Friday, December 20, 2019

1984 arrives a little late

Excerpt: In one case, we observed a change in the regular movements of a Microsoft engineer. He made a visit one Tuesday afternoon to the main Seattle campus of a Microsoft competitor, Amazon. The following month, he started a new job at Amazon. It took minutes to identify him as Ben Broili, a manager now for Amazon Prime Air, a drone delivery service. “I can’t say I’m surprised,” Mr. Broili told us in early December. “But knowing that you all can get ahold of it and comb through and place me to see where I work and live — that’s weird.” That we could so easily discern that Mr. Broili was out on a job interview raises some obvious questions, like: Could the internal location surveillance of executives and employees become standard corporate practice? (...) Reporters hoping to evade other forms of surveillance by meeting in person with a source might want to rethink that practice. Every major newsroom covered by the data contained dozens of pings; we easily traced one Washington Post journalist through Arlington, Va. In other cases, there were detours to hotels and late-night visits to the homes of prominent people.  One person, plucked from the data in Los Angeles nearly at random, was found traveling to and from roadside motels multiple times, for visits of only a few hours each time. [If you weren’t already scared, maybe you should be. This is a long-ish article from the NY Times I was able to read for free. It gives a good–but, frightening–overview of what’s at stake in geo-location apps. The national security implications are also shocking to think about. I urge you to read it. It makes me glad I don't have a smart phone, too. Ron P.]

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