Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Which Telecoms Store Your Data the Longest? Secret Memo Tells All | Threat Level

The nation’s major mobile-phone providers are keeping a treasure trove of sensitive data on their customers, according to newly-released Justice Department internal memo that for the first time reveals the data retention policies of America’s largest telecoms.

The single-page Department of Justice document, “Retention Periods of Major Cellular Service Providers,” (.pdf) is a guide for law enforcement agencies looking to get information — like customer IP addresses, call logs, text messages and web surfing habits – out of U.S. telecom companies, including AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile and Verizon.
The document, marked “Law Enforcement Use Only” and dated August 2010, illustrates there are some significant differences in how long carriers retain your data.
Verizon, for example, keeps a list of everyone you’ve exchanged text messages with for the past year, according to the document.  But  T-Mobile stores the same data up to five years. It’s 18 months for Sprint, and seven years for AT&T.
That makes Verizon appear to have the most privacy-friendly policy. Except that Verizon is alone in retaining the actual contents of text messages. It allegedly stores the messages for five days, while T-Mobile, AT&T, and Sprint don’t store them at all.
The document was unearthed by the American Civil Liberties Union of North Carolina via a Freedom of Information Act claim. (After the group  gave a copy to, we also discovered it in two other places on the internet by searching its title.)
“People who are upset that Facebook is storing all their information should be really concerned that their cell phone is tracking them everywhere they’ve been,” said Catherine Crump, an ACLU staff attorney. “The government has this information because it wants to engage in surveillance.”
The biggest difference in retention surrounds so-called cell-site data. That is information detailing a phone’s movement history via its connections to mobile phone towers while its traveling.
Verizon keeps that data on a one-year rolling basis; T-Mobile for “a year or more;” Sprint up to two years, and AT&T indefinitely, from July 2008.
The document also includes retention policies for Nextel and Virgin Mobile. They have folded into the Sprint network.
The document release comes two months before the Supreme Court hears a case testing the government’s argument that it may use GPS devices to monitor a suspect’s every movement without a warrant. And the disclosure comes a month ahead of the 25th anniversary of the Electronic Privacy Communications Act, an outdated law that the government often invokes against targets to obtain, without a warrant, the data the Justice Department document describes.
“I don’t think there there is anything on this list the government would concede requires a warrant,” said Kevin Bankston, a staff attorney with the Electronic Frontier Foundation. “This brings cellular retention practices out of the shadows, so we can have a rational discussion about how the law needs to be changed when it comes to the privacy of our records.”
Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vermont) has proposed legislation to alter the Electronic Privacy Communications Act to protect Americans from warrantless intrusions. Debate on the issue is expected to heat up as the anniversary nears, and the Justice Department document likely will take center stage.
Infographics: Michael Cerwonka/ Cell tower photo courtesy Locomotive8/Flickr
This makes all the Facebook privacy uproar seem like child's play compared to what the Wireless industry is up to. Worth a close look and consideration of who you use as your wireless carrier. Thanks to for digging this up!
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Happy Rosh Hashanah, Jew Tube Style

No disrespect intended, but a new way to wish you and yours a happy Rosh Hashanah.  A video and a lovely card if you prefer images that don't move.

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Thursday, September 22, 2011

The Kind Of Radio Contest They Could Only Do In Somalia

Many thanks to The Inquisitr for finding this story.  Being a professional broadcaster (and not just playing one on television) I find this quite amusing and disgusting at the same time.  The only kind of contest I can do is give away tons of cash on 99.7 The Point in Kansas City.  Not that there's anything wrong with that....

Win A Children’s Radio Contest Get An AK-47, Thanks Somalia

Somali Kids with Guns
The last time I won a radio contest I was given tickets to some crappy concert nobody wanted to go and see however if I had been a child in Somali I could have potentially walked away with an AK-47 assault rifle.
A Somali radio station run by extremist group al-Shabab held a contest this weekend for children aged 10-17, each child was quizzed on Islam and al-Shabab and the winner and runner-up walked away with a treasure trove of money, al-Shabab books and the customary jewelry of choice in Somali an AK-47 to dangle from their necks.
Third place I have to admit got the shaft, they only received two live hand grenades.
Apparently the contest was a big deal with an entire awards ceremony taking place outside of Mogadishu.
In true Islamic extremist fervor Sheik Muktar Robow Abu Monsur of the al-Shabab sheiks lamented:
“Children should use one hand for education and the other for a gun to defend Islam.”
Al-Shabab is an offshoot of al-Qaeda and controls much of Somalia since the region has no central government.
Don’t be surprised if his “education” comment isn’t taken seriously, al-Qaeda members and regions they occupy are typically full of illiterate people who learn to fire a gun before they ever open a book while people in Somalia will never see the inside of a book.
So there you have it Somali radio stations are hard at work training the next group of Somali pirates and al-Qaeda operatives who will take over ships of innocent freight workers.
What do you think about the contest? Makes that last prize you won from a local radio station seem a bit lame does it.
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Sunday, September 11, 2011

Today Is Not Only The 10th Anniversary Of 9/11

Perhaps you, like me, are pretty close to having your, excuse the expression, head explode over every channel on TV (including ESPN News) running almost constant 9/11 programming since yesterday.

Today is something else very special, National Grandparents Day.  I've lost all my Grandparents, and I miss them.  But sometimes you need Grandpa or Grandma for comic relief, so I present this from for your consideration.
My guess is you'd rather read this than my rant about how we were told 10 years ago to go about our business, visit Disney World, and have a good old time so the economy doesn't crumble and therefore the Terrorists win.  I remember our leaders telling us that every time I, uh, look at the economy and state of our government.

Makes me wonder 10 years later who really DID win.  I know my late Papa Udie would have an opinion on that.  Happy Grandparents Day Udie, Josephine, Max, and Sarah.  You're in a better place than you'd want to be in.
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Wednesday, September 07, 2011

10 Years Later It's Clear America Overreacted To 9/11

WTC Memorial

Perhaps the strangest thing about the 10 year anniversary of 9/11 on Sunday is how it hasn't managed to suck all the air out of the news cycle.
To be sure there are plenty of retrospective specials, most of the cable networks will be airing wall-to-wall coverage on Sunday, and the big newsweeklies have all issued anniversary editions (the best of which is far and away New York magazine's 'encyclopedia').
But this is more or less just an increase by degrees of what happens every year, and there is a sense in the air, at least here in New York City, of exhaustion with the topic.
Maybe it was last month's hurricane that saw the shut down of the subway (for the first time since 9/11) and the evacuation of parts of the city for the first time ever that drained the city of its ability to gin up the sort of emotion one would anticipate from the milestone anniversary.  Nothing reminds you of how terrible an actual emergency is like an actual emergency (or in the case of Irene, preparing for one).
Or maybe all the left-over emotion from 9/11 was exerted last year during the Ground Zero Mosque controversy.
Either way, four days before the anniversary, the news cycle remains consumed with Obama's jobs speech, the economy, the GOP debate, and the generally dire outlook of the nation.
Which makes sense when you consider that many of the big 9/11 retrospectives put out so far seem to be drawing the same conclusion: America overreacted to 9/11.
The first person to float this was Bob Woodward in Foreign Policy:
"It's so sobering for journalism: You think you know what something means, and you think something is a disaster. But maybe it isn't. One of the big questions about 9/11 now: In the history books in 50 years, is the headline going to be "U.S. Overreacts to 9/11"? In other words, if there are no other attacks in this country, if we have strategically defeated al Qaeda. Or maybe the headline's going to be "U.S. Wins the Cold War, U.S. Wins the War on Terror." Or maybe it's going to be "The Ongoing War on Terror.…"
In New York magazine's 9/11 retrospective Frank Rich, who spent much of the decade from his NYT perch castigating Bush for going to war, says:
In retrospect, the most consequential event of the past ten years may not have been 9/11 or the Iraq War but the looting of the American economy by those in power in Washington and on Wall Street. This was happening in plain sight—or so we can now see from a distance. At the time, we were so caught up in Al ­Qaeda’s external threat to America that we didn’t pay proper attention to the more prosaic threats within.
In such an alternative telling of the ­decade’s history, the key move Bush made after 9/11 had nothing to do with military strategy or national-security policy. It was instead his considered decision to rule out shared sacrifice as a governing principle for the fight ahead. Sacrifice was high among the unifying ideals that many Americans hoped would emerge from the rubble of ground zero, where so many Good Samaritans had practiced it.
And here is Andrew Sullivan (at his most dramatic) speculating that Osama bin Laden won:
But what we did know was that only one word really sufficed to define the scale and gravity of what had taken place: war.
The bait was meant to entice the United States into ruinous, polarizing religious warfare against the Muslim world, so that the Islamist fringe could seize power in failing Muslim and Arab dictatorships. The 9/11 attacks were conceived as a way to radicalize a young Muslim population through a ginned-up war of civilization against the Great Satan on the Islamist home turf of Afghanistan and, then, Iraq. It looks obvious now. It wasn’t then. We were seized with righteous rage, every ounce of which was justified. But the victim of a rape is not the best person to initiate the strategy to bring the rapist to justice. And we, alas, were all we had.
The NYT ran a piece over the weekend about how media outlets are walking a fine line in their coverage of the anniversary.
But one wonders, coming as it does in the midst of Obama's jobs speech and the inevitable GOP reaction, and the dire economic numbers, if the impending retrospectives will capture the country's attention in the manner we would have anticipated even a year ago.  One gets the sense the catharsis they are aiming to provide is no longer necessary.
There will be many, far too many, stories written about 9/11, but the very bright Glynnis MacNicol may have managed to nail the story with this piece on Thanks to Glynnis for her usual great writing and for not being afraid to say what many of us feel.
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