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surveillance

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Original author: 
Xeni Jardin

About this nifty "Onion Pi" HOWTO just published at Adafruit, Phil Torrone says, "Limor and I cooked up this project for folks. We are donating a portion of any sales for the pack we sell that helps do this to the EFF and Tor."

Browse anonymously anywhere you go with the Onion Pi Tor proxy. This is fun weekend project that uses a Raspberry Pi, a USB WiFi adapter and Ethernet cable to create a small, low-power and portable privacy Pi. Using it is easy-as-pie. First, plug the Ethernet cable into any Internet provider in your home, work, hotel or conference/event. Next, power up the Pi with the micro USB cable to your laptop or to the wall adapter. The Pi will boot up and create a new secure wireless access point called Onion Pi. Connecting to that access point will automatically route any web browsing from your computer through the anonymizing Tor network.     

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Original author: 
Cory Doctorow

Journeyman Pictures' short documentary "Naked Citizens" is an absolutely terrifying and amazing must-see glimpse of the modern security state, and the ways in which it automatically ascribes guilt to people based on algorithmic inferences, and, having done so, conducts such far-reaching surveillance into its victims' lives that the lack of anything incriminating is treated of proof of being a criminal mastermind:

"I woke up to pounding on my door", says Andrej Holm, a sociologist from the Humboldt University. In what felt like a scene from a movie, he was taken from his Berlin home by armed men after a systematic monitoring of his academic research deemed him the probable leader of a militant group. After 30 days in solitary confinement, he was released without charges. Across Western Europe and the USA, surveillance of civilians has become a major business. With one camera for every 14 people in London and drones being used by police to track individuals, the threat of living in a Big Brother state is becoming a reality. At an annual conference of hackers, keynote speaker Jacob Appelbaum asserts, "to be free of suspicion is the most important right to be truly free". But with most people having a limited understanding of this world of cyber surveillance and how to protect ourselves, are our basic freedoms already being lost?

World - Naked Citizens (Thanks, Dan!)     

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Michael Geist sez,

A coalition of Canadian industry groups, including the Canadian Chamber of Commerce, the Canadian Marketing Association, the Canadian Wireless Telecommunications Association and the Entertainment Software Association of Canada, are demanding legalized spyware for private enforcement purposes. The demand comes as part of a review of anti-spam and spyware legislation in Canada.

The potential scope of coverage is breathtaking: a software program secretly installed by an entertainment software company designed to detect or investigate alleged copyright infringement would be covered by this exception. This exception could potentially cover programs designed to block access to certain websites (preventing the contravention of a law as would have been the case with SOPA), attempts to access wireless networks without authorization, or even keylogger programs tracking unsuspecting users (detection and investigation).

Sony Rootkit Redux: Canadian Business Groups Lobby For Right To Install Spyware on Your Computer

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"Surveillance Camera Man" is an anonymous fellow who wanders the streets and malls of Seattle with a handheld camcorder, walking up to people and recording them -- in particular, recording their reactions to being recorded. He answers their questions with bland, deadpan statements ("It's OK, I'm just recording video"), and sometimes mentions that there are lots of other (non-human-carried) cameras recording his subjects.

The videos are an interesting provocation. The underlying point -- that the business, homes, and governments who put CCTVs in the places where we live our lives are intruding upon our privacy -- is one I agree with. However, I think that Surveillance Camera Man's point is blurred by the fact that he sometimes invades his subjects' personal space, making it unclear whether the discomfort they exhibit comes from having a person standing right by them, or whether it's the camera they object to. There's also some childish taunting of easy targets (I'm no fan of the Church of Scientology, but surely the reason that the lady who keeps trying to throw him out is upset is that he's holding a camera and making fun of Scientology, and not the camera alone).

‘Creepy Cameraman’ pushes limits of public surveillance — a glimpse of the future?

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CryptoParty is a global movement for people who want to teach their neighbors how to use cryptography to protect themselves from snoopers, especially broad government surveillance. It was kicked off by @Asher_Wolf in response to the broad, sweeping Australian Internet surveillance bill, and involves throwing parties where folks who know how to use disk encryption, email encryption, and similar projects teach their neighbors to use it too.

There's a crowdsourced book -- "The CryptoParty Handbook," 400+ pages written in less than 24 hours by activists all over the world -- and other instructional materials to help you get started.


What is CryptoParty? Interested parties with computers, devices, and the desire to learn to use the most basic crypto programs and the fundamental concepts of their operation! CryptoParties are free to attend, public, and are commercially non-aligned.

CryptoParty

(via Techdirt)

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Cyberoam, a maker of appliances designed to secure sensitive networks, said it has issued an update to fix a flaw that could be used to intercept communications sent over the TOR anonymity network.

Cyberoam issued the hotfix on Monday to a variety of its unified threat management tools. The devices, which are used to inspect individual packets entering or exiting an organization's network, previously used the same cryptographic certificate. Researchers with the TOR network recently reported the flaw and said it caused a user to seek a fake certificate for thetorproject.org when one of the DPI (or deep packet inspection) devices was being used to monitor his connection.

"Examination of a certificate chain generated by a Cyberoam DPI device shows that all such devices share the same CA certificate and hence the same private key," TOR researcher Runa A. Sandvik wrote in a blog post published last Tuesday. "It is therefore possible to intercept traffic from any victim of a Cyberoam device with any other Cyberoam device—or to extract the key from the device and import it into other DPI devices, and use those for interception." Someone commenting on the post went on to publish the purported private key used by the Cyberoam certificate.

Read 3 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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xyzzy123 sez, "Want to make a freedom-of-information request to the FBI or other three-letter agencies for any information they might have about you? This post links to a website that lets you enter personal information (or not, if you prefer), and then automatically print form letters to the correct government offices."

The incident that precipitated the article is pretty bizarre: a woman with a history of protest asked the FBI for her file and discovered that she'd been closely followed. What's more, she learned that despite all that close surveillance, the FBI got her political allegiances completely wrong, describing bitter rivals as fellow travelers and generally getting it all messed up.

Life Get Your FBI File!

(Thanks, xyzzy123!)

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Taken out of context, some of these images are comical. Others are banal. All of them document the pervasive surveillance habits of the Stasi, the former East German secret police.

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autopen.jpg

As noted here on Boing Boing yesterday, the US has renewed three key provisions of the USA PATRIOT Act that were to have expired last night at midnight, granting four more years of overly broad surveillance of Americans. After the Senate and House rushed the extension with only a few lawmakers drawing attention to civil liberties concerns, the bill went before President Obama, to be signed into law.

What makes this news even more depressing? The president, who is on tour in Europe, didn't even sign it in person. According to a White House spokesperson, Obama used a device called an autopen, which mechanically reproduces a human signature.

This was an act so important that it must be signed into law at once to protect us from what Harry Reid suggested could be immediate terrorist acts, but not so important that the president might be inconvenienced during a foreign trip to return to Washington, D.C.

A Reuters item is here. Gawker has a timeline of Great Moments in Autopen History here, and links to this video (animated gif, Flash-ified?) of an autopen device in action. Over at the New York Times, Michael Shear notes that it's unclear whether president Bush ever used an autopen to sign a bill into law.

ABC News examines the constitutionality of using an autopen here, but that isn't enough to comfort conservative Georgia Republican congressman Tom Graves, who sent an email to reporters today:

I thought it was a joke at first, but the President did, in fact, authorize an autopen to sign the Patriot Act extension into law. Consider the dangerous precedent this sets. Any number of circumstances could arise in the future where the public could question whether or not the president authorized the use of an autopen. For example, if the president is hospitalized and not fully alert, can a group of aggressive Cabinet members interpret a wink or a squeeze of the hand as approval of an autopen signing? I am very concerned about what this means for future presidential orders, whether they be signing bills into law, military orders, or executive orders.

I don't know that I agree with Graves' fears (a wink! a squeeze!). But something just seems wrong about automating the process of signing this particular bill into law, given its far-reaching implications for the privacy and liberty of all Americans, and all the secrecy this law entails.

Maybe I'm having a Bill Keller moment: maybe the technology doesn't matter, and the analog ceremony of a human hand and a pen and a piece of paper is just familiar theater. But in this case, could the president have been any more detached?

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