%type archive - Jul 2011

Obscuracam, a smartphone app for visual privacy

Obscuracam logo The goal of ObscuraCam for Android, developed by the SecureSmartCam project, is to to design and develop a new type of smartphone camera app that makes it simple for the user to respect the visual privacy, anonymity and consent of the subjects they photograph or record, while also enhancing their own ability to control the personally identifiable data stored inside that photo or video.

ObscuraCam doesn't set out to replace training and/or best practices, but rather to introduce these concepts to a wider activist audience, as well as to raise awareness and generate discussion around the idea of "visual privacy."

 To try ObscuraCam or know more about the project, please read:

Report confirms basic assumptions of the Telematics Freedom Foundation

According to a recent analysis from Matt Blaze, the 2010 U.S. Wiretap Report released last month provides official, essential confirmation of the assumption at the basis of several Telematics Freedom Foundation (TFF) activities.

In the report, defined "the most complete public picture of wiretapping as practiced in the US by federal and state law enforcement agencies", there are two interesting facts, according to Blaze: discouraging the incorporation of basic security technology in ICT infrastructures meant that the computers, phones, and other gadgets remained exposed to other criminals who might want to illegally exploit the very same surveillance techniques that the government hoped to preserve for itself.

However, the report says, despite dire predictions to the contrary, the open availability of cryptography has done little to hinder law enforcement's ability to conduct investigations. Even when they encountered encrypted communications, law enforcement officials have adapted their methods in order to get their work done, with one comforting result: widespread encryption, rather than shutting down police wiretaps, has actually pushed them in a more reliable and accountable direction... legal wiretap evidence is now much more reliable and illegal cellular intercepts are now much harder to perform.

This is exactly the principle inspiring TFF projects like User Verifiable Telematics: to provide systems that give all citizens the greatest possible guarantees that their communications will remain private and that only law enforcement officials will be able, within the limits set by law and with full accountability, to intercept them.

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