• U.K. revives sweeping digital surveillance scheme

    The U.K. government has revived a sweeping surveillance scheme killed by its Labor predecessor last December; the scheme will require that every e-mail, phone call, and Web site visit be recorded and stored, allowing the security and police authorities to track every phone call, e-mail, text message, and Web site visit made by the public if they argue it is needed to tackle crime or terrorism; the information will include who is contacting whom, when, and where — and which Web sites are visited, but not the content of the conversations or messages

  • U.S. to make Internet wiretaps easier

    The Obama administration plans to submit a bill next year that would require all online services that enable communications to be technically equipped to comply with a wiretap order; this would include providers of encrypted e-mail, such as BlackBerry, networking sites like Facebook, and direct communication services like Skype; federal law enforcement and national security officials say new the regulations are needed because terrorists and criminals are increasingly giving up their phones to communicate online

  • Case against teachers using Web cams to monitor students' bedrooms, laptops dropped

    Federal investigations into whether a Pennsylvania school district used school-issue laptops to take pictures of students — and of what they were doing in their bed rooms and online — did not yield enough evidence to file charges; Lower Merion School District monitored more than 40 students who were issued laptop computers; the monitoring generated 30,881 Webcam photographs of students, and 27,761 screenshots of Web sites they visited

  • Indian government: Google, Skype will follow BlackBerry in being forced to open networks

    The Indian government, in a meeting last month with representatives of network operators and Internet service providers, said that after RIM was forced to open BlackBerry-based communication to government eavesdropping, Google and Skype would be asked to do the same — or face bans on some of their services in India; It is unlikely that the Indian government is interested in Google’s search business, but about twenty million Indians are active on Google’s social networking service, Orkut, which encourages them to communicate with each other over Google Talk

  • U.S., too, uneasy with encrypted communication

    The U.S. said it hoped RIM and foreign governments would find a compromise over BlackBerry encryption, but successive U.S. administrations tried to limit the export of encrypted technologies so U.S. spy agencies would have unfettered access to government and private communications abroad; until 1996 encryption at the level commonly in use today was classified by U.S. export regulations as “munitions”

  • Growing privacy concerns over Google's Street View

    Worries about the privacy invasion by Google’s Street View project have led several countries to scrutinize the ambitious mapping project; Goolge offers concerned home owners the opportunity to submit a request to have their houses taken off the service, but a Google spokeswoman admits that “Processing these requests and applying blurring is a complex task which takes time”; concerns about privacy infringement were only heightened when it was learned that Google, inadvertently perhaps, also picks up private WiFi communication in the process of updating its maps — and that a Google U.K. executive has purchased a surveillance UAV (he said it was for personal use)

  • New age of pervasive surveillance, robot spies to test privacy

    The author of a new study of the evolving surveillance landscape says: “In 50 years’ time there won’t be much privacy left. There’s going to be information everywhere. So what matters is who owns it, and the oversight”; there is an added danger: “Once you go over to data mining you are essentially handing the process over to robots, who roam through this material looking for patterns of suspicious activity”

  • Street microphones eavesdrop on crimes

    The city of Coventry has installed microphones on street at the city center; the microphones detect suspect sounds, including trigger words spoken at normal volumes as well as angry or panicked exchanges before they become violent; operators can then direct police straight to the scene

  • European bodies give Google mixed signals on data retention

    The European Commission wants Google to erase personally identifiable information from its logs after six months — but members of the European Parliament are calling for laws to require Google to retain more data for longer; these MEPs argue the data will help catch pedophiles

  • Coalition of tech heavy-weights wants U.S. privacy law revamped for Internet age

    A coalition of technology giants wants the U.S. government to revamp Internet privacy laws and make more suitable for the new age in communication; the traditional standard for the government to search one’s home or office and read one’s mail or seize one’s personal papers is a judicial warrant, the coalition says that the law needs to be clear that the same standard applies to e-mail and documents stored with a service provider; the need to update Internet privacy strictures is especially urgent now because of three trends: the popularity of smart phones with global satellite positioning features has led to a hot trend of companies offering services that play off of where people are at any given moment; and the recent economic meltdown added momentum to a shift toward people using software programs hosted as services in the Internet “cloud” instead of buying and installing applications on machines; people are also increasingly storing personal information, pictures, and videos at online social- networking or data storage Web sites

  • Toronto police to buy encrypted radios

    The Toronto police will spend CAN$35 million on encrypted radios; new system may shut out public eavesdroppers — by tow-truck drivers, the media, scanning enthusiasts — starting with the June 2010 G20 summit

  • German court says EU phone, e-mail data retention policy must be changed

    In 2006 the EU approved a law requiring phone and e-mail providers to hold customer data for six months in case the data is needed by law enforcement; a German Federal Constitution Court called the law “inadmissable” and ruled that changes would be needed to limit its scope

  • FBI wants two year retention for ISP data

    Since 1986 U.S. phone companies have been obliged to keep records of who makes calls, who they call, when they call, and how long the call lasts; Now, the Feds want to include Web activity tools; it is not clear is whether the FBI means which Web sites are visited or the specific URLs

  • Tories say they will set up a permanent “War Cabinet”

    The Conservative Party is favored to win the next general elections in Britain, which will be held before the summer; on Friday the party’s leader, David Cameron, set out the party’s national security plan, emphasizing cybersecurity

  • Canadian government finds support for Internet surveillance scheme

    The Canadian federal government wants to broaden its Internet surveillance capabilities; the Security Intelligence Review Committee, the watch-dog over Canada’s spy agencies, supports the idea