Tag Archive | Surveillance

Crowdsourcing Surveillance

by Bruce Schneier, Schneier on Security, November 9, 2010

Internet Eyes is a U.K. startup designed to crowdsource digital surveillance. People … can log onto the site and view live anonymous feeds from surveillance cameras at retail stores. If they notice someone shoplifting, they can alert the store owner. … Although the system has some nod towards privacy, groups like Privacy International oppose the system for fostering a culture of citizen spies. … This isn’t the first time groups have tried to crowdsource surveillance camera monitoring. Texas’s Virtual Border Patrol tried the same thing: deputizing the general public to monitor the Texas-Mexico border. …

For full text of this article, visit Schneier on Security: Crowdsourcing Surveillance.

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Protecting Indigenous Peoples’ Privacy from “Eyes in the Sky”

Wayne Madsen, Lead Scientist, Computer Sciences Corporation, 1994

Abstract: This paper investigates the problems associated with remote sensing from space-based platforms as they relate to the protection of the rights of indigenous peoples around the world. Many nations and international organizations recognize a right of individual privacy. This paper advances the notion of a right to collective privacy, what can best be described as a “communal right of privacy,” especially as it relates to the rights of indigenous people to be free of wanton exploitation from data on their lands and waters that are collected from orbiting surveillance and sensing platforms. Indigenous peoples argue that since they are the direct descendants of the original peoples who settled their lands before conquest by outsiders, they have an “inalienable” right to their territories and the natural resources contained therein (Nagengast, Stavenhagen, and Kearney, 1992, 31). Clearly, the sparse number of international treaties and other regimes that seek to protect the rights of indigenous people to their lands and resources must be strengthened to address privacy protections against wanton snooping from overhead surveillance satellites.

For full text of this article, which is still very relevant today, click here.

Limits on the Private Sector after US v Jones

Three great articles by Robert Gellman on location privacy, on First Amendment & Fourth Amendment issues in the US Supreme Court’s GPS Tracking case (US v. Jones), and on the complexities of legislating privacy after US v Jonesin the Communia Blog of the Woodrow Wilson Center‘s Commons Lab.

Robert Gellman, JD is a privacy and information policy consultant in Washington, D.C. He served for 17 years on the staff of a subcommittee in the House of Representatives. He can be reached at bob [at] bobgellman. [dot] com or visit his website at http://www.bobgellman.com/.

Legislating Privacy After US v Jones

Legislating Privacy after U.S. v. Jones: Can Congress Limit Government Use of New Surveillance Technologies?

by Robert Gellman, JD, Communia Blog, Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, January 25, 2012

The Supreme Court’s decision in U.S. v. Jones, a case that addressed the use of global positioning system GPS tracking devices for law enforcement purposes, is hot privacy news. Almost immediately, the decision sparked numerous and sometimes conflicting comments. The issue here is whether the decision will prompt Congress to consider legislation and what that legislation might look like.

The majority opinion by Justice Antonin Scalia used a property-based approach to conclude that attaching a GPS device to a car and using the GPS to monitor the car’s movements on public streets constitutes a search or seizure within the meaning of the Fourth Amendment to the Constitution. The narrow basis for the decision turned on the fact that the government physically occupied private property the car for the purpose of obtaining information.

A concurring opinion by Justice Samuel Alito and joined by three of his colleagues reached the same outcome, but Alito wanted to determine whether the car owner’s reasonable expectations of privacy were violated by the long-term monitoring of his car. Essentially, Alito thought that the majority’s property analysis was not scalable to present day surveillance issues and that an expectation of privacy standard would reach the same result without the baggage of the property-based approach.

Justice Sonia Sotomayor joined the majority opinion, but she also filed a concurring opinion. She observed that physical intrusion is not always necessary for surveillance e.g., by tracking a cell phone and argued that how surveillance is done may affect an expectation of privacy. So in her opinion Sotomayor asked whether people reasonably expect that their movements will be recorded in a manner that allows the government to ascertain their political and religious beliefs, sexual habits, and more. She even questioned the premise that an individual has no reasonable expectation of privacy in information voluntarily disclosed to third parties. That was the holding in United States v. Miller, 425 U. S. 435, 443 1976 , a case increasingly criticized by privacy advocates as inconsistent with life today.

For full text of this article, which provides an insightful overview of what crafting and passing updated privacy legislation might entail, visit Legislating Privacy After US v Jones « Communia.

Robert Gellman, JD is a privacy and information policy consultant in Washington, D.C. He served for 17 years on the staff of a subcommittee in the House of Representatives. He can be reached at bob [at] bobgellman. [dot] com or visit his website at http://www.bobgellman.com/. Also check out his article Location Privacy: Is Privacy in Public a Contradiction in Terms?

Supreme Court GPS Tracking Case: Round-up and Resources

Updated February 20, 2012

UNITED STATES v. JONES
615 F. 3d 544, affirmed.

From Cornell University Legal Information Institute [HTML version has links to cited cases]:

From the Supreme Court and American Bar Association websites:

Legislation

In his written opinion, “Alito said the court and Congress should address how expectations of privacy affect whether warrants are required for remote surveillance using electronic methods that do not require the police to install equipment, such as GPS tracking of mobile telephones. Alito noted, for example, that more than 322 million cellphones have installed equipment that allows wireless carriers to track the phones’ locations (ABC News, Jan 23, 2012).” In his article linked below, Robert Gellman provides a nice overview of the complexities of the legislative process for updating privacy legislation after US v. Jones:

For a list of proposed location privacy legislation as of Fall 2011, visit the home page of Kevin Pomfret’s Centre for Spatial Law and Policy.

Law Review Articles and Essays

Case Summaries  and Commentaries (disclaimer: opinions and analyses are those of the original authors, not all may be accurate)

February 2012

January 2012

Older posts

Read More…

What Does the Supreme Court GPS Ruling Mean for Technology and Privacy?

By Jennifer Valentino-DeVries, Digits, Wall Street Journal, January 23, 2012

The Supreme Court ruled Monday that police violated the Fourth Amendment when they attached and used a GPS device to track a suspect’s vehicle without a warrant. … [But the Court’s decision] applies only to the placement and use of a GPS device that had to be attached to the suspect’s car. The justices said the device was an intrusion onto the suspect’s property, even if the car was being driven on public roads. The opinion doesn’t say anything about what would happen if the government were able to track the car through other electronic means, without ever touching the vehicle. …

For full text of the article, visit What Does the Supreme Court GPS Ruling Mean for Privacy? – Digits – WSJ.

Department of Homeland Security Contractor Monitored Social Networking Sites

U.S. Department of Homeland Security Official ...

Federal Contractor Monitored Social Network Sites, By Charlie Savage, New York Times,  January 13, 2012

The Department of Homeland Security paid a contractor in 2009 to monitor social networking sites — like Facebook, blogs and reader comments on a news article — to see how the residents of Standish, Mich., were reacting to a proposal to move detainees from Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, to a local prison there, according to newly disclosed documents. While it has long been known that the department monitors the Internet for information about emerging threats to public safety like a natural disaster or a terrorist attack, the documents show that its Social Networking/Media Capability program, at least in an early stage, was also focused on “public reaction to major governmental proposals with homeland security implications.” A department official said Friday that the social network monitoring program did not produce reports about public opinion, but instead focused exclusively on monitoring crises like hazardous material spills, shooting incidents and natural disasters. …

For full text of this article, Federal Contractor Monitored Social Network Sites – NYTimes.com.

How can DHS effectively use social media for rapid situational awareness to improve crisis response, while at the same time minimize the potential impact on privacy and first amendment rights? What do you think is the appropriate balance?

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