mfioretti: surveillance*

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  1. The digital wellness movement has spread through Silicon Valley like a Goop-ordained health trend since then. It received a big boost earlier this year when, facing backlash about fake news and Russian interference in the US elections, Mark Zuckerberg wrote in a Facebook post that the company would start to prioritize posts from your friends rather than media or brands. The post quoted “time well spent” verbatim.

    Zuckerberg dropped that line again during his two-day Congressional testimony, post-Cambridge Analytica, but people believed it sounded like a generally hollow sound byte. It was hard to believe people could meaningfully spend time on a platform that has been plagued for years with problems with Russian trolls, fake news, data-hoarding apps, surveillance tools, political censorship, discriminatory ad-targeting, and the means to incite genocide.

    But when Sundar Pichai, Google's CEO, offered a similar line yesterday—same old Android, just healthier—eyes didn't roll. Which is great for Google. By leading the charge with a public-facing digital wellness campaign, Google looks good without having to change much at all. Stark calls it “the lowest hanging of the low-hanging fruit.”

    The new Android features do help people (and Google) understand more about how they use their phones:
    https://www.wired.com/story/google-and-the-rise-of-digital-wellbeing
    Voting 0
  2. There are tech companies selling products that can take regular screenshots of employees’ work, monitor keystrokes and web usage, and even photograph them at their desks using their computers’ webcams. Working from home offers no protection, as all this can be done remotely. Software can monitor social media usage, analyse language or be installed on employees’ phones to monitor encrypted apps such as WhatsApp. Employees can be fitted with badges that not only track their location, but also monitor their tone of voice, how often they speak in meetings and who they speak to and for how long.

    Employees have always been watched at work, and technology has always been used to do it. But where it was once a factory foreman with a stopwatch, or workers having to physically clock in and out, now “all of that physical stuff has gone into digital technology”, says André Spicer, professor of organisational behaviour at Cass Business School. “It captures things that you weren’t able to capture in the past, like how many keystrokes are people taking, what are they looking at on their screen while they’re at work, what kind of language are they using. And surveillance follows you outside the workplace now.”

    We all make mistakes and we all have bad days, but this kind of monitoring can be made retrospectively to sack people and is used to give people a sense that they could lose their jobs at any moment.”

    Spicer has watched the shift away from “monitoring something like emails to monitoring people’s bodies – the rise of bio-tracking basically. The monitoring of your vital signs, emotions, moods.” Of Three Square Market’s practice of chipping employees, he says: “You can imagine that slowly extending. You could imagine things like employers asking to have your DNA in the future, and other kinds of data.”

    “we need to have a conversation in society about whether work should be somewhere that you’re surveilled”
    https://www.theguardian.com/world/201...ecretly-watching-you?CMP=share_btn_tw
    Voting 0
  3. The research was, as the study puts it, “premised on the notion that ad transparency undermines ad effectiveness when it exposes marketing practices that violate consumers’ beliefs about ‘information flows’ — how their information ought to move between parties.” So if a clothing store asks you for your email address so that it can send you promotional spam, you may not enjoy it, but you probably won’t consider it a breach of trust. But if that same store were, say, covertly following your movements between the aisles by tracking your cellphone, that would be unnerving, to say the least. Given that Facebook operates its advertising operation largely on the basis of data harvesting that’s conducted invisibly or behind the veil of trade secrecy, it has more in common with our creepy hypothetical retailer.

    as John explained via email, “If I have to see ads, then yeah, I’d generally prefer ones that are relevant than not relevant but I’d add the qualifier: as long as I get the sense that you are treating my personal information properly. As soon as people feel that you are violating their privacy, they can become uneasy and understandably, distrustful of you.” Zuckerberg’s claim that you prefer to have your most personal information and online behavior tracked and analyzed on an industrial scale probably only checks out if you’re unaware it’s happening.

    Assuming the validity of the research here, it’s no wonder Facebook doesn’t want to show its math: The ads that are its lifeblood will stop working as well. John agreed that “there’s a disincentive for firms to reveal unsavory information flows, so that could plausibly explain trying to hide it.” Facebook is, after all, one big, world-spanning, unsavory information flow.
    https://theintercept.com/2018/05/09/facebook-ads-tracking-algorithm
    Voting 0
  4. Justin Sullivan/Getty Images
    Joseph James DeAngelo, the suspected Golden State Killer, appears in court for his arraignment on April 27 in Sacramento, Calif.
    By S.I. Rosenbaum May 04, 2018

    It was nearing 2 a.m. when they found her. Margaret Press could only gasp. “I have chills down my back,” she told her partner, Colleen Fitzpatrick.

    By matching the DNA profile off a long-dead woman known only as Buckskin Girl against a public genetic data archive, the two had identified her as a woman who had gone missing 37 years before.

    It was the first time the technique had been used. Only a few weeks later, police in California announced they’d independently used the same process to track down a man accused of being the serial rapist and murderer known as the Golden State Killer.
    Advertisement

    Neither the suspected Golden State Killer nor Buckskin Girl had a genetic profile in the archive used to identify them. But it didn’t matter — in both cases, someone in their family tree was in the archive, and that was enough to lead investigators to their target.
    Get Arguable in your inbox:
    Jeff Jacoby on everything from politics to pet peeves to the passions of the day.

    Today, an estimated 12 million to 15 million Americans have have sequenced their DNA using one of a few commercial companies such as Ancestry.com or 23AndMe. About a million of them have gone on to enter the resulting DNA profile at GEDmatch, a public, self-service archive based in Florida — kind of a Wikipedia for genetic data. At this point, almost everyone has at least one distant relative — a fourth or fifth cousin, perhaps — whose DNA profile is publicly available. And if they don’t, they will soon.
    Related Links
    Read Story
    Genetic testing is about to redraw a lot of family trees

    Thanks to DNA testing, there’s a whole forest of family trees waiting to be cut down.

    Read: Is crime genetic? Scientists don’t know because they’re afraid to ask
    Read: With help of DNA, police arrest ‘Golden State Killer’ suspect

    This means that we could be entering an era in which it becomes possible to find every rapist, every killer who leaves behind a genetic trace. The technology could usher in the era of mass exonerations. Or it could herald something more sinister — a surveillance state in which your distant relatives’ DNA can testify against you.

    “We want the bad guys caught and prosecuted, but there’s a limit,” said legal scholar Mark Rothstein. “The new power of this technology is going to force us to think about how far we think that ought to extend.”

    But the fact remains that for most Americans, the choice of whether or not to share genetic information is becoming moot — if it’s not already.




    They knew they’d found her. “It’s the most exciting rush you can imagine,” Press said.

    The detectives in the Golden State Killer case haven’t been as forthcoming about their process. But it’s likely they followed the same procedure: finding a cousin through GEDmatch, and then looking for descendant of the common ancestor who matched the killer’s profile.

    “So in essence, the police were conducting a fishing expedition on 900,000 people who had no idea that their data was going to be used for this,” said Leah Larkin, a genetic genealogist who followed the cases closely.

    The people who upload their information to GEDmatch — “geeky” genealogy enthusiasts — knew the data they shared was public, but they probably didn’t expect to become part of a forensic investigation, Larkin said.

    In the genealogy world, reaction to the news of the two cases has been mostly positive. “I’m surprised — I thought people would be more alarmed. But it’s really hard to be sympathetic toward a serial killer,” she said. “This is such an incredibly positive and powerful use of this technology, it’s hard to argue with how awesome it is.”

    Not everyone feels that way. “What kind of country do we want?” said Mark Rothstein, founding director of the Institute for Bioethics, Health Policy and Law at the University of Louisville School of Medicine. “You could have a requirement that every newborn be screened and their genetic information archived » . . . and we can get there by little incremental steps that seem to be justified by terrible crimes and our eagerness to solve them. But it’s not a very pretty picture of a country that values liberty and freedom.”




    It was nearing 2 a.m. when they found her. Margaret Press could only gasp. “I have chills down my back,” she told her partner, Colleen Fitzpatrick.

    By matching the DNA profile off a long-dead woman known only as Buckskin Girl against a public genetic data archive, the two had identified her as a woman who had gone missing 37 years before.

    It was the first time the technique had been used. Only a few weeks later, police in California announced they’d independently used the same process to track down a man accused of being the serial rapist and murderer known as the Golden State Killer.
    Advertisement

    Neither the suspected Golden State Killer nor Buckskin Girl had a genetic profile in the archive used to identify them. But it didn’t matter — in both cases, someone in their family tree was in the archive, and that was enough to lead investigators to their target.
    Get Arguable in your inbox:
    Jeff Jacoby on everything from politics to pet peeves to the passions of the day.

    Today, an estimated 12 million to 15 million Americans have have sequenced their DNA using one of a few commercial companies such as Ancestry.com or 23AndMe. About a million of them have gone on to enter the resulting DNA profile at GEDmatch, a public, self-service archive based in Florida — kind of a Wikipedia for genetic data. At this point, almost everyone has at least one distant relative — a fourth or fifth cousin, perhaps — whose DNA profile is publicly available. And if they don’t, they will soon.
    Related Links
    Read Story
    Genetic testing is about to redraw a lot of family trees

    Thanks to DNA testing, there’s a whole forest of family trees waiting to be cut down.

    Read: Is crime genetic? Scientists don’t know because they’re afraid to ask
    Read: With help of DNA, police arrest ‘Golden State Killer’ suspect

    This means that we could be entering an era in which it becomes possible to find every rapist, every killer who leaves behind a genetic trace. The technology could usher in the era of mass exonerations. Or it could herald something more sinister — a surveillance state in which your distant relatives’ DNA can testify against you.

    “We want the bad guys caught and prosecuted, but there’s a limit,” said legal scholar Mark Rothstein. “The new power of this technology is going to force us to think about how far we think that ought to extend.”

    But the fact remains that for most Americans, the choice of whether or not to share genetic information is becoming moot — if it’s not already.
    Advertisement

    Forensic genealogy has been around for decades — Fitzpatrick helped pioneer the field and literally wrote the book on it — but in the past, the idea of using a public archive to identify forensic DNA samples from a suspect or an unidentified corpse (a “John Doe” or “Jane Doe”) was considered a fool’s errand.

    The larger commercial databases don’t allow forensic use of their data. GEDmatch’s policies are more lenient, but its archive was considered too small to yield results. (The founders of the site declined to comment on this story.)

    Plus there was the problem of preparing a good DNA sample for a system designed for the living. Nobody thought John and Jane Doe could spit into a vial because they’re dead.

    But last year, Press and Fitzpatrick heard about a hobbyist who’d managed to build a genetic profile of his dead father using a years-old tissue sample. They decided it was worth a try, and founded a nonprofit called DNA Doe.

    Working together with law enforcement, they sequenced Buckskin Girl’s DNA and prepared it so that it could be uploaded to GEDmatch.
    Advertisement

    It took only a day for the results to process and they found a match: a many-times-removed cousin. That narrowed their search to people descended from their common ancestor.

    As it grew late, they combed through family trees online. They found one made by an amateur genealogist from Arkansas who had marked his own daughter, Marcia King, “missing — presumed dead” in the same year Buckskin Girl had been discovered.

    They knew they’d found her. “It’s the most exciting rush you can imagine,” Press said.

    The detectives in the Golden State Killer case haven’t been as forthcoming about their process. But it’s likely they followed the same procedure: finding a cousin through GEDmatch, and then looking for descendant of the common ancestor who matched the killer’s profile.

    “So in essence, the police were conducting a fishing expedition on 900,000 people who had no idea that their data was going to be used for this,” said Leah Larkin, a genetic genealogist who followed the cases closely.

    The people who upload their information to GEDmatch — “geeky” genealogy enthusiasts — knew the data they shared was public, but they probably didn’t expect to become part of a forensic investigation, Larkin said.

    In the genealogy world, reaction to the news of the two cases has been mostly positive. “I’m surprised — I thought people would be more alarmed. But it’s really hard to be sympathetic toward a serial killer,” she said. “This is such an incredibly positive and powerful use of this technology, it’s hard to argue with how awesome it is.”

    Not everyone feels that way. “What kind of country do we want?” said Mark Rothstein, founding director of the Institute for Bioethics, Health Policy and Law at the University of Louisville School of Medicine. “You could have a requirement that every newborn be screened and their genetic information archived » . . . and we can get there by little incremental steps that seem to be justified by terrible crimes and our eagerness to solve them. But it’s not a very pretty picture of a country that values liberty and freedom.”

    Police already have compiled a genetic archive of their own: the Combined DNA Index System or CODIS, established in the 1990s, which contains both DNA collected from crime scenes and the DNA profiles of convicted criminals.

    By design, in the interests of privacy, the profiles in CODIS aren’t nearly as detailed as the ones in GEDmatch — you couldn’t use it to find a fifth cousin. But Rothstein wonders if the Golden State Killer and Buckskin Girl cases might lead to more aggressive and comprehensive genetic surveillance, not just for felons but for everyone.

    “We need to rein in these practices,” he said. “I dont think its too late to put limits on law enforcement that are reasonable.”

    Larkin, the genealogist, also believes that expanded law-enforcement uses of genetic data are in the future. And she says that the prevalence of commercial DNA profiling has prepared us to accept it.

    “When the CODIS database was set up, people were less comfortable with using DNA in the fist place,” she said. “But now that perhaps 15 million people have taken these DNA tests, given that we now live in a world where people do this just for fun, obviously they are comfortable. Perhaps the mood has shifted.”

    After all, she said, if you were born in the United States, it’s nearly certain some part of your genetic data — carried by a cousin, close or distant — is already there, sitting in an archive, waiting to be read.
    https://www.bostonglobe.com/ideas/201...gn=bostonglobe%3Asocialflow%3Atwitter
    Voting 0
  5. The answer is yes, at least in theory. New University of Washington research, to be presented in a paper Oct. 30 at the Association for Computing Machinery’s Workshop on Privacy in the Electronic Society, suggests that for roughly $1,000, someone with devious intent can purchase and target online advertising in ways that allow them to track the location of other individuals and learn what apps they are using.


    “Anyone from a foreign intelligence agent to a jealous spouse can pretty easily sign up with a large internet advertising company and on a fairly modest budget use these ecosystems to track another individual’s behavior,” said lead author Paul Vines, a recent doctoral graduate in the UW’s Paul G. Allen School of Computer Science & Engineering.

    The research team set out to test whether an adversary could exploit the existing online advertising infrastructure for personal surveillance and, if so, raise industry awareness about the threat.

    “Because it was so easy to do what we did, we believe this is an issue that the online advertising industry needs to be thinking about,” said co-author Franzi Roesner, co-director of the UW Security and Privacy Research Lab and an assistant professor in the Allen School. “We are sharing our discoveries so that advertising networks can try to detect and mitigate these types of attacks, and so that there can be a broad public discussion about how we as a society might try to prevent them.”
    graphic of commute where someone could be tracked via ads

    This map represents an individual’s morning commute. Red dots reflect the places where the UW computer security researchers were able to track that person’s movements by serving location-based ads: at home (real location not shown), a coffee shop, bus stop and office. The team found that a target needed to stay in one location for roughly four minutes before an ad was served, which is why no red dots appear along the individual’s bus commute (dashed line) or walking route (solid line.)University of Washington

    The researchers discovered that an individual ad purchaser can, under certain circumstances, see when a person visits a predetermined sensitive location — a suspected rendezvous spot for an affair, the office of a company that a venture capitalist might be interested in or a hospital where someone might be receiving treatment — within 10 minutes of that person’s arrival. They were also able to track a person’s movements across the city during a morning commute by serving location-based ads to the target’s phone.

    The team also discovered that individuals who purchase the ads could see what types of apps their target was using. That could potentially divulge information about the person’s interests, dating habits, religious affiliations, health conditions, political leanings and other potentially sensitive or private information.
    https://www.washington.edu/news/2017/...ds-to-track-your-location-and-app-use
    Voting 0
  6. In the case of Aadhaar, we have seen no adoption of traditional security measures well regarded in the industry to fix exploits, bugs or vulnerabilities.

    What we have seen is a lot of shooting the messenger and attractive marketing to hard sell the benefits of Aadhaar while underplaying privacy and security issues.
    Surveillance

    Misuse of the database for state surveillance and targeted coercion is also unpreventable.

    Anyone committing her data to such a system is betting for her lifetime that her government will never become totalitarian or even strongly anti-democratic, lest she be subjected to forms of oppression she cannot possibly evade.

    These are not merely theoretical concerns of Luddites or anti-innovation activists but already being perfected by countries like China.

    The Xinjiang region of China, which has long been subject to tight controls and surveillance has seen vast collection of DNA samples, fingerprints, iris scans and blood types of people aged 12 to 65. This information is then linked to residents' hukou, or household registration cards.

    This system limits people's access to educational institutions, medical and housing benefits. Combined with facial recognition software, CCTV cameras and a biometric database, the unprecedented level of control being attained is being presented as an example of the great technological strides the country is making.
    http://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-india-43619944
    Voting 0
  7. Journalists have been asking me whether the revulsion against the abuse of Facebook data could be a turning point for the campaign to recover privacy. That could happen, if the public makes its campaign broader and deeper.

    Broader, meaning extending to all surveillance systems, not just Facebook. Deeper, meaning to advance from regulating the use of data to regulating the accumulation of data. Because surveillance is so pervasive, restoring privacy is necessarily a big change, and requires powerful measures.
    After the Facebook scandal it’s time to base the digital economy on public v private ownership of data
    Evgeny Morozov
    Read more

    The surveillance imposed on us today far exceeds that of the Soviet Union. For freedom and democracy’s sake, we need to eliminate most of it. There are so many ways to use data to hurt people that the only safe database is the one that was never collected. Thus, instead of the EU’s approach of mainly regulating how personal data may be used (in its General Data Protection Regulation or GDPR), I propose a law to stop systems from collecting personal data.

    The robust way to do that, the way that can’t be set aside at the whim of a government, is to require systems to be built so as not to collect data about a person. The basic principle is that a system must be designed not to collect certain data, if its basic function can be carried out without that data.

    Data about who travels where is particularly sensitive, because it is an ideal basis for repressing any chosen target. We can take the London trains and buses as a case for study.

    The Transport for London digital payment card system centrally records the trips any given Oyster or bank card has paid for. When a passenger feeds the card digitally, the system associates the card with the passenger’s identity. This adds up to complete surveillance.

    I expect the transport system can justify this practice under the GDPR’s rules. My proposal, by contrast, would require the system to stop tracking who goes where. The card’s basic function is to pay for transport. That can be done without centralising that data, so the transport system would have to stop doing so. When it accepts digital payments, it should do so through an anonymous payment system.
    Advertisement

    Frills on the system, such as the feature of letting a passenger review the list of past journeys, are not part of the basic function, so they can’t justify incorporating any additional surveillance.
    https://www.theguardian.com/commentis...ata-law-privacy-big-tech-surveillance
    Voting 0
  8. “I believe it’s important to tell people exactly how the information that they share on Facebook is going to be used.

    “That’s why, every single time you go to share something on Facebook, whether it’s a photo in Facebook, or a message, every single time, there’s a control right there about who you’re going to be sharing it with ... and you can change that and control that in line.

    “To your broader point about the privacy policy ... long privacy policies are very confusing. And if you make it long and spell out all the detail, then you’re probably going to reduce the per cent of people who read it and make it accessible to them.”
    https://www.theguardian.com/technolog...testimony-to-congress-the-key-moments
    Voting 0
  9. Should there be regulation?#
    Yes. On privacy disclosure, and prohibiting the most draconian uses of user data. It should not be possible for users to give those rights up in exchange for use of a social system like Facebook. The idea is similar to the law in California that says that most non-competes are not enforceable. The benefit you receive has to be somewhat equivalent to the data you give up. #
    What about Google, Apple, Amazon?#
    This is the really important stuff.#
    This affair should get users, government and the press to look at other tech companies who have business models based on getting users to disclose ever-more-intimate information. Here are some examples.#
    Google, through Android, knows every place you go. They use that data. Do they sell it? I don't know, but I'm pretty sure you can use it to target ads. Apple, through the iPhone also knows where you go.#
    Apps on Android or iPhones can be told where you go. Many of them are only useful if you let them have the info. Apps can also have all your pictures, contacts. Face recognition makes it possible to construct a social graph without any access to the Facebook API.#
    Google and Apple can listen to all your phone calls.#
    Google, through their Chrome browser, knows everywhere you go on the web, and everything you type into the browser. #
    Amazon Echo and Google Home are always listening. Imagine a leak based on conversations at home, phone calls, personal habits, arguments you have with your spouse, kids, any illegal activities that might be going on in your home. #
    If you have a Gmail account, Google reads your mail, and targets ads at you based on what you're writing about. They also read the email that people send to you, people who may not also be Gmail users. Some examples of how creepy this can be -- they seem to know what my investments are, btw -- I assume they figured this out through email. Recently they told me when a friend's flight to NYC was arriving. I don't know how they made this connection. I assume it was through email.#
    Amazon, of course, knows everything you buy through Amazon. #
    Google knows everything you search for. #
    And on and on. We've reconstructed our whole society around companies having all the data about us that they want. It's kind of funny that we're all freaking out about Cambridge Analytica and Facebook. The problem is so much bigger. #
    Summary#
    It seems like a non-event to me. The press knew all about the API going back to 2012. That they didn't foresee the problem then is a result of the press accepting the hype of big tech companies on their terms, and not trying to find out what the implications of technology are from non-partisan experts. This was a story that could have and should have been written in 2010, warning users of a hidden cost to Facebook.#
    Today's scandal, the equivalent of the one in 2010, is that Google is attempting to turn the web into a corporate platform. Once they control the web as Facebook controls the Social Graph, we'll have another impossibly huge problem to deal with. Better to head this one off with regulation, now, when it can do some good
    http://scripting.com/2018/04/11/140429.html
    Voting 0
  10. That means in addition to being a chokepoint through which governments can block the Internet, it is also a place where they can monitor it. While leaking data to Comcast may be creepy, leaking because the DNS protocol in some parts of the world, literally a matter of life and death.
    https://shift.newco.co/sure-the-inter...-lets-go-fix-it-shall-we-5c27e294c25c
    Tags: , , , by M. Fioretti (2018-04-05)
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