PostTV: Webcams can record secretly


In this video I demonstrate how the built-in MacBook camera may be turned on, even when the light is off, allowing someone to spy on users without being detected.  You can read more about this story here.

The Limits of Harvesting Users Online

The state of New Jersey recently announced a $1 million settlement with E-Sports Entertainment, LLC over allegations that the company installed malware on its customers’ computers. The Attorney General claimed that E-Sports’ software allowed the company to use its customer’s computers to mine for Bitcoins without the user’s knowledge, generating thousands of dollars in Bitcoin value for E-Sports (and no value for the users) after numerous reports of unusually high CPU usage by their customers.  E-Sports released a statement apologizing and clarifying that this was the behavior of a rogue programmer. They also announced that they are donating the value of the bitcoins ($3,713) to the American Cancer Society plus doubling the donation from their own funds.

There were multiple components to the New Jersey case, including a privacy count regarding monitoring of users’ computer even when they were offline. However, the Bitcoin aspect of the complaint is extremely prescient, as there seems to be a burgeoning trend of government regulators looking more seriously at Bitcoin.

[Read more…]

Comments for the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board

I am speaking today at the PCLOB meeting on Sections 215 and 702 of the PATRIOT Act.  My panel begins at 12:30 and you can watch it live here.

I will be commenting on the role of technology in these programs, focused on how the limits of technology suggest that claims that surveillance programs can avoid targeting Americans are probably overstated. [Read more…]

The Technology of Privacy Conference

Silicon Flatirons, Center for Law, Technology, and Entrepreneurship
at the University of Colorado
Boulder, CO | January 11, 2013

I joined a discussion about the Threats and Benefits of New Technologies at the Fifth Annual Silicon Flatirons conference on privacy. Academics, policymakers, privacy advocates, and practitioners came together to discuss the changes in the state of the art of privacy and technology, and focus on what it means for policymaking and legal practice in particular. My presentation discussed the need for both technical and policy solutions to privacy problems.  (Our panel starts at 57:00)

View video archives here.

NYU/Princeton Conference on Mobile and Location Privacy: A Technology and Policy Dialog

New York University School of Law
New York, NY | April 13, 2012

The age of ubiquitous computing is here. People routinely carry smartphones and other devices capable of recording and transmitting immense quantities of personal information and tracking their every move. Privacy has suffered in this new environment, with new reports every week of vulnerabilities and unintended disclosures of private information. On Friday, April 13, 2012, New York University’s Information Law Institute and Princeton’s Center for Information Technology Policy will hosted a technology and policy dialogue about the new world of mobile and location privacy. The gathering aimed to bring together the policy and technology communities to discuss the substantial privacy issues arising from the growth of mobile and location technologies.

I did a technology demonstration.

NYU/Princeton Conference on Mobile and Location Privacy — Technology Demonstration: Askhan Soltani from NYU Information Law Institute on Vimeo.