Post Tagged with: "surveillance"

Today in Drones: Weed Farms, Wi-Fi Hotspots and Graffiti

Today in Drones: Weed Farms, Wi-Fi Hotspots and Graffiti

Katsu's Open Source Graffiti Drone

For the drone spotters out there:

The Independent: Shropshire criminals ‘using unmanned drones and infrared cameras to find illegal cannabis farms’ – and then steal from the growers:

One such man, an unnamed 33-year-old, told the Halesowen News that after finding a property with a cannabis farm he and his crew either burgle or “tax” the victim.

“They are fair game,” he said. “It is not like I’m using my drone to see if people have nice televisions. I am just after drugs to steal and sell, if you break the law then you enter me and my drone’s world.

“Half the time we don’t even need to use violence to get the crop. Growing cannabis has gone mainstream and the people growing it are not gangsters, especially in places like Halesowen, Cradley Heath and Oldbury.”

Wired: Darpa Turns Aging Surveillance Drones Into Wi-Fi Hotspots:

A fleet of surveillance drones once deployed in the skies over Iraq is being repurposed to provide aerial Wi-Fi in far-flung corners of the world, according to Darpa.

RQ-7 Shadow drones that the Army flew in Iraq for intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance missions are now becoming wireless hubs for connectivity in remote conflict zones where challenging communication environments can mean the difference between being ambushed and getting reinforcements.

Wired: This Open Source Graffiti Drone Will Give Cops Nightmares:

“What does it mean that I’m able to be throwing these strokes up and across a canvas that is 30 feet wide and is suspended 25 feet in the air?,” he asks. “Painting in these ways just wasn’t previously possible.” Much in the way that smartphones have become an extension of our minds, Katsu wonders if drones could someday serve as a commonplace way to extend our physical selves. Of course, in that sort of drone-filled future, you’d have to imagine that cops would have their own drones, too–anti-graffiti UAVs that chase rogue robot artists through alleyways and across rooftops, or else just clean-up quadcopters that scan walls for illegal art and clean them autonomously with high-powered water weaponry.

April 18, 2014 Comments are Disabled
U.S. Drone Assassination Program Uses the NSA’s Cell Phone Data to Locate Targets

U.S. Drone Assassination Program Uses the NSA’s Cell Phone Data to Locate Targets

Here’s Glenn Greenwald and Jeremy Schahill’s first article for The Interceptor, the first publication from eBay founder Pierre Omidyar’s new media company:

The National Security Agency is using complex analysis of electronic surveillance, rather than human intelligence, as the primary method to locate targets for lethal drone strikes – an unreliable tactic that results in the deaths of innocent or unidentified people.

According to a former drone operator for the military’s Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC) who also worked with the NSA, the agency often identifies targets based on controversial metadata analysis and cell-phone tracking technologies. Rather than confirming a target’s identity with operatives or informants on the ground, the CIA or the U.S. military then orders a strike based on the activity and location of the mobile phone a person is believed to be using.

The drone operator, who agreed to discuss the top-secret programs on the condition of anonymity, was a member of JSOC’s High Value Targeting task force, which is charged with identifying, capturing or killing terrorist suspects in Yemen, Somalia, Afghanistan and elsewhere.

His account is bolstered by top-secret NSA documents previously provided by whistleblower Edward Snowden. It is also supported by a former drone sensor operator with the U.S. Air Force, Brandon Bryant, who has become an outspoken critic of the lethal operations in which he was directly involved in Iraq, Afghanistan and Yemen.

Full Story: The Interceptor: The NSA’s Secret Role in the U.S. Assassination Program

If you’re feeling like doing something about it, don’t forget that today is The Day We Fight Back (see my coverage here).

See also:

Democracy Now interview with Greenwald and Schahill about the article and about First Look.

After 30 Years of Silence, the Original NSA Whistleblower Looks Back

A Hard Look At the Non-Profit Behind Glenn Greenwald’s New Publication

February 11, 2014 Comments are Disabled
Ad Blocking Tool Ghostery Sends Data To The Ad Industry

Ad Blocking Tool Ghostery Sends Data To The Ad Industry

Count me amongst the users of Ghostery who didn’t know it was owned and supported by the ad industry:

Whenever discussion starts about how to hide from the tracking code that follows users around the Web to serve them targeted ads, recommendations soon pile up for a browser add-on called Ghostery. It blocks tracking code, noticeably speeds up how quickly pages load as a result, and has roughly 19 million users. Yet few of those who advocate Ghostery as a way to escape the clutches of the online ad industry realize that the company behind it, Evidon, is in fact part of that selfsame industry.

Evidon helps companies that want to improve their use of tracking code by selling them data collected from the eight million Ghostery users that have enabled a data-sharing feature in the tool.

Full Story: MIT Technology Review: A Popular Ad Blocker Also Helps the Ad Industry

(via Paleofuture)

June 17, 2013 3 comments
Cypherpunk Rising: WikiLeaks, Encryption, And The Coming Surveillance Dystopia

Cypherpunk Rising: WikiLeaks, Encryption, And The Coming Surveillance Dystopia

Cypherpunks

R.U. Sirius wrote:

If, in 1995, some cypherpunks had published a book about the upcoming “postmodern surveillance dystopia,” most commentators would have shrugged it off as just a wee bit paranoid and ushered them into the Philip K. Dick Reading Room. Now, it is more likely that people will shrug and say, “that ship has already sailed.”

Full Story: The Verge: Cypherpunk rising: WikiLeaks, encryption, and the coming surveillance dystopia

March 7, 2013 0 comments
The Quantified Man: How an Obsolete Tech Guy Rebuilt Himself for the Future

The Quantified Man: How an Obsolete Tech Guy Rebuilt Himself for the Future

Chris Dancy

I wrote about the extreme quantification of work for Wired:

Tesco — the company that runs a chain of grocery stores across Great Britain — uses digital armbands to track the performance of its warehouse staff.

A former Tesco employee told The Independent newspaper that the armbands provide a score of 100 if a task is completed within a given time frame, but a score of 200 if it’s completed twice that fast. “The guys who made the scores were sweating buckets and throwing stuff around the place,” he told the paper.

Tesco representatives said the devices allow users to switch into a “break mode” for up to 25 minutes a day. But that anonymous employee claimed that using the toilet without logging the trip as a break would result in a surprisingly low score, even if the task was finished within the allotted time.

That’s just one of the many ways that employers are using technology to track employee productivity. Call centers have long used metrics such as call time to rank employees, and gamification software may take it to new levels. Darpa wants to track soldiers’ health. Apparently, IBM has a tool for detecting disgruntled employees. And Salesforce.com CEO Marc Benioff has boasted of a “Chatterlytics” system for ranking employees on their use of the company’s internal social network.

Our work is being re-quantified — in a big way — and Chris Dancy, a director in the office of the chief technology officer at BMC Software, thinks it’s time for employees to take these metrics into their own hands. “If you can measure it, someone will,” he says, “and that somebody should be you.”

Dancy is connected to at least three sensors all day, every day. Sometimes, it’s as much as five. They measure his pulse, his REM sleep, his skin temperature, and more. He also has sensors all over his house. There’s even one on his toilet so he can look for correlations between his bathroom habits and his sleep patterns.

He’s on the cutting edge of the “quantified self” movement kickstarted by Wired’s Gary Wolf and Kevin Kelly. But it’s not just his body and environment that Dancy tracks. He constantly takes screenshots of his work, and everything he does — every meeting, every document he creates, every Tweet he sends, every file he shares, every screenshot he takes — is logged in Google Calendar, providing him with a timeline and his entire work life. If you ask him what he did on a particular day, he can tell you with great precision.

And he thinks every white collar worker will need to adopt a similar regimen soon.

Full Story: Wired Enterprise: The Quantified Man: How an Obsolete Tech Guy Rebuilt Himself for the Future

See Also:

The first half or so of Marshall Brain’s design fiction novella Manna

The Rise Of Workplace Surveillance

February 25, 2013 1 comment
Linguistics Identifies Anonymous Users

Linguistics Identifies Anonymous Users

Darren Pauli writes:

Up to 80 percent of certain anonymous underground forum users can be identified using linguistics, researchers say.

The techniques compare user posts to track them across forums and could even unveil authors of thesis papers or blogs who had taken to underground networks.

“If our dataset contains 100 users we can at least identify 80 of them,” researcher Sadia Afroz told an audience at the 29C3 Chaos Communication Congress in Germany.

“Function words are very specific to the writer. Even if you are writing a thesis, you’ll probably use the same function words in chat messages.

“Even if your text is not clean, your writing style can give you away.”

The analysis techniques could also reveal botnet owners, malware tool authors and provide insight into the size and scope of underground markets, making the research appealing to law enforcement.

Full Story: SC Magazine: Linguistics identifies anonymous users

January 10, 2013 0 comments
Panopticon Now

Panopticon Now

TrapWire

Jon Evans at TechCrunch (one of my employers) on TrapWire:

Is it being used for “monitoring every single person via facial recognition“? Probably not. Doesn’t matter. Let’s not kid ourselves: the point is that as cameras get cheaper and more connected and more ubiquitous, facial recognition gets more accurate, and data-mining software gets better, something like conspiracy theorists’ worst nightmarish fantasies of Trapwire will come to pass. I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again: this is only a matter of time, and not all that much of it.

Little pieces of the panopticon are already being built all around you. [...]

Even relatively enlightened governments are becoming, if anything, more secretive than ever. Did you know that the Obama administration has persecuted more whistleblowers than every other presidency in history combined? Did you know that (PDF) government security classification activities alone cost more than $10 billion a year? These are not exactly statistics that fill me with hope for our panopticon future. In the name of so-called security, we’re charging headlong into a future filled with one-way mirrors behind which the rich spy on the poor, and the strong on the weak. It’s a disconcerting thought.

TechCrunch: Move Along, No Panopticon To See Here

Image: watchingfrogsboil / CC

August 22, 2012 0 comments
Drone Artists/Hackers Detained Held in London on Suspicion of Terrorism

Drone Artists/Hackers Detained Held in London on Suspicion of Terrorism

Electronic Countermeasures drone art project

Silicon Republic reports on the detention of the drone hackers/artists group Tomorrows Thoughts Today:

The trio, headed up by Liam Young, had created the robotic drones from components that were originally intended for police surveillance.

The drones had been swarming around Science Gallery last night to show how they can broadcast their own Wi-Fi network as a flying pirate file-sharing formation.

As they swarm, people in the audience can log onto the drone network with their phones and laptops and use the drones as a local network to upload files and share data with one another.

It was just as the three performers were disembarking from their Dublin flight in London that their suitcases were swarmed in upon by customs officers at the new London Southend Airport.

They were released after about two hours of questioning.

Full Story: Silicon Republic: Quadcopter drone group held in London airport on suspicion of terrorism

June 23, 2012 3 comments
The Right Pushes Back on Drones

The Right Pushes Back on Drones

The AP ran a story recently on the use of drones on U.S. soil by civilians. I’m interested in the examples Republicans Rand Paul and Austin Scott give for curbing the use of drones in the U.S.:

“I just don’t like the concept of drones flying over barbecues in New York to see whether you have a Big Gulp in your backyard or whether you are separating out your recyclables according to the city mandates,” Paul said in an interview, referring to a New York City ban on supersized soft drinks.

He acknowledged that was an “extreme example,” but he added: “They might just say we’d be safer from muggings if we had constant surveillance crisscrossing the street all the time. But then the question becomes, ‘What about jaywalking? What about eating too many donuts? What about putting mayonnaise on your hamburger?’ Where does it stop?” [...]

Discussion of the issue has been colored by exaggerated drone tales spread largely by conservative media and bloggers.

Scott said he was prompted to introduce his bill in part by news reports that the Environmental Protection Agency has been using drones to spy on cattle ranchers in Nebraska. The agency has indeed been searching for illegal dumping of waste into streams, but it is doing it with piloted planes.

Full Story: AP (via NPR): Drones At Home Raise Fear Of Surveillance Society

On the one hand, maybe I should welcome whatever it takes to get conservatives concerned about civil liberties. But I worry about this sort of nanny state fear mongering, especially since it seems to obscure some of the more serious issues regarding policing and invasion of privacy by private corporations – not to mention the questionable use of weaponized drones by the military in the first place.

See also:

Sea Shepherd Uses Surveillance Drone to Locate Whaling Ship

Wired for War: The Robotics Revolution and Conflict in the 21st Century

John Metta: Our soldiers should die in war

June 21, 2012 2 comments
Sea Shepherd Uses Surveillance Drone to Locate Whaling Ship

Sea Shepherd Uses Surveillance Drone to Locate Whaling Ship

Sea Shepherd members with their surveillance drone

A long range surveillance drone developed by the Moran Office of Maritime and Port Security

The Sea Shepherd crew has intercepted the Japanese whaling fleet on Christmas Day, a thousand miles north of the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary.

The Sea Shepherd ship, Steve Irwin, deployed a drone to successfully locate and photograph the Japanese factory ship Nisshin Maru on December 24th. Once the pursuit began, three Japanese harpoon/security ships moved in on the Steve Irwin to shield the Nisshin Maru to allow it to escape.

This time however the Japanese tactic of tailing the Steve Irwin and the Bob Barker will not work because the drones, one on the Steve Irwin and the other on the Bob Barker, can track and follow the Nisshin Maru and can relay the positions back to the Sea Shepherd ships.

Sea Shepherd: Sea Shepherd Intercepts the Japanese Whaling Fleet with Drones

Parrot AR drone
A Parrot AR drone, which is what Occupy Wall Street is using.

Also, Occupy Wall Street acquired a surveillance drone to monitor police activities.

December 27, 2011 0 comments