The NSA: iPhone users are “zombies” who pay for their own surveillance


Der Spiegel today published a new story about NSA spying on smartphones, which includes the following PowerPoint slides. They are illustrative if only because they demonstrate the degree to which the super-secretive agency has profound disrespect for the public. A particularly classy slide calls iPhone users ‘zombies’ and makes fun of us for paying for the services that enable the NSA to track our physical locations.

The NSA iPhone users are zombies who pay for their own surveillance

Another slide calls deceased Apple founder and former CEO Steve Jobs “Big Brother”.

The first slide in the series alludes to George Orwell’s 1984. Apparently, the joke about the book not being intended as an instruction manual wasn’t lost on the NSA.

Der Spiegel also reports that NSA can hack into the Blackberry encryption system, which has led to headlines like this. The following slide shows a communication sent by a member of the Mexican government from his or her Blackberry, decrypted and obtained by the NSA.

Apple iPhone 5S: Big brother’s dream come true

The latest series of Apple’s iPhone will not only continue to cultivate numerous apps that track your location through GPS and transmit data directly back to corporations and government, but contain a fingerprint sensor that stores your fingerprint in order to purchase apps and unlock the phone for use.

And that’s really just the beginning. As millions will most likely continue through the Apple food chain and purchase this phone, the NSA and bloated federal government at large will be beyond ecstatic. Because after all, it’s a real dream come true for the Big Daddy government spy state.

No longer will you actually need to be arrested to gather your fingerprints — we’re talking about millions nationwide willingly submitting their biometrics to a database that most certainly is accessible by Apple and big government.

But don’t worry, the same company that has given away all of your chats and personal data through the NSA’s top secret PRISM program says that you’re perfectly safe. Security experts and high level tech analysts, however, seem to disagree. In addition to the fact that it seems consumer trust is all but dead in regards to Apple and its ties to the spying grid, it seems these ‘safety’ features are actually quite vulnerable in reality. To the point now where hackers can access a massive database of fingerprints just waiting to be taken and utilized fraudulently.

Of course Apple claims that the fingerprint scans will be ‘local’ on your hardware, but of course the NSA and FBI would not let such a precious database go to waste. And we already know that corporations are making big bucks spying on the data of consumers. So in the event that Apple is ‘holding’ some of these fingerprints despite what they say (the print is also used to verify app purchases, which leads me to believe that this at least would be stored through a third party), a database of the fingerprints could be compromised. And don’t think encryption will stop much.
According to a security specialist on CNET:

“So … can biometric authentication be hacked? Almost certainly. I’m sure that someone with a good enough copy of your fingerprint and some rudimentary materials engineering capability — or maybe just a good enough printer — can authenticate his way into your iPhone… The final problem with biometric systems is the database. If the system is centralized, there will be a large database of biometric information that’s vulnerable to hacking.”

As we inch towards a world in which our electronics are based around biometrics, it becomes an eery reality that our Big Daddy, Big Brother system is continually holding our hands as we walk right into the current spy system that our overlords continue to assert does not exist.

NSA admits it wrongly added 16,000 phone numbers to terrorist ‘alert list’

The National Security Agency admitted in documents released Tuesday that it had wrongly put 16,000 phone numbers on an “alert list” so their incoming calls could be monitored, a mistake that a judge on the secret surveillance court called a “flagrant violation” of the law.

The documents are the latest to show that not only did the secret spy agency collect more data than most Americans suspected, its agents sometimes went too far when tapping into the data.

In 2006, the NSA asked for and won approval from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, or FISC, to routinely collect the dialing records of domestic phone calls. The judges, to the surprise of some outside lawyers, agreed that all of these phone records could be “relevant” to an investigation, and therefore, could be collected.

The agency insisted, however, that it would hold these records and tap into them only when it had a “reasonable and articulable suspicion” that a phone number was linked to a suspected terrorist.

But in January 2009, top officials of the intelligence agency learned that about 18,000 phone numbers were on the “alert list” that could subject them to daily monitoring. Of these, about 16,000 had not been shown to be reasonably linked to a terrorist. The agency notified the judges of the mistake and said they were making needed changes in their software that tracked phone numbers.

Judge Reggie Walton, a member of the special court, said he was “very disturbed” about the incident and said the agency’s explanation “strains credulity.”

“The court is exceptionally concerned about what appears to be a flagrant violation of its order in this matter,” Walton wrote.,0,3848104.story

Is your smartphone private or not?

Cellphones — owned by more than nine in 10 American adults — are at the center of a growing legal debate over privacy rights and technology, one that’s probably headed to the Supreme Court in the coming months.

Your cellphone and the intimate information it contains can be used against you. At issue is whether police can search mobile devices upon arrest without first obtaining a warrant — and whether the data inside, from e-mail to the Internet, are fair game.

For the court, it’s the latest in a string of Fourth Amendment search and seizure cases involving society’s innovations — from the automobile in the past century to the current alphabet soup of DNA, GPS and mobile apps.

“Every generation has its new technologies that raise novel Fourth Amendment questions,” says Orin Kerr, an expert on computer crime law at George Washington University Law School. “Technology changes the facts.”

The facts about what police can do when making an arrest have been clear for 40 years: They can search the person being arrested and what’s within reach, with an eye toward weapons or evidence that could be destroyed.

“It is settled law that a custodial arrest based on probable cause justifies a full search of an arrestee and any items found on him — including items such as wallets, calendars, address books, pagers and pocket diaries,” the Obama administration argues in its petition asking the court to hear United States v. Wurie.

Cellphones and, increasingly, smartphones that mimic computers have clouded those facts. At least six federal or state appellate courts have ruled that they are fair game; at least three others have said search warrants are required.

In the past few weeks, the Supreme Court has been asked to hear both the California and Massachusetts cases, which could help restore clarity in Fourth Amendment search and seizure law. The justices probably will decide this fall whether to hear one or both, and a decision is possible next spring.

In the Wurie case, the Obama administration urges the court to reverse a 1st Circuit appeals court decision against the police search.

“Over the last decade, cellphones have become ubiquitous in the United States,” the Justice Department’s petition says. “Inexpensive, disposable phones that are difficult to trace are particularly common in drug-trafficking conspiracies.”

In Riley v. California, lawyers for the appealing defendant argue that cellphone searches without a warrant are unreasonable.

“A cellphone nowadays is a portal into our most sensitive information and the most private aspects of our lives,” says Jeffrey Fisher, lead attorney for David Riley and co-director of Stanford University’s Supreme Court Litigation Clinic. “It’s also a device that is the gateway to your office, health records, bank records.

Chief Justice John Roberts and some of his colleagues have said the clash between modern technology and privacy rights is likely to become a dominant legal issue in the future.

“I think that is going to be the real challenge for the next 50 years – how we do adopt old, established rules to new technology,” Roberts said during an appearance at Rice University last year. “What does the Fourth Amendment mean when you can, through technology, literally see through walls with heat imaging? I mean, is that a search and a seizure?”

Such cases, Roberts said, “are difficult for us, frankly, because we’re not all technologically expert.”

Intercepting unencrypted wireless internet communications is covered by the Wiretap Act:

The decision is Joffe v. Google. From the introduction:

In the course of capturing its Street View photographs, Google collected data from unencrypted Wi-Fi networks. Google publicly apologized, but plaintiffs brought suit under federal and state law, including the Wiretap Act, 18 U.S.C. § 2511. Google argues that its data collection did not violate the Act because data transmitted over a Wi-Fi network is an “electronic communication” that is “readily accessible to the general public” and exempt under the Act. 18 U.S.C. § 2511(2)(g)(i). The district court rejected Google’s argument. In re Google Inc. St. View Elec. Commc’n Litig., 794 F. Supp. 2d 1067, 1073–84 (N.D. Cal. 2011). We affirm.

The unexpected afterlife of a Supreme Court wiretapping opinion:

Police are using the “JusticeMobile” and the LexisNexis Accurint Mobile apps:

San Francisco, CA – — State Attorney General Kamala Harris and San Francisco officials unveiled a new smartphone app Monday that will allow law enforcement to access local, state and federal criminal databases and file reports from out in the field.

The JusticeMobile app, developed by the California Department of Justice, will allow authorities to look into criminal backgrounds of possible suspects without having to call or radio to another member of their department for the information.

“This is going to be transformative for law enforcement in the state,” Harris said.

The app was tested over the past five months by more than 600 San Francisco police officers and will soon be rolled out in smartphones being given to all officers in the department, including a recently graduated academy class, police Chief Greg Suhr said.

Suhr said the smartphones also have the technology to allow officers to file reports remotely rather than coming back to a district station, allowing them to be in the field up to 40 percent longer.

“This is going to be the industry standard,” he said.

In Seattle, investigators in the city were able to use the LexisNexis Accurint Mobile app to help locate a person of interest in an assault case and make the arrest, according to Lt. Mike Edwards of the Seattle Police Department (SPD). The app has been in heavy use by SPD officers ever since.

It does help officers gather additional information while in the field. Important details such as a person’s past residences, affiliations, news articles and other items can spur additional lines of questioning during suspect interviews.

Tom Joyce, director of law enforcement strategy for LexisNexis Risk Solutions, who also served 21 years in the New York City Police Department in various investigative roles, said in the past, officers would have to take notes from interviews with persons of interest and do the research on them later.
In his view, Joyce felt the Accurint Mobile app fills a void, allowing investigators to ask more informed questions during initial contact with a potential suspect, instead of waiting until hours, or even days, later.

“We thought with a mobile device, how great would it be to be able to offer solutions that can be quickly accessed and allow for querying and research while the interview is taking place,” Joyce explained. “A quicker, easier way to get exactly where the interviewer wants to get can [now] all happen on the spot.”

Smartphone cases can be turned into a stun gun:

New York –  In a matter of seconds, your smartphone may be turned into a weapon.

In the latest — and also controversial — mobile craze, phones are being used as stun guns or pepper spray dispensers for self-defense, CBS 2′s Maurice DuBois reported Monday.

The Yellow Jacket, for instance, is a smartphone case that doubles as a mini-stun gun. It’s not strong enough to put someone in the hospital, but the inventors claim it will give the owner a fighting chance to escape a scary situation.

Simon Simone and Seth Froom came up with the concept for the Yellow Jacket, which sells for $140, after Froom was robbed.

“The idea for Yellow Jacket came to us through a traumatic event, but now we’ve turned that thought into a reality,” Simone said.

With the press of a button, two electrodes at the top of the case will deliver 650,000 volts of electricity. A regular stun gun delivers several million volts.

“We developed the Yellow Jacket to be able to take down a fully grown aggressive adult male,” Froom said.

The Yellow Jacket or any stun gun is not legal in New York or New Jersey. But another cellphone innovation called Spraytect — a smartphone case that includes a removable pepper spray cartridge — is legal. The Spraytect, which sells for $40, was developed by Scott McPherson, an Arizona dad who was nervous about sending his daughter off to college.

But some critics argue these mobile self-defense devices may give smartphone users a false sense of security.

“Just because you have something doesn’t mean you have trained yourself in how to use it,” said James Sherman, who specializes in the Israeli self defense technique of Krav Maga.

Sherman said an attack victim can use anything as a weapon of opportunity — from a simple pen to one of the smartphone devices — but it’s only effective if you can use it despite the surprise and pressure of an attack.

“They’re definitely beneficial, but you have to learn what to do with it,” he said.


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