Secret Cameras Record Baltimore’s Every Move From Above
Pritchett had no idea that as he spoke, a small Cessna airplane equipped with a sophisticated array of cameras was circling Baltimore at roughly the same altitude as the massing clouds. The plane’s wide-angle cameras captured an area of roughly 30 square miles and continuously transmitted real-time images to analysts on the ground. The footage from the plane was instantly archived and stored on massive hard drives, allowing analysts to review it weeks later if necessary.
It must be the NSA or the CIA or the FBI, right? They must have a warrant, right? They must be deleting the video after a certain period of time, right?
It’s the Baltimore Police Department. The article and accompanying video clarify the motivation of the company providing the technology and the service to BPD. Founder Ross McNutt says he hopes technology like his will have a deterrent effect on crime in cities where its deployment is disclosed. That’s a good goal but it’s not the BPD or the company’s founder I’m worried about.
Anything on a hard drive that isn’t air gapped is vulnerable to exfiltration by hackers. That includes a massive digital video recorder covering an entire city for an indeterminate amount of time.
Google fighting National Security Letter
The letters, issued by federal authorities investigating national security concerns, prohibit recipients from disclosing that they have received them, let alone what they’re asking for. The Judge in Google’s case1 struck down the law’s gag order provision as violative of the First Amendment, but has stayed the effect of that decision while the government pursues an appeal.
I should note that I essentially paraphrased the Wikipedia article for that second sentence, as my knowledge of NSLs is limited. I look forward to reading more on them, and I’m glad to see a company with the clout and caliber of attorneys that Google has questioning the legality of the NSL framework.
At first glance, it may seem odd that a company that siphons so much data about its users would be so protective of it when the government is asking for it.
But it makes sense for Google to defend user information: it needs that information to make its advertising products more relevant, Many accept the trade of having their documents and emails scanned and anonymized by Google in exchange for exceptional and free services. If Google fails to protect that information from surveillance via legal tools of questionable constitutionality, the balance of that trade may tip too far for many users.
Thus, this is one of those rare cases where corporate goals and user concerns are aligned.
Harvard snooped on faculty email
If you’re composing an email you don’t want someone to see, consider picking up the phone instead. Your assumptions about the privacy of email are inaccurate.
Panetta Ties Delay of Aid in Mali to Legal Questions
As I learned in that international law class I took last semester (for which, in case you were wondering, I earned a very respectable grade), there are Administration lawyers working feverishly behind every such move to ensure that we’re complying with international law, or that we have defensible reasons why we are not so compliant.
FBI examining HP/Autonomy accounting debacle
HP’s got ninety-nine problems, but a recently-acquired pattern recognition company with possibly-dishonest accounting practices ain’t…
Pandora suing ASCAP for lower licensing fees
Don Jeffrey of Bloomberg:
Pandora also claims that it’s entitled to lower rates because some large music publishers have announced they are withdrawing new media rights from Ascap and negotiating licensing fees directly with Web radio services.
The times, they are a-changin’.