Noah J Nelson on Thursday, May. 8th
Who watches the Watchmen?
That we are living in a sophisticated surveillance state is just an accepted fact of life now. Maybe we shouldn’t just accept it, but that’s a debate for a time when I’m more caffeinated. (Spoiler: two cups is not enough for that.) At the moment I’d like to draw your attention to the center ring of the Security Theatre Circus and present to you the London Metropolitan Police.
It is the latest police force to adopt on-officer video camera technology. In this case the force is deploying 500 Taser Axon body cameras that have 130 degree viewing angles and constantly buffer the last 30 seconds of images until switched on. This ups the paranoia ante on the already camera-dense London but, as The Verge’s Vlad Savov points out, could have a soothing effect on those who have concerns about police misconduct:
Beyond the hunt for evidence, the Metropolitan Police also wants to achieve a higher level of transparency of its operations and trust with the public. Taser has already seen a number of major US metropolitan areas deploy its system — including New Orleans, Las Vegas, and Detroit — though it’s the small city of Rialto, California, that has shown the best results. Since implementing wearable cameras, the local police department has seen 87.5 percent fewer complaints and a 59 percent reduction in the use of force.
Of course, that assumes that the cameras will be used in a non-biased way, and that video evidence that shows police acting badly doesn’t conveniently get erased by “accident.” Sometimes I think that the best solution would be just to turn on all the damn surveillance cams in public and on officers and have them livestream where anyone could watch. Full, radical transparency. Perhaps that would do more good than harm, even in the cases of mis-served search warrants. Sure, there’d be violations of privacy up the whazoo, but if anyone can dig that up on YouTube at least sloppy cops couldn’t sweep it under the rug.
After the jump: Apple uses the power of transparency to let you know what law enforcement can know about what they know you know. You know?
Apple has release a document detailing just what law enforcement can force it to cough up. Ars Technica’s Andrew Cunningham break that down:
The short version is that essentially anything you’ve backed up to or stored on iCloud is available for Apple to fork over to law enforcement, including connection logs and IP addresses you’ve used. Apple has access to 60 days of iCloud mail logs that “include records of incoming and outgoing communications such as time, date, sender e-mail addresses, and recipient e-mail addresses”; any e-mail messages that the user has not deleted; and any other information that can be backed up to iCloud. As of this writing, this list includes contacts, calendars, browser bookmarks, Photo Stream photos, anything that uses the “documents and data” feature (which can include not just word processors but also photo and video apps, games, and data from other applications), and full device backups. Subscriber information requires a “subpoena or greater legal process,” e-mail logs require a court order or search warrant, and e-mail or other iCloud content requires a search warrant. Any iCloud information that the user deletes cannot be accessed.
The good news for Apple users: third-party app passwords are protected. So is FaceTime and iMessage communications thanks to end-to-end encryption. The best news out of all this: tech companies keep giving us all a sense of just how far the surveillance rabbit hole goes.