centres and public housing estates does not have a significant effect on crime, according to Home Office-funded research to be distributed to all police forces in England and Wales this summer. The review of 44 research studies on CCTV schemes by the Campbell Collaboration found that they do have a modest impact on crime overall but are at their most effective in cutting vehicle crime in car parks, especially when used alongside improved lighting and the introduction of security guards. The authors, who include Cambridge University criminologist, David Farrington, say while their results lend support for the continued use of CCTV, schemes should be far more narrowly targeted at reducing vehicle crime in car parks. Results from a 2007 study in Cambridge which looked at the impact of 30 cameras in the city centre showed that they had no effect on crime but led to an increase in the reporting of assault, robbery and other violent crimes to the police. Home Office ministers cited the review last week in their official response to the critical report from the House of Lords constitution committee on surveillance published earlier this year. The peers warned that the steady expansion of the 'surveillance society', including the spread of CCTV, risked undermining fundamental freedoms, including the right to privacy....The Campbell Collaboration report says that CCTV is now the single most heavily-funded crime prevention measure operating outside the criminal justice system and its rapid growth has come with a huge price tag. It adds that £170m was spent on CCTV schemes in town and city centres, car parks and residential areas between 1999 and 2001 alone. "Over the last decade, CCTV accounted for more than threequarters of total spending on crime prevention by the British Home Office,' the report says. The Lords report said that £500 million was spent in Britain on CCTV in the decade up to 2006, money which in the past would have gone on street lighting or neighbourhood crime prevention initiatives."
CCTV schemes in city and town centres have little effect on crime, says report
Guardian, 18 May 2009

".... passports from 2011 will have the same things as ID cards. They'll have a chip containing a facial picture, and also a fingerprint. Now the computer system has to be upgraded because apparently it's out of date. And most of that money is going to be spent on that. ID cards only represents just over a billion pounds of the overall cost... [The Tories] can certainly scrap the little plastic card which calls itself a British ID card. However, what they can't scrap is the database because that's going to used to store details of people who have got passports, to keep passports secure. And effectively if you wait ten years after 2011 you will have 80% of the population with their details on a database - whatever you call it - and stored in the same way that you would have with ID cards."
Rory Maclean - Reporter
BBC Radio 4 Today Programme, 6 May 2009 - 06:32 am
"Spy chiefs are pressing ahead with secret plans to monitor all internet use and telephone calls in Britain despite an announcement by Jacqui Smith, the home secretary, of a ministerial climbdown over public surveillance. GCHQ, the government’s eavesdropping centre, is developing classified technology to intercept and monitor all e-mails, website visits and social networking sessions in Britain. The agency will also be able to track telephone calls made over the internet, as well as all phone calls to land lines and mobiles.....The £1 billion snooping project — called Mastering the Internet (MTI) — will rely on thousands of 'black box' probes being covertly inserted across online infrastructure. Shami Chakrabarti, director of Liberty, said Smith’s announcement appeared to be a 'smokescreen'. 'We opposed the big brother database because it gave the state direct access to everybody’s communications. But this network of black boxes achieves the same thing via the back door,' Chakrabarti said. Informed sources have revealed that a £200m contract has been awarded to Lockheed Martin, the American defence giant. A second contract has been given to Detica, the British IT firm which has close ties to the intelligence agencies..... An industry insider, who has been briefed on GCHQ’s plans, said he could not discuss the programme because he had signed the Official Secrets Act. However, he admitted that the project would mark a step change in the agency’s powers of surveillance. At the moment the agency is able to use probes to monitor the content of calls and e-mails sent by specific individuals who are the subject of police or security service investigations. Every interception must be authorised by a warrant signed by the home secretary or a minister of equivalent rank. The new GCHQ internet-monitoring network will shift the focus of the surveillance state away from a few hundred targeted people to everyone in the UK.... Ministers have said they do not intend to snoop on the actual content of e-mails or telephone calls. The monitoring will instead focus on who an individual is communicating with or which websites and chat rooms they are visiting.....GCHQ said it did not want to discuss how the data it gathered would be used."
Jacqui Smith's secret plan to carry on snooping
Sunday Times, 3 May 2009
"Police who arrested the Conservative frontbencher Damian Green trawled his private e-mails looking for information on Britain’s leading civil liberties campaigner. Officers from Scotland Yard’s antiterror squad searched the computer seized from his parliamentary office using the key words 'Shami Chakrabarti' – even though the Liberty director had nothing to do with the leaking of Home Office documents that prompted the investigation. In an interview with The Times, Mr Green warned that his arrest and the raids on his Commons office and homes smacked of a 'police state'.... Mr Green said serious questions remained about the handling of the case by the police and the Government. 'This was the first time since we became a democracy that an opposition MP had been arrested for political work,' he said. 'Arresting opposition politicians is something you associate with police states. We should be very vigilant that we don’t take steps towards that and this was quite a significant step towards it.' Mr Green said he found it surprising that the police had not informed the Home Secretary that they were about to arrest a Shadow frontbencher. 'I have spoken to former senior ministers of both parties and everyone says, ‘Of course we would have been told’ ' he said."
Shami Chakrabarti was target in police search
London Times, 18 April 2009
"A fortnight ago, I received an unexpected seasonal greeting via email. 'Chag Sameach, Hilary,' it read - to translate, that's Hebrew for 'Happy holiday'. Last week saw the start of the Jewish festival of Passover. How kind, I thought, at first. But this was no ordinary greeting. It didn't come from a friend, relative or even a colleague. It came from Ocado, the delivery partner of Waitrose. And, rather than being a thoughtful gesture, it was actually an invitation to spend my hard-earned cash on Passover groceries. Call me paranoid, but this direct - and ethnic - marketing ploy made me feel slightly uneasy. How on earth, I wondered, did Ocado know I was Jewish? After racking my brains, I decided that Ocado could only have concluded I was Jewish because I have occasionally bought fried gefilte fish balls, a Jewish delicacy, as part of my monthly shop. Now, you don't have to be Jewish to enjoy fishballs, but it helps. My non-Jewish husband finds them repellent. Though I'm not a practising Jew, I am proud of my identity and have no wish to conceal it. Yet, it concerns me that a shop should mark me out as Jewish because I occasionally enjoy Jewish food. Had I bought a curry, would Ocado assume I was Indian and send me 'Happy Diwali' greetings? And what else could they have concluded about me, by recording what I buy? Does the supermarket think that because I like Jewish food I must fit other racial stereotypes? Will it only be a matter of time before it sends me special offers on Woody Allen DVDs and self-help books? As the grandchild of German Jews persecuted by the Nazis and forced to wear yellow stars before they fled to safety in Britain, being listed on any database as a Jew doesn't sit comfortably with me. What if this information were to fall into the hands of nationalists or extremists? Or what if a future government decided that people who eat fishballs are undesirables? You might think I'm over-reacting, but supermarket ethnic profiling has reportedly been used by the authorities to mark out individuals for observation. Following the September 11 attacks, U.S. federal agents were said to have reviewed the shopping records of the terrorists involved to create a profile of ethnic tastes and shopping patterns associated with extremism."
Supermarket Big Brother: The spy in your shopping basket... but how DOES Ocado know I'm Jewish?
Daily Mail, 16 April 2009
"Fears that Britain was slipping into a surveillance society were heightened yesterday as Brussels initiated legal action after declaring that UK laws guaranteeing data protection were 'structurally flawed' and well below the European standard. The criticism arose after the European Commission investigated the use of 'behavioural advertising technology' by British internet service providers, which it found was illegal under European — but not British — law. 'I call on the UK authorities to change their national laws and ensure that national authorities are duly empowered and have proper sanctions at their disposal to enforce EU legislation on the confidentiality of communications,' Viviane Reding, the European Commissioner for Information Society and Media, said. A Commission statement yesterday said that Brussels had sent several letters to the British authorities since last July asking why the Government had not taken action against BT after the company used Phorm technology — a covert method of targeting advertising based on user browsing habits — to secretly monitor the internet activity of 30,000 broadband customers in trials between 2006 and 2007....Richard Thomas, the Information Commissioner, does not have any power to enforce the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act, which governs interception, and the Office of the Surveillance Commissioners can only investigate interceptions by public authorities. In February Mr Thomas told The Times that his office required more powers to investigate private companies suspected of data breaches. He also criticised the Government for introducing a series of laws that risked 'hard-wiring surveillance' into the British way of life. The Government has two months to respond to the 'infringement proceedings' — the first stage of a legal process that could end up in the European Court of Justice for an alleged breach of the EU Data Protection Directive. Despite complaints from those affected by the trials, and privacy campaigners, the Government took no action against BT or Phorm. City of London Police dropped its investigation last year, saying the scheme was legal as customers had 'implicitly consented' to be monitored."
Britain in the dock over secret tracking of internet accounts
London Times, 15 April 2009
"If the Conservatives win the next General Election and cancel ID Cards, there will be little in effect to cancel. The IT infrastructure for passports is being combined with that of ID Cards. So the £650m worth of contracts which were awarded this week to CSC and IBM for new ID Cards and passports IT will remain largely intact....The Treasury requires that the Identity and Passport Service is self-funded. But it's not possible yet to split the costs of the infrastructure between ID Cards and passports. So ID Card costs will be mixed into passport fee increases. Already passports cost up to £114 - and officials don't deny that we're heading towards the £200 passport."
Heading for the £200 passport to help pay for ID Cards?
ComputerWeekly (Blog), 8 April 2009
"Internet service providers (ISPs) are required to store details of user e-mails and net phone calls from Monday as a European Union directive comes into force. Governments say it will protect citizens but civil liberty campaigners are not so sure. To whom did you send your first e-mail today? I ask, because from today ISPs inside the EU are legally required to store details of that e-mail for up to a year. And the same goes for any internet phone call you make or website you visit. This so-called communications data is now being held on the ISPs' servers just in case the authorities want to come and look at it. Many ISPs have actually been holding on to this kind of data as a matter of course - to help defeat spam, to monitor and manage their own networks and because governments have asked them to do so voluntarily. The difference now is that it is a legal requirement. To be clear, the contents of the e-mails are not logged, nor are the contents of any net phone calls. This is about connections between people and organisations. Governments believe that they can look for patterns in these relationships that would help them flag potentially dangerous individuals or organisations....'Technology makes it very easy to collect, store and process data,' said Jim Killock, executive director of the Open Rights Group. 'The problem is there is a growing temptation from the security services and police to say we want more, we want to do more and keep more of our data.' He said the problem with traffic pattern analysis was that we became 'judged on our past mistakes'. 'There is a basic risk we become a mere data trail - that rather than being able to exercise choice we become who we are based on our history.' Mr Killock said the legislation could also have the opposite effect to the one intended by governments. 'People who really do want to do obnoxious things will simply hide themselves away - using encryption techniques and anonymisers. 'It will make it harder for the security services that actually monitor the people they think are a risk."
Campaigners warn of user data creep
BBC Online, 6 April 2009
"Millions of us are unwittingly signing away our rights to privacy when we upgrade to flashy new mobile phones, warn campaigners. The latest handsets are so advanced they can reveal the location of the owner to within a few yards - along with their internet shopping habits, their interests and the names and addresses of their friends. Although phone providers are not supposed to pass on this 'Big Brother' data without permission, a 'worryingly large number' of people give consent for the information to be sold to marketing companies, campaigners say. Simon Davies, of human rights group Privacy International, said the danger came when customers signed up to contracts or downloaded new mobile phone applications without reading the small print. One of the most potentially intrusive applications is Google Latitude, which lets mobile phone owners 'share' their location with anyone in the world. Mr Davies added that the risks of such snooping software on these 'smart phones' were far more sinister than Google's controversial-Street View service. 'People are giving consent for mobile phone companies to pass on this information without realising the consequences,' he said. 'Ninety per cent are mesmerised by the shiny new phone and don't understand the implications of signing away rights they would normally have under the Data Protection Act. 'People should care because this sort of information can be passed to a third party such as a credit provider or a credit reference company. It provides an enormous database that could be cherry-picked by the Government or police. 'It provides a remarkable insight into who you are, what you do, who you know and where you have been. Unless regulators get to grip with this we are all doomed.' Records of website visits, messages, phone calls and even real-life locations visited can be stored by a mobile phone company. Although each application is relatively harmless on its own, combining data from several is potentially lucrative. Glyn Read, a former marketing director of SAS Institute, a leading behavioural analysis company, said the ‘real worry’ would come when governments start to demand access to the data.‘What is going on at the moment is the opening of a barn door in your personal habits,’ he told the Guardian. ‘The value of understanding people's personal information is enormous - this will allow a form of subliminal advertising.'...Neil Andrew, head of portal advertising for the mobile phone company 3, said his company would only pass on information with the consent of a customer. But he conceded: ‘Mobile is the key to understanding where a person is and what they have been browsing.’"
'Privacy risk' of new mobiles that give away location and stored details to marketing firms
Daily Mail, 3 April 2009
"Should President Obama have the power to shut down domestic Internet traffic during a state of emergency? Senators John Rockefeller (D-W. Va.) and Olympia Snowe (R-Maine) think so. On Wednesday they introduced a bill to establish the Office of the National Cybersecurity Advisor—an arm of the executive branch that would have vast power to monitor and control Internet traffic to protect against threats to critical cyber infrastructure. That broad power is rattling some civil libertarians. The Cybersecurity Act of 2009 (PDF) gives the president the ability to 'declare a cybersecurity emergency' and shut down or limit Internet traffic in any 'critical' information network 'in the interest of national security.' The bill does not define a critical information network or a cybersecurity emergency. That definition would be left to the president. The bill does not only add to the power of the president. It also grants the Secretary of Commerce 'access to all relevant data concerning [critical] networks without regard to any provision of law, regulation, rule, or policy restricting such access.' This means he or she can monitor or access any data on private or public networks without regard to privacy laws....The cybersecurity threat is real,' says Leslie Harris, head of the Center for Democracy and Technology (CDT), 'but such a drastic federal intervention in private communications technology and networks could harm both security and privacy.' The bill could undermine the Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA), says CDT senior counsel Greg Nojeim. That law, enacted in the mid '80s, requires law enforcement seek a warrant before tapping in to data transmissions between computers. 'It's an incredibly broad authority,' Nojeim says, pointing out that existing privacy laws 'could fall to this authority.' Jennifer Granick, civil liberties director at the Electronic Frontier Foundation, says that granting such power to the Commerce secretary could actually cause networks to be less safe. When one person can access all information on a network, 'it makes it more vulnerable to intruders,' Granick says. 'You've basically established a path for the bad guys to skip down.'"
Should Obama Control the Internet?
Mother Jones, 2 April 2009
"Drivers face having their every move tracked by a 'spy in the car' black box. The system will constantly check a vehicle's speed - making cameras redundant - and allow for pay-as-you-go tolls. The £36million EU project is partly funded by the UK Government and backed by car makers and the telecoms industry. It will be unveiled later this year with a view to its integration into future cars. Manufacturers suggest this could be as early as 2013. Vehicles fitted with the system will emit a constant 'heartbeat' pulse revealing their location, speed and direction of travel. EU officials believe the technology will significantly reduce road accidents, congestion and carbon emissions. But civil liberties campaigners say it will have profound implications for privacy by creating a Europe-wide system of Big Brother surveillance. The European Commission has already   asked governments to reserve a radio frequency for the system to operate on. Engineers say the system will be able to track cars to within a yard, making it significantly more accurate than existing satellite navigation technology....The Department for Transport said there were no plans to make the system mandatory in new cars. Its introduction will be on a voluntary basis, according to Paul Kompfner, manager of the Cooperative-Vehicle-Infrastructure Systems project....Simon Davies, of Privacy International, a watchdog, said: 'If you correlate car tracking data with mobile phone data, which can also track people, there is the potential for an almost infallible surveillance system.'"
The black box that tracks every mile you drive and will make speed cameras obsolete
Daily Mail, 1 April 2009
"Privacy campaigners expressed alarm today over government plans to monitor all conversations on social networking sites in an attempt to crackdown on terror. A Home Office spokesman said that the internet eavesdropping plan, which would be set out in the next few weeks, would cover any social network that allows people to chat to one another, including Facebook, MySpace, Bebo and Twitter as well as internet calls on Skype. He said the proposal would update existing plans to store information about every telephone call, email, and internet visit made by anyone in the UK on a central database. 'We have no way of knowing whether Osama bin Laden is chatting to Abu Hamza on Facebook. Or terrorists could be having a four-way chat on Skype,' he said. He said the government was not interested in the contents of the communication: 'What we want to monitor is that so-and-so is logged on to that site and spoke to so-and-so. It's the who, when and where, not the content.' But he conceded that in 'high-profile cases' the police would want to examine the contents of social network chatter. 'The security service would want the ability to capture information that could lead to conviction,' he said. Under the new proposals, the sites that host social networks could be required to hold data about who users correspond with for up to a year....Privacy campaigners criticised the plan, saying it would be another unwieldy, costly and unnecessary failure. Shami Chakrabarti, director of human rights group Liberty, said: 'The widescale use of social networking websites highlights the enormity of government ambitions for a centralised communications database for the surveillance of the entire population … Technological development is used as an excuse for centralised snooping of a kind that ought never to be acceptable in the oldest unbroken democracy on earth.'"
Home Office defends plan to monitor social network conversations
Guardian, 25 March 2009

"Not happy with pushing the EU Data Retention Directive which would make ISPs store communication data for 12 months Vernon Coaker, the U.K. Home Office security minister, now wants all social networking sites and IM messaging service monitored as well. The Interception Monderisation Programme (IMP) is the government proposal for legislation to use mass monitoring of traffic data as an antiterrorism tool. The IMP has two objectives; that the government use deep packet inspection to monitor the Web communications of all U.K. citizens; and that all of the traffic data relating to those communications are stored in a centralized government database. The problem is that social networking sites aren’t covered by the directive. There is some opposition to this move but given the country’s predilection to treating everyone as a subject of surveillance it is hard to see this not happening."
The U.K. wants your Twitter chatter under surveillance
The Inquisitr, 19 March 2009

"From time to time, when low in spirits, I find solace in websites on 'How to Disappear'. It is not an urge to deceive loved ones and insurance companies like the appalling canoe man, but merely to toy with the idea of slipping below the official radar. Imagine walking cheerfully through the world: harmless and innocent, untraceable, unlisted, unfollowed, private. The guides make it clear how hard this is. It is not only CCTV and biometric passports that betray our whereabouts but also banking, bills, phones, cars, laptops (how ironic , just as you completed your escape, to be outed by web records showing you surfing for advice on how often to throw your prepay phone in the river). As technology moves on, not only fingerprinting but facial scanning may betray you, and if - while remembering your gloves and refraining from sneezing your DNA - you take your sunglasses off to see the cash machine screen on your secret bank account, then iris-recognition technology will get you, snap! Oh yes, we have all watched Spooks. Well, it is a pleasantly paranoiac way to pass a depressed half-hour, and there is a thrill in switching off the mobile, taking the bus to somewhere without CCTV and paying cash for your tea. You and your innocence can spend an afternoon alone together, unseen by officialdom. There is something fundamentally unnerving about being watched. After the fall of Ceausescu, our Romanian friends said that one of the worst things under his regime was not lousy housing, shortages or even fear of arrest but that 'They knew everything, they knew where you went'....'But,' splutters government when we jib at this, 'it's for your own good! We're protecting you!'. The same tone of hurt ministerial outrage will be heard more and more as people come to realise exactly what is involved in the vast new 'e-borders' system, currently being set up to track everybody's international travel just because a tiny minority are up to no good. A huge new database near Manchester will hold your personal travel history and mine for up to ten years. A pilot is already running on 'high-risk' routes; by the end of April 100 million will be tracked, by next year all rail, air and ferry travellers; by 2014, everyone. And what will they know? Who you are, where you live, how you paid, your phone and e-mail, where you're going, who's with you, where you plan to stay and when you'll be back. In most cases they want your intentions logged a full day in advance. We may be forced to be 'EU citizens' in a hundred other ways, but there'll be no more casual booze-cruises or spontaneous hops to the Normandy gîte or Frankfurt office; not without telling Nanny. .... [there will be a] a £5,000 fine for not notifying your movements online 24 hours early.... Opposition voices have pointed out the complexity, the cost, the paucity of consultation, the extraordinary power given to the UK Border Agency by statutory instruments without parliamentary scrutiny. Given the cases of councils already using anti-terrorist powers to catch litterbugs and school admissions cheats, there is a real fear that e-borders will be used to trump up tax claims or detect petty infringements like taking your children abroad in the school term. And there is something profoundly dispiriting in the principle of us all being suspects: universal surveillance rather than targeted concentration on known criminals and murderous creeps with terrorist ambitions. All this began when Tony Blair was embarrassed by a question about how many failed asylum seekers were here, and when it became clear that UK immigration control is ludicrously ineffective in an enlarged, porous EU. The depressing thing is that there used to be a reasonable system for knowing who was here - exit checks on passports. These were largely abandoned in 2004 to save money.  Under e-borders, the idea is that the pendulum will swing back until they know everything about everyone. And having so much information, they will become even more confused and give your plans to some cowboy IT contractor, who will leave it on a train seat to be picked up by grateful burglars, blackmailers and gossips.   They'll write in saying this is a caricature. It's not. It's an extrapolation, based on experience."
Libby Purves - E-borders - the new frontier of oppression
London Times, 16 March 2009

"The travel plans and personal details of every holidaymaker, business traveller and day-tripper who leaves Britain are to be tracked by the Government, the Daily Telegraph can disclose. Anyone departing the UK by land, sea or air will have their trip recorded and stored on a database for a decade. Passengers leaving every international sea port, station or airport will have to supply detailed personal information as well as their travel plans.... Even swimmers attempting to cross the Channel and their support teams will be subject to the rules which will require the provision of travellers' personal information such as passport and credit card details, home and email addresses and exact travel plans....By the end of the year 60 per cent of journeys made out of Britain will be affected with 95 per cent of people leaving the country being subject to the plans by the end 2010.... In most cases the information will be expected to be provided 24 hours ahead of travel and will then be stored on a Government database for around ten years. The changes are being brought in as the Government tries to tighten border controls and increase protection against the threat of international terrorism. Currently passports are not checked as a matter of routine when people leave the country....Britain is not the only country to require such information from travel operators. The USA also demands the same information be supplied from passengers wishing to visit America. But the scale of the scheme has alarmed civil liberties campaigners. 'Your travel data is much more sensitive than you might think,' Phil Booth of the privacy group, NO2ID said. 'Given that for obvious reasons we're encouraged not to put our home address on our luggage labels, and especially given the Government's appalling record on looking after our data, it just doesn't seem sensible for it to pass details like this and sensitive financial information around.' 'It is a sad refection of the times that the dream of freedom of movement across Europe has had to take second place to concerns about national security,' said Edmund King, the AA's president.....The changes would mean that Eurostar, Eurotunnel and ferry companies will now have to demand passport details from passengers at the time of booking, along with the credit card information and email address which they would have taken at the time of the reservation."
All travel plans to be tracked by Government
Daily Telegraph, 14 March 2009
"An increasing number of today's schoolchildren are forgoing the humiliating daily name call of registration, and are instead having to 'fingerswipe' in and out of class, or to give it its proper name: biometric registration. According to campaign group LeaveThemKidsAlone, schools have fingerprinted more than two million children this way, sometimes even without their parents' consent. A statement on its website claims: 'It's part of an enormous softening-up exercise, targeting society's most impressionable, so they'll accept cradle-to-grave state snooping and control.' Hard-pressed schools and local councils with tight budgets are being enticed by a new generation of software that promises to cut administration costs and time. In the last 18 months, several Guardian readers have written into the paper expressing concern at this new technology being trialled on their children. Everything from 'cashless catering schemes' to 'kiddyprints' instead of library cards is being introduced by stealth into the nation's schools, it is claimed....The implications are vast – the nation's schools aren't exactly the safest place for the storage of this sensitive data – and anyone with access to the system and a mobile SIM card can download the information from a computer, increasing the chances of identity theft. Unless the computer system is professionally purged, before this data has a chance to be leaked, it can remain in cyberspace for eternity to be retained for all sorts of dubious purposes. It's odd that this drive towards fingerprinting children coincides with the government's keenness to expand the national DNA database – we already have one of the largest in the world – with more than four million people on file, including nearly 1.1 million children. Odd too that VeriCool is reported to be part of Anteon, an American company that is responsible for the training of interrogators at Guantánamo and Abu Gharib. The implications are vast – the nation's schools aren't exactly the safest place for the storage of this sensitive data – and anyone with access to the system and a mobile SIM card can download the information from a computer, increasing the chances of identity theft. Unless the computer system is professionally purged, before this data has a chance to be leaked, it can remain in cyberspace for eternity to be retained for all sorts of dubious purposes. It's odd that this drive towards fingerprinting children coincides with the government's keenness to expand the national DNA database – we already have one of the largest in the world – with more than four million people on file, including nearly 1.1 million children. Odd too that VeriCool is reported to be part of Anteon, an American company that is responsible for the training of interrogators at Guantánamo and Abu Gharib. It seems that in the blink of an eyelid (or iris scan), our children are losing the civil liberties and freedoms we are fighting so hard to preserve."
Why are we fingerprinting children?
Guardian, Comment Is Free, 7 March 2009
"Privacy advocates are issuing warnings about a new radio chip plan that ultimately could provide electronic identification for every adult in the U.S. and allow agents to compile attendance lists at anti-government rallies simply by walking through the assembly. The proposal, which has earned the support of Janet Napolitano, the newly chosen chief of the Department of Homeland Security, would embed radio chips in driver's licenses, or 'enhanced driver's licenses.' 'Enhanced driver's licenses give confidence that the person holding the card is the person who is supposed to be holding the card, and it's less elaborate than REAL ID,' Napolitano said in a Washington Times report. REAL ID is a plan for a federal identification system standardized across the nation that so alarmed governors many states have adopted formal plans to oppose it. However, a privacy advocate today told WND that the EDLs are many times worse....Participants could find themselves on 'watch' lists or their attendance at protests or rallies added to their government 'dossier.' She said even if such license programs are run by states, there's virtually no way that the databases would not be linked and accessible to the federal government. Albrecht said a hint of what is on the agenda was provided recently by California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger. The state's legislature approved a plan banning the government from using any radio chips in any ID documentation. Schwarzenegger's veto noted he did not want to interfere with any coming or future federal programs for identifying people."
Radio chip coming soon to your driver's license?

WorldNetDaily, 28 February 2009
"Fraudulent bankers are more of a danger to society than terrorists and the failure to reassure people that their money is safe is an 'absolute failure of public policy', a former Director of Public Prosecutions says today. Writing in The Times, Sir Ken Macdonald says that the systems for regulating markets and for prosecuting market crime have completely broken down...In his article, Sir Ken lambasts the 'liberty-sapping addictions' of the Home Office and the 'paranoiac paraphernalia of national databases and ID cards'. He also attacks the rush to 'bring in lots of terror law, the tougher the better'. Rather than ensuring that people's money and financial security 'will not be stolen from them', legislators wanted 'criminal justice to be an auction of fake toughness', he says. Sir Ken has previously criticised government plans to extend the time that terrorism suspects could be held without charge beyond 28 days; and, recently, plans for increased surveillance and data retention."
Sir Ken Macdonald rounds on Britain's banking robbers
London Times, 23 February 2009

"A former head of MI5 has accused the government of exploiting the fear of terrorism and trying to bring in laws that restrict civil liberties. In an interview in a Spanish newspaper, published in the Daily Telegraph, Dame Stella Rimington, 73, also accuses the US of 'tortures'....Dame Stella, who stood down as the director general of the security service in 1996, has previously been critical of the government's policies, including its attempts to extend pre-charge detention for terror suspects to 42 days and the controversial plan to introduce ID cards. 'It would be better that the government recognised that there are risks, rather than frightening people in order to be able to pass laws which restrict civil liberties, precisely one of the objects of terrorism - that we live in fear and under a police state,' she told the Spanish newspaper La Vanguardia....Dame Stella's comments come as a study is published by the International Commission of Jurists (ICJ) that accuses the US and the UK of undermining the framework of international law. Former Irish president Mary Robinson, the president of the ICJ said: "Seven years after 9/11 it is time to take stock and to repeal abusive laws and policies enacted in recent years. 'Human rights and international humanitarian law provide a strong and flexible framework to address terrorist threats.' The BBC's security correspondent Frank Gardner said the ICJ report would probably have more of an impact than Dame Stella's remarks because it was a wide-ranging, three-year study carried out by an eminent group of practising legal experts....Liberal Democrat foreign affairs spokesman Ed Davey said: 'This is damning testament to just how much liberty has been ineffectually sacrificed in the 'war on terror'.' Dame Stella became the first female head of MI5 in 1992."
Ministers 'using fear of terror'
BBC Online, 17 February 2009

"For most of the past century, Britain's secret state bugged, blacklisted and spied on leftists, trade unionists and peace campaigners, as well as Irish republicans and anyone else regarded as a 'subversive' threat to the established order. That was all supposed to have been brought to a halt in the wake of the end of the cold war in the early 1990s. MI5 now boasts it has ended its counter-subversion work altogether, having other jihadist fish to fry (it will have soon doubled its staffing and budget on the back of the 9/11 backlash).Whether those claims should be taken at face value must be open to question. But it now turns out that other arms of the secret state have in any case been stepping up to the plate to fill the gap in the market. The Association of Chief Police Officers (Acpo) insists that its confidential intelligence unit – reported last week to be now coordinating surveillance and infiltration of  'domestic extremists', including anti-war protesters and strikers – is not in fact a new organisation, but has been part of its public order intelligence operations since 1999, liaising with MI5 and its 44 forces' special branch outfits across the country. But yes, Acpo's spokesman tells me, it is in the business of targeting groups such as those involved in the recent Gaza war protests, trade unionists taking part in secondary industrial action and animal rights organisations – though only if they break the law or 'seek to break the law'. Now, that qualification could be used to cover a very wide group of political and industrial activists indeed: including all those students who have been occupying university buildings since the new year in protest at Israel's carnage in the Palestinian territories; all those engineering construction workers who staged mass walkouts at refineries and power stations over the past couple of weeks; and all those who blocked streets – or threw their shoes at police – around the Israeli embassy in London at the height of the Gaza bombardment in January. Add to that the fact that Acpo, and the government as a whole for that matter, bandies around the term 'extremism' without being able to make even a face-saving stab at what it actually means – 'there doesn't seem to be a single, commonly agreed definition', Acpo's spokesman concedes – and you have a recipe for a new lease of life for the harassment and criminalisation of legitimate dissent, protest and industrial action. In case there were any doubt about the kind of thing this intelligence outfit is up to, a recent advertisement for its new boss specified that the unit would be specifically working with government departments, university authorities and private corporations to 'remove the threat' of 'public disorder that arises from domestic extremism' using 'secret data' and 'sensitive source material'. But since Acpo operates as a private company outside the Freedom of Information Act – and the budget and staffing of its confidential intelligence unit are, well, confidential – who's going to hold them to genuine account?"
Seamus Milne - We are all extremists now
Guardian, Comment Is Free, 16 February 2009
"Forget about those old-school spy devices planted under phones and inside vases. For the most covert spy operations, the U.S. government is planning to create cyborg insects with micro-scopic sensors, video surveillance cameras, and global positioning systems to aid the Department of Defense. A 'solicitation notice' from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) explains how HI-MEMS (hybrid insect microelectromechanical systems) will introduce nanoscale electronics in moths and other insects during their early stages of metamorphic development. New tissue growth would accommodate the MEMS implants in later metamorphic stages. The proposal also suggests the use of swimming and hopping insects with embedded microphones for recording conversations and gas sensors for detecting new chemical warfare testing. 'We are currently supporting three research teams at the University of Michigan, MIT, and Boyce Thompson Institute,' says Jan Walker, a DARPA spokesperson. 'The insect species being investigated include large moths and horned beetles.'"
Future Watch: This Room is Bugged
PC Magazine, 10 February 2009
"A ‘Big Brother’ database is being built by the Government to store details of millions of our international journeys for up to ten years. The computer system, housed at a secret location on the outskirts of Manchester, will record names and dates of every movement in and out of the UK by air, sea or rail. Reservation and payment details, addresses and telephone numbers, names of travelling companions and even details of luggage carried will also be stored. Ministers insist the database, part of the Government’s ‘EBorders’ project, is vital to the fight against terrorism, illegal immigration and organised crime. But as details emerged yesterday, opponents warned that the spy system – which will track the 250million journeys in and out of the country each year – amounted to another building block in Britain’s growing surveillance society."
Beware, Big Brother is watching your trips abroad: Government plans to store details of ordinary people's journeys into and out of UK
Mail On Sunday, 8 February 2009
"Billions of times a day, people entrust Google with the details of their lives. Every time you enter 'acne', 'coffin' or 'new car' into the Google search bar, you are telling the Googlebots a tiny part of what you are up to. Many people, I suspect, don't think about this and when they do, they don't care enough to change to a different search engine. The reason is because, by and large, people trust Google not to do anything evil with their anonymised personal information. So far, Google has earned that trust....what worries people is that we have to take it on trust that Google will not use all that personal information in a way we object to in the future."
Sure, the Googlebots know your deepest secrets - but it's worth it
London Times, 6 Febuary 2009

"Electronic surveillance and collection of personal data are 'pervasive' in British society and threaten to undermine democracy, peers have warned. CCTV cameras and the DNA database were two examples of threats to privacy, the Lords constitution committee said. It called for compensation for people subject to illegal surveillance....Civil liberties campaigners have warned about the risks of a 'surveillance society' in which the state acquires ever-greater powers to track people's movements and retain personal data.... According to a 2004 European Commission report, Britain has the highest density of CCTV cameras in Europe. It found 40,000 cameras monitored public areas in 500 British towns and cities, compared to fewer than 100 cameras in 15 German cities and no open street CCTV at all in Denmark.....'The huge rise in surveillance and data collection by the state and other organisations risks undermining the long-standing tradition of privacy and individual freedom which are vital for democracy,' Lord Goodlad added. 'If the public are to trust that information about them is not being improperly used, there should be much more openness about what data is collected, by whom and how it is used.'... Human rights campaigners Liberty welcomed the report. Director Shami Chakrabarti said: 'Liberty's postbag suggests that the House of Lords is more in touch with public concerns that our elected government. 'Over the past seven years we've been told 'nothing to hide, nothing to fear' but a stream of data bungles and abuses of power suggest that even the innocent have a lot to fear."
Warning over 'surveillance state'
BBC Online, 6 February 2009

"New software that allows people to track friends, partners and children has triggered privacy and safety concerns. Google Latitude, launched yesterday by the internet search engine company for use with its Google maps software, allows users to activate tracking software on their mobile phone or wi-fi device. That enables them to appear on home computer maps so their friends and loved ones can see where they are. But the technology has raised concerns that people will be able to spy on their partners from home – and fears that it could potentially place children at risk from paedophiles. Helen Hughes, a family lawyer, said she feared that the device would be used by people to track their partners. 'In abusive relationships there is an element of control. You will see people checking receipts to find out when their partner was at the shops. This could be abused by people seeking to control their spouses.' The software is extremely precise as it uses the Global Positioning System which can calculate a person's location within yards.Dr Andreas Komninos, a computing expert with Glasgow Caledonian University, said the information could possibly be misused in the future. 'Google are always gathering data; the problem is now this information is very personal. A phone number is very specific to an individual,' he said. Google has stated it will not retain any information about users' movements. But Dr Komninos said: 'I would take Google's promise with a pinch of salt. I can foresee a situation in the future where agencies could force the company to store the data, possibly for police or anti-terrorist use.' Dr Komninos has also warned parents to be watchful of their child's use of the new software. 'In theory, it is a possible security risk,' he said."
Fears over Google phone tracking
Scotsman, 5 February 2009
"With Google’s Latitude, parents will be able to swoop down like helicopters on their children, whirr around their heads and chase them away from the games arcade and back to do their French verbs....However Orwellian it sounds, don’t worry. The police and security services can already track you down from your phone without any help from Google..."
Sloping off could soon be a thing of the past
London Times, 5 February 2009
"Privacy critics are panning Google's new Latitude application, which allows users to track friends via GPS on their mobile phones, saying the application could be abused by suspicious partners and paedophiles.... Critics have said the application is a 'privacy minefield' and could be abused by overzealous employers, jealous spouses or paedophiles. Others say it could be misused in the future by police or government organisations to illegally track wanted individuals....Last year Google was signed up by US intelligence agencies to help them better handle and share information gathered about terrorist suspects. According to reports in the San Francisco Chronicle the search giant is working with agencies such as the National Security Agency."
Google's mobile phone tracking service under fire from privacy critics
Brand Republic, 5 February 2009
"Since last autumn, BT – under the 'Webwise' banner – has been trialling a technology called Phorm, which dials direct into your internet service provider's network and intercepts communications between you and the websites you visit, using information about the sorts of things you are viewing to serve you targeted ads....should we tolerate Phorm? Thanks to hard work from campaigners at the Foundation for Information Policy Research and the Open Rights Group, and activists at and, we now have that choice. The Information Commissioner's Office has ruled that BT must ask the explicit permission of its customers to 'opt in' before enrolling them into its Webwise trial (rather than the pernicious 'opt out' clauses so beloved of marketers and junk mail operatives). ....Like the MP, the journalist, the doctor and the priest, ISPs have the power to know the intimate details of our lives. They should be prevented from abusing that power, and shielded from the power of those (like the Home Office, with its widely reported plans to 'modernise' the state's interception capability) who would seek to force them to break their confidence with us. If this does not happen, it is not only the digital economy that will suffer, it is modern liberty itself."
Your ISP is watching you
Guardian, Comment Is Free, 2 February 2009

"It has taken less than 24 hours after the Bush presidency ended for a former analyst at the National Security Agency to come forward to reveal new allegations about how this nation was spied on by its own government, exclusively here on COUNTDOWN. Our third story tonight, Russell Tice has already stood up for truth before this evening as one source for the revelation in 2005 by the 'New York Times' that President Bush was eavesdropping on American citizens without warrants.   Tonight, the next chapter for Mr. Tice, a chapter he feared to reveal while George Bush occupied the Oval Office, that under the collar of fighting terrorism, the Bush administration was also targeting specific groups of Americans for surveillance, non-terrorist Americans if you will.  Mr. Tice prepared to name one of those groups tonight.   The NSA was already estimated to have collected millions of transmissions, e-mails and phone calls of average Americans simply by patching into the networks of cooperative telecommunications companies.  You will recall the infamous room 641A at the AT&T Folsom Street facility in San Francisco, in which the whole of AT&T‘s portion of the Internet was duplicated inside a room accessible only to the NSA.  Mr. Tice, however, was also involved in another program and told us that he was first directed to focus on these specific groups in order to weed them out from legitimate surveillance targets, but ultimately concluded that the weeding out was actually an internal NSA cover story for a real goal, which was simply spying on those Americans.  Initially, Mr. Bush told the nation all his surveillance was legal."
'Countdown with Keith Olbermann' for Wednesday, 21 January 2009
MSNBC, 22 January 2009

"A leading Chinese dissident who worked as an MI6 informant was convicted yesterday of murdering a millionaire author to steal his identity....Most of the evidence was heard in secret after MI6 requested that the press and public be excluded for almost all of the case. Jacqui Smith, the Home Secretary, agreed to a Public Interest Immunity certificate, making it the first murder trial covered by a secrecy order on the ground of national security."
MI6 informant Wang Yam found guilty of killing millionaire author to steal his identity
London Times, 17 January 2009

"A secrecy law frequently invoked by the federal government in terrorism cases has been declared unconstitutional by an Ontario Superior Court judge, amid fears a sprawling Toronto conspiracy case risks 'bogging down and becoming unmanageable.' The landmark decision strikes down a portion of the Canada Evidence Act, a controversial law passed by Parliament after the 9/11 terrorist attacks. The law effectively directed debates involving government secrecy claims away from open trials and toward specialized hearings in other courts....The invariable effect of the law has been to take secrecy arguments away from main-stage proceedings to a secretive side stage at the Federal Court of Canada, whose judges have specialized national security training and, until now, exclusive jurisdiction of all Canada Evidence Act matters. Judges pondering the overall cases have been forced to await the outcome of protracted Federal Court legal debates to determine what information would be in play."
Ontario judge declares secrecy law unconstitutional
Globe and Mail, 16 January 2009

"A U.S. Foreign Intelligence court released a ruling Thursday upholding the right of the president and Congress to wiretap private international phone conversations and intercept e-mail messages without a court-issued warrant...While the court released the once-secret opinion, Attorney General-designate Eric Holder was answering questions about the legality of the nation’s controversial warrantless surveillance programs during his Senate confirmation hearing. During his time in the Senate, President-elect Barack Obama endorsed the latest version of the current administration’s surveillance policy. That means that Holder now must gingerly evaluate how the warrantless program came about, whether it is working to its fullest extent, whether and to what extent it reaches too far in infringing constitutional privacy rights, and what can be done if it does. On Thursday morning, Holder was clear in telling the Senate Judiciary Committee that he believes the president has power within Article II of the Constitution (like the power to eavesdrop) that the Congress may not take away, writes Cohen."
Federal Court Upholds Wiretap Law
CBS News, 15 January 2009
"Over the past few days, at trade fairs from Las Vegas to Seoul, a constant theme has been the unstoppable advance of 'FRT', the benign abbreviation favoured by industry insiders. We learnt that Apple's iPhoto update will automatically scan your photos to detect people's faces and group them accordingly, and that Lenovo's new PC will log on users by monitoring their facial patterns....So let's understand this: governments and police are planning to implement increasingly accurate surveillance technologies that are unnoticeable, cheap, pervasive, ubiquitous, and searchable in real time. And private businesses, from bars to workplaces, will also operate such systems, whose data trail may well be sold on or leaked to third parties - let's say, insurance companies that have an interest in knowing about your unhealthy lifestyle, or your ex-spouse who wants evidence that you can afford higher maintenance payments. Rather than jump up and down with rage - you never know who is watching through the window - you have a duty now, as a citizen, to question this stealthy rush towards permanent individual surveillance. A Government already obsessed with pursuing an unworkable and unnecessary identity-card database must be held to account."
Let's face it, soon Big Brother will have no trouble recognising you
London Times, 13 January 2009
"Police have been given the power to hack into personal computers without a court warrant. The Home Office is facing anger and the threat of a legal challenge after granting permission. Ministers are also drawing up plans to allow police across the EU to collect information from computers in Britain. The moves will fuel claims that the Government is presiding over a steady extension of the 'surveillance society' threatening personal privacy. Hacking – known as 'remote searching' – has been quietly adopted by police across Britain following the development of technology to access computers' contents at a distance. Police say it is vital for tracking cyber-criminals and paedophiles and is used sparingly but civil liberties groups fear it is about to be vastly expanded. Remote searching can be achieved by sending an email containing a virus to a suspect's computer which then transmits information about email contents and web-browsing habits to a distant surveillance team. Alternatively, 'key-logging' devices can be inserted into a computer that relay details of each key hit by its owner. Detectives can also monitor the contents of a suspect's computer hard-drive via a wireless network. Computer hacking has to be approved by a chief constable, who must be satisfied the action is proportionate to the crime being investigated. Last month European ministers agreed in principle to allow police to carry out remote searches of suspects' computers across the EU."
New powers for police to hack your PC
Independent, 5 January 2009
"Activists in Pennsylvania say they're pressing ahead with a lawsuit to ban touch-screen voting machines in the state's 67 counties. The suit alleges the machines are vulnerable to computer hackers, don't leave a paper trail to verify votes are accurately recorded and don't always work properly, said the League of Women Voters. Joining the league in the suit are the NAACP, Public Interest Law Firm of Philadelphia and incoming state Treasurer Rob McCord of Bucks County, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported Monday. The state Supreme Court last week gave the plaintiffs the OK to proceed with the suit against the machines, which already are being used in 50 of the state's counties, the Post-Gazette said."
Activists sue to ban voting touch screens
United Press International, 22 December 2008
"When police raided Tory MP Damian Green’s home, they ‘sheepishly’ asked whether children were present before ransacking it. His wife assumed they were being polite. But, under sinister new guidelines, officers must assess all children they encounter – including while ‘searching premises’ – for a police database called MERLIN. This, in turn, feeds into a giant new Whitehall database on Britain’s children, Contact Point, which goes live nationally in January. The Tories have vowed to scrap it, arguing that it threatens family privacy and children’s safety. But civil liberties campaigners say we must resist it now, before it is too late. Since April 1, hundreds of thousands of State employees, from police to teachers, youth and nursery workers, social workers and sports coaches, have been entitled to interrogate children aged up to 19, using the ‘Common Assessment Framework’ (CAF), a creepy, eight-page, 60-section questionnaire. CAF includes eyewateringly intimate questions about children’s sexual behaviour, their family’s structure, culture and religion, their views on ‘discrimination’, their friends, secret fears, feelings and family income, plus ‘any serious difficulties in their parents’ relationship’.How has such a terrifying intrusion into private life crept, almost unnoticed, under the radar? The answer is New Labour has cleverly packaged CAF as an aid to ‘child protection’ and delivering better services as part of its Every Child Matters project (ECM). The £224million programme has been beset by delays, incomprehensible acronyms and New Labour gobbledegook. But let us not be deceived – it is about control, not care, and spying, not safety.... Tragically, Britain, the cradle of parliamentary democracy, is becoming notorious worldwide for snooping on its citizens. Professor Nigel Parton, NSPCC Professor of Childhood Studies at Huddersfield University, warned a recent international conference in Finland that the Every Child Matters agenda means what we are witnessing is the emergence of the ‘preventive-surveillance state’, with ‘major implications for the civil liberties and human rights of the citizen, particularly for children and parents’. Once, people who warned of a growing police state seemed paranoid. The Damian Green raid was a wake-up call. Let us now protect our children, our and our country’s future, with all our might."
Has your child been CAFed?  How the Government plans to record intimate information on every child in Britain
Mail, 7 December 2008
"State officials are to be given powers previously reserved for times of war to demand a person's proof of identity at any time. Anybody who refuses the Big Brother demand could face arrest and a possible prison sentence. The new rules come in legislation unveiled in today's Queen's Speech. They are presented as a crackdown on illegal immigration, but lawyers say they could be applied to anybody who has ever been outside the UK, even on holiday. The civil rights group Liberty, which analysed clauses from the new Immigration and Citizenship Bill, called them an attempt to introduce compulsory ID cards by the back door. The move would effectively take Britain back to the Second World War, when people were stopped and asked to 'show their papers'. Liberty said: 'Powers to examine identity documents, previously thought to apply only at ports of entry, will be extended to criminalise anyone in Britain who has ever left the country and fails to produce identity papers upon demand. 'We believe that the catch-all remit of this power is disproportionate and that its enactment would not only damage community relations but represent a fundamental shift in the relationship between the State and those present in the UK.' One broadly-drafted clause would permit checks on anyone who has ever entered the UK - whether recently or years earlier....No reasonable cause or suspicion is required, and checks can be carried out 'in country' - not just at borders. The law would apply to British citizens and foreign nationals, according to Liberty's lawyers. The only people who would be exempt are the tiny minority who have never been abroad on holiday or business....Currently, police are allowed to ask for identity documents only if there is a reasonable suspicion that a person has committed an offence. During the Second World War, ID cards were seen as a way of protecting the nation from Nazi spies, but in 1952 Winston Churchill's government decided they were not needed in peacetime. They were thought to be hindering the police because so many people resented being asked to produce them. Liberty director Shami Chakrabarti said last night: ' Sneaking in compulsory identity cards via the back door of immigration law is a cynical escalation of this expensive and intrusive scheme.' .... LibDem spokesman Chris Huhne said: 'Ministers seem to be breaking their promise that no one would ever have to carry an ID card. This is a sly and underhand way of extending the ID card scheme by stealth.'  There was also concern last night that the Government is seeking to revive controversial plans for secret inquests. The measure  -  which would have let the authorities hold a hearing like the Jean Charles de Menezes inquest behind closed doors  -  was removed from counter-terrorism legislation earlier this year. But it could be re-introduced as part of a Coroners and Death Certification Bill."
Big Brother police to get 'war-time' power to demand ID in the street - on pain of sending you to jail
Daily Mail, 3 December 2008
"On Tuesday last week a judge at Kingston-upon-Thames Crown Court threw out a case against Sally Murrer, a journalist charged with aiding and abetting misconduct in a public office — the same charge that the Met wants to pursue against Mr Green. The Murrer case turned on Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights, the right to freedom of expression. The court ruled, as courts across Europe have ruled, that leaks to journalists are not criminal unless they involve matters of national security or impair the investigation of serious crime. The evidence against her — gained by planting bugging devices and raiding her home and her office (sound familiar?) — was ruled to have been obtained unlawfully."
In light of Sally Murrer’s case, Damian Green's arrest was absurd
London Times, 1 December 2008
"The House of Commons office of Damian Green, the Tories' immigration spokesman, is routinely swept for electronic bugging devices, along with other offices belonging to senior Conservatives, amid fears of covert monitoring, The Independent on Sunday has discovered. Anger surrounding the shadow immigration minister's arrest last week escalated dramatically last night over suspicions of a major bugging scandal inside the Palace of Westminster. The IoS understands that even before his surprise arrest on Thursday Mr Green was aware that his Commons office, phone calls and emails could be under surveillance because of the sensitive nature of his job. The fresh revelations rocked the Commons just days before the high point of the parliamentary calendar, the Queen's Speech, which takes place on Wednesday. Tory leader David Cameron last night said the Prime Minister must denounce the arrest of Mr Green or risk charges of hypocrisy because he 'made his career' from Whitehall leaks. Writing in the News of the World, Mr Cameron added: 'If this approach had been in place in the 1990s, then Gordon Brown would have spent most of his time under arrest.' Several offices within the Commons and Portcullis House belonging to senior Tory MPs and officials are checked regularly by security experts for listening devices and other surveillance equipment. The IoS has learnt that there are 'major concerns' at the highest levels of the Tory party over suspected monitoring by the authorities. Any such monitoring may not be illegal but would be hugely controversial. Last night, a Conservative MP wrote to Gordon Brown demanding an urgent review of the Wilson doctrine, the convention that protects MPs from phonetapping but does not cover other surveillance techniques. It is not known whether a covert device has ever been found during searches. But if the suspicions are proved right, it would have major implications for the protection of parliamentary privilege. Ben Wallace, the Conservative MP for Lancaster & Wyre, said the Wilson doctrine, which dates back to 1966, needed to be changed to cover all forms of surveillance, not just intercepting of calls. He said: 'It is disturbing that the authorities may have exploited the difference between surveillance and intercept in order to pursue Members of Parliament over the past 10 years.'"
Bugging scandal inside the Commons
Independent On Sunday, 30 November 2008
"The practice of using a brown envelope to pass on information is commonplace in Westminster. At any one time, there are hundreds of MPs, researchers, journalists and visitors at Portcullis House, and the handing over of an ordinary envelope would rarely be noticed. As the IoS reveals today, the practice stems from a real concern that their movements are being monitored by MI5 or Special Branch. Last Thursday's raid by nine anti-terrorist police officers on Mr Green's office, just off the Portcullis House atrium, has triggered accusations of contempt of parliamentary privilege. In four co-ordinated raids at his home and offices, anti-terror police seized the MP's computers, mobile phone, BlackBerry and bank statements – as well as rifling through old love letters between Mr Green and his wife. But the revelation that the offices of senior frontbenchers are routinely swept for bugs will send shockwaves through Westminster. It has serious repercussions for the operation of the Wilson doctrine, the convention that protects MPs from phone-tapping. In 1966, following a series of allegations of bugging of MPs' telephones, the Prime Minister, Harold Wilson, ordered a ban on phone-tapping on all MPs. Yet the doctrine has failed to keep pace with modern technology, and MPs fear there is a 'wide-open door' to security services listening to the conversations and reading the content of their emails, perfectly legally. The doctrine covers only the intercept of communications – tapping phone lines or snatching data from mobile phone conversations, as well as the intercept of unopened emails and post. What is not covered are already opened emails and post, and, crucially, listening devices planted in an MP's office. One intelligence expert said it was possible for legally available software to be planted on a computer that copies all emails sent from that address....A Westminster source said last night: 'MPs need to take precautions. The Damian Green case shows they are vulnerable to arrest, even if the information is not a threat to national security. Sweeping of offices for bugs may be one precaution, but if something is of great sensitivity, it is safer to pass things on in person.'"
MPs fear security services now have 'open door' to snoop
Independent On Sunday, 30 November 2008
"I was born in Milton Keynes when it was a village. I completed my journalistic apprenticeship on one local newspaper and I was still there, 32 years later, on another. I'd worked part-time for 20 years to fit in with the needs of my autistic son James, but I knew the town inside out. My dog-eared contacts book bulged with trusted names and numbers. There were councillors, local dignitaries, gossipy hairdressers, teachers ... and, of course, police officers. That sun-soaked morning last year, there was no flicker of premonition that my world was about to be torn apart in a frenzy of police officers, criminal investigations and court proceedings that would threaten not just my own family life but the country's perception of Press freedom. I hadn't a clue, as I shopped in Laura Ashley, that eight plainclothes police officers were poised to arrest me, lock me in a cell, interrogate me, strip-search me and finally put me in the dock for a multi-million-pound Crown Court trial after which I could technically be sent to prison for life. I had no understanding of what heinous crime they thought I'd committed. Officially, I was charged with three counts of the ancient common-law offence of aiding and abetting misconduct in a public office - the same charges levelled at Shadow Immigration Minister Damian Green last week when he was arrested over claims he had leaked confidential Government documents....It was only afterwards that it dawned on me what sinister implication this case could have for journalists all over Britain.... Technically, thousands of my media colleagues could be arrested just like me.....At the time I simply felt violated. How dare these people bug my conversations and even download texts from my daughters?......What I discovered was shattering. I came to realise that the case wasn't about me at all, but the rights of every journalist in the country.My defence barrister, Gavin Millar QC, told the court that, under Article 10 of the Human Rights Convention, my right to freedom of expression had been breached by the State. Thames Valley Police had no right to have bugged my conversations with Mark, a confidential source, and my arrest was also unlawful.....Millar went on to argue that journalistic privilege, unless it posed a genuine threat to national security, must extend to a reporter's sources, otherwise no confidential source would ever again speak to a reporter. His argument, which ran for eight-and-a-half hours, was described by Judge Richard Southwell as a masterclass on journalistic human rights and the freedom of the Press....When I heard about the arrest of Conservative MP Damian Green last week, I was amazed at the parallels between his experience and my own....".
Sally Murrer - I faced life in jail ... just for writing about Milton Keynes
Daily Mail, 29 November 2008
"A Tory frontbencher was questioned by police last night after being arrested as part of a leak inquiry. Damian Green, the Shadow Immigration Minister, was arrested in Kent and had his home, constituency office and Commons office searched by counter-terrorism officers. He may be charged for receiving documents allegedly passed by a male Home Office official who was also arrested. Conservative sources said that David Cameron was furious about the treatment of one of his team and described the arrest as 'Stalinesque'.....Mr Green, the MP for Ashford, is facing questions about four leaks to the media between November last year and September this year. They include a letter from the Home Secretary to Mr Brown over the economic downturn’s impact on crime. It is understood that the Home Office and Whitehall were alarmed at this disclosure because it was circulated among so few people. Other damaging stories include a list, prepared by Labour whips, of MPs’ likely voting intentions on legislation to extend to 42 days’ detention without charge. Mr Green was released and bailed to return to the police station in February. Speaking outside the House of Commons early today, he said: 'I was astonished to have spent more than nine hours under arrest for doing my job. I emphatically deny I have done anything wrong. In a democracy, opposition politicians have a duty to hold the Government to account. I was elected to the House of Commons precisely to do that and I certainly intend to continue doing so.'”
Tory frontbench MP Damian Green arrested over le
London Times, 28 November 2008
"Earlier this year the saga took a twist when it was revealed in Mr Kearney's statement that he had been pressurised by the Metropolitan Police to bug Labour MP Sadiq Khan while he met a constituent, Babar Ahmad, who was being held in the prison pending extradition to the US. That led to a huge row about the bugging of MPs."
'They said I would go to jail for life'
BBC Online, 28 November 2008

"Ubiquitous computing will be enabled by widespread tagging and networking of mundane objects (the Internet of Things) such as food packages, furniture, room sensors, and paper documents. Such items will be located and identified, monitored, and remotely controlled through enabling technologies—including Radio Frequency Identifications, sensor networks, tiny embedded servers, and energy harvesters—connected via the next-generation Internet using abundant, low cost, and high-power computing."
Global Trends 2025: A Transformed World
US National Intelligence Council, November 2008

"Britain's intelligence chiefs want to crack down on the country's media and are pursuing a law that would ban publication of 'sensitive' stories about the services, according to a report from Joseph Farah's G2 Bulletin. The request came at a recent secret meeting with the Parliamentary Intelligence and Security Committee, a team of members of Parliament who serve as watchdogs for the country's intelligence services. The meeting appropriately was held in the Cabinet Office complex adjoining Downing Street, a security facility at the heart of Whitehall known as has emerged of the MI5 and MI6 joint request, which could lead to a dramatic shift in the relationship between government and the media. The request comes at a time when Britain and its media are the most spied on nation in the West. More than four million CCTV cameras keep round-the-clock watch on citizens who are photographed on average over 400 times a day. A complex infrastructure of laws already ensures 'sensitive' stories are protected – on the grounds they can 'put national security at risk.' Those who violate the Official Secrets Act can get heavy prison sentences. Others come under a group of laws collectively known as D-Notices. They cover publications of details ranging from the home addresses of a security chief and decisions on the design of nuclear weapons stored at Harwell to specific research work done at Porton Down – Britain's Chemical-Biological Research Center – and naming field agents."
'Sensitive' news reports face crackdown
WorldNetDaily, 18 November 2008
"Britain's security agencies and police would be given unprecedented and legally binding powers to ban the media from reporting matters of national security, under proposals being discussed in Whitehall. The Intelligence and Security Committee, the parliamentary watchdog of the intelligence and security agencies which has a cross-party membership from both Houses, wants to press ministers to introduce legislation that would prevent news outlets from reporting stories deemed by the Government to be against the interests of national security. The committee also wants to censor reporting of police operations that are deemed to have implications for national security. The ISC is to recommend in its next report, out at the end of the year, that a commission be set up to look into its plans, according to senior Whitehall sources. The ISC holds huge clout within Whitehall. It receives secret briefings from MI5, MI6 and GCHQ and is highly influential in forming government policy. Kim Howells, a respected former Foreign Office minister, was recently appointed its chairman. Under the existing voluntary code of conduct, known as the DA-Notice system, the Government can request that the media does not report a story. However, the committee's members are particularly worried about leaks, which, they believe, could derail investigations and the reporting of which needs to be banned by legislation. Civil liberties groups say these restrictions would be 'very dangerous' and 'damaging for public accountability'. They also point out that censoring journalists when the leaks come from officials is unjustified. But the committee, in its last annual report, has already signalled its intention to press for changes. It states: 'The current system for handling national security information through DA-Notices and the [intelligence and security] Agencies' relationship with the media more generally, is not working as effectively as it might and this is putting lives at risk.' According to senior Whitehall sources the ISC is likely to advocate tighter controls on the DA-Notice system – formerly known as D-Notice – which operates in co-operation and consultation between the Government and the media."
MPs seek to censor the media
Independent, 10 November 2008

"Government claims of widespread public enthusiasm for ID cards 'beggar belief', critics have said, as it emerged the cost of cards may double.   Remarks by Home Secretary Jacqui Smith that people 'can't wait' for cards to be introduced would 'haunt' her in the future, campaign group No 2 ID said. The fresh criticism came amid concerns about the cost of providing biometric data and fingerprints needed on cards. This requirement could add an estimated £29 on top of the £30 cost of the card.  Applicants will have to foot the cost of supplying their fingerprints and biometric data such as an iris scan....The first biometric cards are being issued to students from outside the EU and marriage visa holders this month. Cards will then be issued on a voluntary basis to young people from 2010 and for everyone else from 2012. But speaking on Thursday, Ms Smith said there is strong public demand for the cards and she has been 'regularly' approached by people who say they do not want to wait several years to register. People applying for cards and passports from 2012 will have to provide fingerprints, photographs and a signature....Arguments over the cost of ID cards continue to dog the initiative, with the Tories and Lib Dems calling for them to be scrapped. The overall cost of the scheme over the next 10 years has risen by £50m to £5.1bn in the past six months, the government's latest cost report has indicated."
Smith ID comments 'beggar belief'
BBC Online, 7 November 2008

"Home secretary Jacqui Smith has insisted biometrics taken from people in high-street businesses will be secure. While anti-ID campaigners have said it will be almost impossible to lock fingerprints to biographical details in a secure manner if those biometrics are taken in a high-street business, Smith said on Thursday that the process would be secure. 'It is clearly important, and part of the work we are doing and the plans we have in place, to ensure the secure, controlled transfer of any biometrics,' Smith told ZDNet UK at a press event. 'I believe it is technically possible to do that. I don't see the challenge is greater because more people are accredited to do it.' Smith added that accredited businesses would have a strong competitive reason to ensure that the biometric transfers they perform are secure, as failure to do so would have an impact on their reputation. However, so far the Home Office has given no precise information as to how fingerprints would be linked to biographical data, or any details about how the National Identity Scheme would be implemented....Conservative shadow home secretary Dominic Grieve told ZDNet UK in an emailed statement that his party would discontinue the scheme, a move he said would benefit security. 'We would scrap this expensive white elephant and use the savings to do things that would actually improve our security,' Grieve said. 'The home secretary should stop kidding herself, admit this project is dead and devote her energies to carrying out her primary responsibility, which is ensuring the safety of the citizens of this country.' Anti-ID card campaigner Phil Booth said that far from increasing security, ID cards would be a risk. 'They are not introducing security and convenience, they are doing exactly the opposite,' Booth told ZDNet UK. 'Enrolment in the high street will introduce security holes a mile wide. People will link biometric details to false biographical details, while the system will be plagued by systems errors.' The campaigner added that biometric passports, drivers' licences and other forms of identification would not be affected if ID cards were scrapped. 'This has nothing to do with passports, driving licences, or anything else,' Booth said. 'Get rid of the ID cards scheme and all the issues go away. There will be no 'black hole' left anywhere.'"
Home secretary defends high-street biometrics plans
ZDNet, 7 November 2008
"The cost of new soon-to-be-launched UK ID card is set to skyrocket to nearly £60 as the cost of capturing biometric data and fingerprint amounts to almost as much as the cost of the card holding them. The Press Association understands that this hidden charge will now be outsourced to external providers that could include the post office, high street stores or even supermarkets. The Home Office secretary, Jacqui Smith, said that the 'market' for providing the data collection service would be worth around £200 million for the 7 million or so adults expected to sign for the new card. The card, which will become compulsory for foreign nationals as early as next year, will replace bank statements, driving license and other documents that can be used as proof of identity. The estimated cost of rolling out the highly controversial scheme has increased several times over the last decade and is currently standing at more than £4.7 billion according to the latest estimates. Similarly, the cost of passport has risen from £18 back in 1997 to £100 today when the cost of capturing biometric data is factored in. Speaking at the Social Market Foundation in London, Ms Smith said that the new ID card could eventually be used to replace the "dictionary of different passwords", which would pave the way for a massive roll-out of stand alone and embedded ID card readers."
Home Office Enlists Help Of Supermarkets, Post Office As ID Card Costs Double
SecurityPortal, 7 November 2008
"Hundreds of drivers are being recruited to take part in government-funded road-pricing trials that could result in charges of up to £1.30 a mile on the most congested roads. The test runs will start early next year in four locations and will involve fitting a satellite-tracking device to the vehicles of volunteers. An on-board unit will automatically deduct payments from a shadow account set up in the driver’s name....The on-board unit could be used to collect all road charges, such as congestion charges in London and Manchester and tolls for crossing bridges and using new lanes on motorways. In the longer term the technology could be used to introduce pricing on all roads, with the price varying according to the time of day, direction of travel and the level of congestion. Drivers would use the internet to check all their payments on a single bill. They would choose whether the bill showed where they had travelled or simply the amounts they had paid. Ministers hope to overcome concerns about loss of privacy by allowing drivers to instruct the on-board unit not to transmit locations to the billing centre but simply the number of miles driven at each charging rate."
National road toll devices to be tested by drivers next year
London Times, 5 November 2008
"Internet 'black boxes' will be used to collect every email and web visit in the UK under the Government's plans for a giant 'big brother' database, The Independent has learnt. Home Office officials have told senior figures from the internet and telecommunications industries that the 'black box' technology could automatically retain and store raw data from the web before transferring it to a giant central database controlled by the Government. Plans to create a database holding information about every phone call, email and internet visit made in the UK have provoked a huge public outcry. Richard Thomas, the Information Commissioner, described it as 'step too far' and the Government's own terrorism watchdog said that as a 'raw idea' it was 'awful'. Nevertheless, ministers have said they are committed to consulting on the new Communications Data Bill early in the new year. News that the Government is already preparing the ground by trying to allay the concerns of the internet industry is bound to raise suspicions about ministers' true intentions. Further details of the database emerged on Monday at a meeting of internet service providers (ISPs) in London where representatives from BT, AOL Europe, O2 and BSkyB were given a PowerPoint presentation of the issues and the technology surrounding the Government's Interception Modernisation Programme (IMP), the name given by the Home Office to the database proposal. Whitehall experts working on the IMP unit told the meeting the security and intelligence agencies wanted to use the stored data to help fight serious crime and terrorism, and said the technology would allow them to create greater 'capacity' to monitor all communication traffic on the internet. The 'black boxes' are an attractive option for the internet industry because they would be secure and not require any direct input from the ISPs. During the meeting Whitehall officials also tried to reassure the industry by suggesting that many smaller ISPs would be unaffected by the 'black boxes' as these would be installed upstream on the network and hinted that all costs would be met by the Government. 'It was clear the 'back box' is the technology the Government will use to hold all the data. But what isn't clear is what the Home Secretary, GCHQ and the security services intend to do with all this information in the future,' said a source close to the meeting. He added: 'They said they only wanted to return to a position they were in before the emergence of internet communication, when they were able to monitor all correspondence with a police suspect. The difference here is they will be in a much better position to spy on many more people on the basis of their internet behaviour. Also there's a grey area between what is content and what is traffic. Is what is said in a chat room content or just traffic?' Ministers say plans for the database have not been confirmed, and that it is not their intention to introduce monitoring or storage equipment that will check or hold the content of emails or phonecalls on the traffic."
Government black boxes will 'collect every email'
Independent, 5 November 2008
"Google gathers so much detailed information about its users that one critic says some state intelligence bureaus look 'like child protection services' in comparison. A few German government bodies have mounted a resistance.....Google's Internet empire has become a political issue here. And only a fraction of the company's data comes from the car-mounted cameras. There’s also the popular Gmail service ("Google Mail" in Germany), the YouTube video portal, a social network called Orkut, and the Google Desktop program, which allows users to search their own computers. The company has also introduced its own browser, called Chrome. And it's entered the world of mobile communication with a new cell phone operating system called Android. The first Android-compatible phones all but sold out before the official market launch in the US last week, with 1.5 million advance orders. With its services, Google has established itself as a global online power in just a decade. Through massive acquisition of Internet services -- like YouTube -- it has built itself into a data-collection empire. One click by a user lets Google take search data, along with a date and time, as well as specific details like IP addresses, the type of browser used, language settings and even log-in user names.....It’s also well-known that Google checks for keywords in the content of e-mails sent through its mail program, then displays relevant advertisements in a sidebar. This clever exploitation of information for direct advertising has turned Google into a multi-billion-dollar organization. The company brought in over $16 billion in revenue last year. This is what makes the debate in Germany such bad news for the corporation. Denying Google data cuts to the heart of its business model. More and more customers are wondering: What does Google know about me? Well, compared to what Google knows about us, many intelligence agencies look 'like child protection services,' says Hendrik Speck, professor at the applied sciences university in Kaiserslautern, a southwestern German city. Theoretically, he says, Google could record a query for pregnancy tests, then nine months later provide advertisements for diapers. Or -- six years later -- it could show offers for after-school homework help. 'The more data Google collects from its users, the higher the price it can ask for advertisements,' says Speck..... As the company’s head of data protection, Fleischer is in charge of protecting hundreds of millions of users' data -- 29 million in Germany alone. It’s also his job to assuage the growing unease on the part of many users and politicians about the Google 'data monster.' The Molfsee citizens' concerns are just as unfounded, Fleischer says, and for the same reason: 'We collect a lot of data, but nothing that identifies any particular person,' he insists.For Gerald Reischl, author of a book in German called 'The Google Trap,' such assurances aren't enough. The corporation's 'machinations, hunger for power and dominance need to be scrutinized,' says Reischl. Even those few Internet users who don’t regularly access Google sites end up with their data accessible to the company anyway, thanks to a program called 'Google Analytics.' Google Analytics is a free program for web site owners to keep track of usage patterns on their site. The data is also saved by Google. Some sites don’t even mention this to their users. 'Analytics is Google's most dangerous opportunity to spy' says Reischl. According to some estimates the software is integrated into 80 percent of frequently visited German-language Internet sites. SPIEGEL ONLINE no longer uses Google Analytics. 'We want to ensure that data on our users’ browsing patterns don't leave our site,' says Wolfgang Büchner, one of SPIEGEL ONLINE's two chief editors.....According to Fleischer... 'We don't know our users,' he says, 'nor do we want to.' He says Internet logs aren't related to individuals, and stored IP addresses are nothing but numbers that connect computers to each other. Under no circumstances, says Fleischer, would data from a conventional Internet search be combined with the personal information saved through a service that requires a login, such as Gmail....Thilo Weichert, head of Schleswig-Holstein’s Independent State Agency for Data Protection, based in Kiel, can relate experiences to the contrary....Google’s German headquarters tends to react negatively to Weichert’s name. He doesn’t give them an easy time: The data protection specialist from northern Germany has already issued a public warning on the Analytics program. 'Most users of the product aren't entirely aware that by operating Google Analytics they're utilizing a service that transfers data to the United States, to be broadly used and exploited,' he has written. 'This violates the data privacy laws protecting those who use the Web sites.' Google reacted with a letter to the governor of Schleswig-Holstein, warning of economic losses and demanding that Weichert be called off his attack. Such reactions only incite Weichert. 'The company operates in an unacceptably non-transparent manner,' he says. 'Their users are basically standing naked in front of them, and Google itself discloses only what is absolutely necessary about its data handling strategy, and then only under pressure.'....Meanwhile, a top data protection specialist at Google named Peter Fleischer likes to talk about what’s to come. “Google Health” is a databank where patients can store their medical records and retrieve them over the Internet. This service could radically change the nature of the health system -- and it could change Google itself as well. When the topic turns to health, most users are likely to sit up and take notice. They start asking what happens with their data."
Does Google Know Too Much?
Der Spiegel, 30 October 2008
"It's not insane to be paranoid. That is the comforting message I took from the speech given this week by Sir Ken Macdonald, the Director of Public Prosecutions, who warned the Government not to abuse its 'enormous powers of access to information'. In a direct hit on the Home Secretary's desire to record on an Orwellian database every e-mail, phone call and website visited, he said that 'freedom's back is broken' if ministers give in to the pressures of a State that is insatiable.....The same problems beset the terrorist issue. The Government has been unable to point to a single case where 42-day detention, or increased surveillance powers, would have made us safer. Police officers can already get information on most suspects' phone calls and e-mails from network providers. The suspicion is that the Government wants to hold that data centrally only to mount fishing expeditions, looking for patterns of behaviour. 'We should take very great care to imagine the world we are creating before we build it,' Sir Ken said. 'We might end up living with something we can't bear.'”
Camilla Cavendish - I may be paranoid, but they are watching us
London Times, 24 October 2008
"This year’s Privacy International survey put Britain bottom of the European league for surveillance and civil intrusion, a miserable state of affairs for the home of Magna Carta. [Home Secretary Jackie] Smith’s GCHQ 'interception modernisation programme', reportedly at a staggering £12 billion, will run alongside the ID card register, the driving licence centre, the numberplate recognition computer and the CCTV network in a 'pentagon' of control. Its data bank will one day and for sure fuse with banking and employment records and that stumbling giant, the National Health Service personal records computer, each polluting the other with crashing terminals, uncorrectable inaccuracies and false trails. We know from Russian hacking services that such information will be freely available because it cannot be kept secret from intruders, thieves or the laptops of careless officials. That is why the pages of Computer Weekly are crammed with snake-oil salesmen claiming 'total security' packages. I remember a shack in a Bangalore suburb offering to 'break all computer encryptions known to man'. The spider at the centre of this web of control, GCHQ’s Iain Lobban, appears to have so mesmerised Smith that officials at the Home Office last week leaked a warning that his demands were 'impractical, disproportionate, politically unattractive and possibly unlawful'. Smith was unmoved. Like every home secretary, she wants, at the flick of a switch, to know who is doing what, when and where anywhere in Britain and in real time. This is truly Big Brother stuff. Since 9/11 there has sprung into being a war-on-terror version of the 'military-industrial complex', against which Eisenhower warned Americans as the cold war developed in the 1950s. The complex roams seminars and think tanks with blood-curdling accounts of what Osama Bin Laden is planning. Visitors need go no further than the biennial defence sales exhibition in London’s Docklands to see Eisenhower’s monsters on parade. They feed on the politics of fear, a leitmotif of this government. The entire nation is regarded as under suspicion. Never was the adage of Louis Brandeis, the US justice, more relevant: free men are naturally alert to the wiles of evil-minded rulers but 'the greatest dangers to liberty lurk in insidious encroachments by men of zeal, well-meaning but without understanding'. Last week GCHQ lobbyists took to the press declaring that any opposition to Smith’s surveillance plan would be 'disastrous' for national security. They even wheeled out the familiar back-up argument for those who might regard £12 billion as a ludicrous overreaction to terrorism alone. Without the 500,000 intercepts placed on mobile phone calls each year, The Times reported, 'we could not begin to solve any kidnap whatever'. Likewise the proponents of ID cards call them 'vital' for public services and those of the NHS computer 'a life saver' for accident victims. They are nothing of the sort. A feature of this campaign is its sheer mendacity. Smith last week promised that her surveillance regime would cover only details of electronic communication, not contents. This is incredible. It reminds me of the old Home Office lie that all phone taps 'require the home secretary’s personal authority'. Smith’s apparatchiks want to read the lot. A similar line was spun last year by James Hall, the head of Home Office 'identity and passport services', in claiming that identity details would be safeguarded and not sent abroad. At the last Lisbon conference, European Union members agreed to 'cross-border interoperability . . . highlighted in electronic identity and e-procurement', with Lady Scotland, the attorney-general, in active participation. Hall must have known this. ID cards were defended by David Blunkett, a former home secretary, as to 'protect identity'. He knew they would be churned out from a Bombay back street at £5 a time. The government does not know the meaning of the term 'safeguard'. A year ago all 25m recipients of child benefit were told their personal details, addresses and bank accounts had been handed to contractors and lost. Smith parrots the totalitarian’s answer that 'the innocent have nothing to fear'. But they do. They know from experience that government cannot be trusted with private information. In addition, any errors in that information are almost impossible to correct. Ask anyone whose credit rating has been falsely challenged by a bank computer."
My farewell plea to MPs: defend liberty
Sunday Times, 26 October 2008
"....there’s only been three books on NSA, and I wrote all three....NSA specializes in SIGINT, which is signals intelligence. And what that is is eavesdropping. And that’s actually where the US gets most of its gets most of its intelligence from eavesdropping on communications, whether it’s telephone calls or email or faxes, computer transfers of information between computers, any kind of information like that, instant messages. It intercepts it. So NSA is the big ear. And the way it works is, it picks up communications from satellites, it taps undersea and underground fiber-optic cables, it gets information any way it can...This company, Narus, which was founded in Israel and has large Israel connections, does the—basically the tapping of the communications on AT&T. And Verizon chose another company, ironically also founded in Israel and largely controlled by and developed by people in Israel called Verint. So these two companies specialize in what’s known as mass surveillance. Their literature—I read this literature from Verint, for example—is supposed to only go to intelligence agencies and so forth, and it says, 'We specialize in mass surveillance,' and that’s what they do. They put these mass surveillance equipment in these facilities. So you have AT&T, for example, that, you know, considers it’s their job to get messages from one person to another, not tapping into messages, and you get the NSA that says, we want, you know, copies of all this. So that’s where these companies come in. These companies act as the intermediary basically between the telecom companies and the NSA...this is a company that the US government is getting all its tapped information from. It’s a company that Verizon uses as its tapping company, its eavesdropping company. And very little is known about these companies. Congress has never looked into any of this. I don’t know—I don’t think they even know that there is—that these companies exist. But the company that Verizon uses, Verint, the founder of the company, the former head of the company, is now a fugitive in—hiding out in Africa in the country of Namibia, because he’s wanted on a number of felony warrants for fraud and other charges. And then, two other top executives of the company, the general counsel and another top official of the parent company, have also pled guilty to these charges. So, you know, you’ve got companies—these companies have foreign connections with potential ties to foreign intelligence agencies, and you have problems of credibility, problems of honesty and all that. And these companies—through these two companies pass probably 80 percent or more of all US communications at one point or another. . And it’s even—gets even worse in the fact that these companies also supply their equipment all around the world to other countries, to countries that don’t have a lot of respect for individual rights—Vietnam, China, Libya, other countries like that. And so, these countries use this equipment to filter out dissident communications and people trying to protest the government. It gives them the ability to eavesdrop on communications and monitor dissident email communications. And as a result of that, people are put in jail, and so forth....These conversations are transcribed. They’re—and then they’re recorded, and they’re kept forever. There’s a big building in Texas that’s being built in San Antonio that’s going to be used to house a lot of these conversations. NSA is running out of space at Fort Meade, their headquarters, so they had to expand, and they’re building this very big building. It’s reportedly going to be about the size of the Alamodome down there, to store all these—this huge amount of data communications. And when you think how much information two gigabytes could be put on a small thumb drive, you can imagine how much of information could be stored in a data warehouse the size of—almost the size of the Alamodome....the overall big problem is that there is a tremendous amount of eavesdropping going on. It’s all being stored, it’s all being analyzed, either electronically or by a human. And the public really doesn’t have much of—knowledge of all this that’s going on right now."
James Bamford, author of The Shadow Factory: The Ultra-Secret NSA from 9/11 to the Eavesdropping on America
Democracy Now, 14 October 2008

"Officials from the top of Government to lowly council officers will be  given unprecedented powers to access details of every phone call in Britain under laws coming into force tomorrow. The new rules compel phone companies to retain information, however  private, about all landline and mobile calls, and make them available to some 795 public bodies and quangos.  The move, enacted by the personal decree of Home Secretary Jacqui Smith, will give police and security services a right they have long demanded: to delve at will into the phone records of British citizens and businesses. The Government will be given access to details of every phone call in Britain. ....The initiative, formulated in the wake of the Madrid and London terrorist attacks of 2004 and 2005, was put forward as a vital tool in the fight against terrorism ....  Files will also be kept on the sending and receipt of text messages. By 2009 the Government plans to extend the rules to cover internet use: the websites we have visited, the people we have emailed and phone calls made over the net.... The new measures were implemented after the Home Secretary signed a 'statutory instrument' on July 26. The process allows the Government to alter  laws
without a full act of Parliament."

Big Brother Britain: Government and councils to spy on ALL our phones
DAILY/SUNDAY MAIL, 29 September 2007

"The huge Commons majority he [Blair] enjoyed, the craven pusillanimity of his party, the implosion of the Conservatives and the consequent absence of opposition, other than in the Lords – and, to an extent, in the courts – conspired with a genuine, though irrational, fear of terrorism and rising street crime to let the State take greater control over the citizen than it has enjoyed before in modern peacetime..... Maya Evans found this out when she stood by the Cenotaph to recite the names of Britain’s Iraqi war dead. For this she was arrested, arraigned and left with a criminal record. It is hard to conceive of a police officer a generation ago taking any notice of her since she was causing no public order problem at all. But Ms Evans had fallen foul of a clause in the Serious and Organised Crime and Police Act which established a one kilometre zone around the Palace of Westminster, within whose boundaries political criticism can be voiced only on application to the Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police.... recent research has uncovered 266 separate powers under which the police and other state agents can enter your home, often using force to do so.... As Peter Lilley, the former minister who led the Cabinet revolt that resulted in the abandonment of the last ID scheme, observed: 'There is no policy that has been hawked, unsold, around Whitehall for longer than identity cards. It was always brought to us as a solution looking for problems.' September 11 and the threat from international terrorism was the problem it had most been looking for.... There are people who remember carrying the old wartime ID cards, scrapped in 1952, and cannot see what all the fuss is about. It is about the database, not the card. This is not about protecting our identities but about placing them at the disposal of the state and sundry other organisations that will have access to them. .... this extension of state control through the unfettered and unthinking deployment of modern surveillance technology and databases for which the Blair years (and those of his successor, unless he does something dramatic to change course) will most be remembered. Our children, and theirs, will be perplexed as to why their forebears came so easily, and with so little public debate, to allow the State to manipulate their lives."
Philip Johnston, home affairs editor and assistant editor of The Daily Telegraph
The Charles Douglas-Home Essay, 2007 - 'Are we a free country any more?'
London Times, 20 July 2007
"Almost 450,000 requests were made to monitor people’s telephone calls, e-mails and post by secret agencies and other authorised bodies in just over a year, the spying watchdog said yesterday. In the first report of its kind from the Interceptions of Communications Commissioner, it was also revealed that nearly 4,000 errors were reported in a 15-month period from 2005 to 2006. ..... He said it was time to lift a ban on tapping the phones of MPs and peers....."
Privacy row as checks on phones and e-mails hit 439,000
London Times, 20 February 2007

"The FBI appears to have begun using a novel form of electronic surveillance in criminal investigations: remotely activating a mobile phone's microphone and using it to eavesdrop on nearby conversations. ......Kaplan's opinion said that the eavesdropping technique 'functioned whether the phone was powered on or off.' Some handsets can't be fully powered down without removing the battery.....Security-conscious corporate executives routinely remove the batteries from their cell phones, he added....A BBC article from 2004 reported that intelligence agencies routinely employ the remote-activiation method. 'A mobile sitting on the desk of a politician or businessman can act as a powerful, undetectable bug,' the article said, 'enabling them to be activated at a later date to pick up sounds even when the receiver is down.'........ A 2003 lawsuit revealed that the FBI was able to surreptitiously turn on the built-in microphones in automotive systems like General Motors' OnStar to snoop on passengers' conversations. When FBI agents remotely activated the system and were listening in, passengers in the vehicle could not tell that their conversations were being monitored. Malicious hackers have followed suit. A report last year said Spanish authorities had detained a man who write a Trojan horse that secretly activated a computer's video camera and forwarded him the recordings."
FBI taps cell phone mic as eavesdropping tool
ZDNetNews, 1 December 2006

"The U.S. National Security Agency asked AT&T Inc. to help it set up a domestic call monitoring site seven months before the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks, lawyers claimed June 23 in court papers filed in New York federal court. The allegation is part of a court filing adding AT&T, the nation's largest telephone company, as a defendant in a breach of privacy case filed earlier this month on behalf of Verizon Communications Inc. and BellSouth Corp. customers. The suit alleges that the three carriers, the NSA and President George W. Bush violated the Telecommunications Act of 1934 and the U.S. Constitution, and seeks money damages.   'The Bush Administration asserted this became necessary after 9/11,' plaintiff's lawyer Carl Mayer said in a telephone interview. 'This undermines that assertion'. The lawsuit is related to an alleged NSA program to record and store data on calls placed by subscribers. More than 30 suits have been filed over claims that the carriers, the three biggest U.S. telephone companies, violated the privacy rights of their customers by cooperating with the NSA in an effort to track alleged terrorists.... Mayer and Afran said an unnamed former employee of the AT&T unit provided them with evidence that the NSA approached the carrier with the proposed plan. Afran said he has seen the worker's log book and independently confirmed the source's participation in the project. He declined to identify the employee."
Spy Agency Sought U.S. Call Records Before 9/11, Lawyers Say
Bloomberg, 30 June 2006

"Police in Israel say they have uncovered a huge industrial spying ring which used computer viruses to probe the systems of many major companies. At least 15 Israeli firms have been implicated in the espionage plot, with 18 people arrested in Israel and two more held by British police. Among those under suspicion are major Israeli telecoms and media companies. Police say the companies used a 'Trojan horse' computer virus written by an Israeli to hack into rivals' systems. Interpol and the authorities in Britain, Germany and the US are already involved in investigating the espionage, which Israeli police fear may involve major international companies."
Israeli firms 'ran vast spy ring'
BBC Online, 31 May 2005


".... if you look around and see what the world is now facing I don't think  in the last two or three hundred years we've faced such a concatenation of  problems all at the same time.....[including] the inevitability, it seems to me, of resource wars....  if we are to solve the issues that are ahead of us,
we are going to need to think in completely different ways. And the probability, it seems to me, is that the next 20 or 30 years are going to see a period of great instability... I fear the [current] era of small wars is merely the precursor, the pre-shock, for something rather larger to come... we need to find new ways to be able to live together on an overcrowded earth."
Paddy Ashdown, High Representative for Bosnia and Herzegovina 2002 -2006

BBC Radio 4, 'Start The Week', 30 April 2007

"Individual peace is the unit of world peace. By offering Consciousness-Based Education to the coming generation, we can promote a strong foundation for a healthy, harmonious, and peaceful world.... Consciousness-Based education is not a luxury. For our children who are growing up in a stressful, often frightening, crisis-ridden world, it is a necessity."
Academy Award Winning Film Producer David Lynch (Elephant Man, Blue Velvet, etc)
David Lynch Foundation


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