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Orwellian Surveillance Society
Now, back off-topic:


If you remember this joker Honsol had emphatically asked you once about a Rajput architecture photo you posted. So, he was quite aware of the issues. But as you know shameless pretense is the distinguishing mark of these fellows

From the link you posted, Ishwa seems to be saying that the Mughal palaces and forts are almost all original Hindu creations

Taj Mahal is definitely prior to Shah Jahan but may possibly not predate the Mughal rule at Delhi. At any rate, the shilpis responsible for the construction were Hindus, but the notion of a palace which becomes a tomb is alien to the land.

And Qutb Minar is definitely a Stambha which was liberated by the Islamists.

Now, I will like to see this joker Honsol-Romani-Azygos refute Ishwa.
[quote name='Husky' date='17 October 2011 - 05:38 PM' timestamp='1318852810' post='113367']

I sehat the whole pompous (thieving) "Arische Europeans are behind the Vedas and Samskritam" assertion really is?


Acording whit history of architecture book, hindu palaces were made of wood,as we can see in paintings of Ajanta and other places.

Stone palaces were first made by mughals and co.

The first stone hindu temple was made in 4 century(during Gupta),while first sikhara(mountain peak) temple was made in 5-6 century.
[size="3"]Folks, we are seriously off-topic here!! [Image: OT.gif]

[Image: look-around.gif]

[size="3"][url="http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424053111903341404576480371062384798.html"]Face-ID Tools Pose New Risk[/url] : Wall Street Journal, August 1, 2011

[indent][size="3"][quote name="Julia Angwin"][/size][size="3"][size="4"]Study Shows Power, Privacy Peril, of Software That Recognizes People's Features

[/size][Image: line-horizontal-black-fade.gif]

[size="3"][size="4"][floatright][Image: MK-BN968_FACE_G_20110731185104.jpg][/floatright][/size]As Internet giants Facebook Inc. and Google Inc. race to expand their facial-recognition abilities, new research shows how powerful, and potentially detrimental to privacy, these tools have become.

Armed with nothing but a snapshot, researchers at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh successfully identified about one-third of the people they tested, using a powerful facial-recognition technology recently acquired by Google.

Prof. Alessandro Acquisti, the study's author, also found that about 27% of the time, using data gleaned from Facebook profiles of the subjects he identified, he could correctly predict the first five digits of their Social Security numbers.

The research demonstrates the potentially intrusive power of a facial-recognition technology, when combined with publicly available personal data. The study was funded largely by a grant from the National Science Foundation, with smaller sums from Carnegie Mellon and the U.S. Army.

Paul Ohm, a law professor at University of Colorado Law School, who has read Prof. Acquisti's paper, said it shows how easy it is becoming to "re-identify" people from bits of supposedly anonymous information. "This paper really establishes that re-identification is much easier than experts think it's going to be," he said.

For his study, Prof. Acquisti used a webcam to take pictures of student volunteers, then used off-the-shelf facial-recognition software to match the students' faces with those in publicly available Facebook photos. "We call it the democratization of surveillance," he said.

The professor said the study also shows how Facebook, with its 750 million users, whose names and profile photos are automatically public, is becoming a de facto identity-verification service.

A Facebook spokesman said that Facebook profiles don't always contain pictures of people's faces. Users can choose whether "to upload a profile picture, what that picture is of, when to delete that picture," he said

Google Chairman Eric Schmidt discussed his concerns about Facebook at the D: All Things Digital conference in June.

Facebook is "the first generally available way of disambiguating identity," he said. "Historically, on the Internet such a fundamental service wouldn't be owned by a single company. …I think the industry would benefit from an alternative to that."

Google has been racing to create a rival social-networking service. In June, it launched Google+ to compete with Facebook. In July, Google acquired Pittsburgh Pattern Recognition, or PittPatt, the facial-recognition technology that was used in the Carnegie Mellon study.

Facebook rolled out its facial-recognition service world-wide in June. The service lets people automatically identify photos of their friends. Facebook users who don't want to be automatically identified in photos must change their privacy settings.

A Google spokesman said the company won't introduce facial-recognition technology "to our apps or product features" without putting strong privacy protections in place. At the D conference, Mr. Schmidt said Google had withdrawn a facial-recognition service for mobile phones that it considered too intrusive.

The race to acquire facial-recognition technology reflects the technology's sharp improvement in recent years. The number of matching photos that were incorrectly rejected by state-of-the-art recognition technology declined to 0.29% in 2010 from 79% in 1993, according to a study by the National Institutes of Standards and Technology.

"It's certainly not science fiction anymore," said Peter N. Belhumeur, professor of computer science at Columbia University.

One big reason for the leap forward: the wide availability of photos that people have uploaded to the Internet through social-networking sites. Previously, publicly available pictures of individuals were mostly limited to driver's-license photos, school portraits or criminal mug shots, all of which were difficult to obtain.

In the Carnegie Mellon study, 93 students agreed to be photographed using a web camera attached to a laptop. The shots were immediately uploaded to a cloud computer and compared with a database of 261,262 publicly available photos downloaded from Carnegie Mellon students' Facebook profiles.

In less than three seconds, the system found 10 possible matching photos in the Facebook database. The students confirmed their face was among the top results more than 30% of the time.

Prof. Acquisti said the research "suggests that the identity of about one-third of subjects walking by the campus building may be inferred in a few seconds combining social-network data, cloud computing and an inexpensive webcam."

He then tried to discover whether he could predict sensitive information from the Facebook profile of individuals he had identified. He exploited the fact that, after 1987, the Social Security Administration started assigning Social Security numbers in a way that inadvertently made it easier to predict them based on the person's birthdate.

Drawing from knowledge of the Social Security numbering system used in a previous experiment, Prof. Acquisti was able to predict the first five digits of the subject's nine-digit Social Security numbers 27% of the time, with just four attempts. "The chain of inferences comes from one single piece of anonymous information—somebody's face."

The last four digits of the number also are predictable: In a 2009 paper, Prof. Acquisti showed that he could predict an entire Social Security number with fewer than 1,000 attempts for close to 10% of people born after 1988.

In June, the Social Security agency launched a new "randomized" numbering system, which will make such predictions more difficult for future generations. An agency spokesman said that even under the old system "there is no foolproof method for predicting a person's Social Security number."

As a demonstration of his latest project, Prof. Acquisti also built a mobile-phone app that takes pictures of people and overlays on the picture a prediction of the subject's name and Social Security number. He said he won't release the app, but that he wanted to showcase the power of the data that can be generated from a single photo.[/quote]

[size="3"][url="http://www.wired.com/dangerroom/2010/07/exclusive-google-cia/"]Exclusive: Google, CIA Invest in ‘Future’ of Web Monitoring[/url] : Wired, July 28, 2010

[indent][size="3"][quote name="Noah Shachtman"][floatleft][Image: obama_schmidt.jpg][/floatleft]The investment arms of the CIA and Google are both backing a company that monitors the web in real time — and says it uses that information to predict the future.

The company is called Recorded Future, and it scours tens of thousands of websites, blogs and Twitter accounts to find the relationships between people, organizations, actions and incidents — both present and still-to-come. In a white paper, the company says its temporal analytics engine “goes beyond search” by “looking at the ‘invisible links’ between documents that talk about the same, or related, entities and events.”

The idea is to figure out for each incident who was involved, where it happened and when it might go down. Recorded Future then plots that chatter, showing online “momentum” for any given event.

“The cool thing is, you can actually predict the curve, in many cases,” says company CEO Christopher Ahlberg, a former Swedish Army Ranger with a PhD in computer science.

Which naturally makes the 16-person Cambridge, Massachusetts, firm attractive to Google Ventures, the search giant’s investment division, and to In-Q-Tel, which handles similar duties for the CIA and the wider intelligence community.

It’s not the very first time Google has done business with America’s spy agencies. Long before it reportedly enlisted the help of the National Security Agency to secure its networks, Google sold equipment to the secret signals-intelligence group. In-Q-Tel backed the mapping firm Keyhole, which was bought by Google in 2004 — and then became the backbone for Google Earth.

This appears to be the first time, however, that the intelligence community and Google have funded the same startup, at the same time. No one is accusing Google of directly collaborating with the CIA. But the investments are bound to be fodder for critics of Google, who already see the search giant as overly cozy with the U.S. government, and worry that the company is starting to forget its “don’t be evil” mantra.

America’s spy services have become increasingly interested in mining “open source intelligence” — information that’s publicly available, but often hidden in the daily avalanche of TV shows, newspaper articles, blog posts, online videos and radio reports.

“Secret information isn’t always the brass ring in our profession,” then CIA-director General Michael Hayden told a conference in 2008. “In fact, there’s a real satisfaction in solving a problem or answering a tough question with information that someone was dumb enough [color="#ff00ff"]{ Zuckerberg's "dumb f*cks," anyone? }[/color] to leave out in the open.”

U.S. spy agencies, through In-Q-Tel, have invested in a number of firms to help them better find that information. Visible Technologies crawls over half a million web 2.0 sites a day, scraping more than a million posts and conversations taking place on blogs, YouTube, Twitter and Amazon. Attensity applies the rules of grammar to the so-called “unstructured text” of the web to make it more easily digestible by government databases. Keyhole (now Google Earth) is a staple of the targeting cells in military-intelligence units.

Recorded Future strips from web pages the people, places and activities they mention. The company examines when and where these events happened (“spatial and temporal analysis”) and the tone of the document (“sentiment analysis”). Then it applies some artificial-intelligence algorithms to tease out connections between the players. Recorded Future maintains an index with more than 100 million events, hosted on Amazon.com servers. The analysis, however, is on the living web.

“We’re right there as it happens,” Ahlberg told Danger Room as he clicked through a demonstration. “We can assemble actual real-time dossiers on people.”

Recorded Future certainly has the potential to spot events and trends early. Take the case of Hezbollah’s long-range missiles. On March 21, Israeli President Shimon Peres leveled the allegation that the terror group had Scud-like weapons. Scouring Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah’s past statements, Recorded Future found corroborating evidence from a month prior that appeared to back up Peres’ accusations.

That’s one of several hypothetical cases Recorded Future runs in its blog devoted to intelligence analysis. But it’s safe to assume that the company already has at least one spy agency’s attention. In-Q-Tel doesn’t make investments in firms without an “end customer” ready to test out that company’s products.

Both Google Ventures and In-Q-Tel made their investments in 2009, shortly after the company was founded. The exact amounts weren’t disclosed, but were under $10 million each. Google’s investment came to light earlier this year online. In-Q-Tel, which often announces its new holdings in press releases, quietly uploaded a brief mention of its investment a few weeks ago.

Both In-Q-Tel and Google Ventures have seats on Recorded Future’s board. Ahlberg says those board members have been “very helpful,” providing business and technology advice, as well as introducing him to potential customers. Both organizations, it’s safe to say, will profit handsomely if Recorded Future is ever sold or taken public. Ahlberg’s last company, the corporate intelligence firm Spotfire, was acquired in 2007 for $195 million in cash.

Google Ventures did not return requests to comment for this article. In-Q-Tel Chief of Staff Lisbeth Poulos e-mailed a one-line statement: “We are pleased that Recorded Future is now part of IQT’s portfolio of innovative startup companies who support the mission of the U.S. Intelligence Community.”

Just because Google and In-Q-Tel have both invested in Recorded Future doesn’t mean Google is suddenly in bed with the government. Of course, to Google’s critics — including conservative legal groups, and Republican congressmen — the Obama Administration and the Mountain View, California, company slipped between the sheets a long time ago.

Google CEO Eric Schmidt hosted a town hall at company headquarters in the early days of Obama’s presidential campaign. Senior White House officials like economic chief Larry Summers give speeches at the New America Foundation, the left-of-center think tank chaired by Schmidt. Former Google public policy chief Andrew McLaughlin is now the White House’s deputy CTO, and was publicly (if mildly) reprimanded by the administration for continuing to hash out issues with his former colleagues.

In some corners, the scrutiny of the company’s political ties have dovetailed with concerns about how Google collects and uses its enormous storehouse of search data, e-mail, maps and online documents. Google, as we all know, keeps a titanic amount of information about every aspect of our online lives. Customers largely have trusted the company so far, because of the quality of their products, and because of Google’s pledges not to misuse the information still ring true to many.

But unease has been growing. Thirty seven state Attorneys General are demanding answers from the company after Google hoovered up 600 gigabytes of data from open Wi-Fi networks as it snapped pictures for its Street View project. (The company swears the incident was an accident.)

“Assurances from the likes of Google that the company can be trusted to respect consumers’ privacy because its corporate motto is ‘don’t be evil’ have been shown by recent events such as the ‘Wi-Spy’ debacle to be unwarranted,” long-time corporate gadfly John M. Simpson told a Congressional hearing in a prepared statement. Any business dealings with the CIA’s investment arm are unlikely to make critics like him more comfortable.

But Steven Aftergood, a critical observer of the intelligence community from his perch at the Federation of American Scientists, isn’t worried about the Recorded Future deal. Yet.

“To me, whether this is troublesome or not depends on the degree of transparency involved. If everything is aboveboard — from contracts to deliverables — I don’t see a problem with it,” he told Danger Room by e-mail. “But if there are blank spots in the record, then they will be filled with public skepticism or worse, both here and abroad, and not without reason.”[/quote]

[size="3"][url="http://www.zdziarski.com/blog/?p=1270"]OnStar Begins Spying On Customers’ GPS Location For Profit?[/url] : September 20, 2011

-- [/size]
[size="3"]Jonathan Zdziarski

(Respected in his community as an iPhone forensics expert, Jonathan is a noted security researcher and author of many books ranging from iPhone hacking to machine learning. Jonathan is also inventor on several US patent applications, father of DSPAM and other language classification technology, a pretty good bass guitarist, and is currently employed as Sr. Forensic Scientist at Via Forensics.)


[quote name="Jonathan Zdziarski"][/size]
[size="3"]I canceled the OnStar subscription on my new GMC vehicle today after receiving an email from the company about their new terms and conditions. While most people, I imagine, would hit the delete button when receiving something as exciting as new terms and conditions, being the nerd sort, I decided to have a personal drooling session and read it instead. I’m glad I did. OnStar’s latest T&C has some very unsettling updates to it, which include the ability to now collect your GPS location information and speed “for any purpose, at any time”. They also have apparently granted themselves the ability to sell this personal information, and other information to third parties, including law enforcement. To add insult to a slap in the face, the company insists they will continue collecting and selling this personal information even after you cancel your service, unless you specifically shut down the data connection to the vehicle after canceling. This could mean that if you buy a used car with OnStar, or even a new one that already has been activated by the dealer, your location and other information may get tracked by OnStar without your knowledge, even if you’ve never done business with OnStar.[/size]

[size="3"]The complete update can be [url="http://www.onstar.com/tunnel-web/webdav/portal/document_library/downloadable/PrivacyStatement-2011-USE.pdf"]found here[/url]. Not surprisingly, I even had to scrub the link as it included my vehicle’s VIN number, to tell OnStar just what customers were actually reading the new terms and conditions.[/size]

[size="3"]The first section explains the information that’s collected from the vehicle. No big deal. Sounds rather innocuous and boring. I imagine most people probably drool out and close the window by the time they get this far. Your contact information, billing information, etc. is collected. Nobody cares about tire pressure and crash information being collected – after all, that’s what OnStar is there for. Toward the end, you’ll read about how GPS data is collected, including vehicle speed and seat belt status. Again, in an emergency, this is very useful and most customers want an emergency services business to collect this information - when necessary. And the old 2010 terms and conditions only allowed OnStar to collect this information for legitimate purposes, such as recovering a stolen vehicle, or when needed to provide other OnStar services to customers on demand. As you scroll down the list of information collected, you see that once you get past important emergency services (what we pay OnStar for), OnStar now has given themselves the right to also use this information for seemingly profitable purposes. OnStar has granted themselves the right to collect this information “for any purpose, at any time, provided that following collection of such location and speed information identifiable to your Vehicle, it is shared only on an anonymized basis.” – This provides carte blanche authority for OnStar to now track and collect information about your current GPS position and speed any time and anywhere, instead of only in the rare, limited circumstances the old contract outlined.[/size]

[size="3"]Anonymized GPS data? There’s no such thing! We’ve all seen this before – anonymized searches, for example, that were not-so-quite anonymized. But in this case, it’s impossible to anonymize GPS data! If your vehicle is consistently parked at your home, driving down your driveway, or taking a left or right turn onto your street every single day, its pretty obvious that this is where you live! It’s like trying to say that someone’s Google Map lookup from their home is “anonymized” because it doesn’t have their name on it. It still shows where they live! That can sometimes be even more telling about your identity than your full name. What’s unique even more-so to OnStar is that the data they claim they sell as part of their business model is useless unless it’s specific; that is, not diluted to the nearest 10 mile radius, for example. This combination of analytics, and their prospective customers (law enforcement, marketers, etc) requires the data be disturbingly precise. Anyone armed with Google can easily do a phone book or public records search to find the name and address that resides at any given GPS coordinate.[/size]

[size="3"]So the GPS location of your vehicle and your vehicle’s speed are likely going to be collected by OnStar and sold to third parties. What kind of companies are interested in this data? OnStar would have you believe that respectable agencies, like departments of transportation and various law enforcement agencies (for purposes of “public safety or traffic services“). TomTom recently had a run-in with so-called “public safety” and “traffic services” use when their data was [url="http://www.telegraph.co.uk/technology/news/8480195/Police-use-TomTom-data-to-target-speed-traps.html"]used by the police[/url] to create a number of speed traps. I can imagine this data COULD be used for good, to create traffic based analytics to improve future road construction or even emergency response. But given that those types of decisions are only made once a decade in most cities, OnStar isn’t likely to benefit much financially from “respectable” companies.[/size]

[size="3"]What is more profitable to OnStar that your personal GPS data could be used for? Hmm, well how about the obvious – tracking you and your vehicle. It would be extremely profitable to be able to identify all vehicles within OnStar’s network that frequently speed, and provide law enforcement “traffic services” the ability to trace them back to their homes or businesses, as well as tell them where to set up speed traps. Or perhaps insurance companies who want to check and make sure you’re wearing your seat belt, or automatically give you rate increases if you speed, even if you’re never in an accident? How about identifying all individuals who shop at certain stores, and using that to determine whose back yard to put the next God-awful Wal-Mart store? How about employers who purchase these records from these third parties to see where their employees (or prospective employees) travel to (and how fast), sleaze bag lawyers who want to subpoena these records to use against you if you’re ever sued, government agencies who want to monitor you, marketing firms who want to spam you, and a long list of other not-so-squeaky-clean people who use (and abuse) existing online, credit card, financial, credit, and other analytics to destroy our privacy?[/size]

[size="3"]Add to this OnStar’s use policy of your personal information – the stuff that does identify who you are and ties it to your GPS records. While I have no problem using my personal information in events of an emergency, OnStar also uses my information to “allow us, and our affiliates, your Vehicle Maker, and Vehicle dealers, to offer you new or additional products or services; and for other purposes“. So not only is OnStar now able to sell my vehicle’s GPS location data to a number of third parties, but they’re also able to use it and my personal information for marketing purposes. Imagine your personal data being sold to any number of their “affiliates”, and a few months later, you start to receive targeted, location-specific advertising based on where you’ve traveled. Go to Weight Watchers every week? Expect an increase in the amount of weight loss advertising phone calls. Go to the bar frequently? Anticipate a number of sleazy liquor ads to show up in your mailbox. Sneak out to Victoria Secret for something special for your lover? You might soon be inundated with adult advertising in your mailbox.[/size]

[size="3"]OnStar’s new T&C continues, explaining that part of the company may at some point be sold, and all of your information with it. It sounds as though OnStar is poising part of their analytics department to be purchased by a large data warehousing or analytics company. Or at least, perhaps they’re throwing the hook out there for anyone interested. Do you trust such companies with unfettered access to the entire GPS history of your vehicle?[/size]

[size="3"]This is too shady, especially for a company that you’re supposed to trust your family to. My vehicle’s location is my life, it’s where I go on a daily basis. It’s private. It’s mine. I shouldn’t have to have a company like OnStar steal my personal and private life just to purchase an emergency response service. Taking my private life and selling it to third party advertisers, law enforcement, and God knows who else is morally inept. Shame on you, OnStar, for even giving yourselves the right to do this.[/size]

[size="3"]To make matters even more insulting, it was difficult to ensure the data connection was shut down after canceling. I still have no guarantee OnStar did what they were supposed to. I had to request the data connection be shut down repeatedly, after the OnStar rep attempted to leave it on and ignore my requests.[/size]

[size="3"]When will our congress pass legislation that stops the American people’s privacy from being raped by large data warehousing interests? Companies like OnStar, Google, Apple, and the other large abusive data warehousing companies desperately need to be investigated.[/size]

[size="3"]These terms don’t go into effect until December 2011, and it takes up to 10 days to have the account fully cancel, and another 14 days for the data connection to be shut down… so if you want to get out of these new terms and conditions, you’ll need to do it soon.[/size]


[size="3"]Since writing this article, OnStar has reportedly told a few individuals that the contract requires them to obtain the customer’s consent in order to provide this information to anyone. Not true. In fact, the only mention of the word consent in their updated T&C is below:[/size]

[size="3"]We will comply with all laws regarding notifying you and obtaining your consent before we collect, use or share information about you or your Vehicle in any other way than has been described in this privacy statement. [/size]

[size="3"]Two points to make: first, this clause only applies to collecting and sharing information in any way that is not described in the privacy statement. All of the nefarious uses for your personal data are, quite clearly, described in the privacy statement, and so no consent would be required. Secondly, this paragraph makes it clear that they will only comply with all laws requiring consent, not that they will actually obtain your consent. I’m not a lawyer, but as far as I know, there are no such laws on the books in most (if not all) states that protect the consumer from having their private information shared or sold to third parties, especially when such sharing is disclosed in a contract. In other words, the above paragraph seems to do nothing to require OnStar to obtain your consent to do any of this – and it’s my firm belief that OnStar’s only real interest is in OnStar. If you doubt this, the older version of the terms and conditions had two more consent clauses that are no longer part of the new terms and conditions.[/size]

[size="3"]Old Consent Clauses – Now Removed:[/size]

[size="3"]In General, we do not share your personal information with third-party marketers, unless we have asked for and obtained your explicit consent.[/size]

[size="3"]Of course, we will notify you, and where required, ask for your prior consent if our collection, use, or disclosure of your personal information materially changes.[/size]

[size="3"]While I am in no way suggesting OnStar is evil, or would be evil, with this information, lawyers were paid to develop the verbiage that comprised significant enough changes to their privacy statement to issue a new one. As one poster said in a discussion, you don’t create a weapon you don’t intend to use. If OnStar’s verbal claims to the contrary are true, the best thing the company can do for themselves is to reflect these verbal intentions in a less empowering version of their T&C.[/quote][/size]

--self deleted--
[url="http://www.smh.com.au/technology/technology-news/facebooks-privacy-lie-aussie-exposes-tracking-as-new-patent-uncovered-20111004-1l61i.html"]Facebook's privacy lie: Aussie exposes 'tracking' as new patent uncovered[/url] : Sydney Morning Herald, October 4, 2011

[indent][quote name="Asher Moses"][floatright][Image: nikcubrilovicmain-420x0.jpg]

[size="2"]Causing a stir ... Nik Cubrilovic[/size][/floatright]Facebook has been caught telling porkies by an Australian technologist whose revelations that the site tracks its 800 million users even when they are logged out have embroiled Facebook in a global public policy – and legal – nightmare. Facebook's [url="http://nikcub.appspot.com/logging-out-of-facebook-is-not-enough#comment-319881438"]assurances[/url] that “we have no interest in tracking people” have been laid bare by a new Facebook [url="http://appft.uspto.gov/netacgi/nph-Parser?Sect1=PTO2&Sect2=HITOFF&u=%2Fnetahtml%2FPTO%2Fsearch-adv.html&r=1&p=1&f=G&l=50&d=PG01&S1=20110231240.PGNR.&OS=dn/20110231240&RS=DN/20110231240"]patent[/url], dated this month, that describes a method “for tracking information about the activities of users of a social networking system while on another domain”.

Nik Cubrilovic's [url="http://nikcub.appspot.com/logging-out-of-facebook-is-not-enough"]blog post[/url], which revealed that [url="http://www.smh.com.au/technology/technology-news/facebook-tracks-you-even-after-logging-out-20110926-1ksfk.html"]tracking cookies monitor Facebook users[/url] whenever they surf websites with a Facebook 'like' button, has led to political outrage in the US and Europe.

An Illinois man has [url="http://www.smh.com.au/technology/technology-news/facebook-sued-over-claims-it-tracks-users-activity-20111001-1l2qv.html"]filed a lawsuit[/url] over the tracking on behalf of Facebook users in the US and he is seeking class action status.

Facebook said certain cookies were tracking users in error and [url="http://nikcub.appspot.com/facebook-fixes-logout-issue-explains-cookies"]made several changes[/url] in response to Cubrilovic's revelations. However, it didn't stop tracking users altogether, maintaining that it needed the ability to track browsers after they logged out for safety, spam and performance purposes.

In new posts over the long weekend, Cubrilovic published [url="http://nikcub.appspot.com/howto-setup-secure-and-private-facebook-browsing"]instructions[/url] on how to setup secure and private Facebook browsing. His latest post contains [url="http://nikcub.appspot.com/facebook-re-enables-controversial-tracking-cookie"]new revelations[/url] that indicate Facebook has not switched tracking off at all.

Facebook said tracking cookies were only installed when users accessed Facebook.com but Cubrilovic found they were set by all sites that contained Facebook widgets.

In fact one of the tracking cookies used by Facebook, called “datr”, tracks users “even if the user had never been to the Facebook site, and even if they didn't click a 'like' or share' button”, Cubrilovic wrote. The cookie was previously disabled [url="http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748704281504576329441432995616.html"]following revelations[/url] in The Wall Street Journal earlier this year but has since returned.

Cubrilovic is not convinced by Facebook's assurances that it does not use the cookies to track users.

“If you set a cookie on a users machine from one website, and then read that cookie from that persons machine from another website, that is tracking,” he wrote.

Facebook's assurances have been put further in doubt following the discovery of a Facebook patent filing on user tracking dated just days before it told the world it had “no interest in tracking people”.

The [url="http://appft.uspto.gov/netacgi/nph-Parser?Sect1=PTO2&Sect2=HITOFF&u=%2Fnetahtml%2FPTO%2Fsearch-adv.html&r=1&p=1&f=G&l=50&d=PG01&S1=20110231240.PGNR.&OS=dn/20110231240&RS=DN/20110231240"]patent[/url], “Communicating Information in a Social Network System about Activities from Another Domain”, specifically refers to tracking users outside of Facebook.com.

It describes maintaining a “profile” of each user as they move around the web and “logging the actions taken on the third-party website”.

A Facebook spokesman said the patent was not intended to track logged out users. The patent, on "careful reading", actually described a fundamental part of the Facebook platform - "creating social experiences across the web without logging into Facebook repeatedly or third party sites at all".

It gave as an example its social plug-ins which mean, for instance, that Facebook users can see content friends have "liked" on a third-party site without having to log in to that website. Facebook said current functionality and future business plans shouldn't be inferred from its patent applications.

"Like many technology companies, we patent lots of ideas. Some of these ideas become products or features and some don't," Facebook said.

In the US, a group of privacy advocates and consumer rights organisations [url="http://www.democraticmedia.org/privacy-groups-ftc-investigate-redress-facebooks-latest-threat-its-user-privacy"]sent a letter[/url] to the Federal Trade Commission calling for a probe into Facebook.

It came just days after two US congressman made similar calls, arguing in a letter that when users log out of Facebook they are under the impression that Facebook is no longer monitoring their activities and “this impression should be reality”.

The FTC has yet to say whether it will begin an investigation.

Dutch MP Kees Verhoeven called in parliament for Facebook to be held more accountable after it had “been repeatedly linked to privacy violations”. Other MPs echoed his remarks and called for changes to the law to address Facebook privacy.

In Ireland, where Facebook has its European headquarters, the data protection commissioner is planning a “detailed audit” of Facebook's activities outside the US and Canada, the Financial Times reported.

It comes on top of political outrage directed at Facebook in other countries including Britain, Germany and Japan.

Last week, the Australian Privacy Commissioner, Timothy Pilgrim, said he was not going to investigate the Facebook tracking issue as the site had assured him it had rectified the matter. But Pilgrim has yet to comment on the revelations in Cubrilovic's latest blog post or the tracking systems outlined in Facebook's patent filing.

Separately, the rollout of Facebook's new Timeline feature, designed to turn profiles into a chronological scrapbook of major events in the user's life, is being delayed by a trademark infringement lawsuit filed by Timelines.com.

The site's other major change, “frictionless sharing”, whereby user activities are published on their profiles without any prompting by the user, has also sparked controversy.

The feature enables, for instance, users to automatically inform friends when they play a song on Spotify, but it has also led to more unfortunate disclosures such as one user inadvertently telling friends they visited a porn site.

Cubrilovic – and many privacy groups – fear that Facebook could combine “frictionless sharing” with the data it gets by tracking users around the web, risking significant unintended disclosures.

“These changes in business practices give the company far greater ability to disclose the personal information of its users to its business partners than in the past,” the privacy advocates wrote in their complaint letter to the FTC.

“Options for users to preserve the privacy standards they have established have become confusing, impractical and unfair.”

In announcing the new features, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg referred to “Zuck's law” – his belief that Facebook users double the amount of information they share on the site each year.[/quote] [/indent]
[url="http://www.thehindu.com/sci-tech/internet/article2624853.ece"]Face to face with Facebook[/url] : The Hindu, November 13, 2011

Quote:[floatleft][Image: TH13-FACEBOOK_AUSTR_835815e.jpg]

[size="2"]Austrian law student Max Schrems with the 1,222

pages of his Facebook data in Vienna[/size][/floatleft][size="4"]

When you delete something from Facebook, all you are doing is hiding it from yourself[/size]

[Image: line-horizontal-black-fade.gif]

Austrian law student Max Schrems may be just one of about 800 million Facebook users, but that hasn't stopped him tackling the U.S. giant behind the social networking website over its privacy policy. The 24-year-old wasn't sure what to expect when he requested Facebook provide him with a record of the personal data it holds on him, but he certainly wasn't ready for the 1,222 pages of information he received. <img src='http://www.india-forum.com/forums/public/style_emoticons/<#EMO_DIR#>/wacko.gif' class='bbc_emoticon' alt=':wacko:' />

This included photos, messages and postings on his Facebook page dating back years, some of which he thought he had deleted, the times he had clicked “like” on an item, “pokes” of fellow users and reams of other information.

“When you delete something from Facebook, all you are doing is hiding it from yourself,” Mr. Schrems told AFP in his home city of Vienna.

Shocked, Mr. Schrems decided to act. Hitting a dead end in Austria, he took his complaints in August to the Data Protection Commissioner (DPC) in Ireland, where Facebook has its European headquarters.

Believing that Facebook was contravening European Union law, and had more data on him that it is not releasing, Mr. Schrems has filed 22 complaints with the DPC, details of which can be found on his website [url="http://www.europe-v-facebook.org/."]http://www.europe-v-facebook.org/.[/url]

“It's a shock of civilisations. Americans don't understand the concept of data protection. For them, the person with the rights is the one with the data. In continental Europe, we don't see things like that,” he said. “If a company wants to operate in a country it has to abide by the rules.”

Facebook, he says, has agreed in Germany to stop keeping records of users' IP addresses — information showing where someone is connected to the Internet — but in other European countries the practice continues.

“This is Facebook strategy. When someone gets really annoyed, they back off one step, but continue advancing in other ways,” said Mr. Schrems. The problem is that most people don't take the time to read the small print in Facebook's terms and conditions, he says.

“For the average citizen data protection is too complex and subtle,” he says, believing it is therefore the responsibility of the state to ensure that users' rights are upheld.

[url="http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2063709/Facebook-watches-800million-users-AFTER-sign-off.html"]Is nothing private? Facebook tracks which sites 800m users visit... even AFTER they sign off[/url] : The Daily Mail, UK, 19th November 2011

Quote:[floatright][Image: article-2063709-0ED809C100000578-787_468x304.jpg]

[size="2"]We'll be watching you: Facebook can track which sites users visit even after they[/size]

[size="2"]log off thanks to plug-ins and cookies[/size][/floatright]Facebook is tracking which sites its 800million users visit – even after they have signed out, a new report has revealed.

Company employees are also able to watch where people who are not members of the social-networking site go online, if they have just viewed Facebook once.

Critics have expressed serious concern about the practice and called for tighter regulations to protect internet users' privacy.

'Facebook could be tracking users without knowledge or permission, which could be an unfair or deceptive business practice,' Representative for Massachusetts Ed Markey told USA Today.

The site has explained for the first time how it uses two types of cookies to log the extensive data in a series of interviews with USA Today.

The tracking means that every time an internet user being followed clicks on to a third-party page which has a Facebook plug-in attached, such as the popular 'Like' widget, a record is sent back to the company.

According to Facebook, the data is used to boost security and improve the quality of the plug-ins and not to gather personal information to promote user-specific ads. [Image: angel.gif]

Officials said the sponsored ads found on a user's Facebook page are based on the information provided on the profile and by the choices made when clicking the 'Like' button.

But still, some web observers are worried.

'Tracking data can be used to figure out your political bent, religious beliefs, sexuality preferences, health issues or the fact that you're looking for a new job,' Peter Eckersley, projects director at Electronic Frontier Foundation, a digital rights organisation, told USA Today.

'There are all sorts of ways to form wrong judgments about people.'

Here's how it works: Every time you log onto Facebook it inserts a 'session cookie' and a 'browser cookie' into your browser. If you simply visit the site without signing up on the browser cookie is inserted.

From that point on, each time you visit a site which uses Facebook technology, the cookie works in conjunction with the plug-in to alert Facebook to the date, time and URL of the page you are viewing.

The unique characteristics such as your IP address, screen resolution, operating system and browser version, are also recorded, USA Today reported.

Facebook is therefore able to compile a rolling address book of all your webpage visits for 90 days, continually deleting entries for the oldest day and adding the newest.

If you are logged-in to your Facebook account and surfing the web, the session cookie records this date meaning your name, email address, friends and all data associated with your profile are also logged.

Arturo Bejar, Facebook's engineering director, acknowledged to USA Today that Facebook could learn where specific members go after they have signed off but denied the company recorded such information.

Mr Bejar told the paper: 'We've said that we don't do it, and we couldn't do it without some form of consent and disclosure.'

That testimony was not enough to appease Ilse Aigner, Germany's minister of consumer protection, who last month banned Facebook plug-ins from government websites and suggested that private companies to follow suit.

While Thilo Weichert, a data protection commissioner in the Germany said: 'Whoever visits Facebook or uses a plug-in must expect that he or she will be tracked by the company for two years. Such profiling infringes German and European data protection law.'

Elsewhere, Arnold Roosendaal, a doctoral candidate at Tilburg University in the Netherlands, and Nik Cubrilovic, an independent Australian researcher, independently wrote about how pages containing Facebook technology carried out tracking on a greater scale than the company publicly admitted to.

Facebook spokesman Andrew Noyes slammed Germany to USA Today, saying the country does not understand how the tracking technologies work. And he blamed 'software bugs' for the indiscriminate tracking uncovered by Roosendaal and Cubrilovic. [Image: baaa.gif]

'When we were made aware that certain cookies were sending more information to us than we had intended, we fixed our cookie management system,' Mr Noyes told USA Today.

However, Mr Roosendaal said: 'They have been confronted with the same issue now several times and every time they call it a bug. That's not really contributing to earning trust.'

And Mr Markey, who is behind a bill aimed at limiting online tracking of children, said Facebook 'should be covered by strong privacy safeguards.'

'The massive trove of personal information that Facebook accumulates about its users can have a significant impact on them — now and into the future,' he told USA Today.

Ron Culler, of Secure Designs, told WFMY he is not surprised by this tracking.

'It's just how the internet works. It's how targeting advertising is done for the big ad sites like Yahoo and Google,' he said. 'Facebook wants to know who's going to their sites, who's using their 'Like' buttons and link buttons and things like that.'

But Mr Noyes said that the company has 'no plans to change how we use this data.' [Image: angel.gif]
[url="http://www.prisonplanet.com/federally-funded-street-lights-capable-of-recording-conversations.html"]Federally-Funded Street Lights Capable of “Recording Conversations”[/url]: Prisonplanet.com, November 1, 2011

[indent][quote name="Paul Joseph Watson"]Federally-funded high-tech street lights now being installed in American cities are not only set to aid the DHS in making “security announcements” and acting as talking surveillance cameras, they are also capable of “recording conversations,” bringing the potential privacy threat posed by ‘Intellistreets’ to a whole new level.

[left][url="http://www.prisonplanet.com/new-street-lights-to-have-homeland-security-applications.html"]In the days after we first brought attention[/url] to the privacy concerns surrounding the new street lights, with our story featuring prominently on the Drudge Report website, the company behind them, Illuminating Concepts, went on the defensive, [url="http://intellistreets.com/pressHealper.php?id=2011-10-27-01"]issuing a press release[/url] claiming the devices didn’t represent a “big brother” intrusion.[/left]

However, as you can see from the video above, ‘Intellistreets’ is big brother on steroids. George Orwell himself would probably have considered the concept too far-fetched to appear in the dystopian classic 1984.

[left]Not only can the street lights, now being rolled out in Detroit, Chicago and Pittsburgh with Department of Energy backing, act as surveillance cameras, Minority Report-style advertising hubs, and Homeland Security alert systems, they are “also capable of recording conversations,” [url="http://www.wxyz.com/dpp/news/region/oakland_county/intelligent-lights-make-up-wireless-network-used-for-entertainment-and-safety"]reports ABC 7[/url].[/left]

[left]In their press release, the company behind the street lights also denied that they had received DHS funding for the system. In the aftermath of the controversy generated last week, ABC 7 reports that owner Ron Harwood is now “working with Homeland Security” to implement the high tech network, which is connected via a ubiquitous wi-fi system.[/left]

[left][url="http://www.freep.com/article/20111029/BUSINESS06/110290318/Farmington-Hills-company-installs-wireless-Intellistreet-systems?odyssey=mod%7Cnewswell%7Ctext%7CFRONTPAGE%7Cs"]Harwood told the Detroit Free Press[/url] that the street lights will “make us feel not only safer, but happier,” representing how “business and government can work together for economic, environmental and social benefits.” [Image: angel.gif]


[left]Harwood’s claim that the technology doesn’t represent a privacy threat simply because its rollout it “transparent” carries no weight whatsoever. Just because the installation of these street lights is being done publicly and not in secret has no bearing whatsoever on the frightening implications for privacy this development poses.[/left]

[left]The video clip includes creepy footage of the street lights being used to transmit Orwellian security alerts, including “pay attention please….please stand by for a public safety announcement,” and “this is a security alert”. Every “security” announcement you’ve heard in airports and subways can now be brought to street level.[/left]

[left]The street lights can also give audible warnings to individuals, [url="http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/6524495.stm"]mimicking the talking surveillance cameras in the UK [/url]that shout out orders through loudspeakers telling people to pick up litter or leave the area.[/left]

[left]“By Spring of next year there is a good chance you could see them pop up in your city,” states the report.[/left]

[left]It goes without saying that this is a complete violation of the 4th amendment and represents a whole new level in America’s transformation into a high-tech police state. Not even the most out-there dystopian films featured technology as sophisticated and as potentially invasive as ‘Intellistreets’.[/left]

[left]Without any public discourse, without any legal oversight, these systems are now being installed on the streets of America. Citizens already browbeaten into accepting the fact that their every movement can be tracked and traced by surveillance cameras will now be told to accept that the government recording private conversations on the street is a necessary step to provide “safety and security,” as the Homeland Security occupation of America takes on a whole new dimension.[/quote]

[/left] [/indent]
[url="http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/europe/germany/111027/spyware-scandal-germany"]German authorities plant spyware on citizens’ computers[/url] : Globalpost, October 27, 2011

Quote:[floatleft][Image: germany_spyware_trojan_horse_scandal.jpg]

[size="2"]Dirk Engling, of Chaos Computer Club, shows the control software for the Trojan spyware

allegedly made by the German authorities ® monitoring the traffic on a remote computer (L).

The club cracked the spying software that could allow German authorities to peer through

webcams. The news has sparked outrage among politicians and media commentators.[/size][/floatleft]BERLIN, Germany — It’s the stuff of modern nightmares. A seemingly innocuous email plants malicious spyware on your computer, allowing strangers to not only access your private communications but also to spy on you in your own home.

The fact that such invasive technology was deployed by officials in Germany has caused uproar here.

While the monitoring of internet telephone communications is allowed by German law in serious cases, it has emerged that software deployed by some law enforcement agencies was capable of much more intrusive snooping, raising serious concerns about the potential for a “Big Brother” level of surveillance.

The use of so-called “Trojan horse” software by authorities in a number of German states came to light after the Computer Chaos Club, a hacker group, published details of their examination of spyware planted on a laptop in Bavaria.

It found that the software — developed by a private company called DigiTask for the Bavarian police — was capable of much more than just monitoring internet phone calls. It could take screenshots, remotely add files and control a computer’s microphone or webcam to monitor the person’s home. However, the authorities insist that they did not deploy these functions. [Image: whistling.gif] Investigations are ongoing.

Graham Cluley, a senior technology consultant with British computer security firm Sophos, which also analyzed the software, said that the spyware could “automatically update itself over the internet, so new functionality can be added. It can be used to install new software onto the computer, so people could actually alter the contents of a suspect’s hard drive.”

The scandal has led politicians and security experts to look at whether the country’s already stringent privacy laws need firming up.

Privacy advocates had already raised concerns about the potential for state intrusion back in 2007, when the Interior Ministry said that it was developing software to monitor suspects’ internet communications.

The following year the Federal Constitutional Court, the highest in the country, made a ruling that placed narrow limits on the use of such software, including stipulations that it could only be used to monitor Internet telephone communications. The 2008 ruling stated that the integrity of people’s computers was a “fundamental right” and could only be infringed upon with a court order.

Yet evidence now suggests that some state law enforcement agencies went beyond those constitutional limits when they deployed Trojans that had wider functionality.

“There are very strict guidelines regarding the use of this kind of software in those situations,” Cluely told GlobalPost. “It appears to us that if this piece of software was being used for that purpose then it goes beyond those guidelines.”

“The Trojan’s developers never even tried to put in technical safeguards to make sure the malware can exclusively be used for wiretapping internet telephony, as set forth by the Constitutional Court,” the Computer Chaos Club wrote on its website.

The Interior Ministry in Bavaria confirmed that law enforcement officials there have been using the spyware since 2009 and insists the application is legal. Other states, including Baden-Wurttemberg, Brandenburg and Lower Saxony, also admitted using Trojans.

Once the scandal broke, Federal Interior Minister Hans-Peter Friedrich demanded that the states halt the use of the spyware. He has since declared that the BKA, the federal criminal police, have only used Trojans in accordance with the constitution. However, he has said that in future the software will be developed by the authorities themselves rather than outsourced to private companies.

Meanwhile, Justice Minister Sabine Leutheusser-Schnarrenberger, a member of the Free Democrat Party, which has traditionally seen citizens’ privacy as a core issue, has indicated that she is considering new laws to ensure that privacy is safeguarded. She has already called for an inquiry into the use of the software by the authorities.

Peter Schaar, the Federal Commissioner for Data Protection and Freedom of Information, has voiced his concerns about the legal “gray area” that surrounds the use of this kind of spyware. His spokesperson Juliane Heinrich told GlobalPost that the current legal situation was obviously not adequate. “It has to be improved, and this can be done by the justice minister, who is responsible for the criminal code,” she said.

The police also want more clarity about what it is legally permissible. The Federation of German Criminal Police (BDK) has said that Germany needs cabinet-level oversight of internet issues. “It is high time for a federal internet minister who solves the pressing problems of the digital age,” BDK head Andre Schulz told the Neue Osnabrücker Zeitung newspaper.

Marco Buschmann, a Free Democrat member of parliament, sees it as a fundamental problem that the authorities were using software capable of this functionality, even if, as they claim, it was never activated.

“The authorities have to operate within the framework of the law and our constitution,” Buschmann told GlobalPost. “And the problem is that software was found that theoretically could do more than the constitution allowed.”

Aside from questions about the legality and ethics of using this type of spyware, the application could also prove self-defeating for law enforcement, critics say. The fact that the software allows files and programs to be remotely downloaded means that any evidence found on a suspect’s laptop could be disputed.

“It is naturally counter-productive for the prosecutors, as this evidence would be without any value,” Meinhard Starostik, a lawyer who specializes in data issues, told GlobalPost. “A criminal could say: ‘The police planted that on my computer with the Trojan.’”

It is not only the software itself that has raised concerns, but also the suspects upon which it was used. Some investigations were probing relatively minor targets. In one case, for example, investigators placed a Trojan on the computer of a suspect they thought was illegally importing anabolic steroids.

Cluley was surprised to learn that it was being used to monitor low-level criminal activity. “I would expect this kind of thing to be used on serious organized crime or in terrorist investigations,” he said.

Buschmann says that while suspected criminals and terrorists need to be investigated, people’s freedoms also need to be protected. “That includes the freedom to use my computer without worrying that it could potentially be spied on, whether by the state or by criminals.”

Germans have a reputation for being sensitive about privacy issues, due in large part to totalitarian systems of the past. The 12 years of Nazi rule were followed, in East Germany, by a communist system whose notorious secret police, the Stasi, routinely spied on citizens.

“These two dictatorships were sustained by the surveillance of their own citizens,” Buschmann said. “No one is claiming that today we have a surveillance state, but we are very sensitive to these issues because of our experiences.”

Privacy attorney Starostik agrees that their history has made Germans particularly cautious when it comes to the issues of state surveillance and of date privacy in general. He argues that the fact that Trojans have the potential for such levels of spying means they should not be used by the authorities, even for monitoring internet communications.

“This example shows how dangerous it is when one allows the state the possibility of such wide-ranging invasions of privacy,” he said. “When one has such a tool then the temptation is too great to overstep the limits.”

[size="3"][url="http://www.ndtv.com/article/world/new-wikileaks-spy-files-show-global-surveillance-industry-154534"]New WikiLeaks 'spy files' show global surveillance industry[/url]

Quote:WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange launched the website's new project today, the publication of hundreds of files it claims show a global industry that gives governments tools to spy on their citizens.

The files reveal the activities of about 160 companies in 25 countries which develop technologies to allow the tracking and monitoring of individuals by their mobile phones, email accounts and Internet browsing histories.

"Today we release over 287 files documenting the reality of the international mass surveillance industry -- an industry which now sells equipment to dictators and democracies alike in order to intercept entire populations," Assange told reporters in London.

He said that in the last ten years it had grown from a covert industry which primarily supplied government intelligence agencies such as the NSA in the United States and Britain's GCHQ, to a huge transnational business.


The documents on the website http://wikileaks.org/the-spyfiles.html, include manuals for surveillance products sold to repressive Arab regimes.

They have come to light in part from offices ransacked during uprisings in countries such as Egypt and Libya earlier this year, as well as investigative work by WikiLeaks and its media and campaigning partners.

"These systems that are revealed in these documents show exactly the kind of systems that the Stasi (East Germany's secret police) wished they could have built,"
said Jacob Appelbaum, a former WikiLeaks spokesman and computer expert at the University of Washington.

[color="#0000FF"][color="#4169E1"]"These systems have been sold by Western companies to places for example like Syria, and Libya and Tunisia and Egypt. These systems are used to hunt people down and to murder."[/color][/color]

Experts who worked on the release warned that at present the industry was completely unregulated, and urged governments worldwide to introduce new laws governing the export of such technology.

[color="#0000FF"]"Western governments cannot stand idly by while this technology is still being sold," said Eric King, from the Privacy International campaign group.[/color][color="#FF0000"]<How Classic, admit your complicity, condemn it, and demand more control>[/color]

[url="http://www.thehindu.com/news/national/article2678501.ece"]The government's listening to us[/url] : The Hindu, December 1, 2011

Quote:[floatleft][Image: TH02_WIKI_NEW_852805f.jpg][/floatleft]

Ever since 26/11, India has made massive purchases of communications intelligence equipment from secretive companies from India and abroad. In the absence of effective legal oversight, it threatens the democracy it was bought to defend.

In the summer of 1999, an officer at a Research and Analysis Wing communications station in western India flipped a switch, and helped change the course of the Kargil conflict. RAW's equipment had picked up Pakistan's army chief and later military ruler, Pervez Musharraf, speaking to his chief of staff, General Muhammad Aziz, from a hotel room in Beijing. “The entire reason for the success of this operation,” the RAW officer heard General Aziz saying on May 29, 1999, “was this total secrecy.” He probably smiled.

For the first time, India had hard evidence that Pakistan's army, not jihadists, had planned and executed a war that had brought two nuclear-armed states to the edge of a catastrophic confrontation. RAW's computers established that the voices were indeed those of Generals Musharraf and Aziz, pinpointed their locations – and undermined Pakistan's diplomatic position beyond redemption.

India's strategic community finally awoke to the possibilities of modern communications intelligence, and unleashed a massive effort to upgrade the country's technical capabilities. A new organisation, the National Technical Research Organisation (NTRO), was set up; scientists in the Indian Institutes of Technology were tapped, and quiet efforts to acquire technology worldwide were initiated.

Late into the night the 26/11 attacks began in Mumbai, that investment paid off: equipment flown in from New Delhi by the Intelligence Bureau allowed investigators to intercept the assault team's communications with the Lashkar-e-Taiba's headquarters in Pakistan. Police forces across the country have since scrambled to purchase similar equipment, making India one of the largest markets for global vendors.

But this isn't good news: India has no appropriate legal framework to regulate its vast, and growing, communications intelligence capabilities. There is almost no real institutional oversight by political institutions like Parliament — which means there is a clear and imminent danger that the technology could undermine the very democracy it was purchased to defend.

Who is selling?

From a trove of documents obtained by The Hindu, working in collaboration with WikiLeaks and an international consortium of media and privacy organisations monitoring the communications intelligence industry, it is evident Indian companies are already offering technologies very similar to the most formidable available in the world.

Himachal Pradesh-based Shoghi — once blacklisted by the government pending investigation of its relationship with corruption-linked former telecommunications Minister Sukh Ram — has become one of the largest suppliers to the Indian armed forces and RAW. It offers a range of equipment to monitor satellite, mobile phone, and strategic military communications.

Shoghi's SCL-3412 satellite communications link monitoring system can, its literature says, even “passively monitor C and Ku-band satellite compressed and non-compressed telecom carriers from Intelsat, Eutelsat, Arabsat, Turksat.” The company also claims its equipment can automatically analyse “bulk speech data” — in other words, listen in and pick particular languages, words, or even voices out of millions of simultaneous conversations taking place across the world.

India's other large communications intelligence firm, Indore-headquartered ClearTrail, says its products “help communication service providers, law enforcement, and government agencies worldwide to counteract the exploitation of today's communication networks, fight terrorism and organised crime.” The company's brochures say it has portable equipment that can pluck mobile phone voice and text messages off the air, without the support of service providers — service providers who must, by law, be served with legal authorisation to allow monitoring.

The Hindu telephoned officials at both companies, and then e-mailed them requesting meetings to discuss issues raised in its investigation. Neither company responded; one said it was barred from discussing technical questions with the media by its terms of contract with its military clients.

Large parts of the most sophisticated equipment, defence sources told The Hindu, come in from Israel — itself a beneficiary of a special relationship with the United States. “Israeli vendors often tell us that they're charging extraordinarily high prices in return for breaking embargos on sharing these technologies,” one officer said, “but there's no way of knowing this is the case.”

“If we get what we need,” he said, “we're willing to pay — there's no point quibbling over a few million dollars.” [color="#ff00ff"]{...after all, its taxpayers money, so who cares...}[/color]

Ever since 26/11, companies like Shoghi and ClearTrail haven't been short of customers: police forces have queued up to purchase passive interception technologies, which allow them to maintain surveillance not just on phone numbers specified in legally-mandatory warrants from the Home Secretary, but on all conversations in an area, or region. There are even cases of out-of-state operations: the Delhi Police have periodically maintained a passive interception capability at the Awantipora military station in Jammu and Kashmir, an act with no basis in law. The Army also has significant passive interception capabilities along the Line of Control (LoC) — which also pick up civilian communication.

Computers at key net hubs

India's National Technical Research Organisation (NTRO) has also deployed computers fitted at key internet hubs — the junction boxes, as it were, through which all of the country's internet traffic must pass. Police forces in several States, among them Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra, and Andhra Pradesh, have followed suit, with smaller variants of the same technology.

The risks of this proliferation of technology have become evident over the last two years. In Punjab, one of four passive interception units is reported to be missing, feared to have been lost to a political party or corporate institution. Andhra Pradesh actually shut down its passive interception capabilities after it accidentally intercepted sensitive conversations between high officials. Karnataka officials also accidentally intercepted conversations involving a romantic relationship between a leading politician and a movie star — while Mumbai has had several scandals involving unauthorised listening-in to phones owned by corporate figures and movie stars.

Intelligence Bureau sources told The Hindu they had been working, for the past several months, to get States to shut down the 33 passive interception units in their possession — but with little success. The pervasive attitude in a federal or quasi-federal polity seems to be: if the Centre can do it, why can't we?

Police do require warrants to tap individual phones, but in practice authorisations are handed out with little thought. In one notorious case, the politician Amar Singh's phone conversations were recorded with the consent of his service provider on the basis of what turned out to be a faked government e-mail. Mr. Singh's personal life became a subject of public discussion, but no one has yet been held accountable for the outrageously unlawful intrusion into his privacy.

Last year, journalist Saikat Datta authored a disturbing exposé, alleging the NTRO's passive interception capabilities were being misused for political purposes — and even activities closely resembling blackmail. Union Home Minister P. Chidambaram denied such activities were taking place, although he has no supervisory power over the NTRO — but there has been no investigation.

The fact is that the government has no real interest in rigorous oversight. The Intelligence Bureau, for example, has long been summoning call data records for individuals from service providers with no legal cause, allowing it to maintain a watch on behalf of the Union Home Ministry of contacts maintained among journalists, politicians, corporate figures, and government.

In the absence of a full investigation into malpractices, and proper oversight, there is simply no way of knowing who might, and in what circumstances, have been targeted through passive interception means — and that's the whole problem.

“When an officer on a salary of Rs.8,000 a month has pretty much unrestricted access to this kind of technology,” a senior Maharashtra Police officer admitted, “things will go wrong, and have gone wrong.”

Earlier this year, Congress spokesperson and Member of Parliament, Manish Tewari, introduced a [url="http://www.thehindu.com/multimedia/archive/00852/THE_INTELLIGENCE_SE_852812a.pdf"]private member's bill[/url] that would enable Parliamentary oversight over the intelligence services — the worldwide pattern in democracies. “The advancement of communications interception warrants that a very robust legal architecture to protect the privacy of individuals needs to be put in place,” he says. “The intrusive power of the state has to be counter-balanced with the civil liberties guaranteed by the Constitution.”

In his case, no one seems to have been listening.

Ever-larger investments

India is set to make ever-larger investments in these technologies, making the case for oversight ever more urgent. In 2014, the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO), aided by the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), is scheduled to launch India's first dedicated spy satellite, the Rs.100-crore communications intelligence satellite, tentatively named CCISat. Like similar systems operated by the United States, Russia, and Japan, among others, CCISat will suck up gigabites of electronic information from its orbital position 500 kilometres above the earth, passing it on to military supercomputers that will scan it for information of military and intelligence value.

From the public sector giant, Bharat Electronics, India's principal electronics intelligence manufacturer, we know that CCISat is just a small part of the country's overall spy technology programme: in 2009-2010, it supplied some Rs.700 crore worth of electronic warfare equipment, and was scheduled to make deliveries worth Rs.900 crore in 2010-2011. Electronic warfare systems, both offensive and defensive, were reported to make up over half its order book of Rs.15,000 crore last year.

Larsen & Toubro, as well as the Tatas' Strategic Electronics Division, have also expanded their capacities to meet an acquisitions drive that Indian military officials estimate will cost the country Rs.22,500 crore (about $4.5 billion) before the end of the decade.

This may be money well spent: there can be little doubt that communication intelligence has contributed significantly to defending India. However, the failure to regulate the technology will have far-reaching consequences for our democracy — and could even mean its subversion. [color="#ff00ff"]{... "oh... that is conspiracy theory," blabber the pseudo-intellectuals .... }[/color] [Image: HREN-go2sleep.gif]

[url="http://www.thehindu.com/opinion/op-ed/article2678511.ece"]The art and science of communications intelligence[/url]: The Hindu, December 1, 2011

Quote:[size="4"]Ever since World War II, technology has allowed nations unprecedented — and potentially dangerous — access into our lives. After 9/11, the risks of abuse have grown exponentially.

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[/size]In March 1950, the National Security Council of the United States of America issued a top-secret directive that, in ways few people fully understood then or since, transformed our world. “The special nature of Communications Intelligence activities,” it reads, “requires that they be treated in all respects as being outside the framework of other or general intelligence activities. Orders, directives, policies or recommendations of the Executive Branch relating to the collection, production, security, handling, dissemination or utilisation of intelligence and/or classified material shall not be applicable to Communications Intelligence activities.”

Less than two decades after that directive was signed, the U.S. controlled the most formidable system of surveillance the world has ever seen: satellites and listening posts strung across the planet picked up everything from radio-telephone conversations from cars in Moscow to transatlantic telephone conversations and data on India's nuclear programme. Known as Echelon, the system provided the western powers with an unprecedented information edge over their adversaries.

From data obtained by WikiLeaks, working with an international consortium of media organisations, including The Hindu, and other partners, we have the first real public domain insights into how much more advanced — and how much more widely available — this surveillance system has become.

The South African firm Vastech, for example, offers systems that can capture data flowing across telecommunications and internet networks in multiples of ten gigabites, and scan it for pre-determined parameters — the voice of an individual; a particular language; a phone number; an e-mail address. The Indian companies, Shoghi and ClearTrail, The Hindu found, market systems that can capture giant volumes of traffic from mobile phone and satellite networks and subject it to similar analysis. France's Amesys is among several companies to have provided equipment like this to states like Libya — enabling their parent state access to the buyer's own communications, through electronic back-doors, but at the price of allowing them to spy on dissidents, with often horrific consequences.

In coming days, The Hindu will report on the consequences of the proliferation of surveillance technology — but it is important, first, to understand the state of the science of communications espionage.

Evolving technology

Interception technologies are as old as communications. Julius Caesar, the imperial historian Suetonius recorded, was concerned enough about the prospect of his military communications being intercepted — in general, by the simple expedient of corrupting or capturing his messengers — to use what cryptographers call a substitution cipher — replacing the letter A with D, B with E and so on. Had one of Caesar's military messages contained a reference to The Hindu, it would have read Wkh Klqgx. Elizabeth I's spymaster, Robert Walsingham, excelled in using spies to capture information on Spain's military ambitions, and plots against his queen.

Early ciphers were easy to crack with techniques like frequency analysis, leading intelligence services to design ever more complex codes. The eminent science journalist Simon Singh's [url="http://www.simonsingh.net/The_Black_Chamber/index.html"]Virtual Black Chamber [/url]— so named for the rooms espionage agencies used to crack enemy codes — has a fascinating historical account of the never-ending battle between cryptographers and cryptanalysts (as well as online tools for aspiring amateur code-makers and code-breakers).

The rise of wireless communication in the early decades of the twentieth century, though, made it possible for information to be passed instantly across great distances — and for states to begin intercepting it. From 1925, Germany began deploying a path-breaking mechanical encrypted-communication system code-named Enigma, which resisted the combined efforts of cryptanalysts — thus allowing the Nazi military machine an unprecedented degree of secrecy in its military communications, and facilitating its new strategy of high-speed mechanised war.

In 1939, the Polish mathematician, Marian Rejewski, led a team that made some breakthroughs against Enigma, based on studies of a machine stolen by the country's spies. Then, in 1943, a top-secret British team, made up of an eclectic collection of scholars, technicians, and scientists led by the mercurial Alan Turing, used electromechanical devices — the first computers — to finally crack the Enigma code. Even then, full penetration of Enigma's naval variant needed a daring raid that allowed code-books to be salvaged from the submarine U559, without allowing Germany to suspect the vital information had not gone to the sea-bed.

Experts have claimed that breaking Enigma hastened the end of the war by two years. Winston Churchill, the United Kingdom's wartime Prime Minister, described the work of the code-breakers as a “secret war, whose battles were lost or won unknown to the public, and only with difficulty comprehended, even now, by those outside the small, high scientific circles concerned.” “No such warfare had ever been waged by mortal men,” he said. The secret war involved hideous choices — for instance, allowing German air and naval attacks to kill allied soldiers when they could have been pre-empted, in order not to raise suspicions that Enigma had been compromised.

Big Brother Science

Learning from their experience, the allied powers invested heavily in communications intelligence after the end of World War II. In 1947, the four English-speaking powers — the United States, United Kingdom, Australia, and New Zealand — signed a treaty allowing for the sharing of intelligence. Listening stations run by the four countries across the world, supplemented from the 1970s by satellites, allowed a new software system — known as Echelon — to suck up virtually all electronic communication from around the planet. For example, part of the inter-city microwave signals carrying phone traffic went into space, because of the curvature of the earth. The NSA's satellites would pick up the data—and Echelon would mine it for useful data.

In the 1990s, a steady flow of information in Echelon came into the public domain, based on disclosures by the former Canadian spy Mike Frost, New Zealand's Nicky Hager, American James Bamford, and British journalist Duncan Campbell. India itself was using some Echelon-like signals intelligence technologies by this time. The United States had begun to supply the Research and Analysis Wing's Aviation Research Centre equipment to spy on China's nuclear programme and naval assets from 1962; acquisitions were also made from the Soviet Union.

Public disclosure of Echelon raised growing concerns that it might be misused for states to conduct espionage against their own citizens, as well as to further their commercial interests. In 2000 and 2001, the European Parliament released reports addressing these issues.

The furore forced former CIA director James Woolsey to admit, at a press conference held in 2000, that the United States did conduct espionage in Europe. Mr Woolsey said, however, that just 5 per cent of his country's economic intelligence was derived from stolen secrets — and used to target states or corporations that were either violating international sanctions or paying bribes to gain contracts. He said intelligence of this kind was not passed on to companies in the United States — adding that to harvest usable commercial information would mean resources were sucked away from the core national-security mandate of his organisation.

Fred Stock, a former Canadian intelligence officer, earlier gave testimony that suggested Mr. Woolsey's claims were, at best, a part of the truth. Mr. Stock said he had been expelled from his service in 1993 for criticising its targeting of economic and civilian targets — among them, information on negotiations of the North American Free Trade Agreement, Chinese grain purchases, and French weapons sales. He claimed Canada's spies also routinely monitored high-seas protests by the environmental organisation, Greenpeace.

Evidence also exists that the NSA spied on U.S. targets — though not on U.S. soil, thus bypassing national legislation. Margaret Newsham, who worked at Echelon's Menwith Hill facility from 1977 to 1981, testified that conversations involving the late Senator Strom Thurmond had been intercepted. The technology to target conversations involving particular people, she said, had existed from 1978. Ms Newsham's revelations seemed to buttress what many had long suspected — which is that the 1947 agreement allowed the U.S. and the U.K. to spy on their own citizens, by the simple expedient of subcontracting the task to their alliance partner.

Few people, however, remained willing to deal with these concerns after 9/11: increasingly, western governments allowed enhanced surveillance against their citizens, as part of the so-called war against terror. The data gathered by WikiLeaks and its partners graphically demonstrate that almost every aspect of our everyday lives — everything from the hubs of the fibre-optic cables which carry the world's e-mail and internet traffic to mobile and landline phone conversations — can, and are, scanned by intelligence services. The odds are that when you read this article, replete with words like “terrorism,” a computer somewhere is recording your activity, automatically recording your computer's precise geographical location, and matching all this against public records that contain your details.

In most democracies, there are stringent legislative safeguards against the abuse of these capabilities: the United States Senate maintains a relatively tight leash on the country's intelligence services; in Australia, a commissioner can even conduct raids at the offices of its spies without a warrant. India, however, has only a rudimentary legal infrastructure — and no worthwhile legislative oversight, raising concerns described in a [url="http://www.thehindu.com/news/national/article2678501.ece"]story[/url] in The Hindu.

Few people, as Churchill pointed out so many decades ago, fully understand the consequences the capacities of states to monitor our wired world — but it is time citizens started marking the effort, for the alternative is to lose the rights these technologies were created to defend.

[url="http://rt.com/news/richard-stallman-free-software-875/"]Stallman: Facebook IS Mass Surveillance[/url]: RT, 02 December, 2011

Quote:The father of free software philosophy spoke to RT on evil developers, spying social networks, the almost-legitimacy of Anonymous hacks and the condition under which he would take a proprietary program and a million dollars. Stallman is the man behind the concept that every computer program must be free for users to study and modify as they want. This is the only way to ensure that by using the software users do not compromise their human rights, he says.

“Free software literally gives you freedom in the area of computing. It means that you can control your computing. It means that the users individually and collectively have control over their computing. And in particular it means they can protect themselves from the malicious features that are likely to be in proprietary software,” he told RT.

“This doesn’t automatically give you freedom in some other area of life. To get that you have to fight for it. But human rights support each other. In an age when a lot of what we do, we do with computers, if we don’t have freedom in our computing, that makes it harder for us to defend or fight for freedom in other areas. You lose one set of rights – and it’s harder for you to keep the others.”

There are many ways how people can be stripped of their freedom through the software they use. One of the latest examples is the scandal with Carrier IQ’s software, which is being accused of logging every keystroke on devices, which run it.

“This is an example of malicious features in non-free software. Those mobile phones are being run by non-free software, so it’s no surprise that they have malicious features in them. The most commonly used non-free programs do,” Stallman sadly pointed out.

Another example is Facebook’s data-mining activities, which includes massive spying on people browsing the internet.

“Facebook does massive surveillance. If there is a ‘like’ button in a page, Facebook knows who visited that page. And it can get IP address of the computer visiting the page even if the person is not a Facebook user. So you visit several pages that have ‘like’ button and Facebook knows that you visited all of those, even if it doesn’t really know who you are,” he said.

But the public awareness of the danger is rising, and they start resisting it. For instance, operations of the Anonymous hacker group are basically an online version of protest demos, Stallman says.

“The Anonymous protests for the most part work by having a lot of people send a lot of commands to a website, that it can’t handle so many requests. This is equivalent of a crowd of people going to the door of a building and having a protest on the street. It’s basically legitimate. And when people object to this, let’s look at who they are and what they do. Usually they are people who are doing much worse things,” he believes

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Stallman is one of those who would know what they're talking about.
[url="http://www.thehindu.com/todays-paper/article2725464.ece"]Now, RAW can legally intercept calls, e-mails[/url] : The Hindu, December 18, 2011

Quote:[size="4"]It is one of eight agencies allowed to do so[/size]

Amid a raging controversy over its plan to screen social media, the UPA government has added and notified the external intelligence agency, the Research and Analysis Wing (RAW), to the list of eight agencies to intercept phone calls, e-mails and data communications.

Highly placed government sources said the RAW's addition to the list is aimed at giving it a legal cover for intercepting phone calls, e-mails and voice and data communication domestically. This is the first time that the R&AW, since it was formed in 1967, has been authorised to tap phone calls. The sources said the notification was issued by the Home Ministry recently.

The move came nearly two weeks after The-Hindu carried a series of write-ups, working in collaboration with WikiLeaks, on communications intelligence capabilities.

The sources said the RAW would not be able to deploy its communication interception equipment at international gateways to snoop on all forms of data, be it international telephony emanating from India or any form of electronic data including e-mails.

The sources pointed out that investigators had tapped conversations of terrorists, who attacked Mumbai on November 26, 2008, getting instructions from their handlers in Pakistan. “For such an evidence to be admissible legally, it was felt that it must be given legal sanctity,” the sources said.

Significantly, it was only last year that the Union government faced flak from courts on phone tapping, prompting it to tell the States to adhere to the guidelines strictly.

On the questions of a citizen's rights and privacy, the Home Ministry had reiterated that law enforcement agencies could tap phones of any individual for security or operational reasons for 72 hours even without permission from the Union Home Secretary or the State Home Secretary.

In such a case, if the agency concerned does not get permission, it will have to destroy the tapped conversations within 48 hours, official sources said.

All requests by the Central government agencies, including those under the Finance Ministry and the Central Bureau of Investigation, need the approval of the Union Home Secretary.

But senior officials admit that the goof-ups have put a question mark on the integrity of the system which is not foolproof. They do not rule out the possibility of more innocent citizens being put on the list of suspects.

60-day limit

Initially, the approval to tap phones is given for 60 days; if the request is repeated for another 60 days, the agency concerned has to give detailed reasons. Yet another extension of 60 days is permissible, but no permission is given beyond 180 days, the sources said.

The Supreme Court, in the PUCL vs Union of India in 1997, had ruled that telephone conversation in private, without interference, would come within the purview of the right to privacy as mandated in the Constitution; and unlawful means of phone tapping amounted to invasion of privacy and were uncivilised and undemocratic in nature.

On average, 5,000 to 6,000 telephones are tapped daily across the country by the Central investigation and intelligence agencies, the sources said. There are nearly 690 million mobile and landline telephone subscribers in India.

The sources feel that with the Adarsh scam, the Commonwealth Games scandal, and the 2G spectrum scam breaking out, the interception or tapping of phones and e-mail could reach higher levels, and many more details indicating the involvement of more persons in the scams could tumble out as different investigation agencies go ahead with probes.

“Of these, a majority relate to terror networks, and 10-12 per cent pertains to economic offences, including those involved in hawala dealings,” the sources said.

Intelligence and security agencies often keep tabs on the activities of terrorist groups operating in Jammu and Kashmir and the northeast, and Naxals.

[url="http://www.dnaindia.com/world/report_saudi-prince-alwaleed-bin-talal-invests-300-million-in-twitter_1627835"]Saudi prince Alwaleed bin Talal invests $300 million in Twitter[/url]


Quote:Mind reading machines on their way: IBM

Agence France-Presse

San Francisco, December 20, 2011

[color="#800080"][image caption:][/color] Two men walk past an IBM logo in Hanover, central Germany.

Century-old technology colossus IBM on Monday depicted a near future in which machines read minds and recognize who they are dealing with.

The "IBM 5 in 5" predictions were based on societal trends and research which the New York State-based company expected to begin bearing fruit by the year 2017.

"From Houdini to Skywalker to X-Men, mind reading has merely been wishful thinking for science fiction fans for decades, but their wish may soon come true," IBM said in its annual assessment of innovations on the horizon.

"IBM scientists are among those researching how to link your brain to your devices, such as a computer or a smartphone," it continued.

IBM gave the examples of ringing someone up just by thinking it, or willing a cursor to move on a computer screen.

[color="#800080"]("Ringing someone up just by thinking it" might come in handy if you've just been kidnapped I suppose... Or in the grip of a seizure. Or about to be murdered and you're aiming for this to be an episode of Columbo where the audience is told at the start who did it. In all other cases, is it so much trouble to Just Pick Up The Phone?

And "willing a cursor to move across the screen?" Too low-level, no great efficiency gains for the average user. But very helpful for people who've lost/never had motor functions.)[/color]

Biological makeup will become the key to personal identity, with retina scans of recognition of faces or voices used to confirm who people are rather than typing in passwords, the company forecast.

"Imagine you will be able to walk up to an ATM machine to securely withdraw money by simply speaking your name or looking into a tiny sensor that can recognize the unique patterns in the retina of your eye," IBM said.

[color="#800080"](Wasn't this already there in Never Say Never Again etc? And even the baddies back then knew how to circumvent this "fail-safe" system.

It's worse than the fingerprint identification required on the older T-PCs: any villains merely need your finger. While a password is at least in your head where they couldn't get it from, they can always just *take* your finger. Or your eye.)[/color]

"Or by doing the same, you can check your account balance on your mobile phone or tablet," it continued.

Technology will also be able to produce electric power from any types of movement from walking or bicycle riding to water flowing through pipes of homes, IBM predicted.

[color="#800080"](This is admittedly *very* cool. Yes please.)[/color]

Mobile phones will narrow the digital divide between "haves and have-nots" by making information easily accessible and junk email will be eliminated by smarter filtering and masterful targeting of ads people like, according to IBM.

For all the useful things such "mind-reading" can be applied to, why is my evil mind only darting to the zillion ways in which not just the unscrupulous but also the power-greedy power-centres (like the US govt or the Indian christogovt) can and is likely to employ this? So that all of humanity can become The Next North Korea (which apparently has a new dictator now: seems Kim Jong Il or whoever kicked the bucket recently - went off to the great dictatorship in the sky or thereabouts. Time to sing 'Le Roi est mort. Vive le roi' again.)

Linking one's brain to one's devices/network does promise for some proper Cybercrime at last though, as foreshadowed in Nihon. If we can't have interstellar travel at least we can have cyberpunk plotting. Bring on the age of hacks and dives.

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