Following someone around isn't that easy.

Like many people today, I have a GPS (Global Positioning System) navigation system mounted semipermanantly in my car to help me get around when I'm out and about. Every once in a while, however, I find myself being asked a rather curious question to which I haven't really put together a rehearsed answer. That question is this: "If you're so consciencious about your privacy, why do you have a GPS unit in your car? Aren't you worried that you'll be tracked wherever you go by your GPS?"

The short and simple answer to that question is, "No, I'm not concerned …

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Senator Barack Obama elected President of the United States!

As you may or may not have been aware, yesterday was Election Day in the United States, in which ballots were cast to decide who would take over as President of the United States in January of 2009. I have to admit, I didn't pay much attention to the usual campaign commercials, mailings, and e-mails, because quite frankly once the mud slinging started (which was almost immediately, in fact) I grew bored with the antics of all involved. I'm far more concerned with the voting records of the candidates, their backgrounds, and what they will do for me personally as …

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Maybe I should write about things other than myself for a while.

If you're involved in the retrocomputing or PC history scenes, chances are you've heard of double-sided floppy disks that are formatted for one system on side A and another system on side B. For example, I've got a copy of the game Ninja which had the C-64 version of the game on one side and the Atari port on the other. At the time this was a pretty straightforward thing to do because drives only read one side of a disk at a time. A couple of weeks back, PC historian Trixter came across a highly unusual 5 1/4 …

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The Last HOPE.

I arrived in New York City somewhen around 1400 EST5EDT, after getting turned around in Penn Station (what kind of adventure would it be without my getting lost, after all?) and being sent in the direction of the hotel by a wary yet friendly security guard at the office building I'd blundered into. I finally got to the Hotel Penn, which they really did a nice job fixing up since the last time I'd been there (though the air conditioning was still pants, which became a common complaint that weekend). I wandered around for a while because I had no …

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Spooks, dirty tricks, and creative linguistics.

It seems that the US federal government has been busy lately - a pair of news articles released last week show the lengths they're going to so that they can get their way while seeming to be on the up and up. As you'll recall, back in July of 2005 the city of London, England was rocked by a number of explosions which were placed by suicide bombers to maximally disrupt the public transportation system of the city. The British government probably asked the FBI to assist in the investigation (as suggested by a number of documents obtained through the Freedom …

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Confiscation and examination of electronics at the border intensifies.

It would appear that the confiscation and analysis of personal electronics at the US border is intensifiying and that people are starting to get up in arms about it. It's more than just laptops that US ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) are spiriting away (for up to two weeks at a time, which defeats the purpose of trying to fly anywhere): Cellular phones are being meddled with and sometimes data is erased (for one reason or another; I tend to lean toward Hanlon's Razor to explain this), corporate laptops are being taken away from travelers unless the log into the …

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Bruce Schneier on the false dichotomy between privacy and security.

If I ever get around to having children, I might name my first boy after Bruce Schneier because he's got a lot more on the ball than I ever will. This time around, Schneier has weighed in on the privacy versus security debate in US policy and why it's not really debatable in the manner it's being presented in because personal privacy and national security are not, in fact, opposed to one another. His commentary was provoked by Michael McConnell (Director of National Intelligence) stating in the 21 January 2008 edition of the New Yorker that he wanted to monitor …

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US Judicial system debates the legality of searching laptops at the border for no discernable reason.

For a while now I've been hearing about (and thus keeping an eye on) stories from people whose laptops are being confiscated at the border and examined, as sort of a gill net for anything shady (or that they don't understand). Usually you hear about it in the context of people getting busted for carrying child pornography but more often than not it's Joe or Jane User. The US government says that going through someone's data without a warrant is no different from going through someone's suitcase without a warrant; Idisagree, for reasons better elucidated by Judge Dean Pregerson of …

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It seems that the one book they read was 1984.

George W. Bush, while at NSA headquarters yesterday, asked the US Congress to turn the NSA program that allows any and all communications to be monitored without a warrant into a law rather than letting the program expire in February of 2008. While this law does not give operatives carte blanche to break into a home and plant monitoring devices or copy data from computers (that's covered by another set of statutes entirely), it does mean that they can record and analyze telephone calls, e-mails, and other forms of communication without oversight or legal record. As to why he didn't …

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The FBI's data mining program took a mile when it was given an inch. Film at eleven.

A number of lawsuits and Freedom of Information Act requests filed by the Electronic Frontier Foundation have confirmed what people have been saying since the get-go, which is that the FBI's telecommunications data mining program went far beyond what it was supposed to (login/password required, bugmenot.com will hook you up). It's well known and documented that the US government's been leaning on telecommunication companies all across the country (and a few rolled over and bared their throats without even being ordered) to provide them with lists of names and numbers of their customers so that who called whom …

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