Week 10 News Digest

FBI wants Congress to mandate backdoors in tech devices to facilitate surveillance

20 October 2014


This article is a response to statements made by Apple and Google. They said that they would make the data customers collect on their phones and computers safer and more secure from those hacking by law enforcement, spies, and identity thieves. FBI director James Comey asks Congress to order tech companies to improve their devices with backdoors. This will make them more available to law enforcement agencies. Privacy supporters forecast that not very many in Congress will support Comey’s pursuit for better surveillance powers. Congress is not close to passing any laws that will make the products more vulnerable to hacking.

ACLU Study: St. Louis City surveillance cameras are an invasion of privacy

OCTOBER 23, 2014


The ACLU (American Civil Liberties Union) have created a study in this article. They believe that surveillance cameras in St. Louis City are doing little to nothing to help the city fight crime. They also believe that because they are doing little to no help, that the cameras are actual so pointless that they are now invasions of privacy to citizens of the city in St. Louis. Because the ACLU believe this, they want to get rid of the surveillance cameras completely in the city of St. Louis. The city would save money and could spend the money they save on anything else.

UN Rights Expert Urges Governments To Protect Right To Privacy While Spying



This article talks about Ben Emmerson, the United Nations human rights expert, and how he want the Government to update their laws concerning mass surveillance of the internet for terrorism. He believes that terrorism is a huge threat to our nation and he believes that using and updating the laws for privacy and surveillance will help capture more terrorist or those who threaten other’s lives. He reminds the government that it is their right to protect the innocent citizens from those who threaten our safety. He wants the government to produce a detailed and evidence based justification to show that this system is actually working.

UN special rapporteur slams US, UK spying on Internet users

Oct 24, 2014


In this article, it talks about how the United Nation’s top official for counter terrorism and human rights has talked badly about the mass Internet surveillance techniques that are used by the United States and by the United Kingdom. HE goes on to describe them as a systematic interference to human rights to privacy. He also says that they are a recognizable and clear violation to these human rights. He goes on to relate how Snowden revealed how these agencies were spying on cell phone records. He warns that intelligence and the law enforcement agencies were able to inspect every internet user in countries.

Automated Mass Surveillance is Unconstitutional, EFF Explains in Jewel v. NSA

OCTOBER 24, 2014


The EFF, in this article, have gone to court to show that the mass surveillance on Internet use and on cell phones are one hundred percent and clearly unconstitutional. The court did not agree with the EFF. The EFF continued to show that this issue is a huge problem. They argue that this mass surveillance has an issue with the fourth amendment. The government filed for opposition to the report from September and said that the Fourth amendment has nothing to do with this mass surveillance and is irreverent. The government continues to say that the purpose of mass surveillance is for the safety and protections of the citizens.

Week 9 News Digest

  1. PRISM Oct.16, 2014


Prism is a top-secret $20 million a year NSA surveillance program, offering the agency access to information on its targets from the servers of some of the USA’s biggest technology companies: Google, Apple, Microsoft, Facebook, AOL, PalTalk and Yahoo. NSA and GCHQ a UK spy agency have been undertaking a systematic effort to undermine encryption, technology which underpins the safety and security of the internet, including email accounts, commerce, banking and official records these actions leave all internet users more vulnerable. Prism can access information “directly from the servers” of US companies a claim that the NSA denies. Other sources claim that the NSA has paid “prism providers” and even that Microsoft helped with the process. GCHQ’s stated goal is to “Master the Internet”, using a clause of a law passed in 2000 for individual warranted surveillance, known as RIPA.




 James Comey director of the FBI says, “The Internet is the most dangerous parking lot imaginable.” Which means that, online one could get mugged in ways that you never saw coming. One example to that helps explain what James Comey is referring to is when JPMorgan Chase, the nation’s largest bank, admitted that its system was looted for weeks by computer criminals who stole personal information from 83 million customers. This interview started out with what the FBI director thought of terrorism, but the conversation led to a surprising responses. All in all for the top cop of the nation it seems he does question the methods of privacy and surveillance. But check out the video the get the full details.

  1.  South Korea Tries To Ease Cyber Surveillance Fears Oct. 17,2014


Prosecutors last month began a cyber investigation team after President Park Geun-hye spoke out against online rumors. The investigation set South Korea in confusion and fear of their government snooping among users and providers of online services. South Korea began to worry even more after a domestic chat app lost customers to a foreign rival because of the fear that prosecutors in one the world’s most wired countries might get access to online conversations. In order to ease the country Prime Minister Chung Hong-won reassured the public about online privacy, saying “the government would only seek monitoring rights in special circumstances, such an investigation of murder, human trafficking or insurrection.”

  1. Finding a Video Poker Bug Made These Guys Rich—Then Vegas Made Them Pay Oct.7,2014


So this one is kind of a cheat, but it made me remember about the movie 21, where In order to be accepted into Harvard School of Medicine, Ben Campbell will have to save $300,000 for the course. Problem is Ben can’t get this amount of money. But impressing Prof. Micky Rosa with his skills in his math he’s invited to become a member of a small group who are planning to walk out of Vegas with millions, thanks to Ben’s card counting. Ben found a glitch witch is the kind of thing gamblers dream of, casinos dread, and Nevada regulators have an entire auditing regime to prevent. In this article John Kane was hitting the jackpot due to the fact that he’d found a bug in the slot, but his luck changes when the casino’s surveillance security catches his secret.

  1. Surveillance-Proof Oct 17,2014


With new phones coming out and the latest apps to install, we still question who and what can access our privacy such as our emails, phone calls, banking info, etc. But according to Judith Miller “Technology companies take heat for making phones the government can’t tap.” So maybe buying a new phone now isn’t such a bad idea. New York and Washington law enforcement officials ranted and complained about the upgrades Google and Apple created by selling cell phones and other devices that cannot be accessed by the government and warned these major companies that such technology could jeopardize public safety.

Week 7 News Digest

Facebook tightens rules on researching users after anger over mood study

October 2




In 2012, the large social networking company Facebook began a study to research how Facebook posts affect their users moods, giving some customers more sad posts and others more happy posts. When the research was published in June, people were shocked and outraged that Facebook did this without the consent, or even the knowledge, of over 700,000 users. While it was a legal study (according to their Terms of Service), but they are now restricting their own research methods to avoid another social outcry. According to Facebook they are clarifying how studies should be handled and training new employees about research practices.


Cyberattack Against JPMorgan Chase Affects 76 Million Households

October 2




Seven million small businesses and 70 million households had their JPMorgan Chase bank accounts compromised in a recent cyberattack. With the recent Target and Home Depot cyberattacks, this may seem like no big deal, however JPMorgan is a bank.Not only does it hold card data and personal information, but it holds financial records and even customer’s money. According to the bank no money was taken, and more secure information such as passwords and social security numbers remain safe,  but people’s names, addresses, phone numbers and emails were taken. In addition hackers obtained information about programs and applications the bank uses, making it easier for a second round of hacking.


New Apple Tool Checks iPhones for ‘Kill Switch’ Security

October 2




Next summer, the citizens of California will be enjoying an iphone that they will be able to “kill” at any time. Last year California law enforcement complained that phone carriers and companies dealing in technology were not doing enough to prevent theft of their electronic devices, which happens often in California. In response, Apple made the Activation Lock feature which is able to make the electronic device unusable to someone without the original user’s Apple username and password. Because it will be law that all smartphone sales have a similar setting, Apple now has an app that can check any iPhone for the feature with the only necessity being a serial number. This should ensure the California law is upheld, as well as let anyone know if their iPhone could be “killed”.


New airport scanner could make going through security a breeze

October 2




The newest airport scanner, the Alfa3, could abolish the need for x-rays, metal detectors, and most importantly, pat downs. Using a technology called millimeter wave imaging, Alfa3 is able to scan people who just walk past it in an easy and efficient manner. This differs from Alfa3’s predecessor’s which required people to stand in a chamber with their arms raised. Also, it gives a higher resolution than other millimeter wave scanners, increasing its accuracy. With the ability to see liquids and gasses, without being able to see any human anatomy, as well as solids through clothing, the Alfa3 would make going through airport security as easy as walking down a hallway, and just as fast and private too.


Dubai detectives to get Google Glass to fight crime

October 2




The fantasy of spy movies and their crazy technological toys seems to become closer to reality every day. This time, its glasses that can do face recognition. That’s right, the Dubai police force are planning on equipping their officers with Google Glass, which is a little computer screen attached to the frame of eyewear. It is able to record videos, snap pictures, record sound, and, with a little work,  compare faces to those in a database. The police in Dubai tend to test this with combating traffic violators, and if it works move it on to phase 2 which will include detective work. Not only can wealth police forces use this handy little tool, but for the low price of $1,500 you could be able to snap pictures in the blink of an eye, with the blink of an eye.

Week 6 News Digest

6 Utah stores affected in Jimmy John’s card data breach

Wednesday 24 September


Jimmy Johns (national sandwich franchise) released a list of stores affected by the card data breach, 6 out of the 216 were locations in Utah.  The login credentials were stolen from a point-of-sale vendor used by Jimmy Johns, making it so that the identity thieves could access part of the payment system. According to Jimmy Johns, customers’ names, verification codes, expiration dates, and card numbers may have been accessed in the data breach. On Wednesday the company said their system had been secured, and it was safe for customers to use payment cards again at their restaurants.

New body scanners aim to cut back on jail contraband

Wednesday 24 September


On Wednesday, Salt Lake County Sheriff Jim Winder released two new body scanning machines, called SecurPASS. These machines produce clear X-ray quality pictures and can detect anything hidden on-or inside of-inmates bodies. Every inmate changing into a jail jumpsuit in Salt Lake County Jail will be put through the machine before being released. Jail official estimate several hundred prisoners will be scanned a day, as they are planning on scanning all inmates who are transported in and out of the jail. Winder says “We know that contraband is being introduced into our facility. We tried to secure it every other way we could. But when someone has inserted it into their body, that makes it extremely difficult for us. This solves that problem.”

Police: Undercover officers able to trap man looking for teens for sex

Monday 22 September


Undercover officers set up a fake Facebook profile, and were able to catch a  52-year-old man trying to meet up with a young girl to have sex in a hotel room. The Facebook account was a fake social media profile of a 15-year-old girl. Officers say they got lucky when the man (David Kent Davis) starting talking to them without realizing he was talking to the police. Davis convinced the girl to meet him in a hotel room on a Friday afternoon, where Police were waiting for him. Davis admitted to coming to the hotel to meet up with a 15-year-old girl, and the Police were able to arrest him and charge him with a misdemeanor charge of enticing a minor over the internet.

Child Pornography Case Spurs Debate on Military’s Role in Law Enforcement

Sunday 21 September


A federal agent (Mr. Logan) working undercover signed on to a file-sharing network, sometimes used by child pornography traders. He was able to locate a computer that contained illegal photos and video, and downloaded multiple files as evidence. The owner of the computer was convicted and given an 18-year sentence at a federal prison. The problem with this case though, was that Mr. Logan was supposed to be searching for military service members trading in child pornography, not civilians. This sparked a debate over how much the military’s investigative powers can legally contribute to civilian law enforcement. One judge stated “The extraordinary nature of the surveillance here demonstrates a need to deter future violations.” The argument has been made that the military’s involvement had been minimal and Mr. Logan and colleagues had originally investigated because “we had the opportunity and the equipment”, but the case is still pending.

4chan to Emma Watson: You speak out on gender equality, we release nude photos

Monday 22 September


Emma Watson recently delivered a speech about ending gender inequality, to which a group on 4chan responded by creating a website called “Emma You Are Next.” The website is an alleged count down to a day when a 4chan user will release nude photographs of her. In part of the speech, she addressed the fact that “at 14, I started being sexualized by certain elements of the press”, which made her a target of interest for the “Emma You Are Next” site. Some are claiming the site is a hoax, but recent iCloud hacks make it hard to indicate whether or not it is real.

Week 4 News Digest

Petition calls on Obama stop intimidation of journalists and whistleblowers


Monday 8 September

The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) launched a petition demanding limitations to the surveillance of journalists. They have three key components to their petition, including the prohibition of the hacking and surveillance of journalists and media organizations, the limitations of prosecutions of journalists and whistle blowers, and the termination of harassment of journalists along the US border. They were prompted to do this from evidence from the documents leaked by Edward Snowden, which reported that US and allied intelligence agencies were targeting various news organizations for surveillance. Many journalists have signed the petition, including journalists from CNN, Fox News, Associated Press, and Pen International.

Five Eyes spy pact: Transparency challenge lodged at European rights court


Tuesday 9 September

The Five Eyes spy pact that authorizes the sharing of intelligence between Britain, America, Australia, Canada and New Zealand should be made transparent, according to an appeal launched at the European Court of Human Rights. The pact outlines the collaborations between the security agencies of multiple countries and how they pass on information. The Privacy International group (PI) issued an appeal to make it transparent this Tuesday. Currently the countries that are part of the Five Eyes pact share the information of citizens around the world constantly. If the appeal goes through, then the rules of the Five Eyes pact and how they deal with this information shall be made transparent.

U.S. threatened Yahoo with $250,000-a-day fine for withholding user data


Thursday 11 September

Yahoo! Inc claimed that the government of the U.S. threatened them in 2008 of a fine of $250000 a day in they didn’t comply with national security requests for user’s data. Yahoo challenged the NSA’s requests in court in 2007, and the documents of the case have been released today. They were the only company to refuse the requests in that era, choosing to fight against the requests instead of compromising the security of their users. The case was held in at the U.S. Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, which usually keeps all its cases secret. Even with the recent declassification of the case, portions of the documents remain sealed and classified.

City used high-tech tracking software at ‘13 Boston Calling


Monday 8 September

The city of Boston spent $650,000 to test surveillance software during last year’s Boston Calling music festival, using the technology to record the crowds of concertgoers without their knowledge. Boston was testing the software provided by IBM called “situational awareness” software that can use existing cameras. The city of Boston confirmed the use of the software when a journalist found documents from the project off the internet, which was uploaded by an IBM employee to a public server. The city is unclear if the software is impractical, however Boston remains interested in the practical use of the product. Situational awareness software is supposed to analyze video and indicate if an event of urgency is occurring.

Redactions in U.S. Memo Leave Doubts on Data Surveillance Program


Tuesday 6 September

The U.S. Justice department has recently declassified a memo from 2004 that approved surveillance and data collection activities for the NSA. The activities regard the Stellarwind program, a secret program instated by George W. Bush after the 9/11 attacks. The Obama administration voluntarily released the memo. A version was released in 2011 that was more heavily redacted, but this version still contains several other redactions as well. Some instances of core censored information from the memo include reasons for why the Justice Department made recording bulk emails from citizens illegal but permitted warrantless wiretapping and collection of phone records. The operations of the phone collection became public in December 2005, but the email operations didn’t until the Snowden Leak.


Weekly News Digest


Surveillance video shows missing man at SLC convenience store


September 2, 2014

Haldren Efren, a 20 year old from Micronesia, was reported missing on Sunday after arguing with his girlfriend at the Rockport State Park campsite and storming off. A Utah Department of Public Safety Helicopter and 20 workers from the Summit county search and rescue helped look for the man on Sunday. A convenience store near 150 South and 1300 West in Salt lake caught the man on surveillance video taken on Tuesday 3 hours after he went missing. It was also said he was seen heading to Evanston, Wyoming. He hasn’t come forward at all and they assume he doesn’t want to be found.


NYPD officers to begin wearing body cameras as part of settlement


September 4, 2014

Due to the recent death of Eric Garner during an arrest by New York city police officers, police commissioner William Bratton announced a pilot program on Thursday which requires 60 NYPD officers to wear body cameras on duty. Last year, a federal judge put a stop to their crime-stopping tactics saying they “unfairly targeted black men and did little to reduce crime.” While the body cameras are being implemented to keep the city of New York “safe and protected” many have concerns about mission privacy because the New York Police Department supposedly has a long history of watching and recording innocent NewYorkers.


‘Swatting’ prank caller victimizes Bluffdale homeowner


September 1, 2014

A man’s wife in Bluffdale was playing video games on a website called “Twitch” when out of nowhere someone started posting her personal information in the chat box. She deleted the comments and logged off only to see that the streamer had posted on twitter that the SWAT team would soon be at their home. The prank caller used Skype to contact the Saratoga Springs dispatch center at 9:30pm saying he had shot and killed his mother and was holding his father and brother hostage. The SWAT team did show up at their home and demanded the homeowner to surrender. He got a chance to explain it was an internet prank and he was innocent. Police are using the devices used in the prank (Skype and Twitch) to track down who it was that committed the crime and they will receive federal charges.


83 percent of Utahns want body cameras on police officers, poll shows


September 2, 2014

A recent poll shows that 83 percent of people living in Utah want police officers to wear body cameras anytime they interact with the public. Police officers have already been using these body cameras in public situations for 2 years. 145 officers already are equipped and 114 are soon to be. The cameras are under the cop’s control and are encouraged to be used during every encounter with any person. The video goes directly to the officer’s phone for them to watch instantaneously, but they are not able to save the video for their own use. The videos are later downloaded to ensure the cop’s and the public’s safety.


Dad in hot-car death case indicted on murder, child cruelty charges


September 4, 2014

Georgia man Justin Ross Harris was indicted on Thursday to charges of murder and child-cruelty 2 months after he was accused of leaving his 22 month old son in the hot car causing his death. Harris insists that his son’s death was an accident, but back in July police officers showed surveillance tapes proving Harrison had left his son in the hot car all day only stopping by to check on him once. Police also went through his web history and found evidence of him searching videos of killing people and “How to survive prison.” This evidence shows that the murder of his son was intentional and he will possibly face the death penalty.






Weekly News Digest for 29 August 2014

California Senate approves measure banning warrantless drone surveillance

27 August 2014
The California state Senate passed legislation this week that limits how law enforcement and other government agencies can use drones in the state. Law enforcement agencies will be required to get a warrant to conduct surveillance with a drone for criminal investigations. Other state agencies can only use drones for their “core mission” and not for criminal investigation. Finally, information collected with a drone can only be retained for one year. California joins a number of other states that have adopted similar measures.

ICREACH: How the NSA Built Its Own Secret Google

25 August 2014
The National Security Agency (NSA) has created a Google-like search interface that allows it and a dozen other government agencies to search communications metadata that the NSA has collected. In all, the search interface known as “ICREACH” provides access to roughly 850 billion records, which is more than the number of stars in our galaxy. While most of these records are believed to pertain to foreigners, perhaps millions of them could related to Americans’ whose information was “incidentally” collected and not properly “minimized,” raising concerns about the possibility of improper use of such information by law enforcement.

How Cops and Hackers Could Abuse California’s New Phone Kill-Switch Law

26 August 2014
California has implemented a law that requires all new cell phones to come with a “kill switch” that allows users to remotely render their phones useless in the event that the phone is lost or stolen. However, some civil liberties and technology groups are raising concerns that the feature could be misused, causing more privacy problems than it solves. For example, the law allows law enforcement to remotely kill someone’s phone under certain circumstances. Also, there is the concern that hackers and criminals could figure out how to access the feature and wipe peoples’ phones to prevent them from calling for help or as a form of extortion.

Comcast Data Breach Leaks Thousands of Unlisted Phone Numbers, Threatening Customers’ Privacy

25 August 2014
Tens of thousands of Comcast customers in California and elsewhere around the country had their unlisted phone numbers released publicly. These customers were paying Comcast a monthly fee to insure that their contact information would not be shared publicly. But many began to notice their information showing up online anyway. Now, the Public Utility Commission in California is conducting an investigation to see how and why this personal information was leaked. This is just one more in a long string of incidents where individuals’ personal information stored with a private company is breached and made available to criminals or the general public against their wishes or against the law.

The FTC’s Controversial Battle To Force Companies To Protect Your Data

21 August 2014
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is increasingly attempting to regulate the way companies store consumer data. Even though there have been a growing number of breaches of company databases in recent years resulting in the theft of personal information leading to fraud and identity theft, there is no one federal agency responsible for protecting consumer privacy. The FTC is attempting to become that agency. However, while some welcome this move, it is not entirely clear whether the FTC actually has the legal authority to take on this role.