Edward Snowden "We've Seen U.N. Reports Say Mass Surveillance Is NOT Permissible!" VIDEO
Big Brother IS watching you. Don’t be complacent about surveillance
It may seem that the government’s ever-increasing spying is only going to affect terrorists. Don’t be so sure
“It won’t be me,” I hear you say. And, of course, I accept you are not a criminal, after all. The worst you do online is post stupid comments when you are drunk and masturbate to porn when you think no one is watching. When the government says it wants to take away the passports of wannabe jihadis, why should you care? I don’t. Islamic State marks the bloody end of Britain’s version of identity politics. With more British Muslims fighting for Isis than serving in the British army, the least we can do is make amends to a bleeding world by stopping radical Islamists leaving to murder, enslave and rape. In any case, you and I are not going to Syria, are we?
I doubt the state’s ban on hate preachers visiting universities will alarm you either. Students and college administrators have banned just about everyone with controversial opinions. The London School of Economics and the University of West London have even harassed and barred secularists, who wanted to expose the theocrats proselytising against women, Jews and gays on campuses. Some of us warned the universities that if they did not defend freedom of speech the state would remove their freedom. They didn’t listen and now it has gone. Serves the fools right.
I suspect that Theresa May’s order that internet and mobile phone companies must allow the police to identify who was using a device and when will probably fail to stir you too. Essential clues for 21st-century crime fighters, you could say. Better to help the police catch dangerous men than let them escape justice.
I am not so sure. I am not worried by what the Home Office is doing but by what it wants to do. Nick Clegg has lost count of the number of times he has had to intervene to stop the security establishment crushing basic liberties. The Liberal Democrats blocked the police and intelligence services having access to the web histories of you, me and everyone else. They stopped them inserting “black boxes” to intercept web traffic.
Most importantly to my mind, they blocked May’s astonishingly illiberal “extremism prevention orders”, which would have allowed the state to censor opinion rather than prevent crime by banning speakers who are not inciting violence or breaking the law.
Despite these victories, you should feel uneasy. The Liberal Democrats could be gone within six months. The Tories may have a majority, or Labour may be in power, instead. As the record of the last Labour government suggests that Yvette Cooper will make Theresa May look like the leader of the Brownie pack, the odds are that all the authoritarian measures Clegg and his colleagues blocked will return.
The Home Office never forgets a bad idea; never gives up. After Clegg blocked extremism prevention orders, the government’s extremism task force met. Lib Dem ministers noticed that officials had put the orders right back on the forthcoming business agenda.
One way or another, it wants police surveillance of everyone’s web and mobile records and the banning of unpleasant opinions. If that doesn’t bother you, then you are a fool too.
Friends who helped break the Snowden revelations are close to despair. The British, who survived the First and Second World Wars, the cold war and IRA bombs appear willing to tear up their civil liberties because of Islamist murderers. The electorate greeted the Guardian’s exposé of mass surveillance with indifference. Neither Labour nor the Tories feels public pressure to reform the secret state.
The standard reply to the public’s belief that “if you’ve nothing to hide you’ve nothing to fear” is to ask: “So you don’t draw your curtains then?” It is good as far as it goes, but a better warning against unconstrained police surveillance comes from our experience online. Malice and mobbish rage drive the Twitter storms that break more often than the autumn rains. A leftwing cookery writer uses David Cameron’s dead son to attack the prime minister. But instead of noting that we have all said vile things in our time, conservatives scream that she is a lesbian and campaign for Sainsbury’s to stop employing her as a celebrity chef. Myleene Klass humiliates Ed Miliband on television. Instead of trying to beat a D-list celeb in argument – and if you can’t do that you should give up on arguing – leftists demand that Littlewoods stop using her as a model and selling her range of designer dresses.
The same people who scream “censorship” and “persecution” when one of their own is targeted lead the slobbering pack when the chance comes to censor and persecute their enemies. They want them fined, punished and sacked, and never pause for a moment to consider their dizzying double standards or reflect that the weapons they use against others will one day be turned on them.
Nearly every adult and many a bullied and mocked schoolchild has already changed their behaviour for fear of online spies, and not only because of the venom on Twitter. Employers examine Facebook pages before they hire staff. A politically incorrect post can lead to your sacking or demotion. Online anonymity always strikes me as cowardice until I reflect that millions of people are so frightened of capricious employers they dare not speak freely under their own name.
Give it the chance and the authoritarian political class will ape the authoritarian managerial elite and be just as malicious as the Twitter heresy hunters.
The Dorset council that used surveillance powers designed to catch gangsters to spy on a mother who was trying to get her child into a decent school is a symbol of our times. However outrageous and ham-fisted its behaviour was, the authorities could say that parents are breaking the rules if they game the school system. The police will make the same argument once they have the freedom to roam the web. They will say they have a duty to collect evidence of any crime, however minor. They will do it because they can.
The most telling omission from the government’s push towards a surveillance state is the absence of safeguards. The Lib Dems have forced it to establish the Independent Privacy and Civil Liberties Board to act as a counterweight to the overwhelming authoritarian advice coming from the Home Office. But that will go when the Lib Dems leave power and then, well, you will need a childlike trust in our leaders to sustain you.
“It won’t be me,” I hear you say. But if you tweet anonymously, or cower before online bullies, or watch what you write for fear of your employers, you must know that it already is.
The BBC are also partt to that DATA collection using their database of licence payers name and addresses
of everyone in the United Kingdom
Every day, anyone who is connected to the internet leaves an ever bigger trail of data behind them. But how aware are we of who is collecting this information and of who benefits from it? I spent a day without data to to explore these questions.
My guide for this no-data diet is Dr George Danezis, an expert on privacy and information security at University College, London. As I sit at the breakfast table, handing over my gadgets he sets out the challenge I face:
"Your job today is going to be very difficult, You won't be able to use the internet, but you also won't be able to do lots of other things - in fact you won't be able to live a 21st Century life."
As someone who is addicted to being online, checking Twitter the moment I wake up, still reading online news last thing at night, giving up my smartphone is hard.
But George also makes me hand over my travel card and my BBC identity card which gets me into my office. Both record data about my location, so they have to go.
George explains that there are three big collectors of data: companies, governments and the police and the security services. Consumers may have grown accustomed to this data collection and in some cases see benefits.
But we may still be in the dark about some aspects. "It's collected for primary but also secondary purposes, you might be handing over data while you're shopping and that might be used later for marketing or working out health insurance."
I determine not to buy quite so many biscuits if that is going to send bad signals to my insurance company.
We head out with the dog for a walk, trying not to leave data as we go. George explains that we could not take the car without the risk of being tracked, either by my satnav or by number plate recognition systems.
And of course in London a bus is also out of the question - the drivers no longer take cash, only London's Oyster card.
Without my mobile phone, which constantly tells the network operator where I am, I should be safe just walking along, but then George points to the various CCTV cameras monitoring our progress along the High Street.
Detail of a £20 note Using cash is no guarantee that your purchase cannot be tracked
Even a trip to the shops with cash rather than cards presents difficulties. "Big notes have their serial numbers tracked by the banks. If you take one out of the cash machine and give it to the shop they will pay it straight back into the bank and then you can be tracked."
I ask George whether I might be better staying at home. For now, he says, that might be okay but what about when my home becomes smart?
"Right now you assume your kettle isn't sharing data but smart objects will be much more difficult to read. You might pick up some object that looks innocuous, like a kettle, and find out that it does actually share information."
We end up taking the dog for a walk in the woods. Surely here, far from CCTV cameras, mobile phones, smart cards, I am off the grid? But George points out that even Archie the dog is chipped, so in theory someone with a reader could work out where his owner is.
power of big data series branding
And, just as we dismiss that as totally far-fetched he comes up with something more unsettling.
"If someone like you who normally shares a lot of information suddenly goes totally dark, this in itself is quite noticeable and a lot of analytical systems out there will immediately notice that something odd is going on."
Once you have laid a data trail, it seems, even going off the grid does not work.
But having thoroughly unsettled me, George tells me not to be paranoid and gives me some tips for healthy data habits.
"There is a good reason to keep track of public policy around data - make sure that no more than necessary is collected. You should also make sure that the technology you have has options for being used without collecting data, which as we've seen today isn't easy."
Maybe we should all read those endless privacy statements from online companies instead of just pressing "Agree". Or perhaps it is time for consumers to demand more transparency and a better return for their data from all those who collect it.
Governments increase spending on surveillance VIDEO
Director of new film about Edward Snowden avoids UK because she fears arrest under Official Secrets Act
The maker of Edward Snowden documentary CITIZENFOUR refused to travel to the film’s UK premiere last night because she fears arrest under the Official Secrets Act.
Laura Poitras said she had been advised by lawyers to avoid travelling to Britain because her work with the fugitive former contractor with the National Security Agency.
Snowden is living in Moscow with his girlfriend Lindsay Mills after he was granted asylum by Russia to escape charges of espionage in the U.S.
Poitras spoke from Berlin via patchy Skype videolink to the packed first public showing in Britain of CITIZENFOUR at the Curzon cinema in Chelsea, west London.
Skype is owned by Microsoft, one of the very Internet companies accused of allowing the NSA ‘backdoor’ access to its customers communications and data.
‘It’s because of the laws of the UK, the UK Terrorism Act and the Official Secrets (Act), that make publishing this kind of work very dangerous for journalists,’ she said.
‘I’ve just been advised by my lawyer don’t go to the UK and that’s why I’m not there.’
Poitras said reporter Glenn Greenwald, who published the first stories from Snowden’s leaks, information security journalist Jacob Applebaum, and Sarah Harrison and Julian Assange from WikiLeaks had all also stayed away on the basis of legal advice.
Assange is in Britain but technically not in UK territory since he is holed up at the Ecuadorean embassy to avoid extradition to Sweden to face questioning over alleged sex crimes.
Poitras is a U.S. citizen, but is now living in Berlin after complaining of repeated stops by U.S. border authorities when travelling into her country.
Home Office refused comment on her claims she feared arrest if travelling to the UK, but none was available at the time of reporting.
CITIZENFOUR takes its title from the email alias that Snowden used when he first approached Poitras in early 2013 through a series of encrypted emails - with a view to leaking details of the NSA’s top-secret surveillance assets to the media.
Marketed as a 'real-life thriller,' it is the first of several films in the works about Snowden, who is wanted by the U.S. on charges brought under the Espionage Act.
Speaking to the UK premiere last night, Poitras claimed the 30-year-old computer systems analyst had no interest in becoming a celebrity.
‘He said “I don’t want to be the story.” And I said, “You know what? Even if you don’t want to be, you will be the story because the Press works like that.”’
Snowden's revelations sparked a global debate on the limits of privacy versus the needs of national security. His critics view him as a traitor who refuses to face trial in the U.S. for his actions, while supports see him as a hero who spoke up for civil liberties.
A top spy last week revealed how Snowden's leaked documents have made the job of monitoring terrorists far more difficult.
Sir Iain Lobban, the outgoing head of the British government's NSA equivalent, GCHQ, revealed that since the revelations it now takes three times as long to complete routine monitoring tasks.
'Privacy should be upheld, otherwise it will lead to totalitarianism' VIDEO
Your Smartphone Broadcasts Your Entire Life To The Secret Service
Intelligence services collect metadata on the communication of all citizens. Politicians would have us believe that this data doesn’t say all that much. A reader of De Correspondent put this to the test and demonstrated otherwise: metadata reveals a lot more about your life than you think.
Ton Siedsma is nervous. He made the decision weeks ago, but keeps postponing it. It’s the 11th of November, a cold autumn evening. At ten past eight (20:10:48 to be exact), while passing Elst station on the way home, he activates the app. It will track all of his phone’s metadata over the coming week.
Metadata is not the actual content of the communication, but the data about the communication; like the numbers he calls or whatsapps, and where his phone is at a particular moment. Whom he e-mails, the subject of the e-mails and the websites he visits.
Ton won’t be doing anything out of the ordinary. He’ll just lead his normal life. On weekdays, this means biking from his house in Nijmegen to the station and taking the train to Amsterdam. On Saturday, he’ll drive his car to Den Bosch and spend the night near Zuiderpark, returning to Nijmegen the next day by public transportation. Later on in the day he’ll have some drinks at a café called St. Anna.
After exactly a week, on Monday, 18 November, he concludes the experiment, saying afterwards that he felt liberated when doing so. There’s an easy explanation for his nervousness: what he’ll be doing, where he’ll be and who he has contact with will be seen by tens of thousands of people. Today, by you and me, and all the other readers of this article.
Over the past months, it’s become clear that intelligence agencies, spearheaded by the National Security Agency (NSA), are collecting enormous amounts of metadata. This includes recording e-mail traffic and location data from mobile phones. From the outset, politicians and intelligence agencies have defended this surveillance by emphasising that the content of the communication is not being monitored, the idea being that the agencies are only interested in metadata. According to President Obama and the NSA, as well as the Dutch Minister of the Interior, Ronald Plasterk, and the Dutch Intelligence Agency (AIVD), there isn’t much harm in it. Even recently, on its website, the AIVD described the interception of metadata as ‘a minor infringement of privacy’.
But is that the case? Certainly not, as Ton Siedsma’s experiment demonstrates. Metadata – including your metadata – reveals more than you think, and much more than the authorities would have you believe.
One week says enough
I submitted Ton’s metadata to the iMinds research team of Ghent University and Mike Moolenaar, owner of Risk and Security Experts. I also ran my own analysis. From one week of logs, we were able to attach a timestamp to 15,000 records. Each time Ton’s phone made a connection with a communications tower and each time he sent an e-mail or visited a website, we could see when this occurred and where he was at that moment, down to a few metres. We were able to infer a social network based on his phone and e-mail traffic. Using his browser data, we were able to see the sites he visited and the searches he made. And we could see the subject, sender and recipient of every one of his e-mails.
This chart displays Ton’s daily routine of using e-mail, the Internet and his phone. We can see, for instance, that he whatsapps a lot each day at around two o’clock, right after lunch.
So, what did we find out about Ton?
This is what we were able to find out from just one week of metadata from Ton Siedsma’s life. Ton is a recent graduate in his early twenties. He receives e-mails about student housing and part-time jobs, which can be concluded from the subject lines and the senders. He works long hours, in part because of his lengthy train commute. He often doesn’t get home until eight o’clock in the evening. Once home, he continues to work until late.
His girlfriend’s name is Merel. It cannot be said for sure whether the two live together. They send each other an average of a hundred WhatsApp messages a day, mostly when Ton is away from home. Before he gets on the train at Amsterdam Central Station, Merel gives him a call. Ton has a sister named Annemieke. She is still a student: one of her e-mails is about her thesis, judging by the subject line. He celebrated Sinterklaas this year and drew lots for giving gifts.
Ton likes to read sports news on nu.nl, nrc.nl and vk.nl. His main interest is cycling, which he also does himself. He also reads Scandinavian thrillers, or at least that’s what he searches for on Google and Yahoo. Other interests of his are philosophy and religion. We suspect that Ton is Christian. He searches for information about religion expert Karen Armstrong, the Gospel of Thomas, ‘the Messiah book Middle Ages’ and symbolism in churches and cathedrals. He gets a lot of information from Wikipedia.
Ton also has a lighter side. He watches YouTube videos like ‘Jerry Seinfeld: Sweatpants’ and Rick Astley’s Never Gonna Give You Up. He also watches a video by Roy Donders, a Dutch reality TV sensation. On the Internet, he reads about ‘cats wearing tights’, ‘Disney princesses with beards’ and ‘guitars replaced by dogs’. He also searches for a snuggie, with a certain ‘Batman Lounger Blanket With Sleeves’ catching his eye. Oh, and he’s intensively looking for a good headset (with Bluetooth, if possible).
If we were to view Ton’s profile through a commercial lens, we would bombard him with online offers. He’s signed up for a large number of newsletters from companies like Groupon, WE Fashion and various computer stores. He apparently does a lot of shopping online and doesn’t see the need to unsubscribe from the newsletters. That could be an indication that he’s open to considering online offers.
He keeps his e-mail communication reasonably well separated, using three different e-mail accounts. He receives all promotional offers on his Hotmail account, which he also uses to communicate with a number of acquaintances, though he hardly sends any messages himself from the account. He has a second personal e-mail account, which he uses for both work and correspondence with closer friends. He uses this account much more actively. Lastly, he has an e-mail account for work.
Ton knows a lot about technology. He’s interested in IT, information security, privacy issues and Internet freedom. He frequently sends messages using encryption software PGP. He performs searches for database software (SQLite). He is a regular on tech forums and seeks out information about data registration and processing. He also keeps up with news about hacking and rounded-up child pornography rings.
We also suspect that he sympathises with the Dutch ‘Green Left’ political party. Through his work (more about that later), he’s in regular contact with political parties. Green Left is the only party from which he receives e-mails through his Hotmail account. He has had this account longer than his work account.
Cell Phone Manufactures Move To Block Cops From Criminally Accessing Your Personal Data VIDEO
Governments spy on journalists with weaponized malware – WikiLeaks
Journalists and dissidents are under the microscope of intelligence agencies, Wikileaks revealed in its fourth SpyFiles series. A German software company that produces computer intrusion systems has supplied many secret agencies worldwide.
The weaponized surveillance malware, popular among intelligence agencies for spying on “journalists, activists and political dissidents,” is produced by FinFisher, a German company. Until late 2013, FinFisher used to be part of the UK-based Gamma Group International, revealed WikiLeaks in the latest published batch of secret documents.
FinFisher’s spyware exploits and monitors systems remotely. It’s capable of intercepting communications and data from OS X, Windows and Linux computers, as well as Android, iOS, BlackBerry, Symbian and Windows Mobile portable devices. Three back-end programs are required for the spy program to operate. FinFisher Relay and FinSpy Proxy programs are FinFisher suite components that route and manage intercepted traffic, redirecting it to the FinSpy Master collection program. The spyware can steal keystrokes, Skype conversations, and even connect to your webcam and watch you in real time.
The whistleblower has a list of FinFisher surveillance software buyers. Among the German malware developer’s clients are intelligence agencies and police forces from Australia, Bosnia, Estonia, Hungary, Italy, Mongolia, the Netherlands, Pakistan and Qatar.
According to WikiLeaks’ estimates, FinFisher has already earned about 50 million euros in sales.
“FinFisher continues to operate brazenly from Germany selling weaponized surveillance malware to some of the most abusive regimes in the world,” the founder and editor-in-chief of Wikileaks, Julian Assange, said.
Earlier this year, the tapping of Chancellor Angela Merkel's mobile phone by the American National Security Agency (NSA) created a scandal that rocked the German political establishment: a revelation made thanks to documents exposed by the former NSA contractor and whistleblower Edward Snowden.
Yet, despite all this, FinFisher continues its activities in Germany unhindered.
“The Merkel government pretends to be concerned about privacy, but its actions speak otherwise. Why does the Merkel government continue to protect FinFisher?” Assange asked.
Assange is calling for an ‘antidote’ to the German-made FinFisher FinSpy PC spyware, saying a tool is needed to repel such activities and expose those who do the surveillance by tracking down spying command and control centers.
WikiLeaks has made newly indexed FinFisher breach material public via torrents, “including new brochures and a database of the customer support website, that provide updated details on their product line and a unique insight into the company's customer-base.”
“In order to make the data more easily accessible and consumable, all the new brochures, videos and manuals are now available organized under the related FinFisher product name. The database is represented in full, from which WikiLeaks compiled a list of customers, their eventual attribution, all the associated support tickets and acquired licenses, along with the estimated costs calculated from FinFisher's price list,” the WikiLeaks memo said.
After the scandal that followed revelations of mass NSA spying worldwide, Germany and France came up with an idea to build a trustworthy data protection network in Europe to avoid data passing through the US.
The US slammed such plans to construct an EU-centric communication system, designed to prevent emails and phone calls from being swept up by the NSA, warning that such a move is a violation of trade laws.
Neutrality is fundamental basis of the Internet VIDEO
The defenders of anonymity on the internet
You may not realise it, but every time you open up your laptop or switch on your phone, you are at the heart of one of the greatest battles now taking place in our midst - what shape will the internet take in the future, and what role will anonymity play in deciding it?
Last year, the revelations of US security contractor Edward Snowden, suggested for the first time the extent to which governments were collecting and analysing our communications over the internet.
But what Horizon reveals is that scientists are growing increasingly concerned about the way such information could be used to predict our behaviour and from that, be used as a form of control.
It is really no surprise that the privacy issue has unfolded the way it has”
David Chaum Internet anonymity pioneer
"The power of that data to predict and analyse what we're going to do is very, very high," says Dr Joss Wright of the Oxford Internet Institute. "And giving that power to somebody else, regardless of the original or stated intentions, is very worrying."
What Dr Wright is talking about is "traffic analysis", which allows the prediction of the behaviours of individuals, not by looking at the contents of their emails, but by looking at the patterns of communication.
It's become ever more possible as we spend more of our lives online. However, what few may realise is that scientists at the dawn of the information age predicted such issues would eventually become matters of public concern and interest.
Godfather of anonymity
Few outside the computer scientists' community will know the name David Chaum, yet he has a claim to be one of the great visionaries of contemporary science.
In the early 1980s, while a computer scientist at Berkeley, Chaum predicted the world in which computer networks would make mass surveillance a possibility.
As Dr Wright explains: "David Chaum was very ahead of his time. He predicted in the early 1980s concerns that would arise on the internet 15 or 20 years later."
This visionary thinker now rarely gives interviews, but he has spoken exclusively to Horizon about his early work and his anxieties about the world we live in today.
"Well it's sad to me," he explains.
"But it is really no surprise that the privacy issue has unfolded the way it has. I spelled it out in the early publications in - in the 80s."
Chaum's great achievement is that he didn't simply identify the problem, he developed prototype systems that would make such surveillance more difficult.
The most important being something called a Mix Network which used sophisticated cryptography not to encrypt the content of message but to hide the identity of the user. As Chaum himself admits, "this was quite a paradigm shift".
Chaum's insights have given him the unofficial title of "the godfather of anonymous communication" because, amongst other things, his systems provided the theoretical basis for the modern Tor network.
US Naval Research Laboratory Tor began life as a project at the US Naval Research Laboratory and its developers still receive funds from the US government
Developed by the US Government in the early 2000s, Tor made it possible to browse the net anonymously.
Its ability to allow individuals to operate online without detection has proved a vital tool for dissidents in regimes which operate close control of the online space, such as Syria, Iran and China.
Yet it has taken off in the West in a way the US government never imagined - for whistleblowing against the US itself.
In 2011, it is believed that Chelsea Manning used Tor to leak US government cables and other data to Wikileaks which constituted one of the greatest government leaks in history.
Horizon has gained access to the Ecuadorian embassy for an in-depth interview with Julian Assange who, while refusing to comment on Manning, agrees that Tor was important to Wikileaks.
"It was a longstanding quest… to be able to communicate individual to individual freely and anonymously," Assange says.
Yet Tor's effectiveness has also made it a target for the US National Security Agency, that has made repeated attempts to attack it.
Campaigners like Jacob Appelbaum, who has worked with both Wikileaks and Tor, condemn these actions.
"They want to attack people and sometimes technology makes that harder… the users have something which bothers them which is real autonomy… true privacy and security," he says.
Yet while anonymity offers a potential bulwark against surveillance, for those who do not wish to be watched, it has also helped in the development of that part of the online world known as the dark web.
Sites on the dark web like Silk Road have used Tor technology to hide their location and yet still be available to users who wish to visit them.
The dark web has now become a focus for law enforcement officers who believe it is facilitating a variety of illegal activities including financial crime and child abuse.
"Our detection rate is dropping" says Troels Oerting, head of Interpol's cybercrime centre.
"It's risk-free crime."
The arguments over illegality aside, many believe we need to develop technologies which make everyday use of the internet more resistant to surveillance and for that, we need to be able to encrypt our content.
Encryption is, as Edward Snowden has said, the "defence against the dark arts for the digital realm".
Yet currently, many encryption products, including Tor are not user-friendly enough.
Anonymous internet user Tor, I2P and Freenet are three of the best-known anonymising networks
There is some consensus that the market will need to provide the necessary solution - and for those who wish to avoid surveillance - the outlook is hopeful since, as Julian Assange points out: "It turns out that it's easier in this universe to encrypt information, much easier than it is to decrypt it if you're someone watching from the outside... the universe fundamentally favours privacy."
The question now is whether there is sufficient public interest and pressure to make that encryption the norm rather than the exception.
UK viewers can watch Horizon: Inside the Dark Web on BBC Two at 21:00 and on iPlayer afterwards. It will be broadcast on BBC World at a later date.
Meet the Online Tracking Device That is Virtually Impossible to Block
A new kind of tracking tool, canvas fingerprinting, is being used to follow visitors to thousands of top websites, from WhiteHouse.gov to YouPorn.
Update: After this article was published, YouPorn contacted us to say it had removed AddThis technology from its website, saying that the website was "completely unaware that AddThis contained a tracking software that had the potential to jeopardize the privacy of our users." A spokeswoman for the German digital marketer Ligatus also said that is no longer running its test of canvas fingerprinting, and that it has no plans to use it in the future.
A new, extremely persistent type of online tracking is shadowing visitors to thousands of top websites, from WhiteHouse.gov to YouPorn.com.
First documented in a forthcoming paper by researchers at Princeton University and KU Leuven University in Belgium, this type of tracking, called canvas fingerprinting, works by instructing the visitor’s Web browser to draw a hidden image. Because each computer draws the image slightly differently, the images can be used to assign each user’s device a number that uniquely identifies it.
Canvas Fingerprinting in Action
Watch your browser generate a unique fingerprint image. This is for informational purposes only and no fingerprint information is sent to ProPublica. (Mike Tigas, ProPublica)
Even the slightest change in one pixel — one dot in the image — can create a totally new ID. Different computers and web browsers may draw the image differently, resulting in an ID that is semi-unique to a user.
Tracking code can use techniques like this to follow users from website to website — even when cookies are disabled in a user's web browser. Fingerprints used for tracking are normally hidden from the user and — unlike this demonstration — don't require a user's permission to draw.
Like other tracking tools, canvas fingerprints are used to build profiles of users based on the websites they visit — profiles that shape which ads, news articles, or other types of content are displayed to them.
But fingerprints are unusually hard to block: They can’t be prevented by using standard Web browser privacy settings or using anti-tracking tools such as AdBlock Plus.
The researchers found canvas fingerprinting computer code, primarily written by a company called AddThis, on 5 percent of the top 100,000 websites. Most of the code was on websites that use AddThis’ social media sharing tools. Other fingerprinters include the German digital marketer Ligatus and the Canadian dating site Plentyoffish. (A list of all the websites on which researchers found the code is here).
Rich Harris, chief executive of AddThis, said that the company began testing canvas fingerprinting earlier this year as a possible way to replace “cookies,” the traditional way that users are tracked, via text files installed on their computers.
“We’re looking for a cookie alternative,” Harris said in an interview.
Harris said the company considered the privacy implications of canvas fingerprinting before launching the test, but decided “this is well within the rules and regulations and laws and policies that we have.”
He added that the company has only used the data collected from canvas fingerprints for internal research and development. The company won’t use the data for ad targeting or personalization if users install the AddThis opt-out cookie on their computers, he said.
Arvind Narayanan, the computer science professor who led the Princeton research team, countered that forcing users to take AddThis at its word about how their data will be used, is “not the best privacy assurance.”
Device fingerprints rely on the fact that every computer is slightly different: Each contains different fonts, different software, different clock settings and other distinctive features. Computers automatically broadcast some of their attributes when they connect to another computer over the Internet.
Tracking companies have long sought to use those differences to uniquely identify devices for online advertising purposes, particularly as Web users are increasingly using ad-blocking software and deleting cookies.
In May 2012, researchers at the University of California, San Diego, noticed that a Web programming feature called “canvas” could allow for a new type of fingerprint — by pulling in different attributes than a typical device fingerprint.
How You Can Try to Thwart Canvas Fingerprinting
Use the Tor browser (Warning: can be slow)
Try the experimental browser extension Chameleon that is designed to block fingerprinting (Warning: only recommended for tech-savvy users at this point)
Install opt-out cookies from known fingerprinters such as AddThis (Warning: fingerprint will likely still be collected, companies simply pledge not to use the data for ad targeting or personalization)
In June, the Tor Project added a feature to its privacy-protecting Web browser to notify users when a website attempts to use the canvas feature and sends a blank canvas image. But other Web browsers did not add notifications for canvas fingerprinting.
A year later, Russian programmer Valentin Vasilyev noticed the study and added a canvas feature to freely available fingerprint code that he had posted on the Internet. The code was immediately popular.
But Vasilyev said that the company he was working for at the time decided against using the fingerprint technology. “We collected several million fingerprints but we decided against using them because accuracy was 90 percent,” he said, “and many of our customers were on mobile and the fingerprinting doesn’t work well on mobile.”
Vasilyev added that he wasn’t worried about the privacy concerns of fingerprinting. “The fingerprint itself is a number which in no way is related to a personality,” he said.
AddThis improved upon Vasilyev’s code by adding new tests and using the canvas to draw a pangram “Cwm fjordbank glyphs vext quiz” — a sentence that uses every letter of the alphabet at least once. This allows the company to capture slight variations in how each letter is displayed.
AddThis said it rolled out the feature to a small portion of the 13 million websites on which its technology appears, but is considering ending its test soon. “It’s not uniquely identifying enough,” Harris said.
AddThis did not notify the websites on which the code was placed because “we conduct R&D projects in live environments to get the best results from testing,” according to a spokeswoman.
She added that the company does not use any of the data it collects — whether from canvas fingerprints or traditional cookie-based tracking — from government websites including WhiteHouse.gov for ad targeting or personalization.
The company offered no such assurances about data it routinely collects from visitors to other sites, such as YouPorn.com. YouPorn.com did not respond to inquiries from ProPublica about whether it was aware of AddThis’ test of canvas fingerprinting on its website.
Read our recent coverage about how online tracking is getting creepier, how Facebook has been tracking you, and what tools to use to protect yourself.
As more and more dupes withdraw from putting personal information out on the internet in the wake of the major players assisting the NSA and its many allies the SELFIE was born. Whoever conjured up such an expression clearly did so to try and reinforce
the need of the international freemason cult that controls all spy agencies across the globe to gather information and images
and none better that the dupes who think selfies are purely a fad and nothing to do with the secret society network losing valuable information and pictures of those who withdrew after the Ed Snowden exposures.
ANYONE stupid enough to place private and personal images online only have themselves to blame when either the complicit media go looking for those images to use in smear campaigns they conjure up or added to the mountainous database of images being gathered for future use and reference against anyone who tries rocking the establishment boat.
What is the end result of Ed Snowden's whistleblowing?
America's parasitic zionist press and political mafia's can castigate Ed Snowden all they want for his courage in exposing what is going on right at the heart of the global spy rings that connect three of the worst regime's on the planet. NOT the axis of EVIL that George Bush tried to tar the Middle East with but the three countries that operate primarily to satisfy the hidden agenda of freemasonry.
Zionist Israel, zionist UK and zionist USA all have ONE primary motive and that is to establish a NWO one world government using every dirty technological trick in the book . Placing their citizens under the umbrella of every conceivable type of electronics eavesdropping, that was until Ed Snowden blew a MASSIVE hole in their warped view that they could get away with this tyranny indefinitely . Ed took the brave stance of exposing their vile network of eavesdropping on ordinary citizens while the sheeple continue to be browbeaten that this was in their best interests. The G8 that has since been reduced to the G7 when Putin broke rank, is primarily a global political club set up to allow in only countries that are adhering to the zionist / freemason agenda.
The reality is that there are two primary reasons for their stasi influenced spying on the public . One is that every citizen at some point in their life can rise up and be a threat like Ed to their control system. The second, and something the sheeple fail to understand despite endless efforts to inform them, is that the biggest terrorist threat on the planet by far is the global law society. It is noticeable the families were both partners are lawyers have been selected to run as heads of their political parties in USA and UK. Obama and his wife are lawyers, Clinton and his wife are lawyers and Tony Blair and his wife are lawyers.
The global law society terror cell requires to keep their lackeys in control of all political parties who are the only ones who get publicity in the media they also control via their media lawyers. The ultimate goal is the mass fleecing of their populations in the courts dominated by freemason judges. The myth that somehow they want to weed out those THEY claim are terrorists are usually the very individuals who have fought against their tyranny and who have tried to expose them as the real terrorists responsible for more deaths and destruction than all recent wars combined. Every day in courts throughout those nations are battles taking place where men and their families, not part of their creepy satanic cult, are being destroyed in their millions and seldom reported by the controlled gutter press.
Ed has shot a massive cannonball across the bow of their NWO battleship and has scuppered their plans ensuring that they now realise those within their ranks, who have been given responsibilities like Ed, can break rank and expose further atrocities that have been carried out under the guise of fighting the terrorist threat. The ONLY threat men need to concern themselves with are the murderous scum pointing the finger at everybody else while in their psychopathic mindset are unaware they themselves are the biggest terrorist threat to men across the planet. That we will continue to press forward while the gutter media provide the massive smokescreens to allow them to carry on their multi trillion dollar scams that have ultimately led to the deaths of ten of thousands of men who buckled under the psychological torture their lackeys meted out while being dragged through the gutter, but NOT if we can help it.
The law while it remains administered by the zionist / freemason infiltrators is their MAIN source of power
and wealth over good men not prepared to sell their soul to the devil and the main mechanism used to
create the vast inequality that keeps their hierarchy in the opulence they think they deserve through the sinister use
of a satanic cult and its blackmail control structure.
Mystery plane circles London sparking surveillance rumours VIDEO
Nude pics passed around NSA spies as fringe benefit
Nude photos intercepted by NSA would be shared among employees as 'fringe benefit', says whistleblower Edward Snowden
Whistleblower Edward Snowden has claimed a culture exists within the National Security Agency in which intercepted nude photos of people in 'sexually compromising' situations would be routinely passed around among workers.
Speaking from exile in Russia, Mr Snowden said NSA employees saw sharing such images as a 'fringe benefit' of their position.
The 31-year-old former NSA worker also spoke of his concerns for personal privacy and urged professionals to do more to protect themselves and the data they have.
The former computer analyst has been living in Moscow since leaking thousands of top-secret documents about government surveillance practices in the US and beyond.
During an interview with The Guardian he said: 'I'm much happier in Russia than I would be facing an unfair trial where I can't even present a public-interest defence to a jury of my peers.'
When asked whether he witnessed anything that troubled him while working in surveillance he said: 'You've got young enlisted guys, 18 to 22 years old. They've suddenly been thrust into a position of extraordinary responsibility where they now have access to all of your private records.
'Now, in the course of their daily work they stumble across something that is completely unrelated to their work in any sort of necessary sense - for example, an intimate nude photo of someone in a sexually compromising situation, but they're extremely attractive.
'So what they do? They turn around in their chair and show their co-worker -- and their co-worker says "hey, that's great, send that to Bill down the way." And then Bill sends it to George, George sends it to Tom, and sooner or later this person's whole life has been seen by all of these other people.'
Mr Snowden said he had seen such instances on a number of times, adding: 'These are seen as the fringe benefits of surveillance positions.'
He said it was 'reasonable to assume' he was under surveillance, adding: 'Anyone in my position is surely subject to some surveillance, but you take the precautions you can, so even if you are under surveillance there's no sensitive information for you to expose.'
A new data surveillance bill has been fast-tracked through Westminster that will give authorities greater powers to access mobile data for up to a year as part of security measures and checks.
Mr Snowden is one of several high-profile figures calling for more rights to be offered to internet users to help protect their privacy.
Earlier this year, Mr Snowden appeared on-stage via video link with Sir Tim Berners-Lee, the man credited with inventing the world wide web, to call for a 'bill of rights' to be introduced to protect global internet users.
During the talk, Sir Tim called Mr Snowden 'a hero' for the work he had done for internet privacy, which led to the exposure of wide-scale surveillance networks involving the NSA in the US and GCHQ in the UK.
However, Mr Snowden said he did not believe that technology and privacy were incompatible.
He said: 'Technology can actually increase privacy, but not if we sleepwalk into new applications of it without considering the implications of these new technologies.'
Mr Snowden also responded to claims that he was working for the Russian government. He said: 'If the government had even the tiniest shred of evidence that I was associating with the Russian government it would be on the front page of the New York Times by lunchtime.'
Mr Snowden is wanted in the US on espionage charges but believes it would be hard for a jury to unanimously convict him on a charge where there was a public-interest defence.