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Elves, Avatars and 1 Million Requests: Surveillance Gone Wild

Second-Life_Amsterd Susanne Posel
Occupy Corporatism
December 10, 2013

 

 

Senator Edward Markey’s office have published report showing how wireless carriers are being forced to respond to 1 million requests from law enforcement for customer cellphone data for the last 2 years.

Markey is proposing timely reporting of disclosures from federal and local law enforcement when making requests for data.

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) would be empowered to implement rules on how long wireless corporations must retain customer data.

Markey said : “There has been a lot of focus on NSA but this is something very different. These are neighborhood police departments or state police or federal agencies requesting your data. Millions of Americans are having their information swept up in digital dragnets and there are serious questions about how law enforcement handles the information.”

In general, wireless corporations were vague in providing accurate records on requests because “they didn’t categorize the requests that way” or simply could not tell the difference between law enforcement requests for data and NSA requests from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC).

Markey pointed out how cellphone tower dumps which “allows police to request the phone numbers of all phones that connected to a specific tower within a given period of time.”

This technology has also been used to geo-locate suspects “regarding specific locations and times when perpetrators likely would have used their phones.”

Recent revelations about “at least 25 police departments [who] own a Stingray” which allow those law enforcement entities to “tap into cellphone data in real time . . . capturing information about thousands of cellphone users at a time, whether they are targets of an investigation or not.”

Documents provided to media detail how “about one in four law-enforcement agencies have used a tactic known as a tower dump, which gives police data about the identity, activity and location of any phone that connects to the targeted cellphone towers over a set span of time, usually an hour or two. A typical dump covers multiple towers, and wireless providers, and can net information from thousands of phones.”

However, wireless communications providers profited from these requests:

• AT&T received $10 million
• T-Mobile received $11 million
• Verizon received less than $5 million

Markey explained: “As law enforcement uses new technology to protect the public from harm, we also must protect the information of innocent Americans from misuse. We need a 4th Amendment for the 21st century. Disclosure of personal information from wireless devices raises significant legal and privacy concerns, particularly for innocent consumers.”

Another revelation into the wacky world of NSA surveillance now included those online gamers from World of Warcraft (WoW) and Second Life (SL).

Edward Snowden has disclosed documents detailing how the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI), the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), the Pentagon and the British spy outfit Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) infiltrated and spied on users of virtual games while also collecting data on Xbox Live users through internet connections.

Clocking Xbox gamers alone, this affects an estimated 48 million users. Online gaming is popular and virtual worlds provide an escape from actual reality.

Intelligence agency operatives could easily use the anonymity of the game itself to recruit informants.

This platform with avatars provided multiple ways for the NSA to communicate anonymously through noticeboards, voice chats, text messages to other gamers.

Graham Cluely, British security analyst commented : “I think I’ve heard it all now. Obviously online games which include chat or IM facilities do provide a method for people to communicate … but how practical is it to have a team of spies sniffing around ‘World of Warcraft’ to see what they might find?”

The NSA document states: “Al-Qaida terrorist target selectors and … have been found associated with Xbox Live, Second Life, World of Warcraft, and other GVEs [games and virtual environments]. Other targets include Chinese hackers, an Iranian nuclear scientist, Hizballah, and Hamas members.”

Tech giants such as Google, Microsoft, Facebook, Yahoo, LinkedIn, AOL and Twitter are banding together to form the Global Government Surveillance Reform (GGSR) to promote the limitation of federal intelligence and law enforcement agencies to collect user information under the guise of terrorism.

The GGSR has taken it upon themselves to point out that “current laws and practices need to be reformed”; a point we all are aware of.

In an open letter to Obama and Congress, the GGSR said: “This summer’s revelations highlighted the urgent need to reform government surveillance practices worldwide. The balance in many countries has tipped too far in favor of the state and away from the rights of the individual­­rights that are enshrined in our Constitution. This undermines the freedoms we all cherish. It’s time for change.”

Principles the GGSR want to make clear for the federal government is:

• Limitation on government authority to collect user information
• Subject executive orders to checks and balances by independent processes
• Make court rulings public on allowances of government surveillance
• Divulge all surveillance programs to the American public
• Allow the free flow of information
• Do not use government surveillance to cause conflicts with friendly nations

Mark Zuckerberg, chief executive officer for Facebook remarked : “Reports about government surveillance have shown there is a real need for greater disclosure and new limits on how governments collect information. The US government should take this opportunity to lead this reform effort and make things right.”

Elves, Avatars and 1 Million Requests: Surveillance Gone Wild
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