DOT Proposes Mandating Cars Broadcast Location, Direction and Speed

CNSNews
By Terence P. Jeffrey

US Department of Transportation V2V image

(U.S. Department of Transportation image)

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, part of the Department of Transportation, published last week an “advanced notice of proposed rulemaking” on “vehicle-to-vehicle communications.”

What NHTSA is proposing could begin a transformation in the American transportation system that makes our lives better and freer — or gives government more power over where we go and when.

In announcing its proposed rulemaking, NHTSA is stressing its intention to protect the “privacy” of American drivers.

“This document initiates rulemaking that would propose to create a new Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard, FMVSS No. 150, to require vehicle-to-vehicle communication capability for light vehicles,” says NHTSA’s dryly-worded notice.

What do vehicle-to-vehicle communications entail?

NHTSA has crafted a nice phrase to describe the information cars would broadcast. It is the “Basic Safety Message.”

“An integrated V2V system is connected to proprietary data busses and can provide highly accurate information using in-vehicle information to generate the Basic Safety Message,” says NHTSA’s technical report on “Readiness of V2V for Application.”

“The integrated system both broadcasts and receives BSMs,” says the report. “In addition, it can process the content of received messages to provide advisories and/or warnings to the driver of the vehicle in which it is installed.”

The “Basic Safety Message” will be broadcast by the vehicle’s dedicated short-range communications system. According to NHTSA, this system will need to transmit certain specific information.

“For example,” says the technical report, “when a DSRC unit sends out a BSM, the BSM needs to: Contain the relevant elements and describe them accurately (e.g., vehicle speed; GPS position; vehicle heading; DSRC message ID, etc.).”

What NHTSA envisions mandating will not control people’s cars but create a uniform communication system built into all vehicles that will give automobile manufacturers the opportunity to equip their products with warning systems that alert drivers to potential accidents — such as one that might be caused by cross traffic at a blind intersection.

“NHTSA currently does not plan to propose to require specific V2V-based safety applications,” says the advanced notice of proposed rulemaking. “Rather, we plan to propose to require that new vehicles be equipped with DSRC devices, which will enable a variety of applications that may provide various safety-critical warnings to drivers.”

But NHTSA does not envision that the use of this type of technology will stop there.

The agency has published a “Preliminary Statement of Policy Concerning Automated Vehicles.” This statement describes V2V as part of a “continuum” leading to fully automated vehicles.

“Accordingly, three distinct but related streams of technological change and development are occurring simultaneously: (1) in-vehicle crash avoidance systems that provide warnings and/or limited automated control of safety functions; (2) V2V communications that support various crash avoidance applications; and (3) self-driving vehicles,” said NHTSA’s statement of policy.

“NHTSA finds that it is helpful to think of these emerging technologies as part of a continuum of vehicle control automation,” said the policy statement. “The continuum, discussed below, runs from vehicles with no active control systems all the way to full automation and self-driving.

“While the agency is conducting research along the entire automation continuum, our emphasis initially is on determining whether those crash avoidance and mitigation technologies that are currently available (or soon to be available) are not only safe, but effective,” said the statement. “However, because these same technologies are the building blocks for what may one day lead to a driverless vehicle, we have also begun research focused on safety principles that may apply to even higher levels of automation, such as driver behavior in the context of highly automated vehicle safety systems.”

In its technical report on V2V, published last week, NHTSA said: “At the outset, readers should understand some very important points about the V2V system as currently contemplated by NHTSA. The system will not collect or store any data identifying individuals or individual vehicles, nor will it enable the government to do so.”

“There is no data in the safety messages exchanged by vehicles or collected by the V2V system that could be used by law enforcement or private entities to personally identify a speeding or erratic driver,” the report said. “The system — operated by private entities — will not enable tracking through space and time of vehicles linked to specific owners or drivers.”

“Our research to date suggests that drivers may be concerned about the possibility that the government or a private entity could use V2V communications to track their daily activities and whereabouts,” said the report. “However, as designed, NHTSA is confident that the V2V system both achieves the agency’s safety goals and protects consumer privacy appropriately.”

Like any other instrument, the new automobile technology the federal government is now planning to mandate can be used for good or ill. Certainly, automated automobile warning systems based on accurate data broadcast by other people’s cars and roadway infrastructure can save lives.

But as vehicles become fully automated, as they surely will, and the people in them no longer have absolute control over the vehicle’s movements, a key question will be: Who does?

CNSNews

The VMT Tax: Big Brother Will Be Watching You Drive

travel

The New American
by Jack Kenny

For years, even decades, the federal government has been urging motorists to drive fuel-efficient vehicles. In President Obama’s first term, there was even a “Cash for Clunkers” program, offering drivers a financial reward if they traded in an old car for a more fuel-efficient new vehicle. And apparently Americans have done too good a job of following that government policy. Greater fuel efficiency means minimal or less frequent purchases at the gas pump. Some motorists have switched to hybrid or electric cars, which enables them to avoid the gas pumps altogether. All of which results in lower revenue from federal and state gas taxes, which means less money to build and repair roads and bridges and fund myriad mass transit programs. So policymakers are looking at taxing not the gas you buy, but the miles you travel.

A Vehicle Miles Traveled (VMT) tax might not reduce air pollution or the nation’s dependence on foreign oil, the main reasons given for government’s campaign to get motorists into more fuel-efficient vehicles. But it could raise more revenue and even be useful for traffic control since it could tax motorists for driving into already congested areas. But chances are drivers won’t like being penalized for having long commutes to work or going extra miles on vacation trips any more than they would like paying more in taxes at the gas pumps. And at least some of us might resent the invasion of privacy involved in having the government track all our trips, short and long, to total up our mileage bill. As described on the federal technology news site, Nextgov.com:

It has long been a nightmare scenario for privacy advocates: Every time you get in your car, a computer relays your location and tracks your trip from start to finish. It can track how far you go, where you drive, how long the trip is, and even how much traffic you encounter.

For many drivers it is already a reality, as motorists take part in ride-sharing programs such as Zipcar or Car2Go, though both services record cars and drivers. E-Z passes enable drivers to zip through tolls without the delay and inconvenience of stopping to pay, but the system also creates electronic records of everyone’s trips on toll roads. But to have a Global Positioning System or some such device in every car to track each motorist’s comings and goings has overtones of an Orwellian “Big Brother” government, watching you every move and knowing where you are at all times. When then-Transportation Secretary Ray Lahood proposed such a system in early 2009, NextGov.com recalled, the Obama administration quickly disowned it, saying it was off the table. A proposal to research a VMT system was left out of the 2012 transportation reauthorization bill. But some transportation experts argue that Americans have already surrendered so much privacy for the conveniences of modern technology that the intrusive watchfulness of a VMT system should hardly bother us. 

“Logic has not really entered into that discussion,” said Joshua Schank, president of the Eno Center for Transportation. “People have had cell phones and private cell companies knowing where they travel for years, but somehow that doesn’t give them any more comfort if the federal government is going to track their driving.”

Ride-sharing companies track trips for locations, speed, and travel times, but have policies aimed at offering motorists some assurance of privacy protection. Zipcar says it does “not actively track or monitor vehicle location, and we do not store historical GPS data regarding vehicle location.” Uber, the rideshare and taxi service, uses GPS and geolocation through its mobile app to see where users and drivers are, but says the data is not shared with third parties and is used only for purposes such as customizing services, promotions, and data analytics.

“There’s really a lot less privacy with those systems because they know at least where you are picked up and dropped off and someone’s keeping track of that,” said Rob Atkinson, president of the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation. “I have no reason to doubt that these companies are trustworthy and it’s possible that as people become more comfortable with that, they’ll see that there are less privacy concerns.”

“I don’t think that means we should be any less concerned about the government doing something like this,” said Gautum Hans, an attorney with the Center for Democracy and Technology. He told Nextgov.com that people may be more comfortable with a private company using location tracking for business or research use, but “as we like to say, a private company can’t put you in jail.” “Research is understood by individuals. You can understand why a ride-sharing app would want to do research as long as it’s aggregated and takes steps to protect your privacy,” he said. “With the government, there are reasons you would be concerned, whether it’s the First Amendment and the freedom of association or how the information is kept and how.”

A federal pilot program is already underway in Oregon, offering 5,000 volunteers a variety of options, including a smartphone app, self-bought GPS systems, or even a flat fee that would require no tracking at all. But if millions of motorists have switched to smaller more fuel efficient cars to escape rising prices at the gas pump, would millions more not curtail needless trips to reduce their tax burden under a VMT system? What will that do to vacation trips?

Stay tuned for opposition from the travel and tourist industry. 

The New American

Check Out the Creepy Picture Google Paints of Your Daily Habits

Occupy Corporatism
by Susanne Posel

Orig.src.Susanne.Posel.Daily.News- google.watching.facebook_occupycorporatismSusanne Posel

Google has been quietly painting a picture of your daily whereabouts and travel habits with the use of your Android or Apple smartphones.

With the use of tracking map apps such as Google Maps, Facebook and Foursquare, Google knows users must log into their Google account and immediately has a reference point to begin recording the adventures of millions of citizens all across the world.

Orig.src.Susanne.Posel.Daily.News- google.tracking.users.facebook_occupycorporatism

 

Google has created Sounds of Street View (SSV) with a UK based hearing-aid corporation that will utilize “Google’s Street View programming interface, people and businesses will be able to place a sound as well as a location marker on the online map.”

Stephen Griffin, developer for SSV explained: “The concept seems to have sparked people’s imaginations, so hopefully we can start getting some great projects entered soon. “Our hope is that we get some great ‘everyday’ soundscapes but also a few really out-there concepts too, such as the internal atmosphere from one of the many Street View stadiums around the world, or perhaps the underwater expeditions!”

One purpose for implementing this “immersive technology” is to lay the foundation for future corporations to have a new “promotional opportunity” and possibly create the next wave in deceptive marketing practices.

Griffin commented: “There’s also potential for businesses, tour operators and such to think about how they communicate their brand/service when they get their own Street View internal tours. Sound adds a whole new atmospheric element to somewhere like, say, a restaurant, where you could have a welcoming message at the door, an ambient atmosphere to get potential clientele to gain a more thorough vibe.”

 

Facebook uses Nearby Friends (NF) to allow users to track their friend’s movements in real time and in real life.

NF will provide a ping to the user when one of their Facebook friends is in the vicinity.

While friends can opt out of being tracked with NF, as long as Facebook users continue to share their location, this app will have plenty of information in real time to assist in monitoring movements of people through Facebook.

And this includes Facebook friends overseas and across the globe. In fact, if anyone on a friends list is within half a mile from the user, they are being tracked with NF.

 

Through mapping apps anyone can decipher the exact location, detailed movements and intended destination of those they are tracking.

Google’s Latitude and Foursquare are similar tracking apps.

Another tracking tool that helps Google better understand its users is Project Tango (PT), a scheme to build devices that can map the space surrounding them in 3D.

Tango was first introduced as a smartphone; however Google changed their mind and will utilize Nvidia Tegra K1 7 inch Android as hardware complete with motion-tracking cameras and depth sensors.

Google has collaborated with Nvidia, Movidius and George Washington University to manufacture computer chips and perfect the software running the system.

Developers can purchase the experimental kit for $1,024.

This project was provided by Motorola Advanced Technology and Project (ATAP) which was behind the Project Ara modular smartphone.

Project Tango is a smartphone that is equipped with sensors that collect large amounts of data to create 3D images of the user’s home.

The idea is that the customer would rely more on sensors and cameras in order to monitor their world.

 
Occupy Corporatism

In U.S. and Canada, “Smart Meter” Fires Spark Alarm

smart meter

The New American
by Alex Newman

All across the United States, Canada, and beyond, deeply controversial “smart meters” for electricity have been catching on fire and even exploding, sparking a major scandal that in at least one Canadian province has forced authorities to start removing all of the more than 100,000 devices. In Oregon, utility officials also announced that tens of thousands of smart meters were being replaced following numerous reports of fires. With the manufacturer saying the problems are systemic in the industry, experts predict more disasters to come as governments continue foisting the “smart grid” on the world in the face of growing opposition. 

With the latest news of fires and explosions, it now seems to critics and politicians that in the frantic rush to impose the “smart” electric meters in defiance of public resistance, serious safety concerns were pushed aside — along with growing fears about the health and privacy implications surrounding the technology. With the latest news about the potentially deadly consequences, officials across the continent are scrambling for answers, and taxpayers are likely to be stuck with a massive bill.

A series of at least 10 fires in the Canadian province of Saskatchewan attributed to the digital electric meters, which have stirred fierce resistance in some areas due to health and privacy concerns, prompted utility provider SaskPower to announce that it would be removing all of them. The recalled meters will be replaced with the older, lower-tech analog meters that cannot be monitored or controlled remotely. After initially dismissing the widespread safety concerns raised by critics, politicians responsible for the mess, under heavy fire from activists, are now claiming to be concerned as well.    

“I think the concerns about safety are paramount here, the concerns are significant enough, anytime families are at risk in Saskatchewan, actions have to be taken and that’s why we’ve directed SaskPower accordingly,” explained Bill Boyd, the provincial minister of Energy and Resources, who ordered the utility to remove the smart meters after the fires. “I don’t know whether there was enough testing done. We’ll certainly be conducting, along with SaskPower, an internal review of the procurement procedures around this, around the safety concerns people had.”

Boyd continued, officials intend to get to the bottom of the fiasco to identify the culprits as well. “We want to determine when these were originally ordered, if there were safety concerns known at that point in time, so we have a lot of questions we’re going to be discussing with SaskPower about how this came to be,” Boyd was quoted as saying in Canadian media reports. “We view it as similar to a recall situation and the people of Saskatchewan shouldn’t be responsible for the costs of this and we’ll do everything we can to recover those costs.”

Estimates suggest the removals will cost around $15 million and should take six to nine months to complete, according to news reports. Other figures suggest the price tag for the entire fiasco could be as high as $50 million. So far, nobody has taken the blame, including the manufacturer of the fire-producing meters, North Carolina-based Sensus. The company blamed “external factors,” such as “water intrusion,” “hot socket conditions,” “over voltage in the distribution system,” and “holes in meter boxes” for the fires. It also said investigations were underway.

“Our experience has shown that these issues are systemic in the industry and we are committed to delivering solutions that help our customers to overcome these challenges,” said Sensus President Randy Bays in a statement, giving even more credence to the widespread concerns expressed by critics of the smart-meter scheme. (Emphasis added.) “I have complete confidence in the employees and technology that carry the Sensus name. We are committed to providing safe products through engineering excellence and testing to industry standards.”

Despite the firm’s efforts to distance itself from the fires and point out that they are an industry-wide problem, Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall said officials would be going after the manufacturer to recoup at least some of the costs. “We’re going to be pursuing redress from the company in whatever way we can,” Wall said. “We can start with negotiations and, if that doesn’t work, we’ll take the next step.” No matter what happens, taxpayers will almost certainly end up footing some of the cost at the very least — probably most of it.    

Canadian taxpayers and energy consumers, though, are hardly alone in their fiery problems with smart meters. In Oregon, for example, Portland General Electric (PGE) announced in late July that it would be replacing some 70,000 of the devices. The reason: At least three have caught fire so far. “This is our decision based on our assessment and our tests,” said Bill Nicholson, PGE senior vice president of customer service, emphasizing that the manufacturer had not recalled them. “We believe this risk is small, but it’s totally unacceptable to us.”

Before the more recent fiascos in Canada and Oregon, dozens of smart-meter fires in and around Pennsylvania also resulted in the devices being replaced. At least two of those blazes ended up setting the houses on fire, too, though, fortunately, nobody was injured in the resulting infernos. Consumers and taxpayers, of course, ended up footing the giant bill to replace the meters, despite a $200 million federal “grant” to “encourage” utilities to impose the meters on unwitting or even hostile consumers.

But it is not just fires and explosions that are causing concern. In Quebec, for instance, news reports this week following an investigation by the state-funded CBC suggest that the controversial smart meters have been gouging customers — in some cases charging consumers double or even triple what they were paying before the device was installed. In Ontario, some 8,000 people have already filed formal complaints about overbilling attributed to the new meters. 

Beyond fires, explosions, and price gouging, critics of smart meters have a wide range of other concerns as well. At the top of the list are safety and privacy. Many experts have also linked the installation scheme to global efforts aimed at coercively reducing people’s consumption levels in pursuit of nebulous and deeply controversial United Nations goals such as “sustainability.” 

“Smart Meters are designed to provide government with detailed information on your energy use, your movements in your home, the way you use your personal private time, and even how many people are in your home at any given time,” explained Tom DeWeese, chief of the American Policy Center. “It is an unconstitutional invasion of your home by government, as set down in the Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.” 

Among the biggest health concerns (other than being burned alive) is the emission of pulsed radio-frequency (RF) radiation by the devices. More than a few critics of the meters, for example, say they have suffered adverse health effects when the devices were installed at their home. Experts say the “electromagnetic smog” released by the meters can cause a wide range of health problems, too — especially in the elderly, children, and among vulnerable populations with existing health issues.   

Despite the complaints largely being dismissed by proponents of the new system and the crony special interests profiting from it, even the American Academy of Environmental Medicine has called for caution in rolling out smart meters while further studies and investigations are conducted on the potentially harmful effects. “Multiple studies correlate RF exposure with diseases such as cancer, neurological disease, reproductive disorders, immune dysfunction, and electromagnetic hypersensitivity,” the academy said on its website about the radiation emitted by smart meters and other devices with similar technology. “Genotoxic effects from RF exposure, including studies of non-thermal levels of exposure, consistently and specifically show chromosomal instability, altered gene expression, gene mutations, DNA fragmentation and DNA structural breaks.” 

Also deeply troubling to critics are the vast new surveillance opportunities available to authorities and criminals under the smart-grid regime. Among other problems, the meters offer unprecedented tools for hackers and governments to spy on citizens and run roughshod over the U.S. Constitution’s Fourth Amendment on a previously unimaginable scale. Most of the meters, for example, can supply detailed hour-by-hour data, in some cases even more detailed than that.  

Even government bodies have acknowledged the threat. “If law enforcement officers obtained near-real time data on a consumer’s electricity usage from the utility company, their ability to monitor household activities would be amplified significantly,” the Congressional Research Service said in a 2012 report. “For example, by observing when occupants use the most electricity, it may be possible to discern their daily schedules.” If a criminal accessed that information — a relatively simple matter for somebody with hacking skills — they would know, for instance, what time would be best for a robbery or murder.

On the other side of the Atlantic, meanwhile, the European Data Protection Supervisor (EDPS), an official European Union body, also sounded the alarm. “The Europe-wide rollout of ‘smart metering systems’ enables massive collection of personal information from European households, thus far unprecedented in the energy sector,” the EDPS said in a 2012 report, calling the new system “a radical change” compared to past information gathering. “The potential intrusiveness of collection is increased by the fact that data are collected, which may infer information about domestic activities: data may track what members of a household do within the privacy of their own homes.”

According to the report, smart meters will allow the collection of detailed data regarding energy consumption “down to the hour, quarter of an hour, and more.” The mass amount of detailed information, it said, means that anyone with access to the data will be able to “know when each individual appliance in a household is turned on and off, and can often also identify what specific appliances are used.” The system could be a potential goldmine for non-governmental criminals, too — letting them determine, for example, exactly when a house is unoccupied. “This raises concerns with regard to security, the rights to privacy and the protection of personal data,” the report said. “The risks to data protection, however, go further than these most immediate concerns.”

Even more alarming for privacy advocates, the report continues, is the fact that “deployment of smart metering may lead to tracking the everyday lives of people in their own homes and building detailed profiles of all individuals based on their domestic activities.” On top of that, the EDPS explained, smart meters can even collect data from RFID tags, the electronic chips that are becoming increasingly ubiquitous worldwide.

“Further, law enforcement agencies, tax authorities, insurance companies, landlords, employers, and other third parties may also be interested in personal energy usage information,” the EU report continued. In its concluding remarks, the EDPS noted that the mass adoption of the smart meters entails “considerable risks” and enables “massive collection of personal data from European households and may lead to tracking what members of a household do within the privacy of their own homes.”

Some Americans, horrified by the prospect of such intrusive surveillance, have reacted forcefully to the imposition of the “smart” technology. In Texas, for example, concerns over the meters reached a boiling point two years ago when a woman pulled a gun on the installation man for trespassing on her property after being warned to leave. “My main concern originally was the privacy — as far as I’m concerned this is a surveillance device,” Houston-area activist leader Thelma Taormina told The New American after the incident.

Of course, the rollout of the smart meters in the United States, like countless other ongoing controversies, was funded in large part by billions of American taxpayers dollars through the 2009 “stimulus” scheme passed by Democrats in Congress and demanded by Obama. “It will make our grid more secure and more reliable,” Obama claimed at the time in announcing the stimulus-funded “Smart Grid” plot. Apparently, that was not the case. 

Authorities are urging people whose smart meters catch on fire to immediately exit the premises and call emergency services. Critics of the scheme, meanwhile, are urging all Americans — most of whom still do not have the potentially dangerous surveillance devices installed on their homes yet — to resist.

The New American

UK Stores To Implement ‘Tracking Mannequins’

InfoWars
by MIKAEL THALEN

“When the customer walks past visual merchandising equipment… an alert is triggered”

mannequins
Image Credits: Youtube

Several large retailers in the United Kingdom have begun testing a new type of mannequin that sends digital alerts to shoppers’ cell phones as they walk past.

Created by tech developer Iconeme, the mannequins deliver detailed messages about a store’s merchandise to customers who download the accompanying app.

“Mannequins in the shop window or within the store environment communicate with a customers smartphones via an app,” Iconeme says. “When the customer walks past visual merchandising equipment that incorporates a VMBeacon, an alert is triggered.”

Iconeme, who plans to bring the technology into the US market, says that the mannequins can alert users as far as 50 meters away, even when a store is closed.

“The store window becomes a portal for interactive selling, 24 hours a day, making greater use of the retail space on offer,” says Iconeme.

While shoppers currently have to choose to participate by downloading the app, Wired Magazine notes that most users will be unaware of the vast amount of analytical data collected by the technology.

“Iconeme is now taking a punt at making the digital shopping world truly profitable for shops, not just an experience for its customers. That’s because it will be able to grab analytics on customer behaviour, location and even age and gender,” Wired writes. “They can track how long a shopper dwells on an item and how they purchased it — if at all — to tailor their marketing strategy.”

Given the inability of most companies to protect their customers’ data from government agencies determined to “collect it all,” the app may very well become yet another avenue for everyday citizens to be tracked, traced and databased.

While the mannequins may raise the eyebrows of those interested in cyber security, other systems have gone far beyond the realm of technological convenience.

Italian firm Almax made headlines in 2012 after developing the “EyeSee”, a mannequin equipped with a hidden camera inside the head.

“The company refused to divulge which retailers were using the mannequins, but acknowledged that they were already being used in three European countries and in the United States,” said Infowars’ Paul Joseph Watson. “CEO Max Catanese added that five major luxury fashion retailers had deployed ‘a few dozen’ of the mannequins, with orders for many more.”

Redpepper, a marketing firm based in Nashville, announced the creation of a Facebook app in 2012 that uses facial recognition cameras to reward people with discounts upon entering an assortment of shops and bars.

Walmart has utilized hidden cameras to track their customers as well. Shopperception, a network of motion-sensor cameras, is used to track how shoppers’ habits, including how long they spend staring at each item before it is purchased.

InfoWars

Smart Homes Reveal User Behavior, Prone to Hacks: Study

Activist Post
by Kevin Samson

Our Internet-driven world filled with interconnected smart gadgets and computing applications is making us vulnerable to potentially life-changing hacks and tracking. Not only are modern cars open to being hacked, but also boats, planes, and GPS-driven weapons. (Source)

smarthome
The modern smart home (image source)

So, perhaps you think you’ll ditch the modern car, get rid of the smartphone, limit travel and hunker down safe and cozy in your home? Well, unfortunately, if your house is filled with modern appliances and electronics, it could potentially open you up for a nightmare experience. This is the subject of a new European study that will be presented at the ACM Conference on Security and Privacy in Wireless and Mobile Networks in Oxford.

The smart home market is exploding even as news about pervasive surveillance and concerns over Agenda 21 continue to mount.

According to a report from Market Watch, the global numbers are staggering; the report also notes how government regulations will promote future growth.

The following points are taken from a full report that you can read here. Emphasis mine:

  • APAC smart homes market is expected to have a stable growth in coming years, with the revenue growth estimated to reach $9.23 billion by 2020, at an estimated CAGR of 16.73% from 2013 to 2020.
  •  

  • The total European smart homes market is expected to reach $13.81 billion by 2020 at a double digit CAGR from 2013 to 2020.
  •  

  • The major drivers for the European smart homes market are the regulatory initiatives and the mandatory measures taken by European Union (EU), and the comfort and the security ensured by the smart homes systems.
  •  

  • The major restraints for the European smart homes market are the lack of standardization and high costs of the smart homes systems.
  •  

  • The growth of the Americas smart homes market in the coming years is expected to be remarkable, with the revenue growth estimated to reach $22.4 billion by 2020, at an estimated CAGR of 17.62% from 2013 to 2020.
  •  

  • China, currently, leads the market share for APAC smart homes as this region has the maximum adoption. South East Asia countries from Others market are the emerging market for smart homes and are poised for the highest growth rate amongst all the countries followed by China growing at a CAGR of 17.50% from 2013-2020. It is estimated that the Others market will increase at a CAGR of 19.13% from 2013 to 2020.

As you can see from the third bullet point, security is one of the main selling points of this massive rollout. However, vulnerabilities are being exposed which could undermine this aspect of the initiative.

IT security expert Christop Sorge and a team of researchers at Saarland University in Germany believe in the benefits of smart homes, so they have undertaken an examination of how to provide better protection against the negative consequences of the massive amount of data that is gathered by these systems.

Here is how they describe the current reality:

“Many of the systems do not provide adequate security against unwanted third-party access and therefore threaten the privacy of the inhabitants,” says Sorge.

For the purposes of their study, the researchers took on the role of a malicious attacker. “Using a simple mini-PC no bigger in size than a packet of cigarettes we eavesdropped on the wireless home automation systems (HASs) of two volunteers and were thus able to determine just how much information a conventional wireless HAS reveals about its user,” explains Sorge. No other information about the users was available to the research group. The result: “Non-encrypted systems provide large quantities of data to anyone determined enough to access the data, and the attacker requires no prior knowledge about the system, nor about the user being spied on,” says Professor Sorge.

“The data acquired by the attacker can be analysed to extract system commands and status messages, items which reveal a lot about the inhabitants’ behavior and habits. We were able to determine absence times and to identify home ventilation and heating patterns,” explains the expert in legal informatics. The analysis enabled the research group to build up profiles of the inhabitants. Even systems that use encryption technology can supply information to third parties: “The results indicate that even when encrypted communication is used, the number of messages exchanged is enough to provide information on absence times,” says Sorge. Potential attacks can be directed against the functionality of the system or the privacy of the inhabitants. “An attacker with malicious intent could use this sort of information to plan a burglary,” says Sorge. (emphasis added) [Source]

If we have learned anything, we have learned that there are gaping security holes in nearly every modern computing application. As a matter of personal privacy and data protection it is concerning enough, but as the Internet of Things expands to include everything - even our own bodies as form of identification and access – the potential dangers are becoming as exponential as the advancement of the technology itself.

Until the proper protections are proven in real-world conditions, we should be doing all we can not to buy into these gadgets and conveniences. We must also refuse any mandatory measures to impose this smart world upon us.

Activist Post

What Are the Spy Agencies Actually DOING with their Dirty Tricks?

mass-surveillance

Washington’s Blog

SPIES ARE MANIPULATING THE WEB

Newly-released documents from Edward Snowden show that the British spy agency GCHQ has developed numerous offensive digital tools.

In part one, we quote verbatim in black the names and descriptions of some of these tools – some of which Glenn Greenwald didn’t highlight in his report – and provide descriptions in blue of potential misuses of such tools.

In part two, we discuss how likely such misuses really are.

TOOLS AND POTENTIAL MISUSES

CHANGELING: Ability to spoof any email address and send email under that identity

Fake an email from a privacy advocate to make it look like he’s proposing terrorism.

SCRAPHEAP CHALLENGE: Perfect spoofing of emails from Blackberry targets

Fake an email from an opponent of unregulated fracking to make it look like she’s proposing blowing up a well.

BURLESQUE: The capacity to send spoofed SMS messages

Fake a message from an environmental activist to make it look like he’s advocating sabotage.

IMPERIAL BARGE : For connecting two target phone together in a call

Fake a telephone connection to make it look like an anti-war campaigner spoke with a bigwig in Al Qaeda.

BADGER : Mass delivery of email messaging to support an Information Operations campaign

Send out a fake, mass email pretending to be from a whistleblower “admitting” that he’s mentally unstable and vindictive.

WARPATH: Mass delivery of SMS messages to support an Information Operations campaign.

Send out a fake, mass message pretending to be from a whistleblower “admitting” he’s a Russian spy.

SPACE ROCKET: A programme covering insertion of media into target networks.

Insert a fake video calling for jihad on a peaceful Muslim lawyer’s website .

CLEAN SWEEP Masquerade Facebook Wall Posts for individuals or entire countries.

Put up a bunch of fake Wall Posts praising Al Qaeda on the Facebook page of a reporter giving first-hand reports of what’s really happening in a country that the U.S. is trying to demonize.

HAVOK Real-time website cloning technique allowing on-the-fly alterations

Hack the website of a state politician critical of those who trash the Constitution.

SILVERLORD: Disruption of video-based websites hosting extremist content through concerted target discovery and content removal.

Disrupt websites hosting alternative energy videos.

SUNBLOCK: Ability to deny functionality to send/receive email or view material online

Block the emails and web functionality of a government insider who is about to go public on wrongdoing.

ANGRY PIRATE: A tool that will permanently disable a target’s account on their computer

Disable the accounts of an anti-nuclear activist.

PREDATORS FACE: Targeted Denial Of Service against Web Servers

Take down a website which is disclosing hard-hitting information on illegal government actions.

UNDERPASS: Change outcome of online polls

Change the results of an online poll from one showing that the American people overwhelmingly oppose a new war to showing that they support it.

GATEWAY: Ability to artificially increase traffic to a website

Make a website spreading pro-NSA propanda appear hugely popular.

BOMB BAY: The capacity to increase website hits, rankings

Make it look like a hate site is popular among a targeted local population which actually despises its views.

SLIPSTREAM: Ability to inflate page views on websites

Make it appear that a pro-war article is widely popular.

GESTATOR: Amplification of a given message, normally video, on popular multimedia websites (Youtube)

Make a propaganda video go viral.

WHAT IS THE LIKELIHOOD OF MISUSE?

We don’t know which of the above hypothetically forms of misuse are actually occurring.  However, as we wrote in February:

We’ve warned since 2009 (and see this) that the government could be launching cyber “false flag attacks” in order to justify a crackdown on the Internet and discredit web activists.

A new report from NBC News – based on documents leaked by Edward Snowden – appear to confirm our fears, documenting that Britain’s GCHQ spy agency has carried out cyber false flag attacks:

In another document taken from the NSA by Snowden and obtained by NBC News, a JTRIG official said the unit’s mission included computer network attacks, disruption, “Active Covert Internet Operations,” and “Covert Technical Operations.” Among the methods listed in the document were jamming phones, computers and email accounts and masquerading as an enemy in a “false flag” operation. The same document said GCHQ was increasing its emphasis on using cyber tools to attack adversaries.

Later that month, we noted:

A new report from NBC News shows that the British spy agency used “false flag attacks” and other dirty tricks:

British spies have developed “dirty tricks” for use against nations, hackers, terror groups, suspected criminals and arms dealers that include releasing computer viruses, spying on journalists and diplomats, jamming phones and computers, and using sex to lure targets into “honey traps.”

***

The agency’s goal was to “destroy, deny, degrade [and] disrupt” enemies by “discrediting” them, planting misinformation and shutting down their communications.

Sound familiar? It should:

Between 1956 and 1971, the FBI operated a program known as COINTELPRO, for Counter Intelligence Program. Its purpose was to interfere with the activities of the organizations and individuals who were its targets or, in the words of long-time FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover, to “expose, disrupt, misdirect, discredit or otherwise neutralize” them.

NBC continues:

[The agency] also uses “false flag” operations, in which British agents carry out online actions that are designed to look like they were performed by one of Britain’s adversaries.

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JTRIG used negative information to attack private companies, sour business relationships and ruin deals.

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Changing photos on social media sites and emailing and texting colleagues and neighbors unsavory information.

And reporter Glenn Greenwald noted that Snowden documents showed:

Western intelligence agencies are attempting to manipulate and control online discourse with extreme tactics of deception and reputation-destruction.

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These agencies are attempting to control, infiltrate, manipulate, and warp online discourse …. Among the core self-identified purposes … are two tactics: (1) to inject all sorts of false material onto the internet in order to destroy the reputation of its targets; and (2) to use social sciences and other techniques to manipulate online discourse and activism to generate outcomes it considers desirable. To see how extremist these programs are, just consider the tactics they boast of using to achieve those ends: “false flag operations” (posting material to the internet and falsely attributing it to someone else), fake victim blog posts (pretending to be a victim of the individual whose reputation they want to destroy), and posting “negative information” on various forums.

***

The discussion of many of these techniques occurs in the context of using them in lieu of “traditional law enforcement” against people suspected (but not charged or convicted) of ordinary crimes or, more broadly still, “hacktivism”, meaning those who use online protest activity for political ends.

The title page of one of these documents reflects the agency’s own awareness that it is “pushing the boundaries” by using “cyber offensive” techniques against people who have nothing to do with terrorism or national security threats, and indeed, centrally involves law enforcement agents who investigate ordinary crimes….

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… no conceivable connection to terrorism or even national security threats.

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Then there is the use of psychology and other social sciences to not only understand, but shape and control, how online activism and discourse unfolds. Today’s newly published document touts the work of GCHQ’s “Human Science Operations Cell”, devoted to “online human intelligence” and “strategic influence and disruption”….***

Under the title “Online Covert Action”, the document details a variety of means to engage in “influence and info ops” as well as “disruption and computer net attack”, while dissecting how human beings can be manipulated using “leaders”, “trust, “obedience” and “compliance”:

The U.S. government is also spending millions to figure out how to manipulate social media to promote propaganda and stifle dissenting opinions.

And top NSA whistleblowers say that the NSA is blackmailing and harassing opponents with information that it has gathered – potentially even high-level politicians – just like FBI head J. Edgar Hoover blackmailed presidents and Congressmen.

You may think you have “nothing to hide”, but you’re breaking the law numerous times every day … without even knowing it (update).

Any criticism of government policies is considered “extremist” and potential terrorism.  For 5,000 years straight, mass surveillance has always been used to crush dissent.    For example, the CIA director in 1972.   The NSA is now collecting and retaining the most intimate personal details of Americans, including nude and suggestive pictures and medical and financial records … even though it is admitted that they have no conceivable security purpose

Moreover, if the NSA takes a dislike to someone, it can frame them.  This has been CONFIRMED by top NSA whistleblowers.

And the following facts make it likely that British and U.S. spy agencies are misusing their powers:

Washington’s Blog