Welcome to e.Woke #50: To Predict and To Surveil
IT’S E.WOKE #50!!! Wow! Time has gone by so fast since we first started this newsletter back in April of last year. First things first, I would like to thank ALL of you who subscribe to this project. I am so thankful for every single one of you and for the overwhelming support I have received. I would also like to ask you to consider donating to this project so that there can be an “e.Woke #100.” Now that the formalities are out of the way, let’s get right into this week’s scariest and weirdest DigiSec stories!
The #DeleteFacebook campaign was either pointless, or people just do not care if you collect their data “half of US Facebook users had not recently changed the amount they used the site, while a quarter were using it more. The remaining quarter were logging into Facebook less or had deleted their accounts, but this reduction was offset by the number of people who had increased their usage.” I am disappointed but not surprised.
Oakland come through! Later this month, the city of Oakland, California will vote on the “Surveillance and Communications Safety Ordinance,” a bill that would regulate the city’s use of surveillance technology. “Oakland’s surveillance ordinance stands apart, it explicitly prohibits non-disclosure agreements with surveillance vendors, it requires continuous consultation with the city’s privacy commission and it builds out a strong whistleblower process.” Amazing! Oakland is now one of the major cities fighting surveillance in their communities.
Technology is terrifying! “The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) last month approved a firmware patch for devices made by Abbott’s (formerly St Jude Medical) that are vulnerable to cybersecurity attacks and which are at risk of sudden battery loss.” Cryptographic expert, Matthew Green, explains the severity and scariness of this situation in a Twitter thread. If you or anyone you know has a radio frequency (RF)-enabled St. Jude Medical implantable cardioverter defibrillator (ICD) and cardiac resynchronization therapy defibrillator (CRT-D), go get it updated! And In the words of Matthew, “I’m crying now.”
I thought we were done with all of this erased emails talk! Gmail plans to introduce a new feature that would allow users to destroy emails. “Self Destruct,” in theory, is great! It’s kind of like emailing through Wickr, but “Self Destruct,” in reality, is an “Emailgate” waiting to happen. “While this may sound great for personal use, activists fear that government organizations will use the feature to delete public records to hide them from reporters and others interested in government transparency. Normally, government emails are available to journalists, researchers, and citizens using Freedom of Information Act requests (and its state-level analogues).” I can finally cleanse myself of those “could you please curve my grade?” emails!
LAPD’s new motto is “To Predict and To Surveil.” That’s right, “Analysts with the Los Angeles Police Department are reportedly using Palantir software to direct officers to surveil “probable offenders.” This is an example of extreme predictive policing and possible discrimination. With some help from Palantir, “officers are given one-page summaries of a person’s arrest history, notable physical features (referred to as “physical oddities”), cars they own, and a list of where they’ve been stopped by police.”
Twitter is slacking lately! Twitter approved a scam ad that prays on the human need for validation. Slate journalist April Glaser noticed something strange about an ad on her Twitter feed, “The site took her to a page that appeared to be a Twitter help page with language pulled from the company’s official ad page, but it directed Glaser to fill out her details on another website: twitterverifiedapplication.com. This site claimed to be working with people who regularly deal with online impersonation or “identity confusion” and asked for user follower counts, phone numbers, and the account password.” A random website asking for your password seems pretty…phishy.
Digital Security Tips, Resources, and Guides:
- Math Can’t Solve Everything: Questions We Need To Be Asking Before Deciding an Algorithm is the Answer (via EFF )
- It’s Impossible To Prove Your Laptop Hasn’t Been Hacked. I spent Two Years Finding Out. (via The Intercept )