Quicklinks 2/25/12

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Feb 252012
 

Another dose of quicklinks:

Quicklinks 1/28/2012

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Jan 282012
 

Some items from the past week:

Jan 062012
 

This post on F-secure raises the specter of German authorities tracking suspects through clandestine use of the SMS system. (The post references an article on Heise Online that translates to “Customs, Federal Police and Protection of the Constitution in 2010 sent more than 440,000 ‘silent SMS.'”

So what exactly does this mean?

Well, basically, various German law enforcement agencies have been “pinging” mobile phones. Such pings only reply whether or not the targeted resource is online or not, just like an IP network ping from a computer would.

But then after making their pings, the agencies have been requesting network logs from mobile network operators. The logs don’t reveal information from the mobile phones themselves, but they can be used to locate the cell towers through which the pings traveled. And thus, can be used to track the mobile targeted.

Quicklinks 12/31/11

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Dec 312011
 

From this past week:

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Dec 282011
 

This article in the Lancaster Telegraph suggests the practice may have ended in 2007, but between 2000 and then the Burnley Council used the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act (RIPA) of 2000 to spy on its own staff.

The regulation was brought in in 2000 and allowed council bosses to carry out surveillance on residents they suspected of committing crimes.

The vast majority of uses of the act relate to offences such as benefit fraud, fly-tipping and anti-social behaviour.

A Burnley Council spokesman said: “The vast majority of cases where we have used RIPA authorisations were to tackle noise nuisance, anti-social behaviour, fly-tipping and benefit fraud – all things we know our residents want us to sort out.

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Dec 242011
 

Per this article in the Wall Street Journal, Huawei Technologies Co. is in talks to sell video surveillance technologies to the Belarus government.

Huawei confirmed last week that it had signed a memorandum of understanding with the Belarus Ministry of Industry “to pursue discussions that could lead to agreements on a number of projects related to telecommunications.” The Chinese company says specific projects are unconfirmed and remain subject to formal contract negotiations.

The government of Belarus has been more specific about the talks. Huawei’s subsidiary in Belarus has been discussing the installation of a “video surveillance system with intelligent analysis,” which Huawei would set up in cooperation with a Minsk-based tech company, Belarus’s Ministry of Industry said in September.

It said the surveillance system “can be used for monitoring and protecting town centers, industrial plants or power and transport facilities, as well as important strategic assets, such as railway stations, airports or the state border of Belarus.” The ministry didn’t respond to a request to comment further.

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Dec 242011
 

From EPIC.org:

EPIC has filed a Freedom of information Act lawsuit against the Department of Homeland Security to force disclosure of the details of the agency’s social network monitoring program. In news reports and a Federal Register notice, the DHS has stated that it will routinely monitor the public postings of users on Twitter and Facebook. The agency plans to create fictitious user accounts and scan posts of users for key terms. User data will be stored for five years and shared with other government agencies.The legal authority for the DHS program remains unclear. EPIC filed the lawsuit after the DHS failed to reply to an April 2011 FOIA request. For more information, see EPIC: Social Networking Privacy.

(h/t Pogo Was Right)

Dec 122011
 

This article is a little sparse on details, but one bit of it is interesting enough to note. EU foreign relations chief Ashton has come out with a paper calling for improvements that can be made in the enforcement of human rights in the EU generally, but of interest here is the recognition for “digital diplomacy.”

With Arab Spring revolutions marked by their use of Twitter, YouTube and Facebook, she says: “The EU could mobilise key delegations to use social media for digital diplomacy.” She suggests holding “live webcasts” so that human rights activists can talk directly to policy-makers.

She also wants to ban EU countries from selling technology that helps dictators to snoop on people: “[The EU] will develop appropriate measures to ensure that people are not subject to indiscriminate censorship or mass surveillance when using the Internet.”

Dec 102011
 

Also in the news regarding US tech exports is a proposed bill to end the foreign export of web censorship and surveillance tools. From the AFP:

“It’s unconscionable that US technology is putting democracy activists at risk,” said Representative Chris Smith, a Republican from New Jersey who is behind the Global Online Freedom Act.

“US companies should not, knowingly or unwittingly, be providing the technology used by repressive regimes to hunt down and punish human rights activists.

“This bill will stop the vicious merry-go-round we are now on of exporting Internet-restricting technologies from the US that we then have to spend millions of dollars helping activists circumvent,” Smith said.

The legislation would prohibit American companies from exporting hardware or software that could be used for online surveillance or censorship to nations that restrict the Internet.

It would also require Internet companies listed on US stock exchanges to disclose to American regulators their practices in collecting and sharing personally identifiable information and steps taken to notify users when removing content.

Per Smith the bill, if passed, would cover not only US-based companies but “the increasing number of foreign IT companies that raise capital here on our stock exchanges, including a large number of Chinese Internet companies that will soon have to report their practices to the [Securities and Exchange Commission].”