Comments

Ross SniderDecember 8, 2016 11:38 AM

Keep them coming. Puts data to the lie that mass surveillance is about terrorism.

Hint: it's about power and control, writ large, and is used to feed propaganda operations, have insight into diplomatic efforts, and is used for corporate espionage to give Five Eyes countries legs up in the global economy.

AlexT December 8, 2016 11:49 AM

I muss say that the biggest surprise here is that the is still material to be milked out of the Snowden leak...

65535December 8, 2016 11:52 AM

To all knowledgeable about in-flight spying:

1] This document would appear to confirm that in-flight cell phone and probably all in-flight WiFi is monitored by Three Letter Agencies. Is this assumption true?

2] On the newer 737 aircraft [and others] I noticed in-flight "back of seat" games that seem to be activated by hand movement – in addition touch screen selection options. Is it likely that these newer touch screens facing the passenger contain a camera similar to laptop camera? Could these “passenger facing touch screens” monitor the physical image of a passenger and collect facial recognition data?

BobDecember 8, 2016 12:00 PM

@65535

1. Yes, I would assume all in-flight wifi is monitored by TLAs, just the same as ALL INTERNET USE WORLDWIDE anyway.....

2. The leap from "simple motion sensor" to "high resolution camera" is big... in terms of the cost of the tech. Therefore there is less chance of this leap having been done, without needing it for say, video teleconferencing or video phone calls or some such thing that would make it obvious.... This doesn't mean impossible, however, but the bigger the conspiracy, the more likely there will be a leak.... someday!

65535December 8, 2016 12:29 PM

@ Bob

“2. The leap from "simple motion sensor" to "high resolution camera" is big... in terms of the cost of the tech. Therefore there is less chance of this leap having been done, without needing it for say, video teleconferencing or video phone calls or some such thing that would make it obvious.... This doesn't mean impossible…”-Bob

I see what you are saying. The camera should have a relatively high quality lens and cmos [or what ever current chip is used to collect video images] and would probably have a clear lens cover. This may not be economically feasible for airlines – that is a big maybe. The airlines may get into the “advertising/data mining” business as a sideline – somewhat like FaceCrook or Giigle. In that case things may change quickly.

albertDecember 8, 2016 1:27 PM

[The GCHQ] "...activities are all “authorised, necessary and proportionate” and “entirely compatible with the European Convention on Human Rights.”..."

Heh,heh. Does the ECHR allow collection of proprietary information from foreign entities? Aren't there laws against IP theft, somewhere in the EU? Or have they given up the charade? 'We' (US) have.

. .. . .. --- ....

albertDecember 8, 2016 2:31 PM

@Bob,
I slightly disagree with your assessment of in-flight equipment migration to cameras. This stuff is so cheap now, that it's only a matter of time. IFE systems are a marketing tool for airlines, but are fast becoming essential. COTS equipment will be integrated as a hedge against obsolescence. [see http://www.digitaltrends.com/cool-tech/5-best-airlines-for-in-flight-entertainment/ ]

Fliers may soon need to carry a little piece of tape :)

I like the Panasonic Jazz System -concept- that has "...plenty of ports for HDMI and USB...".

Wonderful.
. .. . .. --- ....

65535December 8, 2016 3:16 PM

@ Albert

“This stuff is so cheap now, that it's only a matter of time. IFE systems are a marketing tool for airlines, but are fast becoming essential. COTS equipment will be integrated as a hedge against obsolescence.” –albert

Good observation.

So, in the near future it maybe possible for TLA’s to get a facial recognition image to put in a data base from and screen device in the back of an airliner seat. This doesn’t include the handy power connectors, near field communications, and USB connectors which could in theory launch a worm to turn on the passenger’s tablet/laptop camera a microphone; then start all sorts of spying. It makes you wonder.

[Tablets in the back of airliner seats?]

“BoardConnect is Lufthansa Systems’ name for its onboard streaming-based IFE system. Using Wi-Fi, passengers can access entertainment from their own devices. But it also allows Lufthansa or any other airline to utilize off-the-shelf tablets in lieu of more expensive hardware and wiring (except power). The customized tablets can be easily integrated into seats, and an airline can quickly upgrade the hardware when newer, faster tablets are available…” – digitaltrends

Hum, as I understand, most tablets come with camera’s and mics for Skype conversations and FaceTime.

“Australia’s Qantas partnered with Samsung to offer elite passengers to experience onboard virtual reality using the Gear VR headset.”- Digitaltrends

http://www.digitaltrends.com/cool-tech/5-best-airlines-for-in-flight-entertainment/

Gear VR headset which could include a retina scanner for taking bio-retina prints in the future – let’s hope it doesn’t happen.

David Allen WilsonDecember 8, 2016 3:46 PM

I always thought it nice (decades ago) that you could just disconnect from the world on a long flight. You left all your problems behind you, and the sensation of the rat race below the clouds, at least for a few hours, was calming.

Now people have to stay connected, no matter what, even on a flight. Oh, well, but at least they won't be talking to me.

Alyer BabtuDecember 8, 2016 5:59 PM

Was any data being gleaned during the flights of those MH aircraft that mysteriously crashed since 2014 ?

AnuraDecember 8, 2016 9:18 PM

@Wail

As long as the plane is within range of the tower, and has line of sight, they can get signals just fine (although cell towers are often directional, which would have required a lower altitude, but not that low).

EvilKiruDecember 9, 2016 1:27 AM

@Wail: You might want to read up on when pocket-sized cell phones where introduced and how and when they work aboard aircraft.

My InfoDecember 9, 2016 6:21 AM

A couple of strange articles from The Washington Post. Datelines don't seem to correspond any more with the actual date of appearance or publication of news articles in print or online. Also, the URLs seem to have grown strange, irrelevant, and unnecessary query strings which I have stripped, as I suspect they might be associated with some of the aforementioned malvertising campaigns rather than the actual website serving the news article.

More Air Force drones are crashing than ever as mysterious new problems emerge

Not-so-high-assurance software, or is it hardware issues or HAARP?

U.S. life expectancy declines for the first time since 1993

This is odd. They cloak it in medical terminology, but the term "life expectancy" is actually the domain of insurance executives who pore over mortality tables in pursuit of filthy lucre. Wars, pestilence, famine, that sort of thing. Very little to do with the actual practice of so-called medicine. They complain, as Jane Austen remarked, that "people always live for ever when there is an annuity to be paid them." But of course they die when they take out a life insurance policy....

vas pupDecember 9, 2016 8:52 AM

@Bruce: out of topic, but highly important - you may repost by you discretion, but please do not discard:

http://www.bbc.com/future/story/20161208-how-is-is-using-consumer-drones

“But now such drones may be more than spies. IS have started turning cheap drones into lethal guided missiles by fitting them with explosive charges. So far there have been few casualties but the tiny, low-flying weapons are a growing problem. What’s more, the world’s militaries are struggling to keep up. To maintain their edge in the face of easily obtained commercial hardware, armies are going to have to change the way they equip themselves.”
Now the tricky part is arming them. Fitting a drone with weapons still requires some technical skill but it is being made easier with cheap add-ons intended for hobbyists, such as a kit which allows any drone to drop a hundred-gram toy bomb filled with powder. In August, Hezbollah released a video showing small bombs dropped from commercial drones.
A new US Army handbook recommends that at least one soldier in a patrol should always be on the look out for drones and warning that a swarm of drones could overwhelm defences.

albertDecember 9, 2016 1:15 PM

@65535,
Indeed. You don't need hi-res cameras for facial recognition. Try this: After all passengers are seated, there's a short delay, while every face is scanned, FR'd, and checked against the ticket database (or passport db) for possible mismatches (which then goes to the TLAs), before the plane leaves the gate.

@David Allen Wilson,
When I flew internationally in the 90's, I'd buy the thickest magazines, like Vanity Fair, and also Time, Mother Jones, Downbeat, Rolling Stone, The New Yorker, Road & Track, etc. Lots of stuff I'd never read at home. Always had time to read 'em twice. I'd expense 'em as entertainment too. Those were the days.

@My Info,
Doesn't Bezos own WAPO now? 'Nuff said.

@vas pup,
You don't need to use explosives with drones. Other type of weapons are lighter and easier to deploy, especially in a swarm.

. .. . .. --- ....

65535December 9, 2016 2:18 PM

@ albert

“@65535, Indeed. You don't need hi-res cameras for facial recognition. Try this: After all passengers are seated, there's a short delay, while every face is scanned, FR'd, and checked against the ticket database (or passport db) for possible mismatches (which then goes to the TLAs), before the plane leaves the gate.” –albert

I can believe that happening to passengers now or in the near future.

We know the airline check-in terminals are camera monitored. The “jetway” or covered walkways to the airliner are video monitored. I would not put it past the airlines to install a pin-hole camera in front or above each airline passenger seat to Facial Recognition/record the passenger and his seat number.

Now, that modern airliner seat backs may contain an Consumer Off The Shelf ipad or tablet – with a camera and a microphone, F.R. recording will be a breeze. The FR record will certainly go into a data base for the Three letter Agencies.

The “Unfriendly Skys” so to speak will become a reality.

65535December 9, 2016 2:36 PM

@ [R]odney Dangerfield

“…the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board (PCLOB), alluded to the change in its recent overview of ongoing surveillance practices. The watchdog confirmed in a 2014 report that the FBI is allowed direct access to the NSA’s massive collections of international emails, texts and phone calls – which often include Americans on one end of the conversation. The activists also expressed concern that the FBI’s “minimization” rules, for removing or limiting sensitive data that could identify Americans, did not reflect the bureau’s easy access to the NSA’s collected international communications.”-the guardian

https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2016/mar/08/fbi-changes-privacy-rules-accessing-nsa-prism-data

This article and the WoPo piece look like confirmation that the NSA main “customer” will be the FBI and law enforcement instead of actual spying on Russia and other real "National Security" threats.

Turning this State Level Spy machine over to the FBI and other LE entities will certainly be a shredder for the Fourth Amendment; privacy advocates, reporters, lawyers and maybe judges. I wonder when will a privacy lawyer get burned in this spy machine – and what he/she will do about it [spying on his/her privileged communications]. The future is dimming by the day.

I like Bruce's idea of breaking up the NSA or de-funding them.

OlaDecember 9, 2016 8:35 PM

In-flight calls? Obviously the real reason is "because it's there", but I wonder what movie-plot threat they came up with to justify this. (A terrorist wants to have a private phone call, so they book an inconvenient form of travel that involves a paper trail, security screening, and dozens of people in earshot? I guess they could call from the toilet and flush the phone...)

SteveDecember 10, 2016 8:41 AM

"GCHQ notes that the Russian company Aeroflot has set up a system of specific connections for GSM phones on its aircraft 'presumably for legal intercept,' as the agency remarks in a technical memo."

Where's the outrage there?

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