In the first of what will undoubtedly be a large number of battles between companies that make IoT devices and the police, Amazon is refusing to comply with a warrant demanding data on what its Echo device heard at a crime scene.
The particulars of the case are weird. Amazon’s Echo does not constantly record; it only listens for its name. So it’s unclear that there is any evidence to be turned over. But this general issue isn’t going away. We are all under ubiquitous surveillance, but it is surveillance by the companies that control the Internet-connected devices in our lives. The rules by which police and intelligence agencies get access to that data will come under increasing pressure for change.
Related: A newscaster discussed Amazon’s Echo on the news, causing devices in the same room as tuned-in televisions to order unwanted products. This year, the same technology is coming to LG appliances such as refrigerators.
Posted on January 11, 2017 at 6:22 AM •
The Intercept has published a 120-page catalog of spy gear from the British defense company Cobham. This is equipment available to police forces. The catalog was leaked by someone inside the Florida Department of Law Enforcement.
Posted on September 6, 2016 at 6:31 AM •
In this article, detailing the Australian and then worldwide investigation of a particularly heinous child-abuse ring, there are a lot of details of the pedophile security practices and the police investigative techniques. The abusers had a detailed manual on how to scrub metadata and avoid detection, but not everyone was perfect. The police used information from a single camera to narrow down the suspects. They also tracked a particular phrase one person used to find him.
This story shows an increasing sophistication of the police using small technical clues combined with standard detective work to investigate crimes on the Internet. A highly painful read, but interesting nonetheless.
Posted on August 24, 2016 at 9:30 AM •
Khan was arrested in mid-July 2015. Undercover police officers posing as company managers arrived at his workplace and asked to check his driver and work records, according to the source. When they disputed where he was on a particular day, he got out his iPhone and showed them the record of his work.
The undercover officers asked to see his iPhone and Khan handed it over. After that, he was arrested. British police had 30 seconds to change the password settings to keep the phone open.
Reminds me about how the FBI arrested Ross William Ulbricht:
The agents had tailed him, waiting for the 29-year-old to open his computer and enter his passwords before swooping in.
That also works.
And, yes, I understand that none of this would have worked with the already dead Syed Farook and his iPhone.
Posted on April 7, 2016 at 6:39 AM •
This is just awful.
Their troll — or trolls, as the case may be — have harassed Paul and Amy in nearly every way imaginable. Bomb threats have been made under their names. Police cars and fire trucks have arrived at their house in the middle of the night to respond to fake hostage calls. Their email and social media accounts have been hacked, and used to bring ruin to their social lives. They’ve lost jobs, friends, and relationships. They’ve developed chronic anxiety and other psychological problems. More than once, they described their lives as having been “ruined” by their mystery tormenter.
We need to figure out how to identify perpetrators like this without destroying Internet privacy in the process.
EDITED TO ADD: One of the important points is the international nature of many of these cases. Even once the attackers are identified, the existing legal system isn’t adequate for shutting them down.
Posted on January 27, 2016 at 6:20 AM •
For the right reasons, too:
Axelle Lemaire, the Euro nation’s digital affairs minister, shot down the amendment during the committee stage of the forthcoming omnibus digital bill, saying it would be counterproductive and would leave personal data unprotected.
“Recent events show how the fact of introducing faults deliberately at the request — sometimes even without knowing — the intelligence agencies has an effect that is harming the whole community,” she said according to Numerama.
“Even if the intention [to empower the police] is laudable, it also opens the door to the players who have less laudable intentions, not to mention the potential for economic damage to the credibility of companies planning these flaws. You are right to fuel the debate, but this is not the right solution according to the Government’s opinion.”
France joins the Netherlands on this issue.
And Apple’s Tim Cook is going after the Obama administration on the issue.
EDITED TO ADD (1/20): In related news, Congress will introduce a bill to establish a commission to study the issue. This is what kicking the can down the road looks like.
Posted on January 20, 2016 at 5:02 AM •
This weird story describes a “porn dog” that is trained to find hidden hard drives. It’s used in child porn investigations.
I suppose it’s reasonable that computer disks have a particular chemical smell, but I wonder what it is.
EDITED TO ADD (1/13): More info.
Posted on December 24, 2015 at 8:18 AM •
The Intercept has “a secret, internal U.S. government catalogue of dozens of cellphone surveillance devices used by the military and by intelligence agencies.” Lot of detailed information about Stingrays and similar equipment.
Posted on December 17, 2015 at 12:06 PM •
Sidebar photo of Bruce Schneier by Joe MacInnis.