09 August 2011

DEFCON thank you!

A very gracious "thank you!" to everyone who came out to my privacy presentation at DEFCON, as well as to those of you who or tweeted about it afterwards.

I spoke to some media and also contributed to several documentaries (I hope they turn out well!).  I'll keep track of the media and blog interest here:

threatpost: DEFCON Round Up: The Good, The Bad and The Underage:
Another interesting presentation on Web privacy that’s getting a lot of attention on news aggregation and social media sites is Michael "theprez98" Schearer’s “WTF Happened to the Constitution?”
Network World: Privacy and Technology: WTF Happened to Your Constitutional Rights? (this article got aggregated everywhere):

An interesting presentation dealing with privacy and the Constitution was given at DefCon. In "WTF Happened to the Constitution?! The Right to Privacy in the Digital Age," there were six reasons given as "things that should p*ss you off."
In the abstract for the talk, Michael "theprez98" Schearer states, "There is no explicit right to privacy in the Constitution, but some aspects of privacy are protected by the first, Third, Fourth and Fifth Amendments." It lists several ways in which we must deal with "technologically invasive searches" such as at airports or searches and seizures of laptops. Schearer added, "It becomes evident very quickly that searches and seizures are not so clear when it comes to bits and bytes...so where do we go from here?"
I'd like to share with you the six things Schearer said should tick you off.
1.  Administrative searches
2.  Administrative warrants and subpoenas
3.  Public surveillance
4.  School and students' rights
5.  Legislators, judges and technology
6.  It's your fault, too
For each reason, Schearer lists why it's a problem and what we can do about it. For example, he suggests that we should demonstrate that administrative searches are "increasingly intrusive in light of current technology." Since there is very little oversight on National Security Letters, a form of administrative warrants and subpoenas, we should continue to support efforts to publicize abuse.
Regarding surveillance cameras and GPS tracking, Schearer said the technology is "amassing data without suspicion" and we should continue to shout known and obvious abuses from the rooftops. He used the example of the Justice Department saying people have no reasonable expectation of privacy when it comes to warrantless GPS tracking. Depending on if the Supreme Court decides such tracking is Constitutional, may also let us know if we are "too far down the slippery slope" when it comes to surveillance.
Schearer said students are "often denied the same basic rights as other citizens." He added that some concerns about "disrupting an education environment" are legitimate but that reasoning is often used "as a pretext to invade students' civil rights." One example he quoted was a creepy "calorie camera" in Texas that is being used to track how much students eat.
According to Schearer, we have way too many legislators and judges who are incompetent. They write poor laws and make poor decisions because they simply do not have the "aptitude for understanding technology." Possible fixes to this problem could be a bunch of totally geeky folks who do grasp tech to run for public office, or just like there are Bankruptcy Courts, there could be specialty Technology Courts.
But also according to Schearer, the problem with privacy is "your fault, too." We share too much information voluntarily like on social networks which then lowers society's expectation of privacy and subjects us to more government intrusion. Schearer says we might be too far down the slippery slope on this one, but "just because we can share, doesn't mean we have to."
In conclusion, Schearer said, privacy isn't dead yet but it is dying fast. "We can reclaim privacy by protecting our information and refusing to share so much voluntarily, and in turn increasing society's expectation of privacy." He added that we should "increase awareness by shining the light on governmental intrusions into privacy rights."
Check out theprez98's slides on Scribd to see more of his talk, "WTF Happened to the Constitution?! The Right to Privacy in the Digital Age."

Tech Republic: Deb does DEFCON: Hacking conference tackles cyberwar and civil liberties:
The second session I attended was titled, in the true spirit of Defcon, “WTF Happened to the Constitution?” Michael Schearer, aka “theprez98,” took us through the history of privacy law and how the U.S. Constitution, legislation, and case law protect our rights to privacy — and how they increasingly don’t.
A short editorial comment: I totally appreciate how she said my title was "in the true spirit of Defcon..." I will admit that was totally my intent.

SANS blog: Hostile Forensics (a mention!):
Seeing a few great presentations today here at DefCon, namely by Christopher Cleary, Michael "theprez98" Schearer, and Wesley McGrew motivated me to get off my duff and finish this thing.
WXPNews: Lowering (and Raising) the Bar for Expectations of Privacy in Technology:
At Defcon, which tends to be a little less formal and a lot more "in your face," Michael Schearer (known in the hacker community as "theprez98") got right to the point in his presentation titled "WTF Happened to the Constitution?" with the unpleasant but oh-so-true statement that we, the people, are at least partially responsible for the erosion of our privacy rights. This was reinforced by the panel of attorneys from the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) who fielded questions later in the day at Defcon. A key factor in determining whether a search or seizure is legal under the fourth amendment hinges on whether you have a reasonable expectation of privacy, and by accepting without question or protest ever more intrusive behaviors, we change the definition of what's considered by society to be "reasonable."
The Network World article also got Digg'd.

If you know of other articles or media coverage would you please let me know? Thank you!

Post a Comment