Today in “those who surrender their liberty for security” news…
The Jackson, Mississippi police department is piloting a 45 day program that allows them to live stream private security cameras, including Amazon Ring cameras, at the residences of its citizens.
It’s no surprise that Amazon’s Ring cameras were the only brand named for the pilot program, as EFF pointed out, since they have over 1,000 partnerships with local police departments.
The program allows Ring owners to patch their camera streams to a “Real Time Crime Center” – i.e. a dispatcher on desk duty whose new favorite way of passing the time is to watch you bring out your garbage twice a week in a bathrobe.
While the pilot program is supposedly “opt-in” only, meaning residents have to volunteer to be a part of it, it is an obvious step in the wrong direction of mass privacy invasion without a warrant.
A new lawsuit against Google filed on Thursday of last week raises interesting questions about whether or not the tech giant is “stealing Android users’ cellular data allowances though unapproved, undisclosed transmissions to the web giant’s servers”.
The suit, filed in US federal district court in San Jose by 4 plaintiffs aims to be certified as a class action. It alleges that Google is using Android users’ limited cellular data allowances to transmit information about the users unrelated to the use of Google services. The case surrounds “data sent to Google’s servers that isn’t the result of deliberate interaction with a mobile device”, according to The Register.
In other words, data transfers happening in the background, when the phone isn’t in use. The suit alleges that none of the four agreements accepted to participate in the Google ecosystem say anything about cell data transfers taking place in the background.
The suit states: “Google designed and implemented its Android operating system and apps to extract and transmit large volumes of information between Plaintiffs’ cellular devices and Google using Plaintiffs’ cellular data allowances.”
It continues: “Google’s misappropriation of Plaintiffs’ cellular data allowances through passive transfers occurs in the background, does not result from Plaintiffs’ direct engagement with Google’s apps and properties on their devices, and happens without Plaintiffs’ consent.”
The U.S. military is buying the granular movement data of people around the world, harvested from innocuous-seeming apps, Motherboard has learned. The most popular app among a group Motherboard analyzed connected to this sort of data sale is a Muslim prayer and Quran app that has more than 98 million downloads worldwide. Others include a Muslim dating app, a popular Craigslist app, an app for following storms, and a “level” app that can be used to help, for example, install shelves in a bedroom.
Through public records, interviews with developers, and technical analysis, Motherboard uncovered two separate, parallel data streams that the U.S. military uses, or has used, to obtain location data. One relies on a company called Babel Street, which creates a product called Locate X. U.S. Special Operations Command (USSOCOM), a branch of the military tasked with counterterrorism, counterinsurgency, and special reconnaissance, bought access to Locate X to assist on overseas special forces operations. The other stream is through a company called X-Mode, which obtains location data directly from apps, then sells that data to contractors, and by extension, the military.