Posts Tagged privacy

Gun Control Groups Complain That Gun Owners’ Privacy Is Hampering Violence Studies

From Ammoland:

The Los Angeles Times is reporting that lawsuits filed by the National Rifle Association, Second Amendment Foundation and “other gun rights groups” challenging California’s sharing of admittedly “detailed information on gun owners” with researchers is hampering so-called “gun violence studies.”

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Oppose the Surveillance of the EARN IT Act

From EFF:

While Apple’s plan would have put the privacy and security of its users at risk, the EARN IT Act compromises security and free speech for everyone. The bill would create serious legal risk for business that hosts content—messages, photos stored in the cloud, online backups—and, potentially, even cloud-hosting sites like those using Amazon Web Services, unless they use government-approved scanning tools. 

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Governments Continue Encryption Propaganda

From Electronic Frontier Foundation:

This week, the U.K. government launched an unprecedented and deceptive effort to kill off end-to-end encryption. They’ve hired a fancy ad agency to convince people that encrypted messages are dangerous to children.

The explicit goal of the “No Place to Hide” campaign, launched on Tuesday, is to prevent Facebook from expanding its use of end-to-end encryption. Currently, Facebook’s WhatsApp messaging system uses end-to-end encryption, but other communications systems, including Facebook Messenger, are scanned and checked against a US government database, run by the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC), which identifies child abuse images.

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The Message Apps The FBI Can’t Read

From Reason:

The bottom line: of the most popular apps, iMessage and WhatsApp are particularly susceptible to FBI snooping. Telegram and Signal score far better according to the FBI documents. (Line and Viber are also relatively bad picks, and my formerly favored Threema likewise fares more poorly than I’d have expected, but since they aren’t as popular this probably isn’t relevant for you.)

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Apple Backs Down On Phone Scanning Plans

From Electronic Frontier Foundation:

Since August, EFF and others have been telling Apple to cancel its new child safety plans. Apple is now changing its tune about one component of its plans: the Messages app will no longer send notifications to parent accounts.

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NBC Tried To Dox Rittenhouse Jurors

From The Federalist:

Judge Bruce Schroeder announced Thursday morning that MSNBC would no longer be permitted in the courtroom of the Kyle Rittenhouse trial after someone who identified himself as a producer working for MSNBC was pulled over and arrested when he blew a red light while following a bus transporting the jurors.

The man identified himself as James J. Morrison, employed by MSNBC, and said he had been instructed by MSNBC’s Irene Byon in New York to follow the jury bus, according to the judge.

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Fight For The Future Discusses Apple Petition Against Phone Scanning

From Fight For The Future:

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Georgia Senator Introduced Gun Owner Privacy Act

From Bearing Arms:

Loeffler’s bill, the Gun Owner Privacy Act, would ban the use of federal funds to store personal information collected during background checks attached to gun purchases. Federal agencies are already barred from creating a database of gun owners, but the legislation will give citizens recourse for any infringements on their privacy. While the law would not apply to Americans who fail background checks, those whose records are illegally stored will be able to sue agencies in federal court and collect damages.

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Researcher Tracked Gun Buyers For 12 Years

From The Truth About Guns:

These researchers — including noted anti-gun rights UC Davis Violence Prevention Research Program director Garen Wintemute — used Dealer Records of Sales to identify 160,619 lawful gun owners. They then tracked these individuals, including where they lived, for the period of 2001-2013.

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Mobile Customer Locations Easily Accessible

From Motherboard:

Motherboard’s investigation shows just how exposed mobile networks and the data they generate are, leaving them open to surveillance by ordinary citizens, stalkers, and criminals, and comes as media and policy makers are paying more attention than ever to how location and other sensitive data is collected and sold. The investigation also shows that a wide variety of companies can access cell phone location data, and that the information trickles down from cell phone providers to a wide array of smaller players, who don’t necessarily have the correct safeguards in place to protect that data.

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CA Registration Data Breach

From NRA-ILA:

Possibly even more concerning with DOJ’s online registration system were the reports of the system’s improper disclosure of personal information to other users. There have been confirmed reports of individuals attempting to register their firearms who were improperly given access to the account information associated with another individual, due to a complete breakdown of CA DOJ’s registration application system. In some cases, the system allowed users to see all the personal information (including home address, telephone number, email, and Driver’s License number) for another user and all the information that user had submitted for registering their firearms as “assault weapons”—including the firearms make/model/serial number and all of the photos and attachments to the user’s registration application.

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Choosing A Strong Password Is Easier Than You Think

From EFF:

Randomly-generated passphrases offer a major security upgrade over user-chosen passwords. Estimating the difficulty of guessing or cracking a human-chosen password is very difficult. It was the primary topic of my own PhD thesis and remains an active area of research. (One of many difficulties when people choose passwords themselves is that people aren’t very good at making random, unpredictable choices.)

Measuring the security of a randomly-generated passphrase is easy. The most common approach to randomly-generated passphrases (immortalized by XKCD) is to simply choose several words from a list of words, at random. The more words you choose, or the longer the list, the harder it is to crack. Looking at it mathematically, for k words chosen from a list of length n, there are kn possible passphrases of this type. It will take an adversary about kn/2 guesses on average to crack this passphrase. This leaves a big question, though: where do we get a list of words suitable for passphrases, and how do we choose the length of that list?

In general choosing four five-letter words is better than one long word with number substitutions and some weird characters thrown in. It’s easier to remember and vastly harder for a computer to guess.

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How Did The FBI Break Into iPhone?

From the EFF:

In addition, this new method of accessing the phone raises questions about the government’s apparent use of security vulnerabilities in iOS and whether it will inform Apple about these vulnerabilities. As a panel of experts hand-picked by the White House recognized, any decision to withhold a security vulnerability for intelligence or law enforcement purposes leaves ordinary users at risk from malicious third parties who also may use the vulnerability. Thanks to a lawsuit by EFF, the government has released its official policy for determining when to disclose security vulnerabilities, the Vulnerabilities Equities Process (VEP).

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The Apple Case Could Violate The Thirteenth Amendment

If Apple is compelled to create a program that doesn’t exist for the government, that would be a type of slavery.

From Reason.com:

Instead, the DOJ has obtained the most unique search warrant I have ever seen in 40 years of examining them. Here, the DOJ has persuaded a judge to issue a search warrant for A THING THAT DOES NOT EXIST, by forcing Apple to create a key that the FBI is incapable of creating.

There is no authority for the government to compel a nonparty to its case to do its work, against the nonparty’s will, and against profound constitutional values. Essentially, the DOJ wants Apple to hack into its own computer product, thereby telling anyone who can access the key how to do the same.

If the courts conscripted Apple to work for the government and thereby destroy or diminish its own product, the decision would constitute a form of slavery, which is prohibited by our values and by the Thirteenth Amendment.

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Apple, Privacy and the FBI

It’s way more complicated than the pundits are saying. To be fully informed read these articles.

From the EFF:

…the FBI’s demands reflect a familiar pattern of security agencies leveraging the most seemingly compelling situations—usually the aftermath of terror attacks—to create powers that are later used more widely and eventually abused. The government programs monitoring the telephone system and Internet, for example, were created in the wake of the 9/11 attacks. Those programs came to undermine the rights of billions of people, doing more damage to our security than the tragic events that prompted their creation.

ArsTechnica discusses Fifth Amendment issues:

But the Fifth Amendment goes beyond the well-known right against compelled self-incrimination. The relevant part for the Apple analysis is: “nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.”

The idea here is that the government is conscripting Apple to build something that it doesn’t want to do. That allegedly is a breach of its “substantive due process.” The government is “conscripting a company’s employees to become agents for the government,” as one source familiar with Apple’s legal strategy told Ars. The doctrine of substantive due process, according to Cornell University School of Law, holds “that the 5th and 14th Amendments require all governmental intrusions into fundamental rights and liberties be fair and reasonable and in furtherance of a legitimate governmental interest.”

Reason discusses the political battle over encryption:

This incident is only the latest conflict in a years-long encryption and security war waging between privacy- and security-minded groups and the law enforcement community. As more communications are digitized, authorities have been calling for industry assistance to build so-called government “backdoors” into secure technologies by hook or by crook.

Those in law enforcement fear a scenario where critical evidence in a terrorism or criminal case is beyond the reach of law enforcement because it is protected by strong encryption techniques that conceal data from anyone but the intended recipient. Hence, leaders at agencies like the Department of Justice, the Department of Homeland Security, and the National Security Agency, along with President Obama, have weighed in against strong encryption.

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