Friday, 4 November, 2011
After being detained by the FBI in 2002, Hasan Elahi, an Associate Professor of Art at the University of Maryland, decided to publish every last piece of information, down to the food he eats and financial data, about himself to his website, in the interests of being as open and transparent as possible.
Despite the fact anyone, anywhere, could learn anything about him, including his current location, Elahi still feels his privacy remains intact.
People who visit my site – and my server logs indicate repeat visits from the Department of Homeland Security, the C.I.A., the National Reconnaissance Office and the Executive Office of the President – don’t find my information organized clearly. In fact, the interface I use is deliberately user-unfriendly. A lot of work is required to thread together the thousands of available points of information. By putting everything about me out there, I am simultaneously telling everything and nothing about my life. Despite the barrage of information about me that is publicly available, I live a surprisingly private and anonymous life.
privacy, security, surveillance
Tuesday, 26 October, 2010
It wasn’t the prospect of an all-seeing, all-knowing Big Brother like dictator, as envisaged by George Orwell in his novel “Nineteen Eighty-Four”, that we had to worry about when it came to the sanctity of our privacy… rather it is our own family, friends, and even ourselves, who through the likes of smartphone cameras and social media, are to thank for the increasing public surveillance we are now subject to.
As the Internet proves every day, it isn’t some stern and monolithic Big Brother that we have to reckon with as we go about our daily lives, it’s a vast cohort of prankish Little Brothers equipped with devices that Orwell, writing 60 years ago, never dreamed of and who are loyal to no organized authority. The invasion of privacy – of others’ privacy but also our own, as we turn our lenses on ourselves in the quest for attention by any means – has been democratized.
authority, big brother, privacy, surveillance
Wednesday, 25 March, 2009
Meeting an accomplice or partner-in-crime in a park, or shopping mall, as per many a stereotypical movie scene, to discuss a heist probably remains a sound strategy, provided you’ve switched off your mobile phone, travelled on public transport (having paid cash) to the meeting point, and worn a disguise.
Being visible, or “on the grid”, in any shape or form however is bound to very quickly bring about your downfall…
“The big lesson now is don’t try and con anyone, stay on the up and up,” said private investigator Charlie Rahim, of the Charlie’s Angels investigation company. “If you’re ‘on the grid’ – that’s a term that means you’re on anything electronic like mobile phones, the internet, credit cards … anything linked to a database – then they can check anything on what you’ve done.” Mr Rahim said authorities – with proper warrants – had access to a wide array of phone logs, camera footage and account statements that allowed them to piece together a person’s day. “The mobile phone is where authorities get the best information – they tell who you called, who called you, when you spoke to them, where you spoke from. “And with mobile phones, even if you’ve not made calls, it’s possible for the phone company to use the antenna to tell what area you are in.
detection, electronic surveillance, mobile-phones, privacy, surveillance, the grid
Wednesday, 27 August, 2008
While still in its infancy, and not completely accurate, according to some experts, pattern-recognition software could nevertheless prove effective at finding links between disparate sets of information and data streams, such as phone usage and bank transactions.
This software is trained on a large number of sample documents to pick out items such as names, phone numbers and places from generic text. This means it can spot names or numbers that crop up alongside anyone already of interest to the authorities, and then catalogue any documents that contain such associates. Once a person is being monitored, pattern-recognition software first identifies their typical behaviour, such as repeated calls to certain numbers over a period of a few months. The software can then identify any deviations from the norm and flag up unusual activities, such as transactions with a foreign bank, or contact with someone who is also under surveillance, so that analysts can take a closer look.
intelligence, pattern recognition, security, surveillance