Category Archives: Spying

Australia’s Bluetooth-based contact tracing app deemed largely irrelevant

Says they’ve identified a total of … one person:

The PM told Australians in April the contact tracing app was key to getting back to normal but just one person has been identified using its data

Source: How did the Covidsafe app go from being vital to almost irrelevant? | World news | The Guardian

Remember, Singapore pulled their Bluetooth app. Norway used both Bluetooth and GPS and pulled their app for EU privacy problems. The UK’s been testing their Bluetooth app on the Isle of Wight – was supposed to have gone nationwide more than a month ago but since then, things have gone quiet.

Our temporary foreign work visas have turned into “spy visas”?

Politico says Silicon Valley is swarming with non-traditional spies, especially from China but also from other countries. Most are apparently working at tech companies in Silicon Valley and San Francisco.

It’s as if our program of recruiting hundreds of thousands of temporary tech workers from other countries (almost entirely from India and China) has turned into a self inflicted spying and IP theft operation. Who could have seen that coming?

Chinese officials bussed in 6,000-8,000 J-Visa holding students—threatening them with the loss of Chinese government funding

….

Chinese intelligence has long focused on surveilling, and attempting to control, Chinese nationals studying abroad. One well-documented mechanism for this effort has been the use of Chinese Students and Scholars Associations groups on university campuses.

Source: How Silicon Valley Became a Den of Spies – POLITICO Magazine

Data mining enables many companies to discern your health conditions

Data brokers compile health and frailty profiles that have wide-ranging applications for drug companies, advertisers, insurers and other buyers.

Source: How bits of captured data paint a stealth portrait of your health

They do not need access to your protected[1] health care records. Instead, companies are data mining your credit card purchases, your public social media, your online purchase habits and a host of other data points to guess at your health situation and assign you a “health score”.

This secret health score could be used by insurance companies to change your life insurance premiums, or by a prospective employer to deny you a job because your health score is not good enough for them.

You have no idea what data they have collected and analyzed, nor what score they have assigned to you. The data itself is often incorrect (as I recently found) and their assumptions about you are often wrong too. But there is no way to correct their secret health score.

Microsoft urges regulation of face-recognizing tech

  • When face recognition is used to gain access to a secure location or function, what happens when one’s likeness is stolen and reproduced?
  • What happens when the local police monitor all political rallies and use facial recognition to identify each individual in attendance?
  • What if businesses scan your face upon entry and dynamically change prices based on their estimates of your income and wealth?

Microsoft’s chief legal officer on Friday called for regulation of facial recognition technology due to the risk to privacy and human rights.

Source: Microsoft urges regulation of face-recognizing tech

Really glad to see Microsoft addressing these issues and working to take privacy seriously as a competitive alternative to Facebook and Google.

Disclosure: I am a former Microsoft employee.

#Google’s #Android was developed first and foremost as a spying tool, may be sanctioned by the European Union

For Google, the consequences could prove vast. Packaging tools like search, and including them on Android devices, offers the company a way to capture data about users — and show them more ads. Eliminating that pathway for profits and insight could prompt Google to rethink the entire ecosystem for Android, which it licenses to device makers free in a bid to ensure its wide-scale adoption while warding off such competitors as Apple.

Source: Google could face record European Union antitrust fine for Android – The Washington Post

A long time ago I recognized that Android is an invasive surveillance system. You see this in that to use GPS for any app, you are required to disclose your location directly to Google too. Google uses machines to monitor your location, to read your email, take notes and analyze your correspondence, including purchases and financial transactions that result in emailed receipts to you. Google’s Chrome is free because its main purpose is to track your every web page visit across the web as part of the Google surveillance network.

Google’s system, however, is also prone to erroneous conclusions and assumptions about us. I frequently receive email intended for someone else but Google does not know that and the content of that email is integrated into their (false) dossier on me. Today, one of California’s largest health systems emailed to my GMail account a 101 page detailed medical history of a patient, clearly violating HIPAA. First, in 2018, how is this even possible to email a medical record with no security? Second, Google’s artificial intelligence without question read this record and deduced aspects of my health – even though this record has nothing to do with my own health. Google’s AI won’t know that however because the patient has the same name as me.

Bottom line: Google’s “free” Android, Chrome, Gmail and other services are designed specifically as surveillance tools to gather as much information as possible about each and everyone of us for the purposing of marketing something to us. When we think of marketing, we usually think of products or perhaps services. But often times, the goal is to market ideas – and effectively this becomes a mechanism for highly focused propaganda messaging encouraging us to adopt someone else’s agenda.

Fascinating details: “The NSA’s Hidden Spy Hubs In Eight U.S. Cities”

These fortress-like AT&T buildings are central to a secret NSA program that has monitored billions of communications, documents and sources reveal.

Source: The NSA’s Hidden Spy Hubs In Eight U.S. Cities

Stephen Budiansky, in his book, Code Warriors, explains how the pre-cursor to the NSA tape recorded communications prior to and during WW II. As they worked to decrypt and interpret contemporary messages, access to older communications proved invaluable to understanding current events and why enemies were making the decisions they were making.

In a similar way, the NSA records and stores large quantities of communications in the event that a future situation will benefit from analysis of past communications. For this reason, the NSA built enormous data centers, such as the NSA Data Center near Provo, Utah, specifically to store enormous quantities of digital data including phone calls, radio signals, text messages, emails, and general Internet data traffic. Much of this data collection may never be accessed – except in time of national emergencies or war.

HP computers and data privacy and spying

I have an older HP desktop computer. I’ve long observed significant slow downs as various background tasks were underway and I had assumed it was just anti-virus software running in the background. But it was not – instead, the HP Support Assistance was frequently scanning the entire system, using 55% of the CPU and hogging the disk input/output, tremendously slowing down the system. I finally disabled the HP software as I had never seen any value from it.

Then I went to read the HP Privacy policy (which may be different today from what it was when I bought the computer years ago).

(Click on any image to read the full size screen capture of the HP privacy policy).

In addition to the data collected by HP, HP also “deduces” attributes about you, and collects data when you use social media logins to access anything. This means when you log in to a site using your Facebook login, data about your visit is collected by Facebook and shared with Facebook’s partners (which is literally the entire world).

HP remotely spies on your use of HP printers, collecting a database of pages printed, type of print media used, what ink you are using, including what brand of ink, and the names of the applications from which you print.

HP also purchases information from third party data services, social media networks and advertising networks. Ad networks are used to track every web site you visit online. HP uses this, as they disclose, to get your name, address, “preferences, interests and certain demographic data”. Clearly, HP is buying data about us from Facebook, Google and Twitter.

This example illustrates the pervasive – and nasty – web of anti-privacy efforts underway by the high tech industry. The entire industry works together to intensely monitor, intercept and collect enormous quantities of data about every one of us. Further, they use automated software systems to analyze and interpret this data to then draw inferences about us.

A previous post on my SocialPanic.org blog found that inferences made by Facebook and Twitter were completely wrong – but there is no way to correct that. In most cases there is no way to know what inferences companies like HP have made about us.)

What Can You Do?

  • Delete the HP support assistant. I have found no value from having run it on this computer for many years. Optionally, disable it in the Windows Task Scheduler so it does not run.
  • Delete or disable other software that you do not need or us.
  • Do not use social media logins to web sites other than the social media web site.
  • Use privacy enhanced browsing to minimize tracking across the web. First, never use Chrome. Google logs every web site you visit. Use the Epic Privacy Browser or use Mozilla Firefox with the Privacy Badger and Ghostery plug ins. Use the Cookie-AutoDelete plugin to automatically remove tracking cookies when leaving a web site (you can optionally “white list” web sites so that cookies and logins remain active, if you wish).
  • The Epic Privacy Browser includes access to a proxy server to hide your IP address from web sites.
  • When using mobile phones, note that operating systems such as Android always track your location if Location Services is enabled (such as using mapping). Most people leave Location Services on all the time, and Google uses that to build a database of everywhere you travel and every place you visit. Google also records information about WiFi networks and Bluetooth devices within range of your phone. Even when location services is turned off, WiFi access points and even some Bluetooth devices can reveal your location anyway. Disabling WiFi and Bluetooth will reduce this data collection.

The tech industry has been operating in a free wheeling, Orwellian 1984 world of intense spying on everyone who uses online services including web sites, monitoring our email communications, our social media Likes, every where we travel, and even monitoring our use of home printers.

Automobiles are also now collecting information about our use of the vehicles, including our driving habits and locations visited.

They argue that if we don’t like this, then we should not use online services or we should not use printers or we should not drive a car. These arguments are wholly unrealistic.

Yet most people seem oblivious to this: Facebook has been widely exposed as a massive global surveillance network and propaganda platform – yet financial analysts say they see little harm to Facebook’s business as few seem to care.

Private Prison Phone Company tracking location of all cell phone users, nationwide

They collect cell phone location data collected by all major cellular phone carriers, and then sell that location data to law enforcement agencies (no warrant needed). The data is used to conduct surveillance on potentially everyone in the U.S. who has a cellular phone.

Source: Senator Wyden Demands Answers from Prison Phone Service Caught Sharing Cellphone Location Data | Electronic Frontier Foundation

When the FCC mandated “wireless 911” technology so that phones would be required to report their position to 911 operators, I predicted this would be used for surveillance purposes and was, in fact, the primary goal.

Should you delete your #Facebook account? Yes, if you can #DeleteFacebook

I’ve written a detailed of explanation of the enormous quantity of data that Facebook is accumulating on each of us, and some of the shocking methods they use to spy on us. That explanation is available at my Learn2C (programming) web site.

At its core, Facebook is a global surveillance and propaganda platform and nothing more.

They are using every possible method to track our online activities, our mobile device activities (location, phone and text message data, web access), our offline activities (yes, they know when you bought something at a retail store having nothing to do with Facebook) and how they harvest our Group memberships, Page Likes and Post Likes to develop elaborate models for each of us – to describe our behavior, our interest and activities, our physical and mental health, our “hot issues” and more. It is truly frightening what Facebook is doing.

For those reasons I no longer believe it is save for anyone to use Facebook. If you do not understand what the problem is with Facebook , you need to read my essay.

A follow up post will discuss ways to minimize Facebook’s surveillance if you are not able to delete your account at this time.