Today’s compendium of matters of spies, borders, corportate snoopery, hacking, and such like begins with a reminder that sometimes it’s not Big Brother you’ve got to worry about. Sometimes it’s Big Daddy. From Rumble Viral:
Catching a daughter doing selfies on video
Rod Beckham noticed a lot of movement in his rear view mirror and realized his daughter was in the midst of an epic photo shoot of her own creation. After watching and laughing for a minute or so, he realized he needed to capture this for posterity. It will definitely put a smile on your face!
On to the serious, starting with a call from BuzzFeed:
National Progressives Want A “Federal Czar” To Oversee Local Police Forces
“The proliferation of machine guns, silencers, armored vehicles and aircraft, and camouflage in local law enforcement units does not bode well for police-community relations, the future of our cities, or our country.”
A coalition of unions, members of Congress, progressive groups and others wrote a joint letter to President Barack Obama calling for drastic changes to local police forces around the country after the death of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri.
The letter, which was distributed via an ad in the Washington Post, calls for a demilitarization of police forces, an effort to increase diversity, and the establishment of a “federal czar” to promote “the professionalization of local law enforcement.”
“The proliferation of machine guns, silencers, armored vehicles and aircraft, and camouflage in local law enforcement units does not bode well for police-community relations, the future of our cities, or our country,” the letter said.
From Techdirt, sumptuary laws in a world of blue knights:
As Police Get More Militarized, Bill In Congress Would Make Owning Body Armor Punishable By Up To 10 Years In Prison
- from the only-the-police-can-be-militarized dept
We’ve been writing an awful lot lately about the militarization of police, but apparently some in Congress want to make sure that the American public can’t protect themselves from a militarized police. Rep. Mike Honda (currently facing a reasonably strong challenger for election this fall) has introduced a bizarre bill that would make it a crime for civilians to buy or own body armor. The bill HR 5344 is unlikely to go anywhere, but violating the bill, if it did become law, would be punishable with up to ten years in prison. Yes, TEN years. For merely owning body armor.
Honda claims that the bill is designed to stop “armored assailants” whom he claims are “a trend” in recent years. Perhaps there wouldn’t be so much armor floating around out there if we weren’t distributing it to so many civilian police forces… Not surprisingly, the very same police who have been getting much of this armor are very much in favor of making sure no one else gets it:
Honda said it has been endorsed by law enforcement organizations including the California State Sheriffs’ Association, the Fraternal Order of Police and the Peace Officers Research Association of California, according to Honda.
The Guardian deals a blow to a call for a Medievalism, British style:
Cameron dismisses Johnson’s ‘presumption of guilt’ terror plan
- PM rejects ‘kneejerk response’ after London mayor’s suggestion that people travelling to war zones should be presumed guilty
Downing Street has dismissed a call by Boris Johnson for the government to introduce a “rebuttable presumption” that anyone who visits a war zone without providing notice will be guilty of a terrorist offence.
The prime minister’s spokeswoman said David Cameron had no interest in”kneejerk” responses to the threat posed by Islamic State (Isis) fighters. She confirmed that Britain’s intelligence agencies had not been pressing for the London mayor’s idea.
Downing Street said the prime minister was focused on a “patient and resolute” response to what he described last week as the “generational challenge” posed by Isis in Iraq and Syria.
From Reuters, here’s looking at you, kid:
Camera-makers shares jump on interest in surveillance tech
A surge in interest in makers of security cameras drove shares of such companies higher on Tuesday, with heavy volume in particular seen in Digital Ally, which makes wearable cameras.
Digital Ally, which produces cameras compact enough to be pinned to shirts, belts or eyeglasses, has reported heightened demand for its product since Aug. 9, when a white police officer shot and killed an unarmed black teen in Ferguson, Missouri, triggering weeks of protests.
Interest in surveillance technology also drove investors to put money in Image Sensing Systems, a company that produces software and cameras for law enforcement agencies and traffic monitors. The stock spiked more than 40 percent.
From the Guardian, Cold War 2.0:
Nato plans east European bases to counter Russian threat
- Nato chief announces move in response to Ukraine crisis and says alliance is dealing with a new Russian military approach
Nato is to deploy its forces permanently at new bases in eastern Europe for the first time, in response to the Ukraine crisis and in an attempt to deter Vladimir Putin from causing trouble in the former Soviet Baltic republics, according to its chief.
Anders Fogh Rasmussen, the former prime minister of Denmark, said that next week’s Nato summit in Cardiff would overcome divisions within the alliance and agree to new deployments on Russia’s borders – a move certain to trigger a strong reaction from Moscow.
He also outlined moves to boost Ukraine’s security, “modernise” its armed forces, and help the country counter the threat from Russia.
Droning on? Or more provocatively? From the Associated Press:
AP sources: US surveillance planes fly over Syria
The U.S. has begun surveillance flights over Syria after President Barack Obama gave the OK, U.S. officials said, a move that could pave the way for airstrikes against Islamic State militant targets there.
While the White House says Obama has not approved military action inside Syria, additional intelligence on the militants would likely be necessary before he could take that step. Pentagon officials have been drafting potential options for the president, including airstrikes.
One official said the administration has a need for reliable intelligence from Syria and called the surveillance flights an important avenue for obtaining data.
Drone it is. But this time, by other folks. From Vocativ:
New Video Shows ISIS Using Drones to Plan Battles
The beheading video that ISIS released last week was a vivid illustration of not only the group’s ruthlessness but also its growing media sophistication. The video, with its slick production values, spread rapidly on Twitter and YouTube.
ISIS, which now controls large stretches of Syria and Iraq, uses an elaborate web of social media accounts to recruit new members, mock the West in unusual ways and showcase its military and tech know-how.
In the latest example of this, a new video appeared this past weekend in an official ISIS forum showing ISIS forces preparing to conquer a key military base in Raqqa in northern Syria. The video includes aerial footage (at around the 1.55 mark) apparently taken by an ISIS drone, and viewers hear militants planning out the attack. One talks about “a truck opening the way so that a second suicide bomber can hit the headquarters.” The video also shows graphic images of ISIS executing Syrian soldiers.
Engadget covers cyberstalking:
Political TV ads will soon know who you are
Like it or not, another US election is almost upon us — and this time around, the incessant political advertising may cut a little too close to home. Both Democrats and Republicans are using a new TV ad targeting system from DirecTV and Dish that takes advantage of voter records to put personalized campaign ads on your DVR. If you tend to swing between both parties, you may get different commercials than lifelong supporters. You may also get reminders to vote early if you frequently cast absentee ballots. And unlike conventional targeting methods, which run ads on shows they believe certain demographics will watch, these promos will automatically appear on any show you record as long as there’s a free slot.
Yes, there’s a chance these pitches will get very annoying; there’s enough data that they could chastise you when you haven’t donated or volunteered. However, the sheer expense of producing customized ads makes it unlikely that candidates will get that specific. The DVR technology may actually spare you some grief, in fact, since politicians won’t waste your time if you’re set in your ways. There is a risk that this approach will further polarize voters by limiting their exposure to different views. With that said, many political TV spots aren’t exactly honest to start with — this may just reduce the amount of propaganda you have to put up with during commercial breaks.
The London Daily Mail gets all metaphorical:
Always use protection! £6 USB ‘condom’ stops hackers from giving you viruses and keeps your private data secure
- The USB device was created by New York-based security experts int3.cc
- It aims to protect against public charging stations that can download data
- The USB condom is a small chip that has both male and female ports
- These connect between a device and the unknown USB port, effectively severing any data connection but linking up the power cables
- Millions of people worldwide are engaging in high-risk tech.
- Now a ‘USB condom’ has been designed by security experts in an effort to keep sensitive data secure.
- The device allows users to plug their phones or tablets into unfamiliar USB ports without risking being infected with a virus.
From MIT Technology Review, pimping exhibitionism:
How Much Is Your Privacy Worth?
- Despite the outcry over government and corporate snooping, some people allow themselves be monitored for money or rewards.
People can use your sensitive personal information to discriminate against you.
Anyone paying attention knows that his or her Web searches, Facebook feeds, and other online activity isn’t always safe—be it from the prying eyes of the NSA or those of the companies providing a social networking service.
While a substantial chunk of the populace finds all this tracking creepy and invasive, though, there’s a demographic that collectively shrugs at the notion of being mined for data.
Some startups hope to exploit this by buying access to your Web browsing and banking data (see “Sell Your Personal Data for $8 a Month”). Luth Research, a San Diego company, is now offering companies an unprecedented window into the private digital domains of tens of thousands of people who have agreed to let much of what they do on a smartphone, tablet, or PC be tracked for a $100 a month.
From Motherboard, Ayn Rand is smiling:
Net Neutrality Is ‘Marxist,’ According to This Koch-Backed Astroturf Group
A mysterious conservative group with strong ties to the Koch brothers has been bombarding inboxes with emails filled with disinformation and fearmongering in an attempt to start a “grassroots” campaign to kill net neutrality—at one point suggesting that “Marxists” think that preserving net neutrality is a good idea.
The emails, which come with subject lines like “Stop Obama’s federal Internet takeover,” come from American Commitment, an organization that is nonprofit in name only and has been called out time and time again by journalists and transparency organizations for obscuring where it gets its funding.
In an email I received, American Commitment president Phil Kerpen suggests that reclassifying the internet as a public utility is the “first step in the fight to destroy American capitalism altogether” and says that the FCC is plotting a “federal Internet takeover,” a move that “sounds more like a story coming out of China or Russia.”
From Network World, so there’s more than one born every second?:
Hackers prey on Russian patriotism to grow the Kelihos botnet
The cybercriminal gang behind the Kelihos botnet is tricking users into installing malware on their computers by appealing to pro-Russian sentiments stoked by recent international sanctions against the country.
Researchers from security firms Websense and Bitdefender have independently observed a new spam campaign that encourages Russian-speakers to volunteer their computers for use in distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks against the websites of governments that imposed sanctions on Russia for its involvement in the conflict in eastern Ukraine.
“We, a group of hackers from the Russian Federation, are worried about the unreasonable sanctions that Western states imposed against our country,” the spam emails read, according to a translation by Bitdefender researchers. “We have coded our answer and below you will find the link to our program. Run the application on your computer, and it will secretly begin to attack government agencies of the states that have adopted those sanctions.”
Motherboard covers the cyberextortionate:
Hackers Will Leak Syrian Stock Exchange Database Unless Assad Tackles ISIS
A group of hackers took down the website of Syria’s only stock exchange this afternoon and are threatening to leak the exchange’s database unless president Bashar al-Assad takes military action against the Islamic State.
The group, called Project Viridium, says that over the last several weeks, it has infected several Islamic State operatives’ computers and have provided the Assad government with information about their whereabouts.
Earlier today, the group tweeted that it had successfully taken down the Damascus Securities Exchange. At the time of this writing, the exchange’s website is still inaccessible, due to what appears to be a fairly common DoS (Denial of Service) attack.
After the jump, the latest from the Asian Game of Zones, including Indo/Pakistani shelling, internal Pakistani tension, a case of diplomatic hypocrisy against accompanied by a Chinese peace feeler, Sino/Indonesian insular petro tension, an Aussie apology and spooky doings, another aerial line-crossing, supersonic submarines, Chinese military/security realignments, Beijing’s eyes in space, Japanese militarism questions, and much more. . . Continue reading