TSA Moves On From Your Underwear to Your Starbucks

Not content with fondling your privates and banning liquids from entering the concourse, the Transportation Security Administration is apparently now also screening liquids bought by passengers after they’ve already gone through regular security screening.

A passenger flying from Columbus, Ohio, to Oakland, California, over the holiday weekend captured the practice on video while he was sitting with other passengers in the airport’s embarkment lounge waiting to board their flight.

As the unidentified passenger points out in commentary posted with his video to YouTube, the liquid testing is being done “well beyond the security check” and on liquids that passengers have purchased inside the security perimeter after they already passed through security screening and threw out any drinks they might have brought with them to the airport.

The passenger, identified only as Danno02 in his YouTube channel, writes that his wife and son were approached by TSA agents after purchasing drinks at a coffee shop around the corner from the passenger lounge.

“I asked [the agent] what they were doing,” he writes. “One of the TSA ladies said that they were checking for explosive chemicals (as we are drinking them). I said ‘really..inside the terminal? You have got to be kidding me’. I asked them if they wanted to swab us all. She responded with something like, yes sometimes we need to do that. I then asked if she wanted a urin [sic] sample.”

He concludes his post by asking, “Whats next…perhaps the TSA will come to your home prior to your drive to the airport? The police state of the US is OUT OF CONTROL!”

But the TSA says the practice isn’t new — it’s been going on since 2007 — and is part of random screening techniques designed to catch liquid explosives that might slip through initial screening.

“TSA employs multiple layers of security throughout the airport where passengers may be randomly selected for additional screening,” the TSA said in a statement. “One measure may include testing liquids that are in a passenger’s possession. This is not a new procedure and at no time during the test is the liquid or the container ever touched.”

TSA’s Blogger Bob wrote about the procedure in July, describing how it works.

The test involves a test strip and a dropper containing a nontoxic solution. In case you’re wondering, our officers don’t place the test strips in your beverages/liquids. They simply have the passenger remove the cap/lid and they hold the strip over the opening of the container. Procedures call for moving the test strip to the side and applying the solution from the dropper to test the strip. If the test results are positive TSA will conduct additional testing to make a final assessment.

Unlike with swab tests done at the security checkpoint, however, the TSA officers in the video did not change their gloves between tests to prevent cross-contamination.

While TSA agents lack the authority to arrest or detain anyone, passengers cannot refuse screening once they have proceeded beyond the screening checkpoint entrance.

Our advice is, the next time you’re in an airport, feel free to visit the bar and order a drink — just don’t make it an Irish Car Bomb.

Feds Say Mobile-Phone Location Data Not ‘Constitutionally Protected’

Photo: Atomic Taco/Flickr

The Obama administration told a federal court Tuesday that the public has no “reasonable expectation of privacy” in cellphone location data, and hence the authorities may obtain documents detailing a person’s movements from wireless carriers without a probable-cause warrant.

The administration, citing a 1976 Supreme Court precedent, said such data, like banking records, are “third-party records,” meaning customers have no right to keep it private. The government made the argument as it prepares for a re-trial of a previously convicted drug dealer whose conviction was reversed in January by the Supreme Court, which found that the government’s use of a GPS tracker on his vehicle was an illegal search.

With the 28 days of vehicle tracking data thrown out of court, the feds now want to argue in a re-trial that it was legally in the clear to use Antoine Jones’ phone location records without a warrant. The government wants to use the records to chronicle where Jones was when he made and received mobile phone calls in 2005.

“A customer’s Fourth Amendment rights are not violated when the phone company reveals to the government its own records that were never in the possession of the customer,” the administration said in a court filing Tuesday (.pdf). ”When a cell phone user transmits a signal to a cell tower for his call to be connected, he thereby assumes the risk that the cell phone provider will create its own internal record of which of the company’s towers handles the call. Thus, it makes no difference if some users have never thought about how their cell phones work; a cell phone user can have no expectation of privacy in cell-site information.”

The government’s position comes as prosecutors are shifting their focus to warrantless cell-tower locational tracking of suspects in the wake of a Supreme Court ruling (.pdf)  in Jones’ case that law enforcement should acquire probable-cause warrants from judges to affix GPS devices to vehicles.

Just after the Jones decision, the FBI pulled the plug on 3,000 GPS-tracking devices.

Jones, as one might suspect, wants the court to find that the feds should get a probable cause warrant for phone records, too.

“In this case, the government seeks to do with cell site data what it cannot do with the suppressed GPS data,” Jones’ attorney Eduardo Balarezo wrote (.pdf) U.S. District Judge Ellen Huvelle.

The government does not agree.

“Defendant’s motion to suppress cell-site location records cannot succeed under any theory. To begin with, no reasonable expectation of privacy exists in the routine business records obtained from the wireless carrier in this case, both because they are third-party records and because in any event the cell-site location information obtained here is too imprecise to place a wireless phone inside a constitutionally protected space,” the administration wrote the federal judge presiding over the Jones re-trial.

Just as the lower courts were mixed on whether the police could secretly affix a GPS device on a suspect’s car without a warrant, the same is now true about whether a probable-cause warrant is required to obtain so-called cell-site data. During the investigation, a lower court judge in the Jones case authorized the five months of the cell-site data without probable cause, based on government assertions that the data was “relevant and material” to an investigation.

“Knowing the location of the trafficker when such telephone calls are made will assist law enforcement in discovering the location of the premises in which the trafficker maintains his supply narcotics, paraphernalia used in narcotics trafficking such as cutting and packaging materials, and other evident of illegal narcotics trafficking, including records and financial information,” the government wrote in 2005, when requesting Jones’ cell-site data.

That cell-site information was not introduced at trial, as the authorities used the GPS data instead.

The Supreme Court tossed that GPS data, along with Jones’ conviction and life term on Jan. 23 in one of the biggest cases in recent years combining technology and the Fourth Amendment.

“We hold that the government’s installation of a GPS device on a target’s vehicle, and its use of that device to monitor the vehicle’s movements, constitutes a ‘search,’” Justice Antonin Scalia wrote for the five-justice majority.

That decision, the Obama administration claimed, is “wholly inapplicable” when it comes to cell-site data.

The administration noted that the high court said the physical act of affixing a GPS device to a vehicle amounts to a search and generally requires a warrant. “But when the government merely compels a third-party service provider to produce routine business records in its custody,” the government wrote, “no physical intrusion occurs, and the rule in Jones is therefore wholly inapplicable.”

CrowdRE – Crowdsourced Reverse Engineering Service From CrowdStrike

Reversing complex software quickly is challenging due to the lack of professional tools that support collaborative analysis. The CrowdRE project aims to fill this gap. Rather than using a live distribution of changes to all clients, which has proven to fail in the past, it leverages from the architecture that is being used with success [...] The...

Read the full post at darknet.org.uk

YouTube Flags Democrats’ Convention Video on Copyright Grounds

While First Lady Michelle Obama’s speech won rave reviews on Twitter Tuesday night, those who got inspired to try to watch the livestream of the convention on BarackObama.com or YouTube found the video flagged by copyright claims shortly after it finished.

YouTube, the official streaming partner of the Democratic National Convention, put a copyright blocking message on the livestream video of the event shortly after it ended, which was embedded prominently at BarackObama.com and DemConvention2012. Would-be internet viewers saw a message claiming the stream had been caught infringing on the copyright of one of many possible content companies:

This video contains content from WMG, SME, Associated Press (AP), UMG, Dow Jones, New York Times Digital, The Harry Fox Agency, Inc. (HFA), Warner Chappell, UMPG Publishing and EMI Music Publishing, one or more of whom have blocked it in your country on copyright grounds. Sorry about that.

When contacted by Wired for comment late Tuesday, Erica Sackin, an Obama campaign staffer who works on digital outreach, had no knowledge of the outage, asked this reporter for the url and then upon seeing the takedown, said, “I’ll have to call you back.”

On Wednesday morning, a campaign spokesman confirmed there was a “technical error on YouTube that inadvertently triggered a copyright message at the end of the live stream Tuesday night,” adding “We do not expect tonight’s coverage will be affected.”

After this story was published, the video was subsequently marked “private.”

A YouTube spokesman downplayed the blockage: “After tonight’s live stream ended, YouTube briefly showed an incorrect error message,” he said via e-mail. “Neither the live stream nor any of the channel’s videos were affected.”

It’s not clear what he meant by none of the channel’s videos were affected as the video was unplayable.

The most likely culprit is YouTube’s pre-emptive content filters, which allow large media companies to upload content they claim to own and automatically block videos that an algorithm decides matches their own. That would make the glitch the second livestream copyright-policing snafu in the span of a few days: On Sunday, a similar algorithm at uStream interrupted the livestream of the Hugo science fiction awards. The award show included clips of copyrighted videos, though the algorithm didn’t know that the clips had been authorized.

In early August, an official NASA recording of the Mars landing was blocked hours after the successful landing, due to a rogue DMCA complaint by a news network.

Under the DMCA, sites have to respond promptly to written DMCA requests, but as services like uStream and Google court large entertainment companies as advertisers and content partners, they’ve created systems to make blocking automatic or to allow partners to put ads on videos they claim are infringing.