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Malware Attacks On Hospitals Put Patients At Risk

Apr 1, 2016

The first sign seems innocuous enough if you don't know what you're looking at: Files in the computer appear as decrypt.html, or decrypt.txt instead of their usual names.

Then, you click. A box pops up that gives you an ultimatum: Want the file? You'll have to pay up, and probably in bitcoin.

The FBI says it has gotten into the iPhone used by one of the San Bernardino shooters in California, so prosecutors have dropped their case trying to compel Apple to do it. But the controversy is far from over. Local prosecutors across the country have iPhones that they would like to unlock, and they want to know if the FBI will use its master key to help.

The FBI's success in unlocking, without Apple's help, the iPhone of one of the San Bernardino terrorists marks a dramatic end to the heated dispute between the Justice Department and the tech giant about the scope of the government's power to compel a company to weaken its digital security for a criminal investigation.

Below are some of the key takeaways — and mysteries — left in the aftermath of the case.

The high-profile public and legal dispute between the government and Apple is officially over after the FBI managed to unlock the iPhone used by one of the San Bernardino terrorists without Apple's help.

The Justice Department says it has successfully retrieved the data from the phone and is asking the court to vacate its order for Apple's assistance.

The Justice Department on Thursday filed its latest argument in the dispute with Apple over access to a locked iPhone, accusing Apple of "false" rhetoric and "overblown" fears in its public refusal to cooperate with a court order.

The FCC has unveiled a proposal that would restrict Internet providers' ability to share the information they collect about what their customers do online with advertisers and other third parties.

AP Photo/Manuel Valdes

Bill Radke talks with privacy advocate Jared Friend about a bill in the state legislature that would restrict public access to police body camera footage. Friend is director of technology and liberty at the ACLU of Washington. We also hear from state Rep. Drew Hansen, who is backing the bill.

One day after congressional lawmakers grilled the FBI chief and Apple's top lawyer about government's access to encrypted data, another smaller, less spotlighted panel convened on Capitol Hill — to tackle the question of the government's warrantless geolocation tracking.

The debate over whether Apple should defeat the security on the iPhone of San Bernardino shooter Syed Rizwan Farook isn't the first time the company has clashed with law enforcement.

The FBI also wanted to get into the iPhone of a drug dealer in Brooklyn. Jun Feng pleaded guilty to selling methamphetamine last year. As part of its investigation, the government obtained a search warrant for Feng's iPhone. But the phone was locked by a passcode, so prosecutors asked a judge for an order compelling Apple to bypass it.

The Department of Justice has filed a motion to compel Apple to cooperate with a government investigation and help access data on an iPhone used by one of the San Bernardino assailants.

The motion filed in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California (read it in full below) lays out the government's legal case for why Apple should provide technical assistance.

In a few days, Apple will formulate its formal response to the federal judge's order seeking the company's help for the FBI to get inside a phone used by Syed Farook, one of the attackers in the San Bernardino, Calif., shootings.

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Reuters

On Tuesday, a federal judge ordered the tech giant Apple to help the federal government break into an iPhone. The phone in question belonged to one of the San Bernardino shooters — making this case a vivid example of the conflict between national security and personal privacy.

“The phone is password protected, and Apple does not keep the passwords,” says David Kaye, a law professor at the University of California, Irvine. “The FBI is essentially asking for access to the contents of the phone.”

Remember the cryptex, the little handheld safe from The Da Vinci Code where entering the correct combination will reveal the secret message and entering the wrong one will destroy it?

Now replace the little safe with an iPhone, and instead of a secret message, it's holding evidence in a terrorism case. The critical combination? It's a passcode — one the FBI doesn't know, and one that Apple is reluctant to help the agency figure out.

When CVS Health customers complained to the company about privacy violations, some of the calls and letters made their way to Joseph Fenity. One patient's medication was delivered to his neighbor, revealing he had cancer. Another was upset because a pharmacist had yelled personal information across the counter.

Tiffany Von Arnim via Flickr Creative Commons

The city of Bellevue collects lots of data. The data comes from things like construction permits, 911 calls and business licenses. Today, it announced plans to publish more of that data online. But it’s not without risk for the city.

Flickr Photo/g4ll4is (CC BY SA 2.0)/http://bit.ly/1XFJPoy

Ross Reynolds interviews Alex Alben, Washington state’s chief privacy officer, about a new pamphlet he's issuing today called "Privacy: A Guide for Washington Citizens."  Alben talks about all the information the state has about about you and how it's used.

Michael Mattmiller in one of Seattle's secret data centers. He says data helps government work better, but he's trying to cut back a bit and disseminate a uniform data privacy policy across all city departments.
KUOW Photo/Joshua McNichols

Somewhere in an office tower in downtown Seattle is a floor filled with data servers. Some of that data is about you. You might show up in a traffic camera video. Your personal information might show up in a utility bill.

Seattle collects a lot of such data. But data can be hacked and information can be misused. That’s why the city’s rethinking how and when it collects your personal data.

Cybercrime is costing the global economy nearly half a trillion dollars a year, according to the insurer Allianz. It's a major threat to businesses, which are looking for ways to protect themselves. One option is cybercrime insurance.

technology computer keyboard
Flicker Photo/Leslee Lazar (CC-BY-NC-ND)

Here in the internet age we might wonder, are democratic ideals and technological innovations compatible?

Most of us leave a wide digital trail in the wake of our day to day activities. Organizations and governmental agencies have a keen interest in following where that trail leads.

This episode of Speakers Forum explores how surveillance and newly-emerging technologies affect our civil liberties and shape our lives.

Michael Fertik at the 2011 World Economic Forum
Flickr Photo/World Economic Forum (CC BY NC SA 2.0)

For centuries great thinkers have tried to make sense of how to judge human character. Socrates, for instance, famously said, “The way to a good reputation is to endeavor to be what you desire to appear.” The internet age throws a wicked curve ball at that seemingly simple advice.

Our speaker this week seeks to shed some light on the complex reality of the modern reputation. He compares our society to the early days of primitive humans, when everyone knew everyone else’s stories and secrets, and people lived and died according to their community standing.

Compost trash
Flickr Photo/Jason Tester Guerilla Futures (CC BY ND 2.0)

Ross Reynolds speaks with Brian Hodges, an attorney at the Pacific Legal Foundation. Hodges is suing the city of Seattle on behalf of eight Seattle residents who say inspection of their garbage to enforce food waste laws is an invasion of their privacy.

This undated handout photo provided by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office shows the StingRay II, manufactured by Harris Corporation, of Melbourne, Fla., a cellular site simulator used for surveillance purposes.
U.S. Patent and Trademark Office

Ross Reynolds speaks with Nate Wessler, staff attorney with the ACLU's Speech, Privacy, and Technology Project, about how a new law on the books in Washington will protect residents from a powerful surveillance devices known as Stingrays.

Author Bruce Schneier.
Flickr Photo/Berkman Center for Internet & Society (CC-BY-NC-ND)

We live in a brave new digital world, and there’s much to appreciate about that. It’s efficient. It’s fun. It’s convenient. But what are we giving up when corporations and governments follow our whereabouts, buying habits, interests and orientations? What privacies do we trade away for the convenience of having a phone, a computer and a credit card?

Bruce Schneier is a cryptographer, privacy specialist and the author of “Data and Goliath: The Hidden Battles to Collect Your Data and Control Your World.”

He spoke about his book and his views on what he calls “the golden age of surveillance” at Town Hall Seattle on March 9. Thanks to Anna Tatistcheff for our recording. 

Sometimes it's a vengeful ex-lover; sometimes a thief or a hacker is behind it. Either way, explicit, private photos of people keep getting out on the Internet.

The Washington governor's office unveiled draft rules for government use of drones Monday. It would replace legislation that Democrat Jay Inslee vetoed earlier this year.

Ross Reynolds talks to Christopher Soghoian, privacy expert for the ACLU, about a 2007 case where the FBI created a fake news link and sent it to a student they suspected was calling in bomb threats to Timberline High School. The link planted malware on the suspect's computer that the FBI was able to use to track and convict the teen.    

Correction: An earlier version of this story misstated which news outlet the FBI used to bait the student suspected of making bomb threats. It was The Associated Press, not The Seattle Times as the guest noted in the radio interview.

Flickr Photo/Adam Fagen (CC-BY-NC-ND)

Jeannie Yandel talks with UCLA law professor Adam Winkler, author of, "Gunfight: The Battle Over the Right To Bear Arms in America," about privacy concerns with background check bills. Also, we hear from Alan Gottlieb with Protect Our Gun Rights.

Marcie Sillman talks with Tacoma News Tribune reporter Kate Martin about a surveillance device being used by the Tacoma Police Department that sweeps up meta data from cell phones.

A Washington Post analysis of data provided by Edward Snowden has revealed that nine out of 10 communications intercepted by the National Security Agency were from ordinary Internet users, not legally targeted foreigners. But the examination also showed that officials gleaned valuable intelligence from the wide net the agency cast.

The encryption code unlocked by the Heartbleed bug last week provided vital security for some of the most widely used websites on the Internet. Fortune 1000 companies rely on the open source code for their core business. But it turns out no one is paying for it.

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