jm + terrorism   14

UN privacy watchdog says 'little or no evidence' that mass surveillance works | ZDNet
The United Nations' special rapporteur on privacy has lambasted a spate of new surveillance laws across Europe and the US, saying that there is "little or no evidence" that mass monitoring of communications works. In a report published this week, Prof. Joseph Cannataci, the first privacy watchdog to take up the post, said he was neither convinced of the effectiveness or the proportionality "of some of the extremely privacy-intrusive measures that have been introduced by new surveillance laws."

He also said that bulk records collection, such as call and email metadata, runs the risk of "being hacked by hostile governments or organized crime."

Cannataci singled out recently-passed laws in France, Germany, the UK and the US, all of which have pushed through new legislation in the wake of the threat from the so-called Islamic State. He said that the passed laws amount to "gesture-politics," which in his words, "have seen politicians who wish to be seen to be doing something about security, legislating privacy-intrusive powers into being -- or legalize existing practices -- without in any way demonstrating that this is either a proportionate or indeed an effective way to tackle terrorism." A rise in public support of increased surveillance powers is "predicated on the psychology of fear," he said, referring to the perceived threat of terrorism.
surveillance  law  privacy  un  joseph-cannataci  watchdogs  terrorism  fear  fud 
11 days ago by jm
Not 'Going Dark': 15 Out Of 15 Most Recent EU Terrorists Were Known To The Authorities In Multiple Ways | Techdirt
Comprehensive surveillance appears as seemingly inexpensive because it is a solution that scales thanks to technology: troubleshooting at the press of a button. Directly linked with the aim of saving more and more, just as with the State in general. But classic investigative work, which is proven to work, is expensive and labor intensive. This leads to a failure by the authorities because of a faith in technology that is driven by economics.
tech  surveillance  techdirt  terrorism  brussels  crypto  going-dark 
april 2016 by jm
The NSA’s SKYNET program may be killing thousands of innocent people
Death by Random Forest: this project is a horrible misapplication of machine learning. Truly appalling, when a false positive means death:

The NSA evaluates the SKYNET program using a subset of 100,000 randomly selected people (identified by their MSIDN/MSI pairs of their mobile phones), and a a known group of seven terrorists. The NSA then trained the learning algorithm by feeding it six of the terrorists and tasking SKYNET to find the seventh. This data provides the percentages for false positives in the slide above.

"First, there are very few 'known terrorists' to use to train and test the model," Ball said. "If they are using the same records to train the model as they are using to test the model, their assessment of the fit is completely bullshit. The usual practice is to hold some of the data out of the training process so that the test includes records the model has never seen before. Without this step, their classification fit assessment is ridiculously optimistic."

The reason is that the 100,000 citizens were selected at random, while the seven terrorists are from a known cluster. Under the random selection of a tiny subset of less than 0.1 percent of the total population, the density of the social graph of the citizens is massively reduced, while the "terrorist" cluster remains strongly interconnected. Scientifically-sound statistical analysis would have required the NSA to mix the terrorists into the population set before random selection of a subset—but this is not practical due to their tiny number.

This may sound like a mere academic problem, but, Ball said, is in fact highly damaging to the quality of the results, and thus ultimately to the accuracy of the classification and assassination of people as "terrorists." A quality evaluation is especially important in this case, as the random forest method is known to overfit its training sets, producing results that are overly optimistic. The NSA's analysis thus does not provide a good indicator of the quality of the method.
terrorism  surveillance  nsa  security  ai  machine-learning  random-forests  horror  false-positives  classification  statistics 
february 2016 by jm
Signs Point to Unencrypted Communications Between Terror Suspects
News emerging from Paris — as well as evidence from a Belgian ISIS raid in January — suggests that the ISIS terror networks involved were communicating in the clear, and that the data on their smartphones was not encrypted.
paris  terrorism  crypto  via:schneier  isis  smartphones 
november 2015 by jm
How to Catch a Terrorist - The New Yorker
This is spot on --
By flooding the system with false positives, big-data approaches to counterterrorism might actually make it harder to identify real terrorists before they act. Two years before the Boston Marathon bombing, Tamerlan Tsarnaev, the older of the two brothers alleged to have committed the attack, was assessed by the city’s Joint Terrorism Task Force. They determined that he was not a threat. This was one of about a thousand assessments that the Boston J.T.T.F. conducted that year, a number that had nearly doubled in the previous two years, according to the Boston F.B.I. As of 2013, the Justice Department has trained nearly three hundred thousand law-enforcement officers in how to file “suspicious-activity reports.” In 2010, a central database held about three thousand of these reports; by 2012 it had grown to almost twenty-eight thousand. “The bigger haystack makes it harder to find the needle,” Sensenbrenner told me. Thomas Drake, a former N.S.A. executive and whistle-blower who has become one of the agency’s most vocal critics, told me, “If you target everything, there’s no target.”
terrorism  false-positives  filtering  detection  jttf  nsa  fbi  surveillance  gchq 
january 2015 by jm
Schneier on Security: Why Data Mining Won't Stop Terror
A good reference URL to cut-and-paste when "scanning internet traffic for terrorist plots" rears its head:
This unrealistically accurate system will generate 1 billion false alarms for every real terrorist plot it uncovers. Every day of every year, the police will have to investigate 27 million potential plots in order to find the one real terrorist plot per month. Raise that false-positive accuracy to an absurd 99.9999 percent and you're still chasing 2,750 false alarms per day -- but that will inevitably raise your false negatives, and you're going to miss some of those 10 real plots.


Also, Ben Goldacre saying the same thing: http://www.badscience.net/2009/02/datamining-would-be-lovely-if-it-worked/
internet  scanning  filtering  specificity  statistics  data-mining  terrorism  law  nsa  gchq  false-positives  false-negatives 
january 2015 by jm
NSA: Linux Journal is an "extremist forum" and its readers get flagged for extra surveillance
DasErste.de has published the relevant XKEYSCORE source code, and if you look closely at the rule definitions, you will see linuxjournal.com/content/linux* listed alongside Tails and Tor. According to an article on DasErste.de, the NSA considers Linux Journal an "extremist forum". This means that merely looking for any Linux content on Linux Journal, not just content about anonymizing software or encryption, is considered suspicious and means your Internet traffic may be stored indefinitely.


This is, sadly, entirely predictable -- that's what happens when you optimize the system for over-sampling, with poor oversight.
false-positives  linuxjournal  linux  terrorism  tor  tails  nsa  surveillance  snooping  xkeyscore  selectors  oversight 
july 2014 by jm
Russia passes bill requiring bloggers to register with government
A bill passed by the Russian parliament on Tuesday says that any blogger read by at least 3,000 people a day has to register with the government telecom watchdog and follow the same rules as those imposed by Russian law on mass media. These include privacy safeguards, the obligation to check all facts, silent days before elections and loose but threatening injunctions against "abetting terrorism" and "extremism."


Russian blogging platforms have responded by changing view-counter tickers to display "2500+" as a max.
russia  blogs  blogging  terrorism  extremism  internet  regulation  chilling-effects  censorship 
april 2014 by jm
"A reason to hang him": how mass surveillance, secret courts, confirmation bias and the FBI can ruin your life - Boing Boing
This is bananas. Confirmation bias running amok.
Brandon Mayfield was a US Army veteran and an attorney in Portland, OR. After the 2004 Madrid train bombing, his fingerprint was partially matched to one belonging to one of the suspected bombers, but the match was a poor one. But by this point, the FBI was already convinced they had their man, so they rationalized away the non-matching elements of the print, and set in motion a train of events that led to Mayfield being jailed without charge; his home and office burgled by the FBI; his client-attorney privilege violated; his life upended.
confirmation-bias  bias  law  brandon-mayfield  terrorism  fingerprints  false-positives  fbi  scary 
february 2014 by jm
Death by Metadata
The side-effects of algorithmic false-positives get worse and worse.
What’s more, he adds, the NSA often locates drone targets by analyzing the activity of a SIM card, rather than the actual content of the calls. Based on his experience, he has come to believe that the drone program amounts to little more than death by unreliable metadata. “People get hung up that there’s a targeted list of people,” he says. “It’s really like we’re targeting a cell phone. We’re not going after people – we’re going after their phones, in the hopes that the person on the other end of that missile is the bad guy.”
false-positives  glenn-greenwald  drones  nsa  death-by-metadata  us-politics  terrorism  sim-cards  phones  mobile-phones 
february 2014 by jm
Who Is Watching the Watch Lists? - NYTimes.com
it might seem that current efforts to identify and track potential terrorists would be approached with caution. Yet the federal government’s main terrorist watch list has grown to at least 700,000 people, with little scrutiny over how the determinations are made or the impact on those marked with the terrorist label.
“If you’ve done the paperwork correctly, then you can effectively enter someone onto the watch list,” said Anya Bernstein, an associate professor at the SUNY Buffalo Law School and author of “The Hidden Costs of Terrorist Watch Lists,” published by the Buffalo Law Review in May. “There’s no indication that agencies undertake any kind of regular retrospective review to assess how good they are at predicting the conduct they’re targeting.”

terrorism  watchlists  blacklists  filtering  safety  air-travel  government  security  dhs  travel 
december 2013 by jm
Metropolitan police detained David Miranda for promoting 'political' causes | World news | The Observer
"We assess that Miranda is knowingly carrying material [...] the disclosure or threat of disclosure is designed to influence a government, and is made for the purpose of promoting a political or ideological cause. This therefore falls within the definition of terrorism."
security  david-miranda  journalism  censorship  terrorism  the-guardian 
november 2013 by jm

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