Posts Tagged With: privacy

Privacy Badger 1.0 Is Here To Stop Online Tracking!

Privacy Badger 1.0 – New Ways to Stop Sneaky Trackers

EFF is excited to announce that today we are releasing version 1.0 of Privacy Badger for Chrome and Firefox.  Privacy Badger is a browser extension that automatically blocks hidden trackers that would otherwise spy on your browsing habits as you surf the Web.

More than a quarter of million users have already installed the alpha and beta releases of Privacy Badger. The new Privacy Badger 1.0 release includes many improvements, including being able to detect certain kinds of super-cookies and browser fingerprinting—some of the more subtle and problematic methods that the online tracking industry employs to follow Internet users from site to site. Other enhancements in Privacy Badger 1.0 include: significant UI improvements, translation into 4 different languages (with more on the way), easier customization of your Privacy Badger settings, improvements to stability, and support for Version 1.0 of EFF’s recently announced Do Not Track Policy.

continue and get it

Categories: internet, technology | Tags: , , ,

FBI: Retweeting a Terrorist’s Tweet Could Land You In Trouble

— The FBI’s best informant has played a role in dozens of terrorism cases over the past several years and provided endless intelligence on extremists across the United States. The informant is young, rich, well-connected, easily distracted and really into reality television.

The informant’s name? Twitter.

The social network is an “extraordinarily effective way to sell shoes, or vacations, or terrorism,” and it puts propaganda in the pocket of kids and those with troubled minds, FBI Director James Comey said recently. “It’s buzz, buzz, buzz, buzz, buzz. It’s the constant feed … the devil on your shoulder all day long, saying, ‘Kill, kill, kill.'”

FBI agents have cited suspects’ tweets in a slew of recent terrorism cases. Federal prosecutors have charged several Twitter users who allegedly support the Islamic State with lying to federal agents about their Twitter activity. In other cases, the FBI has pointed to Twitter activity — including retweets — as probable cause for terrorism charges. In one case, a 17-year-old pleaded guilty to providing “material support” to a designated foreign terrorist organization by tweeting out links.

Law enforcement officials are ramping up their monitoring of Twitter. The company received 2,879 information requests from federal, state and local law enforcement authorities within the U.S. in 2014 — a 66 percent increase from the 1,735 it received in 2013, according to its transparency report. Overall, there was a 72 percent jump in the number of accounts affected by such requests in the second half of 2014. The requests could be seeking additional user information, IP addresses and even the content of direct messages sent through the network.

Twitter’s report does not specify how many requests came from the federal government in particular. But it’s notable that FBI agents investigating terrorism are likely based in some of the locations with the highest number of Twitter requests in the second half of 2014. There were 195 requests made in Virginia, 170 requests out of New York state, and 125 requests that originated in the nation’s capital.


Categories: government, internet | Tags: , , ,

EFF Coalition Announces New ‘Do Not Track’ Standard For Web Browsing

The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), privacy company Disconnect and a coalition of Internet companies have announced a stronger “Do Not Track” (DNT) setting for Web browsing—a new policy standard that, coupled with privacy software, will better protect users from sites that try to secretly follow and record their Internet activity, and incentivize advertisers and data collection companies to respect a user’s choice not to be tracked online.

The EFF and Disconnect’s partners in this launch are the innovative publishing site Medium, major analytics service Mixpanel, popular ad- and tracker-blocking extension AdBlock, and private search engine DuckDuckGo.

“We are greatly pleased that so many important Web services are committed to this powerful new implementation of Do Not Track, giving their users a clear opt-out from stealthy online tracking and the exploitation of their reading history,” said EFF Chief Computer Scientist Peter Eckersley. “These companies understand that clear and fair practices around analytics and advertising are essential not only for privacy but for the future of online commerce.”

DNT is a preference you can set on Firefox, Chrome, or other Web browsers as well as in the iOS and FirefoxOS mobile operating systems to signal to websites that you want to opt-out of tracking of your online activities. Tracking by advertisers and other third parties is commonplace on the Web today, and typically occurs without the knowledge, permission, or consent of Internet users. You can see evidence of this when ads appear around the Web that are eerily based upon your past browsing habits; meanwhile, the underlying records and profiles of your online activity are distributed between a vast network of advertising exchanges, data brokers, and tracking companies.


Categories: technology | Tags: , , ,

FBI Director: Government Must Have Access to Your Encrypted Data

The director of the FBI doesn’t want you to use technology to encrypt your personal data. He said that for your safety the feds should have unrestricted access to everything you store in a cloud or a hard drive, write in an e-mail, or send in a text. Security, he says, trumps privacy. Besides, only a criminal has something to hide.

Actually, what FBI Director James Comey told the members of the Senate Judiciary Committee is that in order to stay a step ahead of the b  ad guys, the g-m  en should  have FBI Director: Government Must Have Access to Your Encrypted Data access to any available technology to decode encrypted data. And that the government should be the arbiter of when decryption is necessary or not.

Comey made these statements during testimony he gave as part of a panel of “experts” called to speak at a hearing labelled “Going Dark: Encryption, Technology, and the Balance Between Public Safety and Privacy.”

Tech specialists warn, however, that giving the FBI such access would necessarily open doors to data that could be exploited by “bad actors.”

Comey isn’t persuaded. “It is clear that governments across the world, including those of our closest allies, recognize the serious public safety risks if criminals can plan and undertake illegal acts without fear of detection,” he told the committee.

Once again, the agents of the autocracy are demanding that Americans sacrifice individual liberty on the altar of “national security.” That’s nowhere made clearer than in the following question posed by Comey: “Are we comfortable with technical design decisions that result in barriers to obtaining evidence of a crime?”


Categories: government, internet, technology | Tags: , , ,

Florida Man Accused of ‘Terrorism’ Based On Book Collection


Imagine being falsely accused of terrorism for nothing more than the books you have read. Well that’s exactly what has happened to a Florida man named Marcus Dwayne Robertson.

The U.S. government composed “snippets of information from various sources, out of context, to weave together a narrative of terrorist ideation,” according to a Florida judge.

That judge just ordered the release of Robertson, also known as “Abu Taubah,” an Orlando, Florida resident and Islamic scholar. Abu Taubah was accused of “supporting terrorism,” but the “evidence” against him amounted to nothing more than the books on his bookshelf.

Robertson, also known as “Abu Taubah,” was incarcerated from 2011. The charges he faced, however, were tax fraud and illegal gun possession. Not exactly “terrorism.”

But following his arrest and conviction stemming from these charges, prosecutors added what they termed “terrorism enhancement” to the sentence.

There seems to be no rationale for this other than ABu Taubah’s religious orientation… that and his book collection.

This sentencing guideline modification would have locked Robertson up for 20 years.

But the judge’s recent rejection of this bizarre, Orwellian sentencing “enhancement”, led to the Islamic scholar being released immediately.

Robertson’s sentence was argued as justifiable by prosecutors who said the contents of his Islamic book collection were sufficient “evidence” that he was connected to terrorism.

Approximately two dozen eBooks that Robertson downloaded were presented as “evidence” of his “terrorist connections.”

Prosecutors highlighted passage after controversial passage, as though this could serve as legitimate evidence that someone is a terrorist. They didn’t seem to understand that the contents of a book someone owns cannot be used as evidence against them.

A memorandum obtained by First Look was issued along with Judge Gregory A. Presnell decision. That memorandum strongly rejected the government’s argument that eBook passages could be used as “evidence” of “terrorism.”

“[T]here was no evidence produced that Robertson ever accessed these particular documents, much less that he took their extremism to heart,” Presnell argued.

He made it clear that even if the Islamic scholar admitted to having read the eBooks in question, this would not and could not be used as evidence of terrorism.


Categories: law, liberty | Tags: , ,

Mastercard facial recog-ware will unlock your money using SELFIES

Mastercard will begin using selfies as a means to verify payments, it is being said.

The “innovation” will allow some 500 pilot users to take a photo instead of punching in PINs, a move MasterCard chief product security officer Ajay Bhalla says will be popular with youth.

Bhalla told CNN Mastercard partnered with all phone manufacturers to produce the biometric beastie.

“The new generation, which is into selfies … I think they’ll find it cool. They’ll embrace it,” Bhalla says. “This [app] seamlessly integrates biometrics into the overall payment experience.

“You can choose to use your fingerprint or your face – you tap it, the transaction is okayed (sic) and you’re done.”

Bhalla says the trial will begin in the US shortly with a full scale deployment to follow.

Users will need to hold their mobile phones at eye-level and blink once when instructed for the check-me-out checkout process to complete.


Categories: technology | Tags: , ,

What Is the Big Secret About Stingray Surveillance?

Given the amount of mobile phone traffic that cell phone towers transmit, it is no wonder law enforcement agencies target these devices as a rich source of data to aid their investigations. Standard procedure involves getting a court order to obtain phone records from a wireless carrier. When authorities cannot or do not want to go that route, they can set up a simulated cell phone tower—often called a stingray—that surreptitiously gathers information from the suspects in question as well as any other mobile device in the area.

These simulated cell sites—which collect international mobile subscriber identity (IMSI), location and other data from mobile phones connecting to them—have become a source of controversy for a number of reasons. National and local law enforcement agencies closely guard details about the technology’s use, with much of what is known about stingrays revealed through court documents and other paperwork made public via Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests.

One such document recently revealed that the Baltimore Police Department has used a cell site simulator 4,300 times since 2007 and signed a nondisclosure agreement with the FBI that instructed prosecutors to drop cases rather than reveal the department’s use of the stingray. Other records indicate law enforcement agencies have used the technology hundreds of times without a search warrant, instead relying on a much more generic court order known as a pen register and trap and trace order. Last year Harris Corp., the Melbourne, Fla., company that makes the majority of cell site simulators, went so far as to petition the Federal Communications Commission to block a FOIA request for user manuals for some of the company’s products.

The secretive nature of stingray use has begun to backfire on law enforcement, however, with states beginning to pass laws that require police to obtain a warrant before they can set up a fake cell phone tower for surveillance. Virginia, Minnesota, Utah and Washington State now have laws regulating stingray use, with California and Texas considering similar measures. Proposed federal legislation to prevent the government from tracking people’s cell phone or GPS location without a warrant could also include stingray technology.

Scientific American recently spoke with Brian Owsley, an assistant professor of law at the University of North Texas Dallas College of Law, about the legal issues and privacy implications surrounding the use of a stingray to indiscriminately collect mobile phone data. Given the invasive nature of the technology and scarcity of laws governing its use, Owsley, a former U.S. magistrate judge in Texas, says the lack of reliable information documenting the technology’s use is particularly troubling.

[An edited transcript of the interview follows.]

When and why did law enforcement agencies begin using international cell site simulators to intercept mobile phone traffic and track movement of mobile phone users?

Initially, intelligence agencies—CIA and the like—couldn’t get local or national telecommunications companies in other countries to cooperate with U.S. surveillance operations against nationals in those countries. To fill that void companies like the Harris Corp. started creating cell site simulators for these agencies to use. Once Harris saturated the intelligence and military markets [with] their products, they turned to federal agencies operating in the U.S. So the [Drug Enforcement Administration], Homeland Security, FBI and others started having their own simulated cell sites to use for surveillance. Eventually this trickled down further to yet another untapped market: state and local law enforcement. That’s where we are today in terms of the proliferation of this technology.


Categories: government, technology | Tags: , ,

Feds Force Editor to Rat out Commenters

I think we all know how crazy the comment section of any website can get. If you’ve used the internet for more than five minutes in your entire life, you know that anonymity creates an environment where people can say whatever they want; and sometimes, the things they say can get pretty heated. But no matter how vindictive, blustering, or threatening a comment may be, it’s pretty rare for the commenter to act on it in the real world.

But try telling that to the US District Court for the Southern District of New York. According to an editor for, they were subpoenaed by the court after they published an article on the prosecution of Ross Ulbricht. Some of the readers had blasted Judge Katherine Forrest with comments like, she should be “taken out back and shot” and “I hope there is a special place in hell reserved for that horrible woman” among other colorful phrases. The court then tried to force to release all information that would identify the commenters “such as IP addresses, names, emails, and other information.” They were later issued a gag order, and weren’t allowed to share this fact with anyone, or even the fact that they were under a gag order.

The editor has since contended that none of the comments were genuine threats, and that the court’s reaction was completely unnecessary. He even suggests that the court issued the subpoena to punish them for their critical analyses of the trial. I wouldn’t put it past them.


Categories: government, technology | Tags: , , ,

Gov Web Bots To Scour Internet for Hate Speech: “Could Potentially Criminalize Thoughts and Expressions”

With the capability to intercept every digital communication sent over the internet or telephone it’s no surprise that Big Brother is pushing to further expand its role in the lives of Americans.

Senator Ed Markey (D-MA) is proposing a new bill that would send government web bots across the internet looking for hate speech or material allegedly determined to be advocating or encouraging “violent acts.” Once identified, the Congressman wants reports to be disseminated to Congress so that they can monitor, control and potentially criminalize thoughts and expressions deemed by an unknown panel of government bureaucrats to be hateful.

Categories: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , ,

Your church may be tracking you via facial recognition to take your money. Seriously.


We know that Facebook has a vast facial recognition database so good that it can recognize you when your face is hidden, that the FBI has built a millions-strong criminal facial recognition system, and that Google’s new Photos app is so effective at face recognition that it can identify now-adults in photos from their childhood. But now facial recognition is starting to pop up in weird and unexpected places: at music festivals (to identify criminals); at stadiums (to weed out “sports troublemakers“) and at churches. Yes, churches.

Moshe Greenshpan, the CEO of Israel- and Las Vegas-based facial recognition software company Face-Six, says there are 30 churches around the world using his Churchix technology. He launched the service just four months ago and says churches are already using it to scan congregants’ earthly visages to keep track of attendance at events in order to know who wasn’t there so they can check up on them, or who attends most frequently so they can ask those people for donations. He declined to name any of the churches using the technology citing the controversy around facial recognition. I asked him if any of the churches are based in Texas or Illinois, the only two U.S. states that have laws on the books about getting permission to collect peoples’ faceprints. “I prefer not to say,” said Greenshpan.


Categories: Uncategorized | Tags: ,

Blog at

%d bloggers like this: