The Privacy BlogPrivacy, Security, Cryptography, and Anonymity

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Standard-Profile-Picture.jpgIn episode 21 of our podcast for July, I talk about:

  • A decision giving Canadians more rights to Anonymity
  • Iraq’s recent blocking of social media and more
  • Iran’s outright criminalization of social media
  • A court decision requiring warrants to access cell tower location data
  • Another court stating that irrelevant seized data needs to be deleted after searches
  • A massive failure of data anonymization in New York City
  • A court requiring a defendant to decrypt his files so they can be searched
  • The Supreme Court ruling protecting cellphones from warrantless search.
  • Phone tracking streetlights in Chicago
  • And a small change for iPhones bringing big privacy benefits

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Chicago Street Sign

The city of Chicago is getting ready to deploy several monitoring stations on light poles along Michigan Avenue. In addition to collecting environmental information like sound volume, light intensity, and air quality, the devices will also count people by detecting wireless signals from passing mobile devices.

The system is designed to only count devices without capturing unique identifiers. While this may be true, it would certainly be easy to change in the future with only a tiny tweak to the software.

This set up looks similar to the tracking trashcans I discussed last year.

Capturing this kind of data is inevitable, and would be invisible if the city had not announced its intentions. The key will be to ensure appropriate protections for collected information, whoever does the collecting. It is refreshing that all of the data captured as part of this project will be published immediately. Assuming nothing is held back that will give a clear sense of exactly what kinds of information can be extrapolated from the raw data.i

Additionally architectural changes like the random MAC addresses in iOS 8 can significantly improve privacy in the face for such monitoring and tracking.

Chicago Tribune – New sensors will scoop up ‘big data’ on Chicago

Lance Cottrell is the Founder and Chief Scientist of Anonymizer. Follow me on Facebook, Twitter, and Google+.

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