Judge Says Stingrays “Are Simply Too Powerful” Without Rules

Stingrays have become one of the most contested ways of digital surveillance since they became public knowledge last year. The devices act like mobile phone towers, simulating their actions while allowing them to intercept and identify the devices connecting to them. The problem many have seen with this device is that they are not selective, they do not target a specific person or phone because the technology does not work like that, this means that when one goes up all mobile devices in the area send their information to the tower. This provides the tower with their location but can also be used to intercept calls and text messages sent by any devices in the nearby area. A judge in Illinois has made a stand and said that unless his three requirements are met, he will not authorise the use of a stingray.

The first requirement is that the stingrays require a warrant to be used, a claim that has been highly contested and was originally an issue given that some law enforcement agencies have used the device hundreds of times without any government oversight.

The second requirement is that the data collected (which is not relevant or approved by the warrant) is “immediately destroyed” and this action is proven to the court.

The third requirement is that the devices cannot be used in areas where a large number of mobile phones will be active, such as at a public sporting event or large gathering.

These steps could be the first sign of a powerful device being controlled and monitored rather than deployed without thought of the freedom and privacy of others around it.

Reddit Launches New Harassment Rules

Reddit is banning a handful of its worst communities. “Our goal is to enable as many people as possible to have authentic conversations and share ideas and content on an open platform,” “We want as little involvement as possible in managing these interactions but will be involved when needed to protect privacy and free expression, and to prevent harassment.”

One of the bans will include the only subreddit with more than 5,000 subscribers — is r/fatpeoplehate, a forum devoted to posting pictures of overweight people for ridicule. Also, four more subreddits have been names.as r/

  1. r/hamplanethatred
  2.  r/transfags
  3. r/neofag
  4.  r/shitniggerssay

They’ve all now been shut down, with a message stating:  “for violating the Reddit rules to keep everyone safe.” According to reddit these last four ranged from 149 to 3071 subscribers, although in r/fatpeoplehate’s case, “more than 5,000” is a bit of an understatement; the last Reddit metrics (and a Google cached page) put it at around 151,000 subscribers.

The changes have been made by Reddit this morning, there is approx 650,000 subreddits on the website, each one requires moderating and looking after. Over the past few years, Reddit has restricted the anything goes rule, to exclude sexual photos of minors, leaks of celeb nudes and more.

Deciding on what is banned and what is not could be a difficult problem for Reddit, especially because it’s hard to agree what harassment is actually constituted of.

Thank you to TheVerge for providing us with this information

Image courtesy of Reddit

Defence Controls Could Criminalise Teaching Encryption

Encryption, the word has been used a lot recently in news reports and in virus attacks,

It is a technology that essentially locks your files up with a key that only you know, no-one else can get to that data without authorisation. It’s a really neat technology and has increased security across the globe and of course, with it involving IT and computers, it is involved on most computer science courses.It may sound crazy that a computer science course could be classified as an export of military technology. But under the Defence Trade Controls Act which will come into force next year – there is a possibility that even educational and research activities could break Australian defence export control laws.

The reason that this has become an issue is because a skill that you may learn at school or college could be used against the military. Like building an army to fight against yourself. Many protocols and methods are used in encryption that, if exploited could theoretically give students access to lots of information they shouldn’t even know existed. All listed on the Australian government’s Defence and Strategic Goods List (DSGL for short)

The DSGL contains detailed technical specifications. Very roughly, it covers encryption above a certain “strength” level, as measured by technical parameters such as “key length”. However, how powerful must encryption be to be classified as “dual-use” and a risk to the data. The specifications released as part of the law are so imprecise that they potentially include an algorithm you learned at primary school called division. If so, division has become a potential weapon against the military, and your calculator (or smartphone, computer, or any electronic device) is a potential delivery system for it; quite amusing really!

If you’re living somewhere else, these issues are not unique to Australia; the rules are copied almost verbatim from an international arms control agreement. What is unique to Australia is the strict level of regulation.

Thank you to TheConversation for providing us with this information

Image courtesy of Tech.eu

NYPD Issued More Strict Rules For Use Of Social Media By Police Officers

The New York Police Department issued a set of strict guidelines for its police officers to follow, where they will require to change some details in their personal profiles in Facebook, Twitter and other social networking websites. As soon as the news spread, the police officers made several changes, such as removing references of the specific department they’re working for.

Certain few confusions amongst the officers, such as the case of an officer with his background in the military, who replaced his twitter profile of him wearing his patrol uniform to a picture of himself wearing an Army uniform, another wasn’t sure if he can use the word “Detective” as his job description.

The other regulations were clear: Not to post pictures of the crime scenes, witness statements and other non-public information that is obtained by a police offer, engaging with witnesses victims or defense lawyers which also include not to be friends or follow them on social media sites.

This isn’t the first time police officers been faced with certain guidelines where they have to change the information that they post via social media, but such an order was not expected, as said by Roy Richter of Captains Endowment Association.

The Fire Department is also currently drafting its own social media policy. The Detroit Police department had issued a set of guidelines in 2011 after a police officer posted pictures of a man wielding a machete on facebook. The Albuquerque Police Department barred its policemen from identifying themselves via social media.

Violation of these orders would result in actions such as dismissal from the force.

One and a half years ago, police officers posted many insulting comments on facebook about the West Indian American Day Parade where more than a dozen policemen were disciplined.

Source: New York Times