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   Author  Topic: Data privacy Out of shape  (Read 5565 times)
Fritz
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Data privacy Out of shape
« on: 2012-07-25 23:14:53 »
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In a business journal no less. Hmmm Bankers getting nervous they my be indited :-). Still good article and starting point, but I suspect there is little hope for North America's developing police state now.

Cheers

Fritz


The rules on what data governments can demand from communications companies need tightening

Source: The Economist
Author: print edition
Date: 2012.07.21



SNOOPING, like so many things in life, is going mobile and online. In 2011 Google received 12,271 requests for data from the American government and acceded to all but a few of them. American mobile-phone carriers together fielded more than 1.3m such requests. Some covered multiple subscribers. Some were for “tower dumps”, which reveal the phone numbers of everyone—criminal suspects or not—in range of a certain mobile-phone tower at a certain time.

The rate of government requests has been growing: Verizon, America’s biggest mobile-service provider, says it has gone up by 15% in each of the past five years. Large mobile companies now have teams of employees that do nothing other than respond to government requests for data (see article). http://www.economist.com/node/21559331

This is happening partly because technology makes snooping easier, and partly because the law has not caught up with the technology. In the offline world, governments generally need a judge to sign a warrant to put a wire-tap in place; the same goes for a physical search of property. In the online world, most data—concerning who called or e-mailed whom, or visited what website, though not the content of a communication—is handed over without any such judicial review.

This is not just an American issue; European states are at least as careless of their citizens’ privacy as America. The European Union’s Data Retention Directive requires telecoms firms to store vast amounts of data about their customers’ activities, which may then be provided to law-enforcement agencies. In Britain, a draft Communications Data bill gives intelligence agencies even wider powers to intercept and store such data.

There are decent arguments in favour of giving governments such powers. Criminals, as well as law-enforcement agencies, make effective use of digital communications, so states need to be able to respond in kind. Rescue services sometimes need phone data to locate someone who needs urgent help. And where such information can help catch criminals, it should be made available. But there are also arguments for greater restraint. Communications technology these days compromises people’s privacy more than it used to. Mobile-phone records can reveal where people are, what websites they visit, what they are interested in and what they buy. Law-enforcement agencies should not be allowed unrestricted access to such complete, and intrusive, pictures of people’s lives.

Rewind, please

There is, at least, some kickback. The European law has been found unconstitutional in several member states, and the European Commission intends to revise it. But Britain’s bill seems likely to become law, despite much criticism. In America, the main federal law on the subject was written in 1986, when the internet barely existed. It badly needs an overhaul.

A good general principle would be to afford data stored in a private e-mail account as much protection as letters stored in a locked desk drawer—that is, law-enforcement agencies wanting to get a look at them should need a warrant. Internet and mobile-phone companies, and the agencies that get data from them, must be subject to proper reporting requirements. Only if people know more clearly what information is being collected about whom, and to what uses it is being put, can they judge whether the benefits of greater safety the surveillance state has brought them are worth the huge loss of privacy they have suffered as a result.
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Fritz
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Re: Data privacy Out of shape
« Reply #1 on: 2012-08-26 10:00:45 »
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'Fear and Loathing' on the 'Net'. The narrative of fear seen in terms like 'battle', 'war' and 'fundamental human right' is the Meme of the day and western democracy will save us yet again if we give the power to do so to our respective governments; but the real solution is in our hands to keep sharing, exchanging and thinking. It is ours to keep open and active. It is also a tool of commerce and enterprise to keep open and available.

Cheers

Fritz


The ‘new cold war’ is an information war

Source: The Globe and Mail
Author: Anne-Marie Slaughter
Date: 2012.08.25


Foreign policy expert Anne-Marie Slaughter

An information war has erupted around the world. The battle lines are drawn between governments that regard the free flow of information, and the ability to access it, as a matter of fundamental human rights, and those that regard official control of information as a fundamental sovereign prerogative. The contest is being waged institutionally in organizations like the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) and daily in countries like Syria.

The sociologist Philip N. Howard recently used the term “new cold war” to describe “battles between broadcast media outlets and social-media upstarts, which have very different approaches to news production, ownership and censorship.” Because broadcasting requires significant funding, it is more centralized – and thus much more susceptible to state control. Social media, by contrast, transforms anyone with a mobile phone into a potential roving monitor of government misdeeds. Surveying struggles between broadcast and social media in Russia, Syria and Saudi Arabia, Mr. Howard concludes that, notwithstanding their different media cultures, all three governments strongly back state-controlled broadcasting.

These intramedia struggles are interesting and important. The way that information circulates does reflect, as Mr. Howard argues, a conception of how a society/polity should be organized.

But an even deeper difference concerns the fundamental issue of who owns information in the first place. In January, 2010, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton proclaimed that the United States “stand[s] for a single Internet where all of humanity has equal access to information and ideas.” She linked that stand not only to the U.S. Constitution’s First Amendment, which protects freedom of expression and freedom of the press, but also to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which holds that all people have the right “to seek, receive, and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.” Many governments’ determination to “erect electronic barriers” to block their citizens’ efforts to access the full resources of the Internet, she said, means that “a new information curtain is descending across our world.”

This larger struggle is playing out in many places, including the ITU, which will convene 190 countries in Dubai in December to update an international telecommunications treaty first adopted in 1988. Although many of the treaty’s details are highly technical, involving the routing of telecommunications, various governments have submitted proposals aimed at facilitating government censorship of the Internet.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has been open about his desire to use the ITU “to establish international control” over the Internet, thereby superseding current arrangements, which leave Internet governance in the hands of private groups like the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers and the Internet Engineering Task Force.

On the ground, governments are often still primarily focused on blocking information about what they are doing. One of the Syrian government’s first moves after it began shooting protesters, for example, was to expel all foreign journalists. Several weeks ago, the government of Tajikistan blocked YouTube and reportedly shut down communications networks in a remote region where government forces were battling an opposition group.

These more traditional tactics can now be supplemented with new tools for misinformation. For close followers of the Syrian conflict, tracking key reporters and opposition representatives on Twitter can be a surreal experience.

Two weeks ago, Ausama Monajed, a Syrian strategic communications consultant who sends out a steady stream of information and links to opposition activities in Syria, suddenly started sending out pro-government propaganda. The Saudi-owned satellite news channel Al Arabiya has also reported the hacking of its Twitter feed by the “Electronic Syrian Army.”

In the many manifestations of the ongoing and growing information war(s), the pro-freedom-of-information forces need a new weapon. A government’s banning of journalists or blocking of news and social-media sites that were previously allowed should be regarded as an early warning sign of a crisis meriting international scrutiny. The presumption should be that governments with nothing to hide have nothing to lose by allowing their citizens and internationally recognized media to report on their actions.

To give this presumption teeth, it should be included in international trade and investment agreements. Imagine if the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank, and regional development banks suspended financing as soon as a government pulled down an information curtain. Suppose foreign investors wrote contracts providing that the expulsion and banning of foreign journalists or widespread blocking of access to international news sources and social media constituted a sign of political risk sufficient to suspend investor obligations.

Americans say that sunlight is the best disinfectant. Citizens’ access to information is an essential tool to hold governments accountable. Government efforts to manipulate or block information should be presumed to be an abuse of power – one intended to mask many other abuses.

Anne-Marie Slaughter, a former director of policy planning in the U.S. State Department, is professor of politics and international affairs at Princeton University.
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Fritz
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Re: Data privacy Out of shape
« Reply #2 on: 2012-08-28 09:21:15 »
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Geeze, if the government ever got into the blackmail business and threatened to tell your partner about the emails you sent to that special other person things could really get scary ..... sigh.

Cheers

Fritz


U.S Government accused of spying on citizens, intercepting trillions of emails and phone calls

Source: BGR
Author: Dan Graziano
Date: 2012.08.27



Governments around the world are repeatedly accused of spying on both domestic and foreign individuals and groups that may threaten the interests of their citizens; sometimes these accusations are without merit and sometimes they pan out. William Binney, a former official with the National Security Agency, recently said that domestic surveillance in the U.S. has increased under President Obama, and trillions of phone calls, emails and other messages sent by U.S. citizens have been intercepted by the government. In fact, in an interview with Democracy Now, the official-turned-whistleblower claims that the government currently possesses copies of almost all emails sent and received in the United States.

Binney, who is regarded as one of the best mathematicians and code breakers in NSA history, says he left the agency in late 2001 after he learned about its plan to use the September 11th terrorist attacks as an excuse to launch a controversial data collection program on its own citizens. One commercial company he claims to have participated in the program is AT&T (T), which he says handed over more than 320 million records of citizen-to-citizen communications that took place within the U.S.

The program, which Binney says he helped create, was never meant for domestic surveillance but the agency has supposedly been spying on U.S. citizens for more than a decade now.

According to Binney, once the software intercepts a transmission it will then build profiles on every person referenced in the data. The NSA is now in the process of building a $2 billion data storage facility in Utah that is bigger than anything Google (GOOG) or Apple (AAPL) has ever built, and Binney calculates that the facility will be able to store 100 years worth of the world’s electronic communications.

In the closing lines of a documentary by Laura Poitas, Binney notes that just because “we call ourselves a democracy, it doesn’t mean we will stay that way.” The real problem, he says, is that “people may have nothing to say about it… we haven’t had anything to say so far.” http://www.nytimes.com/2012/08/23/opinion/the-national-security-agencys-domestic-spying-program.html
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