v3rgEz writes "If you’ve given up bacon for Lent, stop reading now. The same goes for people who don’t own a smartphone made by Apple Inc. But if you’ve got an iPhone and a love for “the candy of meat,” you might want to check out a new high-tech promotional gimmick from old-school meatpacker Oscar Meyer. The company, which is owned by Kraft Foods Group Inc., is giving away 4,700 gadgets that convert an iPhone into a bacon-scented alarm clock."Link to Original Source
v3rgEz writes "Even as some police departments curtail their sue of license plate scanning technology over privacy concerns, private companies have been amassing a much larger, almost completely unregulated database that pulls in billions of scans a year, marking the exact time and location of millions of vehicles across America. The database, which is often offered to law enforcement for free, is collected by repo and towing companies eager to tap easy revenue, while the database companies than resell that data, often for as little as $25 for a plate's complete recorded history."Link to Original Source
v3rgEz writes "After the Snowden revelations, President Obama promised greater transparency on how the federal government collects and uses data on its citizens, including a three-leg "privacy tour" to discuss the balance between security and privacy. Well, the first leg of the tour is up and — surprise, surprise — it's not much of a conversation, with official dodging questions or, in one case, simply walking out of the conference."Link to Original Source
v3rgEz writes "TV streaming service Aereo expected broadcasters would put up a fight. The startup may not have seen the Justice Department as a threat, however. The Justice Department has now weighed in, saying in a filing that it’s siding with major broadcasters who accuse Aereo of stealing TV content. In its filing, the Justice Department noted it doesn’t believe a win for broadcasters would dismantle the precedent that created the cloud computing industry, as Aereo has previously claimed.
The case is expected to go before the Supreme Court in late April."
v3rgEz writes "In a slideshow released as part of a FOIA request to MuckRock, the DEA released slides outlining four legal methods of intelligence gathering "acceptable to the public." One of those methods, however, was so acceptable that the agency felt the need to redact what it was, calling it a confidential law enforcement technique. The other three methods which were released include the controversial FISA courts, the technique of parallel reconstruction, and the Classified Information Procedures Act (CIPA), which bars the release of confidential information in court."Link to Original Source
v3rgEz writes "CJ Ciaramella stumbled upon some recently interesting documents with a recent FOIA request: The DEA's training materials regarding parallel construction, the practice of reverse engineering the evidence chain to keep how the government actually knows something happened away from prosecutors, the defense, and the public.
“Americans don’t like it," the materials note, when the government relies heavily on classified sources, so agents are encouraged to find ways to get the same information through tactics like "routine" traffic stops that coincidentally find the information agents are after.
Public blowback, along with greater criminal awareness, are cited among the reasons for keeping the actual methodologies beyond the reach of even the prosecutors working with the DEA on the cases."Link to Original Source
v3rgEz writes "A new startup out of MIT offers early adopters a chance at the afterlife, of sorts: It promises to build an AI representation of the dearly departed based on chat logs, email, Facebook, and other digital exhaust generated over the years. “Eterni.me generates a virtual YOU, an avatar that emulates your personality and can interact with, and offer information and advice to your family and friends after you pass away,” the team promises. But can a chat bot plus big data really produce anything beyond a creepy, awkward facsimile?"
v3rgEz writes "Data from more than 68,000 Boston Police Department automated license plate reader scans — a fraction of the total scans the department has performed since 2006 — show the department's program violated its own rules and failed to effectively follow up on leads that had been flagged dozens of times.
Ars Technica noted how these programs are catching on nationwide, often with underwhelming results.
The program's failing came to light after a public records request for the data, which has been posted online with license plate information redacted."Link to Original Source
v3rgEz writes "Wish you were a little more organized? Have trouble finding that archived contract when you actually need it? Don't feel too bad: The National Security Agency has the same problem, claiming that its contract database is stored manually and impossible to search by topic, category, or even by vendor in most cases."Link to Original Source
v3rgEz writes "By September 14, 1960, Isaac Asimov had been a professor of biochemistry Boston University for 11 years, and his acclaimed "I, Robot" collection of short stories was on its seventh reprint. This was also the day someone not-so-subtly accused him of communist sympathies in a letter to J. Edgar Hoover.
They ominously concluded that “Asimov may be quite all right. On the other hand . . . . .”
The "tip off" wasn't given much credit, but it didn't matter since Asimov's science fiction writing alone was enough to warrant FBI monitoring, particularly as the FBI hunted for the mysterious ROBPROF, a communist informant embedded in American academia.
MuckRock has Isaac Asimov's FBI files in full, and a write up of the more interesting bits."Link to Original Source
v3rgEz writes "A veritable FOIA frenzy ensued in 2013 following a series of leaks about NSA surveillance programs, recently released documents show.
From June 6 to September 4, the National Security Agency’s FOIA load increased 1,054 percent over its 2012 intake. In that three-month span, the agency received 3,382 public records requests. For comparison, the NSA received just 293 requests over the same period in 2012.
While a few have netted new details about NSA surveillance operations, such as a contract with French security firm VUPEN, the majority appear to have been rejected. MuckRock has a guide on filing with the NSA to maximize your chances of actually getting something back."Link to Original Source
v3rgEz writes "In most of America, you could probably buy a home for $270,000. Or, if you were a public documents wonk, you could get all of the 95,000 pages the FBI says may relate to its contracts with Booz Allen Hamilton over the last five years.
As part of a running look at outsourcing government work to Booz Allen Hamilton, MuckRock has already acquired thousands of pages of contracts with various agencies. A number of agencies, however, are requesting huge search fees simply to look at the contracts they have with one of America's largest service providers, Booz Allen Hamilton, including the Department of Labor ($1,500) and Homeland Security ($1,262).
That's still not the largest FOIA fee assessed though: Recently the Postal Service asked for $451,875 to hand over law enforcement tracking requests."
v3rgEz writes "Documents requested by MuckRock from the National Security Agency show it had a contract with the French security researcher VUPEN whose founder and CEO Chaouki Bekrar puckishly touts himself as the "Darth Vader of Cybersecurity."
While the NSA redacted the price of the subscription, VUPEN is apparently hoping the year-long contract is a sign of things to come: It recently tweeted it was setting up shop in Maryland."
v3rgEz writes "Starting two weeks ago, requests faxed to the Office of the Secretary of Defense (OSD) started coming back as undeliverable. After several subsequent attempts and troubleshooting, the culprit was found. Sure enough, their fax machine is down... possibly until November, when the new fiscal year begins and a new machine can be ordered."Link to Original Source
v3rgEz writes "The problems with various government watch lists, particularly the TSA's, are well known, but a new release of documents shows just how problematic large-scale government tracking can be: A recent FOIA request to the FBI for the files on late Irving Adler, activist, turned up plenty of reading material, but it was about the wrong Irving: An examination of documents showed that the files another Irving Adler, an Army veteran, found himself on the wrong end of intense questioning despite universal assertions that he was a "loyal and patriotic American."
The investigations hounded the second Irving for four years until the FBI realized it was watching the wrong man, and the boring Irving ultimately only cleared himself when it was shown he was serving abroad during the time the FBI thought he was in Long Island.
Surely these kinds of mistakes won't happen with modern databases."Link to Original Source