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Liberty News

2011: July-Sept

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25th September   

Update: Gangs of Spies...

Westminster Council initiate programme to monitor social networking sites for local gang activity
Link Here

Westminster City Council plans to spend £ 180,000 over three years monitoring social media networks through a dedicated gangs information desk, according to reports in The Times.

According to a private council document, youth workers will collect intelligence gathered from sites such as Facebook and Twitter as a precautionary measure and consider letting instigators know they are being watched.

The document states Westminster is interested in exploring ways to spot confrontations and provide street-level intelligence and would consider working with social enterprises to monitor Blackberry Messenger, YouTube and Facebook postings to intervene and offer protection and a way out to those involved with gangs.

Cllr Nickie Aiken, cabinet member for children, young people and community protection, said:

We have known the importance of social networking sites such as facebook and twitter for some time but during the disturbances in August we saw young people rapidly organising criminal behaviour through technologies like Blackberry Messenger.

Some of our youth workers were successful in discouraging young people from getting involved in the looting in Oxford Circus. However, as part of our new Gangs Strategy we want to make this work more systematic over the next few months and will be asking young people, as the real experts, how we can best do this without spying on people.


14th August

 Offsite: Can RIM Decrypt Blackberry Messages?...

Link Here
Full story: BlackBerry Mobile Phones...Winding up countries who can't snoop on users
The Daily Mail tries to find out

See article from


14th August

 Offsite: Bunions and All...

Link Here
Daily Mail hunts down the complete record of one woman's day

See article from


10th August   

Technology Watching...

US police have camera able to recognise people against a database of biometric data
Link Here

Police officers in the USA now have technology which can register a person in seconds. BI2, a Massachusetts based company, has just released MORIS (Mobile Offender Recognition and Information System), enabling a police officer to take an iris scan in seconds and, when attached to an iPhone, take a biometric facial scan with it.

MORIS can then run the image through US criminal records.

Alongside the obvious problems in allowing a private company to manage government records, there is a worry that US police forces may be using the devices to randomly scan the population with the objective of identifying illegal immigrants and sex offenders.

Sean Mullin, BI2's CEO, says that it is difficult to capture an image of someone without their consent because the MORIS should be used at close-distance: It requires a level of cooperation that makes it very overt -- a person knows that you're taking a picture for this purpose .

It won't be long before it reaches the UK.


9th August   

Scoring on Credit...

So is buying porn with a credit card a risky proposition?
Link Here

So how has your credit score been looking? Think you've been doing all the right things but you're not seeing your credit score shape up the way you want it to? Believe it or not, even some of your most innocent decisions and actions can hurt your credit score.


4. Making Risky and Risque Purchases

Some lenders look closely at what you spend money on in order to determine if you are a financial risk or not. This means that if you are using a credit card for adult entertainment (i.e., strip clubs, adult website memberships) on a consistent basis, you will be considered riskier than others.

Risky purchases don't stop at porn. If you are using your credit card to buy lottery tickets every week or for sporadic shopping sprees, credit card issuers and lenders see this as a sign of desperation and financial irresponsibility.

If you regularly rack up impressive bar tabs or liquor store receipts, credit card issuers are likely to think you are drowning financial sorrows away with alcohol. While it's perfectly acceptable (and encouraged) to have a regular happy hour session, if you make it a habit of frequenting bars and charging a bunch of drinks, you can raise a red flag.


7th August   

Dangerous Technology...

US researchers link facial recognition technology with Facebook profiles to identify people in the offline world
Link Here

US technology researchers have demonstrated that they can link up facial recognition camera technology with a database of people with their pictures tagged by Facebook.

Researchers at Carnegie Mellon University combined off-the-shelf image scanning, cloud computing and public profiles from social network sites to identify individuals in the offline world.

In another experiment, researchers were able to extract the social security number of a student starting only with their photo.

When we share tagged photos of ourselves online, it becomes possible for others to link our face to our names in situations where we would normally expect anonymity, said team leader Professor Alessandro Acquisti.

The researchers have also developed an augmented reality mobile app that can display personal data over a person's image captured on a smartphone screen.

The results of the research will be presented at the Black Hat security conference in Las Vegas this week.


1st August   

Internet Snooping...

US communication logs to be retained for all Americans
Link Here

The U.S. House Judiciary Committee has approved a measure that would force ISPs to save users' IP address information for one year.

The bill, HR 1981 The Protecting Children from Internet Pornographers Act of 2011 ,was approved on a 19-10 vote and considered a victory for conservative Republicans despite opposition from digital rights groups and civil liberties advocates.

An 11th hour rewrite of the controversial data retention mandate reportedly expands the information that commercial ISPs are required to store to include customers' names, addresses, phone numbers, credit card numbers, bank account numbers, and temporarily-assigned IP addresses.

The panel rejected an amendment that would have clarified that only IP addresses must be stored.

Representative John Conyers of Michigan, the senior Democrat on the panel said the bill is mislabeled: This is not protecting children from Internet pornography. It's creating a database for everybody in this country for a lot of other purposes.

The Association of Sites Advocating Child Protection (ASACP) penned a letter to the U.S. Congress protesting its erroneous use of the phrase Internet Pornographers in the new legislation. ASACP executive director Tim Henning told XBIZ that lumping in adult businesses in the bill's labeling is flat out wrong. 'Protecting Children From Internet Pedophiles' or 'Protecting Children From Internet Sex Crimes' would both be more appropriate and accurate titles for this Act, the ASACP letter stated.


15th July   

Internet Bill of Rights...

Sex Machines
MPs call for better privacy protection for personal data accessed via the internet
Link Here

Early day motion 2004
Primary sponsor: Robert Halfon

That this House is deeply concerned that privacy is gradually being eroded by private companies using the internet to obtain personal data and selling it for commercial gain; notes that the latest problem is with WPP Group plc, the advertising firm, which claims to have built up individual profiles for half a billion internet users across the world, including allegedly almost 100 per cent. of British people; further notes that secret monitoring of internet users is already a huge issue, with data scraping and cookies monitoring people without their consent; believes an internet bill of rights is needed to guard against the growing infringement of civil liberties that are not covered by existing legislation; and further believes that the Information Commissioner lacks the powers necessary to protect personal data and has done precious little to protect our privacy in recent tests such as the Google Street View project.

Signed by

  • Campbell, Gregory Democratic Unionist
  • Campbell, Ronnie Labour
  • Corbyn, Jeremy Labour
  • Davidson, Ian Labour
  • Dodds, Nigel Democratic Unionist
  • Edwards, Jonathan Plaid Cymru
  • Halfon, Robert Conservative
  • Hancock, Mike Liberal Democrats
  • Leech, John Liberal Democrats
  • Lewis, Julian Conservative
  • Llwyd, Elfyn Plaid Cymru
  • McCrea, Dr William Democratic Unionist
  • McDonnell, John Labour
  • Meale, Alan Labour
  • Simpson, David Democratic Unionist
  • Stringer, Graham Labour
  • Williams, Roger Liberal Democrats


15th July   

Offsite: FAST Track to Big Brother...

Sponsore Melon Farmers vis Patreon
Lie detector technology being adapted for US airport security
Link Here

The video [discussed in the article] is a promotional presentation by the Department of Homeland Security for a project known as Future Attribute Screening Technology , or FAST. The project is not new --- the video came out several years ago --- and the technology is not new, either. The system incorporates several existing forms of non-invasive psychological evaluation methods, including thermal imaging, the monitoring of heart rate, etc. It doesn't even include the measurement of galvanic skin response (as commonly used in lie detectors), but produces similar results through other means. Just as with the full-body scanner, a subject has only to stand in one place briefly to be examined by several forms of instrumentation, whose results are then analyzed and recorded in a networked computer system.

The purpose of this new form of electronic scrutiny is nothing less than to detect in advance the intention or propensity to do violence. It is truly Orwellian in its proposed scope.

...Read the full article


13th July   

Reading The Way We Live Now...

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New York to consider privacy protection for eBook readers
Link Here

How would you like it if bookstores recorded how often you read the book, how long you view each page and even any notes you might write in the book's margins?

Well, all those things are happening now with digital books. Many bookstores already collect information about readers and their purchases. But digital book services can collect even more detailed information that often is bundled in a database and sold to marketers or acquired by governments.

Maybe you should avoid using eBooks that reveal anything you would rather be private, eg reading about health conditions, porn or dodgy religions.

A bill in the New York state Assembly is set to offer some privacy protection at least. The Reader Privacy Act, similar to legislation in California, would prevent digital book service providers from disclosing to any government entity personal information of a person who buys digital books. Providers would not be compelled to disclose such information to anyone except under court order.

A digital book provider that knowingly violates these restrictions would face a $500 fine for each instance.


12th July   

Cloud Warning...

Microsoft reveals that cloud data will be available to law enforcement agencies [and assorted hackers]
Link Here

Microsoft has revealed that EU users of its upcoming cloud services may have their personal information intercepted by US law enforcers.

In a statement, Microsoft explained: Microsoft may need to disclose data without your prior consent, including as needed to satisfy legal requirements, or to protect the rights or property of Microsoft or others (including the enforcement of agreements or policies governing the use of the service).

Cloud services give consumers access to their files anywhere they can access the internet. This can be hugely useful, but the risk of data loss and hacking is always a possibility and it seems inevitable that security will be breached by hackers as well as US law enforcement


3rd July   

Offsite: Beware of Unintended Consequences...

Technical consideration of the usefulness of encrypted wi-fi data as collected by Google Street View cars
Link Here
Full story: Mapping Routers...Google correlates routers with street address

In the early days following Google's Street View WiFi snooping escapades, I became increasingly frustrated that public and official attention centered on Google's apparently accidental collection of unencrypted network traffic when there was a much worse problem staring us in the face.

Unfortunately the deeper problem was also immensely harder to grasp since it required both a technical knowledge of networked devices and a willingness to consider totally unpredicted ways of using (or misusing) information.

As became clear from a number of the conversations with other bloggers, even many highly technical people didn't understand some pretty basic things - like the fact that personal device identifiers travel in the clear on encrypted WiFi networks... Nor was it natural for many in our community to think things through from the perspective of privacy threat analysis.

A few months ago I ran into Dr. Ann Cavoukian, the Privacy Commissioner of Ontario, who was working on the same issues. We decided to collaborate on a very in-depth look at both the technology and policy implications.

Please read WiFi Positioning Systems: Beware of Unintended Consequences [pdf]


2nd July   

Update: The Government's Listening...

RIPA spying on the increase rather than the decrease that the government promised
Link Here
Full story: Council Snooping...Concil snooping for trivial reasons

The coalition government promised to roll back the unnecessary, intrusive use of these powers, but unfortunately the reality has been very different.

Last year, public bodies made 552,550 requests under the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act (RIPA) to request access to confidential communications data. This is a 5% increase from 2009 and a 10% increase from 2008. Although the majority are from police and security services, 1,809 were made by local authorities, an increase from 1,756 requests last year.

Conservative MP Dominic Raab, who is a staunch supporter of civil liberties, said:

This disturbing data demonstrates the importance of the coalition's Freedom Bill, to reverse the legacy of Labour's surveillance society.

Christopher Graham, the Information Commissioner, has already revealed that surveillance technology is advancing at such a rapid rate that regulators are finding it almost impossible to deal with the changes. He claimed that recent changes had seen snooping techniques intensify and expand to the point where watchdogs do not fully understand the methods utilised under the act.

The Coalition proposal to require all local council use of the RIPA to be sanctioned by a magistrate is currently going through Parliament, but the increasing use of the powers highlights the necessity to enforce tight regulation on these intrusive measures which should only ever have been used to combat terrorism and serious crime as they were intended.

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