surveillance

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NSA triples metadata collection numbers, sucking up over 500 million call records in 2017

The National Security Agency revealed a huge increase in the amount of call metadata collected, from about 151 million call records in 2016 to more than 530 million last year — despite having fewer targets. But officials say nothing is different about the year but the numbers.

A transparency report issued by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence shows numerous other fluctuations in the volume of surveillance conducted. Foreign surveillance-related, warrantless Section 702 content queries involving U.S. persons jumped from 5,288 to 7,512, for instance, and more citizens were “unmasked,” indicating a general increase in quantity.

On the other hand, the number of more invasive pen register/trace and tap orders dropped by nearly half, to 33, with even fewer targets — far less than the peak in 2014, when 135 orders targeted 516 people.

The biggest increase by far is the number of “call detail records” collected from service providers. Although the number of targets actually decreased from the previous year, from 42 to 40, the number of call records jumped from 151 million to 534 million, and search terms from 22,360 to 31,196.

Call detail records are things like which numbers were called and when, the duration of the call and so on — metadata, no content. But metadata can be just as revealing as content, since it can, for example, place a person near the scene of a crime, or establish that two people were connected even if the conversation they had was benign.

What do these increases mean? It’s hard to say. A spokesperson for the ODNI told Reuters that the government “has not altered the manner in which it uses its authority to obtain call detail records,” and that they “expect this number to fluctuate from year to year.” So according to them, it’s just a matter of quantity.

Because one target can yield hundreds or thousands of incidental sub-targets — people connected to the target whose call records will be requested and stored — it’s possible that 2017’s targets just had fatter, longer contact lists and deeper networks than 2016’s. Needless to say this explanation is unsatisfying.

Although the NSA’s surveillance apparatus was dealt a check with the 2013 Snowden leaks and subsequent half-hearted crackdowns by lawmakers, it clearly is getting back into its stride.

How to covertly toss an apartment, Stasi style

In 1984, the Stasi — East Germany’s notorious secret police — searched the flat of an auditor to determine if he’d leaked files that put the country in a bad light to Stern, a West German magazine, published in Hamburg. They recorded the clandestine search for posterity, and used it as the basis for a training video explaining to other secret police operatives how to search a dissident’s home without alerting them that they were under suspicion. (via Grugq)

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Senate Republicans introduce resolution ensuring ISPs don't need your permission to sell your private data and SSN

Donald Trump’s new FCC boss, Ajit Pai, has nuked an Obama-era rule that banned ISPs from selling off your browsing data, location, financial and health information, children’s information, Social Security Number and contents of your messages, without your permission. The now-defunct rule also required ISPs to notify you when they got hacked and your sensitive personal information got out into the wild.
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New settlement allows civilian review of NYPD surveillance

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Residents of New York City are on their way to having new oversight of their police department’s counterterrorism operations, which often includes surveillance. 

A new settlement filed Monday would permit a civilian representative to report police to a judge whenever the representative feels officers violate guidelines that restrict how far police can go in monitoring religious and political groups. The lawsuit stems from NYPD surveillance of Muslims, some of whom sued the city over that surveillance in 2013.

The representative will also be privy to how the NYPD runs its surveillance investigations, and will be allowed to stick around until the NYC mayor gets court approval to remove the person. The deal still needs to get final approval from U.S. District Judge Charles Haight.  Read more…

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Uber uses data-mining to identify and block riders who may be cops, investigators or regulators

Greyball is Uber’s codename for a program that tries to predict which new signups are secretly cops, regulators or investigators who could make trouble for the company, deployed in “Boston, Paris and Las Vegas, and in countries like Australia, China and South Korea” where the company was fighting with the authorities.
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This robot spy dog is like 'Westworld' for animals

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If it looks like a dog, walks like a dog, and barks like a dog, it’s a robot built to spy on real dogs by making those dogs trust it so much they don’t realize their entire lives are being recorded. 

Surveillance, Westworld-style! 

In order to get a better understanding of how wild dogs do wild dog things, the folks at PBS’ Spy in the Wild put a life-like creature out in the, uh, wild, and waited for other wild dogs to come sniffing. 

The robot, equipped with 24 moving parts, cocks its head and stretches and yips just like you’d expect a wild dog to, and its flesh-and-blood counterparts don’t seem to be able to tell the difference. Aside from the lifeless eyes, “spy pup” is kinda cute.  Read more…

More about Westworld, Robot, Surveillance, Spy In The Wild, and Spy

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This robot spy dog is like 'Westworld' for animals

TwitterFacebook

If it looks like a dog, walks like a dog, and barks like a dog, it’s a robot built to spy on real dogs by making those dogs trust it so much they don’t realize their entire lives are being recorded. 

Surveillance, Westworld-style! 

In order to get a better understanding of how wild dogs do wild dog things, the folks at PBS’ Spy in the Wild put a life-like creature out in the, uh, wild, and waited for other wild dogs to come sniffing. 

The robot, equipped with 24 moving parts, cocks its head and stretches and yips just like you’d expect a wild dog to, and its flesh-and-blood counterparts don’t seem to be able to tell the difference. Aside from the lifeless eyes, “spy pup” is kinda cute.  Read more…

More about Westworld, Robot, Surveillance, Spy In The Wild, and Spy

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This robot spy dog is like 'Westworld' for animals

TwitterFacebook

If it looks like a dog, walks like a dog, and barks like a dog, it’s a robot built to spy on real dogs by making those dogs trust it so much they don’t realize their entire lives are being recorded. 

Surveillance, Westworld-style! 

In order to get a better understanding of how wild dogs do wild dog things, the folks at PBS’ Spy in the Wild put a life-like creature out in the, uh, wild, and waited for other wild dogs to come sniffing. 

The robot, equipped with 24 moving parts, cocks its head and stretches and yips just like you’d expect a wild dog to, and its flesh-and-blood counterparts don’t seem to be able to tell the difference. Aside from the lifeless eyes, “spy pup” is kinda cute.  Read more…

More about Westworld, Robot, Surveillance, Spy In The Wild, and Spy

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Have your devices and social media been invasively searched at the US border? EFF wants to know about it

After the chaos of the Muslim ban, EFF activists are worried that the TSA’s existing policy of invasive data-collection at the border may be getting even worse. They’re looking for stories from everyone, but especially citizens and green card holders.
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After shutting down to protect user privacy, Lavabit rises from the dead

In 2013, Lavabit — famous for being the privacy-oriented email service chosen by Edward Snowden to make contact with journalists while he was contracting for the NSA — shut down under mysterious, abrupt circumstances, leaving 410,000 users wondering what had just happened to their email addresses.

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Remembering the SOPA blackout, five years later

Five years ago, we won an unprecedented victory: spurred on by blackouts of more than 50,000 sites, more than 8 million Americans called Congress to object to the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA), a brutal internet censorship bill that would have been a stake through the heart of the open net. SOPA, which had been tipped to sail through Congress without any fuss, died an unprecedented death. It set a precedent.
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