BETHLEHEM – A Facebook page promoting Nakba commemoration events in Jaffa was temporarily blocked overnight, Palestinian activists said Monday.
Fatima Huleiwi, an activist with Jaffa Youth, told Ma’an that it was not the first time that Facebook had blocked the group’s user page.
“When we published material urging people to support hunger striking prisoners, our pages were blocked. Last night the invitation to an event commemorating the Nakba anniversary in Jaffa was also blocked on several accounts for hours,” she said.
Sometimes right-wing Israelis report violations on the group’s Facebook pages, Huleiwi says, and as a result Facebook temporarily blocks the site for several hours.
Jaffa Youth has to send a complaint to Facebook before they eventually unblock the page, she added.
Members of Jaffa Youth will commemorate the 65th Nakba anniversary in Jaffa’s Clock Square from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.
The event will include artistic activities and public discussions about the Nakba, with Dr. Thabet Abu Ras from Adalah, and Eitan Bronstein from Zochrot, or ‘remembering,’ among the participants.
“We will continue to prepare for this event and will try to make it the most prestigious commemoration of the Nakba in the Palestinian territories occupied in 1948,” Mahmoud Abu Arisha, an activist from Jaffa Youth, told Ma’an.
More than 760,000 Palestinians — estimated today to number 4.8 million with their descendants — were pushed into exile or driven out of their homes in the conflict surrounding Israel’s creation in 1948.
Around 160,000 Palestinians, who remained in Israel after 1948, now number around 1.36 million people, or 20 percent of the country’s population.
Have you clicked “like” next to “Bret Michaels” or “I Love Being a Mom” on Facebook?
Did you also click “like” next to “Austin Texas”?
Or maybe you clicked “like” next to “Never Apologize For What You Feel It’s Like Saying Sorry For Being Real,” because you were inspired by the quote sometimes attributed to Lil Wayne.
Then you’ve just given enough information to Facebook for someone to profile you as a likely drug-user with a low IQ whose parents divorced before you were 21.
That may or may not be wholly true to your specific case, but researchers at the University of Cambridge published a study this week, titled “Private traits and attributes are predictable from digital records of human behavior” that shows—with alarming accuracy—the types of sensitive, personal information that can be predicted based solely on your Facebook likes.
The researchers—Michal Kosinski, David Stillwell and Thore Graepel—write in the latest Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences:
We show that a wide variety of people’s personal attributes, ranging from sexual orientation to intelligence, can be automatically and accurately inferred using their Facebook Likes. Similarity between Facebook Likes and other widespread kinds of digital records, such as browsing histories, search queries, or purchase histories suggests that the potential to reveal users’ attributes is unlikely to be limited to Likes. Moreover, the wide variety of attributes predicted in this study indicates that, given appropriate training data, it may be possible to reveal other attributes as well.
EFF and other privacy organizations often warn users of social media sites to be mindful of the type of information they make publicly available. We advocate locking down your privacy settings and opting out of tracking programs launched by marketing companies, so your data, to the extent it can, remains under your control.
Nevertheless, the seemingly innocuous things you “like” on Facebook may reveal far more about your life than what you actually like.
The authors write:
Commercial companies, governmental institutions, or even one’s Facebook friends could use software to infer attributes such as intelligence, sexual orientation, or political views that an individual may not have intended to share. One can imagine situations in which such predictions, even if incorrect, could pose a threat to an individual’s well-being, freedom, or even life. Importantly, given the ever-increasing amount of digital traces people leave behind, it becomes difficult for individuals to control which of their attributes are being revealed. For example, merely avoiding explicitly homosexual content may be insufficient to prevent others from discovering one’s sexual orientation.
The researchers used a pool of 58,000 volunteers in the United States. Based on “Likes” alone, they were able to predict whether a user was African-American or white 95% of the time, male or female 93% of the time.
They were able to gauge sexual orientation 88% of the time for men and 75% of the time for women. They were also able to predict political leaning (Republican versus Democrat) 85% of the time. On a more personal level, the researchers were able to predict whether your parents divorced when you were a kid 60% of the time.
The study also could make reasonably accurate guesses about whether you were a drug user, drinker, or smoker, as well as a host of other attributes, including emotional stability, satisfaction with life, and extroversion.
The research confirms what we’ve expected all along: Our privacy continues to constrict in an era of big data. Information we put out there for one purpose can now easily be collated and acted upon for wildly different purposes.
In their conclusion, the researchers admit their research is scary, but they also suggest a solution:
There is a risk that the growing awareness of digital exposure may negatively affect people’s experience of digital technologies, decrease their trust in online services, or even completely deter them from using digital technology. It is our hope, however, that the trust and goodwill among parties interacting in the digital environment can be maintained by providing users with transparency and control over their information, leading to an individually controlled balance between the promises and perils of the Digital Age.
With knowledge of tracking schemes, users should be able to tailor their settings to display (and receive) only information they’re comfortable with sharing. We suggest you practice good Facebook hygiene and go through your “Likes” right now to make sure you still actually like those things.
After all, if liking “Harley Davidson” implies a low level of intelligence, you may want to keep your love of motorcycles hush-hush.
Conversely, if you’re smart (or want to come across as smart), you might just go out and like “Curly Fries” or “Morgan Freemans Voice.”
Check out some of the charts from the study here.
European Union lawmakers are hoping to pressure internet giants such as Facebook and Google, to boost personal security controls and limit the collection of data without users consent.
A German MEP has proposed modifications to the 1995 Data Protection Act, suggesting legislation that would limit corporations’ ability to use and sell data, such as browsing habits, especially when users are unaware of the practice.
“Users must be informed about what happens with their data,” said Jan Philipp Albrecht, a German Green Party MEP. “And they must be able to consciously agree to data processing – or reject it.”
EU justice commissioner Viviane Reding noted that she is “glad to see that the European Parliament rapporteurs are supporting the Commission’s aim to strengthen Europe’s data protection rules, which currently date back to 1995 – pre-Internet age.”
“A strong, clear and uniform legal framework will help unleashing the potential of the Digital Single Market and foster economic growth, innovation and job creation in Europe,” she added.
The report by the German MEP adds to a proposal for tougher data protection announced by the European Commission last January. The European Parliament, the European Commission and the bloc’s 27 nations say they will seek an agreement on the rules in the coming months.
Google and Facebook – who were among the first corporations to profit from user data – have been lobbying against any such moves in the European Union. The Internet goliaths have warned legislators that such laws may hamper innovation and harm business.
“We are concerned that some aspects of the report do not support a flourishing European digital single market and the reality of innovation on the Internet,” Erika Mann, head of EU policy for Facebook, said.
Meanwhile, the Industry Coalition for Data Protection, an ICT lobby group, stated that Albrecht had “missed an opportunity to reconcile effective privacy safeguards with rules protecting the conduct of business — both fundamental rights under the EU charter.”
The European Union frequently raises the issue of privacy controls, causing standoffs with major American corporations.
In September, in another standoff over privacy issues, Facebook was forced to remove its facial recognition software from the social network in Europe in order to comply with European data protection laws. This followed an investigation by the Office of the Data Protection Commissioner in Ireland.
- Facebook, Google May Face More Data-Use Limits, EU Lawmaker Says (bloomberg.com)
- EU Seeks More Privacy Pressure On Google, Facebook (eurasiareview.com)
- Facebook and Google may be forced to ask permission to use personal data (guardian.co.uk)
All things considered, 2012 was a terrible year for online privacy against government surveillance. How bad was it? States around the world are demanding private data in ever-greater volumes—and getting it. They are recognizing the treasure troves of personal information created by modern communications technologies of all sorts, and pursuing ever easier, quicker, and more comprehensive access to our data. They are obtaining detailed logs of our entire lives online, and they are doing so under weaker legal standards than ever before. Several laws and proposals now afford many states warrantless snooping powers and nearly limitless data collection capabilities. These practices remain shrouded in secrecy, despite some private companies’ attempts to shine a light on the alarming measures states are taking around the world to obtain information about users.
To challenge the sweeping invasions into individuals’ personal lives, we’re calling on governments to ensure their surveillance policies and practices are consistent with international human rights standards. We’re also demanding that governments and companies become more transparent about their use of the Internet in state surveillance.
Signs of Growing International Surveillance in 2012
A new law in Brazil allows police and public prosecutors to demand user registration data from ISPs directly, via a simple request, with no court order, in criminal investigations involving money laundering. And, a new bill seeks to allow the Federal Police to demand registration data of Internet users in cases of crimes without the need of a court order nor judicial oversight.
Colombia adopted a new decree that compels ISPs to create backdoors that would make it easier for law enforcement to spy on Colombians. The law also forces ISPs and telecom providers to continuously collect and store for five years the location and subscriber information of millions of ordinary Colombian users.
Leaked documents revealed that the Mexican government shelled out $355 million to expand Mexican domestic surveillance equipment over the past year.
The Canadian government put proposed online surveillance legislation temporarily “on pause” following sustained public outrage generated by the bill. The bill introduces new police powers that would allow authorities easy access to Canadians’ online activities, including the power to force ISPs to hand over private customer data without a warrant.
The EU’s overarching data retention directive has become a dangerous model for other countries, despite the fact that several European Courts have declared several national data retention laws unconstitutional.
Romania went ahead with adopting a new data retention mandate law without any real evidence or debate over the right to privacy, despite the 2009 Constitutional Court ruling declaring the previous data retention law unconstitutional.
The German government is proposing a new law that would allow law enforcement and intelligence agencies to extensively identify Internet users, without any court order or reasonable suspicion of a crime. This year, more details were found on German State Trojan Program to spy on and monitor Skype, Gmail, Hotmail, Facebook and other online communications.
The UK government is considering a bill that would extend the police’s access to individuals’ email and social media traffic data. The UK ISPs will be compelled to gather the data and allow the UK police and security services to scrutinize it.
A Dutch proposal seeks to allow the police to break into foreign computers and search and delete data. If the location of a particular computer cannot be determined, the Dutch police would be able to break into it without ever contacting foreign authorities. Another Dutch proposal seeks to allow the police to force a suspect to decrypt information that is under investigation in a case of terrorism or sexual abuse of children.
In Russia, several new legal frameworks or proposed bills enable increased state surveillance of the Internet.
Australian law enforcement and intelligence agencies have continued to advance the false idea of the need for data retention mandates, mandatory backdoors for cloud computing services and the creation of a new crime for refusing to aid law enforcement in the decryption of communications.
A controversy arose in Lebanon over revelations that the country’s Internal Security Forces (ISF) demanded the content of all SMS text messages sent between September 13 and November 10 of this year, as well as usernames and passwords for services like Blackberry Messenger and Facebook.
The Rwandan Parliament is discussing a bill that will grant sanctions the police, army and intelligence services the power to listen to and read private communications in order to protect “public security”, the keyword often invoked to justify unnecessary human rights violations.
Pakistan adopted a Fair Trial Bill authorizing the state to intercept private communications to thwart acts of terrorism. No legal safeguards have been built in to prevent abuse of power and the word “terrorism” has been poorly defined (a word that’s often invoked to justify unnecessary human rights violations).
RIM announced that they had provided the Indian Government with a solution to intercept messages and emails exchanged via BlackBerry handsets. The encrypted communications will now be available to Indian intelligence agencies.
The Indian government approved the purchase of technological equipment to kickstart the National Intelligence Grid (NATGRID)—a project that seeks to link databases for ready access by intelligence agencies. The project is expected to facilitate “robust information sharing” by security and law enforcement agencies to combat terror threats.
EFF’s international team and a coalition of civil society organizations around the world have drafted a set of principles that can be used by civil society, governments and industry to evaluate whether state surveillance laws and practices are consistent with human rights. In 2013, we will continue demanding that states adopt stronger legal protections if they want to track our cell phones, or see what web sites we’ve visited, or rummage through our Hotmail, or read our private messages on Facebook, or otherwise invade our electronic privacy. EFF will keep working collaboratively with advocates, lawyers, journalists, bloggers and security experts on the ground to fight overbroad surveillance laws. Our work will involve existing legislative initiatives, international fora, and other regional venues where we can have a meaningful impact on establishing stronger legal protections against government access to people’s electronic communications and data.
- Colombia Adopts Mandatory Backdoor and Data Retention Mandates (informationliberation.com)
- Do we need the Snooper’s Charter to save lives? (pcpro.co.uk)
- ISP Walks Out of Piracy Talks: “We’re Not The Internet Police” (torrentfreak.com)
‘A Problem of Self-Image,’ banned by Facebook
Looks like the folks at Facebook have more to worry about than their plummeting stock price (off 28% since the IPO last week). In recent days, Facebook suspended the account of the Israeli graphic artist, Mysh, about whom I wrote a post a few days ago. It seems that some of the brilliant political graphics I praised in that post must’ve offended the delicate sensibilities of the pro-Israel crowd. I’m guessing there was a movement to complain about the images. And Facebook’s nanny patrol took a look at them and agreed. At least three images have been removed from Facebook and Mysh’s account was suspended for 24 hours as “punishment” for being such a bad boy and saying such mean things (and referencing the Holocuast) about the Israeli pogromists who assaulted African refugees in Tel Aviv a few days ago.
The problem is that Mysh did nothing wrong. In fact, his graphic art is brilliant political satire. It’s the hasbara crowd and their enablers at Facebook who should be ashamed of themselves. I expect that sort of behavior from the Israeli right. But I expect Facebook not to kowtow to such a censorious crowd. Let’s ask a few questions of FB’s censors:
1. Does this mean that you can’t feature a cartoon about the Holocaust on Facebook?
2. Does this mean that cartoons combining Holocaust imagery and criticism of Israel are treif on Facebook?
3. Does this mean that the hasbara crowd gets to determine what can and can’t be seen on Facebook?
4. Does this mean that non-prurient nudity in a cartoon will get it banned?
I’ve looked everywhere for a way to complain to Facebook about this ridiculous decision, but they pretty much avoid telling you how to do so. So I guess we have to make a big enough stink and get the media to call asking questions. Maybe someone can post FB’s corporate headquarters info and phone number and people can call. This is the customer service number I found online: 650-543-4800.
Psst, I’ll tell you a little secret: while Mysh can’t display this image on Facebook, guess who can? You, of course. It’s on my page. If enough of us put it up on all our pages it will hopefully drive the Thought Police crazy and maybe they’ll give up on the censorship. Post it to Twitter too and all the social media. Let’s frustrate the hell out of the censor and make them realize their folly.
The other two censored images are The Green Sabra (a parody of The Hulk, in which the hero/monster is a Sabra) and The Real $uperpower, in which corporate CEO Lex Luther carves an “S” on a naked, cowed Superman (the 99%) in a biting affirmation of the message of the Occupy Wall Street movement. I dare anyone to defend the censoring of these images. Even the most pro-Israel among you. Go ahead, I dare you to try.
Oh and about that falling stock price: Facebook, don’t you have enough troubles without adding this to the bunch? But I guess the nannies are factoring in the possibility of kvetching and moaning from the pro-Israel side as well. It’s a question of which will hurt them more. So far, art, freedom and free expression are the losers.
- Israeli students to get $2,000 to spread state propaganda on Facebook (theuglytruth.wordpress.com)
- Israeli military to keep tabs on Facebook, Twitter (rt.com)
In a May 10 press release, the staunchly pro-Israel Anti-Defamation League (ADL) announced it “will convene a new working group on cyberhate that will bring together Internet industry leaders and others to probe the roots of the problem and develop new solutions to address it head-on.”
According to the ADL statement, the establishment of a “Anti-Cyberhate Working Group” was approved by the Task Force on Internet Hate at a May 7 meeting held at the Stanford Center for Internet and Society in Palo Alto, California. The task force was created by the Inter-parliamentary Coalition for Combating Anti-Semitism (ICCA).
“Internet hate continues to have a global impact on civil society and a transparent process to respond to it will lead to reviewability and consistency,” said Abraham H. Foxman, ADL National Director. “We welcome the commitments of Google and Facebook to participate in this dialogue to combat online hate speech, Holocaust denial and anti-Semitism. Working alongside the Internet’s leaders will allow for the development of industry standards that balance effectiveness with respect for the right to free speech.”
The ICCA Task Force is co-chaired by Yuli Edelstein, Israel’s Minister of Public Diplomacy and Diaspora Affairs, who is charged with countering antisemitism. A member of Netanyahu’s ruling Likud party, Edelstein lives in the illegal West Bank settlement of Neve Daniel, which he sees as part of “Greater Israel.” As far as the Israeli minister is concerned, however, those who dare to nonviolently oppose Israel’s ongoing colonization of Palestinian land are motivated only by hate. According a report on Edelstein’s anti-Arab racism, he told delegates at a 2009 international conference on “combating antisemitism”:
We must repeat again and again these basic facts – TO BE ‘anti-Israel’ IS TO BE ANTI-SEMITIC. TO BOYCOTT ISRAEL, ISRAELI PROFESSORS and ISRAELI businesses, these are not political acts, these are acts of hate, acts of anti-Semitism! Anti-Israel hysteria is anti-Semitic hysteria. They are one and the same. [Ed: Upper case letters in the transcript]
If this is what is meant by “cyberhate,” perhaps the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions movement should consider targeting Google and Facebook for their apparent willingness to collaborate in the defense of the Israeli occupation.
- The Old News of ‘New Anti-Semitism’ (alethonews.wordpress.com)
The House of Representatives has approved Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act with a vote count of 248-168. The bill is now headed for the Senate. President Barack Obama will be able to sign or cancel it pending Senate approval.
Initially slated to vote on the bill Friday, the House of Representatives decided to pass Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act (CISPA) Thursday after approving a number of amendments.
Apart from cyber and national security purposes, the bill would now allow the government to use private information obtained through CISPA for the investigation and prosecution of “cybersecurity crime,” protection of individuals and the protection of children. The new clauses define “cybersecurity crime” as any crime involving network disruption or hacking.
“Basically this means CISPA can no longer be called a cyber security bill at all. The government would be able to search information it collects under CISPA for the purposes of investigating American citizens with complete immunity from all privacy protections as long as they can claim someone committed a ‘cybersecurity crime.’ Basically it says the Fourth Amendment does not apply online, at all,” Techdirt’s Leigh Beadon said.
Declan McCullagh, correspondent from CNET News, says CISPA will cause more trouble than is immediately apparent.
“The most controversial section of CISPA is the language – that notwithstanding any other portion the of law, companies can share what they want as long as it’s for what they call a ‘cyber security purpose,’” he told RT.
CISPA was introduced in the House last November. Critics chided the bill, saying its broad wording could allow the government to spy on individual Internet users and block websites that publish vaguely defined ‘sensitive’ data.
“[CISPA] doesn’t really have any protections against cyber threats, all it does is make people share their information. But that’s not going to solve the problem. What’s going to solve the problem is actual security measures, protecting the service in the first place, not spying on people after the fact,” Internet activist Aaron Swartz told RT.
The White House issued a statement Wednesday saying President Barack Obama would be advised to veto the bill if he receives it. The Obama administration denounces the proposed law for potentially giving the government cyber-sleuthing powers that would allow both federal authorities and private businesses to sneak into inboxes and online activities in the name of combating Internet terrorism tactics.
Earlier, the House of Representatives and Senate also considered adopting the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and Protect IP Act (PIPA). These bills sought to entitle the US government to curb access to “rogue websites” that illegally hosted intellectual property. The bills could effectively force search engines to remove these websites from search results, an action many private companies considered intrusive.
PIPA and SOPA were opposed by many Internet giants including Google, Mozilla, Facebook, Yahoo!, Wikipedia and Reddit. Google organized a petition against the legislation, while Wikipedia held a 24-hour blackout to protest the bill in January. As a result, SOPA was recalled while PIPA was postponed indefinitely.
However, CISPA was actually backed by Facebook, despite its opposition to SOPA and PIPA. In a blog post on April 13, Joel Kaplan, Vice President of US Public Policy at Facebook, argued that if enacted into law, the bill would “give companies like ours the tools we need to protect our systems and the security of our users’ information, while also providing those users confidence that adequate privacy safeguards are in place.”
A number of big companies, including AT&T, Microsoft, Boeing, Verizon and Oracle have also supported CISPA.
At first blush, it seems obvious that a picture could reveal your location. A picture of you standing in front of the Golden Gate Bridge sensibly leads to the conclusion you’re in the San Francisco Bay Area when the photo was taken. But now that smartphones are quickly supplanting traditional digital cameras, and even traditional cameras now have wifi built in, many more pictures are finding their way onto the web, in places like Twitter, Flickr, Google+ and Tumblr. In a span of 10 days, popular photo social network Instagram added 10 million new users as a result of the release of its Android app and its acquisition by Facebook. And the location data hidden in these quick and candid pictures — even when your location isn’t as obvious as “standing in front of the Golden Gate Bridge” — is becoming another easy way for anyone, including law enforcement, to figure out where you are.
Take the case of “w0rmer,” a member of an Anonymous offshoot called “CabinCr3w,” for example. According to the federal government (PDF), “w0rmer” broke into a number of different law enforcement databases and obtained a wealth of sensitive information. In a Twitter post, “w0rmer” provided a link to a website that contained the sensitive information as well as a picture of a woman (NSFW) posing with a sign taunting the authorities. Because the picture was taken with an iPhone 4, which contains a GPS device built in, the GPS coordinates of where the picture was taken was embedded into the picture’s EXIF metadata. The FBI was able to use the EXIF data to determine that the picture was taken at a house in Wantirna South, Australia.
The FBI tracked down other online references to “w0rmer,” with one website containing the name Higinio Ochoa. The feds took a look at Ochoa’s Facebook account, which detailed that his girlfriend was Australian. Combined with the EXIF metadata, the government believed they had corroborated the identity of “w0rmer” as Ochoa, and in turn arrested him.
Even for photos not taken with a smartphone and not embedded with GPS coordinates (for example, point and shoot or SLR cameras that do not geotag), it’s still possible for the police to get location information through EXIF metadata. You can upload a picture here and see the metadata stored in a picture for yourself. Contained within that metadata is the camera’s serial number. Armed with that information, the police can easily scour the internet for other pictures tagged with the same serial number. In Australia, a man whose camera was stolen was able to track it down using stolencamerafinder.com because the thief had taken a picture with the camera and uploaded it to Flickr, where had had listed his address. But even if the thief’s Flickr site didn’t contain his address, police could have subpoenaed Flickr – like law enforcement have attempted to do with Twitter – for information concerning a user’s temporarily assigned IP address, as well as session times and logs, to eventually determine where a person uploaded a picture from. All of which can be used to piece together a snapshot of not only your movements, but as in the case of “w0rmer,” potentially your identity. In the United States, police are being trained about the broader investigative (PDF) potential of this information.
It might be tempting to say the problem is overblown, because some social media sites, including Facebook and Twitter, strip the metadata out of photos uploaded by their members. But not all do. Twitpic‘s default is to use a picture’s location tag unless you opt out. Flickr gives you the option to hide a photo’s EXIF data, but many casual photographers tempted by the rapid growth of photo sharing may not understand what EXIF data is, and the implication of making it publicly available.
The bigger problem is that courts have been expanding the police’s right to search digital devices without a warrant under the “search incident to arrest” exception of the Fourth Amendment. While many of the cases involve warrantless searches of cell phones, there has been at least one case in California (PDF) where the police used the “search incident to arrest” exception to search a juvenile’s digital camera. And there are other reported incidents of photojournalists having their cameras confiscated and searched when covering political protests and rallies. If the cops have the physical camera (and thus the memory cards that store the photos), whatever scrubbing that happens when a photo is uploaded to the web is no obstacle.
So if you value your privacy, you should take steps to ensure the EXIF metadata in your pictures isn’t an easy way for anyone on the Internet to figure out your location. If you’re using a smartphone to take pictures, disable geotagging from your pictures. If you’re uploading your pictures to a website like Flickr or Twitpic that defaults to automatically include EXIF data and location information, take the steps to turn it off. And if you’re using a traditional SLR or point and shoot camera that doesn’t geotag, but does contain a breadth of EXIF data, the make sure you scrub its metadata before you upload it on the Internet. There are free online tools that will help you do precisely that. These simple steps will help ensure that the thousand words a picture describes doesn’t include your location.
- Anonymous Hackers Not Smart On Anonymity, Feds Say (promoteliberty.wordpress.com)
- Anonymous Hackers Not Smart On Anonymity, Feds Say (informationweek.com)
In the early morning hours of Monday March 26th, a large force of Israeli soldiers surrounded the Haniyeh house in Al-Bireh, located in the heart of the West Bank’s capital city of Ramallah. After setting up a perimeter around the house, 12 well-armed soldiers kicked down the Haniyeh’s door and entered the home.
“They broke the door. They didn’t knock. They didn’t ring. They broke the door and we found them in the middle of our bedroom,” says 26 year-old Dima Haniyeh.
After confining Dima’s parents to their bedroom, the soldiers proceeded on to the next bedroom shared by Dima and her 22 year-old sister, Ola.
Right off the bat, Dima recalls, it was clear the soldiers had an apparent interest in her young sister. “They wanted to search us both and they wanted Ola’s mobile phone and laptop.”
A female soldier was brought in to search them both.
Coincidentally, Ola’s phone had been lost several days before but the soldiers didn’t believe her.
“If you don’t give us your phone we are going to destroy the room. We will destroy every room until we find it,” Dima remembers one of the soldiers having said.
They did just that—, emptying every drawer onto the floor, flipping the beds, and clearing the shelves. Eventually, they told Ola to get dressed. They wanted to take her with them for questioning.
Ola remembers her father saying, “Why don’t you ask her here?! You’ve been here an hour and a half and haven’t asked a single question!”
Brushing aside her father’s supplications, and in violation of Fourth Geneva Convention, the soldiers took Ola with them and brought her directly to Israel’s Askalan prison in the Naqab Desert.
Another Detainee Without Charges
Ola has been held in Askalan ever since. Although no charges have been officially filed against her, a review trial held at the Askalan military court on Thursday April 5th ruled in favor of a 7-day extension of Ola’s detention. Ola was given another trial on Wednesday April 4th which resulted in yet another detention extension for the second time, as the prosecutors and Israeli judge did not carry out an investigation as they were on a vacation. Ola’s third court extension date was given this week, with her due to appear in court on Thursday, April 19.
“She is being interrogated daily regarding internet activity. The suspicion is that the internet pages are connected to ‘security activities’”, says Amal Husein of Addameer.
Ola’s detention was up for review on Tuesday April 17th. Her family and friends are confident that she will be released, as she hasn’t been accused or charged of anything as of yet. However, given the Israeli authorities’ administrative detention track record, anything is possible.
“People have said that the Israeli authorities have taken many people because of Facebook,” says Dima. “But everyone has a Facebook. Everyone puts his or her opinion on Facebook. There is nothing serious about it… it is freedom of speech.”
Ola recently graduated with a degree in Media and Political Science from Birzeit University last Fall. “She might go to protests sometimes, as all of us do, to speak out against the occupation and to support people- nothing extraordinary,” says Dima. “All of us participate—its part of being in Palestine and living under occupation.”
“She’s a quiet girl,” continues Dima. “She is a genuine and passionate person. She has friends and is lively, but she is much more the quiet type.”
Ola’s sister Dima says that Ola had perhaps had made comments on Facebook in support of Palestinian prisoners in general and against Israel’s policy of administrative detention but had done nothing out of the ordinary. “She is a journalist. This is her job. She should be able to do that,” argues Dima.
Ola’s sister and friends are quite confident that she was arrested simply because she voiced her opinions—a scary thought in the Facebook age.
“When you don’t have charges against someone—why… how can you keep them detained?” asks Dima. “When you don’t have any serious charges, how can you break down someone’s door in the middle of the night and take them? What happens when they have a serious case? What will they do then? Its scary.”
- 1,600 Palestinian prisoners begin open-ended hunger strike in Israeli jails (alethonews.wordpress.com)
- Israeli forces shut down media launch in Jerusalem (alethonews.wordpress.com)
- Israel – Israeli troops force two Palestinian TV stations to close (en.rsf.org)
- Report: 201 Palestinians Died in Israeli Jails (and more…) (occupiedpalestine.wordpress.com)
This week, EFF – along with a host of other civil liberties groups – are protesting the dangerous new cybersecurity bill known as CISPA that will be voted on in the House on April 23. Here is everything you need to know about the bill and why we are protesting:
What is “CISPA”?
CISPA stands for The Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act, a cybersecurity bill written by Rep. Mike Rogers (R-MI) and Dutch Ruppersberger (D-MD) (H.R. 3523). The bill purports to allow companies and the federal government to share information to prevent or defend from cyberattacks. However, the bill expressly authorizes monitoring of our private communications, and is written so broadly that it allows companies to hand over large swaths of personal information to the government with no judicial oversight—effectively creating a “cybersecurity” loophole in all existing privacy laws. Because the bill is so hotly debated now, unofficial proposed amendments are also being circulated [link] and the actual bill language is in flux.
Under CISPA, can a private company read my emails?
Yes. Under CISPA, any company can “use cybersecurity systems to identify and obtain cyber threat information to protect the rights and property” of the company. This phrase is being interpreted to mean monitoring your communications—including the contents of email or private messages on Facebook.
Right now, well-established laws, like the Wiretap Act and the Electronic Communications Privacy Act, prevent companies from routinely monitoring your private communications. Communications service providers may only engage in reasonable monitoring that balances the providers’ needs to protect their rights and property with their subscribers’ right to privacy in their communications. And these laws expressly allow lawsuits against companies that go too far. CISPA destroys these protections by declaring that any provision in CISPA is effective “notwithstanding any other law” and by creating a broad immunity for companies against both civil and criminal liability. This means companies can bypass all existing laws, as long as they claim a vague “cybersecurity” purpose.
What would allow a company to read my emails?
CISPA has such an expansive definition of “cybersecurity threat information” that many ordinary activities could qualify. CISPA is not specific, but similar definitions in two Senate bills provide clues as to what these activities could be. Basic privacy practices that EFF recommends—like using an anonymizing service like Tor or even encrypting your emails—could be considered an indicator of a “threat” under the Senate bills. As we have stated previously, the bills’ definitions “implicate far more than what security experts would reasonably consider to be cybersecurity threat indicators—things like port scans, DDoS traffic, and the like.”
A more detailed explanation about what could constitute a “cybersecurity purpose” or “cyber security threat indicator” in the various cybersecurity bills can be read here.
Under CISPA, can a company hand my communications over to the government without a warrant?
Yes. After collecting your communications, companies can then voluntarily hand them over to the government with no warrant or judicial oversight whatsoever as long is the communications have what the companies interpret to be “cyber threat information” in them. Once the government has your communications, they can read them too.
Under CISPA, what can I do if a company improperly hands over private information to the government?
Almost nothing. CISPA would affirmatively prevent users from suing a company if they hand over their private information to the government in virtually all cases. A broad immunity provision in the proposed amendments gives companies complete protection from user lawsuits unless information was given to the government:
(I) intentionally to achieve a wrongful purpose;
(II) knowingly without legal or factual justification; and
(III) in disregard of a known or obvious risk that is so great as to make it highly probably that the harm of the act or omission will outweigh the benefit.
As Techdirt concluded, “no matter how you slice it, this is an insanely onerous definition of willful misconduct that makes it essentially impossible to ever sue a company for wrongly sharing data under CISPA.” This proposed immunity provision is actually worse than the prior version of the bill, under which companies could be sued if they acted in “bad faith.”
What government agencies can look at my private information?
Under CISPA, companies are directed to hand “cyber threat information” to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). Once it’s in DHS’s hands, the bill says that DHS can then hand the information to other intelligence agencies, including the National Security Agency, at its discretion.
Can the government use my private information for other purposes besides “cybersecurity” once they have it?
Yes. When the bill was originally drafted, information could be used for all other law enforcement purposes besides “regulatory purposes.” A new amendment narrows this slightly. Now—even though the information was passed along to the government for only cybersecurity purposes—the government can use your personal information for either cybersecurity or national security investigations. And as long as it can be used for one of those purposes, it can be used for any other purpose as well.
Can the government use my private information to go after alleged copyright infringers and whistleblower websites?
Up until last Friday the answer was yes, and now it’s changed to maybe. In response to the overwhelming protest from the Internet community that this bill would become a backdoor for SOPA 2, the bill authors have proposed an amendment that rids the bill of any reference to “intellectual property.”
The bill previously defined “cyber threat intelligence” and “cybersecurity purpose” to include “theft or misappropriation of private or government information, intellectual property, or personally identifiable information.” Now the text reads:
(B) efforts to gain unauthorized access to a system or network, including efforts to gain such unauthorized access to steal or misappropriate private or government information
But it is important to remember that this proposed amendment is just that: proposed. The House has not voted it into the bill yet, so they still must follow through and remove it completely.
A more detailed explanation of how this provision could be used for copyright enforcement and censoring whistleblower sites like WikiLeaks can be read here.
What can I do to stop the government from misusing my private information?
CISPA does allow users to sue the government if they intentionally or willfully use their information for purposes other than what is described above. But any such lawsuit will be difficult to bring. For instance, the statute of limitations for such a lawsuit is two years from the date of the actual violation. It’s not at all clear how an individual would know of such misuse if it were kept inside the government.
Moreover, suing the government where classified information or the “state secrets privilege” is involved is difficult, expensive, and time consuming. EFF has been involved for years in a lawsuit over Fourth Amendment and statutory violations stemming from the warrantless wiretapping program run by the NSA—a likely recipient of “cyber threat information.” Despite six years of litigation, the government continues to maintain that the “state secrets” privilege prevents the lawsuit from being heard.
Given that DHS is notorious for classifying everything—even including their budget and number of employees—they may attempt to prevent users from finding out exactly how this information was ever used. And if the information is in the hands of the NSA and they claim “national security,” then it would get even harder.
In addition, while CISPA does mandate an Inspector General should issue a report to Congress over the government’s use of this information, its recommendations or remedies do not have to be followed.
Why are Facebook and other companies supporting this legislation?
Facebook and other companies have endorsed this legislation because they want to be able to receive information about network security threats from the government. This is a fine goal, but unfortunately CISPA would do far more than that—it would eviscerate existing privacy laws by allowing companies to voluntarily share users’ private information with the government.
Facebook released a statement Friday saying that they are concerned about users’ privacy rights and that the provision allowing them to hand user information to the government “is unrelated to the things we liked about HR 3523 in the first place.” As we explained in our analysis of Facebook’s response: the “stated goal of Facebook—namely, for companies to receive data about cybersecurity threats from the government—does not necessitate any of the CISPA provisions that allow companies to routinely monitor private communications and share personal user data gleaned from those communications with the government.” Read more about why Facebook should withdraw support from CISPA until privacy safeguards are in place here.
What can I do to stop this bill?
It’s vital that concerned Internet users tell Congress to stop this bill. Use EFF’s action center to send an email to your Congress member urging them to oppose this bill.
- Worse than SOPA? CISPA to censor Web in name of cybersecurity (alethonews.wordpress.com)
- Facebook defends CISPA support, completely misses the point (digitaltrends.com)
- What You Need to Know About CISPA (readwriteweb.com)
- What Facebook Wants in Cybersecurity Doesn’t Require Trampling On Our Privacy Rights (eff.org)
- Say ‘hello’ to CISPA, it will remind you of SOPA (news.cnet.com)
Mobile phones have become a major part of our modern civilization. These hand-held computers have reached a level of sophistication that allows us to instantly communicate through text, voice and video. This same technology is also being used to amass a situational awareness and sensory system that will track you and the world around you. You and your cell phone are nodes in a grid of sensors that paints a virtual picture of the world.
We are offering a huge amount of “human intelligence” to whoever is watching. In days gone by, this information was uncovered by finding the right paperwork and other hard intel. Now that the public has become acclimated to social media, advancing technology and a lesser expectation of privacy, we are collectively offering freely and openly information that is valuable to corporations, marketers, and especially governments. Cell phones are a nexus point for all of this information. As the Economist reports,
“…imagine [your cell phone] being able to aggregate this sort of information from large numbers of phones. It would be possible to determine and analyse how people move around cities, how social groups interact, how quickly traffic is moving and even how diseases might spread. The world’s 4 billion mobile phones could be turned into sensors on a global data-collection network.”
You post facebook updates from your phone, you post tweets, and you send texts. This information is being used to track social movements, predict crime, and build psychological profiles on individuals. Some phones are even being made that act as breathalyzers.
We have all likely heard about the NSA wiretapping of phone calls, but cell phones and mobile devices offer an entirely new level of real time information. “Social awareness” and geolocation, i.e. the “tagging” of your location with the popular Foursquare app is an example. Police are also scanning cell phones with wireless devices during routine traffic stops. The device can retrieve all photos and video from a cell phone and “…works with 3000 different phone models and can even defeat password protections.”
The Air Force is developing a “Social Radar” that will track social developments and aid counter insurgency operations. An earlier model was developed by the Pentagon called the “Sentient World Simulation” that predicts “…how long you can go without food or water, or how you will respond to televised propaganda.” In 2010 Dr. Mark Maybury, an artificial intelligence specialist, wrote his paper on the proposed Social Radar for the MITRE Corporation. Wired magazine’s Danger room reports,
“Using sociometrics, it will pinpoint groups. Facebook timelines, political polls, spy drone feeds, relief workers’ reports, and infectious disease alerts should all pour into the Social Radar, Maybury writes, helping the system keep tabs on everything from carbon monoxide levels to literacy rates to consumer prices.”
The NSA is developing an artificial intelligence system called Aquaint (Advanced QUestion Answering for INTelligence). James Bamford, who helped expose the NSA’s illegal wiretapping under the Bush administration, covered the story in 2009. Bamford quotes one researcher who worked on the system – and quit after finding out how intrusive the technology was – as saying, “Think of 2001: A Space Odyssey and the most memorable character, HAL 9000, having a conversation with David. We are essentially building this system. We are building HAL.” As Bamford reports, this system will use “…phone calls, credit card receipts, social networks like Facebook and MySpace, GPS tracks, cell phone geolocation, Internet searches, Amazon book purchases, even E-Z Pass toll records…”
Not only can the government monitor your cell phone, it can now seize control of it through mandatory chips installed in new phones. Most major cell phone providers have signed on to the government program. Terror alerts, Amber alerts, public safety and presidential messages can now be sent to your phone. “Users can opt out of any of the alerts except the presidential messages,” notes the New York Times. An unannounced test of this system caused panic in New Jersey in December of 2011 when Verizon customers received an alert warning of a civil emergency.
- MTA Tells Riders To ‘Stay Alert’ In New Public Service Announcement (newyork.cbslocal.com)