privacy

UK Police Chief: Some Tech Companies Are ‘Friendly To Terrorists’

An anonymous reader points out comments from Mark Rowley, the UK’s national police lead for counter-terrorism, who thinks tech companies aren’t doing enough to prevent terrorists from using their services. He said, “[The acceleration of technology] can be set up in a way which is friendly to terrorists and helps them … and creates challenges for law enforcement and intelligence agencies. Or it can be set up in a way which doesn’t do that.” Rowley wouldn’t name which companies in particular he’s talking about, but he added, “Snowden has created an environment where some technology companies are less comfortable working with law reinforcement and intelligence agencies and the bad guys are better informed. We all love the benefit of the internet and all the rest of it, but we need their support in making sure that they’re doing everything possible to stop their technology being exploited by terrorists. I’m saying that needs to be front and center of their thinking and for some it is and some it isn’t.”

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Twitter cracks down on ‘violent threats’ with new tools and updated policies

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Twitter on Tuesday broadened its abuse policies and rolled out new tools for combating what it calls “violent threats.”

The company previously held that it would only ban “direct, specific threats” made against others, but the updated policies now also apply to acts that promote violence against others.

The announcement is the latest in a string of updates over the last five months aimed at protecting users from abuse and harassment, addressing ongoing criticism that the company wasn’t taking these issues, including threats, seriously enough. Read more…

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Baltimore Police Used Stingrays For Phone Tracking Over 25,000 Times

An anonymous reader writes The Baltimore Police Department is starting to come clean about its use of cell-phone signal interceptors — commonly known as Stingrays — and the numbers are alarming. According to recent court testimony reported by The Baltimore Sun, the city’s police have used Stingray devices with a court order more than 25,000 times. It’s a massive number, representing an average of nearly nine uses a day for eight years (the BPD acquired the technology in 2007), and it doesn’t include any emergency uses of the device, which would have proceeded without a court order.

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The Upsides of a Surveillance Society

theodp writes Citing the comeuppance of ESPN reporter Britt McHenry, who was suspended from her job after her filmed ad-hominem attack on a person McHenry deemed to be beneath her in terms of appearance, education, wealth, class, status went viral, The Atlantic’s Megan Garber writes that one silver lining of the omnipresence of cameras it that the possibility of exposure can also encourage us to be a little kinder to each other. “Terrible behavior,” Garber writes, “whether cruel or violent or something in between, has a greater possibility than it ever has before of being exposed. Just as Uber tracks ratings for both its drivers and its users, and just as Yelp can be a source of shaming for businesses and customers alike, technology at large has afforded a reciprocity between people who, in a previous era, would have occupied different places on the spectrum of power. Which can, again, be a bad thing — but which can also, in McHenry’s case, be an extremely beneficial one. It’s good that her behavior has been exposed. It’s good that her story going viral might discourage similar behavior from other people. It’s good that she has publicly promised ‘to learn from this mistake.'”

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Denver TSA Screeners Manipulated System In Order To Grope Men’s Genitals

McGruber writes: The CBS affiliate in Denver reports: “Two Transportation Security Administration screeners at Denver International Airport have been fired after they were discovered manipulating passenger screening systems to allow a male TSA employee to fondle the genital areas of attractive male passengers.” According to law enforcement reports obtained during the CBS4 investigation, a male TSA screener told a female colleague in 2014 that he “gropes” male passengers who come through the screening area at DIA. “He related that when a male he finds attractive comes to be screened by the scanning machine he will alert another TSA screener to indicate to the scanning computer that the party being screened is a female. When the screener does this, the scanning machine will indicate an anomaly in the genital area and this allows (the male TSA screener) to conduct a pat-down search of that area.” Although the TSA learned of the accusation on Nov. 18, 2014 via an anonymous tip from one of the agency’s own employees, reports show that it would be nearly three months before anything was done.”

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The DEA Disinformation Campaign To Hide Surveillance Techniques

An anonymous reader writes: Ken White at Popehat explains how the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency has been purposefully sowing disinformation to hide the extent of their surveillance powers. The agency appears to have used a vast database of telecommunications metadata, which they acquired via general (read: untargeted, dragnet-style) subpoenas. As they begin building cases against suspected criminals, they trawl the database for relevant information. Of course, this means the metadata of many innocent people is also being held and occasionally scanned. The Electronic Frontier Foundation has filed a lawsuit to challenge this bulk data collection. The DEA database itself seems to have been shut down in 2013, but not before the government argued that it should be fine not only to engage in this collection, but to attempt to hide it during court cases. The courts agreed, which means this sort of surveillance could very well happen again — and the EFF is trying to prevent that.

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What’s this Safari favicon fix about?

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In the recent slew of updates brought by OS X Yosemite 10.10.3, which included a new Photos app and more than 300 new emoji, one tiny but very important fix is easily overlooked: Safari no longer saves website favicon URLs while in Private Browsing mode

Until now, even if you were browsing privately in Safari — which should leave absolutely no traces of your browsing history — Safari kept records of all the favicons from the sites you visited

The favicon is the tiny icon that sometimes appears in front of an URL field in your web browser, and it’s mostly a cosmetic feature. However, knowing which site it came from is very often the same as knowing which sites you were browsing, rendering the entire private browsing session very vulnerable to someone who knows where to look Read more…

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European Facebook Privacy Lawsuit Heads To Court In Vienna

europe vs facebook class action A class action data privacy lawsuit that’s being brought against Facebook in Europe — for participation in the NSA’s PRISM dragnet surveillance program, among other alleged data protection violations — gets its first preparatory court hearing today in Vienna’s Regional Cou Read More

DHS Wants Access To License-plate Tracking System, Again

schwit1 writes: The Department of Homeland Security is seeking bids from companies able to provide law enforcement officials with access to a national license-plate tracking system — a year after canceling a similar solicitation over privacy issues. The reversal comes after officials said they had determined they could address concerns raised by civil liberties advocates and lawmakers about the prospect of the department’s gaining widespread access, without warrants, to a system that holds billions of records that reveal drivers’ whereabouts. “If this goes forward, DHS will have warrantless access to location information going back at least five years about virtually every adult driver in the U.S., and sometimes to their image as well,” said Gregory T. Nojeim, senior counsel for the Center for Democracy & Technology. … The largest commercial database is owned by Vigilant Solutions, which as of last fall had more than 2.5 billion records. Its database grows by 2.7 million records a day.

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Verizon Subscribers Can Now Opt Out of “Supercookies”

itwbennett writes Verizon said in January that it would allow subscribers to opt out of having a unique identifier placed on their phones that critics have labelled a “supercookie” because it’s almost impossible to remove, but it didn’t say when. On Tuesday, Verizon said the identifier won’t be inserted for customers who opt out of its mobile advertising program: “Verizon Wireless has updated its systems so that we will stop inserting the UIDH after a customer opts out of the relevant mobile advertising program or activates a line that is ineligible for the advertising program, such as as a government or business line,” Verizon said in a change to its policies.

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