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Tag Archives: surveillance

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Thoughts on power dynamics in smart cities

Technology, especially measuring and monitoring technology, does not exist in a power vacuum. As we struggle with getting our hands on data and finding the best ways of extracting insights, we should also give some thought to power dynamics. Reading this may get the process started. Life in a smart city is a frictionless; free […]

Metadata is still fair game in the US

A recent case gave hope to those who wanted the n=all collection of telephone transaction-generated data to cease. But only court that can overrule Smith v Maryland is the Supreme Court. Now a FISA court has explicitly declined to follow Judge Leon. So n=all continues. A telephone company asked the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court in […]

Post-Snowden, location matters in cloud decisions

In our contribution to the 2013 UNCTAD Information Economy Report, we talked about the likely importance of place in cloud services purchasing decisions: The storage of data in multiple, usually foreign, jurisdictions raises a different set of regulatory issues including data protection and police investigatory powers. The jurisdictional issues are anchored on the location of […]

The 80:20 rule in electronic communication surveillance

Last week, LIRNEasia taught a course on broadband policy and regulation in Sohna. One of the modules was on privacy and surveillance. One of the instructors was Sunil Abraham, acknowledged for his thoughtful and creative approach to sticky ICT policy questions. Drawing a diagram, he pointed out that if surveillance was exclusively focused on the […]

Why is India the biggest user of VPNs?

The mass surveillance apparatus promised by the Government of India has yet to kick in, but according to a survey (the method is not fully reported, so we cannot vouch for veracity), Indians are already taking precautions. Asia accounts for four of the world’s top five VPN-using countries, although Indian netizens are more likely to […]

In 90 days, a report on “big data” and privacy from the White House

John Podesta is no stranger to privacy issues. I can remember some interactions with him in the context of the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC) during the Clinton Presidency. He has now been tasked with producing a big data-privacy report in 90 days. We are undergoing a revolution in the way that information about our […]

Privacy of non-Americans: Is this enough?

President Obama’s first response to the revelations of NSA malfeasance was jarring to many, an unhappiness articulated by Pratap Bhanu Mehta. Now we have Obama’s considered response: Mr. Obama also said he was taking the “unprecedented step” of extending privacy safeguards to non-Americans, including requiring that data collected abroad be deleted after a certain period […]

Placing weight on anonymity versus privacy?

For too long, the field of privacy has been becalmed by religious fealty to a concept propounded by two New England aristocrats who were annoyed by paparazzi taking pictures of a party in a home. The ill-considered explosion set off by the NSA in its zeal to prevent all future acts of terror has opened […]

Internet balkanization, courtesy of NSA

One of the reasons we opposed the ill-considered efforts by ETNO and others to impose sending-party-network-pays charging on Internet traffic was the danger of balkanization: differential access to the Internet from different countries or splinternet. We beat back that effort in a temporary alliance with the US State Department, but little did we know that […]

Reliable without single points of failure, low latency and no snooping

Since 2010, we at LIRNEasia have been engaged with problems of international backhaul. Renesys, an authoritative voice in this space, has a nice summary of developments in 2013. Here is their conclusion, influenced no doubt by the incredible damage done to US players in this space by the indiscriminate snooping of NSA. Increasingly, simply having […]

A cogent argument on giving primacy to security over surveillance

I once invited Bruce Schnier to speak on cryptography at a Ohio State U conference. He came and gave a good talk. But he’s now a star. He exposed the NSA inserting back doors into national cryptography standards. Here is his big picture analysis: Not only is ubiquitous surveillance ineffective, it is extraordinarily costly. I […]

Predicting political leanings from taste in music

We think about transaction-generated data (TGD) a lot. The essence is that data generated as a by-product of some activity (and which is therefore highly accurate) can tell us more about behavior (even future behavior) than all the questionnaires in the world. Behavior associated with music, closely tied to emotion,seems like an even better candidate […]

Anywhere but the USA?

In a recent contribution to a just-published UNCTAD report on cloud computing we said: The other aspect of the problem is whether data are subject to the laws of the jurisdictions where the cloud computing companies are located. For example, take the case of a company in Country A using the services of a cloud […]

Have people’s relationships with their phones changed qualitatively since 1979?

This was a central claim in the highly significant ruling made by Federal District Court in Washington DC: In a 68-page ruling, Judge Leon said the N.S.A. program that systematically gathers records of Americans’ phone calls was most likely unconstitutional, rejecting the Obama administration’s argument that a 1979 case, Smith v. Maryland, was a controlling […]

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