Legal News

Repo Scan: License Plate Readers Fuel Private Surveillance Industry

The privacy issues surrounding the use of license plate scanners isn’t exactly a new story. After all, none other than the ACLU published a report on the topic last year. The title of that report: “You Are Being Tracked” left little to the imagination.   But The Boston Globe presents a troubling picture of how far and fast license plate scanning has come, and how the combination of super-efficient scanning with cloud based applications and Big Data analytics are empowering private companies to surveil law abiding citizens across much of the country. OnTuesday, reporter Shawn Musgrave reported on the phenomenon of automobile repossession firms in Massachusetts using powerful, car-mounted license plate readers to troll mall parking lots and commuter stations for cars whose owners are behind in their payments. The cameras scan the plates of all vehicles that they pass – delinquent or not – and send the images to […]

Facebook Joins In Tech Industry Demands For Surveillance Reform

Facebook on Tuesday reiterated calls for reform of laws pertaining to government surveillance practices in the U.S. and elsewhere. The company, in a blog post, urged governments to stop bulk collection of data and enact reforms to limit governments’ authority to collect users information to pertain to “individual users” for “lawful purposes.” The company also called for more oversight of national intelligence agencies such as the US National Security Agency, and more transparency about government requests for data. The blog post was authored by Facebook general counsel Colin Stretch. Facebook reiterated its calls for surveillance reform in recognition of “The Day We Fight Back,” a grass roots effort to use Tuesday, February 11th as a day to rally support for more civil liberties protections.   [Read more Security Ledger coverage of Facebook here.] The date is the one year anniversary of the suicide of Internet activist Aaron Swartz. Leading online […]

FTC Approves Settlement Over Leaky Surveillance Cam

The US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) announced on Friday that it has approved a settlement with TRENDnet, Inc. over lax security features in its line of SecurView cameras. The FTC said on Friday that it has approved a final order settling charges against the company, whose cameras were found to be poorly secured against external attackers, who could access them and use them to spy on the homes and private lives of hundreds of consumers. [See also: Apple Store Favorite IZON Cameras Riddled with Holes] The FTC complaint stems from a February, 2012 case in which independent security analysts with the web site Console Cowboys published details on how a firmware flaw allowed authentication for Internet-connected SecurView cameras to be bypassed, giving any Internet user (with the know-how) the ability to view the surveillance camera’s live feed. The Commission first announced a settlement with TRENDnet, a Torrance, California company, in September of […]

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US Allows More Talk About Surveillance Orders

The U.S. Department of Justice has acceded to requests from some large, technology firms, allowing them to post more specific information about government requests for data on their users, according to a report by The New York Times. In a statement released on Monday, Attorney General Eric Holder and James R. Clapper, the Director of National Intelligence, the new rules allowing some declassification followed a speech by President Obama calling for intelligence reform. “The administration is acting to allow more detailed disclosures about the number of national security orders and requests issued to communications providers, and the number of customer accounts targeted under those orders and requests including the underlying legal authorities,” the joint statement reads. “Through these new reporting methods, communications providers will be permitted to disclose more information than ever before to their customers.” [Read more Security Ledger coverage of the NSA surveillance story.] Previously, companies were prohibited from […]

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Famed Hacker Barnaby Jack Died Of Accidental Overdose

Barnaby Jack, the world-renowned hacker who was found dead in his San Francisco apartment in July died of an accidental overdose of cocaine, heroin and prescription drugs, according to a report released by the San Francisco Medical Examiner’s office.  The news was first reported by the website theverge.com. Jack, a 36-year-old New Zealand resident was found unresponsive in bed, surrounded by bottles of pills, empty bottles of beer and champagne and evidence of “illicit drug use,” the Medical Examiner’s report states. Jack had traces of cocaine, heroin, Xanax, and Benadryl in his system at the time of death. Jack was one of the most gifted security researchers of his generation. The head of embedded device security at the firm IOActive, Jack electrified audiences with his demonstrations of vulnerabilities in devices such as ATMs and implantable insulin pumps. In a now-famous “Jackpotting” demonstration, he demonstrated a remotely exploitable hole affecting bank automated teller machines […]