If you received a new friend request recently, and it wasn’t from a foreign spammer or a Taliban official posing as a hot chick, there’s now a chance that it’s an NYPD officer. According to the New York Daily News, the NYPD recently instituted its first official guidelines for using social media to benefit investigations, and Police Commissioner Ray Kelly has decided that spying on people using fake Facebook profiles is a-O.K. Consider it the online version of stop-and-frisk. Amurica! Read More
If you were somehow tricked into thinking you still had any semblance of privacy in our great nation, please think again. Wired reports that the federal government has stated that you have “no reasonable expectation of privacy” when it comes to location data transmitted by your cell phone, thus giving them the right to review your location history without a warrant. Read More
There is no safe way to upload your stuff to The Pirate Bay without taking pains to conceal your IP address. Many who are addicted to torrents know this–unless, apparently, they’re Americans who get their Internet from Comcast or Road Runner.
Torrent Freak reports that researchers from multiple institutions have been logging data from BitTorrent network users for a while. On the surface, their intentions don’t seem nefarious: Read More
Google engineer Morgan Marquis-Boire and Ph.D. computer science student Bill Marczak introduced New York Times readers today to FinSpy, one of the scariest spyware packages you’ve probably never heard of. Mr. Marquis-Boire and Mr. Marczak have been on FinSpy’s trail, mapping all its nasty flavors, since earlier this year. The software suite is available to law enforcement for legitimate investigative use, but the researchers have found it is also being used by oppressive governments to track the communications, activities and personal connections of political dissidents.
In a report linked by the Times, Mr. Marquis-Boire and Mr. Marczak detail how they first learned of the spyware as a Trojan payload attached to emails sent to Bahraini human rights activists, then began peeling apart its other, much creepier uses–tracking everything a target does with a smart phone. Pretty much any smart phone. The researchers’ list of what FinSpy Mobile can do is chilling: Read More
Way back in 2002, a Chinese political dissident named Wang Xiaoning was arrested for publishing pro-democracy materials using his Yahoo account. When the Chinese government went to build a case against Mr. Wang, Yahoo rolled over like a trained dog, coughing up Mr. Wang’s records, which China then used to convict him of “subversion.” It was all very Orwellian. But, finally some good news: Mr. Wang has finally been freed. Read More
If you’re not already particularly picky about who you friend on Facebook, you might want to think about rejiggering those privacy settings. According to GigaOm, a New York City federal judge ruled in a recent racketeering trial that it’s legal for police to view your Facebook profile if one of your friends grants them permission. Better start sniffing out the rats on your friends list. Read More
When a NYPD request for information is about a fairly minor legal issue like a disorderly conduct arrest during a massive protest, it seems easy to side with the privacy protectors in defense of Twitter’s actions to refuse to cough up that info. But what if the NYPD requests information for a user reportedly threatening to stage a massacre in a Broadway theater showing a Mike Tyson play? That makes things a little dicier, huh? Read More
YouTube comments are a notorious cesspool of sexism, racism and vitriol, and the fact that the vast majority of users go by anonymous handles probably doesn’t help mitigate the problem. Google appears to know this all too well–its obsession with keeping Google+ free of pseudonyms is a good indication that the company isn’t a big fan of anonymity.
Be prepared to have whatever nominal notions of privacy you entertained about your cell phone usage shattered: A report produced by cell phone carriers in response to a congressional inquiry shows an alarming uptick in data requests by law enforcement over the last five years.
The New York Times obtained a copy of the report, stating that this is the first time data about cell surveillance has been collected on this scale, and that carriers are responding to thousands of requests daily. Read More
FreedomBox cofounder and Columbia law professor Eben Moglen is widely recognized for his controversial ideas about the Internet and privacy, so it was unsurprising when we learned that he’s not really that into Facebook and Twitter. But did you know that he thinks your cell phone is out to kill you? Or maim, at the very least.
Mr. Moglen certainly believes that smartphones are more foe than friend. This is because, according to Forbes, smartphones still don’t have the first rule of robotics encoded into their technological makeup. That rule, written by scifi writer Isaac Asimov, is, “A robot may not injure a human being or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm.” Read More