Why Worry About Public Surveillance? Are you Hiding Something?
In the aftermath of the killing in Ferguson, MO, three police officers – none of whom are from the Ferguson police department – were suspended after blatantly racist and extremist comments and unacceptable behavior. A Rock Island, IL sheriff recently pled guilty to cyberstalking and resigned.
Do you think that, given an opportunity, these local law enforcement officers and others of their ilk would use information gleaned from your cell phone in a responsible manner? Would they respect information privacy?
Local law enforcement does have the opportunity. In September, news broke that owners of encrypted cell phones had identified 19 fake cell phone towers in various parts of the United States; it wasn’t long before the towers were connected to the NSA, as well as local, regional and state law enforcement.
This enables something as simple as tracking a user’s location or as potentially sinister as so-called “Man in the Middle” attacks where calls and texts can be heard or read before being forwarded on to a legitimate cell tower and the intended recipient. Is this a violation of physical security or cybersecurity? Or both?
Do you trust your local law enforcement to protect your information privacy? How many police officers or sheriff’s deputies are trained to understand these limits? In Florida a local police department used cell phone location information to conduct a search without a warrant. What else can and will they do? What have they done?
And what does this do to our expectations of information privacy?