You are currently browsing the tag archive for the ‘Privacy’ tag.

monitorsAsk any IT professional about security and you can almost always prepare yourself for a story or three about people using strongly encrypted passwords such as ‘password’ or ‘admin’.  Or if it is a particularly good day, helping people understand that encrypted functions exist…  Here is story from about how fallible people actually are when it comes to all this new fangled technology.

“, a new website, is broadcasting online private security camera footage from thousands of spots across Canada — all without the knowledge of the people who own and operate the cameras. has feeds from internet protocol cameras (or IP cameras) all over the world.

“This is one of a series of websites that have been around for a while that basically go through and troll the internet for open ports,” said Tod Maffin, a tech columnist based in Vancouver. “Until fairly recently that information was just kind of held for people’s own curiosity, but now, as we’re seeing, this site and other ones as well are posting their findings.”

It is fairly amazing, you can spy on people across the world. Most are fairly uninteresting; parking garages and the like, but a couple are in residential areas and stuff. Crazy.

“Many of these cameras come with default passwords to access the footage on a website while you’re away — and often people fail to change them.

That’s where Insecam comes in. The site accesses the feeds using default passwords and broadcasts them.

CBC News watched several feeds from various locations in Winnipeg on Friday, including a car insurance sales office, a candy store, a tattoo parlour and others aimed at people’s front doors, backyards and properties.”

A word to the wise when it comes to technology. RTFM. (Read the Flippn’ Manual)  Oh, and use a difficult to guess password.

Some relevant background given the recent publicity of how much our governments pry into our personal lives.

Whatever your take on recent revelations about government spying on our phone calls and Internet activity, there’s no denying that Big Brother is bigger and less brotherly than we thought. What’s the resulting cost to our privacy — and more so, our democracy? Lawrence Lessig joins Bill to discuss the implications of our government’s actions.

    The Internet has growing pains right now.   The whinging from the corporations is effecting recent government policy decisions about what and how things are downloaded on the net.

“Hollywood studios, recording labels, artists and internet service providers have created a program to alert internet subscribers when their accounts are used to access movies, songs and other content that entertainment companies consider unauthorized.

The new “copyright alerts” system is intended to educate consumers about online piracy by sending up to six electronic messages notifying subscribers when their accounts are used to download or share such content. Internet service providers in the U.S. would send the alerts to a subscriber after receiving a notice from a copyright holder.”

You see friends, money is being made on the Net, but not enough…never will it be enough.  Presently commercial greed is in the drivers seat, so hang on tight for awhile, it is going to get bumpy.

“Consumers who ignore the notices could face “mitigation measures,” such as slower Internet connections or redirection to a special website that provides information about copyright protections. Internet service providers would not be required to terminate any subscriber accounts or hand over subscriber names to copyright holders.”

You feel that?  That was your activity online being monitored to even a greater extent than what it is now.  Let’s take a peek at who is organizing this little shindig.

“Among the groups and companies participating in the new program: the Motion Picture Association of America and member companies including Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures and Sony Pictures Entertainment Inc.; the Recording Industry Association of America and member companies including Universal Music Group Recordings and Warner Music Group; Independent Film & Television Alliance; and internet services providers including AT&T Inc., Comcast Corp. and Verizon Communications Inc.”

Yep.  The usual suspects, righteously protecting their products the world wide.  One commenter on the article describes my attitude toward these new measures perfectly…

“This seems like a good incentive to develop some hardcore personal encryption software.
I’m paying them to transmit my bits and bytes, not to look at them. This is a principle I do not plan to simply roll over and abandon.”


Strike that.  Give us your perimeter fences, surveillance drones and border guards.

“U.S. President Barack Obama on Friday signed into law a bill to improve security at his country’s border with Mexico.

The $600-million US measure will pay for the hiring of 1,000 new Border Patrol agents and the purchase of new communications gear — including surveillance drones.”

I guess the poor and tired masses need to go to a different country as the US is plum full up.

“But his administration has come under fire from many Republicans for not doing enough to prevent huge of numbers of Mexicans from illegally crossing the border into the U.S. The issue seems likely to play prominently in this fall’s mid-term elections.

The controversy over how best to deal with Mexican migrants came to wide public attention earlier this year, when Arizona passed a controversial law that required law enforcement officers to check the immigration status of anyone they reasonably suspect of being an illegal immigrant.”

Past the glaring police-state provisions that were once part of the Arizona bill, Obama guessed he would have to do something to support the xenophobic undercurrent that swirls in the southern states.  As the article says, mid term elections are coming, which I guess is code for pandering to the Republicans and putting ones own liberal democratic base into a deeper category of “ignore”.

I hypothesize that his move will only further alienate the people who elected Obama as president and will make the US electoral choice of the lesser of two evils a closer call.

“On Wednesday, Florida lawmakers introduced their own immigration bill that would require immigrants to carry valid documentation or be jailed for up to 20 days.”

Well, I guess Arizona cannot have all the authoritarian fun.  :/

Private enterprise never misses an opportunity to diminish our rights in the pursuit of profit.  The CBC reports from the Kingdom of Saud:

“Saudi Arabia and the Canadian makers of the BlackBerry have reached a preliminary deal on granting access to users’ data that will avert a ban on the phone’s messenger service in the kingdom, Saudi officials said Saturday.

The agreement would likely involve placing a BlackBerry server inside the kingdom to allow the government to monitor messages and allay official fears the service could be used for criminal purposes, the telecom regulatory officials said.”

What is all the fuss about?  Well apparently, the BlackBerry uses some pretty nifty encryption, making emails and documents send via BB hard for governments easily decode.

“That will guarantee the kingdom’s ability to see communications and data exchanged on BlackBerry handsets, he said. Al-Mohammed said talks were ongoing and declined to provide more details pending an announcement, which he said was expected soon.”

Saudi Arabia often sets the tone for the rest of the Middle East when it comes to issue such as this, now other countries are coming to RIM with similar demands.

“The deal could have wide-ranging implications for several other countries, including India and the United Arab Emirates, which have expressed similar concerns over how RIM handles data.”

Of course, the profit motive handily pushes aside any sort of privacy concern private citizens may have.

“RIM is quite smart. They’re seeing this is a very lucrative market. They don’t want to take themselves out of this market,” he added.”

Woo haa!  That is exactly how long it takes for industry to flush your rights down the crapper.

I suppose one should not be too worried, Saudi Arabia make no airs about being democratic or protecting the rights of its citizens.  They were going to shut down the BB service if RIM did not do anything to “fix” the privacy problem.  So perhaps this is the best compromise that could be worked out for all involved.  I imagine there is a tech fix coming to add another layer of encryption so the Saudi business people who use the BB can continue to work with minimal government interference.  And so the privacy/public security race continues…

What I find interesting about this story is the conflux of several important issues regarding privacy and how intrusive the state can be with regards to ‘protecting the national interest’.  I think we need to come down on the side of the individual’s privacy.  The state does not need to know the contents of my personal messages sent over the Internet (they already do for the most part, but for arguments sake).

I agree there are many strong cases to be make for the state’s right to know, for instance tracking down people planting bombs in schools and coordinating via the Internet.  The problem is that, people who use the Net for such nefarious activities will not be communicating via the normal means, they will be using their own cryptography or codes to send their messages.

The sweeping measures (see Patriot Act) implemented will not stop half-way smart, dedicated people.  I wager they snap up the stupid ones all the time, so we get a measure of protection versus the incompetent.  I do not however think the privacy loss the for great majority of us is worth protecting us from the Stupid.

I hope that the Saudi point of view on this issue is not mirrored through out the world, as it would be a detriment to reasonable private communication everywhere.

I guess I get to feel old and snarky today. So be it. I just shake my head when I read articles about people who value ‘sharing’ over ‘privacy’ when it comes to net usage. My cynical weasel whiskers get all twitchy when I read about the sheer awesomeness of social networking. I’ll explain why as we look at the article.

“Two-thirds of 895 technology experts and stakeholders surveyed about the future of the internet believe the millennial generation, born mainly in the 1980s and 1990s, will make online sharing a lifelong habit, suggests a Pew Research Center and Elon University study released Friday.”

Oh fantastic! The generation ahead of me feels all entitled and special enough to think that people actually care about what happens in their pathetically small, atomized existences. I would propose the only time people actually notice your ‘meaningful socially networked discourse’ is when you say something stupid or inappropriate.

Facebooking about the puerile experiences of your life and having them remain on the web for roughly forever just does not seem like a wise decision to me.  Mistakes are learning opportunities, but exist only on facebook for the amusement of others.   On the other hand facebook does serve a somewhat Darwinistic purpose; that of weeding out extra stupid people who get caught for making threats or cyberbullying while on FB or Twitter.  I mean really? Posting threats to someone on your own FB page?  You may as well begin playing in traffic right now.

“There were voices saying privacy is going to appear quaint, it’s completely changed, maybe privacy doesn’t exist anymore,” said Janna Anderson, an associate professor at Elon University School of Communications who led the study. At least one respondent wrote that publicness is becoming a public good. “And keeping information to yourself is going to be seen as antisocial.… There were a lot of people saying sharing is the new normal.”

“Sharing is the new normal”, indeed!  The intense need for self-gratification seems to be winning out on any sort of rational view of this phenomena.   Instead of actually doing something worthwhile you get your needs for acceptance filled by the number of facebook ‘friends’ you have?

“Young people enjoy the feeling of being connected and feel sharing benefits their personal lives, Anderson added. “They understand that there are negatives, but they believe that the upside is dominant.”

Young people are also stupid.  They lack the experience and discipline needed to make rational decisions about relatively simple life decisions, nevermind the complexities of social sharing on the Internet.

Have the techno-youth really considered why it is so darn easy to get up and running in the various social networking sites?  Why is that?  Social networking is the advertisers wet dream.  You have peoples private information and various applications and ‘fun surveys’ that collect information about an individuals likes and dislikes.  By social networking you are essentially doing the leg work for advertisers as you data-mine yourself for free, plus you have no control over who gets to see your information once its out there.  In Canada this has been addressed to a limited extent by the Privacy Commissioner, but I guarantee that the practice is still rampant.  How else do you pay for the servers and the bandwidth to keep the FB servers operational?

“Many of those surveyed said new social norms are emerging that reward disclosure among young people, said Lee Rainie, director of the Internet & American Life Project, in a statement.

“Some experts also expressed hope that society will be more forgiving of those whose youthful mistakes are on display in social media such as Facebook picture albums or YouTube videos,” he added.”

Is that not a nice hope?  ‘Society will be more forgiving of youthful mistakes…’.  That is certainly not the case if you wish to run for public office.  So naive experts whinge for a more naive society.  Perfect.  Anything (anything) you put on the web is fair game.  Assume your scribblings will be used against you in the worst possible light devoid of context, to smear and sully your reputation or job application or whatever as IPIP (important people in power) will google you to see if you have indeed made an asshat of yourself on the Internet.

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