(...) This is a surveillance state run amok. It also highlights how any remnants of internet anonymity have been all but obliterated by the union between the state and technology companies.
But, as unwarranted and invasive as this all is, there is some sweet justice in having the stars of America's national security state destroyed by the very surveillance system which they implemented and over which they preside. As Trevor Timm of the Electronic Frontier Foundation put it this morning: "Who knew the key to stopping the Surveillance State was to just wait until it got so big that it ate itself?"
It is usually the case that abuses of state power become a source for concern and opposition only when they begin to subsume the elites who are responsible for those abuses. Recall how former Democratic Rep. Jane Harman - one of the most outspoken defenders of the illegal Bush National Security Agency (NSA) warrantless eavesdropping program - suddenly began sounding like an irate, life-long ACLU privacy activist when it was revealed that the NSA had eavesdropped on her private communications with a suspected Israeli agent over alleged attempts to intervene on behalf of AIPAC officials accused of espionage. Overnight, one of the Surveillance State's chief assets, the former ranking member of the House Intelligence Committee, transformed into a vocal privacy proponent because now it was her activities, rather than those of powerless citizens, which were invaded. (...)
At the height of the McCarthy Era, in 1954, the most unlikely actor protested most emphatically against the threat to freedom: Buster Keaton.
In an episode of an anthology series, he portrayed a lowly bureaucrat in a totalitarian regime. When sudden crisis strikes and "the machine" ensnares him, he sees reality and rebels. Hear him, in perhaps the greatest moment of truth ever allowed on American television, exclaim: "How rotten everything is! What a farce everything is!"
Astonishingly, his job is to help maintain a database of every fact about the civilian population, depicting nearly 60 years ago our own approaching present.
Researchers from the U.S. Naval Surface Warfare Center have developed malicious software that can remotely seize control of the camera on an infected smartphone and employ it to spy on the phone’s user.
The malware, dubbed “PlaceRaider,” “allows remote hackers to reconstruct rich, three-dimensional models of the smartphone owner’s personal indoor spaces through completely opportunistic use of the camera,” the researchers said in a study published last week.
The program uses images from the camera and positional information from the smartphone’s gyroscopic and other sensors to map spaces the phone’s user spends a lot of time in, such as a home or office.
“Remote burglars” could use these three-dimensional models to “study the environment carefully and steal virtual objects … such as as financial documents information on computer monitors,” the researchers reported.
The program they developed for research purposes easily could be disguised by a malicious user as an app — the programs that run on smartphones — and unwittingly downloaded by victims, according to the study, which first was reported by the newsblog ThreatPost.
Because users often do not realize that a smartphone is basically a small computer, and because there are few security products available, smartphones are considered highly vulnerable to hackers.
Commercial software, for instance, can turn smartphones into microphones and tracking devices.
But PlaceRaider is the first known example of malware developed to exploit the high-definition cameras that are now ubiquitous on smartphones.
The study was a collaboration between the Navy center team and researchers from the School of Informatics and Computing at Indiana University.
WASHINGTON (AP) - A multibillion-dollar information-sharing program created in the aftermath of 9/11 has improperly collected information about innocent Americans and produced little valuable intelligence on terrorism, a Senate report concludes. It portrays an effort that ballooned far beyond anyone's ability to control.
Prosecutors say Americans have "no privacy interest" in location records revealing minute-to-minute movements of their mobile devices, even when they're not in use.
It's a mighty big stretch to call a bunch of Loyal Bushies "the Obama administration". And conveniently forgetting that those GPS receivers were made mandatory with the "war on terror" excuse that most Americans just rolled over and accepted wasn't good journalism either. But let's not forget that the motor vehicle exception was what set the stage for making it acceptable for the government to do as they please to you and your property the moment you set foot outside your home.
Frankly I'm surprised that I found anything about it because this court ruling preceded the widespread use of the Internet. I remember when it was announced, and understood what a blow against personal freedom it posed back then. And since there are way too many people who refuse to accept anything that's not freely available on the Internet, this would have been a tough one to beat the revisionist historians on. Thank Google that didn't happen!
On one hand the use of the GPS override for enhanced 911 service can be a great help when people need help fast. OTOH it, and the lack of pay phones to use any more have created a condition where people who would like to report a crime in progress, but fear retribution if they're identified don't have any way to call for help for others without becoming a target themselves. Tracking innocent people as standard operating procedure is the logical next step.
Fortunately it's pretty easy to physically disable the GPS antenna on many phones.