The Guardian "liberated" a video demonstration put together by the defense firm Raytheon in which a cheerful fellow explains how the new Riot software can track where you've been and what you've doing, thanks to the GPS in your mobile device. I suppose similar capabilities have been around for a while, but Riot makes hyper-accurate spying as easy as using Google. In fact, the interface looks exactly like Google's.
The power of Riot to harness popular websites for surveillance offers a rare insight into controversial techniques that have attracted interest from intelligence and national security agencies, at the same time prompting civil liberties and online privacy concerns.
The sophisticated technology demonstrates how the same social networks that helped propel the Arab Spring revolutions can be transformed into a "Google for spies" and tapped as a means of monitoring and control.
Using Riot it is possible to gain an entire snapshot of a person's life – their friends, the places they visit charted on a map – in little more than a few clicks of a button.
In the video obtained by the Guardian, it is explained by Raytheon's "principal investigator" Brian Urch that photographs users post on social networks sometimes contain latitude and longitude details – automatically embedded by smartphones within so-called "exif header data."
Riot pulls out this information, showing not only the photographs posted onto social networks by individuals, but also the location at which the photographs were taken.
The responses to this video, so far, have been predictable. Many people are unnerved, as well they ought to be. Others have retreated to those standard defeatist cliches: "Nothing you do on the internet will ever be private, so just suck it up." "If you're not doing anything wrong, you have nothing to worry about."
That last phrase (and yes, I'm going to repeat this line each and every time) was commonly heard in the days of Nazi Germany.
Here's a better response: Fight.
We don't have to live with these intrusions. We have a right to demand regulations and laws which will protect our privacy. For example, why should our camera phones record location when we take a photo? The EXIF information should record only that data which we wish to have recorded.
Those devices are ours. We pay for them. They should work the way we want them to work.
Similarly, the law should make it impossible for Facebook to transmit any personal data without a warrant.
Why isn't there a larger movement favoring internet privacy legislation? Why isn't there a lobbying group for a comprehensive Internet Privacy Act? Your forebears would never have allowed anyone to track their movements or to read their private letters. Why does the current generation passively accept spying?
Ratzinger announces he will abdicate. ('Abdicate' is the right word; he's a monarch.)
There must be a big rift.
Watch for a Belgian connection.
Decision on whether or not to release Dutroux expected next week.
Hello Cardinal Danneels...
posted by b : 11:08 AM
"Google for spies." But I thought that Google WAS for spies. Isn't that's why it was created? And Facebook as well? So we can be monitored and our web surfing tracked and recorded? GOOG and FB are "private" companies that work closely with government agencies that in part funded the creation of those two private entities. What harm could it do? I don't know. What harm could the 1.6 billion hollow point bullets our government has ordered do? (That's five for each one of us with plenty left over.) What harm could 30,000 drones do? There's a word for a form of government where private industry and government agencies blend together and become one, but I can't think of it right now. Think it starts with an "f."
posted by cracker : 9:11 PM
cracker, spot on. You may recall that Joesph has recommended a couple of non-tracking search engines for us to use instead of Google (and the other well know ones, which probably all track your every search and hand over anything the government requests, warrant free). He also has always advised us to avoid FB like the plague (something I haven't done, but wish I had).
posted by Gus : 11:31 AM
The secure search engine I used wasn't all that good.
I used "StartPage" to search "F---ing Pigs" (without the dashes), and all the results were really nasty porn sites.
Given what's been going on, and how subversive "anonymous search engine" sounds, I would have thought this one would have turned up a first page result alluding to "Officers of the Law". But, nope. SOL.
Gee, it's like someone or something is limiting anti-establishment type search results.