11 stories
Party Photos
Boston Calling attendees were guinea pigs in IBM surveillance pilot
Via Dig Boston
A new three-part series (Part 1, Part 2, Part 3 forthcoming) from Dig Boston is looking at how IBM lured the city into trialling a new model of a "smarter city": One that watched and listened to its citizens, seeking out suspicious activity while tracking faces and clothing, tying together tweets and hundreds of cameras in a system the current administration ultimately found no "practical value" in. Read More
Future Facing
Real Life Analytics will watch your face while you shop
The trio behind Real Life Analytics is aiming for a Minority Report future. The MassChallenge finalists are building a system that will help retailers watch customers entering their stores and eventually serve them ads based on their age, race, and gender, sort of like the personalized treatment Tom Cruise’s character gets at the GAP. Read More
Servers Logged
NSA's Xkeyscore program targeted visitors to MIT server, Tor Project for enhanced scrutiny
A new report from noted security researchers — first published in conjunction with German news program Tagesschau — states that the NSA's Xkeyscore program, which determines who is flagged for enhanced tracking and monitoring, targeted every visitor to a particular MIT server, visitors seeking information on the privacy-focused Tor Project, which is based in Cambridge, and those who simply searched for information on the privacy-enhanced TAILS operating system. Read More
The abuse in your pocket
As domestic abuse goes digital, shelters turn to counter-surveillance with Tor
Tor Privacy Womens Shelter
Sarah's abuser gained access to every password she had. He monitored her bank accounts and used her phone to track her location and read her conversations. She endured four years of regular physical and emotional trauma enabled by meticulous digital surveillance and the existing support services, from shelters to police, were almost powerless to help her. Read More
Sales pitch
These are the slides Digital Recognition Network uses to sell police and repo companies on its license plate surveillance database
ALPR Boston
Last week, BetaBoston provided a glimpse into how a handful of private data brokers have compiled massive databases of vehicle location records. By mounting high-speed license plate readers on tow trucks and repo "spotter" cars in nationwide networks, these brokers claim to have compiled scans for a majority of vehicles registered in the United States. Read More
Protecting big data
Former White House tech official has new privacy startup, TrustLayers
TrustLayers co-founder Danny Weitzner, former Deputy CTO at the White House.
Danny Weitzner, an MIT researcher who served as Deputy Chief Technology Officer at the White House under President Obama is hatching a new startup related to data privacy: TrustLayers, which is out now raising a seed round of funding. Weitzner's co-founder is Adam Towvim, a long-time executive at the mobile advertising startup Jumptap, acquired last year by Millennial Media. Read More
Big Data is Watching
A vast hidden surveillance network runs across America, powered by the repo industry
DRN heat map March 2010

Few notice the “spotter car” from Manny Sousa’s repo company as it scours Massachusetts parking lots, looking for vehicles whose owners have defaulted on their loans. Sousa’s unmarked car is part of a technological revolution that goes well beyond the repossession business, transforming any ­industry that wants to check on the whereabouts of ordinary people. Read More

Mo Data, Mo Problems
White House, NSA comes to MIT to talk about privacy in age of Big Data
John Podesta was named to lead a general review of big-data and privacy practices. (SAUL LOEB /AFP GETTY IMAGES)
MIT is hosting a workshop today along with the White House to talk about privacy in the era of big data.
If you can’t make the daylong event but want to hear what academics, privacy experts, and government officials have to say about keeping personal information safe in light of the National Security Agency surveillance revelations, the event is streaming live here.
Don't expect panelists to dig too deeply into the legal issues around NSA activities. The agenda skews more technical. This afternoon roundtable will discuss privacy enhancing technologies and cryptography practices.
But at 3:30 p.m. today, a panel will talk about large scale analytics (the kind of thing the NSA does) that is scheduled to include John DeLong, director of compliance for the NSA, along with Chris Calabrese, legislative counsel with the American Civil Liberties Union. That has the makings of a good debate.