Category Archives: Surveillance

World PM2.5 Map as reputation

NASA posted 22 October 2009, New Map Offers a Global View of Health-Sapping Air Pollution
In many developing countries, the absence of surface-based air pollution sensors makes it difficult, and in some cases impossible, to get even a rough estimate of the abundance of a subcategory of airborne particles that epidemiologists suspect contributes to millions of premature deaths each year. The problematic particles, called fine particulate matter (PM2.5), are 2.5 micrometers or less in diameter, about a tenth the fraction of human hair. These small particles can get past the body’s normal defenses and penetrate deep into the lungs.
Even satellite measurements are difficult (clouds, snow, sand, elevation, etc.). But not impossible:

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Pirate Party Legitimized by Winning EU Parliament Seat

Support for Prohibition began to diminish as enforcement became increasingly expensive and it was becoming apparent that the ban was doing little to curb crime and drunkenness. There’s lots of academic and commercial effort put into stopping software and other intellectual property piracy, especially for videos. A form of risk management, I suppose, but one that ignores the much bigger risk to traditional intellectual property of causing political blowback such as what just happened in Sweden:
“Together, we have today changed the landscape of European politics. No matter how this night ends, we have changed it,” Falkvinge said. “This feels wonderful. The citizens have understood it’s time to make a difference. The older politicians have taken apart young peoples’ lifestyle, bit by bit. We do not accept that the authorities’ mass-surveillance,” he added.
Funny thing about what happens when the majority of the population participates in an illegal activity: eventually it’s not illegal anymore.
At least partially, The Pirate Party puts its increased popularity down to harsh copyright laws and the recent conviction of the people behind The Pirate Bay. After the Pirate Bay verdict, Pirate Party membership more than tripled and they now have over 48,000 registered members, more than the total number of votes they received in 2006.

With their presence in Brussels, the Pirate Party hopes to reduce the abuses of power and copyright at the hands of the entertainment industries, and make those activities illegal instead. On the other hand they hope to legalize file-sharing for personal use.

Many of those abuses of power probably already are illegal; the appropriate laws just aren’t being enforced. We saw this during alcohol prohibition in the U.S., and we see it now with marijuana prohibition in the U.S. The first prohibition ended, the second probably will, and meanwhile, online “piracy” is on its way to being redefined.


Band Uses CCTV to make Music Video

getoutclause.jpg This is clever:

Unable to afford a proper camera crew and equipment, The Get Out Clause, an unsigned band from the city, decided to make use of the cameras seen all over British streets.

With an estimated 13 million CCTV cameras in Britain, suitable locations were not hard to come by.

They set up their equipment, drum kit and all, in eighty locations around Manchester – including on a bus – and proceeded to play to the cameras.

The Get Out Clause, Manchester stars of CCTV. By Tom Chivers,, Last Updated: 6:54PM BST 08/05/2008

Then they requested copies of the coverage from the various companies and law enforcement organizations owning the cameras through the British Data Protection Act, and got enough to use. They even managed closeups.

So maybe there is a use for CCTV, even though it’s failed at crime prevention. It’s a huge arts subsidy program!


European Parliament Votes for Internet Freedom and Security

Sometimes a legislative body gets the picture and shows some spine:
Despite last minute attempts by the French government to divide them, European MEPs today voted decisively against “three strikes”, the IFPI-promoted plan to create a class of digital outcasts, forbidden from accessing the Net if repeatedly accused by music companies of downloading infringing content.

In a vote held today, hundreds of MEPs supported language which declared termination of Internet access to be in conflict with “civil liberties and human rights and with the principles of proportionality, effectiveness and dissuasiveness”, all core values of the European Union.

… And Guy Bono, the author of the report, had this to say in the plenary:

“On this subject, I am firmly opposed to the position of some Member States, whose repressive measures are dictated by industries that have been unable to change their business model to face necessities imposed by the information society. The cut of Internet access is a disproportionate measure regarding the objectives. It is a sanction with powerful effects, which could have profound repercussions in a society where access to the Internet is an imperative right for social inclusion.”

European Parliament to Sarkozy: No “Three Strikes” Here, Posted by Danny O’Brien, EFF, April 10th, 2008

The European Parliament voted for social inclusion, participation, and human rights over profits for a tiny group of companies. That wasn’t hard. Even if the vote had gone the other way, it wouldn’t have produced any real security for the tiny group, and the way it did go, it produces far more security for everyone else. Maybe the U.S. can get the message.


Privacy in Germany: Courts Support It

papier.jpg Interesting that Germany has more respect for privacy than the U.S. does:
Government surveillance of personal computers would violate the individual right to privacy, Germany’s highest court found Wednesday, in a ruling that German investigators say will restrict their ability to pursue terrorists.

The Karlsruhe-based Federal Constitutional Court said in a precedent-setting decision that data stored or exchanged on a personal computer is effectively covered under principles of the constitution that enshrine the right to personal privacy.

“Collecting such data directly encroaches on a citizen’s rights, given that fear of being observed … can prevent unselfconscious personal communication,” presiding judge Hans-Juergen Papier said in his ruling.

Court Shoots Down Computer Surveillance, By MELISSA EDDY, Associated Press Writer, 27 Feb 2008

Although apparently Germany also has lazy cops who think spying on individuals is their birthright, just like in the U.S. Not regular police, mind you, but
…secret services’ ability to use virus-like software to monitor suspected terrorists’ online activity.
The court rightly said suspicion is not enough:
“Given the gravity of the intrusion, the secret infiltration of an IT system in such a way that use of the system and its data can be searched can only be constitutionally allowed if clear evidence of a concrete threat to a prominent object of legal protection exists,” Papier said.
And a judge has to approve it.

Now that’s risk management.


Google to be Dragooned Into U.S. Wiretapping?

68EEC-dragoon.gif I’d wondered when the feds would think of this:

"Google has records that could help in a cyber-investigation, he said," Wright adds. "Giorgio warned me, ‘We have a saying in this business: `Privacy and security are a zero-sum game.’"

A New Internet Wiretapping Plan? Steve Bellovin, SMBlog, 15 January 2008

Their saying is wrong, as Bellovin points out:

The risks are quite similar to those posed by CALEA: this is an intentional vulnerability which can be exploited by the wrong people. (That’s what happeed to the Greek cellphone network.)

But some people believe the saying anyway, and will act on it, unless they are stopped.


Medical Object Panopticon: Hospital Real-Time Location System (RTLS)

carolina_logo.gif Mostly increased monitoring provokes privacy concerns. But what if it’s objects that are being monitored?

Carolinas HealthCare System (CHS), the third-largest public healthcare system in the US, has completed the first phase of an asset tracking program that is believed to be one of the largest healthcare real-time location system (RTLS) deployments in the US. Currently about 5,000 assets are being tracked over 1.4 million square feet at five facilities.

CHS plans to extend the WiFi-based RTLS system throughout its network, which includes 15 hospitals and medical centers in the Carolinas. Additional facilities totaling about 3 million square feet are scheduled to go live by the end of the quarter.

"As a healthcare organization, we’re required to upgrade or perform preventive maintenance regularly on medical equipment," Clay Fisher, director of information service at Carolinas HealthSystem, told RFID Update. "Imagine trying to find one specific IV pump when you have thousands of them across multiple facilities. We have reduced our ‘time-to-find’ for individual pieces of equipment from hours to less than ten minutes."

Carolinas HealthCare Launches Huge RTLS System, RFID Update, Tuesday October 9th, 2007

One odd side effect is that CHS says if your wireless network isn’t configured for VoIP, you should add that, because then it will have enough coverage to do RTLS.

Now if they can find a way to track patient orders between nursing shifts, and which doctors sign off on drugs without seeing their patients….