March 26, 2012
J. D. Heyes
Anytime you download a movie from Netflix to your television or turn on an Internet-based radio, you could be alerting people who you don’t want or need watching you.
According totheCentral Intelligence Agency, the organization says spies won’t have to plant bugs in homes, businesses or other places where they want to spy because of coming advances in computer and Internet technology. Specifically, CIA Director David Petraeus, one-time commander of the Iraq and Afghanistan war theaters, says new apps and the rise of “connected” devices means people, essentially, will be bugging their own homes.
The CIA says it is very possible the agency and others will be able to “read” these and other gadgets from outside the places they want to monitor via the Internet and perhaps even with radio waves outside your home.
Nowadays, everything can be controlled by an app – your home security system, a clock radio, remote controls, the lighting in your kitchen. And, according toWiredmagazine’s online “Danger Zone” blog, it’s going to get better – or worse, depending on your point of view. Computer-chip maker ARM recently unveiled low-powered, cheaper chips which can and will be used in virtually everything, including refrigerators, doorbells and ovens.
The resulting flood of app-controlled devices will be able to be easily read and even manipulated and controlled, Petraeus said, adding that the technology will allow agents to spy without having to plant bugs, breaking or entering or engaging in other risky (or illegal?) behavior. Spies, instead, will simply monitor activity through existing apps in use by the subject.
“Transformationalis an overused word, but I do believe it properly applies to these technologies,” Petraeus said in comments made to a venture capital firm looking at new technologies that could transform previouslydumbappliances into an interconnected “Internet of things.”
“Particularly to their effect on clandestine tradecraft. Items of interest will be located, identified, monitored, and remotely controlled through technologies such as radio-frequency identification, sensor networks, tiny embedded servers, and energy harvesters – all connected to the next-generation internet using abundant, low-cost, and high-power computing,” he said, “the latter now going to cloud computing, in many areas greater and greater supercomputing, and, ultimately, heading to quantum computing.”
He acknowledged that these devices and the technology to use them to spy “change our notions of secrecy” and triggers a rethink of “our notions of identity and secrecy.”
‘Mapping’ our lives?
Those like Petraeus who are looking at the future say they believe someday such devices will be able to tell what modes of operation they are in at all times, and that they will be able to bemappedas efficiently as Google Maps charts the world right now. All of the devices that could be made into these so-calledsmartgadgets would become a wealth of information to spies if you are a “person of interest” – or not, critics contend. The advent of so-calledsmart homeswould mean occupants would be continually sending out specific, geolocated information that spies can intercept in real time.
As you might expect, though, such technology has already alarmed privacy advocates. Already groups such as theElectronic Freedom Foundation(EFF)have filed suit against the CIAand other government agencies for allegedly using social media networks to spy on people.
“Social-networking sites are becoming a part of the way we communicate every day and everyone thinks they are sharing information [on the sites] with just their friends,” Shane Witnov, a law student who worked on the case in 2009 on behalf of the EFF by theSamuelson Law, Technology, and Public Policy Clinicat theUniversity of California Berkeley School of Law. “Governments are using the sites but not in the way [citizens] expect when they sign up.”
Learn more at Natural News
August 4, 2010
By: Don Thompson
Politicians’ tweets and status updates should be held to the same standards as paid advertising that voters see on television, hear on radio or find in their mailboxes, California’s campaign watchdog agency says in a report being released Monday.
It’s become necessary as politicians in California and elsewhere announce their candidacies and major campaign policies through Twitter, YouTube and a host of social networking sites, said FPPC Chairman Dan Schnur.
He said California’s 36-year-old Political Reform Act needs rewriting to keep up with the times.
“Our goal here is to meet the new challenges of 21st Century technology,” Schnur said. “There’s no way that the authors of the act could have anticipated that these of types of communicating a campaign message would ever exist.”
The report, compiled by a commission subcommittee, outlines possible hurdles to regulating online content, such as how to include full disclosure of who is behind a message in a 140-character tweet or a text.
Any changes the commission makes to state law should give regulators the flexibility to respond to swiftly evolving technologies, the report says.
The commission will consider the report at its Aug. 12 meeting. If the five-member commission orders its staff to propose regulations or legal changes it could be months before they take effect, potentially pushing new rules past this political season.
Campaigns would face the same disclosure rules they do now, such as saying who is behind an ad and who paid for it, but for the first time they would apply to communications on the Internet and other forums.
The subcommittee’s recommendations draw a line between paid political activity and unpaid, grassroots volunteer efforts. Political commentary by individuals unconnected to a campaign would not be affected. Nor would sending or forwarding e-mails, linking to websites or creating independent websites.
“People tweeting about someone is typically not something you would regulate,” said Barbara O’Connor, professor emeritus of communications and the former director of the Institute for the Study of Politics and Media at California State University, Sacramento. “When it becomes an ad, it’s a different story. When it becomes an ad it really is a replacement for a 30-second spot for a new generation.”
The recommendations include requiring tweets and texts to link to a website that includes the full disclosures, although some people feel the disclosure should be in the text itself no matter how brief, O’Connor said. She testified before the subcommittee but hadn’t seen its report.
California Republican Party Vice Chairman Jon Fleischman, who writes the conservative FlashReport blog, told the subcommittee that requiring even one character in a tweet be used for disclosure would be a burden on free speech, according to the report.
Bloggers who accept payment to present their opinion in favor of or against a candidate but do not disclose their ties to a campaign are becoming increasingly common in California, but the report does not recommend regulating them — for now. The subcommittee urged bloggers to voluntarily disclose on their websites if they are being paid.
If that doesn’t work, it said regulators or lawmakers may need to step in.
Like California’s current regulations, federal campaign watchdogs regulate only paid political advertising, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Other states also are just beginning to consider whether their disclosure laws are sufficient to cover modern communications.