The Washington Post has recently reported that the FBI is capable of watching suspects through their webcams without activating the indicator light. Citing the case of an elusive suspect in a series of bomb threats to high profile locations throughout the United States, they have suggested that the FBI can remotely collect evidence from a suspect’s home through their webcam.
FBI hackers can exploit weaknesses in computer programs downloading malware onto the target computer. This is typically done with a phishing scam where the suspect will unknowingly open a link in an email that will download the malware onto their computer. The malware will then activate the webcam without triggering the indicator light and begin sending information to the FBI.
Along with new techniques for digitally tracking suspects and collecting hard-drive data, this practice has raised concerns as it may violate the United States Constitution in certain cases. The 4th Amendment grants freedom from unlawful search and seizure. Without even entering a suspect’s home the FBI is capable of digitally searching and seizing their home, their hard-drives and possessions. Some are concerned that the method of obtaining this information could cause innocent individuals’ computers to be compromised.
The method of collection is hardly perfect, requiring the individual in question to unknowingly access a malicious link. It has not proven to be a very effective means of tracking suspects.
Via The Washington Post
In an effort to tighten controls over the internet Russia is expanding its surveillance measures to Russian ISPs. ISPs will be required to keep track of all Internet traffic, recording IP addresses, telephone numbers, and usernames. They will be required to store all collected traffic for 12 hours while the Russian security apparatus monitors it.
The move has sparked controversy as it is counter to provisions protecting privacy and the right to due process under the Russian Constitution.
It is unclear whether these measures will have a net effect on Russian internet users’ privacy. Some suggesting that the new measures will have little effect on Russian rights to privacy as current legislation requires ISPs to collect data already. The difference appears to be the 12-hour rule which holds ISPs responsible for storing internet traffic giving the Russian security apparatus, which has limited storage capacity, time to adequately monitor the information.
via Global Voices Online
This magazine has written in the past of China’s use of paid shills, or wumao, to comment in favor of the government on online forums. Recent revelations however, have shown an immense initiative by the government to crack down on political dissidents and crack down on accusations of corruption and poor governance. On the advice of local think tanks, procedures have mandated a “four golden hours” period to react to accusations and viral anti-government opinion pieces.
The initiatve has, predictably, been met with intense hostility from the citizenship.
“Who pays their salaries?” one person asked. “They use taxpayers’ money to suppress taxpayers’ voices,” wrote another.
Many enounce these “public opinion analyst”, decrying the fact that a decrepyt, sleazy profession is being given the job security and status of highly coveted government jobs. Local Communisty Party propaganda departments however, continue to dish out large chunks of their budget to compromising the integrity of the online voice. Efforts to curb it among government circles have not been made.
Is China’s online “monitoring” justified? Let us know in the comments section below.
Assuming privacy on the internet is a foregone conclusion of a bygone era — as far as anyone can tell, the data shared between an individual and most websites on the net are typically met with hidden eyes. The Prism scandal has brought to light the NSA’s diligent snooping — but what about even less legitimate sources? Online marketers, attourneys, law enforcement agencies and private investigators are starting to use every digital avenue available to them — everything from Facebook sign-ins, to registering on digital cameras to pursue people.
“The digital world has suddenly given us a wealth of information like we never had before,” a California district divorce attorney Lee Rosen said. “The floodgates of data have opened up.”
The data is no longer priviledged between a person and the government. Social platforms are increasingly selling their data to marketing firms and other agencies surveying people. It’s clear that an immense digital portrait of a person can be established with a few quick glances at their internet habits and what they buy at the convenience store near the subway every morning at 7. Every plugged in person on the planet has a “cyberdata”, and the question for the next decade is clear: who does it belong to?
NPR is running a four-part series on the issue of digital surveillance and tracking this week.
What are your thoughts on the privatization of cyber data? Leave your thoughts in the comment section below.
With the influx of lapel recorders, dashcams, closed circuit cameras and other recording technology, corruption and negligence by the uniformed has been put under the limelight for scrutiny. The latest such event revolves around the LAPD (a common target of media scrutiny), reportedly throwing 28 year old business student Kim Nguyen from the pack of a police sedan, shattering her jaw requiring multiple surgery and extended hospital stay.
Nguyen claims she was thrown out handcuffed while the car was accelerating. The police deny the allegation, rather placing the blame on Nguyen’s insobriety.
Surveillance cameras, however, show extensive trauma not entirely consistent with simply slipping out of the vehicle. Nguyen was found writing unconscious, with a broken jaw and several teeth knocked out from a very fast and deliberate impact. The suspected LAPD officers, David Shin and Jim Oh haven’t offered officially commentary, nor has their department or LAPD officials.
Nguyen is pursuing a lawsuit against the LAPD for damages.