Apple has apologized to its customers for allowing third-party contractors to listen in on audio picked up by Siri. The tech giant admitted that Siri was triggered by background noises including the sound of a “zipper” and regularly recorded intimate moments after a company whistleblower revealed the practice.
Tag Archives: privacy
Brave Browser Explained
This article contains affiliate links. Every time you click and download, and use Brave you support Truth In Media.
You may have heard that if you download the Brave Browser that you directly support Truth in Media. But you may be thinking “what exactly is the Brave Web Browser?” In this blog post I will break down what the Brave Browser is and how you are supporting Ben Swann and Truth in Media with every download and tip. The Truth in Media team has been using the Brave web browser for over half a year (using it to create this post!).
Brave Browser Overview
Brave web browser is a free and open source browser created by CEO Brendan Eich, formerly of Netscape and Mozilla, and CTO Brian Bondy. It has built in features like ad blockers, popup blockers, tracking blockers and a tipping feature to tip your favorite content creators.
Brave is available on both desktop and mobile.
With Brave you can surf the web up to 8x faster than Chrome and Safari. Save money on mobile data by not having to download unwanted content from ads and trackers. The average mobile surfer uses $23 worth of data a month just on trackers and ads!
Brave makes it top priority to keep your information safe. They have built-in ad blockers, systems to fight malware, and block trackers. From their website:
We’re not in the personal data business.
Our servers neither see nor store your browsing data – it stays private, on your devices, until you delete it. Which means we won’t ever sell your data to third parties.
Brave blocks the software that follows you around
The “private” browsing mode that others offer is not truly private. Brave’s many privacy features, including “Private Tabs with Tor*,” stop trackers and provide a deep level of protection.
Brave has made it easy to support your favorite content creators with a tipping feature. So how do you support Ben Swann and Truth in Media by using Brave? Lucky for us Brave has made it simple. And good news for you, it is 100% confidential. We don’t know who downloads, or who is tipping us.
First, for a limited time Brave has offered rewards (BAT) to creators who have their fans download and use the browser. This is the easiest way to support what we are doing. Simply click here and download the browser to your desktops and mobile devices and start using it. That’s it, just use the browser.
The second way is to tip the Truth in Media website. To do this click the Brave icon that is to the right of the address bar at the top of the browser. A drop down will pop up. Then click “SEND A TIP…”
Clicking “send a tip” will open a new window where you can select your tip amount. This is also where you can make the tip recurring monthly. So every month, as long as you have Brave rewards, a tip will automatically be set to Truth in Media.
That’s it! That’s all you need to do to support Ben Swann and Truth in Media using Brave. Click here download Brave and start supporting Ben Swann today!
Don’t forget to make your freshly downloaded Brave Web Browser your default browser.
Facebook Audit: Thousands Of Apps Investigated, 200 Suspended For Mishandling Users’ Data
(DCNF) Facebook has suspended roughly 200 apps suspected of misusing data they have gathered on the social media site, a vice president at the company said on Monday.
The company has investigated “thousands of apps” and “around 200 have been suspended,” Ime Archibong, vice president of Product Partnerships at Facebook, wrote in a blog post.
Facebook’s next step is to conduct a “thorough investigation into whether they did in fact misuse any data” and will delete any app that did.
The announcement comes after Facebook was hit with a privacy scandal revealing it had collected users’ data to build profiles on American voters that was used in both former-President Barack Obama’s 2012 campaign and President Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign.
Mark Zuckerberg announced on March 21 Facebook’s plans for this two-phase investigation into all the apps that had access to large amounts of users’ information before it changed its platform policies in 2014.
“In 2013, a Cambridge University researcher named Aleksandr Kogan created a personality quiz app. It was installed by around 300,000 people who shared their data as well as some of their friends’ data,” Zuckerberg said. This gave Cambridge access to tens of millions of voters’ data. In 2014, Facebook changed its policies to block apps from acquiring users’ friends’ data unless their friends had independently authorized the app.
“The investigation process is in full swing,” Archibong said.
The first phase in the investigation is a comprehensive review to identify every app that had access to a large amounts of users’ Facebook data. The second phase is to conduct interviews, make requests for information by asking “a series of detailed questions about the app and the data it has access to,” and perform an audit that may include an on-site inspection.
Facebook “will ban any developer from our platform [who] does not agree to a thorough audit. And if we find developers [who] misused personally identifiable information, we will ban them and tell everyone affected by those apps.” Zuckerberg said.
Written by Kyle Perisic. Follow Kyle on Twitter @KylePerisic
This article was republished with permission from the Daily Caller News Foundation.
Facebook COO Sells $23M in Shares, Company Declines to Attend House Hearing on “Social Media Filtering Practices”
Facebook’s chief operations officer, Sheryl Sandberg, recently sold $23 million in the company’s stock on Wednesday as governments in the EU move to quickly implement new online privacy laws that would significantly limit the social network’s advertising practices and thus its income.
Sandberg is arguably one of the most powerful and influential women in technology. As Mark Zuckerberg’s COO and the head of the company’s advertising operations, she has been recently blasted by experts for her role in the Cambridge Analytica scandal. She has since profusely apologized once news of her involvement was made public. However, despite usually being comfortable in the spotlight, Sandberg has retreated from center stage amid the legal probes Facebook is currently facing, resulting in Mark Zuckerberg’s solo appearance before Congress last week.
In a string of appearances scheduled before the congressional hearings, Sandberg— the social media site’s 2nd in command— affirmed that Facebook’s main source of income comes from advertising. In other words, collecting data of its users is how and why the service remains free.
”The service [Facebook],” Sandberg reminded the public in an interview last Friday, “depends on your data.” Completely opting out of data-based targeted ads, she asserted, would have to be a paid option.
Experts have been quick to analyze and point out the aggressiveness of Facebook’s data collection practices, especially surrounding shadow profiles, which can collect data on users even if they don’t have an account with the social network. Before Congress, Mark Zuckerberg flatly denied any knowledge of the shadow profiles, even though the practice has been well-known since 2013 when the company’s data collection on non-users was revealed during a similar data-mishandling ordeal.
[Related: Facebook Dodges New EU Privacy Regulations]
Regarding the responsibility of the current misuse of data and future regulation regarding people’s privacy, Sandberg has been almost overly apologetic. However, it is still unclear what steps the company has taken since the story first broke in March.
“We know that we did not do enough to protect people’s data. I’m really sorry for that,” she’s said. In a separate instance she apologized yet again saying, “This was a huge breach of trust. People come to Facebook everyday and they depend on us to protect their data, and I am so sorry that we let so many people down.” She couldn’t promise that data was complete safe for now, adding that “We are going to find other things” and “there will always be bad actors.”
Sandberg would not comment about if anyone had lost their jobs at Facebook because of the scandal, saying that “We don’t talk about this publicly and we’re not going to; we don’t think it’s the right thing to do.” Hired in 2008, the former Google advertising chief joined the social network precisely to consolidate the company’s ad-based business model. Facebook’s then 20-something Mark Zuckerberg, who was reclusive and struggling with investors, brought Sandberg on to be the mature face of the company.
Analysts are still in disagreement over the immediate financial future of Facebook, whose stock price took a sharp dip after the harrowing news about personal data leaks. On Wednesday, Sandberg sold 163,500 shares of Facebook stock for a total value of just over $23,000,000. Over the course of 2017, Sandberg sold $316 million worth of shares, with over half that amount being sold in the first half of the year, according to CNBC. Sandberg has sold shares on a consistent basis over the past several years, yet the future of the company remains uncertain in light of dramatic changes and controversies.
A report from CNBC on April 10 highlighted a claim from Brian Wieser, a senior research analyst at Pivotal Research Group, that predicted a role shift for either Sandberg or Zuckerberg. “The company is not well managed,” said Wieser, also claiming that “one of Zuckerberg or Sandberg will not be in the same jobs in 12 months time.”
Most recently, Facebook has seen a modest uptick in active users, as it was reported April 25 that “Facebook’s daily active users in North America rose slightly last quarter to 185 million, a sign that the company’s News Feed algorithm tweaks and data privacy issues may not have deterred consumers.” This news may signal that the public is relenting to Facebook’s conduct; however, it may be worthy for these users to note that Facebook has declined an invitation to offer testimony at the upcoming “Examining Social Media Filtering Practices and their Effect on Free Speech” House of Representatives hearing that will discuss “what metrics social media platforms use to moderate content, how filtering decisions are made, and whether viewpoints have been silenced on some of the most popular and widely used platforms.”
Facebook Dodges New EU Privacy Regulations
Amidst apologies over mishandling user data and the affirmation that the company is “offering everyone who uses Facebook the same privacy protections, controls and settings, no matter where they live,” the social network recently confirmed plans to shift all users outside the European Union (EU) to a Terms of Service agreement governed by US regulation. Currently, EU users agree to Terms of Service (ToS) under Irish law as the majority of Facebook’s EU user base is located in Ireland.
The move comes after EU announced plans to roll out a new, “game changing” policy aimed at protecting user privacy. The new regulations, dubbed the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), would fine companies that breach user privacy up to 4% of their annual profits. For Facebook, that would mean about $1.6 billion dollars based on 2017 reports.
Earlier this month, CEO Mark Zuckerberg said that Facebook would adhere “in spirit” to GDPR guidelines worldwide, but he did not confirm if this meant that US users would receive the same protection as those in the EU. The GDPR would affect up to 70% of Facebook’s user base, and moving users in Africa, Asia, Australia and Latin America from non-EU to US-governed terms and conditions would exempt Facebook from following GDPR guidelines. The social platform opened operations in Ireland in 2008, taking advantage of low corporate tax rates.
Under the new EU regulations— which will take effect next month— Facebook will have to ask users for permission to use their information for advertising purposes, but there will be no option to decline. This means that Facebook will continue to use their own data on user behavior in order to show targeted ads, and users will have to accept these terms via “permission screens” in order to view certain content.
According to a April 17th Facebook blog post, “People in the EU will start seeing these requests this week to ensure they have made their choices ahead of GDPR coming into effect on May 25. As part of our phased approach, people in the rest of the world will be asked to make their choices on a slightly later schedule, and we’ll present the information in ways that make the most sense for other regions.” However, Tuesday’s announcement about shifting users to ToS governed by US legislation raises questions about the motives behind the move as doing so means that Facebook will not be subject to GDPR sanctions.
Addressing reporters at Facebook corporate offices, Facebook Deputy Chief Privacy Officer Rob Sherman said that “Facebook users will be able to limit the kinds of data that advertisers use to target their pitches” but the option to opt-out completely will not be available. Sherman also added that “People can choose to not be on Facebook if they want.”
Last week, Ben Swann reported in a Reality Check episode about issues of privacy and data collection that were widely publicized following the news of personal data mishandling by Cambridge Analytica.
FBI Claims It Has Found ‘Outside Party’ To Break Into iPhone in San Bernardino Case
The night before Apple Inc. and the Federal Bureau of Investigation were set to face off in court over whether Apple should be forced to create software to override the iPhone’s encryption, the FBI requested that the hearing be cancelled.
The court hearing set for Tuesday was over the case of the iPhone used by Syed Farook, a suspect in the San Bernardino shooting in December. After claiming that the only way to access the data on Farook’s iPhone was for Apple to create software to break the phone’s encryption, the FBI stated Monday night that the agency may have found another method to hack the phone.
[RELATED: Apple: Founding Fathers ‘Would Be Appalled,’ Accuses DoJ of Trying to ‘Rewrite History’]
In a court filing, the FBI asked U.S. Magistrate Judge Sheri Pym to vacate the hearing, claiming that on Sunday, “an outside party demonstrated to the FBI a possible method for unlocking Farook’s iPhone.”
[pull_quote_center]Testing is required to determine whether it is a viable method that will not compromise data on Farook’s iPhone. If the method is viable, it should eliminate the need for the assistance from Apple Inc. set forth in the All Writs Act Order in this case.[/pull_quote_center]
The filing did not name the “outside party,” but proposed that to make time for testing to determine “whether it is a viable method,” the government should have until April 5 to submit a status report.
[RELATED: Apple Rejects Government Order to Create ‘Backdoor’ for iPhone]
Judge Pym granted the FBI’s request around 9:30 p.m. EST Monday. She sided with the agency in February, ruling that the All Writs Act of 1789 justified the government forcing Apple to create the software to decrypt the iPhone, in order to access information on the phone used by Farook.
In contrast, Brooklyn Magistrate Judge James Orenstein ruled on March 1 that the government cannot use the All Writs Act to force Apple to provide data from a locked iPhone, in the case of a suspect facing criminal drug charges in New York.
Orenstein wrote, “The implications of the government’s position are so far-reaching — both in terms of what it would allow today and what it implies about congressional intent in 1789 — as to produce impermissibly absurd results.”
[RELATED: NY Judge: DoJ Cannot Force Apple to Extract Data from Locked iPhone in Drug Case]
Including the cases of the San Bernardino shooting suspect in California and the criminal drug suspect in New York, Apple is facing a total of 12 cases in which the FBI is pushing for the company’s help to gain access to encrypted data.
Fred Cate, a law professor at Indiana University, told Ars Technica that while the FBI’s request to vacate the hearing could be “good news” for Apple, it is not the end of an escalating security struggle.
“As a practical matter, if the FBI’s new technique works, it likely means that Apple will add more protection to its devices, which is a good thing for consumers, and the FBI will be back in court in the future asking a judge to compel Apple to help the government defeat Apple’s improved security,” Cate said. “So the issue probably has been deferred, not resolved.”
Bipartisan Senators to Introduce Bill Forcing Companies to Override Encryption
A bipartisan team of United States senators is reportedly close to introducing a controversial bill that would let law enforcement force companies to comply with court orders seeking access to encrypted data.
Sens. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) and Richard Burr (R-N.C.), both members of the Senate Intelligence Committee, began working on the bill after mass shootings occurred in Paris in November, and in San Bernardino, California, in December.
Following the shootings, Feinstein said she was “going to seek legislation if nobody else is,” and she claimed that it was in sync with the changing world.
“I think this world is really changing in terms of people wanting the protection and wanting law enforcement, if there is conspiracy going on over the Internet, that that encryption ought to be able to be pierced,” Feinstein said.
[RELATED: U.S. Police Chiefs Demand Access to Encrypted Communications Following Paris Attacks]
One of Feinstein’s aides reportedly said that while the bill will require companies to decrypt previously encrypted data and turn it over to law enforcement, it does not list a specific penalty for noncompliance, which would leave the punishment up to the courts.
While the bill could be introduced this week, Feinstein told The Hill she passed the text along to the White House, leaving the timing of the introduction up to President Obama, and Burr said it “depends on how fast the White House gets back to us.”
[RELATED: Apple Rejects Government Order to Create ‘Backdoor’ for iPhone]
The bill has received criticism from Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), who told the Huffington Post that he believes it will give tech companies few options, and as a result, “the American people will be less safe and less secure in their homes and neighborhoods.”
“I will do anything necessary to block a bill that weakens strong encryption,” Wyden said. “I will use every procedural tool in the Senate to block a bill that weakens strong encryption because I believe that weakening strong encryption will leave millions of Americans less safe and less secure.”
[RELATED: NY Judge: DoJ Cannot Force Apple to Extract Data from Locked iPhone in Drug Case]
The introduction of Feinstein and Burr’s bill comes at a time when Apple Inc. is pushing back against the Department of Justice on 12 different court orders that would require the company to go from extracting contacts photos and call records from an iPhone, to designing new software that would let the government override the iPhone’s encryption altogether.
Interview: ICloak CEO Eric Delisle on FBI, Apple and Zero Knowledge Systems
In an exclusive interview, Truth In Media’s Joshua Cook talks with ICLOAK founder and CEO Eric B. Delisle about the FBI, Apple and Zero Knowledge Systems.
In the interview, Delisle shares his thoughts with Cook about privacy and “zero knowledge” systems. Delisle also discusses with Cook his position on the FBI-Apple controversy and practical solutions on how to secure data from government spying.
(The encryption tool discussed in the interview is called ICLOAK Messages, which is free for anyone to use and it can be accessed from any web browser, including on a smartphone. It is currently in BETA and can be accessed at www.ICLOAK.me/im)
California Police Dept. Using Software to Determine ‘Pre-Crime’ Threat Score
The police department in Fresno, California has begun implementing a new technology that, in addition to looking at arrest reports and property records, uses content from social media postings to calculate an individual’s “threat score.”
According to a report from the Washington Post, when Fresno police received a 911 call about a man threatening his ex-girlfriend, they consulted the “Beware” software, which “scoured billions of data points, including arrest reports, property records, commercial databases, deep Web searches and the man’s social media postings.”
The software search found that the man had both a “firearm conviction” and a “gang association,” which put his “threat level” at the highest of three possible color-coded scores.
The Post noted that while police officials claim that the software can “provide critical information that can help uncover terrorists or thwart mass shootings, ensure the safety of officers and the public, find suspects, and crack open cases,” privacy advocates argue that the tools are a “troubling intrusion on privacy, have been deployed with little public oversight and have potential for abuse or error.”
[RELATED: ‘Pre-Crime’ Software Can Tell Police Who Will Commit a Crime Based in Part on Social Media Posts]
In Dec. 2014, Derek Smith, the Director of Cybersecurity Initiatives at the National Cybersecurity Institute at Excelsior College, said that while similar technology has been available in the past, the Beware software is much more efficient. However, he noted that it is not able to judge the intent of an individual based off of the information it gathers.
“It’s trying to forecast based on maybe your past behavior, or what is seen in your social media – a change in behavior or a change in the things you’re posting about,” Smith said. “They say ‘maybe this person is going to perpetrate a crime in the future,’ and then they want prevention from police officers.”
Jennifer Lynch, a senior staff attorney at the Electronic Frontier Foundation, told the Post that this technology has been in progress since 9/11, and that both state and federal governments are funding it.
“This is something that’s been building since September 11,” Lynch said. “First funding went to the military to develop this technology, and now it has come back to domestic law enforcement. It’s the perfect storm of cheaper and easier-to-use technologies and money from state and federal governments to purchase it.”
The Post reported that Fresno’s police department is one of the first in the country to test the Beware software, which is housed in a “Real Time Crime Center” which cost an estimated $600,000.
Reps. Amash, Massie Blast Congressional Spending Bill for ‘Unconstitutional’ Surveillance Measures
The last-minute addition of the Cybersecurity Act of 2015 to a massive Congressional spending bill has drawn criticism from Representatives who call the provisions unconstitutional, and say that they are an excuse for the U.S. government to expand warrantless domestic cyber surveillance.
In a statement to Truth In Media on Thursday, Rep. Justin Amash (R-Mich.) said he does not support the bill, and he sees it as possibly the “worst anti-privacy vote” since the Patriot Act in 2001.
[pull_quote_center]A vote for the omnibus is a vote to support unconstitutional surveillance on all Americans. It’s probably the worst anti-privacy vote in Congress since the Patriot Act.[/pull_quote_center]
Rep. Thomas Massie (R-Ky.) released a statement on his Facebook page on Wednesday, claiming that he learned of the addition of the “completely unrelated legislation to expand warrantless domestic cyber surveillance” on Tuesday night.
[pull_quote_center]We learned last night that in addition to unsustainable spending, the giant omnibus includes completely unrelated legislation to expand warrantless domestic cyber surveillance and to repeal country of origin labeling for meat sold in the U.S. I will be voting no on Thursday.[/pull_quote_center]
The Cybersecurity Act of 2015 brings together provisions from other bills that have been passed in either the House or the Senate in 2015, such as the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act (CISPA) and the Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act (CISA), which both give the U.S. government access to Internet traffic information from technology and manufacturing companies.
[RELATED: Surveillance Bill Masked As ‘Cybersecurity’ Close to Completion]
As previously reported, while “sharing of intelligence is supposed to be voluntary,” critics of the bill say the provisions “will only increase the indiscriminate monitoring of legal activity by giving companies immunity from lawsuits for sharing information with the government.”
Amash told Truth in Media he believes the surveillance provisions were “quietly slipped” into the massive spending bill in an attempt to “avoid full scrutiny.”
[pull_quote_center]These provisions were quietly slipped into the omnibus to avoid full scrutiny. We take an oath to defend the Constitution, and our Fourth Amendment privacy protections are as important as anything.[/pull_quote_center]
VIDEO: Activist Group Uses Drone to Drop Anti-Spying Flyers on NSA Facility
Members of Peng!, a tactical media group, published a video online earlier this month in which a drone from the group’s anti-spying campaign is seen dropping flyers, calling on agents to quit their jobs, on the National Security Agency’s Dagger Complex facility in Darmstadt, Germany.
The description panel on the above-embedded YouTube video notes, “The Dagger Complex in Darmstadt, Germany acts as a central point of the NSA’s surveillance and espionage activity in Europe. On Friday Intelexit supporters, the initiative helping people break free from the secret services, dropped information flyers to the 1100 employees working there.”
Vice’s Joshua Kopstein wrote, “Dagger Complex has a special significance in surveillance-wary Germany and has long been seen as a slice of the American surveillance state on German soil. The base has been the site of countless protests, including ‘spy spotting’ nature walks organized by activists following the Snowden revelations.”
Peng!’s anti-spying campaign, Intelexit, is an initiative launched by privacy advocates seeking to encourage agents working for the National Security Agency and Britain’s Government Communications Headquarters to quit their jobs and become whistleblowers. Prior to launching the aerial flyering campaign, the group also posted a billboard next to Dagger Complex which reportedly says,“Listen to your heart, not to private phone calls.” The group has also placed billboards at NSA’s Fort Meade, Md. facility and at GCHQ’s Cheltenham headquarters in England.
An Intelexit spokesperson who goes by the pseudonym Ariel Fischer said, “We know for a fact that there are many, many people working there who are conflicted, anxious and ultimately completely against what these agencies are doing… We make a clear difference between individuals and the structures they are part of. We want to meet our surveillers eye to eye, and say ‘We can help you.’”
[RELATED: Democratic Debate: Clinton, Sanders Clash On NSA Spying]
She added, “We have seen a shift in the last years of people leaving, people blowing the whistle, even in the face of great repression and we wanted to support that. If there is a backdoor and people start leaving, and people start talking, and the public starts reacting, they will be forced to change.”
On the topic of innovation in activism, Ben Swann is launching a new show highlighting the oft-overlooked work of activists around the world. Watch the Global Activist trailer in the below-embedded video.
George Pataki Calls for Twitter CEO to Shut Down Edward Snowden’s Account
Former NSA contractor-turned-whistleblower Edward Snowden joined Twitter on Tuesday, and in addition to gaining 1 million followers in less than 24 hours after he posted his first tweet, his presence was openly criticized by one presidential hopeful who asked Twitter’s co-founder to shut down Snowden’s account.
GOP candidate and former New York Gov. George Pataki responded to Snowden’s first Tweet, which said, “Can you hear me now?” with criticism, calling Snowden a “traitor who put American lives at risk.”
Can you hear me now?
— Edward Snowden (@Snowden) September 29, 2015
Some say you have courage, I saw real courage on #Sept11 You are just a traitor who put American lives at risk. https://t.co/RRWtmMzyxE
— George E. Pataki (@GovernorPataki) September 29, 2015
Snowden is known for leaking documents which revealed that the U.S. government is spying on innocent Americans and collecting their phone records using the NSA’s mass surveillance program, which was once a guarded secret before Snowden’s actions exposed the agency.
[RELATED: Dishonesty, Deceptiveness, and Disservice – Why Snowden Chose to Become a Whistleblower]
Since the documents were published in June 2013, Snowden has yet to return to the United States and is currently in an undisclosed location in Russia. If and when he returns to the U.S., he will face felony charges of theft, “unauthorized communication of national defense information” and “willful communication of classified communications intelligence information to an unauthorized person.”
In addition to retweeting comments from Twitter users who agreed with his original statement, Pataki posted a second tweet addressing Snowden, this time calling on Twitter co-founder and interim CEO Jack Dorsey to shut down Snowden’s account.
.@Twitter is a great American company that should not give a platform to terrorists or traitors – @Jack shutdown @Snowden today.
— George E. Pataki (@GovernorPataki) September 29, 2015
Dorsey did not respond to Pataki on Tuesday, but he did respond earlier to Snowden’s initial tweet, welcoming him to Twitter.
Yes! Welcome to Twitter. https://t.co/gUBQpET6Gg
— jack (@jack) September 29, 2015
Dorsey also retweeted a tweet from Snowden, which addressed the label of “traitor.” The word was mentioned in each of the Tweets Pataki posted that referenced Snowden.
.@neiltyson Hero, traitor — I'm just a citizen with a voice. [1/2]
— Edward Snowden (@Snowden) September 29, 2015
Pataki’s final tweet mentioning Snowden was in response to a user who said that a “great American company gives voices a chance to speak, not silences them.”
Not a traitor who put Americans at risk, hides in Russia and belongs behind bars. https://t.co/LMXVLjta1B
— George E. Pataki (@GovernorPataki) September 29, 2015
Investigative journalist Glenn Greenwald, who published documents leaked by Snowden in the The Guardian in 2013, chimed in on Twitter with posts that appeared to be aimed at Pataki’s comments.
After posting his first Tweet on Tuesday morning, Snowden gained 1 million followers in less than 24 hours. Greenwald noted that this was over 10 times more than Pataki, who currently has about 53,300.
Snowden also gained attention for following only one account on Twitter: the NSA. In addition to greatly surpassing Pataki in number of followers, Snowden also surpassed the NSA, which has less than 100,000.
Today @Snowden joined Twitter, and here's the world's response. pic.twitter.com/d6HgVvdRsf
— Twitter (@Twitter) September 29, 2015
Federal Trade Commission Seeks Warrantless Access To Americans’ Emails
On Wednesday, September 16th, members of the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) told Congress that the agency needs power to access emails of Americans without a warrant approved by a judge.
The comments came at a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on electronic privacy reform related to the Electronic Communications Privacy Act of 2015 (ECPA), a bill with bipartisan support which would require government agencies to get warrants before accessing emails and chats, regardless of how old the content is. The EPCA was first passed in 1986 to help the FTC investigate fraudulent businesses. As of right now, the government can use a process known as administrative subpoena to access messages older than 180 days without a warrant.
The Daily Dot reported:
“The agency said in prepared testimony that it was “concerned that its robust anti-fraud program will suffer if copies of previously public commercial content that advertises or promotes a product or service cannot be obtained directly from the service provider.”
“Without further clarification to recent legislative proposals,” the agency said, “updates to ECPA would appear to prevent the FTC from compelling ECPA service providers to produce such previously public material.”
The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission also testified against the EPCA. Andrew Ceresney, director of the SEC’s enforcement division, stated, “because the SEC and other civil law enforcement agencies cannot obtain criminal warrants, we would effectively not be able to gather evidence, including communications such as emails, directly from an [Internet Service Provider], regardless of the circumstances.”
The FTC is essentially arguing that without warrantless access to emails and chats, it might not be able to fully execute its mission. Despite the warnings from the FTC, the agency has been unable to list specific cases where warrantless surveillance was vital to an investigation. At the hearing Daniel Salsburg, an attorney with the FTC, said, “I can’t necessarily say it would produce emails that would dramatically further the investigation.”
FTC Commissioner Julie Brill was also critical of the agency’s request to be exempted from the EPCA. In a written statement Brill wrote:
“I am concerned that a judicial mechanism for civil law enforcement agencies to obtain content from ECPA providers could entrench authority that has the potential to lead to invasions of individuals’ privacy and, under some circumstances, may be unconstitutional in practice.”
The FTC was also concerned that under provisions of the EPCA it would not have the ability to access customers information even if they give consent. The FTC argued that:
“A defendant may want to authorize the FTC to obtain documents directly from its cloud computing account, if the records are voluminous, or the defendant’s only copies of the records are maintained on that service.”
The agency said the EPCA 2015 would impede this ability. However, Senator Richard Blumenthal was skeptical of the imagine scenario and asked Salsburg if the situation was common.
“There have been a couple of instances where this has occurred,” Salsburg said, “but it’s not common.”
Google was also critical of the FTC’s arguments. Richard Salgado, Google Inc.’s law enforcement and information security director, told the National Law Journal, “This committee is being asked by some today to jettison precisely the type of categorical rules that the Supreme Court held were imperative.” Salgado is referring to the a unanimous 2014 Supreme Court decision requiring police to obtain a warrant before searching the contents of a cell phone during an arrest.
Thankfully the claims made by the FTC are being met with skepticism and disdain. Unfortunately, the agency is only one of many agencies that are seeking surveillance abilities or already in possession of surveillance tools. Americans who value privacy and freedom should take notice and work to beat back the maneuvers of an increasingly oppressive government.
BROZE: Privacy Advocates Prepare For Battle Over Cybersecurity Bill
The Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act (CISA), which is designed to allow private companies to easily share threat intelligence with government agencies, is facing resistance from privacy advocates who fear that the provisions will only increase the indiscriminate monitoring of legal activity.
CISA is seen as the “cousin” of another controversial cybersecurity bill, the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act (CISPA), which was defeated by mass opposition in 2012.
In early August the White House gave the CISA a boost through an official endorsement. The Hill reported:
“Cybersecurity is an important national security issue and the Senate should take up this bill as soon as possible and pass it,” said White House spokesman Eric Schultz in a statement.
“The endorsement will increase pressure on Senate leaders to reach an agreement to limit floor debate and come to a final vote on the bill — which would increase the data shared on hackers between companies and the government — before the month-long break”.
The National Journal also released new information related to CISA. On August 26, the Journal reported on 22 proposed amendments to CISA. When the bill is eventually debated the Senators will have to work their way through each amendment.
According to the Journal, the amendments deal with liability protections, more narrow definitions of cyber threats, qualifications for removing personal identity information, cyber crime penalties, and the voluntary nature of information sharing.
It is exactly this alleged “voluntary” information sharing that has come under fire. Recently Wired reported on the possibility that the programs are not exactly as voluntary as supporters of CISA would have you believe.
Wired mentions a previous “information sharing” program for defense contractors which was falsely advertised as “voluntary”. Wired wrote:
“However, key parts of documents obtained and released to the Electronic Privacy Information Center pursuant to the Freedom of Information Act reveal a different story.
In order to receive information as part of the program, entities were required to sign contracts as program ‘participants.’ This would not have been so bad, except that a precondition for being a participant was the requirement that the entity file reports with the government on a regular basis. In fact, the Defense Industrial Base Pilot Cybersecurity Plan definitively showed that participants were required to agree to transfer information about their private network traffic to the government.”
Although at least one of the amendments to be debated deals with establishing narrower definitions of terms like “voluntary”, at this point there is nothing in the bill which would prevent Department of Homeland Security from taking a similar route while calling the program a voluntary interaction.
The DHS also has its own issues with CISA. In late July, the agency sent a letter to Sen. Al Franken, the ranking member of the Senate Subcommittee on Privacy, Technology, and Law, discussing a number of problems with the bill.
The DHS said that if the bill does not mandate the removal of personal information the agency will be forced to “contribute to the compromise of personally identifiable information by spreading it further.” The letter also stated that the bills vague language and broad definitions could lead to “receiv[ing] large amounts of information with dubious value.”
The bill has also been opposed by a number of leading security experts, and privacy organizations such as the Electronic Frontier Foundation. The EFF opposes CISA in its current form because it does not require companies to remove unrelated personal information prior to sharing it with the government.
For Americans who value privacy and liberty, CISA is a looming threat. As is the case with most legislation passed under the guise of protecting the people, it will, in fact, only further erode the peoples freedom and empower the State. We should also take a moment to recognize that this growing Surveillance State could not happen without a compliant partner, the corporations that provide our personal data to the government.
Keep an eye on the CISA saga throughout the coming months. An endorsement from the White House is a sure sign that President Obama wants the “cybersecurity” measure to be a part of his legacy before he leaves office.
What are your thoughts on CISA? Is it necessary to protect your data from hackers? Or is this another government ploy to spy on your activity?
FBI Director: Government-Proof Encryption Threatens National Security
On Monday, Federal Bureau of Investigation Director James Comey penned an op-ed in the national security blog Lawfare which claimed that data encryption techniques that are effective enough to challenge the government’s ability to crack them are a threat to national security.
“The logic of encryption will bring us, in the not-to-distant future, to a place where devices and data in motion are protected by universal strong encryption. That is, our conversations and our ‘papers and effects’ will be locked in such a way that permits access only by participants to a conversation or the owner of the device holding the data,” said Comey. After paying brief lip service to the benefits of strong encryption, Comey began to lay out why he thinks future advancements in encryption technology will “inexorably affect my ability to do [my] job.”
“When the government’s ability—with appropriate predication and court oversight—to see an individual’s stuff goes away, it will affect public safety,” asserted Comey. He continued, evoking terrorism, “That tension is vividly illustrated by the current ISIL threat, which involves ISIL operators in Syria recruiting and tasking dozens of troubled Americans to kill people, a process that increasingly takes part through mobile messaging apps that are end-to-end encrypted, communications that may not be intercepted, despite judicial orders under the Fourth Amendment. But the tension could as well be illustrated in criminal investigations all over the country. There is simply no doubt that bad people can communicate with impunity in a world of universal strong encryption.”
According to National Journal, Comey will testify on Wednesday before the US Senate’s Intelligence and Judiciary committees on the challenges law enforcement agencies face in keeping up with encryption techniques.
Earlier this year, President Obama took a position similar to Comey’s on the issue and said, “If we get into a situation which the technologies do not allow us at all to track somebody we’re confident is a terrorist… that’s a problem.”
National Journal’s Dustin Volz wrote, “Many believe there is no such thing as a ‘golden key’ for encryption that could allow law-enforcement or national security professionals access into an encrypted device without also creating a vulnerability that malicious hackers could exploit.“
Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal Vetoes License Plate Reader Surveillance Bill
On Friday, Louisiana Republican Governor Bobby Jindal vetoed SB250, a bill aimed at “using automatic license plate recognition systems to identify stolen vehicles
and uninsured motorists.” The bill, which previously passed overwhelmingly in both houses of the Louisiana State Legislature, was originally introduced by State Senator Ronnie Johns (R-Lake Charles).
According to The Times-Picayune, if the bill had become law, automatic license plate scanners would have been placed on mobile trailers, bridges, and law enforcement vehicles in 9 Louisiana parishes at a cost of $5 million. The legislation would have allowed law enforcement agencies and their contractors to store the data collected by the scanners for up to 60 days. A private contractor providing the equipment would have been allowed to collect 30% of the revenues raised by license plate readers.
A statement by Governor Jindal read, “Senate Bill No. 250 would authorize the use of automatic license plate reader camera surveillance programs in various parishes throughout the state. The personal information captured by these cameras, which includes a person’s vehicle location, would be retained in a central database and accessible to not only participating law enforcement agencies but other specified private entities for a period of time regardless of whether or not the system detects that a person is in violation of vehicle insurance requirements. Camera programs such as these that make private information readily available beyond the scope of law enforcement, pose a fundamental risk to personal privacy and create large pools of information belonging to law abiding citizens that unfortunately can be extremely vulnerable to theft or misuse… For these reasons, I have vetoed Senate Bill No. 250 and hereby return it to the Senate.”
[RELATED: FBI Invested in License-Plate Reader Tech Despite Privacy Concerns]
The Times-Picayune estimates that 25% of Louisiana’s motorists are uninsured.
Privacy advocates worry that the cameras, which scan the license plates of all vehicles passing through a particular location, provide too much information about the whereabouts and movements of law-abiding citizens.
Analysis of a similar program in Oakland, CA by Ars Technica found that it was ineffective at its intended purpose and significantly affected the privacy of innocents. “Earlier this year, Ars obtained 4.6 million LPR records collected by the police in Oakland, Calif. over four years and learned that just 0.16 percent of those reads were ‘hits.’ We discovered that such data is incredibly revelatory. We were able to find the city block where a member of the city council lives using nothing but the database, a related data visualization tool, and his license plate number,” wrote Ars Technica’s Cyrus Farivar.
Former Libertarian gubernatorial candidate argues against Real ID Act
A judge put the brakes on Libertarian Party candidate Adrian Wyllie’s argument against a new Florida driver’s license law on Monday.
Wyllie, who ran unsuccessfully for Florida governor, said that the driver’s license law violated citizens’ privacy.
A Collier, Fla. judge quickly denied his claim.
Wyllie agreed to plead no contest and received a $150 fine, with no probation or jail time.
“I applaud you for trying to fight for your honest conviction,” Collier County Judge Mike Carr said to Wyllie during the hearing.
“I am very disappointed with the outcome here,” said Wyllie after the hearing.
He said a stand had to be taken on Constitutional grounds, saying that new driver’s license requirements, in particular Real ID, is an invasion of privacy.
Judge Napolitano Debates Michael Hayden on Privacy vs Security
During CPAC 2015 Judge Andrew Napolitano debates former NSA director Michael Hayden on the topic of privacy versus security.
Amash: Most “Egregious” Violation of Privacy Law Just Passed By Congress
With next to no debate, Congress may have quietly passed a bill authorizing the executive branch access to nearly all communications by Americans.
Congressman Justin Amash attempted to rally members of Congress against the bill saying it is one of the most egregious attacks on rule of law that he has seen since becoming a member of Congress.
Ben Swann has more on the legislation and how it managed to be passed with almost no one noticing.
Exclusive: Top 10 Flashlight Apps Are Stealing Your Data, Even Pics Off Your Phone
Nashua NH- The makers of some of the most widely used flashlight apps for smart phones are doing more than just helping you find your lost car keys, they are geo-locating you and stealing your data. At least, that is the claim being made by Snoopwall LLC. Snoopwall is the world’s first “counterveillance” company and according the founder, Gary Miliefsky in a web exclusive interview with Benswann.com, the top ten flashlight apps are stealing you data.
Snoopwall has just released a THREAT ASSESSMENT REPORT
Summarizing privacy and risk Analysis of top 10 Android flashlight Apps. According to Snoopwall, all of the top 10 apps are doing more than what consumers are expecting from a flashlight. For instance, the number 1 flashlight app for Android is the “Super Bright LED Flashlight”. This app has between 100 million and 500 million installs worldwide. So what does the app actually have the ability to do?
• retrieve running apps
• modify or delete the contents of your USB storage
• test access to protected storage
• take pictures and videos
• view Wi-Fi connections
• read phone status and identity
• receive data from Internet
• control flashlight
• change system display settings
• modify system settings
• prevent device from sleeping
• view network connections
• full network access
Others like the Brightest Flashlight Free App, have been sued by the FTC . According to Snoopwall, “But while the FTC.gov has gone after Flashlight Free App, it seems they are still at it and the other 9, as well. It seems time to ask “where’s the outrage?” – shouldn’t you UNINSTALL your FLASHLIGHT APP today? The answer is yes! You might also want to contact the FTC and tell them you are concerned.”
If you are looking for a flashlight app that won’t steal your information, Snoopwall is providing a solution.
“We developed the SnoopWall Privacy Flashlight for Google Android, Apple iOS and Microsoft Windows smartphones and tablets. The file size of the SnoopWall Privacy Flashlight application is approximately 72 kilobytes. It only accesses the light of the webcam and the screen display which is all a flashlight app should be doing anyway.”
Get it today at: http://privacyflashlight.snoopwall.com