Obama proposes FISA reforms
The great surveillance debate is about to heat up again, as President Obama has proposed reforms to the FISA court process in an attempt to address the criticisms of the NSA surveillance program. It will be fascinating to see how this debate evolves. Many of the reforms seem to make sense and suggest a willingness to reach a consensus on this issue. Still, many critics were not impressed. We’ll see how this goes.
Securing your mobile phone from criminals
Closeup of a female speaking outside on a cell phone. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Security issues are continually shoved to the forefront of headlines as crime rates rise, populations increase and the economy struggles. Everyone wants to be safe – and to keep their possessions and loved ones safe, as well – but financial considerations make it impossible for many working class Americans to get the surveillance cameras, security systems and other tools needed to do the job.
But many people fail to realize all the ways that a cell phone can help families stay safe. With built-in cameras, recording devices, GPS systems and tons of apps, with proper training most anyone can use the phone as a security device. Make sure teens with phones know this valuable information, and remind coworkers and spouses of these tips to keep them safe, too.
Apps are available that alert friends and family members in case of an emergency. Simply engage the app and it notifies several people via numbers preprogrammed into the phone, so that someone nearby can offer help. The numbers you desire are called or sent text messages, so that if someone is in trouble it isn’t necessary to stop and call everyone who may or may not be in a position to assist. These apps can be true lifesavers. Both landline phones and cellular numbers can be programmed to call.
Other apps will periodically send the GPS location of the phone to a designated person so they can help make sure you’re safe at all times. This is the perfect app for parents who worry about teens out with friends, but is also a great thing for moms toting small children around town and for traveling business people who are frequently in high-risk locations and situations. Anyone who is frequently out and about can benefit from this safety app.
Another security app available has a panic button which can be activated whenever the phone user feels threatened or is in danger. The button begins a countdown, and if the user doesn’t disable it within the set period of time, the phone automatically sends a message to a previously chosen person. The app then continues to track the location of the phone user, so if there is foul play, they’re easily located. This app can be activated as the user leaves work after dark, and if that person never arrives safely to the car, the phone signals the alert.
Some apps can also be preprogrammed to call emergency numbers, such as the police and fire department, in addition to or instead of friends and family members. These apps work much like alerts used by disabled and elderly people who live alone. This app is an excellent choice for single people and people living or working in locations far from home – such as college students.
For people serious about the security of their family members, these apps offer peace of mind, and are potential life savers. This is an excellent way to put the GPS capabilities of the phone to good use. Need a new security system? You may already have one on hand.
Security gifts for the home
The holidays are here so everyone is going crazy getting gifts. One area that is perhaps overlooked at times for gifts is home security, though now with all sorts of surveillance gadgets tied to the Internet, you have some really cool options in this area that can make for great gifts.
Here’s one that is highlighted in the Bullz-Eye.com Holiday Gift Guide for the home:
iZON Remote Room Monitor
If anyone in your family or circle of friends has just had a baby or is expecting, this cool new monitor from Stem Innovation makes a great gift. This innovative and elegant video camera enables you to view and listen to activity in your home or office from anywhere in the world on your iPod touch, iPhone or iPad. You can use it as a baby monitor, or as a monitor in your home when the babysitter is watching your kid. It can also be used as a security device as well so it also makes a great gift for anyone who’s interested in a video monitor. Privacy is also protected ensured as iZON uses secure encryption to stream video and audio through your local wireless network. Set up multiple iZON on a single network and view in a list within the app.
It’s amazing how flexible these tools are these days, and here you have an easy dual use device that can be a baby monitor but also so much more. It’s a great way to keep an eye on your home, kids, pets etc. Check it out.
Posted in: Internet, Security, Surveillance
Tags: 2011 holiday gift guide, best security apps, cool security apps, fun security apps, home security, hot security apps, Internet surveillance, iZON Remote Room Monitor, killer security apps, online surveillance, protect your home, remote surveillance, security app reviews, security apps, security for your home, security gadget reviews, security gadgets, streaming surveillance, surveillance cameras, surveillance equipment, surveillance gadgets
Appeals court says you can film and record police officers
This is a great ruling, and not really unexpected. It’s outrageous that cops tried to prevent citizens from recording them:
We’ve had a lot of stories this year about police arresting people for filming them. It’s become quite a trend. Even worse, a couple weeks ago, we wrote about a police officer in Massachusetts, Michael Sedergren, who is trying to get criminal wiretapping charges brought against a woman who filmed some police officers beating a guy. This officer claims that the woman violated Massachusetts anti-wiretapping law, a common claim from police in such situations.
Segederin may have been better off if he’d waited a couple weeks for an appeals court ruling that came out Friday, because that ruling found that arresting someone for filming the police is a clear violation of both the First Amendment and the Fourth Amendment of the Constitution. How the case got to this point is a bit complex, but basically, a guy named Simon Glik saw some police arresting someone in Boston, and thought they were using excessive force. He took out his camera phone and began recording. The police saw that and told him to stop taking pictures. He told them he was recording them, and that he’d seen them punch the guy they were arresting. One officer asked him if the phone recorded audio as well and Glik told him it did. At that point, they arrested him, saying that recording audio was a violation of Massachusetts wiretap laws.
Even more ridiculous, they then had him charged not just with that, but also with disturbing the peace and “aiding in the escape of a prisoner.” After realizing that last one didn’t even pass the guffaw test, Massachusetts officials dropped that charge. A Boston court then dumped the other charges and Glik was free. However, he wanted to take things further, as he thought his treatment was against the law. He first filed a complaint with Boston Police Internal Affairs who promptly set about totally ignoring it. After they refused to investigate, Glik sued the officers who arrested him and the City of Boston in federal court for violating both his First and Fourth Amendment rights. The police officers filed for qualified immunity, which is designed to protect them from frivolous charges from people they arrest.
The district court rejected the officers’ rights to qualified immunity, saying that their actions violated the First & Fourth Amendments. Before the rest of the case could go on, the officers appealed, and that brings us to Friday’s ruling, which, once again, unequivocally states that recording police in public is protected under the First Amendment, and that the use of Massachusetts wiretapping laws to arrest Glik was a violation of his Fourth Amendment rights as well. The ruling (pdf) is a fantastic and quick read and makes the point pretty clearly. Best of all, it not only says that it was a clear violation, but that the officers were basically full of it in suggesting that this was even in question. The court more or less slams the officers for pretending they had a valid excuse to harass a guy who filmed them arresting someone.
Read the rest of the post at Tech Dirt which also links to the opinion.
Posted in: News, Policies, Privacy, Security, Surveillance
Tags: cops, filming bad cops, filming cops, filming police, filming police officer abuse, First Amendment, free speech, Michael Sedergren, police, police officer, recording cops, recording police, right to film cops, right to film police, Simon Glik
Erin Andrews still fighting to take down videos
The beautiful Erin Andrews was violated a while back when some creep used a camera to film her undressing through the peep hole in the door to her hotel room. She’s still trying to deal with the videos taken from that incident.
But Andrews was also traumatized when peephole stalker Michael David Barrett posted nude videos of her that went viral. Barrett was sentenced to 2 1/2 years in prison for interstate stalking. That sentence wasn’t nearly long enough for Andrews who blasted him as a “sexual predator” in court.
Andrews is buying copyrights of the videos in an attempt to take them down for good. Still, she’s reminded of her frightening experience every day on Twitter, where she has over 645,000 followers. She has a warning for any famous athlete, celebrity or media personality who wants to play the social media game. Learn to accept criticism. Ignore the urge to fire back — no matter how much you want to.
4 Ways to Guarantee Home Safety
They say an Englishman’s home is his castle, but the same idea could equally be applied to anyone no matter where they live. Your home is your private dwelling and naturally you want to feel secure in your home. Unfortunately, even the safety of the home can be compromised by various things from acts of nature to people breaking in and stealing your possessions.
Luckily, there are a number of things you can do to protect your home and guarantee safety in your house.
1. Get Contents Insurance
Unfortunately, if you have any accidents in your home such as a fire, there is a good chance that you will lose a number of your precious and valuable possessions. One way to counteract this is to take out a contents insurance policy that will safeguard you in the event you lose any valuable or even everyday items. Many policies also have a clause that covers cash in your home, as well as valuables you may have in the garden. Of course, there may be some personal items and mementos that will be irreplaceable, but it is reassuring to know that other more common items can be insured and replaced should you have an accident.
2. Flood Insurance
Depending on where you live, you may also want to consider taking out a separate policy that offers flood insurance for your home. This is essential for people that live near large bodies of water, in low lying areas of land or near the ocean. Nature can be unpredictable at the best of times, and as a flood is a relatively rare occurrence, you may find that it is not covered on your standard contents insurance policy. Taking out an agreement that protects you from flood damage will give you peace of mind, especially during the next heavy thunderstorm.
3. Home Alarm Systems
Anybody who has been burgled will tell you that it is an invasive and horrifying experience. However, the sad truth is that many people could have helped prevent a burglary of their home by installing an alarm system. Not only will this precaution alert the local authorities should anybody try to gain unwanted access to your home, but the alarm box and system that works it are usually placed on the front wall of the house, acting as a clear deterrent for any passing burglar who thinks your home might be a soft mark and a good place to try to break into.
4. Additional Locks
If you employ the use of deadbolts and extra locks on your front and back doors and windows, your home is practically a fortress. Make sure you only give copies of the keys to people who live there or people you know you can trust to avoid anybody else getting their hands on a set and being able to let themselves in.
By undertaking these four steps, you should be able to guarantee your home safety at all times. Which will you use first?
Consult your local laws before recording anyone without consent
This story is crazy, and it demonstrates how many of our laws are outdated.
In Illinois, it’s illegal to record anyone without their consent, including police officers! A woman is now charged with a crime for recording a conversation with a police officer who was assaulting her sexually.
This has naturally sparked outrage from various groups.
But the lesson here is you have to be very careful if you’re going to use surveillance equipment to monitor anyone. Check your local laws first!
The fight for the social web
The battle for privacy on social networking sites is heating up.
Privacy. It’s a word we hear a lot in the digital age, especially now that Facebook and Twitter are signing on users practically straight from the womb. It’s also a concept very few people understand. Just type your name into the search engine pipl.com. If you’re like me, you’re fortunate enough to have a fairly common name, but even then an alarming amount of information can show up. The funny thing about that search engine is everything on it is either in the public record or was shared by the person to whom it pertains. That’s right, we’re to blame for the vast majority of private information that is publicly available.
Legislators in California are trying to reduce the amount of information we accidentally share by imposing new privacy laws on social media.
The arguments against these regulations are ridiculous, so you have to read the entire articles, which also includes a story of a 14-year-old girl who created all sorts of issues for her family with her online social media accounts.
The cyber security issue
The recent Sony case highlights the depth of the problem:
Sony is run by a bunch of greedy morons who stupidly left their systems vulnerable to an attack by hackers: This is the conventional explanation of how the company finds itself bent into a familiar pose of contrition, following news that cyber-pirates breached its defenses, potentially gaining access to troves of valuable information — credit card numbers, email addresses — for more than 100 million customers.
If only life were so soothingly simple. The Sony data hack and the predictable pursuit of villains carries a dose of false comfort, implicitly affirming the assumption that someone must have fouled up to create such a menace to privacy and commerce; someone must have failed in a readily identifiable way, because this surely can’t be the ordinary state of events. But the blame narrative masks an unsettling question: What if Sony did the best it could to protect itself, and the pirates still won? What if the company employed the best defenses available, yet they proved inadequate in the face of a decentralized and proliferating threat?
Sony has captured headlines because it is one of the world’s most conspicuous consumer brands, and the recent attacks on its network have been both brazen and successful. But the list of companies that have been targeted by similar plots is lengthy and growing.
The problem is that we don’t focus enough resources on this issue, and we don’t go after simple targets.
Take simple spam. It’s all over the place. But if we pursued these idiots aggressively, we would start to build an apparatus that would start to root out cyber criminals at all levels.
We need to get serious about these issues, and stop wasting time on things like online poker.
It’s also one of the few areas where the interests of security and privacy converge.
The body scanner hysteria
Over the past several weeks, the issue of new body scanners and pat-down procedures at our airports has become a very hot topic. Naturally, the cable new channels are feeding the hysteria.
It’s a very legitimate issue, as we need to decide how far we are willing to go to invade the privacy of travelers in order to improve the security of flying. It goes to the heart of issues that will be discussed on this blog. TSA certainly has not done a good job of dealing with this issue.
Unfortunately, the news media is sensationalizing the story.