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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?

Conflict and disaster management in a hyperconnected world – cooperative, collaborative, real time | acidlabs

Conflict and disaster management in a hyperconnected world — cooperative, collaborative, real time

by Stephen Collins, Acid Labs, May 19, 2011

Engage­ment with con­nected net­works of vol­un­teers out­side the offi­cial civil-​​military sec­tor has the poten­tial to see a mea­sur­able increase in sit­u­a­tional aware­ness dur­ing ongo­ing and emer­gent cri­sis sit­u­a­tions. These net­works, their cul­ture and the tools they use offer civil-​​military actors a set of oppor­tu­ni­ties to improve con­flict and dis­as­ter man­age­ment only rarely taken advan­tage of in cur­rent responses. In the 21st Cen­tury, active and ongo­ing par­tic­i­pa­tion in a diverse and con­nected net­work, the use of social tools and a famil­iar­ity with the cul­ture of shar­ing and open­ness that accom­pa­nies them should be no less core skills for mem­bers of the civil-​​military com­mu­nity than use of email or the web; dig­i­tal lit­er­acy, active dig­i­tal cit­i­zen­ship and involve­ment with rel­e­vant net­worked com­mu­ni­ties is a key com­pe­tency for knowl­edge work­ers and field oper­a­tives alike.

This paper was deliv­ered at the Regional Senior Lead­ers Sem­i­nar in Cairns, Aus­tralia on 19 May 2011. A ref­er­enced ver­sion suit­able for print­ing is available.

For full text of the article and copy of the report, visit Conflict and disaster management in a hyperconnected world – cooperative, collaborative, real time | acidlabs.

Google’s Eric Schmidt on Tracking Mobile Phone Locations

From Politico Playbook, May 15, 2011

FIRST LOOK – Google’s Eric Schmidt, on CNN’s “Fareed Zakaria GPS” today: “Today, your phone knows who you are, where you are, where you’re going, to some degree, because it can see your path. And with that and with your permission, it’s possible for software and software developers to predict where you’re going to go, to suggest people you should meet, to suggest activities and so forth. So ultimately what happens is, the mobile phone does what it does best, which is remember everything and make suggestions. And then you can be just a better human and have a good time.  …”

Full text via Politico Playbook and CNN Global Public Square.

Mobile Security Risks: A Primer for Activists, Journalists and Rights Defenders

Posted by SaferMobile onMobileActive,  May 10, 2011

Activists, rights defenders, and journalists use mobile devices and communications for reporting, organizing, mobilizing, and documenting.  Mobiles provide countless benefits — relatively low cost, increased efficiencies, vast reach — but they also present specific risks to rights defenders and activists. Additionally, information about other mobile uses, such as your photos or video, your data, the Internet sites you visit from your phone, and your physical location, are stored on your device and often logged by your mobile network. How much is this putting you at risk?  This Overview will help you evaluate your level of risk in regard to your mobile communications

For full text of the article, visit Mobile Security Risks: A Primer for Activists, Journalists and Rights Defenders | MobileActive.org.

Online Privacy? This Man Knows What You Did Five Minutes Ago

by Giles Turnbull, Techland, Time.com, March 21, 2011

… Tom [Scott] pulls live data from the internet in real time, plucking personal information from a bunch of ordinary folk who haven’t thought about what they publish. By the end, he’s phoning a total stranger in front of a live audience and leaving a message summarizing what he thinks he knows about the guy’s life. …

via This Man Knows What You Did Five Minutes Ago – Techland – TIME.com.

Location Privacy: Is Privacy in Public a Contradiction in Terms?

We would like to invite you to read Geodata Policy’s first guest blog posting by Robert Gellman. This article is timely given the update of the Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA) and the recent Federal Trade Commission (FTC) report, Protecting Consumer Privacy in an Era of Rapid Change, which highlights the sensitivety of “precise geolocation data” (p. 61). Robert Gellman is a privacy and information policy consultant in Washington, DC: http://www.bobgellman.com/.

Is Privacy in Public a Contradiction in Terms?

Robert Gellman, Privacy and Information Policy Consultant

February 21, 2011

Is there such a thing as privacy in a public space?  When you walk down the street, anyone can observe you, make notes about your location, appearance, and companions, and even take your picture.  If so, then it would seem that you have no reasonable expectation of privacy.

However, most people would be unhappy if they found themselves followed all day.  For most of human existence, this type of surveillance was impractical because of the great expense of following someone around.

This is a good place to pause and say that this is a short essay and not a law journal article.  The law of surveillance is complex, and the answers can be different if the person doing the surveillance is a government agent, an employer, or an average person, or if you’re taking pictures or recording conversations.

Is privacy in public a case of the irresistible force meeting the immoveable object?  Should your location privacy deserve some protection even when you are in public?

These questions are much harder to answer today because of technology.  It’s cheap to track people in public today.  There’s no need to pay a private detective.  Technology does it.  First on the list are cell phones.  Your cell phone broadcasts your location constantly to a cell phone tower, and your provider knows where you are.  Cameras are everywhere, taking pictures in malls, parking lots, building corridors, on the street, at red lights, and on the highway.  Facial recognition software is getting better all the time.  Photos placed on the Internet can be scanned to identify individuals as well as the date and GPS coordinates where the photos were taken.  Digital signage in stores and elsewhere can record behavior, approximate age, gender, and ethnicity, and can sometimes identify individuals using a variety of devices.  I recommend a pioneering report on digital signage by my colleague Pam Dixon.  It’s at the World Privacy Forum website.

Even though not all the technological and organizational links are yet in place, it’s not hard to envision the possibility that, in the near future, every action you take outside your home may be observed and recorded by someone.  This is more or less what happens today online, where there is a good chance that some website or advertiser (and probably many more than one) records every site you visit, every page and ad you see, and every click you make.

Read More…

ArcGIS Server Blog : Lessons learned developing a Web map for volunteered geographic information (VGI) and social media

Oil spreading north-east from the leaking Deep...

Image via Wikipedia

ArcGIS Server Blog, November 10, 2010

On April 20, 2010 an explosion disabled the offshore drilling rig Deepwater Horizon and touched off a prolonged regional disaster. Several crew members were killed, and a series of equipment failures left a well on the floor of the Gulf of Mexico freely releasing oil into the ocean for several months. The oil posed a very serious threat to the economy and wildlife in the region. The response to this event was massive, and Esri contributed to the containment and recovery with both manpower and software.

One of the ways Esri was able to contribute was with a Web application that brought together some of the new features in ArcGIS 10 with data services for the affected area. The application was unique in that it built on some recent trends in the geospatial community. Specifically, it was focused around authoritative content for projected spill locations (from NOAA), sensitive natural resource areas (from the Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama departments of wildlife), a disaster response feed from Ushahidi, and live data feeds from social media outlets such as YouTube, Twitter, and Flickr. Additionally, users of the application could post their own content. This has been commonly referred to as volunteered geographic information, or VGI. The end result was the Esri Social Media/VGI application. …

For full text of the article via ArcGIS Server Blog : Lessons learned developing a Web map for volunteered geographic information (VGI) and social media.

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