April 13, 2012
By Madison Ruppert
“There is no doubt that technology is amazing. But you may think twice before getting the latest smartphone.” –KTRN
The Broadcom Corporation, a Fortune 500 company, recently unveiled a brand new microchip for smartphones which will provide ultra-precise location details, potentially even within a few centimeters, far beyond what current smartphones can detect.
Today cell phones, but smartphones in particular, have become one of the most powerful surveillance tools available with Carrier IQ, citizen spying applications distributed by both the private sector and government agencies, techniques to encourage citizen spying, and a total lack of privacy.
The new chip, called Broadcom 4752 or BCM4752, will relay information about the vertical and horizontal position, if the individual is indoors or out, all through combining a wide variety of information sources.
It is loaded with sensors that can draw data from global navigation satellites, which is common in many modern smartphones, along with cell phone towers, wireless hotspots, gyroscopic information, data from the phone’s accelerometer, step counters and even altimeters.
Combining all of this information will allow for location data which is unprecedented in its preciseness, raising the potential of even more powerful surveillance via smartphones.
Your Cell Phone Makes You A Prisoner Of A Digital World Where Virtually Anyone Can Hack You And Track You
April 9, 2012
By Michael Snyder
If you own a cell phone, you might as well kiss your privacy goodbye. Cell phone companies know more about us than most of us would ever dare to imagine. Your cell phone company is tracking everywhere that you go and it is making a record of everything that you do with your phone. Much worse, there is a good chance that your cell phone company has been selling this information to anyone that is willing to pay the price — including local law enforcement. In addition, it is an open secret that the federal government monitors and records all cell phone calls. The “private conversation” that you are having with a friend today will be kept in federal government databanks for many years to come.
The truth is that by using a cell phone, you willingly make yourself a prisoner of a digital world where every move that you make and every conversation that you have is permanently recorded. But it is not just cell phone companies and government agencies that you have to worry about. As you will see at the end of this article, it is incredibly easy for any would-be stalker to hack you and track your every movement using your cell phone. In fact, many spyware programs allow hackers to listen to you through your cell phone even when your cell phone is turned off. Sadly, most cell phone users have absolutely no idea about any of this stuff.
Your phone company knows where you live, what websites you visit, what apps you download, what videos you like to watch, and even where you are. Now, some have begun selling that valuable information to the highest bidder.
January 11, 2012
By Sean Poulter
Shopping centres have triggered a Big Brother row after installing equipment that allows them to track customers using their mobile phone signals.
The technology has raised privacy concerns after it emerged that major shopping centre owner Land Securities has installed it at ten of Britain’s biggest malls.
These include the giant Cabot Circus, Bristol; Gunwharf Quays, Portsmouth; Princesshay, Exeter; Buchanan Galleries, Glasgow; Bon Accord & St Nicholas, Aberdeen; and The Centre, Livingston.
A tiny yellow sign in Exeter’s Princesshay shopping centre is the only warning customers receive that their mobile phone signal is being ‘tracked’ by Footpath’s scanners. There is no way to opt out except not to enter or to turn off your mobile
Path Intelligence, which developed the system in the UK, said it includes safeguards to prevent spying on individuals and that no personal information is collected.
Rather, it is designed to track people’s movements to better understand what shops and services they find most interesting or useful.
However, most shoppers are completely in the dark about the tracking technology, and the only way to escape it is to turn off the mobile phone.
September 30, 2011
By: Matt Krantz
Q: Have U.S. markets been following Asian markets lately, or the other way around?
A: If you want evidence of the global economy, you can see it on a stock chart. U.S. and Asian markets are increasingly tied at the hip.
Your question is an excellent one. Giving a full and complete answer could be the topic for a doctoral dissertation, and perhaps it already is one. There’s been some work done in the area, if you’d like more details you can check out a study on interlinked global markets.
But for just a quick-and-dirty analysis, investors can put exchange-traded funds that track Asian and U.S. stocks on the same stock-price chart to see how the two interact with each other.
There are many ways to do this comparison, but I’m comparing the iShares S&P Asia 50 Index fund (AIA) with the Standard & Poor’s 500 ETF. The iShares S&P Asia 50 Index fund contains a broad mix of large Asian shares, primarily from South Korea, China, Taiwan and Hong Kong.
You can use USATODAY.com’s free stock charting tools to do the comparison. Type in AIA in the Get a Quote box at money.usatoday.com to get the snapshot of iShares S&P Asia 50 Index fund. Select the Charts tab and below the graph in the Symbol Compare box enter SPY and Update Chart.
The first thing you’ll notice is that the two ETFs have moved very similarly within the past year. This is consistent with academic research indicating that markets of different countries are increasingly moving in lockstep with each other.
However, there are two important other things to note from the chart. First, notice how the Asian stock ETF was first to top out and start to decline in February 2011, and how U.S. stocks followed that decline.
The Asian stock ETF, meanwhile, is more volatile than the U.S. ETF. The ups and downs are more extreme and violent.
So it would appear Asian stocks and U.S. stocks, at least recently and using these two indexes, are somewhat closely related. But the Asian stocks tended to be the first to crack earlier this year and continue to deserve their reputation as being more volatile.
April 21st, 2011
By: Charles Arthur
Security researchers have discovered that Apple’s iPhone keeps track of where you go – and saves every detail of it to a secret file on the device which is then copied to the owner’s computer when the two are synchronised.
The file contains the latitude and longitude of the phone’s recorded coordinates along with a timestamp, meaning that anyone who stole the phone or the computer could discover details about the owner’s movements using a simple program.
For some phones, there could be almost a year’s worth of data stored, as the recording of data seems to have started with Apple’s iOS 4 update to the phone’s operating system, released in June 2010.
“Apple has made it possible for almost anybody – a jealous spouse, a private detective – with access to your phone or computer to get detailed information about where you’ve been,” said Pete Warden, one of the researchers.
Only the iPhone records the user’s location in this way, say Warden and Alasdair Allan, the data scientists who discovered the file and are presenting their findings at the Where 2.0 conference in San Francisco on Wednesday. “Alasdair has looked for similar tracking code in [Google's] Android phones and couldn’t find any,” said Warden. “We haven’t come across any instances of other phone manufacturers doing this.”
Simon Davies, director of the pressure group Privacy International, said: “This is a worrying discovery. Location is one of the most sensitive elements in anyone’s life – just think where people go in the evening. The existence of that data creates a real threat to privacy. The absence of notice to users or any control option can only stem from an ignorance about privacy at the design stage.”
Warden and Allan point out that the file is moved onto new devices when an old one is replaced: “Apple might have new features in mind that require a history of your location, but that’s our specualtion. The fact that [the file] is transferred across [to a new iPhone or iPad] when you migrate is evidence that the data-gathering isn’t accidental.” But they said it does not seem to be transmitted to Apple itself.
Although mobile networks already record phones’ locations, it is only available to the police and other recognised organisations following a court order under the Regulation of Investigatory Power Act. Standard phones do not record location data.
MPs in 2009 criticised the search engine giant Google for its “Latitude” system, which allowed people to enable their mobile to give out details of their location to trusted contacts. At the time MPs said that Latitude “could substantially endanger user privacy”, but Google pointed out that users had to specifically choose to make their data available.
The iPhone system, by contrast, appears to record the data whether or not the user agrees. Apple declined to comment on why the file is created or whether it can be disabled.
Warden and Allan have set up a web page which answers questions about the file, and created a simple downloadable application to let Apple users check for themselves what location data the phone is retaining. The Guardian has confirmed that 3G-enabled devices including the iPad also retain the data and copy it to the owner’s computer.
If someone were to steal an iPhone and “jailbreak” it, giving them direct access to the files it contains, they could extract the location database directly. Alternatively, anyone with direct access to a user’s computer could run the application and see a visualisation of their movements. Encrypting data on the computer is one way to protect against it, though that still leaves the file on the phone.
Graham Cluley, senior technology consultant at the security company Sophos, said: “If the data isn’t required for anything, then it shouldn’t store the location. And it doesn’t need to keep an archive on your machine of where you’ve been.” He suggested that Apple might be hoping that it would yield data for future mobile advertising targeted by location, although he added: “I tend to subscribe to cockup rather than conspiracy on things like this – I don’t think Apple is really trying to monitor where users are.”
February 22nd, 2011
By: Lydia Leavitt
Cutting class used to be all about dodging the hall monitor, but nowadays if students ditch too many times they will be asked to carry a GPS tracker in Anaheim, California. The GPS technology not only tells school officials where exactly the kids are, but asks them to enter a code at critical times in the day like lunch or a break, where they might be tempted to ditch.
Once the student enters a code like “1111,” which signifies all is good, it will send an email or text message to school administrators with the code and the student’s location.
The truancy plan doesn’t stop at GPS tracking but extends into personal coaching where adults can call a student’s phone to wake them up for school and make sure the student attends.
In recent years the size of GPS tracking units has gone down as well as the price.
School administrators say the handheld GPS units cost around $8 a day for a six-week program.
The approach is paid via a state grant and has been tried in Baltimore and San Antonio with much success.
February 9th, 2011
A vast network of high-tech surveillance cameras that allows Chicago police to zoom in on a crime in progress and track suspects across the city is raising privacy concerns.
Chicago’s path to becoming the most-watched US city began in 2003 when police began installing cameras with flashing blue lights at high-crime intersections.
The city has now linked more than 10,000 public and privately owned surveillance cameras in a system dubbed Operation Virtual Shield, according to a report published Tuesday by the American Civil Liberties Union.
At least 1,250 of them are powerful enough to zoom in and read the text of a book.
The sophisticated system is also capable of automatically tracking people and vehicles out of the range of one camera and into another and searching for images of interest like an unattended package or a particular license plate.
“Given Chicago’s history of unlawful political surveillance, including the notorious ‘Red Squad,’ it is critical that appropriate controls be put in place to rein in these powerful and pervasive surveillance cameras now available to law enforcement throughout the City,” said Harvey Grossman, legal director of the ACLU of Illinois.
The Chicago police “Red Squad” program from the 1920s through the 1970s spied on and maintained dossiers about thousands of individuals and groups in an effort to find communists and other subversives.
Outgoing mayor Richard Daley has long championed the cameras as crime-fighting tools and said he would like to see one on every street corner.
Chicago police say the cameras have led to 4,500 arrests in the last four years.
But the ACLU said the $60 million spent on the system would be better spent filling the 1,000 vacancies in the Chicago police force.
It urged the city to impose a moratorium on new cameras and implement new policies to prevent the misuse of cameras, such as prohibiting filming of private areas like the inside of a home and limiting the dissemination of recorded images.
“Our city needs to change course, before we awake to find that we cannot walk into a book store or a doctor’s office free from the government’s watchful eye,” the ACLU said.
A police spokeswoman said the department regularly reviews its policies and maintains an “open dialogue” with the ACLU.
“The Chicago Police Department is committed to safeguarding the civil liberties of city residents and visitors alike,” Lieutenant Maureen Biggane said in an e-mail.
“Public safety is a responsibility of paramount importance and we are fully committed to protecting the public from crime, and upholding the constitutional rights of all.”
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December 6th, 2010
By: Ryan Singel
Federal law enforcement agencies have been tracking Americans in real-time using credit cards, loyalty cards and travel reservations without getting a court order, a new document released under a government sunshine request shows.
The document, obtained by security researcher Christopher Soghoian, explains how so-called “Hotwatch” orders allow for real-time tracking of individuals in a criminal investigation via credit card companies, rental car agencies, calling cards, and even grocery store loyalty programs. The revelation sheds a little more light on the Justice Department’s increasing power and willingness to surveil Americans with little to no judicial or Congressional oversight.
For credit cards, agents can get real-time information on a person’s purchases by writing their own subpoena, followed up by a order from a judge that the surveillance not be disclosed. Agents can also go the traditional route — going to a judge, proving probable cause and getting a search warrant — which means the target will eventually be notified they were spied on.
The document suggests that the normal practice is to ask for all historical records on an account or individual from a credit card company, since getting stored records is generally legally easy. Then the agent sends a request for “Any and all records and information relating directly or indirectly to any and all ongoing and future transactions or events relating to any and all of the following person(s), entitities, account numbers, addresses and other matters…” That gets them a live feed of transaction data.
It’s not clear what standards an agent would have to follow to get a “Hotwatch” order. The Justice Department told Soghoian the document is the only one it could find relating to “hotwatches” — which means there is either no policy or the department is witholding relevant documents.
The Justice Department did not return a call for comment.
Every year, the Justice Department does have to report to Congress the numbers of criminal and national security wiretaps undertaken, as well as the number of National Security Letters issued. Tens of thousands of NSLs are issued yearly — most with gag orders that forbid ISPs or librarians from ever saying they have ever been served with such a subpoena.
But the Justice Department does not report or make public the number of times it got real time or historic cell phone location information, nor how often it is using these so-called “hotwatch” orders.
October 20th, 2010
By: Tom Whitehead
It will allow security services and the police to spy on the activities of every Briton who uses a phone or the internet.
Moves to make every communications provider store details for at least a year will be unveiled later this year sparking fresh fears over a return of the surveillance state.
The plans were shelved by the Labour Government last December but the Home Office is now ready to revive them.
It comes despite the Coalition Agreement promised to “end the storage of internet and email records without good reason”.
Any suggestion of a central “super database” has been ruled out but the plans are expected to involve service providers storing all users details for a set period of time.
That will allow the security and police authorities to track every phone call, email, text message and website visit made by the public if they argue it is needed to tackle crime or terrorism.
The information will include who is contacting whom, when and where and which websites are visited, but not the content of the conversations or messages.
The move was buried in the Government’s Strategic Defence and Security Review, which revealed: “We will introduce a programme to preserve the ability of the security, intelligence and law enforcement agencies to obtain communication data and to intercept communications within the appropriate legal framework.
“This programme is required to keep up with changing technology and to maintain capabilities that are vital to the work these agencies do to protect the public.
“Communications data provides evidence in court to secure convictions of those engaged in activities that cause serious harm. It has played a role in every major Security Service counter terrorism operation and in 95 per cent of all serious organised crime investigations.
“We will legislate to put in place the necessary regulations and safeguards to ensure that our response to this technology challenge is compatible with the Government’s approach to information storage and civil liberties.”
But Isabella Sankey, director of policy at Liberty, said: “One of the early and welcome promises of the new Government was to ‘end the blanket storage of internet and email records’.
“Any move to amass more of our sensitive data and increase powers for processing would amount to a significant U-turn. The terrifying ambitions of a group of senior Whitehall technocrats must not trump the personal privacy of law abiding Britons.”
Guy Herbert, general secretary of the No2ID campaign group, said: “We should not be surprised that the interests of bureaucratic empires outrank liberty.
“It is disappointing that the new ministers seem to be continuing their predecessors’ tradition of credulousness.”