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United States

Department of Justice Harvests Cell Phone Data Using Planes 202

Posted by samzenpus
from the we-can-hear-you-now dept.
Tyketto writes The US Department of Justice has been using fake communications towers installed in airplanes to acquire cellular phone data for tracking down criminals, reports The Wall Street Journal. Using fix-wing Cessnas outfitted with DRT boxes produced by Boeing, the devices mimic cellular towers, fooling cellphones into reporting "unique registration information" to track down "individuals under investigation." The program, used by the U.S. Marshals Service, has been in use since 2007 and deployed around at least five major metropolitan areas, with a flying range that can cover most of the US population. As cellphones are designed to connect to the strongest cell tower signal available, the devices identify themselves as the strongest signal, allowing for the gathering of information on thousands of phones during a single flight. Not even having encryption on one's phone, like found in Apple's iPhone 6, prevents this interception. While the Justice Department would not confirm or deny the existence of such a program, Verizon denies any involvement in this program, and DRT (a subsidiary of Boeing), AT&T, and Sprint have all declined to comment.
The Almighty Buck

Mayday PAC Goes 2 For 8 224

Posted by Soulskill
from the above-the-mendoza-line dept.
An anonymous reader writes: Lawrence Lessig's Mayday.us project had a bold goal: create a super PAC to end all super PACs. It generated significant support and raised over $10 million, which it spent endorsing a group of candidates for the recent mid-term elections and the primaries beforehand. The results weren't kind. Only two of the eight candidates backed by Mayday won their elections, and both of those candidates were quite likely to win anyway. Lessig was understandably displeased with the results. In a post on the Mayday site, he said, "What 2014 shows most clearly is the power of partisanship in our elections. Whatever else voters wanted, they wanted first their team to win."

Kenneth Vogel, author of Big Money, a recent book on the rise of super PACs, was critical of of Mayday's efforts, saying, "While voters do express high levels of disgust about the state of campaign finance and the level of corruption in Washington, they tend to actually cast votes more on bread-and-butter economic issues." Still, Lessig is hopeful for the future: "We moved voters on the basis of that message. Not enough. Not cheaply enough. But they moved."
The Media

Ferguson No-Fly Zone Revealed As Anti-Media Tactic 265

Posted by timothy
from the pretty-damning-stuff dept.
The AP (here, carried by the San Francisco Chronicle) reports that recorded conversations reveal flight restrictions requested in August by the police force of Ferguson, MO, and agreed to by Federal aviation safety officials, were specifically intended to limit the access of journalists to the area, rather than purely in response to safety concerns. One FAA manager in Kansas City was recorded saying police "did not care if you ran commercial traffic through this TFR (temporary flight restriction) all day long. They didn't want media in there." "There is really ... no option for a [Temporary Flight Restriction] that says, you know, 'OK, everybody but the media is OK,'" he said. The managers then worked out wording they felt would keep news helicopters out of the controlled zone but not impede other air traffic. The conversations contradict claims by the St. Louis County Police Department, which responded to demonstrations following the shooting death of 18-year-old Michael Brown, that the restriction was solely for safety and had nothing to do with preventing media from witnessing the violence or the police response. Police said at the time, and again as recently as late Friday to the AP, that they requested the flight restriction in response to shots fired at a police helicopter. But police officials confirmed there was no damage to their helicopter and were unable to provide an incident report on the shooting. On the tapes, an FAA manager described the helicopter shooting as unconfirmed "rumors."
Electronic Frontier Foundation

EFF: US Gov't Bid To Alter Court Record in Jewel v. NSA 78

Posted by timothy
from the they'll-get-you-next-time dept.
The EFF is only today able to release details of an attempt by the government to alter the historical record in the case brought by the EFF against the NSA in Jewel v. NSA. "On June 6, the court held a long hearing in Jewel in a crowded, open courtroom, widely covered by the press. We were even on the local TV news on two stations. At the end, the Judge ordered both sides to request a transcript since he ordered us to do additional briefing. But when it was over, the government secretly, and surprisingly sought permission to "remove" classified information from the transcript, and even indicated that it wanted to do so secretly, so the public could never even know that they had done so." As you'd expect of the EFF, they fought back with vigorous objections, and in the end the government did not get its way, instead deciding that it hadn't given away any classified information after all. "The transcript of a court proceeding is the historical record of that event, what will exist and inform the public long after the persons involved are gone. The government's attempt to change this history was unprecedented. We could find no example of where a court had granted such a remedy or even where such a request had been made. This was another example of the government's attempt to shroud in secrecy both its own actions, as well as the challenges to those actions. We are pleased that the record of this attempt is now public. But should the situation recur, we will fight it as hard as we did this time."

Comment: If I were Obama? (Score 3, Interesting) 822

by The Archon V2.0 (#46082467) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: What Does Edward Snowden Deserve?

"If... you were Holder and Obama, what sort of deal would you try to strike with everybody's favorite secrets-leaker?"

I'd offer him pardon on almost everything, leaving only a trivial (1-2 months) jail sentence left over. Then I'd have him murdered while he was in prison.

The intelligence community is happy because I've sent a clear message of what happens to whistleblowers, and I can continue to play innocent and act pro-whistleblower as I have for ages, letting accusations of it being an assassination fade into conspiracy theory while most of my voting base continues to ignore the problem or is glad I got rid of another "terrorist lover". Seriously, what are the pro-privacy advocates going to do? Vote against me on this issue by voting for a Republican who wants to peek into their bedrooms to make sure there's no sinning going on? Ha!

What? It's not what I personally want to see done, but then I'm not hypocritical, power-hungry, interest-beholden, and immoral enough to ever want to be President. If I were President, obviously that would not be the case.

Comment: There's other factors to consider (Score 1) 582

by The Archon V2.0 (#45561261) Attached to: The Dismantling of POTS: Bold Move Or Grave Error?

Some years ago I was listening to a radio program where they mentioned some company in Australia(?) planning to dismantle the urban POTS and replace it with something newer. But the reasoning wasn't just for upgrading: It was because they couldn't get the parts anymore.

Some of the manufacturers had stopped making the relays and whatnot that the POTS used, so the options were to convert to a new set of POTS hardware (an expensive Red Queen's race), get a huge order of compatible components custom-made (ditto), or upgrade-and-cannibalize the urban network to get them enough parts to maintain the rural POTS for another couple of decades and hope the entire system could be upgraded before they emptied their supply.

I've got all the money I'll ever need if I die by 4 o'clock. -- Henny Youngman

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