Californians may have started celebrating their cellphone privacy too soon. After talk of passing a law to make warrantless searches of cellphones during arrests illegal, California Gov. Jerry Brown vetoed the law, giving officers the power to snoop through your cell phone as they wish for whatever reason they deem reasonable.

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Whatever ever happened to the good ol’ days where getting pulled over just meant you would get a speeding ticket, or if you’re lucky, just a warning? Well, if it’s up to the Michigan State Police, those days are not only long gone, but a speeding ticket is now reason enough to harvest all the information possible on you, including all of your e-mail, social networking, texting, personal photos, and virtually anything else you might have on your cell phone, or in many cases, your smartphone.

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Typically when we write about Facebook it’s riddled with invective about its liberal use of your personal information, its unchecked spam applications, and even its ability to ruin marriages. Today, however, we appluad the social networking site’s efforts in removing approximately 20,000 underage users every day.

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hide Google offers users a free, superior online experience and services such as email, search, maps, etc. in exchange for your web browsing privacy. Now thanks to an independent security researcher who goes by the name Moxie Marlinspike, you can get all of Google’s freebies without having to sacrifice your privacy. He just launched a Firefox plug-in called Googlesharing, which gives users access to Google’s online services while cloaking their identity from the company’s data collection tools. The way that it works is it sends your Internet requests through another computer that hides your identity and mixes it up with those of other users.

“Each identity looks like a normal user, but everything is mixed up between identities so Google can’t track any individual” says Marlinspike.

Googlesharing hides your online privacy from everyone but one person: Marlinspike himself, and in case you don’t even trust him, he offers the source code to you for free to create your own proxy.

“If you don’t trust us, you can find someone who you do trust,” he says.

But is all this really necessary? Or are these the people that use proxy services like this one just paranoid? Google Chief Executive Eric Schmidt tells us that the fears of governments using our web history to try to convict us of crimes might just be true:

“If you have something that you don’t want anyone to know, maybe you shouldn’t be doing it in hidebagthe first place… The reality is that search engines–including Google–do retain this information for some time and it’s important, for example, that we are all subject in the United States to the Patriot Act and it is possible that all that information could be made available to the authorities”

Googlesharing is not the only proxy you can use to keep your online identity safe, there are others like Tor, which provides increased security, but slows you down a bit since it redirects all your Internet requests through 3 different servers. Other sites like or only offer to keep your searches private, but not any other of Google’s services.  For the most ease of use, and without sacrificing speed, try out Googlesharing.

(Via Forbes)

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twitter-arrestIn Denton, Texas, an art student started a twitter feed that posts every arrest as it happens. The idea here was to explore the possibilities of social platforms like Twitter to share public information. The question in this case is if it’s morally right to embarrass these people for just an arrest? An arrest meaning that the person has not been tried in court and convicted of the crime. That person was merely accused of the crime.

There are two issues with this question. First is that the district attorneys shouldn’t pursue a shaming policy until they have a conviction, and second, the idea behind this project is that arrest records are public, and the creator of this project, Brian Baugh, a student at the University of North Texas, is only trying to make public information truly public.

One idea that can be used here to make this work is to include strong disclaimers that accounts posted are accusations and that nobody has been convicted, however, exactly what should be done about this is still not sure. If you have any ideas or suggestions, leave us a comment telling us what you think should be done.

(Via CriminalJustice.Change)

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wiretapping Computer security researchers say that GSM phones (which make up about 80% of the mobile phone market) can be listened in on by anyone with a few thousand dollars worth of hardware and some free open-source tools.

This Sunday at the Chaos Communication Conference in Berlin, Karsten Nohl unveiled his discovery and invention: the “cracking tables”, which is a 2 terabyte code that can be used to determine the encryption key to a secure GSM (Global System for Mobile communications) telephone conversation or text message. Meaning that with this code anyone with enough hardware can intercept a call or text message from a GSM mobile phone.

While Nohl didn’t create a GSM-cracking device (which would be illegal in most countries, including the U.S.) he used the information that had been common knowledge in most academic circles to make it usable. He also says that the flaw that allows calls and texts to be intercepted is the 20-year-old encryption algorithm used by most carriers. It’s a 64-bit cipher called A5/1 and it is simply too weak, according to Nohl. Using his cracking tables, antennas, specialized software, and about $30,000 worth of computing hardware to break the cipher, anyone can crack the GSM encryption in real time and listen in on calls.

The reason that this is only now coming to our attention is that even discussing wiretapping tools can be illegal in the U.S. and most researchers never risked researching the subject. But after hiring lawyers to consult with the Electronic Frontier Foundation, Nohl and his collaborators set upon exposing the flaws in the GSM system without –they believe — breaking the law. Even though Nohl didn’t create a device that would be able to intercept the calls, he says that a technically sophisticated hacker could figure it out, and has probably already done so.
“I certainly use my phone differently than before, trying to keep confidential calls on encrypted lines instead” said Karsten Nohl.
To deal with the security threat with the old GSM phones, GSM Association said that they will look into the researcher’s claims and that they have developed a next-generation standard for GSM phones called the A5/3, which is considered to be much more secure then the old A5/1. It is the same type of encryption that is already being used on 3G networks to carry Internet traffic.

(Via ComputerWorld)

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