Sunday, August 31, 2014

Old, Disappearing Surveillance State Stories Archived


LOU SABOTER-- Before there were chips, there were home incarceration bracelets--the forerunners!

But we're getting more civilized!

----


http://www.greenbaynewschron.com/page.html?article=121552

Your cell phone is now a tracking device

By K. D. Seefeld
News-Chronicle
Those who give up liberty for the sake of security deserve neither liberty nor security.
--- Ben Franklin

A few days ago, Governor Doyle signed legislation to improve 911 service for cell phones. According to the Wisconsin Legislature/Associated Press, the bill creates a new surcharge (if you didn’t know, surcharge is another word for TAX), on monthly cell phone bills to help cover a federally mandated program (which is contrary to the Constitution and the tenth amendment) allowing law enforcement to pinpoint 911 calls from mobile phones. (It doesn’t matter if you need an ambulance; law enforcement will be involved.)

In the name of improving safety and protection, what Doyle actually signed was a bill turning your cell phone into a tracking device.

For the record, it wouldn’t make any difference who was governor, this bill along with the .08 blood alcohol level law was nothing short of blackmail and coercion by the federales imposed on the states.

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has mandated that cell phone makers imbed tracking technology, Enhanced 911 (E911), in the phones so that wireless carriers can monitor your phone's whereabouts - even when the phone is turned off.

Why would the government want to know where your phone is 24 hours a day, 7 days a week? We were led to believe the legislation would improve 911 service. How many people are going to call 911 when their phone is turned off? Answer: Approximately zero.

Your wireless carrier will know where you and your phone are at all times. Will your carrier share their tracking information with commercial services?

McDonalds or Starbucks might like to know when you are near by so they can e-text your phone a 10% off coupon. Seriously, this can and will happen.

Tracking you through your cell phone creates valuable information. The information can be stored and used to profile your preferences and create a history of your movements. Once that information is stored, unscrupulous carriers or hackers can steal or sell it.

However, the most bothersome issue goes back to law enforcement. An iBrief by Aaron Futch and Christine Soares of Duke University explains:

In the immediate aftermath of the attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon, the privacy groups that had earlier expressed concern over the implementation of the E911 standard found that as the U.S. commitment to the war against terrorism deepens, the need to track terrorists operating within the United States may lead intelligence and law enforcement to seek a greater degree of access to E911 tracking information than they would have needed before the attacks.

As we have seen, the government’s desire to track terrorists has become a war on the freedom of the citizens. The E911 legislation is another intrusion into our privacy by a government that is becoming more of a police-state everyday.

Suppose, unknowingly, you had been in the vicinity of an armed robbery when it occurred. The only information the cops have from witnesses is a suspect 6’ tall, medium build, and wearing jeans and a shirt. With E911 technology and the required assistance of wireless carriers, the cops could get a listing of every cell phone user in that vicinity at the time of the crime.

Remember, you were in the vicinity and you had your cell phone with you. You are 6’ tall. You have a medium build. You own a pair of jeans and a shirt. Hello, suspect.

Farfetched? Not really. Now, suppose your name is Jose Luis Alvarez. According to an article in the Miami Herald the other day, Jose Luis Alvarez has been detained at Miami International Airport perhaps 50 times because a fugitive shares his name. Detained means held, questioned, searched, and investigated.

Your cell phone has indicated that you could be Jose Luis Alvarez the fugitive, and you, Mr. 6’ foot tall, medium build, owner of jeans and a shirt are Jose Luis Alvarez, regular detained Joe.

So, what to do about protecting your cell phone/tracking device privacy? You could spend 24 bucks on a thing called the Mcloak or email 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. and complain to the big guy.

You may want to consider the former since the Secret Service collects and keeps all emails sent to the latter.

http://www.thisislondon.co.uk/news/article-23372564-details/Britons+'could+be+microchipped+like+dogs+in+a+decade'/article.do

Britons 'could be microchipped like dogs in a decade'
30.10.06

Human beings may be forced to be 'microchipped' like pet dogs, a shocking official report into the rise of the Big Brother state has warned.

The microchips - which are implanted under the skin - allow the wearer's movements to be tracked and store personal information about them.

They could be used by companies who want to keep tabs on an employee's movements or by Governments who want a foolproof way of identifying their citizens - and storing information about them.

The prospect of 'chip-citizens' - with its terrifying echoes of George Orwell's 'Big Brother' police state in the book 1984 - was raised in an official report for Britain's Information Commissioner Richard Thomas into the spread of surveillance technology.

The report, drawn up by a team of respected academics, claims that Britain is a world-leader in the use of surveillance technology and its citizens the most spied-upon in the free world.

It paints a frightening picture of what Britain might be like in ten years time unless steps are taken to regulate the use of CCTV and other spy technologies.

The reports editors Dr David Murakami Wood, managing editor of the journal Surveillance and Society and Dr Kirstie Ball, an Open University lecturer in Organisation Studies, claim that by 2016 our almost every movement, purchase and communication could be monitored by a complex network of interlinking surveillance technologies.

The most contentious prediction is the spread in the use of Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) technology.

The RFID chips - which can be detected and read by radio waves - are already used in new UK passports and are also used the Oyster card system to access the London Transport network.

For the past six years European countries have been using RFID chips to identify pet animals.

Already used in America

However, its use in humans has already been trialled in America, where the chips were implanted in 70 mentally-ill elderly people in order to track their movements.

And earlier this year a security company in Ohio chipped two of its employees to allow them to enter a secure area. The glass-encased chips were planted in the recipients' upper right arms and 'read' by a device similar to a credit card reader.

In their Report on the Surveillance Society, the authors now warn: "The call for everyone to be implanted is now being seriously debated."

The authors also highlight the Government's huge enthusiasm for CCTV, pointing out that during the 1990s the Home Office spent 78 per cent of its crime prevention budget - a total of £500 million - on installing the cameras.

There are now 4.2 million CCTV cameras in Britain and the average Briton is caught on camera an astonishing 300 times every day.

This huge enthusiasm comes despite official Home Office statistics showing that CCTV cameras have 'little effect on crime levels'.

They write: "The surveillance society has come about us without us realising", adding: "Some of it is essential for providing the services we need: health, benefits, education. Some of it is more questionable. Some of it may be unjustified, intrusive and oppressive."

Yesterday Information Commissioner Richard Thomas, whose office is investigating the Post Office, HSBC, NatWest and the Royal Bank of Scotland over claims they dumped sensitive customer details in the street, said: "Many of these schemes are public sector driven, and the individual has no choice over whether or not to take part."

"People are being scrutinised and having their lives tracked, and are not even aware of it."

He has also voiced his concern about the consequences of companies, or Government agencies, building up too much personal information about someone.

He said: "It can stigmatise people. I have worries about technology being used to identify classes of people who present some kind of risk to society. And I think there are real anxieties about that."

Yesterday a spokesman for civil liberties campaigners Liberty said: "We have got nothing about these surveillance technologies in themselves, but it is their potential uses about which there are legitimate fears. Unless their uses are regulated properly, people really could find themselves living in a surveillance society.

"There is a rather scary underlying feeling that people may worry that these microchips are less about being a human being than becoming a barcoded product."


http://www.newsfactor.com/perl/story/17127.html

Implantable Spy Chip Gets Green Light from U.S.

Tim McDonald
April 05, 2002

A Florida company Thursday said that it will begin marketing and selling a
microchip that can be implanted under the skin, after receiving the
go-ahead from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration

The FDA advised the company, Applied Digital Solutions (Nasdaq: ADSX) ,
that its biochip, called "VeriChip," is not considered a medical device
and therefore is not subject to FDA regulation.


FDA officials said that as long as the biochip is used for identification
purposes only, it will not have to meet strict FDA guidelines. The ruling
saves the product from having to undergo the agency's rigorous and lengthy
safety testing procedures.
"The FDA said that VeriChip has no medical function, and Applied Digital
Solutions is now free to sell, market and insert the chips in
individuals," company spokesperson Matthew Cossolotto told NewsFactor.

'Distinction Without a Difference'

Although the company has advertised the VeriChip in the past as a
potential method of storing a person's complete medical history, at this
stage the device will contain only a number to be used for identification.

However, that ID code can be transmitted via Internet or phone to a secure
data storage site, where it can be cross-referenced, allowing authorized
personnel to obtain detailed medical information.

"In some ways, it's kind of a distinction without a
difference," Cossolotto said. "We could have, and we might in the future,
put more information on the chip. But right now we're very happy to put
just the ID verification code and start getting it into the marketplace."

The company said it has targeted VeriChip and its
"life-enhancing" technology toward patients who may arrive at hospitals
unconscious or unable to speak, as well as at workers who need
top-security clearance.

The biochip also could prove valuable for tracking children, Alzheimer's
patients and convicted felons on parole.

Similar technology has been used in the last few years to keep track of
pets.

Politicians, Felons and Kidnap Victims

A South Florida man, Jeff Jacobs, is expected to be the first recipient of
the VeriChip. The plight of the Jacobs family has been well
publicized: Jacobs, a 41-year-old dentist, must take up to 10 medications
a day for a variety of ailments, including cancer and a degenerative
spinal condition.

According to his family, Jacobs has arrived at emergency rooms several
times unable to speak.

The company also said the chip could be combined with a global positioning
system (GPS) and used for security purposes by potential kidnap victims.

ADS, which has estimated that the worldwide market for security chips will
reach US$450 million by 2007, already has deals in place in South America.

Brazilian politician Antonio de Cunha Lima has been trying to become the
first South American to use the implant chip, according to published
reports. Brazil has the fourth highest kidnap rate in the world, after
Colombia, Mexico and Indonesia.

First Florida, Then the World

The company, which first announced the chip in December 2001, said it will
launch the product in the next three weeks, first in Florida and then
nationwide and internationally.

The biochip is a miniature, implantable radio frequency identification
device (RFID) roughly the size of a grain of rice. It is composed of
"FDA-accepted materials," according to the company, and each chip contains
a unique verification number.

That number is "captured" by passing a scanner over the chip, causing a
small amount of radio frequency energy to pass through the skin and
activate the dormant chip. The chip then transmits the verification number
on a radio frequency of 125 KHz.

A doctor is required to perform the implant procedure, which can be done
for free at certified clinics under local anesthesia, according to ADS
officials. The chip itself is expected to sell for around US$200. The
scanner will cost up to $3,000, although ADS said it is considering giving
them away to hospitals and medical clinics.

'Mark of the Beast'

The VeriChip is not without controversy. It has been challenged by privacy
and political advocates, who say that if the chip were to fall into the
wrong hands, totalitarian regimes could use it to track political
dissidents.

The technology also could be used as a tool in a national ID system -- an
idea that has waned in popularity since peaking right after the September
11th terrorist attacks.

A March survey by Gartner Dataquest showed that 41 percent of those
surveyed in the United States oppose a national ID system, while just 26
percent support one.

Also, some religious sects have said the biochip is the "Mark of the
Beast" from the Book of Revelations. They claim that a graphic the company
used early in the product's life cycle "clearly" resembled the satanic
numbers "666."

http://www.mercurynews.com/mld/mercurynews/news/local/states/california/northern_california/11655005.htm

Posted on Sun, May. 15, 2005
LA jail latest to use radio tags to track inmates

DON THOMPSON
Associated Press

SACRAMENTO - Inmates can run, but they can't hide - not so long as a radio-linked wristband remains attached, pinpointing their location within a few feet.

Removing or breaking the bracelet sets off a computer alarm, alerting guards to a possible prison escape. It's an emerging technology that could transform the way convicts are managed, contained and monitored.

The Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department announced Sunday it will adopt the technology for the nation's largest jail system, using an updated version of the devices tested at California's Calipatria State Prison, a remote desert facility 35 miles north of the Mexican border - the first in the nation to track its inmates electronically.

The concept has since been exported to other states.

LA county will spend $1.5 million to help control about 1,900 inmates and protect guards in one unit of the Pitchess Detention Center in Castaic, about 40 miles northwest of downtown Los Angeles, beginning early next year.

If it works well, it may be expanded to the 6,000 residents of LA County's Central Jail and then to other facilities, said Marc Klugman, chief of the sheriff's department's Correctional Services Division.

California state corrections officials may also consider increased use of the still-developing systems.

Beyond tracking inmates around cell blocks, the technology has the potential to create virtual prisons outside detention facilities that would let work release crews roam within an electronic fence easily moved wherever it is needed, said Harinder Singh, executive officer of the California Department of Corrections' technology transfer committee.

Michigan's Bureau of Juvenile Justice has had a $1 million system at a maximum-security 200-ward prison since 2003, and is installing it at a second detention facility. The technology also is being used at a minimum-security prison in Chillicothe, Ohio, and at Logan Correctional Center north of Springfield, Ill., home to 1,900 medium-security inmates.

Calipatria spokesman Lt. Ray Madden recalls an assault two years ago when investigators retraced inmates' movements using the computerized system installed in the minimum-security unit. They soon centered on an unlikely suspect - a disabled inmate who wasn't where he was supposed to be.

"He parked his walker outside the building, went in and stabbed somebody, then went back and picked up his walker," Madden said. "He was hard-pressed to say he wasn't inside, because we could track him through the building."

LA County jails' revolving-door population poses the toughest test yet for the technology. The facilities house about 18,000 inmates on a given day, but nearly 200,000 people pass through the system each year, some for a few hours, others for months. Several thousand each day must be moved to and from court appearances.

Last year alone there were an estimated 1,330 violent incidents that injured 88 jail employees and 1,742 inmates. Five prisoners were killed.

"It's just mind-boggling what these guys have to deal with," said Greg Oester, president of Technology Systems International Inc., which installs the TSI PRISM systems. The Scottsdale, Ariz.-based company is a subsidiary of Alanco Technologies Inc.

Previously, the company has worked with much more captive audiences - prison inmates serving multi-year sentences so long that electronic bracelets can be locked on until the batteries die. For jails such as in LA County, it's had to develop a quick-release version.

Alanco estimates there is $1.5 billion in potential sales for the technology if it were used throughout the federal, state and county prison and jail systems nationwide.

Singh praised TSI's product but thinks other technology could soon surpass the system's versatility.

He's intrigued by the Wheels of Zeus Inc. system developed by a Los Gatos firm headed by Apple Computer co-founder Steve Wozniak that uses radio frequencies indoors but switches to Global Positioning System satellites outdoors.

Though wOz is marketing its product for people who want to monitor the locations of people, pets or possessions, company officials met last month with Singh to discuss adapting the technology to corrections.

Inmates could be tracked not only within prisons or jails, or inside moveable electronic fences, but to and from courthouses or other locations, Singh said, providing more tracking mobility. Transmitters could be mounted on vehicles and shifted with work crews, letting them move freely while still being monitored by satellites.

Singh expects more correctional facilities to adopt tracking systems as the technology improves, and more competition as the market expands.

"They know we have the customers," he quipped.

California's increased use of technology has been stalled by several years of budget cuts and paralyzing turnovers in prison leadership, said both Singh and Youth and Adult Corrections Secretary Roderick Hickman. The prison system is now going through a sweeping bureaucratic reorganization that will take months, but Hickman and Singh say technology is a key to reform.

Singh's committee hasn't met since October 2002 because of the budget and bureaucratic uncertainty, but he anticipates efforts will get underway this fall to set priorities for which technology can best help transform the massive, troubled prison system.

"There's going to be opportunities for all kinds of new innovations. This might be one of them," Hickman said.

ON THE NET

TSI Inc.: http://www.tsilink.com/

Alanco Technologies Inc.: www.alanco.com

Wheels of Zeus: http://www.woz.com/2005/index.html

Logan Correctional Center: http://www.idoc.state.il.us/subsections/facilities/instaddress.shtml

California Youth and Adult Correctional Agency: http://www.yaca.ca.gov

California Department of Corrections: http://www.corr.ca.gov

 http://www.mercurynews.com/mld/mercurynews/news/local/states/california/northern_california/11655005.htm

Posted on Sun, May. 15, 2005
LA jail latest to use radio tags to track inmates

DON THOMPSON
Associated Press

SACRAMENTO - Inmates can run, but they can't hide - not so long as a radio-linked wristband remains attached, pinpointing their location within a few feet.

Removing or breaking the bracelet sets off a computer alarm, alerting guards to a possible prison escape. It's an emerging technology that could transform the way convicts are managed, contained and monitored.

The Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department announced Sunday it will adopt the technology for the nation's largest jail system, using an updated version of the devices tested at California's Calipatria State Prison, a remote desert facility 35 miles north of the Mexican border - the first in the nation to track its inmates electronically.

The concept has since been exported to other states.

LA county will spend $1.5 million to help control about 1,900 inmates and protect guards in one unit of the Pitchess Detention Center in Castaic, about 40 miles northwest of downtown Los Angeles, beginning early next year.

If it works well, it may be expanded to the 6,000 residents of LA County's Central Jail and then to other facilities, said Marc Klugman, chief of the sheriff's department's Correctional Services Division.

California state corrections officials may also consider increased use of the still-developing systems.

Beyond tracking inmates around cell blocks, the technology has the potential to create virtual prisons outside detention facilities that would let work release crews roam within an electronic fence easily moved wherever it is needed, said Harinder Singh, executive officer of the California Department of Corrections' technology transfer committee.

Michigan's Bureau of Juvenile Justice has had a $1 million system at a maximum-security 200-ward prison since 2003, and is installing it at a second detention facility. The technology also is being used at a minimum-security prison in Chillicothe, Ohio, and at Logan Correctional Center north of Springfield, Ill., home to 1,900 medium-security inmates.

Calipatria spokesman Lt. Ray Madden recalls an assault two years ago when investigators retraced inmates' movements using the computerized system installed in the minimum-security unit. They soon centered on an unlikely suspect - a disabled inmate who wasn't where he was supposed to be.

"He parked his walker outside the building, went in and stabbed somebody, then went back and picked up his walker," Madden said. "He was hard-pressed to say he wasn't inside, because we could track him through the building."

LA County jails' revolving-door population poses the toughest test yet for the technology. The facilities house about 18,000 inmates on a given day, but nearly 200,000 people pass through the system each year, some for a few hours, others for months. Several thousand each day must be moved to and from court appearances.

Last year alone there were an estimated 1,330 violent incidents that injured 88 jail employees and 1,742 inmates. Five prisoners were killed.

"It's just mind-boggling what these guys have to deal with," said Greg Oester, president of Technology Systems International Inc., which installs the TSI PRISM systems. The Scottsdale, Ariz.-based company is a subsidiary of Alanco Technologies Inc.

Previously, the company has worked with much more captive audiences - prison inmates serving multi-year sentences so long that electronic bracelets can be locked on until the batteries die. For jails such as in LA County, it's had to develop a quick-release version.

Alanco estimates there is $1.5 billion in potential sales for the technology if it were used throughout the federal, state and county prison and jail systems nationwide.

Singh praised TSI's product but thinks other technology could soon surpass the system's versatility.

He's intrigued by the Wheels of Zeus Inc. system developed by a Los Gatos firm headed by Apple Computer co-founder Steve Wozniak that uses radio frequencies indoors but switches to Global Positioning System satellites outdoors.

Though wOz is marketing its product for people who want to monitor the locations of people, pets or possessions, company officials met last month with Singh to discuss adapting the technology to corrections.

Inmates could be tracked not only within prisons or jails, or inside moveable electronic fences, but to and from courthouses or other locations, Singh said, providing more tracking mobility. Transmitters could be mounted on vehicles and shifted with work crews, letting them move freely while still being monitored by satellites.

Singh expects more correctional facilities to adopt tracking systems as the technology improves, and more competition as the market expands.

"They know we have the customers," he quipped.

California's increased use of technology has been stalled by several years of budget cuts and paralyzing turnovers in prison leadership, said both Singh and Youth and Adult Corrections Secretary Roderick Hickman. The prison system is now going through a sweeping bureaucratic reorganization that will take months, but Hickman and Singh say technology is a key to reform.

Singh's committee hasn't met since October 2002 because of the budget and bureaucratic uncertainty, but he anticipates efforts will get underway this fall to set priorities for which technology can best help transform the massive, troubled prison system.

"There's going to be opportunities for all kinds of new innovations. This might be one of them," Hickman said.

ON THE NET

TSI Inc.: http://www.tsilink.com/

Alanco Technologies Inc.: www.alanco.com

Wheels of Zeus: http://www.woz.com/2005/index.html

Logan Correctional Center: http://www.idoc.state.il.us/subsections/facilities/instaddress.shtml

California Youth and Adult Correctional Agency: http://www.yaca.ca.gov

California Department of Corrections: http://www.corr.ca.gov

http://www.observer.co.uk/politics/story/0,6903,841827,00.html

Surgical tags plan for sex offenders

Silicon chip to be inserted under skin

Martin Bright, home affairs editor
Sunday November 17, 2002
The Observer

Britain is considering a controversial scheme to implant surgically electronic tags in convicted paedophiles amid fears that the extent of the abuse of children has been massively underestimated.
Documents obtained by The Observer reveal the Government could track paedophiles by satellite, with a system similar to that used to locate stolen cars.

The tags can be put beneath the skin under local anaesthetic and would also be able to monitor the heart rate and blood pressure of the abuser, alerting staff to the possibility that another attack was imminent.

A letter from Hilary Benn, the Minister responsible for the supervision of sex offenders in the community, reveals the Home Office's electronic monitoring team is already developing technology to track paedophiles constantly. The team is now investigating the 'implant tag' after it was alerted to its capabilities by a campaign group for victims of paedophiles.

Tracker, the company which runs Britain's largest stolen vehicle monitoring network, has already been approached about paedophile monitoring and computer company Compaq has been asked to develop the software.

Compaq Software Solutions has developed similar technology for Nasa to monitor remotely the bodily functions of astronauts. In the case of paedophiles, the technology would not measure sexual excitement, but would monitor the offender's state of nervousness and fear.

Technology currently used can tell only whether an offender is where he is supposed to be, which is usually a curfew address. New 'reverse tags' can also monitor whether an offender is approaching a former victim's house or a high-risk area such as a school, but it can not track every movement.

In a letter to Labour MP Andrew Mackinley, Benn wrote: 'The Electronic Monitoring Team is... looking actively at the possibilities for using tracking technology to monitor offenders' whereabouts as they move from one place to another. To date... the team is unaware of any available technology which uses bodily implants to track offenders' movements or which can measure bodily functions to predict likely criminal activity. Such future improvements are, however, worthy of consideration if it can be demonstrated to be feasible and reliable in delivering improvements in public protection.'

Ministers would need to pass new legislation to oblige offenders to be surgically fitted with the tags.

Civil liberties groups expressed horror at the proposals last night. 'Implanting tracking devices provides a very frightening vision for the future. We already know that the rules protecting our privacy are inadequate. Where would this stop?' said John Wadham, director of Liberty. 'This would be used initially for sex offenders, but we would soon find that other marginalised groups, such as asylum seekers, would find they were forced to have implants.'

The implant tag has been proposed by Phoenix Survivors, a group of child abuse victims who were traded as child prostitutes in the north-west of England. Their name is taken from Operation Phoenix, an investigation into the activities of 72-year-old Stanley Claridge.

Claridge's stepdaughter and Phoenix Survivors' spokeswoman Shy Keenan said: 'I am sick to death of it being acceptable that I am a victim because these people have to have their human rights. These people live outside the law and cannot be controlled, so you have to know what they are doing all the time.'

The news of the implant tags comes after the first wave of arrests from a list of 7,000 suspected British paedophiles was passed to British police by investigators from the US Postal Inspection Service.

Credit card details had been traced to British customers of a portal on the internet, which gave access to hundreds of child porn sites. An investigation by Northumbria police as part of the nationwide Operation Ore led to the seizure of hard drives from more than 100 computers. Police in the North East had been given around 70 names from the list of 7,000 to arrest. In all, 56 men and four women were arrested. They were not picked up by the usual vetting procedures because most had no previous criminal record.

The computer files seized included the scenes of the rape of children as young as two. One man had 12,000 images of child abuse on his computer. As a result, Northumbria Police has estimated that the numbers of people on the Sex Offenders' Register in the area will increase by 10 per cent. If the hit-rate of the Northumbria investigation is replicated across the country, it could lead to as many as 5,000 arrests.

http://www.okgazette.com/news/templates/cover.asp?articleid=423&zoneid=7
http://www.okgazette.com/news/anmviewer.asp?a=423&print=yes

The watchers
Wednesday, April 05, 2006 - Ben Fenwick

It’s supposed to protect you from predators spying on your computer habits, but a bill Microsoft Corp. helped write for Oklahoma will open your personal information to warrantless searches, according to a computer privacy expert and a state representative.

Called the “Computer Spyware Protection Act,” House Bill 2083 would create fines of up to a million dollars for anyone using viruses or surreptitious computer techniques to break on to someone’s computer without that person’s knowledge and acceptance, according to the bill’s state Senate author, Clark Jolley.

“The bill has a clear prohibition on anything going in without your permission. You have to grant permission,” said Jolley, R-Edmond. “You can look at your license agreement. It will say whether they have the ability to take that information or not.”

But therein lies the catch.

If you click that “accept” button on the routine user’s agreement, the proposed law would allow any company from whom you bought upgradable software the freedom to come onto your computer for “detection or prevention of the unauthorized use of or fraudulent or other illegal activities in connection with a network, service, or computer software, including scanning for and removing computer software prescribed under this act.”

That means that Microsoft (or another company with such software) can erase spyware or viruses. But if you have, say, a pirated copy of Excel — Microsoft (or companies with similar software) can erase it, or anything else they want to erase, and not be held liable for it. Additionally, that phrase “fraudulent or other illegal activities” means they can:

—Let the local district attorney know that you wrote a hot check last month.

—Let the attorney general know that you play online poker.

—Let the tax commission know you bought cartons of cigarettes and didn’t pay the state tax on them.

—Read anything on your hard drive, such as your name, home address, personal identification code, passwords, Social Security number … etc., etc., etc.

“I think in broad terms that is still a form of spying,” said Marc Rotenberg, attorney and executive director of the Electronic Privacy Information Center in Washington, D.C. “Some people say, ‘Well, it’s justified.’ I’m not so clear that should be the case. Particularly if the reason you are passing legislation is to cover that activity.”

The bill is scheduled to go back before the House for another vote. Will the Oklahoma House, on behalf of all computer users in the state of Oklahoma, click “accept”?

Where did you go yesterday?

Computer users first accepted updates when anti-virus makers, such as Symantec Corp. or McAfee, began back in the Nineties offering regular updates in an attempt to stay current with the alarming number of viruses introduced over the Internet. This was followed by Windows ME and 2000 allowing updates to their programs via downloads. By the time Windows XP came out, regular online updates became part of the product one purchased.

At around the same time, the Napster phenomenon pushed music corporations, courts and lawmakers into taking action against online file sharing of music. Hip, computer-savvy listeners traded pirated MP3 recordings beyond count, leading to action by the music industry to go on a search and destroy mission against the online music traders, even in Oklahoma. In 2000, Oklahoma State University police seized a student’s computer containing thousands of downloaded songs after he was traced by a recording industry group.

Anti-spyware bill author Jolley said that’s what people like the OSU student get for sharing their information online.

“You have to look at the other side of that issue,” Jolley said. “When they agreed to put their files online, they literally agreed to allow people to come on their computers and search the files online. On a P-to-P (peer-to-peer) network, you are inviting other people to see what you have. That’s a risk you run by participating in file share.”

Jolley said his spyware bill is supposed to stop “phishers” from stealing one’s identity off of one’s computer, is supposed to stop “Trojan horse” viruses from being installed on the computer and is supposed to make illegal a host of other techniques for spying on a user’s personal information.

“It prohibits them from taking things as basic as your home address, your first name, your first initial in combination with your last name, your passwords, any personal identification numbers you have, any biometric information, any Social Security, tax IDs, drivers licenses, account balances, overdraft histories — there is a clear prohibition on that,” Jolley said.

Indeed, Sections 4 and 5 of the act specifically forbid anyone from doing so without the user’s permission.

However, Section 6 of the act says such a prohibition “shall not apply” to “telecommunications carrier, cable operator, computer hardware or software provider or provider of information service” and won’t apply to those companies in cases of “detection or prevention of the unauthorized use of or fraudulent or other illegal activities.”

Which means software companies updating a user’s software or the cable company monitoring that user’s activities on a broadband modem hookup can turn over that user’s history of writing hot checks to the district attorney if the company feels like it, said Rotenberg.

“You go back to the old-fashioned wiretap laws,” Rotenberg said. “There was an exception to allow telephone companies to listen in on telephone calls. The theory was that it was necessary to make sure that the service was working. Part of what’s going on here is to significantly expand that exemption to a whole range of companies that might have reason for looking on your computer. The statute will give them authority to do so. I think it’s too broad. I think the users in the end need to be able to allow that themselves.”

Jolley insists his proposed law would not allow Microsoft, Symantec or Cox Communications to become “Big Brother.”

“The goal of this is not to allow any company to go through and scan your computer,” Jolley said. “If they are, it has to be for a specific purpose. If you don’t want them doing that, don’t agree to (the user’s agreement).”

Which means, when a user accepts Microsoft’s Windows operating system on that new computer, or Norton AntiVirus, or Apple’s operating system or a host of other online-upgradable programs, that user agrees to being watched by the company.

Who on Earth would write such a law? It wasn’t Jolley, or anyone in Oklahoma.
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