You don’t often expect wisdom in the Miami Herald, but here it is, in the Weekend Section no less:
Indeed, where are all the armed demos against the “No Shirt, No Shoes, No Service” signs?
Kevin Drum tips me over the edge:
This year’s Academy Award for the most pregnant use of an adverb goes to a Senior Administration Official speaking to the Washington Post about the homeless in Los Angeles:
We’re not rounding people up or anything yet. You guys in the media get too ahead of yourselves.
Quite so. All they’re doing is looking at cavernous storage facilities near the airport that might be used someday for rounding up the homeless. Why is everyone getting so upset already?
Sean Shaw is running for Attorney General of Florida. I had the pleasure of hearing Sean Shaw give a terrific speech yesterday.
(Apologies to those who hate portrait-mode video.)
Sean Shaw’s father, by the way, was Florida Chief Justice Leander Shaw.
At UM’s Data Privacy Day event I made 10 suggestions about what you can do to protect your e-privacy and autonomy. Here they are:
- Trust cyber-civil liberties NGOs like EFF to recommend things to use and to do. If you take away nothing else, remember this URL: Eff.org.
- Use EFF’s Privacy Badger browser plugin.
- Take their audit – Panopticlick – of how unique your browser fingerprint is. Unique fingerprints are a way you can be tracked. Block cookies and super-cookies.
- Use their Https Everywhere tool
- Find the EFF surveillance self-defense guide. It offers advice tailored for different groups that might have greater / lesser needs for privacy/defense (e.g. LGBTQ, activists, journalists, lawyers, activists).
- Use VPNs — virtual private networks. And only use good ones – be careful about jurisdiction and policies:
- The UM off-campus VPN is a valuable service, and good to protect against third parties … but not against UM. Does UM log your usage? Do they record your originating IP#? The sites you visit? Despite some frantic Google searches, I can’t tell — it seems they don’t say. I think therefore you have to assume they do. And if were the UM General Counsel my first instinct would probably be to say they need to do the logging to protect themselves.
- Is your VPN service dirt-cheap or free? Does the service cost only a few dollars for a lifetime service? There’s probably a reason for that and your browsing history may be the actual product that the company is selling to others.
- Look for establishment in a democratic country with a strong commitment to the rule of law. Without that, even the best promises in the Terms of Service (ToS) to not log web page access OR IP# and access times is meaningless. Note that many, probably most, VPNs in most other countries are required to do some logging.https://it.miami.edu/a-z-listing/virtual-private-network/index.html
- Does the VPN promise to prevent DNS leakage to your ISP?
- Ideally, the VPN should support IPv6 as well as IPv4 to prevent leakage when the remote site is on IPv6. This will become more important in the future as more and more sites move to IPv6.
- Use Tor as much as possible. (But see #8 below.)
- Inspect your browser settings on your phone and computer to set max privacy options (including blocking 3rd party cookies and enabling Do Not Track). Use a privacy hardened browser on your phone such as the Warp browser. On both computer and phone always use a search engine such as Duckduckgo that will not track you.
- Encrypt every drive, every email (when possible), and especially all cloud-stored data before uploading it.
- Get a password manager and use it – never re-use a password. Use 2-factor authentication for google, other services that support it. (Only 10% of google users do!)
- Don’t put any apps on your phone that connect to anything financial (due to risk of ID theft if phone stolen).
- Lobby UM to make it easier to use VPNs and Tor, on both the wired and wireless networks. Ask UM to be more transparent about what cookies its web pages set and what they track and record. And, importantly, ask UM to not require you take every single UM cookie in order to use the “remember me for 30 days” feature of its authentication app DUO. Also, ask UM to promise that it has your back, and that it will challenge any request for your data to the maximum extent the law allows (right now it makes no such promises at all; even National Security letters are sometimes withdrawn if the data-holding entity says it will go to court to ask for it to be reviewed).
- Lobby for privacy laws that limit data collection – once data are collected major First Amendment issues come into play, making it hard to limit use and re-use of accurate data. Also lobby to stop the US government secretly introducing vulnerabilities into fundamental crypto standards.
- Resist the frame: understand that the true definition of the ‘greater good’ is one in which the individual is able to flourish. Remember that ‘terrorist’ is a label that fits best after conviction – before that what we have is a ‘suspect’; conceivably any of us can be a suspect. So arguments that we should control crypto or prevent privacy in order to give law enforcement access to all our data when they decide they need it should be viewed with great caution and a firm eye on how the powers they want could be misused by them or by others who get hold of their tools. And even if we someday find ourselves in a world where things have gone badly wrong, and we do find ourselves subject to pervasive surveillance, follow Vaclav Havel, who in his great work ‘Living in Truth’ reminded us that so long as we choose not to self-censor we have chosen not to surrender a key part of our freedom.
(Some links added after original posting)
You might be tempted to dismiss NY: Police are blackmailing motorists into installing cellphone monitoring devices as an aberrant act by local cops were it not sponsored by an international firm that supplies the monitoring technology.
As far as I can tell, the enforcement authority pushing the so-called ‘Distracted Driver Education Program’ (DDEP) is local Nassau County, not the ‘feds’ as reported in the article. “Blackmailing” also isn’t the word I would choose here, but by any standard it’s a pretty ferocious plea bargain deal.
Even more worrying, the attempt to find ways to get people to pay to spy on themselves and on others for the benefit of law enforcement echos this incident, Police Demand Shop Install Surveillance, Give Cops Full Feed, and also Right to Ban Customers, that I blogged about a month ago.
This is a trend that bears watching.