Tag Archives | Big Brother

Money Will Movitate The Digital Tracking Of Schoolchildren

There’s money to be made in the cattle-style tracking of kids with RFID-chip IDs, and so the practice may become widespread, Wired writes:

Two schools at the Northside Independent School District in San Antonio began issuing the RFID-chip-laden student-body cards when classes began last Monday. Like most state-financed schools, their budgets are tied to average daily attendance. If a student is not in his seat during morning roll call, the district doesn’t receive daily funding for that pupil. But with the RFID tracking, students not at their desk but tracked on campus are counted as being in school that day, and the district receives its daily allotment for that student.

There appears to be dozens of companies who…offer their RFID wares to monitor students in what is still a tiny but growing market. Among the biggest companies in the market: AT&T.

About two dozen health and privacy advocates who signed an August position paper blasting the use of RFID chips in schools.

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‘See Something Say Something’ Phone App Unveiled For Mass Transit

 Did you know that Big Brother is a crowdsourcing project? The ELERTS Corporation on their See Say App, which the greater Boston area’s Massachusetts Bay Transit Authority is urging commuters to adopt:

The app is designed to let riders easily and instantly report suspicious activity to Transit authorities with their smartphones – crowdsourcing public safety with thousands of eyes and ears on the ground. When people see something, they can send something – with photos, text and incident location details that go directly to Transit Police.

“If you see something, say something” is a public safety campaign widely promoted by railway transit systems and airports worldwide. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is promoting “See Something Say Something” to urge citizens to be alert and to help keep each other safe.

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Google Calls Its Report on Government Takedown Requests “Troubling,” “Free Expression Is At Risk”

Via Google’s Official Blog:

About two years ago, we launched our interactive Transparency Report. We started by disclosing data about government requests. Since then, we’ve been steadily adding new features, like graphs showing traffic patterns and disruptions to Google services from different countries. And just a couple weeks ago, we launched a new section showing the requests we get from copyright holders to remove search results.

The traffic and copyright sections of the Transparency Report are refreshed in near-real-time, but government request data is updated in six-month increments because it’s a people-driven, manual process. Today we’re releasing data showing government requests to remove blog posts or videos or hand over user information made from July to December 2011.

Unfortunately, what we’ve seen over the past couple years has been troubling, and today is no different. When we started releasing this data in 2010, we also added annotations with some of the more interesting stories behind the numbers.

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United Kingdom Proposes Mega Archive Of Citizens’ Internet Activity, Phone Calls, And Messaging

To stay positive, think of it as the creation of a giant quilted tapestry, weaving together everything anyone in the country says or does. Via the Washington Post:

British authorities on Thursday unveiled an ambitious plan to log details about every Web visit, email, phone call or text message in the U.K. — and in a sharply-worded editorial the nation’s top law enforcement official accused those worried about the surveillance program of being either criminals or conspiracy theorists.

The surveillance proposed in the government’s 118-page draft bill would provide authorities a remarkably rich picture of their citizens’ day-to-day lives, tracking nearly everything they do online, over the phone, or even through the post.

Home Office Secretary Theresa May said in an editorial published ahead of the bill’s unveiling that only evil-doers should be frightened. “Without changing the law the only freedom we would protect is that of criminals, terrorists and pedophiles,” she said.

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Companies Most Compliant With Big Brother Include Verizon, AT&T, Apple, Microsoft, Foursquare

A report from the Electronic Frontier Foundation compares eighteen major internet companies’ willingness to hand over users’ personal information to authorities. Twitter, Google, and Dropbox are among those who get good marks for resisting Big Brother-type demands from government:

When you use the Internet, you entrust your online conversations, thoughts, experiences, locations, photos, and more to companies like Google, AT&T and Facebook. But what happens when the government demands that these companies to hand over your private information? Will the company stand with you?

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Another REAL ID Deadline Bites the Dust

So says Ryan Holeywell on Governing:
States are sounding the alarm over a federal policy that would require them to overhaul their systems for issuing driver's licenses, arguing it’s a massive unfunded mandate that will be incredibly difficult to implement. If you think you’ve heard this before, you are right. In 2005, following a recommendation from the 9/11 Commission, Congress passed the REAL ID Act. The law was designed to shore up the security of state-issued identification cards in an effort to thwart terrorists and others who use fake IDs to facilitate their crimes. Fast-forward seven years and REAL ID has yet to be fully implemented. Now, as another deadline approaches, states are once again scrambling to meet it and requesting more flexibility. But should they really be concerned? Federal officials have consistently delayed REAL ID implementation to give states more time to comply. The most recent delay came in March 2011, and today the deadline for states to come into “material compliance” with the law is Jan. 15, 2013. For practical purposes, however, it’s even sooner: States must provide final documentation to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) by Oct. 15. State officials say they’re taking this deadline seriously, despite the feds’ track record...
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Selling Software That Kills

Syrian Uprising MapWrites Jon Evans on TechCrunch:

The government of Syria uses made-in-California technology from BlueCoat Systems to censor the Internet and spy on its pro-democracy activists (who are regularly arrested and tortured, not to mention slaughtered wholesale.) Amesys of France and FinFisher of the UK aided brutal dictators in Egypt and Libya. Sweden’s Teliasonera allegedly took up the same cudgel in Belarus, Uzbekistan, Azerbaijan, Tajikistan, Georgia and Kazakhstan. McAfee and Nokia Siemens have done the same in Bahrain, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait.

Meanwhile, back in the USA, Bain Capital recently bought a Chinese video-surveillance company reportedly “used to intimidate and monitor political and religious dissidents,” and Cisco “has marketed its routers to China specifically as a tool of repression.” You can’t help but be impressed by how globalized the oppression-technology industry has become.

So what privacy/surveillance story caused an eruption of outrage this week? Yes, you guessed it: SceneTap, a startup that uses facial-recognition software to (anonymously) track demographics at bars and clubs in major American cities in real time.

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Kuwait’s Top Book Censor Discusses Her Job

getimage1-uspostersWondering what it’s like to decide what knowledge is outlawed? The head of book censorship at Kuwait’s Ministry of Information explains how one goes about becoming a censor and defends the practice as a skilled art. The Kuwait Times writes:

The censors who are responsible for censoring books and other publications do an interesting job, which becomes harder during some periods of the year, yet it seems they enjoy it. In Kuwait, freedoms are respected yet within certain limits.

Dalal Al-Mutairi, head of the Foreign Books Department at the Ministry of Information [says]: “Many people consider the censor to be a fanatic and uneducated person, but this isn’t true. We are the most literate people as we have read much, almost every day. We read books for children, religious books, political, philosophical, scientific ones and many others.”

Working as a censor is interesting. “I like this work. It gives us experience, information and we always learn something new.

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Drones for Domestic Surveillance (Video)

Via RT America:
In January of 2012, the US Congress passed legislation that will open up the US sky to unmanned drones. The robotic aircraft will be used for military and police operations and will add to America's current arsenal of around 7,000 drones. According to some accounts, peaceful protest might be a reason that feds would deploy the unmanned craft. There are currently 300 active drone permits in the US, but will that soon swell out of control? Amie Stepanovich, a member of the National Security Council for EPIC, joins us for more.
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