Big Brother


Police illegally obtained journalist’s phone records under new metadata retention regime

28th April 2017

Police illegally obtained journalist’s phone records under

The Australian Federal Police illegally obtained a journalist’s phone records under the Turnbull government’s new metadata retention regime, the agency announced on Friday.

The breach took place as part of an investigation into a leak of confidential police material – and the incident will now be investigated by the Commonwealth Ombudsman.

AFP commissioner Andrew Colvin said the police officers investigating the leak did not realise they were required to obtain a warrant to access the journalist’s metadata.

“This was human error. It should not have occurred. The AFP takes it very seriously and we take full responsibility for breaching the Act,” Mr Colvin said

 

 

“There was no ill will or malice or bad intent by the officers involved who breached the Act. But simply it was a mistake.”

The journalist in question had not been informed their data had been accessed, Mr Colvin said, due to sensitivities around the ongoing investigation into the leak.

The breach occurred “earlier this year” and was reported to the Ombudsman on Wednesday.

Under the revised data retention regime, police are required to obtain a warrant from a judge to seek metadata from a journalist.

“The vulnerability is the investigator needs to understand that that’s their requirement,” Mr Colvin said on Friday. “On this occasion, the investigator didn’t.”

The phone records in question were relevant to the investigation, Mr Colvin said, but “what was improper was that the right steps weren’t taken to gain access to it”.

The breach is the first such incident that has come to light under the government’s new metadata retention regime, which requires service providers to store their customers’ data for two years.

Acknowledging the policy was “controversial”, Mr Colvin said Australians should nonetheless have “full confidence” in both the police and the policy.

He conceded the AFP’s internal procedures had not anticipated and prevented the error and therefore those practices would be subject to “significant changes”.

Access to metadata would now be restricted to more senior officers, he said, and the number of officers who can approve access to metadata will be reduced. Training will also be bolstered.

Asked if the unlawfully-obtained phone records would still be relied on to inform the actions of investigators, he acknowledged that once seen it could not be unseen.

“Clearly they can’t unsee it. They’ll need to consider … what weight they put on what they saw,” Mr Colvin said. “But that material was accessed illegally, so it can have no bearing on the conduct of the investigation.”

He stressed the content of the journalist’s phone calls were not accessed, just the call records. But Paul Murphy, chief executive of the Media, Entertainment and Arts Alliance, said that was not a mitigating factor.

“It’s another demonstration that the AFP do not understand the sensitivities here, the vital importance of protecting journalists’ confidential sources,” he said. “It’s an absolute disgrace.”

South Australian senator Nick Xenophon, who lobbied for extra safeguards for journalists when the laws were formulated, said he was “furious” about the revelation and would seek further amendments to the law.

“This is outrageous. There’s been a flagrant breach of the law here,” he said. “The safeguards have been completely trashed. This should chill the spine of every journalist in this country.”

 

 

source:http://www.smh.com.au/federal-politics/political-news/police-illegally-obtained-journalists-phone-records-under-new-metadata-retention-regime-20170428-gvutjx.html

Feds to Deploy Facial Recognition Tech at Border Checkpoints

20th April 2016

U.S. Customs and Border Protection is planning to unveil a facial recognition program that will track visa holders at U.S. airports while using the same technology on drones to patrol the southern border.

The system, called Biometric Exit, is currently being tested on a one-way flight from Atlanta to Tokyo and is expected to be rolled out to more airports this summer after being expedited by the Trump Administration, according to a report from The Verge.

The current practice used by Customs and Border Protection agents is to take photos and fingerprints of every visa holder who enters the U.S., but there is no system in place to verify that a visa holder has left before their visa expires. This is where Biometric Exit comes in.

Passengers will have their photos taken at the airport before boarding flights, that photo will cross-reference with “passport-style photos provided with the visa application.” If there is no match, then that will raise flags about whether the visitor entered the United States illegally.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s (CBP) Larry Panetta, who is leading the airport segment of the project, said, “We currently have everyone’s photo, so we don’t need to do any sort of enrollment. We have access to the Department of State records so we have photos of US Citizens, we have visa photos, we have photos of people when they cross into the US and their biometrics are captured into [DHS biometric database] IDENT.”

President Trump expedited the implementation of Biometric Exit when he signed the executive order, “Protecting the Nation from Foreign Terrorist Entry Into The United States,” the same document that called for the temporary halt of immigrants from seven Middle Eastern countries.

“Sec. 7.  Expedited Completion of the Biometric Entry-Exit Tracking System.  (a)  The Secretary of Homeland Security shall expedite the completion and implementation of a biometric entry-exit tracking system for all travelers to the United States, as recommended by the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States,” the executive order states.

The CBP is also looking to use facial recognition at the border to help identify any person that is in relevant law enforcement databases.

Officials with the CBP solicited proposals from companies for small unmanned aerial systems (sUAS), like consumer drones, for deployment by Border Patrol agents along the southern border.

The agency is specifically looking for a drone that is small enough that it can fit into a truck, weighs under 55 pounds, and is deployable by a single agent in less than 5 minutes. Officials also want a drone fitted with state-of-the-art sensor technology which reportedly may include, “infrared cameras and facial-recognition capabilities.”

A document included with the solicitation, Small Unmanned Aircraft Systems (sUAS) Capabilities, said the agency is looking for a drone that can, “distinguish between natural and artificial features, and between animals, humans, and vehicles at long range.”

The same document also states that the agency is looking for a drone that, “would have facial recognition capabilities that allow it cross-reference any persons identified with relevant law enforcement databases.”

The goal will be to cross-reference the facial scans against multiple government databases that collect biometric information, including the FBI. “The bureau can draw from over 411 million photos spread across state and federal databases, including more than 173 million driver’s license photos, as part of the new biometric effort,” according to a government document that was analyzed by The Verge.

Ari Schuler, co-lead of CBP’s Silicon Valley office, which is managing the project, said that a drone that has these capabilities would allow Border Patrol Agents to identify traffickers who have violent criminal backgrounds, allowing the Agent the call backup.

Since large portions of the border lack cellular service, the biggest challenge for contractors is figuring out how to stream data from the drones. The CBP is also looking for a drone that is secure, not vulnerable to hacking.

The move to go from large military-style drones to small consumer ones comes from the disappointment the CBP has had with the Predator. A report from 2014 shows that the cost to operate 10 Predators over the course of a year exceeded $60 million. The drones failed to lower the cost of border surveillance and were vulnerable to GPS jamming and other attacks.

 

 

source:http://www.breitbart.com/texas/2017/04/19/feds-deploy-facial-recognition-tech-border-checkpoints/

CIA, FBI launch manhunt for leaker who gave top-secret documents to WikiLeaks

20th April 2017

CBS News has learned that a manhunt is underway for a traitor inside the Central Intelligence Agency.

The CIA and FBI are conducting a joint investigation into one of the worst security breaches in CIA history, which exposed thousands of top-secret documents that described CIA tools used to penetrate smartphones, smart televisions and computer systems.

Sources familiar with the investigation say it is looking for an insider — either a CIA employee or contractor — who had physical access to the material. The agency has not said publicly when the material was taken or how it was stolen.

Much of the material was classified and stored in a highly secure section of the intelligence agency, but sources say hundreds of people would have had access to the material. Investigators are going through those names.

The trove was published in March by the anti-secrecy organization WikiLeaks

In his first public comments as director of the CIA just last week, Mike Pompeo railed against WikiLeaks and its founder Julian Assange.

“It is time to call out WikiLeaks for what it really is: A non-state hostile intelligence service often abetted by state actors like Russia,” he said.

WikiLeaks has said it obtained the CIA information from former contractors who worked for U.S. intelligence. The CIA has not commented on the authenticity of the WikiLeaks disclosures or on the status of the investigation.

 

source:http://www.cbsnews.com/news/cia-fbi-on-manhunt-for-leaker-who-gave-top-secret-documents-to-wikileaks/

The Afghan Tunnels the US Just Bombed — “They were built by the CIA”

16th April 2017

As The Trump administration is flexing its military muscle, having stood up to Syria and its ally Russia, and while it’s now relishing in the news it has dropped the nation’s largest most-powerful non-nuclear bomb on a cave complex in Eastern Afghanistan, one critic was quick to point out one little-known fact. Wikileaks tweeted a simple but true statement concerning the origin of the cave complex the Americans are so proud to have reportedly destroyed. “Those tunnels the U.S is bombing in Afghanistan? They were built by the CIA,” Wikileaks tweeted.

Linked to the tweet was a New York Times article from 2005, which described a similar cave complex in detail, and added a few additional details worth noting. “Tora Bora” as it’s known, contains “fortified caves” which are reported to contain, “miles of tunnels, bunkers and base camps, dug deeply into the steep rock walls.” The tunnels were built by the “C.I.A.”, with the help of the Bin Laden family, who constructed the complex.

Also jumping in on the mockery of the Trump administration is Edward Snowden, who tweeted, “The bomb dropped today in the middle of nowhere, Afghanistan, cost $314,000,000.” And in a follow up tweet, also said, “Those mujahedeen tunnel networks we’re bombing in Afghanistan? We paid for them.” He, too, linked his tweet to The NY Times article mentioned above. Apparently, the ant farm network of tunnels built by the CIA can now be destroyed by the American military in yet another pseudo-show-of-force meant to make the Trump administration seem tough on Syria, ISIS, and Al Quaeda.

It was said Bin Laden even helped to run the bulldozers at Tora Bora and knew the labyrinth of tunnels like the proverbial back of his hand. Financed by the intelligence agency to provide a headquarters and safe haven for the Mujahedeen, the Afghani fighting force was used to prevent the Russian takeover of Afghanistan during the Afghan War. After the Russians were defeated, the same Mujahedeen became known as Al-Qaeda, led by Osama Bin Laden.

After the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center, Bin Laden became the United States’ most wanted man. Not surprisingly, he took up refuge inside Tora Bora, within its miles and miles of complex, well-fortified tunnels. Times writer Mary Anne Weaver “asked Masood Farivar, a former Khalis officer who had fought in Tora Bora during the jihad, to tell me why the caves were so important. ‘They’re rugged, formidable and isolated,” he said.

“If you know them, you can come and go with ease. But if you don’t, they’re a labyrinth that you can’t penetrate. They rise in some places to 14,000 feet, and for 10 years the Soviets pummeled them with everything they had, but to absolutely no avail. Another reason they’re so important is their proximity to the border and to Pakistan.’”

One American military leader tasked with capturing or killing Bin Laden was General “Mad Dog” Maddox. Maddox is now the Trump Administration’s Secretary of Defense, and appears to have attempted to destroy at least a portion of Tora Bora’s system of tunnels with the drop of the MOAB bomb, known as the “Mother Of All Bombs.”

READ MORE:  For the First Time Ever – US Drops Largest Non-Nuclear Bomb – On Afghanistan

The aging general who’s now the nation’s most powerful military leader, with the exception of Trump as Commander-in-Chief, appears to be following through with a sixteen year old vendetta he may have been holding onto. The Times article from 2005 writes, “Brig. Gen. James N. Mattis…along with another officer with whom I spoke, was convinced that…he could have surrounded and sealed off bin Laden’s lair…He argued strongly that he should be permitted to proceed to the Tora Bora caves.”

However, according to Weaver, “The general was turned down,” and the decision not to take Bin Laden there at Tora Bora was one of the greatest military mistakes of the Bush Administration’s attempt to get him. Bin Laden escaped Tora Bora on December 16th, 2001.

It is also important to note that Wikileaks’ tweet may or may not be 100 percent accurate. CNN reported the MOAB bomb was dropped on a tunnel complex about 12 miles from Tora Bora. However, those tunnels likely all connected. CBS reported the airstrike destroyed several caves used by ISIS with it’s 11-ton ordinance. The news agency also interviewed a military expert who said the U.S. has at least 14 more MOAB missiles and may be prepared to lay waste to all such cave systems.

Meanwhile, on Thursday, the director of the CIA, Mike Pompeo, targeted Wikileaks as a “non-state hostile intelligence service often abetted by state actors like Russia.”. The recently appointed director has apparently had enough of Wikileaks’ activities, such as the March release of the CIA’s Vault 7.

 

 

source:http://thefreethoughtproject.com/wikileaks-calls-cia-return-cia-targets-wikileaks/

BuzzFeed Sues the FBI Over Andrew Breitbart Records Request

8th April 2017

BuzzFeed wants some answers from the FBI about deceased conservative media figure Andrew Breitbart — and it’s willing to sue to find out.

BuzzFeed and journalist Jason Leopold have filed a complaint against the FBI, claiming that the bureau hasn’t done everything it can to answer their request for information on Breitbart.

The complaint, filed Friday in federal court in California, says that Leopold filed a Freedom of Information Act request with the FBI for “all records related to Andrew Breitbart” on Aug. 7, 2012, a few months after Breitbart died at age 43.

According to the suit, the FBI responded to the request on Sept. 4, but said that the bureau only searched it “main file records,” claiming that no records were located.

That was an inadequate effort, as far as the suit is contained.

The complaint says that Leopold appealed the FBI’s response but was denied by the U.S. Department of Justice Office of Information in 2013.

“In its appeal decision, OIP claimed that the FBI is not required to perform cross-reference searches unless the requester provides ‘information sufficient to enable the FBI to determine with certainty that any cross-references it locates are identifiable to the subject of [the] request,’ including, for example, the dates and locations of contacts between the subject of the request and the FBI, the subject’s social security number, or other such information,” the suit reads.

However, BuzzFeed and Leopold contend in the complaint, “Nothing in the FOIA statute requires a requester to provide this information before a cross-reference search must be conducted.”

“As FBI and OIP are certainly aware, Andrew Breitbart was a well-known public figure and is easily identifiable by the FBI in conducting a cross-reference search,” the suit reads. “As the FBI and OIP are also aware, cross-reference searches frequently turn up records not located in main file searches.”

Alleging violation of the Freedom of Information Act, the suit is asking the court to order the FBI to “conduct a reasonable search for records, including a cross-reference search, and to produce all non-exempt requested records.”

 

 

source: http://www.thewrap.com/buzzfeed-sues-the-fbi-over-andrew-breitbart-records-request/

Twitter case shows breadth of US power to probe anti-Trump statements


8th April 2017

An attempt by U.S. authorities to identify an anonymous critic of President Donald Trump on Twitter has set off alarm bells among Democratic and Republican lawmakers and civil liberties advocates fearful of a crackdown on dissent.

Twitter Inc on Friday succeeded in beating back a demand for records about a Twitter account called ALT Immigration (@ALT_uscis), which pokes fun at Trump’s immigration policies and appears to be run by one or more federal employees.

The U.S. government withdrew an administrative summons that customs agents had sent the company in March demanding the records.

But the government backed away only after Twitter filed a federal lawsuit accusing it of violating the First Amendment’s protection of free speech. Customs agents could still continue the investigation using some other methods, civil liberties attorneys said.

Although authorities retreated, the case has laid bare the broad power of the U.S. government to demand information from technology companies, sometimes with no oversight from the courts and often with built-in secrecy provisions that prevent the public from knowing what the government is seeking.

The summons that Twitter received came from agents who investigate corruption and misconduct within U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP). Even after it was withdrawn, some lawmakers had questions about the agency’s actions.

“CBP must ensure that any properly authorized investigation does not disregard the rights to free speech enshrined in the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution,” two Republican U.S. senators, Cory Gardner of Colorado and Mike Lee of Utah, wrote in a letter on Friday to Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly.

The senators asked whether the agency would ever ask a private company to divulge private records about a customer based solely on “non-criminal speech.” Senate Democrat Ron Wyden of Oregon called for an investigation of whether customs agents had violated a law by retaliating against an internal critic.

The Department of Homeland Security plans to respond directly to the senators, an official said on Friday.

FORMIDABLE RANGE

There are two primary ways the U.S. government can obtain information from internet companies without a judge’s approval using a law known as the Electronic Communications Privacy Act, according to experts in privacy law.

Agencies with enforcement power, such as the Internal Revenue Service, can issue administrative subpoenas demanding user records. Prosecutors can also ask grand juries investigating a crime to issue a subpoena.

An aggressive agency, for example, might demand information about a Twitter account that used an agency logo on the grounds that it is deceptive, said Georgetown University law professor Paul Ohm.

Similarly, a prosecutor could ask a grand jury to issue a subpoena based on the idea that a federal employee, suspected of criticizing the administration anonymously, was misusing government resources.

“It doesn’t take a brilliant legal mind to think of hypotheticals,” Ohm said. Further, such subpoenas are usually kept secret, making them more difficult to challenge.

Some other government tools, such as a national security letter, are intended to be used for narrow purposes related to counter-terrorism investigations. But they do not require judicial approval either, instead relying on internal safeguards. Challenging such demands is difficult and often requires deep pockets, attorneys familiar with such orders said.

“It’s important to keep in mind how formidable the government’s range of investigatory powers is,” said Andrew Crocker, a staff attorney with the Electronic Frontier Foundation, which advocates for digital rights.

In the case of ALT Immigration, Twitter said it was not bound to keep the summons a secret, and the company informed the account holder of the government demand. That person then found legal representation with the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU).

Esha Bhandari, the ACLU staff attorney representing the dissident, said she thinks the speed with which the government withdrew its summons – less than a day after Twitter sued – means the customs agents will cease investigating, but she cannot be sure.

“It’s impossible to predict, of course, but I’m hopeful that this really is a recognition that people have the ability to speak online including in ways that are critical of the government,” Bhandari said.

The Department of Homeland Security has not said what its plans are for the investigation.

After Trump’s inauguration in January, anonymous Twitter feeds that borrowed the names and logos of more than a dozen U.S. government agencies appeared to challenge the president’s views on climate change and other issues. They called themselves “alt” accounts.

Twitter has declined to say if it has received any other government demands to reveal such anti-Trump critics.

 

source: http://www.rawstory.com/2017/04/twitter-case-shows-breadth-of-us-power-to-probe-anti-trump-statements/

Workplace Surveillance Is The New Office ‘Perk’

big brother facebook

8th April 2016

James Jordan rolled out of bed just before 5 a.m. on a recent Saturday and went straight to work. A job was available as soon as he logged into the Mechanical Turk website from his computer at home, a small duplex he shares with his grandmother in Bakersfield, California.

Images of t-shirts and polo shirts flashed on Jordan’s monitor, and he was asked to rate their similarity. He would earn a penny each time he completed the tiny task. The rest of the morning was a blur as Jordan raced to get more than 3,000 of them done. He skipped taking a shower and stopped only for the occasional cigarette outside — each puff a reminder that he didn’t earn money during breaks. Between batches of photos, Jordan also managed to pick up a handful of short academic surveys offered through the site, which farms out an array of digital piecework day and night to workers around the world.

For each completed survey Jordan earned 50 cents a pop.

“There are days when you can’t look away from the screen,” said Jordan, 26, who has earned a living for the last year-and-a-half tagging photos, participating in studies, or tackling whatever day labor Mechanical Turk has to offer. “Days like that make you really question why you’re doing what you’re doing.” 

By the time he wrapped up that afternoon he had made just over $60. His earnings as a virtual laborer that month, including some 12-hour days, would come in at $1,174.24. “I’ve been poor my whole life,” said Jordan. “So $1,200 is pretty good.”

Jordan is among thousands of low-paid workers toiling behind isolated screens to make the internet and an array of ephemeral factories hum.

The rapid growth of Silicon Valley companies such as Uber, TaskRabbit, and Airbnb have cast a spotlight on parts of the burgeoning gig economy. But ventures like Mechanical Turk — and the men and women who power them from bedrooms, couches, and coffee shops — remain less known and largely invisible. Tackling millions of digital micro tasks daily, these crowd labor platforms comprise a web of virtual assembly lines that can be as precarious and low-paying as their predecessors from the industrial era. Moreover, they can offer a startling glimpse into the bleak future of low-wage, low-skilled work.

“Dystopian would be one accurate way of describing it,” Moshe Marvit, a labor lawyer and scholar who has written extensively about crowd labor, told Vocativ. “The worst possible world for workers might be another.

Proponents of crowd labor offer a markedly different vision for this digital workforce, one that’s as disruptive as it is democratic. “The crowdsourcing industry [is] bringing opportunities to people who never would have had them before, and we operate in a truly egalitarian fashion, where anyone who wants to can do microtasks, no matter their gender, nationality, or socio-economic status, and can do so in a way that is entirely of their choosing and unique to them,” Lukas Biewald, the CEO of CrowdFlower, a San Francisco-based platform, told the Nation in 2014.

Sites like Crowdflower, Mechanical Turk, Clickworker, UpWork, and its dozens of competitors comprise a large — and growing — market for small, digital tasks outsourced around the globe. The World Bank estimates that the online outsourcing industry generated close to $2 billion in revenue in 2013, a figure that could increase to $25 billion by the end of the decade. Crowdwork companies boast about workforces that number in the hundreds of thousands.

Among platforms used to facilitate this market, Mechanical Turk is one of the largest in the U.S. Launched by Amazon in 2005, it now claims to have more than half a million “crowdworkers” powering its digital machine, though an exact number of active users is not available. Their jobs are ones that even the most sophisticated computers, algorithms, or other forms of artificial intelligence can’t perform, but which constitute the very nuts and bolts of the internet that most take for granted. Amorphous shop floors of crowdworkers churn out online product reviews and spam. They tag photos and websites, verify URLs, and fine tune search engine optimization. Some have also probably written the titles to your favorite porn videos online.

Companies or clients, known on Mechanical Turk as “requesters,” farm out these gigs, which are sometimes broken down into hundreds of thousands of microtasks. Workers, who refer to themselves as “Turkers,” accept these jobs — eerily referred to as HITs, or Human Intelligence Tasks — that pay anywhere from a penny to several dollars each. For its role, Amazon takes a commission of anywhere between 20 percent and 40 percent.

The sweeping range of microtasks made available on Mechanical Turk is matched by a labor force that’s equally motley. On any given day, the site can draw a mishmash of recent college grads and ex-cons, retirees and former school teachers, said Kristy Milland, a moderator for Turker Nation, one of the many online forums that exist for these workers. There are stay-at-home moms looking to pick up a little extra cash and full-time Turkers hustling to pay their bills. For the disabled and the socially anxious, it can be a lifeline.

“Compared to any other work place it’s insane,” Milland said of the diversity among workers on Mechanical Turk. 

But Turking ain’t always easy.

Like most who earn a paycheck in the gig economy, Turkers are categorized as independent contractors, neither employees of Mechanical Turk nor the requesters using the site. That means they are not legally entitled to a minimum wage, overtime pay, or a host of other protections that cover employees. The HITs can be mind-numbingly monotonous and their availability erratic, leaving some reluctant to ever stray too far from their computers. Requesters have also been known to refuse to pay for work completed —an experience common among Turkers, though one for which they have no recourse.

What’s also drawn ongoing scrutiny is the pay. Two recent independent surveys found that around half of Turkers in the U.S. earned fewer than $5 an hour, far less than the $7.25 an hour federal minimum wage. Only eight percent of participants from a Pew study published last year said they made more than $8 an hour. Yet almost a quarter of them said they relied on Mechanical Turk for most or all of their income.  

“Amazon’s Mechanical Turk has become a kind of last ditch for many,” said Milland, who spent nearly a decade working full-time on the site and is now an advocate for crowd workers. “It’s creating a kind of digital underclass.”

To be clear, not all Turkers find themselves toiling as virtual day laborers for low wages. Some, in fact, have carved out a comfortable living and lifestyle around the platform. Dane, who spoke with Vocativ on the condition we not publish his last name, began Turking in 2013 after he was diagnosed with brain cancer. He now says he makes more than $30,000 a year from the site and has time to run a photography business on the side. “This life feels more fulfilling for me,” said Dane, a former field service engineer. “It’s worth an awful lot.”

For Jordan, Turking might not guarantee a minimum wage for the work he puts in. But it also means no long commutes, burning money on gas, or running late. He also has a flexible schedule and no bosses telling him what he can and can’t do. “That’s a pretty nice feeling,” he said.

Such perks or perceived conveniences should not have to come at the cost of substandard pay or basic rights as a worker, said Miriam Cherry, a professor at the Saint Louis School of Law whose research focuses on labor and employment in the virtual world. “There’s plenty of computer workers in an office who get paid minimum wage. Why would that be any different if you work at home?” said Cherry, who last year co-edited the book, “Invisible Labor: Hidden Work in the Contemporary World.”

More Turkers are beginning to recognize a need to work together in order to exert more say over their jobs. They’ve devised rating systems for vetting requesters and created various online forums where they can trade tips, alert each other to lucrative gigs, and talk about life outside of Turking. Hundreds even organized a letter writing campaign to Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos with the message that they were human beings, not algorithms.

These worker-driven efforts have yielded some success. Scamming requesters are now easier to identify. The letter-writing campaign earned international headlines, providing a brief window of visibility for a largely anonymous workforce. But without legal protections for workers, observers like Cherry believe many will remain vulnerable to ever-greater exploitation. “If we don’t do something about it at some point that’s what we’re going to get,” she said. “It’s a race to the bottom.”

Meanwhile, the low cost and convenience of crowd labor continues to attract interest among a growing number of fields. Researchers at universities and non-profits have increasingly turned to Mechanical Turk to farm subjects for their studies — a decision that’s yielded mixed results. In the last few years, Turkers have even been used at times to diagnose a host of medical cases and work as amateur pathologists to analyze potential cancer cells. For some, such developments don’t bode well for the future of work. 

“There’s never been as deregulated a labor market as the one that exists online,” said Marvit, the labor scholar. “More professional work is going to be eaten up by it.” 

 

 

source: http://www.vocativ.com/410794/are-virtual-sweatshops-the-future-of-work/

WikiLeaks Drops the Mother Lode With ‘Vault 7’

wikileaks

8th March 2017

WikiLeaks on Tuesday dumped a trove of documents and files hacked from the Central Intelligence Agency — the largerst ever published from within the U.S. spy agency.
The 8,761 documents code named “VAult 7” contain amazing things, such as the “weaponized exploits against a wide range of U.S. and European company products, include Apple’s iPhone, Google’s Android and Microsoft’s Windows and even Samsung TVs, which are turned into covert microphones.”
“The CIA had created, in effect, its ‘own NSA’ with even less accountability and without publicly answering the question as to whether such a massive budgetary spend on duplicating the capacities of a rival agency could be justified,” WikiLeaks said in its release.
The documents show that “a specialized unit in the CIA’s Mobile Development Branch produces malware to infest, control and exfiltrate data from iPhones and other Apple products running iOS, such as iPads.”
The CIA also runs “a very substantial effort to infect and control Microsoft Windows users with its malware.”
The documents also show that “in addition to its operations in Langley, Virginia, the CIA also uses the U.S. consulate in Frankfurt as a covert base for its hackers covering Europe, the Middle East and Africa.
“CIA hackers operating out of the Frankfurt consulate ( ‘Center for Cyber Intelligence Europe’ or CCIE) are given diplomatic (‘black’) passports and State Department cover. The instructions for incoming CIA hackers make Germany’s counter-intelligence efforts appear inconsequential: ‘Breeze through German Customs because you have your cover-for-action story down pat, and all they did was stamp your passport.’ “
“There is an extreme proliferation risk in the development of cyber ‘weapons’. Comparisons can be drawn between the uncontrolled proliferation of such ‘weapons’, which results from the inability to contain them combined with their high market value, and the global arms trade. But the significance of ‘Year Zero’ goes well beyond the choice between cyberwar and cyberpeace. The disclosure is also exceptional from a political, legal and forensic perspective,” said WikiLeaks editor Julian Assange.

 

 

source:http://www.dailywire.com/news/14173/wikileaks-drops-mother-lode-vault-7-joseph-curl?

If the TSA can’t fire these screwups, we should fire the TSA

system-failure

24th Feb 2017

Passengers put up with endless hassles from the Transportation Security Administration in hopes it all keeps them safe. So after 11 people got past a JFK checkpoint Monday without being screened, you’d think heads would roll. Hah!

The 11 got through, apparently, because TSA staffers left a security lane open but unmanned. Three set off a metal-detector alarm and still walked on. And TSA didn’t tell Port Authority cops for two hours.

Airport police from around the country call the flap “unconscionable.” TSA has taken its “eye off the ball,” fumed American Alliance of Airport Police Officers co-founder Marshall McClain. Uh, ya think?

True, most of the 11 were tracked down and found not to be threats . . . after they landed.

The agency’s official statement on what comes next: “Once our review is complete, TSA will discipline and retrain employees.” Oh, and it has ID’d the responsible workers and “appropriate action is being taken.”

Retraining. Appropriate action. How about fired ? Sorry, no: TSA staff are a protected branch of the American Federation of Government Employees, one with the hilarious motto: “Stronger Union, Safer Skies.”

Private-sector workers who mess up so badly as to put lives in jeopardy would be gone in a heartbeat. Heck, they’d be fired for far less serious breaches.

Somewhere along the road to making America great again, Mr. President, how about privatizing the damn TSA to end all the maddening “security theater”

 

source:http:/http://nypost.com/2017/02/23/if-the-tsa-cant-fire-these-screwups-we-should-fire-the-tsa

Inauguration-protest arrests lead to Facebook data prosecution

big-brother-1984

13th Feb 2017

If you attend a protest in Washington, D.C., nowadays, better plan on leaving your cellphone at home. That is, unless you want police to confiscate it, mine it for incriminating information and then gather even more data from their BFF — Facebook.

At least one person arrested during protests on Inauguration Day got an email from Facebook’s Law Enforcement Response Team alerting them that investigators wanted access to their data. Another received a Facebook data subpoena.

The email was basically a countdown to when Facebook inevitably handed that data over to D.C. police. That is, unless the respondent figured out how to file an objection within a 10-day window.

When over 230 people were arrested in D.C. during protests against Donald Trump last month, many of those rounded up were not part of the protests. Cops swept up medics, legal observers, and six journalists from Voactiv, RT America and others.

All of their phones were confiscated and retained.

Everyone arrested now faces felony charges and up to 10 years in prison. In the Bay Area, where we love a good protest, it’s very rare that arrested protesters get prosecuted. So it’s odd to think that protesters would have their social media scrutinized after an arrest. Though, like in most cities across America, it’s extremely common for investigators to search the social media of suspects in other crimes if they believe that the suspect posted something related (like photos of a beating). SFPD even has an officer devoted to following social media — most heavily, Snapchat and Instagram, as those are apparently where you find the best crime stuff.

Oakland Police and supporting agencies like California Highway Patrol have been very transparent about monitoring Twitter to determine protest movement and plans. And we’ve been pretty vocal about pushing back. It only makes sense that we’d resist any form of surveillance, seeing that we’re ground zero around here for ethically challenged startups that invade our privacy. Fighting the surveillance state has become part of our DNA. But a wide-ranging Facebook subpoena for felony protest prosecution isn’t something we’ve seen the likes of.

The subpoena issued to Facebook (this one by the U.S. Attorney’s Office on January 27, 2017 and signed off on by a D.C. Metropolitan Police Detective) obtained by press this week is chilling. It targeted another inauguration arrestee, and requests subscriber information from Facebook that includes all names, all addresses (home, business, emails), phone records, session details (IP, ports, etc), device identification info, payment information, and more.

CityLab explained, “The redacted blocks on the second page shield columns of phone numbers, which are connected to other arrestees for whom the district attorney and police are seeking information.”

The list of phone numbers may indicate that police have gained access to someone’s phone and are building a case with what they found. A screenshot provided to CityLab indicates police began mining information from the confiscated devices right after the arrests.

On one hand, that could’ve been automated pinging by Gmail to Google’s servers. Or, it could’ve been something darker. When phones are taken as evidence, they’re supposed to be secured in a signal-blocking Faraday bag to prevent remote wipes. Fred Jennings, a cybercrime defense attorney at the firm Tor Ekeland in New York, told press: “If it had been secured properly and placed in the bag to safeguard it, there’d be no way for it to ping the server.”

For some of us, this sets off a different set of alarms. It’s scary enough that police are arresting journalists and mining our phones for all the terrifyingly detailed data Facebook seems all too happy to give up. But authorities with questionable intent are also collecting our contacts, and pose a very real risk for our protected sources.

dislike

Some of this could be solved by ditching our devices in favor of carrying on-the-scene burner phones. But this presents a new host of complications and problems, even for the well-intentioned protester or march participant. For one, it’s a hassle for most people. It also defeats the purpose of using your Twitter or Facebook account. More than ever, it’s vital that our voices are heard through media we share from our phones. Things like immigration-ban protests and the state-level denial of chaos at the airports can’t be dismissed when the realities are documented through our established Facebook and Twitter accounts.

Keeping a record of what authorities do to us, and being able to send a signal flare for help to our networks, makes them being used against us a much bigger problem than just saying “leave your phone at home” or “don’t talk about the protest online.”

It’s not a stretch to lay blame at Facebook’s feet for taking data we don’t necessarily want to give it, and for its well-established collaboration with police against its users. It’s a bigger stretch to suggest that the agreement between Facebook and its users is any kind of informed consent.

It’s interesting that this news comes up the same week that 333,000 people signed a petition demanding Facebook improve its corporate citizenship, with 1,500 of the signees being company shareholders. That document led to a proposal to remove Mark Zuckerberg from the board.

This, it said, was necessary at a time when Facebook “faces increasing criticism regarding its perceived role in the promotion of misleading news; censorship, hate speech and alleged inconsistencies in the application of Facebook’s community-standards guidelines and content policies; targeting of ad views based on race; collaboration with law enforcement and other government agencies; and calls for public accountability regarding the human-rights impacts of Facebook’s practices.”

It’s that collaboration with law enforcement and human-rights accountability we’ll be hearing more about as the D.C. arrest cases unfold. It’s not a new story, just an old one with a twist: Facebook got called out just before the US presidential election for colluding with authorities against its users’ human rights, specifically US police departments. A coalition of 70 human-rights groups, including the ACLU, wrote a public letter to Facebook condemning the company’s zeal in doing police bidding around the world.

Facebook, of course, just wants us to live our lives so it can keep collecting data we don’t even know we’re creating. Recording and storing our location, connections, contacts, experiences, our secrets and our history.

It’s transforming our memories into a malevolent, atavistic shadow that someday may be used against us in a court of law.

 

source:https://www.engadget.com/2017/02/10/inauguration-protest-arrests-lead-to-facebook-data-prosecution/