Gov’t surveillance Greater Threat than Terrorism

….[In] George Orwell’s dystopian fiction classic, “Nineteen Eighty-Four.” Winston Smith was breaking the law by seeking privacy outside the range of the “telescreen” in his apartment.

In an irony that would no doubt give Orwell grim satisfaction in his own prescience, Britons today are being pursued and prosecuted under an Act of Parliament designed to curb terrorism… for failing to pay a license fee for the televisions in their own homes.

Big Brother is watching you!

Orwell wrote soon after the invention of the television, which he envisaged as having evolved into an all-seeing two-way surveillance and propaganda device: the telescreen. It subjected viewers to constant hectoring demands for obedience and reported their every move to Big Brother, the avatar of the all-seeing surveillance state.

The fact that the novel is set in a future (and fictional) Britain only heightens the irony of recent revelations in the U.K. The government of Tory Prime Minister David Cameron has been using surveillance powers designed for the “War on Terrorism” to ferret out Britons who have not paid their hated “TV License,” a £145.50 ($220) annual tax imposed on every home containing a set in the country.

Her Majesty’s government clearly takes this odious little tax very seriously, so much so that the BBC is using the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act (RIPA) — designed to catch terrorists and Internet criminals — to track down people who dodge the license fee.

About 200,000 people were prosecuted for failing to buy a TV license between 2012 and 2013. More than 50 of those were sent to prison, and many others received penalties of up to £1,000 and a criminal record….

Orwell wrote with extraordinary perception and clarity, taking as his central theme the ways in which government’s attempts to serve its citizens are inevitably turned against us. Any policy, program or technique developed to “protect our freedoms” will be used to achieve the opposite.

Orwell would recognize the absurd irony of the situation in Western countries following the recent atrocities in Paris targeting the satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo. In response to these terror attacks, David Cameron has effectively launched a war against encryption, deeming private communication too great a threat to afford to keep as it prevents government from tracking and monitoring potential terrorists.

After loud protestations for “freedom of speech” following a terrorist attack on a magazine, our leaders barely pause for breath before demanding even greater surveillance powers than they already have — powers that, as Winston Smith knew, turn us all into self-censoring drones, fearful of saying or doing something that might offend Big Brother.

….If otherwise law-abiding Britons can go to jail over a petty tax, courtesy of surveillance powers grabbed in the name of fighting terrorism, imagine what can and will happen if the government decides to turn its attention to you.

This is why, now more than ever, you need to take concrete steps to secure your privacy — not just from crooks, but from the greatest enemy of freedom there is: the government.

By using techniques of encryption (while it’s available), secure end-to-end communication and identity masking, you can become a free and sovereign man or woman, because you control the knowledge available about you.

But you’ve got to start now… before it’s too late.

By Ted Baumann – Personal Liberty –

New police radars can ‘see’ inside homes

At least 50 U.S. law enforcement agencies have secretly equipped their officers with radar devices that allow them to effectively peer through the walls of houses to see whether anyone is inside, a practice raising new concerns about the extent of government surveillance.

Those agencies, including the FBI and the U.S. Marshals Service, began deploying the radar systems more than two years ago with little notice to the courts and no public disclosure of when or how they would be used. The technology raises legal and privacy issues because the U.S. Supreme Court has said officers generally cannot use high-tech sensors to tell them about the inside of a person’s house without first obtaining a search warrant.

The radars work like finely tuned motion detectors, using radio waves to zero in on movements as slight as human breathing from a distance of more than 50 feet. They can detect whether anyone is inside of a house, where they are and whether they are moving.

Current and former federal officials say the information is critical for keeping officers safe if they need to storm buildings or rescue hostages. But privacy advocates and judges have nonetheless expressed concern about the circumstances in which law enforcement agencies may be using the radars — and the fact that they have so far done so without public scrutiny.

“The idea that the government can send signals through the wall of your house to figure out what’s inside is problematic,” said Christopher Soghoian, the American Civil Liberties Union’s principal technologist. “Technologies that allow the police to look inside of a home are among the intrusive tools that police have.”

Agents’ use of the radars was largely unknown until December, when a federal appeals court in Denver said officers had used one before they entered a house to arrest a man wanted for violating his parole. The judges expressed alarm that agents had used the new technology without a search warrant, warning that “the government’s warrantless use of such a powerful tool to search inside homes poses grave Fourth Amendment questions.”

By Brad Heath – USA Today –

Examples of Police State Technology Making Our Rights Obsolete as we Head into 2015

Things are not looking pretty for the land of the free.

The year 2014 has made it very clear that privacy is under threat, and the situation is not likely to improve. Mass surveillance – which became a national issue via theEdward Snowden leaks – is not subsiding or under reform; instead, it is becoming more bold and complex with each passing day.

It would take several books to catalog the myriad ways in which the rights of The People have been casually infringed upon by various levels of government just in years since 9/11 and the introduction of the PATRIOT Act.

And it’s not only federal agencies like the NSA, Homeland Security and the FBI that are taking liberties with our … umm … liberties; it is local police, too. The rise of technology is rapidly fueling these agencies with data and “intelligence” with very little oversight and even less pause for reflection to use these powerful abilities wisely and, yes, judiciously.

Here are just a few major areas where privacy has lost badly to surveillance technology in 2014. Not that anyone is paying attention, but they are worth reflecting upon soon – hopefully before it is too late to turn things back around:

1. Militarized Police and Weapons of War on American Streets:

True, this technology has been in use for several years now and has been demonstrated at protests such as the those held outside of the G20 in Pittsburgh, Toronto and other locales.

But the events in Ferguson really allowed this brand of crowd control to come of age. This and other key protests have seemingly justified a massive police response for just about anything now …but… you know, the first amendment is still respected and all.

The Daily Sheeple reported:

Ferguson police have stocked up on less-lethal ammunition in the last few months including “hornets nest” CS sting grenades, which shoot out dozens of rubber bullets and a powdered chemical agent upon detonation, tear gas, riot gear, plastic handcuffs and the like in the lead up to the decision which is expected to come any time now. St Louis County police have spent $172,669 on this stuff just since August.

The Pentagon’s 1033 surplus program, which hands out everything from MRAP armored vehicles, to bulletproof vests, assault rifles, and other military weapons to domestic law enforcement agencies, is one of the major reasons that ordinary police departments, including those in small towns, are gearing up as for battle … and that includes Ferguson:

The Department of Defense Excess Property Program (1033 Program) is authorized under federal law and managed through the Defense Logistics Agency’s Law Enforcement Support Office (LESO) in Ft. Belvoir, Va. The 1033 Program provides surplus DoD military equipment to state and local civilian law enforcement agencies for use in counter-narcotics and counter-terrorism operations, and to enhance officer safety. The Missouri Department of Public Safety is the sponsoring state agency responsible for administration of the 1033 Program in Missouri.

2. Biometrics Comes of Age:
Fingerprints and iris scans are becoming normalized as identifiers on mobile phones, including the iPhone 5, computers and other platforms.

Increasingly, technology – including devices used by police – areutilizing other bodily features (in addition to fingerprints and eyes) to identify you, including ears, noses, heart rate (via electrocardiogram), blood vein matching, your scent or smell and even “butt biometrics” – no joke – which will allow smart car seats to identify the sitter based on their unique posture.

While these are surely being integrated into law enforcement devices, they are also becoming the mainstays of “wearables,” the new trendy technology that is collecting data on all of those using it to track health progress, etc.

Surveillance cameras have already been used to identify you by your walk for several years now, but advances have allowed technology to even identify the person wearing a camera, such as a police officer with a mounted body cam, by just 4 seconds of footage, revealing a ‘biometric fingerprint’of the individual.

Of course, roadside blood draws have already entered the picture in law enforcement work, including numerous locales that have implemented mandatory policies during stops. This is sure to pick up. In Seattle, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) recently conducted a paid, voluntary survey of drivers who received up to $60 to give blood and breath samples at a roadside stopin an effort to study how many people drive impaired.

3. Smart Phone Apps Know Everything About You:

Vocative published a long and unsettling list of apps for smart phones and other similar devices that all collect untold amounts of information about you every day.

Whether you realize it or not, permissions for apps routinely allow the collection and sharing of such information as your contact and address book, your text message, audio recorded from your device’s microphone, your call log and much more.

Yes, this is really happening, so beware if you are using mobile apps including:

By Mac Slavo – Activist Post –

HOW YOUR THREAT MATRIX SCORE COULD LAND YOU ON THE TERMINAL “RED LIST”

The following represents a small cross-section of illegal government spying activities which are designed to do one thing: To determine whose thoughts and actions pose a threat to the newest totalitarian regime on the face of the Earth, the United States. Everything you say and do is being cataloged and categorized and every American is receiving a threat matrix score similar to a credit rating. And where this is headed is worse than anything Orwell could have imagined.

“Every Move You Make, We’ll Be Watching You”

They look like ordinary streetlights, shining down on Las Vegas, but these streetlights have special capabilities that have aware and informed citizens up in arms.

This year, the city of Las Vegas, NV., is completing a project that it began last year and it has average citizens screaming constitutional foul play. However, these streetlights have capabilities far beyond anything the American people have ever seen.

The program is called Intellistreets and it records conversations, can scan you for a weapon, listen to your conversations and it can even “read your mind”. Eventually you will be placed on a “naughty or nice” list, and this list could have very consequences for your longevity….

Professor Margaret Hu from the Washington and Lee University School of Law states that “The implementation of a universal digitalized biometric ID system risks normalizing and integrating mass cybersurveillance into the daily lives of ordinary citizens”.

Professor Hu explains that the FBI’s Next Generation Identification project will institute the following:

“A comprehensive, centralized, and technologically interoperable biometric database that spans across military and national security agencies, as well as all other state and federal government agencies. Once complete, NGI will strive to centralize whatever biometric data is available on all citizens and noncitizens in the United States and abroad, including information on fingerprints, DNA, iris scans, voice recognition, and facial recognition data captured through digitalized photos, such as U.S. passport photos and REAL ID driver’s licenses. The NGI Interstate Photo System, for instance, aims to aggregate digital photos from not only federal, state, and local law enforcement, but also digital photos from private businesses, social networking sites, government agencies, and foreign and international entities, as well as acquaintances, friends, and family members”. Biometric ID cybersurveillance might be used to assign risk assessment scores and to take action based on those scores“.

The healthy side of your paranoia is about to emerge as we consider the fact that Professor Hu describes a DHS program known as FAST, which is a DHS tested program and has been described as a “precrime” program. FAST will gather upon complex statistical algorithms that will compile data from multiple databases and will subsequently “predict” future criminal or terrorist acts.

The “precrime” data will be gathered” through cybersurveillance and stealth data monitoring of ordinary citizens. The FAST program purports to assess whether an individual might pose a “precrime” threat through the capture of a range of data, including biometric data. In other words, FAST accuses non-convicted individuals as being a security threat risk of becoming future criminals and terrorists through data analysis. No charges, no police interviews, the system is designed to become “judge, jury and executioner“.

Under the Future Attribute Screening Technology (FAST), criminal cues are captured through the following types of biometric data including body and eye movements, eye blink rate and pupil variation, body heat changes, and breathing patterns. Various linguistic cues include the analysis of voice pitch changes, alterations in voce rhythm patterns, and changes in intonations of speech. Hu notes that in documents released by DHS clearly show that individuals could be arrested and face serious consequences based upon statistical algorithms and predictive analytical assessments.

By Dave Hodges – The Common Sense Show –

Police department asks volunteers to have homes searched for guns

As part of its new “Consent to Inspect” program, authorities in Beloit, Wisconsin, want residents to open their doors so they can come and inspect for illegal guns without a warrant.

The effort is part of a new push to help get firearms off the streets in an area that has suffered an uptick in homicides this year. Beloit Police Chief Norm Jacobs feels that gun violence is a disease and his new program, which asks local residents to allow officers to come by and search for firearms and even modified toy guns, is a step to a cure.

“Gun violence is as serious as the Ebola virus is being represented in the media, and we should fight it using the tools that we’ve learned from our health providers,” Jacobs told Wisconsin Public Radio.

The program will allow officers to respond to calls from area residents who would consent to a check of the home after signing a waiver. The chief feels that these inspections by his officers can uncover firearms that the resident may not have even known were there.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B0jrF6M2I50&feature=player_embedded

“That’s really what we’re looking for,” explained Jacobs. “Maybe we’ll find a toy gun that’s been altered by a youngster in the house — and we know the tragedies that can occur there on occasion.”

Crime in the city of 36,000 located along the Southern Wisconsin border with Illinois was on the overall decline. According to the Beloit Daily News, just three homicides occurred in the jurisdiction in 2013. Of these three, one was chalked up to police who were cleared, one involved a vehicle, while the third, the shooting death of a 19-year old on a city street, remains unsolved. The year before just one homicide, a shooting of a man from Chicago, took place in Beloit.

However, so far in 2014 police report seven gun homicides with the majority being young men in their teens and 20s.

Beloit is not the only agency to think outside of the box in recent weeks on how to reduce the numbers of guns in circulation. Police in Buffalo, New York, are now visiting the homes of those recently departed in search of firearms as part of a new plan to help keep tabs on local guns. That program was described by outraged gun rights advocates as “ghoulish” and “the kind of behavior one might expect in a police state.”

By Chris Eger – Guns.com –

Time cloak used to hide messages in laser light

A “time cloak” that conceals events rather than objects can hide secret messages through a trick of light, making information invisible to all but the intended recipient.

Like an invisibility cloak that makes something disappear in plain sight, a time cloak makes an event disappear in time. It works by manipulating light traveling along an optical fibre.

Imagine a row of cars speeding along a road slowing down in concert to create brief paths for pedestrians to safely cross. When the cars that let the pedestrians cross ahead of them speed up and re-join the rest of the traffic, no one can tell there was ever a gap in the flow – the pedestrians’ presence has been cloaked.

In the same way, photons’ paths can be tweaked to create brief gaps where information can safely hide.

Last year, a team at Purdue University in Indiana built a cloak that could transfer hidden data at 1.5 gigabits a second, fast enough to make it theoretically useful for real communication. The only thing was….

By Aviva Rutkin – New Scientist –

Why the US Postal Service Turned Spy

By Mark Nestmann – Nestmann.com –

FATCA and similar laws have eviscerated financial privacy in the US. And last year, thanks to whistleblower Edward Snowden, the world learned the extent of the surveillance conducted by America’s largest spy agency, the NSA.

Now the Postal Service has joined in the game, introducing an NSA-style dragnet over mail delivery.

The most shocking aspect of the crackdown against financial and electronic privacy is the lengths that Congress, the Treasury Department, the NSA, and now the Postal Service have gone to subvert our constitutional right to privacy.

The lesson is the same, too. If you want privacy – of any type – you won’t find it in the US. But you will find it offshore.

How Treasury and the NSA Subverted Privacy in the US

Acting through the non-governmental organization called the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), the Treasury Department forced supposedly non-binding recommendations into law. This has had the effect of gradually subverting any meaningful constitutional protection of your financial privacy from the US government. Today, Treasury agencies are literally hardwired into America’s banks and must be notified instantly whenever a customer engages in a “suspicious transaction.” Your bank statement, individual financial transactions, and even copies of your checks are available for warrantless inspection by the IRS anytime….

The Supreme Court ruled decades ago that the government can’t open first-class mail, such as letters and sealed packages, unless a court issues a warrant backed by probable cause. (Newspapers, magazines, pamphlets, and other printed matter have no such protection.) But the privacy advantages of first-class mail have mostly disappeared, thanks to the War on Terror.

Before 2001, the only way that the Postal Inspection Service could inspect mail was if it fit into broad “suspicious package profiles” the service had created. The profiles relied on dog sniffs carried out by animals trained to alert to narcotics, other contraband, or cash. Drug-sniffing dogs may check packages sent to or from “source areas for the distribu­tion of narcotics and/or controlled sub­stances.” It turns out that every major city in the US is such a “source area.”

After 9/11, that wasn’t enough for Congress. In 2002, it gave the Customs Service the authority to conduct warrantless searches of international first-class mail. And in 2006, President George W. Bush quietly asserted a new government prerogative to open any type of mail. In a “signing statement” attached to a reform act that was support to enhance postal privacy, Bush claimed the government could open any postal correspondence without a warrant, probable cause, or even suspicion that it contains dangerous materials or contraband. The only requirement is that the mail opening be related to “foreign intelligence collection.”

Of course, just about anything could conceivably be related to “foreign intelligence collection.” It’s a loophole big enough to drive a truck through.

 
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Man Shoots Down Drone, Lawyers Scratch Their Heads

By Kelsey D. Atherton – PopSci.com –

Shooting down a small drone is hard. But determining whether people should be allowed to do so may prove more difficult still. A man in New Jersey fired a shotgun at his neighbor’s drone, and as the quadcopter crashed to the ground, the incident raised new legal challenges about when and if it’s okay to shoot a robot.

Police arrested the New Jersey man, charging him with “Possession of a Weapon for an Unlawful Purpose and Criminal Mischief”. In this case, courts might find that, by firing the shotgun at the drone, the man is guilty of destruction of property. The use of force is often only legally permissible to prevent a physical threat, and a wandering drone, like a trespassing cow, is inconvenient but not an imminent danger.

Courts might rule that a trespass by drone is unlike a trespass by a pet. Drones can carry cameras, so a drone flying into a backyard isn’t just trespassing, it’s a threat to privacy…

 
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