NYPD Anti-Terrorist Cameras Used for Much More

I wish I could say that this New York Times piece linked to by Slashdot surprises me in the least. It isn’t entirely clear that this is a case of mission creep. That uncertainty may be intentional, remarks from the law enforces responsible make it sound like they envisaged use of this growing network of automated cameras in regular criminal investigations was envisioned all along. The key question is whether that was part of the policy that funded their purchase, deployment and operation in the first place.

Donna Lieberman, the executive director of the New York Civil Liberties Union, nails the problem with the system right on the head.

She said it was hard to tell whether interest in “effective and efficient law enforcement” was being balanced with the “values of privacy and freedom.”

“We don’t know how much information is being recorded and kept, for how long, and by which cameras,” Ms. Lieberman said. “It’s one thing to have information about cars that are stopped for suspicious activity, but it’s something else to basically maintain a permanent database of where particular cars go when there is nothing happening that is wrong and there is no basis for suspicion.”

Most of the uses listed in the article seem innocuous enough but we don’t know if the system is restricted to just effectively extended human driven BOLOs. Operational transparency and privacy safeguards should really be inviolate conditions of establishing networks like this. How else can the public interest hold them accountable and audit they are not in fact creeping in their mission? Too bad that point is really only a very small part of the article which otherwise largely lionizes the cameras.

NYPD Anti-Terrorism Cameras Used For Much More, Slashdot

Act Now in Support of Patriot Act Reform

Apologies that this is coming so late in the day but not too late. Some measures of the Patriot Act are set to expire at the end of this month. The Senate Judiciary Committee is to convene to review them tomorrow. EFF has posted an action alert to aid concerned citizens in contacting their elected representatives to urge a reigning in of powers under the Act. This dove tails with EFF’s analysis of documents recovered through dogged FOIA requests that show a sustained and clear pattern of abuse of these very powers.

Contact the Senate Judiciary Committee Today to Support Reforms to PATRIOT Act! EFF

feeds | grep links > Wikia 2.0, Google-Facebook Hissy Fit, and More

  • One next step in the wiki’s evolution merges in the social
    As Mike Melanson at ReadWriteWeb explains, this announcement for Wikipedia founder, Jimmy Wales, reveals what is coming for his commercial venture, Wikia. I am relieved that similar plans are not in the offing for Wikipedia itself. Given how Wikia has struggled to gain traction, with a rising tide of me-too services further diluting the field, embracing social features may yield a needed shot in the arm.
  • Google-Facebook hissy fit over data portability
    Mike Melanson at ReadWriteWeb has the latest turn in a largely tiresome spat between the two web giants. I think Google’s competitive zeal against Facebook is clouding their better judgment, though the messaging is pretty funny. Rather than enlisting users or sprinkling code-based caltraps, I really think Google should stick to the ideal that informs their internal Data Liberation Front. Sinking to Facebook’s level is just going to prolong the delay before data portability wins out.
  • Citizen Lab develops project to map out RIM’s concessions to government, Citizen Lab
  • European commissioner lambasts copyright middlemen, TorrentFreak

feeds | grep links > Another Social Browser, Possible Future of Location Apps, Thousands of Stored Body Scans and More

  • Yet another social browser
    Not being a particular fan of Flock, I was going to refrain from comment on RockMelt, a me-too social focused browser-remix. I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to link to Glenn Fleishman’s discussion at BoingBoing of the new offering backed by Marc Andreessen of Netscape fame, among others. The over the top opening paragraph alone is worth reading Glenn’s post. He also works in mentions of Freedom, a tool designed to deprive you of network access to encourage real work, if that helps you understand from where his remarks are coming.
  • Possible future for location based apps from PARC
    Richard MacManus at ReadWriteWeb discusses a prototype app that better fits what I discussed as the potential of location applications in the latest podcast. It isn’t surprising that this example of ubiquitous computing comes from PARC, responsible for so many other innovations in the field of computing.
  • Feds admit to storing tens of thousands of body scan images
    Xeni at BoingBoing was one of several folks to link to this story. The CNet article freely mixes and matches information from different sources, exaggerating the situation somewhat. Given the cited releases, this story is also not exactly breaking news though perhaps not common knowledge. It does correctly identify the key concern throughout that the scanners can store and transmit scans opening the door for all kinds of problems beyond the scope of their immediate security applications.
  • Yet another spawn of Java trying to fix its ills is released, Slashdot
  • Self repair manifesto, BoingBoing
  • Crowdsourcing surveillance, Schneier on Security

Following Up for the Week Ending 10/31/2010

UK Action Alert Against Updated Surveillance Plan

Cory at Boing Boing shares this action alert from the foks at the Open Rights Group.

This Kafka-esque “Intercept Modernisation Plan”, was stopped near the end of the last government, but was quietly revived in the 2010 Spending Review. While billions of pounds is being slashed from education, welfare and defence, the government plans to waste vast sums trying to snoop on our emails and Facebook communications.

If you live in the UK, sign the ORG petition. Better yet, find the contact info for your elected representatives and write or call them about the Plan. You may want to take a look at the efforts of Digital Due Process for more detailed talking points as it speaks to the same urge behind IMP as similar efforts to update surveillance laws and requirements here in the US. I know the site is US specific and aimed at the ECPA primarily but the more detailed you can be in your correspondence and conversation about the issues, the better.

Brits: Email the gov’t to stop plan to spy on every email, Facebook post, tweet, etc!, BoingBoing

feeds | grep links > Drawing and Erasing Circuits, Failures Regulating Crypto, and More

Following Up for the Week Ending 10/17/2010

Following Up for the Week Ending 10/10/2010

feeds | grep links > Firefox Mobile Beta, Text Adventures on E-Readers, No CC Music at the CBC, and More

  • Firefox 4 beta for mobile devices
    Ryan Paul at Ars Technica has a good run down of both improvements in the latest release of Fennec, now just simply referred to as Firefox 4, as well as the remaining challenges for the mobile version of Mozilla’s browser to stack up well against other mobile browsers. Still trying to get my hands on 4-5 inch Android MID for, among other things, testing these mobile builds my own self.
  • Interactive fiction on an e-reader
    Tim Carmody at Wired provides what I think is the most compelling reason to get a dedicated e-reader yet, the ability hacked together by some gamers to play interactive fiction. Carmody calls out the one downer that occurred to me too, the pain of entering text on some of these devices. All the same, it definitely is a good match in terms of display capabilities and processing power. Well, and it’s intensely nerdy fun.
  • Caught spying, FBI wants its bug back, Wired
  • Software evolution storylines, inspired by xkcd, Slashdot
  • CBC bans use of Creative Commons music on podcasts
    Michael Geist links directly to the discussion in the comments at the Spark site. He also explains that it is a consequence of some collective agreement with talent agencies. It is easy to speculate that this is specifically targeting CC but I suspect that it may be mere boiler plate language that includes exclusivity as part of the deal which would preclude any other licenses, not just CC. Still, how quickly do you think the parties involved might backpedal?
  • A step closer to workable brain-computer interfaces, Technology Review