The ACLU just posted an article about a recent federal magistrate judge’s ruling. It is a somewhat bizarre case.
The DEA had an arrest warrant for a doctor suspected selling prescription pain killer drugs for cash. They then requested a court order to obtain his real time location information from his cell provider.
The judge went along, but then published a 30 page opinion stating that no order or warrant should have been required for the location information because the suspect had no expectation of location privacy. If he wanted privacy, all he had to have done is to turn off his phone (which would have prevented the collection of the information at all, not just established his expectation).
So, if this line of reasoning is picked up and becomes precedent, it is clear than anyone on the run needs to keep their phone off and / or use burner phones paid for with cash.
My concern is that, if there is no expectation of privacy, is there anything preventing government entities from requesting location information on whole populations without any probable cause or court order.
While I think that the use of location information in this case was completely appropriate, I would sleep better if there was the check and balance of the need for a court order before getting it.
This is another situation where technology has run ahead of the law. The Fourth Amendment was written in a time where information was in tangible form, and the only time it was generally in the hands of third parties, was when it was in the mail. Therefor search of mail in transit was specially protected.
Today, cloud and telecommunication providers serve much the same purpose as the US Postal Service, and are used in similar ways. It is high time that the same protection extended to snail mail be applied to the new high tech communications infrastructures we use today.
Wendy Nather at Dark Reading has post on the explosion of white hat “offensive defense”.
She speaks to an issue I have been thinking about for some time. More and more security firms and internal security groups are going “offensive”. They are setting up more and more honey pots, creating fake malware, posting about false vulnerabilities, and actively participating in hacker forums. Even the hackers are getting in on the action by dropping false information and leads.
At what point does the false information start to swamp the real and cause the value of the collected intelligence to degrade. Undercover law enforcement calls the problem “blue on blue” where one group (typically overt) is actively investigating an under cover group.
I was told a story like this by a friend in law enforcement. He told of a drug case. A deal was going down in a warehouse between some drug distributers and drug importers. In the middle of the transaction the warehouse was raided by the local police. Turns out, everyone there was in law enforcement.
Even if that story was apocryphal, it illustrates what we are likely to see on-line. Undercover is in many ways easier and certainly less dangerous on-line, and we are likely to see many private investigations in addition to official law enforcement activities.
This is likely to get interesting. The Internet may start to feel like cold war Vienna, where you never know where anyone really stands.
There is a lot of buzz right now about how Google Glass will lead to some kind of universal George Orwell type surveillance state.
I think this misses the point. We are going there without Google Glass. Private surveillance is becoming ubiquitous. Any place of business is almost certain to have cameras. After the Boston bombings, we are likely to see the same proliferation of street cameras that has already happened in London any many other places.
The meteor in russia earlier this year made me aware of just how common personal dash board cameras are in Russia. It seems likely that they will be common everywhere in no too many years.
Smart phone cameras are already doing an amazing job of capturing almost any event that takes place anywhere in the world.
So, you are probably being filmed by at least one camera at almost all times any time you are away from your house.
David Brin and others have been arguing for “sousveillance”. If surveillance is those with power looking down from above, sousveillance is those without power looking back. It tends to have a leveling effect. Law enforcement officers are less likely to abuse their power if they are being recorded by private cameras. Similarly and simultaneously they are protected against false claims of abuse from citizens.
I would rather see ubiquitous private cameras than ubiquitous government cameras. If there is a major incident, the public will send in requested footage, but it would make broad drift net fishing, and facial recognition based tracking more difficult.
An interesting counter trend may be in the creation of camera free private spaces. Private clubs, restaurants, gyms, etc. may all differentiate themselves in part based on their surveillance / sousveillance policies.
A guest post by Janelle Pierce who enjoys writing about various business issues, and spends her time answering questions like, “what is point of sale”?
“A statement or a legal document (privacy law) that discloses some or all of the ways a party gathers, uses, discloses and manages a customer or client’s data. Personal information can be anything that can be used to identify an individual, not limited to but including; name, address, date of birth, marital status, contact information, ID issue and expiry date, financial records, credit information, medical history, where you travel, and intentions to acquire goods and services.”
Which brings me to the point I’d like to make, that is, I think Chau’s idea to force privacy policies to a maximum of 100 words, and require that they’re written at an eighth grade reading level, is a good one. However, I do feel it has a few drawbacks that almost invalidate its ability to be credible. First, requiring that a legal document be 100 words or less is a little short sighted. Don’t get me wrong, I think the thought behind making this otherwise lengthy, unreadable, and downright obnoxious (yet important) document accessible to everyone is a great goal, but requiring 100 words or less doesn’t offer a company the chance to disclose everything they need to disclose. I think a maximum word count should be required, but there is no reason it needs to be so low.
Do you read privacy policies or simply click “accept”? Share your thoughts below.
Wired reports on a move by the Japanese government to ask websites to block users who “abuse” TOR.
I assume that TOR is being used as an example, and it would apply to any secure privacy tool.
The interesting question is whether this is simply a foot in the door on the way to banning anonymity, or at least making its use evidence of evil intent.
Currently, public privacy services make little effort to hide themselves. Traffic from them is easily detected as being from an anonymity system. If blocking becomes common, many systems may start implementing more effective stealth systems, which would make filtering anonymity for security reasons even harder.