Plato's Cave, Silhouettes and Shadows:You can Hide...But You Can't Run

Air Cascadia
program date: 
Wed, 04/03/2013

This past Monday, flying below the radar in more ways than one - the Federal Bureau of Investigation lost an appeal to delay a lawsuit filed by the Electronic Privacy Information Center.  The  privacy advocacy group is suing the agency for information related to its StingRay cellphone surveillance technology.


 The name, ‘David Rigmaiden’ mean anything to you?  How about ‘StingRay’?


This is the techogizmo that was used to apprehend David Rigmaiden. Granted, Rigmaiden is no boy scout.  In 2008 he was a suspect in an electronic tax fraud ring. But it was Rigmaiden’s requests to provide details of how the FBI was able to locate him revealed the use of StingRay, a technology which fools cell phones within a certain range into linking with the technology., as though it was a real cell tower. By harvesting the data provided by a mass of cellphones, StingRay can physically locate a designated device.


 Privacy advocates like the Electronic Frontier Foundation and the ACLU argue that StingRay's bulk data collection method violates the privacy of cell phone users who are unwittingly targeted by the tool. In addition, the ACLU has presented evidence that the FBI has not always been honest about its intent to deploy StingRay when filing warrants with federal judges.


 If the ACLU’s lawsuit is successful, it would imply that the FBI has knowingly requested “general warrants,” which would violate Americans' Fourth Amendment rights against unreasonable search and seizure.


Which brings us to this:  Today the Federal Aviation Administration hosts its first “online public engagement session” to allow the public to voice concerns over the threats to personal privacy posed by domestic drones.

Specifically, the FAA is soliciting comments on the privacy protocol it plans to implement at each of its six drone test sites, where the crafts will be put through a battery of tests before they’re allowed into U.S. airspace in 2015. The agency says public comments won’t drive policy but will help ensure that all voices are heard.

Says the FAA:  “They are not intended to predetermine the long-term policy and regulatory framework under which commercial [drones] would operate…Rather, they aim to assure maximum transparency of privacy policies.”

The session will begin at noon Wednesday and run until 2 p.m. The agency plans to outline its test site program and proposed privacy policy, then take comments from participants, each of whom will have up to three minutes to weigh in.


The test site program is vital to the federal government’s plan to safely integrate commercial drones into the already crowded national airspace. More than 30 states, including Maryland and Virginia, have expressed interest in hosting a site.


The locations have yet to be chosen.

  • Length: 22:51 minutes (20.92 MB)
  • Format: MP3 Mono 44kHz 128Kbps (CBR)


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