It's the Cops!
When drug runners started using drones to scout out marijuana growing fields that were ripe for the raiding, it was only a matter of time before the police nabbed a couple for themselves.
The Los Angeles Police Department recently added two small camera-equipped, remote control helicopters to their arsenal, the Los Angeles Times reported over the weekend. The drones were a gift from the Seattle Police Department, who quickly changed their minds about the drones as soon as everyone in Seattle freaked out about having little police helicopters flying around.
Troubled by Edward Snowden’s revelations about the U.S. government’s snooping habits, a group of Harvard and MIT students created an email service they insist is completely NSA-proof.
The new email platform is called ProtonMail, BostInno reports. The service’s five brainy founders met while working at the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN) in Switzerland. They bonded over a shared desire to build an email service even more secure than Lavabit, Mr. Snowden’s now-defunct email service of choice.
Following a few weeks in private beta, ProtonMail is launching its open beta phase starting today.
Rise of the Drones
Welcome to 2014, where it’s possible that a seemingly harmless piece of furniture could be broadcasting your private conversations across the Internet.
Two artists have just unveiled a creepy product called the Conversnitch, Wired reports, and sadly, it has nothing to do with Quidditch. Rather, it’s a device that looks exactly like a lamp, except it records nearby conversations, transcribes the audio files, and then posts snippets of the conversations to Conversnitch’s Twitter account.
The creators, Brian House and Kyle McDonald, believe the Conversnitch is reflective of the current NSA-related privacy threats Americans are currently facing.
It's Zuck's World We're Just Living In It
Drones are incredibly versatile, able to do everything from delivering beer to, er, killing innocent people :(. And now, hackers have developed a new skill for the flying robots — and it’s definitely on the disconcerting end of the drone use spectrum.
Hackers have developed a drone that can steal information from smartphones, CNNMoney reports. It’s being tested in London, and research on the drones’ functionality will be presented at the Black Hat Asia cybersecurity conference in Singapore next week.
Guess Facebook knows we’re all feeling a little paranoid these days. Today the company released its first “Global Government Requests Report,” which aims to shed a little more light on exactly what the social network is handing over to the authorities.
Google, of course, has been doing this for years, and last year Twitter hopped on the bandwagon, as well.
The Future Will See You Now
Hey, here’s a smart take on the NSA’s data mining efforts, courtesy of Mashable: “You’re Being Monitored All the Time — Deal With It.“
Oh, well, when you put it that way!
The New New Internet
Say cheese! According to a new study by Quinnipiac University, an overwhelming majority of New Yorkers–82 percent–support an increase in surveillance cameras in public places. The majority is spread across all racial and sexual demographics, and even transcends the furthest boundaries, with both Democrats and Republicans strongly supporting it.
Privacy is Dead
National Day of Unplugging lasted from sunset on Friday, March 1 to sunset on Saturday, March 2. But judging from the smartphones, Macbooks, and tablets at the third annual Theorizing the Web conference, no attendees took them up on the challenge.
This past weekend was the first time the conference has been held in New York City, at the CUNY Graduate Center near Herald Square.
Gatherings of this sort are typically insular, academic affairs, but organizers Nathan Jurgenson and PJ Rey, both sociology grad students at the University of Maryland-College Park, have attempted to broaden the tent to include bloggers, writers, and journalists of all stripes. “We wanted to create the sort of conference we would want to attend,” said Mr. Rey.
Privacy is Dead
The Federal Bureau of Investigation has begun implementing a $1 billion face recognition program that will probably scare everyone outside of law enforcement. NewScientist reports that the Next Generation Identification (NGI) program will lump iris scans, biometrics, DNA and even voice prints into one formidable profiling tool and some states are already using the program in a limited fashion. The whole thing will be in effect across the country in about 2 years. NewScientist addresses the privacy problem:
“CryptoParty” sounds like an event involving strangers in balaclavas and Guy Fawkes masks sipping cocktails and staring unblinkingly at each other. That might be fun, but a CryptoParty is really, according to this wiki, a gathering of “Interested parties with computers and the desire to learn to use the most basic crypto programs.” CryptoParties are practical efforts to assist private citizens in learning how to combat what many activists contend is a creeping Orwellian surveillance state in developed countries worldwide.
In a post published a few days ago, the Australian edition of SC Magazine elaborated: