Friday, June 29, 2007

Ron Rosenbaum - the man who jump-started my career with his Esquire article "Secrets of the Little Blue Box" - has an interesting observation...

"My fellow espionage obsessive Gil Roth sent me a link to the National Security Archive’s release on the CIA “Family Jewels” document dump which contained what has got to be the Greatest Euphemism ever coined...

What I found interesting and unremarked in the coverage of the memos was a remarkable passage in memo (#2 in the National Security Archive link) is that it’s very specific about many instances of illicit surveillance and telephone tapping, naming a handful of specific individuals as targets. And then there is one final paragraph that suddenly drops all pretense to transparency. Becomes astonishingly vague and opaque. Hence the potentially explosive euphemism.

According to this paragraph “the CIA occasionally tests experimental equipment on American telephone circuits. The CIA apparently has established guidelines for these tests which provide, among other things that no records may be kept, not tape and so forth.”

Tests experimental eavesdropping devices on American telephone equipment? And just how widespread are these tests” and how long to they go on. Do they test whether they can listen into to every conversation a given subject has. Wording like that would give them latitude. Wording like that seems designed to cover up more than it reveals.

There is a scandal here, I suspect, one that may turn out to have foreshadowed the NSA warrantless wireptapping scandal." (more)

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Worldwide Comparison Of Wiretap Laws Published

The pocket-sized guide covers twenty-four countries, each with a specific overview and history of the particular national laws. Designed to serve as a valuable reference point for anybody connected with the surveillance industry, the guide includes legislation from countries as diverse as the U.S., U.K., Romania and the Philippines.

60 pages of legislation from 24 different countries. (more)

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Industrial Espionage - "Bugs & Taps Common"

Although South Africa is the focus of this particular article, the situation is the same in your country. Business espionage has reached critical mass. Corporate problem-o-meters are smoking...

South African companies are increasingly spying on each other as commercial competition hots up, an investigation by the International Bar Association (IBA) has found. ...indications are that SA companies are being hit by industrial espionage on a large scale.

Industry experts say it costs between R5,000 ($700.00) and R10,000 ($1,400.00) to hire a spy to install a telephone bugging device, and thereafter there is a daily fee for collecting and delivering the recordings to the client.The most common methods used by spies are the bugging of rooms and the tapping of telephones.

Eavesdropping on businesses has become easier as bugs have become more available, cheaper, more powerful and smaller. A concealed MP3 player, for example, can record days of conversation. A phone bug can be planted in a room and dialed into from anywhere — the call often escapes detection because it resembles an ordinary cellphone call.

These are “the current bugs of choice” and are readily available from electronic hobby shops and on the Internet — and are cheap enough to be disposable.

Other James Bond-style gadgets that are easily concealed include video cameras as small as a sugar cube, and fake smoke detectors with hidden wireless cameras. Some of the latest video recorders are the size of a cigarette 20-pack.

Tim Jackson (an information security expert) gave two examples of the type of thing that is happening. In one case, he found a cellphone modified to work as a bugging device that was hidden in the ceiling of a boardroom at a medium-sized insurance company in Johannesburg. The spy was able to dial into the cellphone from anywhere in the world and eavesdrop on board meetings.

In the other case, Jackson found automatic telephone recorders hidden in an unused storeroom in the parking basement of a large pharmaceutical company in Johannesburg.

Jackson said spies were switching to more sophisticated devices — such as digital recorders that can record non-stop for up to two weeks. (more)
Ready to add eavesdropping detection to your corporate security program?

Monday, June 25, 2007

How Would They Know? ...(*RIM*shot*)

Research In Motion, maker of the BlackBerry mobile e-mail device, Saturday dismissed France's warning against using the product due to potential spying concerns. ... RIM has denied speculation governments may be listening in on BlackBerry traffic. (written by Ed Sutherland - AHN News Writer)
(more)(more)(RIM's Security Statement)

RIM's response to the growing word-on-the-street about the imagined (or real) eavesdropping vulnerabilities of the
BlackBerry was apparently not very strong, or convincing. We see words like "dismissed" and "denied" being used to describe RIM's security state-of-mind.

Too bad. RIM has taken great pains to assure the privacy of it's service.
Read the Security Statement.

This is becoming a fiasco for RIM. The RIM techies need to drag the RIM PR folks around to the back of the plant and whack them in the head with some Triple DES, quickly.

RIM, fight back. Let the public know the technical facts ...and have answers ready for these news stories. Is France bashing because they are ready to launch their own system? Is the Wall Street bashing more about stopping crooked traders than it is about outside eavesdroppers?

All this being said, remember, "Only failed attempts at espionage are discovered." So, no matter what communications system you use... use it discretely. ~ Kevin

Spy Box Goes Postal

"A digital camera inside a parcel looks out through a small hole and captures images of its journey through the postal system.

The Spy Box was sent from my studio to the gallery taking an image every 10 seconds recording a total of 6994 images these were then edited together to create an animated slideshow." ~ Tim Knowles

Wall Street BlackBerrys Feel the Squeeze

Wall Street’s two self-policing groups, N.Y.S.E. Regulation and NASD, released proposed guidelines (NASD notice to members No. 07-30) for the regulation of written electronic communications, including information sent through BlackBerrys, text messages and instant messaging. The recommendations, which were only optional, came amid concerns about the spread of confidential information through unsecure devices.

The gist of the guidelines was that, if Wall Street firms cannot supervise or review messages from portable devices, or if the sender cannot be identified, the firms should consider blocking them. (more)(more)(in French)

Utility Hires PI to Spy - Eavesdrops on Lawyer

Canada - No one with the Alberta Energy and Utilities Board will be disciplined "at this time" for hiring private investigators to spy on opponents of a proposed north-south power line, a spokesman for Energy Minister Mel Knight said Thursday.

The AEUB hired four undercover investigators who pretended to be landowners to monitor the crowd. One investigator, Don MacDonald of Fort Saskatchewan, was subsequently invited to join in conference calls that linked landowners and environmentalists discussing their concerns about power-line development. In at least one of those calls, the landowners and a lawyer discussed legal strategy for an upcoming challenge before the Alberta Court of Appeal.

One of the lawyers for the landowners said Thursday that eavesdropping on solicitor-client telephone conversations will be raised with the courts in an effort to bring the AEUB hearings to a halt.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

The Danger of DIY Debugging - A Cautionary Tale

Kansas - Assistant District Attorney Jacqie Spradling was fired by District Attorney Phill Kline on April 24, 2007.

Among the items creating friction between them was her allegation that
her office had been bugged. (A person not affiliated with the District Attorney's Office told Spradling that a senior member of Kline's staff had revealed that surveillance equipment was set up in the District Attorney's Office.)

Spradling claimed that she scanned her office four times with a device that detects radio frequencies from wireless eavesdropping devices. Three times, she says, the sensor detected a radio frequency signal emitted by wireless eavesdropping devices.



Set aside the politics and names involved and assume the activity described is accurate. This is a real-life tale, that could happen to anyone, in any occupation. Consider only the actions taken when a person suspected their privacy was compromised.

• First, the target alerts the suspect. (In writing!)
• Next, the target alerts the media. (Via press conference.)
Remember, so far, there is no actual evidence of eavesdropping.

At this point, it would be reasonable to think the suspect would end the surveillance and cover their tracks.
The story now becomes murkier, and we are guessing here:
• The target, with no technical countermeasures experience, conducts their own sweep.
• The instrumentation used "
detects radio frequencies from wireless eavesdropping devices."
When we hear this, it generally means that the DIY'er sweeper has gone to a "Spy Shop" or Internet site and purchased a low-cost blinky light box. The only thing these gadgets do (other than provide a false sense of security) is indicate the relative level of radio-frequency (RF) activity in an area.

Keep in mind:
• Not all eavesdropping is conducted using wireless microphones.
• A detector of this type can not verify eavesdropping; you can't listen to the signal you are detecting.
• An indication of RF may be caused by any number of things - intermittent 2-way radio transmissions from antennas on the roof a government building, for example.

It now becomes clear - this inspection methodology can not be relied upon to prove an electronic surveillance case. We are not saying that it didn't happen, just that this is not the way to make a case.

Let's go one step further with this autopsy:
• In three out of four tests, "
the sensor detected a radio frequency signal emitted by wireless eavesdropping devices."

Inquiring minds want to know:
• Why wasn't the eavesdropping device searched for, found and treated as evidence of a crime -
on the very first positive detection? (Eavesdropping is a criminal offense.)
Given these preliminary findings, why wasn't an eavesdropping detection specialist (private or government) consulted?
• Why was confidential legal business allowed to continue in an office believed to be compromised with eavesdropping devices?

This is a real-life cautionary tale of how not to handle suspected eavesdropping. Don't turn your eavesdropping suspicions into front-page news. Call a specialist.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Robo Audry (cure for the summertime blues)

The fly catcher is an electronic fly-swatting device based on the idea of the Venus fly trap. The Fly Catcher is not just a talking point, it actually catches flies. (more)(movie)

Eavesdropping via Mind Reading - One Step Closer

Hitachi has developed a technology to allow users to control devices by thinking. The system is currently being used to move a toy train back and forth, but the company and other manufacturers see a future for it in TV remote controls, cars and artificial limbs. A key advantage to Hitachi's technology is that sensors don't have to physically enter the brain. (more)

More GSM Cellular Bugging Devices

Check out the latest state-of-the-art GSM bugging devices
Dial into a room and listen from anywhere in the world

These products look like ordinary household devices right?
(see slide show)

These new products all have built-in GSM, meaning you can dial in to them from anywhere in the world and listen in to room using the GSM cellular network.

The seemingly ordinary plug is actually a 13 amp adaptor with a GSM transmitter (£998.75). Simply slot a SIM card into the adaptor, phone in to the number and the internal microphone will be activated, totally silently, allowing you to hear everything that’s happening in the room. (more)

GSM Bug Alert

If you're hearing this
on your audio systems,

it might be this...


A GSM cellular bug.
• Sound activated
• Motion activated
• Covert

The central feature of the GSM-SAMS, is that it’s a sophisticated, totally concealed bugging device. It calls the eavesdropper and allows them to answer & hear what is going on in the vicinity of the GSM-SAMS without alerting anyone.
They can also call it.

Ability to change the pre-selected number if required

Ability to turn off microphone while on standby for power saving

Ability to remotely reset the unit.

Ability to adjust sensitivity of the microphone

Ability to remotely place the unit in "Sleep" mode.

Ability to operate up to three consecutive days on batteries. (Standby)

Compact size, easy to hide, and without range limitation (Utilizing GSM technology)
Suitable for placement in the house, car or office, etc. convenient monitoring

Three-digit identification for each unit allowing multiple-units installation

1~6: Done through text messaging.

Power: 1 Lithium Ion Battery (Lasts up to two days).

It is also possible to use a mains (for homes, office, etc.) or connect the unit to an adapter for use in an automobile.

PIR Sensor for Motion Activation. Add $118.00

External Battery:
Live Monitoring & 4-5 Days Stand-by. Add $100.00
(Need help finding one of these in your office? Click here.)

Mobile phones: tapping, hacking and eavesdropping

The humble mobile phone has stepped into the murky world of corporate espionage and phone tapping.

Tales of eavesdropping and voicemail manipulation have been hitting the headlines recently, and mobile phone users -- particularly those in business -- must begin to wonder just how secure is their mobile phone?

One chief executive of a leading Irish and international blue chip company who didn't wish to be named told ENN "I just assume my mobile is monitored... (more)

Friday, June 22, 2007

CIA Documents Released

DC - Little-known documents now being made public detail illegal and scandalous activities by the CIA more than 30 years ago: wiretapping of journalists, kidnappings, warrantless searches and more. (more)

SpyCam Story #363

NY - A Peeping Tom who was videotaping a 14-year-old girl through her bedroom window on Thursday was arrested in her backyard, police said.

A witness saw what was going on outside the girl's home around 2 a.m. and called Nassau County police, who said images on the peeper's video camera showed he had spied on the girl at least twice.

The man was charged with multiple counts of unlawful surveillance and eavesdropping.

His video camera was confiscated and was being kept as evidence. (more)

Story of a Cold War Debugger

Jack Glass saw plenty of action during World War II and plenty more afterward...

His services also were rendered during the Cold War, searching U.S. embassies around the world for the hidden microphones and other surveillance equipment frequently planted by Soviet spies.His specialty was "audio countermeasures," meaning he was responsible for finding hidden listening devices, or "bugs," planted by other governments in U.S. embassies, consulates and other diplomatic buildings overseas.

From 1962 to 1974, Glass was stationed at U.S. embassies in the Middle East, Western Europe, Eastern Europe and South America, serving two to three years at each location. His wife and daughters, Nancy and Jacki, traveled with him, with the children attending schools set up for diplomatic families.

From central headquarters, Glass and other security engineers would travel to U.S. diplomatic posts in surrounding countries.

"We got around pretty good," Glass said, noting that from Beirut, Lebanon, they would travel throughout the Middle East and the entire continent of Africa.

From Budapest, Hungary, they would span Eastern Europe, including Moscow and other cities in the Soviet Union. South America was covered from Buenos Aires, Argentina, while Frankfurt, Germany, was the base of operations for Western Europe.

Eastern Bloc nations, Glass said, were by far the most active.

"We found hidden microphones in all our embassies in Eastern Europe," he said, including Belgrade, Yugoslavia; Bucharest, Romania; Sofia, Bulgaria; Budapest, Hungary; Moscow and other Eastern European capitals.

"We tried to keep the embassies from being bugged," Glass said. "Sometimes we were successful, sometimes not. Whatever we could do, the Soviets could do as good or better, which they did, especially in Moscow."

Glass said hidden devices were usually found through "pick and shovel work" — physically taking apart telephones, office equipment and furniture, and even digging inside the walls, which could be up to 3 feet thick.

Glass once found a wireless transmitter inside a hollowed out piece of firewood in an ambassador's office.

A team of Navy Seabees also was assigned to assist the audio teams, since "anything we tore up we had to rebuild," Glass said. "They also helped us demolish certain things."

The searches were not a matter of paranoia — more than 130 microphones were discovered in the former U.S. embassy in Moscow, Glass said.

"It was renovated by the Russians and every office in the building was bugged," he said. "Some had been there so long the microphones didn't work."

Construction on a new embassy began in 1979 but was suspended several years later.

According to congressional documents, U.S. personnel discovered in 1984 that an unsecured shipment of typewriters for the Moscow Embassy had been bugged and had been transmitting intelligence data for years.

"In August 1985," the U.S. State Department said, "work was suspended on the partially completed (building) due to a security compromise of such consequence that there was serious doubt that the building, if completed, could be used for the purpose intended." (more)

Senior Russian Cop Held in Eavesdropping Scandal

Moscow - A senior local police officer has been arrested for illegal eavesdropping, while several other officers are under probe for allegedly making phone tapping into a profitable business, according to an influential daily.

Mikhail Yanykin, deputy head of a secret police department responsible for wiretapping, covert video surveillance and other technical support operations has been apprehended pending official charges, Kommersant daily reported adding that another official Nikolai Orlov, deputy chief of the Moscow Criminal Investigations Department has been ordered not to leave the city.

According to investigation phone tapping, which can be conducted as part of a criminal investigation and requires court approval, had been turned into a profitable business, with services, including printouts of tapped telephone conversations, being provided to a wide range of "clients." (more)

Thursday, June 21, 2007

SpyCam Story #362

WA - A security guard was fired after allegedly using remote-controlled cameras on top of the downtown post office in Spokane to peer inside a condominium. The investigation could lead to voyeurism charges.

The unidentified guard worked for a private company, Secure Solutions. The Florida-based contractor provides security in a downtown block including the Courthouse and adjoining post office. Guards remotely control cameras mounted on extension booms on the roof of the four-story post office. (more)

On Chinese Espionage

Denny Hatch's summary of the situation is the best we've read so far.

Chinese Theft of Intellectual Property

"China is notorious for stealing the designs and manufacturing hundreds of patented and copyright products and selling them all over the world, including in this country. Among them: Callaway Big Bertha golf clubs, Ikea furniture, Chivas Regal and Johnnie Walker Scotch whiskey, Italian and French wine, luggage, designer clothes, Honda motorcycles, Sony PlayStation games, Cisco Systems router interface cards, even Mitsubishi elevators!

Target stores here have been accused of selling bogus Coach bags and two weeks ago, Wal-Mart settled with Fendi for selling counterfeit handbags for up to $525 each.

What’s more, these thieves get off lightly. In March 2005, a Chinese factory was raided and 32,980 counterfeit Zippo lighters were discovered. The factory manager, Zheng Shengfen, was taken to court and the judge fined him $12,500 with no jail sentence.

Quite simply, if you create any kind of desirable product here or abroad, expect to be ripped off by the Chinese.

The Ultimate Eavesdropping Tool? on ebay! (ugh)

"Haunted 925 Silver Ornate Chalcedony Ring - Witch Spell - Read Other's Minds! Telepathy! Pick Up on Thoughts."

"This is a Ring that Albina imbued with an incredible spell!. She says that Chalcedony has always been highly regarded beacuse of it's natural power to increase thought transmissions. As a result, Albina consecrated this ring with her "Mystical mind reader" spell. This powerful spell allows one to actually "read the mind's of others as well as hear their thoughts and pick up on their feelings". She says that this is a form of psychic ability only it is focused solely on mind reading and not the ability to see future events.

In turn, Albina says that wearing this ring will allow one to "tune into and pick up on other's thoughts and feelings" which is as she says "very beneficial in many situations. She does caution one however, to using this power to "eavesdrop on the feelings and thoughts of those who dislike or are an 'enemy' to one. She says that she herself has 'felt hurt' by some of the information she has received. Yet, overall, she says "this power offers one a great advantage especially in business and career matters. She goes on to say that this ability is "key" when one is facing important decisions and chioces. Albina says that before purchasing a summer home, she wore this ring and was able to "hear the realtor become fearful" that she would discover the 'bad' plumbing in the lower level of the home! She adds that this is only ONE example of how this imbued ring has "given me information that I was VERY grateful to receive". This is a VERY special piece and my GREAT Thanks and Blessings go out to Albina for donating such a cherished item!

My reader says that the energy emitted from this ring is "very consistent and carries a low, humming frequency". She said that the piece "gave me the chills and seemed to open a door" that allowed her own ability to increase.

She went on to say that she could feel the ring "connecting to those around one on a level in which one would be able to read thoughts". She added that the longer she held the ring, she felt the ability getting stronger, and this was only within a few minutes. She went on to say that "if this ring can allow this within such a short period of time, one who wears this ring often should be able to achieve geat abilities and gain a very clear pathways to another's mind".

She adds that she senses that this particular ring "knows it's true owner" and that the person it will go to "will feel a pull towards this piece and not rest until it is in their possession'. She also could view a brilliant green and dark, sharp pink aura around this piece. (more) ...currently, only $20.50 - whattabargain :)

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

French Fear Blackberry's Will Be Squeezed...

...for their juicy information.

The French national-security office SGDN has warned the country's new cabinet members and presidential staff to stop using their BlackBerrys because confidential political and economic information could be intercepted by the Americans. ...

...its data transmissions processed by servers in the U.S. and U.K., France fears the U.S. National Security Agency could get its hands on any information sent through a BlackBerry...

...the French oil giant Total has never let its employees use one because of "security reasons." "There are plenty of other perfectly good PDAs," Total says. (more)(more)

Monday, June 18, 2007

Video Surveillance Supermarket

It's not just paranoia anymore. With improvements and cost reductions in video surveillance technology, more people than ever may be watching you... Supercircuits Inc. is helping them watch more effectively and for less cost than ever.

The company, which moved from California to Austin as a hole-in-the-wall operation 15 years ago, has grown into perhaps the biggest discounter in the video surveillance industry. And business is booming as the world grows more security-conscious in the wake of increased terrorist attacks.

The tiny camera, shown here in a page from the Guinness Book of Records, can fit in a baseball cap undetected. (more)

Teacher Accused of Bugging Colleague

MI - A middle-school teacher charged with bugging another teacher's classroom is expected to report for arraignment June 25.

Anne Harvey, 44, was charged Thursday with attempted eavesdropping, a misdemeanor punishable by up to a year in jail and a $1,000 fine.

Police and prosecutors allege she planted a wireless listening device on the back of a chair in a classroom where her daughter had complained of problems with the teacher. (more) (see also)

Sunday, June 17, 2007

SpyCam Story #361

Thanks to new "Shot Guard" underwear from Cramer Japan, female athletes, students and children are now protected from infrared photography.

Yes indeed, Japan's legendary "hentai" (perverts) have found a new way to get their jollies: snapping photos of female athletes through their sports wear.

It seems that these Bizarro Superman wannabes are adapting the night-function capabilities of ordinary camcorders to take infrared photos of unsuspecting women & children in the daytime.

Since infrared radiation (known to us regular folks as heat) is emitted by the skin, the modified cameras can record the surface of said skin.

The result is kind of dark and grainy, much like the thoughts of the perverted paparazzi. from (more)

In case your crotch concerns run more along the lines of, "Hope that cell phone in my pocket doesn't fry my nads," check out radiation-proof Slipways underwear, by ISA Body Wear. (more)

Saayyyy, how about a nice hat to go with your new ensemble?

Friday, June 15, 2007

Cable Cabal Capitulates

Cable Television Laboratories (CableLabs), the cable industries research and development consortium, has released the specifications needed for the minions of law and order to "wiretap" cable broadband user's activities on the web. (more)

Thursday, June 14, 2007

SpyCamMan "He's everywhere, he's everywhere!"

A Chicago mother turned on her baby monitor and saw images of astronauts from the shuttle Atlantis and mission control. (more)

Zimbabwe Passes Bugging Law

Zimbabwe's MPs have passed a law to allow the government to monitor e-mails, telephone calls, the internet and postal communications.

Opposition MP David Coltart called it a "fascist piece of legislation" aimed at cracking down on political dissent.

But Communications Minister Christopher Mushowe defended it, saying it was similar to anti-terror laws elsewhere such as in the UK, US and South Africa. "These are countries which are regarded as the beacons of democracy," he said.

The Interception of Communications Bill now passes to the Senate, where it is expected to face little opposition, Reuters news agency reports.

President Robert Mugabe's government already faces criticism for laws that curtail free speech and movement. (more)

“If the President does it, that means it is not illegal.”

from: Why Nixon and Watergate Still Matter: An Interview with James Reston, Jr.

"With the thirty-fifth anniversary of the Watergate break-in coming up this Sunday, one of the hottest tickets on Broadway is Richard M. Nixon. Played by Frank Langella (who just won a Tony Award for his performance), Nixon cunningly spars with Michael Sheen’s David Frost in a live re-creation of the famed television interviews that the British TV personality held with the ex-President in 1977.

The interviews were a landmark in the history of both American politics and television, and they attracted some 50 million viewers. The play, Frost/Nixon (which next year will be a motion picture from Ron Howard), was developed from James Reston, Jr.’s The Conviction of Richard Nixon: The Untold Story of the Frost/Nixon Interviews (Harmony, 208 pages, $22), just out this month.

From his home near Washington, D.C., James Reston answered questions about his involvement with the interviews and how they came about..." (more) (Why is this man really laughing?)

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Covert Video - Legal Considerations

Questions about the legalities of installing covert video CCTV cameras arise often. The safe answer is, "Contact your attorney."

The expedient and practical answer is…

"Avoid legal problems in the first place."
- Research the latest laws.
- Follow these guidelines.
- Combine all this with common sense.
- And, err on the conservative side.

• Title III, the federal law regarding interception of wire and oral communications, does not address the covert video surveillance issue. Courts, however, do have the authority to make rules about video surveillance. Past decisions are important guideposts to follow.

• Congress has made several attempts over the past few years to regulate video surveillance. It is likely that a video surveillance bill will be passed – in some form – in the near future. Remember, what is legal today may not be legal tomorrow.

• Some states have laws regarding video surveillance. Keep up to date on all the current laws, federal and state. The books Wiretapping and Eavesdropping, by Clifford S. Fishman and/or The Law of Electronic Surveillance, by James G. Carr are good references. Available from Thompson West Publishing at 800-344-5008.

General Guidelines…
• Covert video surveillance is generally considered illegal when…
- the subject has a reasonable expectation of privacy (Fourth Amendment rights);
- it involves sexual activity (even with one-party consent);
- if audio eavesdropping is also taking place without consent,
(one-party, or all-parties depending upon state law);

- prohibited by a state or local law.

• Covert video surveillance may be illegal when…
- the person with authority over the premises has not consented;
- the reason for the video surveillance fosters an illegal purpose;
- if under Sixth Amendment the subject has the right to counsel;

• Covert video surveillance should be avoided when…
- a less intrusive, legal investigative method is equally available;
- when you feel uncertain about the installation legality or ethics.

• The days show-of-force fake CCTV cameras are over.
- Visible CCTV cameras are now perceived by the public as a safety item. If you display a camera, the public will have the expectation that you have provided an extra measure of security. The cost of cameras has dropped dramatically - eliminating the rational for fake cameras.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Video Recording Police Leads to Felony Charge

PA - Brian D. Kelly didn't think he was doing anything illegal when he used his video camera to record a Carlisle police officer during a traffic stop. Making movies is one of his hobbies, he said, and the stop was just another interesting event to film.

Now he's worried about going to prison or being burdened with a criminal record.

Kelly, 18, of Carlisle, was arrested on a felony wiretapping charge, with a penalty of up to 7 years in state prison. (more)

Saying Pennsylvania's Wiretap Act is "not the most clear statute we have on the books," Cumberland County District Attorney David Freed said this morning he plans to bring the issue up at the next conference of the Pennsylvania District Attorney's Association in the hope of getting the law clarified.

Meanwhile, Freed withdrew wiretapping charges today filed against a Carlisle man who videotaped a Carlisle borough police officer during a May 24 traffic stop.

And he announced a policy for future cases of recording during traffic stops: "When police are audio- and video-recording traffic stops with notice to the subjects, similar actions by citizens, even if done in secret, will not result in criminal charges."

That decision will be communicated to all police agencies within the county, Freed said.

Golf Bugging Scandal - symptom of low TV standards

The fact that a director of the TBS program "Pin Pon," asked a golfer grouped with high school golf sensation Ryo Ishikawa, the youngest-ever winner of a professional tournament, to carry a small microphone to pick up Ishikawa's comments while playing has sparked a public outcry. ... A senior TBS employee said Akira Fukuzawa, a TBS newscaster who tearfully apologized for the incident in "Pin Pon" on Wednesday, was too emotional. (more)

Ex accuses officer of computer spying

IN - A Kendallville police officer faces felony charges for spying on an ex-girlfriend through her computer, even while on duty, Noble County authorities said Friday.

Joseph E. Pegan, 33, of the 800 block of Eunice Ave., Kendallville, faces two felony counts of computer tampering and two misdemeanor counts of computer trespass.

According to the affidavit...
- Pegan admitted to using software to track former girlfriends...
- Some of the software Pegan used allowed him to record the ex-girlfriends’ keystrokes; to monitor online chats and e-mails...
- The investigation also turned up an invoice sent to Pegan’s work e-mail address from the spyware seller...
- Pegan admitted to accessing his ex-girlfriend’s e-mail account and deleting or blocking some e-mail addresses...
- He got the woman to install the monitoring software on her computer by sending it from the e-mail address similar to her friend’s as an attachment labeled “for our soldiers.exe" ... (more)

Quote of the Day

He added that aliens could now be eavesdropping on us. "As from 1927, we have been propagating outwards from Earth, a very specific indicator of our existence." ~ Dr. Michael Perryman, formerly of the European Space Agency (more)
Quick, play "Indian Love Call."

Federal Electronic Communications Privacy Act

An excellent summary by Russell Mickler, technology consultant.

"Many SMB (small to mid-range businesses) are not aware of the Federal Electronic Communications Privacy Act ("ECPA"). ECPA addresses the interception and monitoring of electronic communications: telephone conversations, voice mail, email, instant messaging chats, and other online interactions fall into ECPA's perview.

Violations of ECPA are punishable by fines or imprisonment for up to five years; any persons harmed by an ECPA violation are permitted to file for equitable relief covering damages and attorney fees of up to $10,000.

Since many SMB's monitor and intercept the electronic communications of their employees, understanding ECPA business use exceptions can reduce the risk of legal exposure to ECPA claims filed by employees.

ECPA extends federal protection over employee communication in the workplace but this protection is limited. Presumably, employers would want to monitor electronic communications to guarantee quality control and to protect intellectual property, investigate incidents of wrong-doing, and so on, and ECPA provides "business use exceptions" to allow the employer to do these things.

A couple of rules as it relates to intercepting transmissions and monitoring employees in the workplace:

One-Party Consent. Interception and monitoring are allowed if either the sender or recipient consents before it occurs.

Ordinary Course. Business use exceptions under ECPA dictate that interception or monitoring be conducted within the regular course of employer's business and the subject matter be one in which the employer has a vested interest. Employers should be aware that, if a voice conversation turns personal, the employer may lose its exemption because it is no longer authorized to monitor such conversations.

Equipment Restriction. Employers can monitor and tap only the equipment that they own and which is used in the employer's regular course of business.

Email. Employers have the right to monitor and access email communications of employees stored on their assets (client workstations and servers). This is tricky because employers do not have the right to monitor or access email hosted by a 3rd party (like AOL or MSN), even though such communication might transverse the company's network.

Suggestions for the SMB to remain in ECPA compliance revolve around the creation of good Administrative Controls (policies) to govern employee expectations. Example:

1. Employees should be offered some form of notification is required either through a statement, a written policy signed at the time of employment, or a recording over the phone system.

2. Employers should present a policy to prohibit personal use of communications assets (phones, cell phones, computers, private email systems, and instant messaging) which would set acceptable use practices to restrict employee's use to strictly business communications.

3. An acceptable use policy that prohibits the use of personal communications and storage equipment - MP3 players, digital cameras or recorders, cell phones, thumb-drives - to conduct company business.

4. A privacy policy should be crafted to identify the personal private information (PPI) collected on employees that defines how that PPI is used and maintained." (more)

Wiretap Ban in Britian May End

London - The government will consider whether to lift a ban on the use of tapped telephone calls as evidence in court, a move that would bring it into line with Western partners but could pose challenges for its security services.

Britain currently does not allow wiretap evidence to be presented to a jury, even though it does admit material gathered by the police and security services through other forms of surveillance, such as bugging a suspect's home or car. (more)

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Radio - "The times they are a-changin'...'"

"There's a battle outside
And it is ragin'.
It'll soon shake your windows
And rattle your walls
For the times they are a-changin'." ~ B. Dylan

Circuit City puts it succinctly...

"HD Radio (Hybrid Digital, not High Definition) is the most significant advancement in radio broadcasting since the introduction of FM stereo more than 50 years ago. The new technology allows AM and FM radio stations to broadcast their programs digitally—a tremendous leap from the analog broadcasts of the past.

The technology behind HD Radio allows stations to broadcast higher-quality versions of their normal programming, as well as alternate formats not available on regular radio. And like traditional analog radio, HD Radio is completely free, with no subscription fees." (more) (find stations in your area)

Friday, June 8, 2007

Teckies Mourn this Week

Pamela Low, who was credited with developing the flavored coating for Cap'n Crunch cereal, has died. ... She drew upon a recipe that her grandmother, Luella Low, used to serve at home in Derry. "She used to serve rice with a butter-and-brown sugar sauce that she made. She'd serve it over the rice on Sundays." (more)

Edward Traisman, an innovative U.S. food scientist, researcher and inventor, has died of heart disease at age 91. Traisman, who lived in Monona, Wis., the Wisconsin State Journal said. Over his long career, he was part of a Kraft Foods team that created Cheez Whiz. (more)

Thursday, June 7, 2007

SpyCam Story #360

A former Naval Academy doctor has been charged with conduct unbecoming an officer and violating state and federal laws related to wiretapping and destruction of evidence after Navy prosecutors said he secretly videotaped several midshipmen having sex at his house.

But Bill Ferris, a civilian lawyer representing Cmdr. Kevin Ronan, said the charges stem from an extortion attempt by a disgruntled former midshipman who had moved in with his client after he was dismissed from the academy. (more)

(update 11/9/07)
A Navy physician was sentenced Friday to nearly four years in the brig after a military jury found that he had secretly recorded Naval Academy midshipmen having sex in his Annapolis home.

The jury also dismissed Cmdr. Kevin J. Ronan from the Navy and stripped him of his government pension.

The 10-day general court-martial at the Washington Navy Yard concluded with Ronan, who turns 42 today, being escorted in handcuffs through a cold rain into a van. He declined to talk to reporters. (more)

The Family that Spies Together, Stays Together

Three family members of a Chinese-American engineer convicted last month of spying for China have agreed to plead guilty to charges stemming from an investigation into the transfer of submarine technology.

A jury found Chi Mak guilty of conspiring to violate export laws, operating as a Chinese agent in America, and lying to the FBI. Mak's brother and sister in law, Tai Wang Mak and Fuk Li, and their son, Billy Mak, were set to go on trial today in Santa Ana, Calif. (more)

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

More eavesdropping stories out of Michigan...

MI - A Flushing Junior High School teacher suspended this week for planting a listening device in another teacher's classroom risks losing her job and her freedom.

Police allege that a listening device intended to pick up conversations was discovered May 18 taped to the back of a desk.

Investigators believe a teacher planted it there to overhear discussions between her daughter and another teacher. There had been allegations of problems involving the daughter and class disruptions, police said.
In recent years, several people have been prosecuted in Genesee County for eavesdropping, usually for secretly photographing or taping people in bathrooms, bedrooms or other private places.
A self-described Flint youth pastor was convicted this year of installing an eavesdropping system after an elaborate spy camera system was found in his bedroom.
A man hired to paint a Fenton Township tanning salon was placed on probation for two years and given six months in jail for eavesdropping after he pleaded no contest to eavesdropping amid allegations he secretly taped about a dozen women, including a 15-year-old girl.
Fears that someone is listening have even extended to township government. In 1996, Argentine Township spent $350 to make sure no bugs had been planted in the township hall, fire hall or police department. Everything down to the electrical outlets were swept, but no listening devices were found. (more)

$350.00? No devices found? I would love to know the rest of this story.

SpyCam Story #359

MI - A Milford man known for his work as a freelance photographer of local youth athletes and community events could be facing years in prison after he allegedly set up a video camera in his home to watch young female visitors undress.

Michael Sharpe, 59, was arraigned last Thursday in Oakland County’s 52-1 District Court before Magistrate Michael Batchik on eight counts of possession of child sexually abusive material and two counts of felony eavesdropping. Each of the child pornography charges is punishable by up to four years in prison. The eavesdropping charges carry penalties up to two years in prison. (more)

Walls With Real Ears?

Digital paper that can speak to you has been created by scientists. Researchers from Mid Sweden University have constructed an interactive paper billboard that emits recorded sound in response to a user's touch.

The team envisages that the technology could be used by advertisers, and in the future, it might even be employed for product packaging.

The key to the billboard's capabilities is a layer of digital paper that is embedded with electronics. Speakers are made by printing electromagnets out of conductive ink and stretching the paper over a cavity like a speaker cone behind the billboard. The electromagnets vibrate in response to a current, creating a sound. ...or vice versa, thus acting as a microphone (more)(more)

This scientific advancement is amazing. From our point of view it is also scary. Any first-year electronics student knows that speakers may also be used as microphones.

Saturday, June 2, 2007

Alternate Universe TSCM Instrumentation?

"The P'gaackan Discombobulator''
by Kaden

"Welcome to Eccentric Genius...I'm Kaden;
I'm responsible.
More or less.

I build antiques from ...somewhere else. A parallel universe where Leonardo Da Vinci, John Cleese and Jimmy Neutron spend every Tuesday night playing poker with Sherlock Holmes, and the Victorian era 'gentleman inventor' still toils diligently in his potting shed laboratory."

He builds other cool stuff, too.

Friday, June 1, 2007

A Tail of Two Kittys

It was the best of cats, and the worst of cats...
It's no great shock that cat lovers can get a little excessive when it comes to their feline friends. But one company, banking on the fact there are more than a few prospective pet owners willing to part with some serious ka-ching for a kitten, is selling a designer breed of cat that costs $22,000.

The Ashera, bred by Los Angeles-based Lifestyle Pets, "is a new ultra-exotic breed of domestic cat that already has wealthy animal devotees paying to get on the waiting list," the company press release claims. (more)

Cat breeders say descriptions of the Ashera bear a striking resemblance to an already recognized breed, dubbed the Savannah, which is a cross between a domestic cat and a wild African serval. (more)

We won't pussy-foot around on this one. This smells of either espionage, scam or blatant rip-off. Remember the Portuguese Water Dog v. Charlie Dog affair? Perhaps $22,000. is reasonable for a big kitty-cat? If so, we will name ours Audry III. "The guy sure looks like cat food to me."

Killer Pens

Privacy killing pens - audio & video - are out there, in force.
Know your enemy...

Sample features...

• 2-18 hours of recording time
• Some record and store. Some transmit wirelessly.
• Automatic sensitivity - equalizes volume of near and far speakers.
• USB connection to computers for sound downloading and recharging.
• Easy to use.
• Good quality sound. Acceptable quality video.

Some look clunky, have strange buttons and are generally easy to detect visually.
Some are quite elegant and are difficult to detect visually.

Audio Models (1)(2)(3)(4)(5)

Video Models (1)(2)(3)(4)(5)

Cheap Imports (1)(2)(3)(4)

Once you are familiar with the Killer Pens it is time to check out the Killer Watches.