Indicting the US Government for crimes against humanity – unsealing the evidence It is opportune that only a couple of weeks after three-times human rights awardee Bradley Manning presented his case against the US Government for war crimes committed in Iraq and Afghanistan, details have been released (see video trailer above) of a 15 month investigation by the Guardian and the BBC into torture centres in Iraq, coordinated by US Special Forces commander, James Steele, and former US General Petraeus. Add in evidence of system-wide torture and massacres in Iraq and Afghanistan as compiled by the Bureau of Investigative Journalism (see below) with additional evidence from a number of other sources (also below) and what we have is much more than a dossier but an indictment – unsealed and without need for a grand jury – that could form the basis of charges raised against the US Administration either in the World Court or – deliciously turning the tables – at the military tribunal of Bradley Manning. The game is afoot! Note 1. Note 2. Note 3.
Who is Neustar? Brad Stone at the New York Times reports on an industry group working on a new platform for portable digital movie downloads: The [Digital Entertainment Content Ecosystem or DECE] is setting out to create a common digital standard that would let consumers buy or rent a digital video once and then play it on any device... Under the proposed system, proof of digital purchases would be stored online in a so-called rights locker, and consumers would be permitted to play the movies they bought or rented on any DECE-compatible device.[DECE is] selecting Neustar, a company based in Sterling, Va., to create the online hub that will store records of people’s digital purchases, with their permission. Most consumers have likely never heard of Neustar, yet the firm plays an important role in the telecommunications industry, and has built a highly profitable business faciliating the disclosure of information regarding consumers' communications to law enforcement and intelligence agencies. I doubt it.
The Data Bubble The tide turned today. Mark it: 31 July 2010. That’s when The Wall Street Journal published The Web’s Gold Mine: Your Secrets, subtitled A Journal investigation finds that one of the fastest-growing businesses on the Internet is the business of spying on consumers. First in a series.
The Intimate Social Graph October 14, 2010, 11:02 AM — For a number of years I have had a privacy concern that is just now beginning to peep into view on the Internet at large. Around 2001 I spent some time in a casual multiuser game hosted by PopCap. It featured a way that two players could chat in a private space while playing the game. The game was centrally hosted: each user's local Java applet talked with a PopCap server, so every keystroke typed in those private conversations was sent up to the server and back out to the other party's client.
Biosphere 2: How a Sci-Fi Stunt Turned Into the World's Biggest Earth Science Lab Flickr: Image If you were born after 1980 or so, then you probably most closely associate the concept of a manmade biosphere with Pauly Shore and fart jokes you didn't even think were funny when you were eleven. But unlike the Biodome, the Biosphere was an actual thing. And it was almost as disastrous as the movie. In 1991, an apocalypse-fearing oil billionaire named Ed Bass poured $150 million into building the Biosphere 2, a 3-acre-wide complex of glass and steel. Tracking James Steele, the alleged coordinator of Iraqi torture centres: US War Crimes Tribunal investigation #1 James Steele today We have tracked down the man identified by The Guardian and the BBC who they alleged supervised death squads and torture squads, first in El Salvador, then Iraq (under General Petraeus). James Steele, named in the joint Guardian/BBC investigation, lives in Texas and operates as a counter-insurgency consultant. Significantly he styles himself as ‘Counsellor to US Ambassador for Iraqi Security Forces’. In other words, though not officially employed by the US military he is acting in a private capacity, offering the same services he coordinated when on active service in Iraq. Below, are the knowns, unknowns and known unknowns of Steele.
Android phones keep location cache, too, but it's harder to access After this week's disturbing revelation that iPhones and 3G iPads keep a log of location data based on cell tower and WiFi base station triangulation, developer Magnus Eriksson set out to demonstrate that Android smartphones store the exact same type of data for its location services. While the data is harder to access for the average user, it's as trivial to access for a knowledgeable hacker or forensics expert. On Wednesday, security researchers Alasdair Allan and Pete Warden revealed their findings that 3G-capable iOS devices keep a database of location data based on cell tower triangulation and WiFi basestation proximity in a file called "consolidated.db." The iPhone, as well as 3G-equipped iPads, generate this cache even if you don't explicitly use location-based services.
Cookie Madness! I just don’t understand Julia Angwin’s scare story about cookies and ad targeting in the Wall Street Journal. That is, I don’t understand how the Journal could be so breathlessly naive, unsophisticated, and anachronistic about the basics of the modern media business. It is the Reefer Madness of the digital age: Oh my God, Mabel, they’re watching us! If I were a conspiracy theorist — and I’m not, because I’ve found the world is rarely organized enough to conspire (and I found this to be especially true of News Corp. when I worked there, at TV Guide) — I’d imagine that the Journal ginned up this alleged exposé as a way to attack everyone else’s advertising business just as its parent company skulks behind its pay wall and surrenders its own ad business. But I’m not a conspiracy theorist.
Thoughts on the DOJ wikileaks/twitter court order The world's media has jumped on the news that the US Department of Justice has sought, and obtained a court order seeking to compel Twitter to reveal account information associated with several of its users who are associated with Wikileaks. Communications privacy law is exceedingly complex, and unfortunately, none of the legal experts who actually specialize in this area (people like Orin Kerr, Paul Ohm, Jennifer Granick and Kevin Bankston) have yet to chime in with their thoughts. As such, many commentators and journalists are completely botching their analysis of this interesting event. While I'm not a lawyer, the topic of government requests to Internet companies is the focus of my dissertation, so I'm going to try to provide a bit of useful analysis. However, as always, I'm not a lawyer, so take this with a grain of salt.
How to Build a Secret Facebook The NSA's Utah data center near Bluffdale, Utah. Via Google Street View Since retiring from a three-decade career at the NSA in 2001, a mathematician named William Binney has been telling anyone who will listen about a vast data-gathering operation being conducted by his former employers. "Here’s the grand design," he told filmmaker Laura Poitras last year. "You build social networks for everybody. That then turns into the graph, and then you index all that data to that graph, which means you can pull out a community. The Iraqi Wolf Brigade & ‘Frago 234′: US War Crimes Tribunal investigation #2 The Wolf Brigade together with order Frago 234 (see below) was first exposed over two years ago when Wikileaks began to publish material provided by whistleblower Bradley Manning. This article merely pulls together that material, given that in less than three months time a trial will commence. The Wolf Brigade – an Iraqi death squad, set up by US Special Forces coordinator James Steele – was the subject of a recent Guardian/BBC investigation: the full 50 minute video of this investigation is provided below. A Wolf Brigade raid at close quarters is shown above. Note 1.
Mobile Surveillance - A Primer Share This Mobiles can be useful tools for collecting, planning, coordinating and recording activities of NGO staff and activists. But did you know that whenever your phone is on, your location is known to the network operator? Or that each phone and SIM card transmits a unique identifying code, which, unless you are very careful about how you acquire the phone and SIM, can be traced uniquely to you? eXelate Raises $15 Million For Behavioral Targeting Data Marketplace eXelate, a New York-based provider of data management tools for online publishers and operator of an open marketplace for audience targeting data, has raised $15 million in Series B funding in a round led by Silicon Valley’s Menlo Ventures with participation of Israeli VC firm Carmel Ventures. The latter led the company’s initial $4 million financing round back in October 2007. Menlo Ventures partner Mark Siegel will join Carmel’s Shlomo Dovrat on eXelate’s board, which was recently expanded to include New York Times Company SVP Digital Operations Martin Nisenholtz and IPG’s Mediabrands Ventures CEO Matt Freeman.
Google+ and Privacy: A Roundup July 3, 2011 at 7:04 pm By all accounts, Google has done a great job with Plus, both on privacy and on the closely related goal of better capturing real-life social nuances.  This article will summarize the privacy discussions I’ve had in the first few days of using the service and the news I’ve come across. The origin of Circles “Circles,” as you’re probably aware, is the big privacy-enhancing feature. A presentation titled “The Real-Life Social Network” by user-experience designer Paul Adams almost exactly a year ago went viral in the tech community; it looks likely this was the genesis, or at least a crystallization, of the Circles concept. But Adams defected to Facebook a few months later, which lead to speculation that it was the end of whatever plans Google may have had for the concept.