Flier posted by Anonymous in Oslo bus stop. Photo by Aga Skorupka
Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR) of the Senate Intelligence Committee recently discussed the Patriot Act and the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) Amendments on Countdown with Kieth Olbermann.
Wyden made two notable observations:
- On the Patriot Act: “There is growing gap between what Americans believe the laws actually is, and the secret interpretation.”
- On the FISA Amendments: “This law was intended to deal with foreigners … and I’m concerned about the possibility … of innocent Americans having their communications swept up under it.”
Walt Mossberg and Kara Swisher recently interviewed Google CEO Eric Schmidt at D9. The whole thing is worth a watch, but two statements by Schmidt were truly exceptional. The first is his definition of privacy, the second is his framing of mobile tracking as “natural.”
Schmidt on privacy:
… from our perspective, privacy is a compromise between the interests of a government and the citizen.
Schmidt on (what I’m now calling) natural surveillance:
I’m very concerned, personally, about the union of mobile tracking and facial recognition. Because, mobile tracking is something that can occur naturally by virtue of these devices … biometrics, in general, will make it possible to do facial recognition in crowds.
I should have known it was mother nature, and not mankind, that created this form of surveillance … damn you nature!
In preparation for the 2011 Graduate Center-Humboldt University Summer Seminar that I’ll be participating in, I thought it would useful to take stock of some of the recent informational happenings in Germany:
- Germany is now the largest market for video games in Europe, driven primarily by German interest in the Wii Fit (more …).
- German laws banning the distribution of photos of people or their property without their permission is forcing Google to modify its StreetView functionality before its launch in Germany (more …).
- A number of German states, led by Lower Saxony, are now trying to prevent web services such as Amazon, Facebook, or Google from aggregating and sharing visitor information without the explicit consent of the visitor (more …).
- Facebook has grown by 260% in Germany over just the past year and Germany is now the 18th largest country in Facebook with over 2M members. However, Facebook still remains much smaller in Germany than the Berlin-based StudiVZ social network which boasts over 13M members (more …).
- A Hamburg court has ruled that YouTube can be held liable for damages when it hosts copyright-protected material without permission (more …).
- Dead Drops — an anonymous, offline, p2p file-sharing network in public space — has been established by Berlin based media artist Aram Bartholl. Dead Drops embeds USB flash drives into walls, buildings and curbs in public space, allowing anyone to plugin their laptop to share their favorite files and data (more …). h/t jgieseking
This is, but of course, a very small sample of recent happenings. Hopefully I’ll have more to report post-seminar.
Here’s some background: AT&T over-prices some of the equipment it was selling to schools (schools!). The FCC investigates. AT&T’s competitors file a FoIA to make the investigation’s findings public. AT&T claims the FoIA request is a violation of their personal privacy. The SCOTUS denies their right to personal privacy. AT&T and other corporations join the ranks of the rest of us “persons” who are given no right to personal privacy in the US.
It’s worth remembering that this is the very same AT&T that denies their own customers a right to personal privacy. From SFGate.com, waaaaaay back in 2006:
The policy also indicates that AT&T will track the viewing habits of customers of its new video service — something that cable and satellite providers are prohibited from doing … The company’s policy overhaul follows recent reports that AT&T was one of several leading telecom providers that allowed the National Security Agency warrantless access to its voice and data networks as part of the Bush administration’s war on terror.