privacy

Pompeo Expands Clean Network Initiative to Keep Americans’ Data Safe from China

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Wednesday announced the State Department is expanding its Clean Network initiative to keep Americans’ data safe from Chinese vendors looking to exploit the data. He said there are five new lines of effort. The first is “Clean Carrier” — working to ensure that untrusted Chinese telecom companies do not provide international telecommunications services between the United States and foreign destinations. “I join Attorney General Barr, [Defense] Secretary Esper, and Acting [Department of Homeland Security] Secretary Wolf in urging the [Federal Communications Commission] to revoke and terminate the authorizations of China Telecom and three other companies providing services to and from the United States,” he said. The second is “Clean Store” — removing untrusted Chinese apps from U.S. app stores. “President Trump has mentioned impending action on TikTok, and for good reason. With parent companies based in China, apps like TikTok, WeChat, and others are significant threats to the personal data of American citizens, not to mention tools for CCP content censorship,” Pompeo said. The third is “Clean Apps” — working to prevent Huawei and other untrusted vendors from pre-installing or making available for download the most popular U.S. apps. “We don’t want companies to be complicit in Huawei’s human rights abuses or the CCP’s surveillance apparatus,” he said. The fourth is “Clean Cloud” — protecting Americans’ most sensitive personal information and American businesses’ most valuable intellectual property — including COVID-19 vaccine research — from being accessed on cloud-based systems run by Chinese companies such as Alibaba, Baidu, China Mobile, China Telecom, and Tencent. “The State Department will work closely with Commerce and other agencies to limit the ability of Chinese cloud service providers to collect, to store, and to process vast amounts of data and sensitive information here in the United States,” he said. The fifth is “Clean Cable” — working to ensure that the CCP cannot compromise information carried by the undersea cables that connect the U.S. and others to the global internet. “Huawei Marine significantly underbids other companies on multiple procurements to connect Asia, the Pacific, Africa, and Europe using Chinese state-backed underseas technology,” he said. “We can’t allow that to continue. We call on all freedom-loving nations and companies to join the Clean Network,” he said.

Kudos to Sec. of State Mike Pompeo and the rest of the Trump Administration doing this for all of us.  Excellent!!      🙂

Josh Hawley: Google, Apple CEOs Must Be Personally Liable for User Privacy

Sen. Josh Hawley (R-MO) has called on the CEOs of Google and Apple to accept personal legal liability for protecting user privacy as they move to implement “contact tracing” technology in smartphones to track the spread of the Chinese virus. As Breitbart News reported earlier this month, Google and Apple are teaming up to track carriers of the Chinese coronavirus and other individuals, a process known as “contact tracing,” using smartphone location data. The companies promise a broader Bluetooth-based contact tracing platform by building this functionality into the underlying platforms,” meaning the technology will be embedded in Android and iOS smartphones. Now Sen. Hawley is calling on the companies to address privacy concerns by making their CEOs personally liable for any improper use of user data. “If you seek to assure the public, make your stake in this project personal,” wrote Hawley in a letter to Apple CEO Tim Cook and Alphabet and Google CEO Sundar Pichai “Make a commitment that you and other executives will be personally liable if you stop protecting privacy, such as by granting advertising companies access to the interface once the pandemic is over. The public statements you make now can be enforced under federal and state consumer protection laws. Do not hide behind a corporate shield like so many privacy offenders have before. Stake your personal finances on the security of this project.” This comes after Google’s recent announcement that, allegedly due to pandemic-related disruption, it would delay the rollout of key features in its plan to eliminate third-party tracking technology (known as “cookies”) in its Chrome internet browser. The effort is part of a wider push by Google to reassure consumers about its commitment to their privacy. But as Breitbart News reported last month, eliminating third-party cookies does not mean Chrome browsers won’t be collecting user data. It just means that Google will have an even tighter monopoly over that data, supplementing the vast amounts of data it collects on its users’ behavior via services like Google Search, Maps, YouTube, Gmail, Google Docs, and hardware like Android phones, tablets, and Chromebooks. The company also does not have a sterling reputation for responsibly accessing healthcare data. In 2019, the company gained access to the personal health data of 50 million Americans through an initiative the company branded “Project Nightingale.” According to reports at the time, doctors and patients were unaware of Google’s data-harvesting operation.

Major kudos to Sen. Josh Hawley (R-MO), who is also the former Attorney General for the State of Missouri, for putting these CEOs on notice.  This whole so-called “contact tracing” just stinks of big brother and allowing the government the ability to track your whereabouts without any restrictions.

Google to issue reports on users’ location data to help governments enforce social distancing

Google said Friday it will begin publishing reports created from Google Maps users’ whereabouts to help governments make policy decisions regarding social distancing measures enacted to fight coronavirus. Karen DeSalvo, Google’s chief health officer, said Friday the company will protect individuals’ privacy by not revealing any one user’s location, contacts or movement at any point. Dr. DeSalvo said the COVID-19 Community Mobility Reports will initially cover 131 countries and regions and they will expand to cover additional countries and regions in the coming weeks. “The reports use aggregated, anonymized data to chart movement trends over time by geography, across different high-level categories of places such as retail and recreation, groceries and pharmacies, parks, transit stations, workplaces, and residential,” Dr. DeSalvo wrote on Google’s blog. “We’ll show trends over several weeks, with the most recent information representing 48-to-72 hours prior. … In addition to other resources public health officials might have, we hope these reports will help support decisions about how to manage the COVID-19 pandemic.” Dr. DeSalvo wrote that the information Google has long collected but is now publishing may help officials understand better what defines an “essential” trip and where public transit resources may need to be allocated. Google users with the “Location History” setting turned on are having their whereabouts provide information for the mobility reports, which are publicly searchable on Google. Dr. DeSalvo wrote that her team is also working with epidemiologists who are focused on coronavirus and is providing them with an “existing aggregate, anonymized dataset” to learn more about the coronavirus outbreak and “forecast the pandemic.”

This certainly should raise all sorts of privacy and ‘big brother’ questions/concerns.  We’ll, of course, keep an eye on this developing story…

Supreme Court says warrant necessary for phone location data in win for privacy

The US Supreme Court has ruled in favor of digital privacy. In a 5-4 decision on Friday, the justices said police need warrants to gather phone location data as evidence for trials. That reversed and remanded a decision by the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals. Carpenter v. United States is the first case about phone location data that the Supreme Court has ruled on. That makes it a landmark decision regarding how law enforcement agencies can use technology as they build cases. The court heard arguments in the case on Nov. 29. The dispute dates back to a 2011 robbery in Detroit, after which police gathered months of phone location data from Timothy Carpenter’s phone provider. They pulled together 12,898 different locations from Carpenter, over 127 days. The legal and privacy concern was that police gathered the four months’ worth of Carpenter’s digital footprints without a warrant. A Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals judge ruled that cellphone location data isn’t protected by the Fourth Amendment, which forbids unreasonable search and seizure, and therefore didn’t require a warrant. In the Supreme Court’s ruling, Chief Justice John Roberts wrote the government’s searches of Carpenter’s phone records were considered a Fourth Amendment search. “The government’s position fails to contend with the seismic shifts in digital technology that made possible the tracking of not only Carpenter’s location but also everyone else’s, not for a short period but for years and years,” he wrote. Roberts said allowing government access to historical GPS data infringes on Carpenter’s Fourth Amendment protections and expectation of privacy, by providing law enforcement with an “all-encompassing record” of his whereabouts. He added that historical GPS data presents an “even greater privacy risk” than real-time GPS monitoring.

 

DHS Announces Program To Scan American Faces

As TSA agents continue to prove their incompetence in the “War on Terror,” the Department of Homeland Security is now allocating $1 billion in taxpayer funding to create a facial recognition program that will scan Americans’ faces. A study conducted by Georgetown Law’s Center for Privacy and Technology looked at the biometric scanners that are creating an inventory of the faces of individuals leaving the country at airports across the United States. While they are only at certain major airports right now, the full implementation of these scanners could cost Americans up to $1 billion. The study noted that while the “9/11 Response and Biometric Exit Account” created by Congress has the funds for the program, “neither Congress nor DHS has ever justified the need for the program.” In addition to the fact that Congress has never provided a reason why the system is needed in the U.S., the study claimed that DHS has “repeatedly questioned ‘the additional value biometric air exit would provide’ compared with the status quo and the ‘overall value and cost of a biometric air exit capability,’ even as it has worked to build it.” Not only is a government agency pouring $1 billion into a program to increase the country’s security measures even though it lacks full confidence, and has no evidence that the program it is implementing will do so, there is also the fact that the program requires Americans to give up their civil liberties, and it has never been explicitly authorized by the government. As the researchers from Georgetown Law noted: “DHS’ biometric exit program also stands on shaky legal ground. Congress has repeatedly ordered the collection of biometrics from foreign nationals at the border, but has never clearly authorized the border collection of biometrics from American citizens using face recognition technology. Without explicit authorization, DHS should not be scanning the faces of Americans as they depart on international flights—but DHS is doing it anyway. DHS also is failing to comply with a federal law requiring it to conduct a rulemaking process to implement the airport face scanning program—a process that DHS has not even started.” The study also found that the biometric scanners used by DHS are not reliable, and often make mistakes. In fact, “according to DHS’ own data, DHS’ face recognition systems erroneously reject as many as 1 in 25 travelers using valid credentials.” This means that at the country’s busiest airports, more than 1,500 travelers could be wrongfully denied boarding in a single day. As The Free Thought Project has reported, while the biometric scanners are currently located at the major airports in Boston, Chicago, Houston, Atlanta, New York City and the District of Columbia, DHS has made it clear that they plan to roll this program out nationwide by January 2018. Sens. Ed Markey, a Democrat from Massachusetts, and Mike Lee, a Republican from Utah, criticized the privacy implications, and called for Homeland Security to halt the facial recognition scanning program in a letter to DHS Secretary Kirstjen Nielson: “We request that DHS stop the expansion of this program, and provide Congress with its explicit statutory authority to use and expand a biometric exit program on U.S. citizens. If there is no specific authorization, then we request an explanation for why DHS believes it has the authority to proceed without congressional approval. Additionally, we ask that you address a number of our privacy concerns with the program.” Markey told The Hill that DHS should never have started testing and implementing the biometric scanners without first receiving congressional approval, and the United States Congress should take the time to weigh the implications of the program before handing the department a blank check. “When American citizens travel by air internationally, they should not have to choose between privacy and security,” Markey said. “The implementation of the Department of Homeland Security’s facial recognition scanning program for passengers leaving the country raises a number of concerns around accuracy, transparency and basic necessity.”

Definitely some disturbing implications here..  This is a toughy..and it pits two competing conflicting values; privacy and security.  Here at The Daily Buzz we are ALL for securing biometric data from those NON-U.S. citizens coming to America, especially illegal aliens.  With the ever growing threats to our national security and our homeland, that is just basic common sense.  However, we need to be VERY careful that such efforts, and the technologies used to implement those efforts, are not used against law-abiding American citizens, without a proper warrant or other court order.  We’ll keep an eye on this developing story…

Apple faces renewed attack over encryption by New York Democrat D.A.

Security features introduced by Apple in October 2014 have caused investigators in New York City to amass a collection of at least 423 iPhone and iPads that are incapable of being unlocked despite being lawfully seized by authorities, the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office said this week. The statistic appears in a 34-page released Thursday by the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office that serves as both an update to its struggle with digital encryption and a call for Congress to legislate a solution. Following the release nearly two years ago of its iOS 8 operating system, Apple has allowed mobile device users to encrypt their iPhones and iPods in a manner that makes it effectively impossible for anyone to decipher a secure device’s contents, law enforcement and Apple included. The district attorney for Manhattan, Cyrus R. Vance Jr., was among the most vocal public opponents of Apple when it rolled out iOS 8 in October 2014. He has continued to call out the company during the last couple of years over its marketing of what he describes as “warrant-proof” devices that can’t be accessed irrespective of any court order authorizing a search and seizure. In this week’s update, Mr. Vance’s office said “the threat to public safety is increasing rapidly” as Apple and others continue to market mobile devices and operating systems designed with security features that pose problems for law enforcement. Notwithstanding “vigorous efforts by law enforcement officials to address those risks and dangers, there has been precious little progress,” the report said. “In the more than two years since Apple and Google announced that their operating systems would be inaccessible to the companies themselves, law enforcement’s inability to access critical evidence has hindered criminal investigations and prosecutions throughout the world,” the report said. “In the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office alone, 423 Apple iPhones and iPads lawfully seized since October 2014 remain inaccessible due to default device encryption,” the report said. “These devices relate to cases involving various types of crimes investigated throughout the office, ranging from cybercrime, to narcotics, to violent offenses.” Of those 423 phones, the report said that 10 percent related to homicide of attempt murder cases, while 9 percent pertained to sex crimes. Devices seized with respect to cases involving larceny, forgery, cyber crime or identity theft made up around 39 percent of the cache, the report said. “Default device encryption poses a severe threat to our safety,” the report concluded. “To respond to the threat by ignoring it, or hurling bromides (‘Privacy,’ ‘Security’) as if they resolved matters, would be ill-advised. The genius of our legal system has been its ability to adapt to change, including technological change. With default device encryption, the legal system is faced with a technological change, just as it was with the advents of automobiles and telephones. As it did with respect to those technologies, the legal system must respond.” Mr. Vance’s office hopes to accomplish as much with federal legislation that would require companies “to retain the ability to extract the information on the smartphones, if and when the manufacturer or designer receives a search warrant for that information.” “The proposed legislation would restore the status quo before Apple’s iOS 8, and would be no different conceptually than legislation that requires products to be safe, buildings to be constructed with exits and egresses that satisfy specific requirements, and roads to have maximum speed limits,” the report said. When reached for a response, Apple referred The Wall Street Journal to a February 2016 letter, written by its chief executive officer, Tim Cook, in which he defended the company’s security features in the midst of a federal court battle brought by the government’s inability to unlock an iPhone used by one of the terrorists in last year’s mass shooting in San Bernardino. “The government is asking Apple to hack our own users and undermine decades of security advancements that protect our customers — including tens of millions of American citizens — from sophisticated hackers and cybercriminals,” Mr. Cook wrote then.

And this is why I have an iPhone..

Appeals Court Delivers Devastating Blow to Cellphone-Privacy Advocates

Courts across the country are grappling with a key question for the information age: When law enforcement asks a company for cellphone records to track location data in an investigation, is that a search under the Fourth Amendment? By a 12-3 vote, appellate court judges in Richmond, Virginia, on Monday ruled that it is not — and therefore does not require a warrant. The 4th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld what is known as the third-party doctrine: a legal theory suggesting that consumers who knowingly and willingly surrender information to third parties therefore have “no reasonable expectation of privacy” in that information — regardless of how much information there is, or how revealing it is. Research clearly shows that cell-site location data collected over time can reveal a tremendous amount of personal information — like where you live, where you work, when you travel, who you meet with, and who you sleep with. And it’s impossible to make a call without giving up your location to the cellphone company. “Supreme Court precedent mandates this conclusion,” Judge Diana Motz wrote in the majority opinion. “For the Court has long held that an individual enjoys no Fourth Amendment protection ‘in information he voluntarily turns over to [a] third part[y].’” The quote was from the 1979 Supreme Court case Smith v. Maryland. The 5th, 6th, and 11th circuits have reached the same conclusion. However, there’s been a lot of disagreement within the lower courts and among privacy advocates that the third-party doctrine is consistent with the way people live their lives in the digital age — primarily on their cellphones. A three-judge panel of the 4th Circuit in fact first ruled last August that getting cell-site records in bulk did constitute a search, triggering a warrant requirement. In the case, United States v. Graham, the government obtained 221 days’ worth of records belonging to a robbery suspect in Baltimore. The panel’s opinion relied heavily on a separate legal theory, called mosaic theory, to come to that conclusion: the argument that even if one instance of evidence gathering doesn’t count as a search, asking for a large number of data points can eventually amount to one. For a while, it looked like there might be a split in the lower courts that would require the Supreme Court to reconsider the third-party doctrine. But now that the 4th Circuit has ruled, that seems less likely. Privacy advocates were disappointed:

Yeah.. No kidding.. To read the rest of this article, click on the text above.

Switzerland protected your money — now it’ll protect your data

Swiss Alps, Swiss banks … Swiss privacy? With rising international concern about data privacy, Switzerland is positioning itself as the best country for data privacy. There are several strong arguments in favor of it: The Swiss constitution and laws are on your side, for one thing. Switzerland’s political independence from the European union has wide-ranging implications. Add the Swiss reputation for privacy and, if you want to keep your data secure, Switzerland may be your best bet, according to a report by The Daily Dot. To start with, Switzerland is uniquely independent. Because it’s not an EU member, Switzerland is not bound by EU rules or potential data privacy agreements between the U.S. and the EU. Data privacy is protected by Article 13 of the Swiss Constitution, with ramifications beyond European Union rules. Also, EU authorities cannot enforce their laws within Swiss borders. Article 13 is short and simple — it only has two sections. Section 1 states, “Every person has the right to privacy in their private and family life and in their home, and in relation to their mail and telecommunications.” Section 2 reads, “Every person has the right to be protected against the misuse of their personal data.” It’s significant that in Switzerland, unlike the EU and many other countries, there is no differentiation between personal and business data. Privacy rights cover both personal and business data. It’s hard to get Swiss courts to grant access to data to government agencies. In many countries, a court ruling to grant agency access to data may be issued in private with no opportunity for the data’s owner to object. In Switzerland, however, the person whose data is being sought must be notified ahead of time and given a chance to fight the access in court. Since World War II, Switzerland has built bunkers and underground tunnels. Many of these tunnels have been re-purposed for secure data storage impervious to weather and protected from attacks. Following Edward Snowden’s disclosures about NSA surveillance in 2013, Switzerland’s data storage business has grown. Finally, to top it all off, in addition to its legal and physical protection Switzerland is being marketed. Vigiswiss, an active trade group of data companies, is actively promoting the country as the “world’s safe haven for data.”

Very cool!    🙂

FBI Instructs High Schools to Inform On “Anti-government” Students – Constitutionalists figure prominently on the target list

A new FBI initiative based on Britain’s “anti-terror” mass surveillance program instructs high schools across America to inform on students who express “anti-government” and “anarchist” political beliefs. “High school students are ideal targets for recruitment by violent extremists seeking support for their radical ideologies, foreign fighter networks, or conducting acts of targeted violence within our borders. High schools must remain vigilant in educating their students about catalysts that drive violent extremism and the potential consequences of embracing extremist belief,” states an unclassified document released in January by the FBI’s Office of Partner Engagement, the agency’s primary liaison for the law enforcement community. The document claims public school educators “are in a unique position to affect change, impart affirmative messaging, or facilitate intervention activities,” including informing on students. It calls for “observing and assessing concerning behaviors and communications” of students “embracing extremist ideologies.” In addition to “designated foreign terrorist organizations,” the FBI program targets “domestic violent extremism movements,” including anti-government groups. According to the FBI “some adults embrace domestic violent extremist ideologies [and] their beliefs can permeate family norms, oftentimes influencing their children. This dynamic fosters biases leading to hatred and intolerance, and drives the need for action.” The FBI and federal and local law enforcement groups categorize many libertarian, constitutionalist and other groups and individuals as “sovereign citizens.” According to an FBI counterterrorism analysis, sovereign citizens “may refer to themselves as ‘constitutionalists’ or ‘freemen,’ which is not necessarily a connection to a specific group, but, rather, an indication that they are free from government control.” The FBI considers the Redemption Theory (the abandonment of the gold standard in favor of fiat currency), emancipation “from the responsibilities of being a U.S. citizen, including paying taxes,” and “conspiracy theories,” including the formation of global government and a police state, as indicators of extremist or sovereign citizen ideology. A National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism (START) report produced by the Office of University Programs, Science and Technology Directorate at the Department of Homeland Security in 2014 lists sovereign citizens as the primary domestic terror threat in the United States, followed by Islamic jihadists, “militia/patriot” and “extreme anti-tax” groups. The document attempts to persuade law enforcement that sovereign citizens are a direct threat to them. “Such changing perceptions about what is a serious terrorist threat is an important finding because identifying and prioritizing a threat is akin to hitting a moving target and evolves as new intelligence, data, and events develop,” the START report argues. The FBI high school informer network initiative is part of a larger effort “identifying and prioritizing” supposed threats. The FBI initiative—the latest manifestation of the “see something, say something” surveillance matrix—further engenders a government informant culture that shares a parallel with East Germany’s “Inoffizieller Mitarbeiter” or informal collaborator culture. This Stasi network served as a primary instrument of repression in communist East Germany. The government forged partnerships with business, state institutions and social organizations. It is estimated that the Stasi had an informal collaborator or informant network exceeding 624,000 people (in 1989, at the height of Stasi power, the population of East Germany was 16.5 million). Former intelligence professionals are well aware the United States is on its way to becoming a totalitarian high-tech surveillance state that will soon rival the East German variant. In January 2015 a delegation of Sam Adams Associates for Integrity in Intelligence—which included ex-officers from the NSA, CIA and British MI5—visited the Stasi museum in Berlin. “As the former intelligence officers-turned-whistleblowers walked among the well-preserved offices and conference rooms of a former totalitarian state’s internal spy apparatus,” writes Elizabeth Murray, who served as Deputy National Intelligence Officer for the Near East in the National Intelligence Council, “the sense of deja vu and irony of what the United States of America has become was clearly not lost on any of them.”

Wow..

Pentagon admits it has deployed military spy drones over the U.S.

The Pentagon has deployed drones to spy over U.S. territory for non-military missions over the past decade, but the flights have been rare and lawful, according to a new report. The report by a Pentagon inspector general, made public under a Freedom of Information Act request, said spy drones on non-military missions have occurred fewer than 20 times between 2006 and 2015 and always in compliance with existing law. The report, which did not provide details on any of the domestic spying missions, said the Pentagon takes the issue of military drones used on American soil “very seriously.” A senior policy analyst for the ACLU, Jay Stanley, said it is good news no legal violations were found, yet the technology is so advanced that it’s possible laws may require revision. “Sometimes, new technology changes so rapidly that existing law no longer fit what people think are appropriate,” Stanley said. “It’s important to remember that the American people do find this to be a very, very sensitive topic.” The use of unmanned aerial surveillance (UAS) drones over U.S. surfaced in 2013 when then-FBI director Robert Mueller testified before Congress that the bureau employed spy drones to aid investigations, but in a “very,very minimal way, very seldom.” The inspector general analysis was completed March 20, 2015, but not released publicly until last Friday. It said that with advancements in drone technology along with widespread military use overseas, the Pentagon established interim guidance in 2006 governing when and whether the unmanned aircraft could be used domestically. The interim policy allowed spy drones to be used for homeland defense purposes in the U.S. and to assist civil authorities. But the policy said that any use of military drones for civil authorities had to be approved by the Secretary of Defense or someone delegated by the secretary. The report found that defense secretaries have never delegated that responsibility. The report quoted a military law review article that said “the appetite to use them (spy drones) in the domestic environment to collect airborne imagery continues to grow, as does Congressional and media interest in their deployment.” Military units that operate drones told the inspector general they would like more opportunities to fly them on domestic missions if for no other reason than to give pilots more experience to improve their skills, the report said. “Multiple units told us that as forces using the UAS capabilities continue to draw down overseas, opportunities for UAS realistic training and use have decreased,” the report said. A request for all cases between 2006 and 2015 in which civil authorities asked the military for use of spy drones produced a list of “less than twenty events,” the report said. The list included requests granted and denied. The list was not made public in the report. But a few examples were cited, including one case in which an unnamed mayor asked the Marine Corps to use a drone to find potholes in the mayor’s city. The Marines denied the request because obtaining the defense secretary’s “approval to conduct a UAS mission of this type did not make operational sense.” Shortly before the inspector general report was completed a year ago, the Pentagon issued a new policy governing the use of spy drones. It requires the defense secretary to approve all domestic spy drone operations. It says that unless permitted by law and approved by the secretary, drones “may not conduct surveillance on U.S. persons.” It also bans the use of armed drones over the United States for anything other than training and testing.