How to Fight Mass Surveillance even though Congress just Reauthorized It

Bruce Schneier is a security technologist and a lecturer at the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University. He is also the Chief Technical Officer at IBM Resilient, a fellow at Harvard’s Berkman Center, and a board member of EFF. Indeed, he is one of the leading experts in the field of computer security. He recently published an article in The Washington Post that describes the problems and the risks recently created when President Trump signed the renewal of Section 702, making domestic mass surveillance a permanent part of U.S. law. You can read his article at:

Voice RT: Perhaps the Biggest Threat Yet to Privacy

Ava Kofman wrote an interesting yet terrifying piece in The Intercept about Voice RT. You’ve probably never heard of Voice RT before because it’s been one of those things the U.S. Government does in secret; in this case, it was developing technology that can positively identify someone by the sound of their voice. Your telephone conversations are already being recorded. Now they are being de-anonymized.

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Is Your Rubbish Private or Open to the Public?

From the web site: “Portland [Oregon]’s top officials say it’s OK for police to go through your garbage as it becomes ‘public property’ when you throw it out. Local rag decides to go through garbage of Portland’s top officials to see what they throw out. Hilarity ensues.”

That’s right. Portland, Oregon police, the mayor, and the district attorney all agreed that anyone who leaves trash on the curb waiting for the garbage truck to pick it up has given up all expectations of privacy for the contents of that trash. The claim is that anyone, including police, can legally examine someone else’s abandoned trash without permission and without a search warrant.

So a couple of local newspaper reporters, who obviously disagree, decided to turn the tables: they went through the trash left curbside by the mayor, the chief of police, and the local district attorney, all of whom have publicly stated that trash left curbside is not private.

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FBI Chief Calls Unbreakable Encryption ‘Urgent Public Safety Issue’

Depending upon your viewpoint and your own desire for personal privacy, you could say this story is good news or perhaps it is bad news. FBI Director Christopher Wray certainly thinks it is bad news. I think it is good news.

According to Director Wray, the FBI was unable to access data from nearly 7,800 devices in the fiscal year that ended Sept. 30 with technical tools despite possessing proper legal authority to pry them open, a growing figure that impacts every area of the agency’s work, Wray said during a speech at a cyber security conference in New York. “This is an urgent public safety issue,” Wray added, while saying that a solution is “not so clear cut.”

You can read more about the FBI’s difficulties in spying on you in an article by Dustin Volz in the US News & World Report at:

Homeland Security Breach Exposes Data on 240,000 Employees

A government agency that is well known for invading Americans’ privacy has had the tables turned. A breach at the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Office of Inspector General (OIG) Case Management System affected 247,167 people employed by DHS in 2014, as well as subjects, witnesses and complainants associated with DHS OIG investigations from 2002 through 2014, the department said in a statement. Information exposed included Social Security numbers, dates of birth, positions, grades and duty stations.

The DHS said the “privacy incident” wasn’t the result of a cyberattack and that acquisition of individuals’ personal information didn’t appear to be the goal of the breach. Instead, the files were discovered last May in the possession of a former DHS OIG employee during an ongoing criminal investigation, the agency said.

Details may be found in an article by Steven Musil in the CNet web site at:

2017 Brought Shame on our Favorite Companies and Bureaucrats for Getting Security Wrong and for Violating Our Privacy

Companies betrayed you, covered up hacks and renounced their responsibilities, and some just gave up any last damn they had about users.

In his last days in office, President Obama relaxed the rules on which intelligence agencies can get raw data collected by the NSA, including the spying on Americans (which supposedly was illegal until Obama authorized it).

In 2017, the NSA lost control of its stolen hacking tools that let nation-state hackers infect hundreds of thousands of computers with a backdoor later used to deliver WannaCry ransomware.

And who can forget the Equifax breach, whose crappy security practices let hackers steal all your data that you didn’t know they had and didn’t ask for them to take in the first place?

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