So, you think you have privacy. You don’t if you use any of these 8 apps.
This report begins with a corker: CIQ.
In a recent hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee, Sen. Al Franken reminded his fellow Americans, “People have a fundamental right to control their private information.” At the hearing, Franken raised an alarm about Carrier IQ’s software, CIQ.
Few people have ever heard about CIQ. Running under the app functions, CIQ doesn’t require the user’s consent (or knowledge) to operate. On Android phones, it can track a user’s keystrokes, record telephone calls, store text messages, track location and more. Most troubling, it is difficult to impossible to disable.
It runs on Apple OS, too
At the hearing, Sen. Franken questioned FBI director Robert Muller about the FBI’s use of CIQ software. Muller assured the senator that FBI agents “neither sought nor obtained any information” from Carrier IQ.
Following Muller’s Senate testimony, Andrew Coward, Carrier IQ’s VP of marketing, told the Associated Press that the FBI is the only law enforcement agency to contact them for data. The FBI has yet to issue a follow-up “clarification.”
CIQ is not alone.
The Carrier IQ controversy exposed the long-festering problem of the Unique Device Identifiers (UDID), 40-digit-long strings of letters and numbers that distinguish one device from another. Most troubling, it cannot be blocked or removed by a user. . . .
Sen. Franken’s hearing took place a few weeks after Trevor Eckhart, a security researcher, exposed the extent of information accessible by the CIQ software; Eckhart works for a firm that is a potential rival to Carrier IQ. Nevertheless, his findings are disturbing.
According to the company, its software is designed to improve mobile communications. CIQ is used to help businesses with GPS tracking of mobile devices and coordinate employee travel. The company initially denied there was anything suspicious about its software. Further analysis revealed a bug that allowed SMS messages to be captured.
Making matters worse, Carrier IQ attempted to silence Eckhart with a cease-and-desist letter, demanding he replace his analysis with a statement disavowing his research. Bowing to online pressure, the company withdrew the letter.
The nooses are tightening. The article surveys all of them.
2. Reading, Watching and Hearing
3. Records of Reading and Watching
4. Children’s Privacy
5. Commercializing Private App Info
6. Monitoring E-mail and Voice Communications
7. Social Connectivity
This one is really scary.
In May, President Obama extended the Patriot Act for four more years, renewing the federal government’s powers to search records and conduct roving wiretaps in pursuit of terrorists. “It’s an important tool for us to continue dealing with an ongoing terrorist threat,” Obama said.
Three aspects of the widening net of state security monitoring of Americans involve the use of drones, GPS tracking, “smart” drivers licenses and the increasing use of face recognition capabilities.
In December 2011, North Dakota law enforcement officials raided a remote farm seeking six missing cows. Using a military-like assault plan, local police got help from the state highway patrol, a regional SWAT team, a bomb squad, ambulances and deputy sheriffs from three other counties. They also employed a Predator B drone. The military-like campaign resulted in the arrests of Susan and Rodney Brossart and seven of their children. This is the first known arrest of U.S. citizens with help from a Predator drone.
Congress first authorized U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), an arm of the Department of Homeland Security, to buy unarmed Predators in 2005 to provide “interior law enforcement support.” Both the FBI and the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration have used Predators for domestic investigations.
The Federal Aviation Association restricts the use of drones in domestic air space. However, it plans to revise this policy, likely leading to a significant increase in drone surveillance in 2013 or 2014.
In November, the Supreme Court heard a case involving the police warrantless placing of a GPS tracking device on a suspect’s car. Many argued this act violated Fourth Amendment protections.
The U.S. and Canadian governments are inserting passive Radio Frequency ID chips into Compliant Enhanced Driver Licenses (EDL); they are standard in New York State. These licenses emit a random identifier whenever it comes into a reader device’s range, including Canadian and American border-security databases and displaying the owner’s personal information.
Senator John D. Rockefeller, D-West Virginia, has requested that the FTC assess how extensively facial recognition technology is being used. He is concerned that it violates personal privacy. The senator was alarmed by the use of the mobile app SceneTap which “tracks the male/female ratio and age mix of the crowd [in bars]” as well as by digital ads at the Venetian Resort in Las Vegas that are tailored to the person standing in front of the display. Both are based on recognition of that person’s age and gender.
This is a long article. If you value your privacy, you should read it.