Spooks, Snoops and Karma

As if Obama’s drones peering through your drapes don’t give you the heebie-geebies, this should scare the cornflakes out of you.

Mr. O’Connor, 27, bought some plastic boxes and stuffed them with a $25, credit-card size Raspberry Pi Model A computer and a few over-the-counter sensors, including Wi-Fi adapters. He connected each of those boxes to a command and control system, and he built a data visualization system to monitor what the sensors picked up: all the wireless traffic emitted by every nearby wireless device, including smartphones.

Each box cost $57. He produced 10 of them, and then he turned them on – to spy on himself. He could pick up the Web sites he browsed when he connected to a public Wi-Fi – say at a cafe – and he scooped up the unique identifier connected to his phone and iPad. Gobs of information traveled over the Internet in the clear, meaning they were entirely unencrypted and simple to scoop up.

Even when he didn’t connect to a Wi-Fi network, his sensors could track his location through Wi-Fi “pings.” His iPhone pinged the iMessage server to check for new messages. When he logged on to an unsecured Wi-Fi, it revealed what operating system he was using on what kind of device, and whether he was using Dropbox or went on a dating site or browsed for shoes on an e-commerce site. One site might leak his e-mail address, another his photo.

“Actually it’s not hard,” he concluded. “It’s terrifyingly easy.”

Two encrypted email services shut down within 24 hours to avoid imperial entanglements.

Lavabit was created in 2004, in response to the Patriot Act, says [Ladar] Levison. He and friends from Southern Methodist University decided to create an email service by geeks for geeks. Levison was concerned that the FBI could send a company a national security letter (NSL) that would force them to turn over information about a customer without going through a court first. “I wanted to put myself in the position of not having information to turn over,” he said. “I didn’t want to be put in the position of compromising people’s privacy without due process.”

Levison isn’t an privacy absolutist. He has cooperated in the past with government investigations. He says he’s received “two dozen” requests over the last ten years, and in cases where he had information, he would turn over what he had. Sometimes he had nothing; messages deleted from his service are deleted permanently.

“I’m not trying to protect people from law enforcement,” he said. “If information is unencrypted and law enforcement has a court order, I hand it over.”

In this case, it is the government’s method that bothers him. “The methods being used to conduct those investigations should not be secret,” he said.

Wonder how long it will be before some history-steeped entrepreneur resurrects the Pony Express?

You know what they say about Karma. And now Caryn McBride, former editor of Journal News gets it.

Journal News came under heavy criticism after their 2012 decision to publish the names and addresses of all gun owners, but no repercussions ever occurred. Now the Times reports that McBride had called the Clarkstown Police Department to notify them of complaints and angry phone calls after the newspaper published the map.

Though the editor felt threatened by the complaints, police didn’t believe there was enough to warrant an arrest and/or police protection. Many responded to the newspaper’s actions by publishing their own, “Where are the Journal News employees in your neighborhood?” This prompted the staff to hire armed security guards.

Quite a load of hypocrites in our book. How is it fair to hire armed security guards for yourself (under no credible threats) but gun owners can’t protect themselves with firearms in their own home. Looks like after a long period we finally have some closure to this terrible act by Journal News. Hopefully these media contributors have learned a lesson about respecting privacy and the Second Amendment.

Get off my lawn.

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