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.
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.
The top United States federal court that oversees national security surveillance has found that the FBI regularly does not follow rules meant to protect the privacy of the American people.
The pattern was revealed while searching through emails that were gathered without a warrant, according to a December ruling declassified Friday.
Additionally, the ruling stated that despite identifying “widespread violations” by analysts conducting these searches, a judge still approved the warrantless surveillance program for another year.
Customs and Border Protection (CBP) just got its hands on a whole bunch of location data. The news service Motherboard (Vice’s technology segment) uncovered a procurement order for $476,000 paid to the company Venntel Software last month. Venntel specializes in location data mining, compiling and selling GPS data gathered on users from various phone apps.
Sources who work with Venntel gave Motherboard more insight into the type of data the government now has its hands on.
Venntel’s technology only gives anonymized data, meaning it does not identify specific people or phone numbers. It gives only a randomized identification number. BUT there is an easy way to identify the owners of the phone.
The technology allows the CBP to draw a perimeter around a geographical area, and obtain the location data for any phones in that area. In this way, CBP could draw a circle around one particular home, acquire the data from it, and surmise that the few devices in that home belong to the homeowners.
What this means:
This allows Customs and Border Protection to ignore laws that require them to obtain a warrant before surveilling particular subjects. They simply purchase the data, instead of having to show probable cause that a crime has been committed.