April 25th & 26th
287 Kent Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11211
Abstract Submission Deadline: January 19th
What does it mean that digital technologies are increasingly a part of...
A hacker called Puking Monkey twiddled his E-ZPass to make it turn on an LED and moo whenever it was read and found it was being read in many unexpected places, and not just at toll booths.
Turns out the NY Department of Transportation runs a program called Midtown in Motion, which accesses E-ZPasses in midtown New York City for traffic analysis:
TransCore, a company that makes the RFID readers that New York is using to pick up on E-ZPasses, was more forthcoming. A 2013 case study from the company notes that the $50 million project to improve traffic congestion in New York also involved the installation of a network of traffic microwave sensors, and has been successful enough that the city plans to expand it another 270 blocks.
“The tag ID is scrambled to make it anonymous. The scrambled ID is held in dynamic memory for several minutes to compare with other sightings from other readers strategically placed for the purpose of measuring travel times which are then averaged to develop an understanding of traffic conditions,” says TransCore spokesperson Barbara Catlin by email. “Travel times are used to estimate average speeds for general traveler information and performance metrics. Tag sightings (reads) age off the system after several minutes or after they are paired and are not stored because they are of no value. Hence the system cannot identify the tag user and does not keep any record of the tag sightings.”
In other words, reading of the E-ZPasses won’t be very useful for uniquely tracking you or your speed, but it’s a reminder once again that if you accept some kind of tracking device, it may be used in ways you wouldn’t expect.
As for blocking that tracking, if you’re not excited about it, Puking Monkey recommends that you “bag the tag, and only bring it out when you want to pay a toll.” Most tags come with a “Faraday cage” type bag through which it can’t be read.
The unsettling aspect of this is that no one thought to inform us, and the state of NY believes it’s legal and ethical to do this. What we have learned is that ultimately, any means to snoop on us will be exploited by governments and they will subsequently a/ lie about it, and if caught lying, the will b/ make it legal for them to do it.
Next, they’ll make it illegal to hack your E-ZPass.
Ginger McCall, The Face Scan Arrives
This reasonable statement — A person in public may have no reasonable expectation of privacy at any given moment, but he certainly has a reasonable expectation that the totality of his movements will not be effortlessly tracked and analyzed by law enforcement without probable cause — may not be our future. They are watching, reading, and hearing everything they can.
Charles Stross, Spy Kids
Charles Stross is the author of masterworks of sci fi like Accelerando, and he thinks like a futurist. Here his ruminations about the rapidly shifting work compact between the intelligence services and its workers in an increasingly Benthamite surveillance state is dark and dead on.
Recycling bins in London are monitoring the phones of passers-by, so advertisers can target messages at people whom the bins recognize.Renew, the startup behind the scheme, installed 100 recycling bins with digital screens around London before the 2012 Olympics. Advertisers can buy space on the internet-connected bins, and the city gets 5 percent of the airtime to display public information. More recently, though, Renew outfitted a dozen of the bins with gadgets that track smartphones.
The idea is to bring internet tracking cookies to the real world. The bins record a unique identification number, known as a MAC address, for any nearby phones and other devices that have Wi-Fi turned on. That allows Renew to identify if the person walking by is the same one from yesterday, even her specific route down the street and how fast she is walking.Here, an image from Renew’s marketing materials makes it plain:
The Postal Service on Friday confirmed that it takes a photograph of every letter and package mailed in the United States — about 160 billion pieces last year — and occasionally provides the photos to law enforcement agencies that request them as part of criminal cases.
The images are taken at more than 200 processing plants around the country and are used primarily to help the agency sort mail, the postmaster general, Patrick R. Donahoe, said in an interview with The Associated Press.
But Mr. Donahoe said that the images had been used “a couple of times” by law enforcement to trace letters in criminal cases, including one involving ricin-laced letters sent to President Obama and Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg of New York. The images of letters and packages are generally stored for a week to 30 days and then destroyed, he told the A.P.
» via The New York Times (Subscription may be required for some content)
27% of the poputation is right: the government is reading and listening to everything.
A majority of Americans – 56% – say that federal courts fail to provide adequate limits on the telephone and internet data the government is collecting as part of its anti-terrorism efforts.larger percentage (70%) believes that the government uses this data for purposes other than investigating terrorism.
And despite the insistence by the president and other senior officials that only “metadata,” such as phone numbers and email addresses, is being collected, 63% think the government is also gathering information about the content of communications – with 27% believing the government has listened to or read their phone calls and emails.
Nonetheless, the public’s bottom line on government anti-terrorism surveillance is narrowly positive. The national survey by the Pew Research Center, conducted July 17-21 among 1,480 adults, finds that 50% approve of the government’s collection of telephone and internet data as part of anti-terrorism efforts, while 44% disapprove. These views are little changed from a month ago, when 48% approved and 47% disapproved.
The horrible part is that 50% think it’s a good idea.
Kenneth Roth, Rethinking Surveillance
Snowden’s recent disclosures about the pervasive abuse of the government’s power to collect metadata from internet services and phone companies has clearly demonstrated that everything about us can be known. Not just the metadata of our communications — the timestamps and routing information of our communications — but every word, every secret endearment, every revealing nickname breathed into a phone at a bar, every text keyed to a illicit romance a during a lunch break.
I turn Roth’s last sentence around: they are likely treating our metadata no differently than the data. Meaning: they are looking at everything.
We are living in an age of radical, savage publicy. The only secrets now are those we tell no one and never write down; and the merely private — where we are at the present moment, what books we are reading, or the sex toys we bought online — aren’t private anymore: we might as well be blogging it all.
Saw today that the US Postal Service is photographing the exterior of all mail, gathering the metadata of our snail mail, building a map of who is sending what to who.
In a climate of total information everything is known to the government, if they chose to look.
Total publicy is the end of liberty, and the proof that government is a dog off the leash, running free of the restraints that are explicit in our laws, constitution, and the foundation of our culture.
The public seems unmoved, almost accepting of this state of affairs. They shrug after hearing this news, and turn back to the reality shows — where we gaze into the awful, stilted lives of wannabees, watching like masturbating voyeurs — and cloak ourselves in the peculiar American sense of being better than everyone else and at the same time feeling cut off from the broader human experience by Atlantic and Pacific barriers. We feel safe, due to the American penchant for ignoring the outside world until we decide to invade it.
The real world is made into a reality show with the government watching all of us, while they tell us not to worry, no good people will be harmed, no one who has done nothing need be concerned. (Haven’t we all done something, though?)
Perhaps Americans like the idea that their government can gather a totality of information on our allies, on terrorists, on whistle blowers. They want a government who can track down anyone who has done anything. Even at the cost of anything like liberty and freedom.
Jennifer Granick is the Director of Civil Liberties at the Stanford Center for Internet and Society. Jennifer returns to Stanford after working with the internet boutique firm of Zwillgen PLLC. Before that, she was the Civil Liberties Director at the Electronic Frontier Foundation. Jennifer practices, speaks and writes about computer crime and security, electronic surveillance, consumer privacy, data protection, copyright, trademark and the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. From 2001 to 2007, Jennifer was Executive Director of CIS and taught Cyberlaw, Computer Crime Law, Internet intermediary liability, and Internet law and policy. Before teaching at Stanford, Jennifer spent almost a decade practicing criminal defense law in California. She was selected by Information Security magazine in 2003 as one of 20 “Women of Vision” in the computer security field. She earned her law degree from University of California, Hastings College of the Law and her undergraduate degree from the New College of the University of South Florida.
Jennifer Stisa Granick and Christopher Jon Sprigman, The Criminal N.S.A.