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.

Funny Internet Memes: Effective Response to Surveillance?

The funny pictures and videos we now call “memes” are all over the internet. While most memes may have the same format and pictures, the text often changes to create humor out of a generally more serious topic. When the 2013 NSA/Snowden scandal happened, it became the subject of many memes/videos on the web. One might think making a funny picture out of an issue as serious as privacy and surveillance is innappropriate, but it’s just a way of helping us cope. It reminds us that while these awful things may be happening, we can find humor in the situation that may give us hope or encouragement to intervene and stand up for what we think about what’s going on in the world around us.
The issue of privacy and surveillance is something that affects everybody. Bob Sullivan in his article “Privacy under attack, but does anybody care?” said “Privacy is like health: When you have it, you don’t notice it. Only when it’s gone do you wish you’d done more to protect it.” Everyone has many things that they don’t want the rest of the world to know about and that’s exactly why were given the right to keep our personal lives private. As the years go on, that right we were promised seems to be slowly eroded. Our phone calls are monitored, surveillance cameras are everywhere we look, and our cell phones can tell anyone where we are at any moment. These are all things that are scary, invasive, and unsettling. So why do we joke about them? Inserting humor in a serious situation is a very effective away to apply that situation to our own lives. Seeing a meme we recognize that includes text or a picture about privacy and surveillance allow us to relate that issue to our own lives and realize that it does affect us personally.
How do we go on living our daily lives without being in constant fear and suspision? We do it by turning fear into laughter. That’s not to be mistaken with taking the situation lightly..that’s not the purpose of the internet memes. Creating humor in a seemingly helpless situation allows us to know the issue and make the connection to our own lives, and that is exactly why joking about the situation on the web is a coping device for so many. While we may not google search “surveillance memes” when we’re feeling a bit uneasy about drones flying about, seeing a meme on our twitter feeds about the situation allows us to see the situation, imitate the feelings it gives, and respond/share positively. Richard Dawkins said: “Memes propagate themselves in the meme pool by leaping from brain to brain via a process which, in the broad sense, can be called imitation.” Everyone knows what is happening with privacy and surveillance and seeing those pictures may help people to realize how rediculous the situation is from an outside perspective and suddenly feel inclined to do or say something about it to their peers or the government/corporation itself.
Lightening up a serious situation with humor has been around long since the internet. Television involves cartoons addressing serious situations and newspapers involve political comics creating an enjoyable spin on the most recent scandals. While television and newspaper memes are easily accessable to us, internet memes are avialable to us almost immediately. Paul Brewer, associate director for research at the University of Delaware’s Center for Political Communication, says “Many of us are using television, social media, smartphones and tablets all at the same time as we take in the debates, by the time the debate is halfway over, there’s already a Tumblr site full of memes.” Memes are an extremely effective way to not only make people laugh, but spread the laughter around the World Wide Web quickly.
As humans, we have certain ways of dealing with situations we feel like we can do nothing about. The government and big businesses are the main ones involved in invading the privacy in our lives, and as a single person we feel helpless against those powers. Seeing and sharing a funny picture about privacy and surveillance allows us to relate to the situation ourselves, and sharing that picture with our friends allows us to spread the word. Pal Gil, an internet basics expert said, “A meme with political humor attached to it can virally spread awareness of an issue, or can help to reinforce growing attitudes and prejudices.” Internet memes on privacy and surveillance are informative, they’re effective, and they’re down-right hilarious.

Neuman, Scott. “Political Memes: Fast, Cheap, and Out of Control?” NPR. 24 Oct. 2012. Web. 11 Oct. 2014. .

Gleik, James. “What Defines a Meme?” Smithsonianmag.com. Smithsonian Magazine, 11 May 2011. Web. 11 Oct. 2014. .

Sullivan, Bob. “Privacy under Attack, but Does Anyone Care?” NBC News. 17 Oct. 2006. Web. 11 Oct. 2014. .

Gil, Paul. “Why Would You Ever Create an Internet Meme?” About Technology. About.com. Web. 11 Oct. 2014. .

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.

NSA Reform Bills: Is it Sufficient ?

Throughout time courts have ruled against any form of intrusion into American citizen’s private lives . These federal laws , for instance the FISA law , seek to discourage fishing undertakings, aimless assumptions and unconditional approaches to collect information among the society. As a matter of fact, it can be illegally retrieved evidence set off by warrantless searches and investigations are presumed unacceptable in courts. This is because the law prevents the State to gain from its infringement. Certainly, an infraction of such rights of a single person is already one too many.


In the PBS special Spying on the Home Front, it exposes just how much the government has no time for legally identified processes of investigation and surveillance to allow uncommon entrance to personal communication encompassed by innocent American citizens. The National Security Agency (NSA) has been explicitly constructed to deflect alarming communication with the ambition of catching the terrorists, even before the agency plans to take definite actions. Therefore, the agency at first was subsequent to the principle that investigations need to prevent private correspondences. Be that as it may, in the last few decades and more so after the 9 /11 terror attacks, the NSA, along with the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) used their skills and devices to spy on the American people.


The only thing that can be said about laws that give the government so much power and the citizens so little is that the Patriot Act gave the government permission to set up the framework of a police state. The Patriot Act, established a little over a month after 9/11, reduces civil liberties that were protected by the Constitution. The NSA can even access call records in the cell phone company Verizon, it was made so that the customers didn’t even know that they were even being spied on. Except that Verizon is not the only the information has been put into what is called “metadata”, making so that there is no need for a warrant. It also gains access through internet sites such as Google, Apple, and Facebook through an Internet-search program known as PRISM; without gaining permission not only through the people but also the companies. John Earnest a deputy of the press security states that “Collecting millions of phone records of ordinary citizens allows law enforcement to discover whether known or suspected terrorists have been in contact with other possible terrorists.”


In the summer of 2013, the spying agency claimed they foiled a little over fifty terrorist plots. But how much of that was due to looking through citizen call and internet records? A new analysis of terrorism charges in the US found that the NSA’s dragnet domestic surveillance “had no discernible impact” on preventing terrorist acts. Instead, the majority of threats over the last decade were detected by regular old intelligence and law enforcement methods—tips, informants, CIA and FBI ops, routine law enforcement.


I do understand that the point of the program is to protect the U.S. from terrorist attacks but by invading the American people’s personal records and not informing us of such actions? That does not seem beneficial to any innocent citizens.



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.

Drones: Are They Helpful in Reporting the News or an Invasion of Privacy

Drones can be very useful to individuals and our country, like take photo and video for real estate, surveying crops, and capturing crimes.  The only question is: Where’s the line between surveilling to be useful and invading privacy?  They’re becoming more available for everyone to use so everyone can spy on everyone.  The military can use them to help combat terrorists and enemies.  The news and media are also starting to use them for the purpose of finding out information that they wouldn’t be able to get otherwise. They’re also being used by the police to look for missing people, and help keep crimes from happening, but there’s a line between invading people’s privacy and surveilling a situation.

Drones are becoming more commercial. People are concerned whether or not it’s invading their personal privacy. Many people against the use of drones say that it’s a violation of the fourth amendment. Justice Sonia Sotomayor is concerned about the potential of drones taking away our personal privacy, which we all care so much about. “There are drones flying over the air randomly that are recording everything that’s happening on what we consider our private property. That type of technology has to stimulate us to think about what is it that we cherish in privacy and how far we want to protect it and from whom.”

Drones are very useful in the military sense, including surveillance of our borders, in order to keep us safe.  Many are very small and very quiet so it’s easy for them to keep tabs on what is below, without anyone noticing or being a large distraction. They can also survey the land above in areas such as a forest that are difficult to search on land. In a time of war, this could be useful to help find enemies that would otherwise be hidden by the trees from above.  They can give immediate feedback and report about where an enemy is, and keep them from advancing or causing any more harm.  Chad Copeland, who’s a National Geographic contributor and a pioneer in the use of drones, said that drones aren’t as intrusive as a man-powered aircraft, and less dangerous if they were to crash.  As long as they warn people that it’s possible that they may be used then they have a right to use them.

Sotomayor said, “We are in that brave new world, and we are capable of being in that Orweillian one, too.” These drones could be just as much surveillance as the Thought Police in Orwell’s book.  Just like the secret spies that were all around in 1984, there could be drones flying through the air collecting video surveillance of you all the time. “’The thought of government drones buzzing overhead and constantly monitoring the activities of law-abiding citizens runs contrary to what it means to live in a free society,’ Sen. Charles Grassley of Iowa said at a Judiciary Committee hearing on whether legislation on drones was needed to protect civil liberties.” This is a very valid point for those that don’t like drones.  They can see things that others don’t want them to see.  A person could have something hidden, but it could be reported very easily for someone with a drone.

Even though drones can seem very invasive to our personal privacy, they can also be very useful and help our society report the news and gather information.   They can help keep crimes from happening, find missing persons, and fight fires. They are also useful in “alerting officers about accidents and crimes and provide video of the incidents.”  They can get in really close to a celebrities window to see inside.  They can get very close on a report of a plane accident.  They could even get close enough to see a dead body.  They could end up finding something secret that could get them in trouble.  All of these things sound almost like a good thing.  The line is very thin on where it is finding out information, and going too far and invading privacy.  It can be really wonderful, but easily become very bad very quickly.

There should be a difference between public and private places.  No one should be able to use drones on private property without consent or a warrant.  A person or people could use their own drown as a way to survey their own grounds.  It would give the News information very quickly, and could get in areas that normal cameras couldn’t.  Anything on public property should be open to have a drone on it at anytime.  There may be a few exceptions, like if a crime were to happen they couldn’t allow a drone in a certain radius distance.  Besides that, public should be public for drones too.

The Federal Aviation Administration has a ban on drones for commercial purposes at the moment. They are deciding on the rules and regulations for these types of uses this coming fall. The FAA has a lot to take into consideration and many things to watch for before they release their regulations this fall.  In California, law enforcement officers that use drones are required to get a warrant, according to Bill AB 1327. There are exceptions to this rule for emergency situations, search and rescue efforts, traffic first responders, and inspection of wildfires. California will be the 14th state in regulating law enforcement drone use if they sign this bill.  A warrant is necessary because it will keep people from snooping without another person knowing and for the wrong reasons.

Drones can be very useful in reporting news if these guidelines are followed.  It’s not an invasion of privacy if these strict rules stated above are followed.  Anything on public property should be allowed because it can find news faster, find it at a new/different/better angle, look for something much faster than by foot, give a lot of detail, live stream, and be given to a news agency by anyone with a drone.