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Analysis and Comment (44)

The government wants your movements online to be retained by ISPs and other companies. The government wants your movements online to be retained by ISPs and other companies. Flickr/Envato

What metadata does the government want about you?

With the leaking of a discussion paper on telecommunications data retention, we are at last starting to get some clarity as to just what metadata the Abbott government is likely to ask telecommunications…
How many ways are you being watched? How many ways are you being watched? GlebStock

Why Reset the Net falls short in protecting you from surveillance

A year on from Edward Snowden’s revelations around state sponsored mass surveillance programs, some of the major players in the online and technological world (including Google, Mozilla, Twitter and Reddit…
In preparing for the World Cup, Brazilian police have embarked on a process of cleaning up the country’s poorest neighbourhoods, known as favelas. In preparing for the World Cup, Brazilian police have embarked on a process of cleaning up the country’s poorest neighbourhoods, known as favelas. EPA/Antonio Lacerda

Brazil’s World Cup preparations showcase ‘celebration capitalism’

Brazil is famous for many things: samba, football and beaches, but also its favelas, the poor neighbourhoods that encircle its cities. These areas are often on invaded lands in middle and upper-class neighbourhoods…
The move to mobile technology has opened up a wealth of metadata, but that information goes deeper than you may first think. The move to mobile technology has opened up a wealth of metadata, but that information goes deeper than you may first think. The Fuji street shooter/Flickr

Metadata and the law: what your smartphone really says about you

Metadata related to lawful interception has been in the news a bit lately. You may have seen last week the Australian Federal Police (AFP) called for more access to electronic metadata as a Senate committee…
All eyes are on GCHQ as it justifies its spying activities. All eyes are on GCHQ as it justifies its spying activities. Campaign Against Arms Trade

Ministers exploit legal grey area to justify GCHQ spying

A debate is brewing after a report submitted to MPs suggested that GCHQ has been breaking the law by conducting mass surveillance on UK citizens. In the red corner sits public law barrister Jemima Stratford…
Make the known unknowns and the unknown unknowns known and we’ll all be better off. Make the known unknowns and the unknown unknowns known and we’ll all be better off. David Shankbone

Make surveillance work for the people: let them spy back

Privacy – in our bedrooms, at work, on the street and on the internet – is important to everyone. But every week brings another story demonstrating the ongoing shredding of privacy that undermines those…
That’s one way to get around Facebook’s facial recognition. That’s one way to get around Facebook’s facial recognition. mw238

Privacy 2013: from Snowden to Facebook to Amazon’s drones

While every year since the advent of the internet has had its share of privacy stories, 2013 has been a cornucopia of news about surveillance and personal data. Undoubtedly, the biggest story of the year…
‘Yes we scan!’ NSA monitoring will be a Christmas headache for Barack Obama. ‘Yes we scan!’ NSA monitoring will be a Christmas headache for Barack Obama. Mike Herbst

White House stalls as report condemns NSA surveillance

Even before opening his stocking on Christmas morning, Barack Obama has his holiday reading cut out for him. His Review Group on Intelligence and Surveillance Technologies has handed him a 300-page report…
What are the implications for democracy if our greatest communication tool - the internet - is turned on the citizenry and used for surveillance? What are the implications for democracy if our greatest communication tool - the internet - is turned on the citizenry and used for surveillance? EPA/Jim Lo Scalzo

The internet after Snowden: what now?

Since June, thanks to the information disclosed by National Security Agency (NSA) whistleblower Edward Snowden, a troubling truth has come to light. The internet, and with it the entire gamut of new communication…
The backlash against state surveillance is growing stronger by the day. The backlash against state surveillance is growing stronger by the day. ubiquit

A digital rights bill means nothing without basic state compliance

More than 500 high-profile names, including authors, musicians and five Nobel laureates, have signed a petition to the United Nations calling for a bill of digital rights to be developed in the wake of…
Former Gunns chairman John Gay is the most senior executive to have been convicted of insider trading in Australia. He received a fine of $50,000. Former Gunns chairman John Gay is the most senior executive to have been convicted of insider trading in Australia. He received a fine of $50,000. David Beniuk/AAP

Insider trading gets more scrutiny, but convictions may not flow

The Australian Securities and Investments Commission is moving to “real-time” monitoring of share trading as another weapon in the ongoing fight against insider trading. But will the use of this form of…
How have we learned to adapt to constant surveillance? Paolo Cirio, Street Ghosts (2012-ongoing). How have we learned to adapt to constant surveillance? Paolo Cirio, Street Ghosts (2012-ongoing). Image courtesy of the artist

Surveillance is our new normal, so let’s take a closer look

Last week in the Supreme Court of New South Wales, jurors were shown surveillance footage in the trial of a Sydney man, Simon Gittany, who stands accused of murdering his girlfriend Lisa Harnum. It is…
With more internet users going dark, will tech companies follow them? With more internet users going dark, will tech companies follow them? Owen's/Flickr

US tech companies could go ‘dark’ to regain trust

With each new revelation of the scope of the American National Security Agency’s spying, perceptions of the importance of privacy are hardening around the world. Systematic monitoring of the world’s communications…
Surveillance can be desirable – but only in the right context. Surveillance can be desirable – but only in the right context. Shardayyy

Watching me watching you (and liking it): surveillance isn’t all bad

Over the past year or so, surveillance issues have become more visible to the public, especially forms of what Australian computer scientist Roger Clarke calls “dataveillance”, or the systematic collection…
“Stranger Visions” is a series of 3D printed portraits based on genetic material taken from public places, by Heather Dewey-­Hagborg. “Stranger Visions” is a series of 3D printed portraits based on genetic material taken from public places, by Heather Dewey-­Hagborg. Image courtesy of the artist

Trace Recordings: surveillance, art and identity in the 21st century

“We know where you are. We know where you’ve been. We can more or less know what you’re thinking about.” These aren’t lines from Nineteen Eighty-Four but the words of Eric Schmidt, Google’s notoriously…
Recent revelations about the surveillance surrounding the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, are distinctly Orwellian. Recent revelations about the surveillance surrounding the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, are distinctly Orwellian. David Blackwell.

The Sochi Winter Olympics and the spectacle of surveillance

If you’re thinking about planning a trip to Russia for the Winter Olympic Games in February next year, prepare to have every aspect of your communications monitored under “the most invasive and systematic…
What are the implications of the latest leaks by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden? What are the implications of the latest leaks by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden? Pigstick1

XKeyscore and NSA surveillance leaks – expert reaction

XKeyscore is an online surveillance tool run by America’s National Security Agency (NSA) that allows analysts to search contents of chats, emails and browsing histories without warrants, according to leaked…
“Lawful interception” has been used by intelligence agencies for decades. “Lawful interception” has been used by intelligence agencies for decades. Craig Does Stuff

US ‘choke-points’ for Australian telecoms data are no surprise

Hot on the heels of data analyst whistleblower Edward Snowden’s revelations about the existence of the PRISM electronic surveillance program operated by the United States' National Security Agency since…
The existence of the NSA’s PRISM program may have come as a surprise to some, but surveillance in public is nothing new. The existence of the NSA’s PRISM program may have come as a surprise to some, but surveillance in public is nothing new. EPA/Robert Sullivan

Seeing through the PRISM: the history of everyday surveillance

Many people have expressed their outrage at recent revelations concerning the United States’ PRISM program, linking it to the overpowering gaze of Big Brother. The PRISM program is rightly a subject of…
GCHQ is old news. GCHQ is old news. PA/Barry Batchelor

Forget GCHQ, the real surveillance state is yet to come

So the US National Security Agency (NSA) and possibly GCHQ could have access to our emails. This should not have come as a surprise. It should be seen as a sign of things to come. We already send close…
You have nothing to hide – but does that mean you have nothing to worry about? You have nothing to hide – but does that mean you have nothing to worry about? JasonDGreat

Nine reasons you should care about NSA’s PRISM surveillance

In the wake of former CIA employee Edward Snowden’s revelations of the PRISM NSA mass surveillance, people are once again asking why the general public should care if they’ve got nothing to hide. “Nothing…
Help was at hand after the Boston bombing – but was it needed? Help was at hand after the Boston bombing – but was it needed? Georgi Licovski/EPA

Did citizen sleuths give the FBI a run for its money in Boston? No

Citizen sleuths were out in numbers (or holed up inside, frantically tweeting) after last week’s Boston Marathon bombings. Alongside the drip-drip from mainstream media and the trickle of information from…
The FBI has released images of suspects in the Boston Marathon bombings. The FBI has released images of suspects in the Boston Marathon bombings. AAP Image/FBI

Boston bombing: desperately seeking faces in the crowd

The FBI has released photos and CCTV footage of the two men considered suspects in this week’s Boston bombing, and has appealed to the public to help identify them. Both are young men, wearing baseball…
The rise in CCTV means many of us are under near constant observation, a trend that will only be exacerbated by the rise of drones. The rise in CCTV means many of us are under near constant observation, a trend that will only be exacerbated by the rise of drones. Flickr/ogglog

Brave new world: drones and the law

In the late 1970s I found myself wandering the mostly deserted streets of East Berlin, having successfully negotiated Checkpoint Charlie and a horde of East German border guards. I remember commenting…
Time and money spent spying on Australians could be better spent on protecting them. Time and money spent spying on Australians could be better spent on protecting them. Truthout.org

We’re watching you: why the government should focus on cybersecurity, not surveillance

Earlier this week Greens Senator Scott Ludlam asked the Federal Government to reveal whether the TrapWire video surveillance system is being used in Australia or if it has been used in the past. Senator…
Your movements online are of great value and interest to many people – you just don’t know what they plan to do with it. Your movements online are of great value and interest to many people – you just don’t know what they plan to do with it. Norma Desmond

Living in Orwell’s world: how to disappear completely online

Your friend Kate answers the phone. You remind her you’re meeting at 10am tomorrow for breakfast. You tell her your fractured wrist is healing but the doctor said there’s still some way to go. Your mum’s…
When you’re swimming at an unpatrolled beach, a UAV could help keep you safe. When you’re swimming at an unpatrolled beach, a UAV could help keep you safe. opacity

Eyes in the sky: how unmanned aircraft could patrol our beaches (and more)

For the past hundred-odd years, commercial aviation has relied on a human pilot sitting behind the controls of an aircraft. Today, designers and engineers are beginning to ask: “Is it even necessary to…
Australian law needs to catch up with technology which means we can be watched at any time. Australian law needs to catch up with technology which means we can be watched at any time. Flickr/Esther Gibbons

Why privacy laws should not be a game of roulette

Watching other people is human. It’s why TV shows like Big Brother, and paparazzi magazines flourish. But while some people choose to expose private moments, others do not. And Australian law doesn’t always…
Increased intelligence data adds more noise, but not always more useful information. Increased intelligence data adds more noise, but not always more useful information. ssoosay

Norway killings open a can of worms – who’s watching who, and why?

Commentary from some sections of the IT community on the recent killings in Norway reminds us national security is still haunted by two visions: 1) With enough data it will be possible to comprehensively…
Your Facebook snaps now come with a hidden catch. Your Facebook snaps now come with a hidden catch. rishibando

Facebook and facial recognition – you’ve been tagged

Around 2 million photographs are uploaded to Facebook each day. As of this week, every new image will be processed by automatic face recognition software, designed to identify the people in the photographs…
Knowing me, knowing you: there is nothing we can’t view. Knowing me, knowing you: there is nothing we can’t view. tonechootero/Flickr

All-seeing eye: the future of surveillance and social media

Advanced surveillance and social media might seem like strange bedfellows. Until you look a bit closer, that is. Technologies developed for surveillance applications are typically designed with robustness…
Advanced surveillance is about seeing what we all see – but better. Advanced surveillance is about seeing what we all see – but better. robynejay/Flickr

Something to watch over me: policing our national borders

Commercial ports, railway stations and other crucial infrastructure are at constant risk from security incidents that can halt operations and, more worryingly, put you and I in harm’s way. This is a reality…
Your cooperation is welcome … but not really necessary. Your cooperation is welcome … but not really necessary. fictures/Flickr

Face-in-the-crowd biometrics: here’s looking secretly at you

In the surveillance world there are certain grand challenges – holy grails that researchers and those who use surveillance pursue doggedly, spurned on by the technical issues such challenges pose. Paramount…
Are privacy concerns irrational in the era of Facebook and Twitter? Are privacy concerns irrational in the era of Facebook and Twitter? qubitsu

Big Brother is watching, but it’s nothing to fret about … honest

It’s hard to discuss public surveillance without immediately being asked about privacy issues. As technologists working on computer-based surveillance, it’s tempting to say this is outside our area of…
Future surveillance systems might be able to identify you without your knowledge. Future surveillance systems might be able to identify you without your knowledge. art crimes/Flickr

You, yes you: welcome to the world of advanced surveillance

The use of surveillance in public spaces is growing at an unprecedented pace in response to acts of terror and threats to critical infrastructure. But while it is relatively easy (albeit expensive) to…

Research Briefs (2)