Tag Archives | Privacy

Even The FBI Had Privacy Concerns on License Plate Readers

Wired reports on the ACLU’s document request showing that the FBI paused for thought on whether or not the use of license plate readers might violate Americans’ privacy rights. Whatever reservations their lawyers may have had, the bosses at the Bureau clearly ignored them, as evidenced by the fact that the readers are very much in use:

Law enforcement’s use of automated license plate readers has drawn increasing controversy in recent years amid concerns that the devices pose a threat to privacy. Now, internal documents show that the FBI, based on a recommendation from its own lawyers, was told to stop buying the devices for a time in 2012.

Photo: dickelbers (CC)

Photo: dickelbers (CC)

 

The documents, obtained by the American Civil Liberties Union through a public records request, show the FBI’s own Office of General Counsel was grappling with concerns about the agency’s use of the technology and the apparent lack of a cohesive government policy to protect the civil liberties of citizens whose vehicles are photographed by the readers.

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NSA’s Big Defenders Cash Big NSA Checks

Kevin Dooley (CC BY 2.0)

Kevin Dooley (CC BY 2.0)

via Lee Fang at The Intercept:

The debate over the NSA’s bulk collection of phone records has reached a critical point after a federal appeals court last week ruled the practice illegal, dramatically raising the stakes for pending Congressional legislation that would fully or partially reinstate the program. An army of pundits promptly took to television screens, with many of them brushing off concerns about the surveillance.

The talking heads have been backstopping the NSA’s mass surveillance more or less continuously since it was revealed. They spoke out to support the agency when NSA contractor Edward Snowden released details of its programs in 2013, and they’ve kept up their advocacy ever since — on television news shows, newspaper op-ed pages, online and at Congressional hearings. But it’s often unclear just how financially cozy these pundits are with the surveillance state they defend, since they’re typically identified with titles that give no clues about their conflicts of interest.

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CPD Still Stonewalling Privacy Advocates On Releasing Information About Surveillance

A Chicago Police officer films protesters and a journalist at the NATO demonstrations in 2012 (photo courtesy of Kate Harnedy)

A Chicago Police officer films protesters and a journalist at the NATO demonstrations in 2012 (photo courtesy of Kate Harnedy)

Aaron Cynic writes at Chicagoist:

Privacy advocates filed another lawsuit yesterday in the ongoing battle to get the Chicago Police Department to provide information on the covert cell phone tracking systems it uses. Activist Freddy Martinez, who has filed similar suits twice before, filed one against the Cook County State’s Attorney’s office yesterday via Loevy and Loevy, a civil rights law firm. According to a press release from the firm, the suit charges the State’s Attorney has:

“Willfully and intentionally violated FOIA by refusing to produce records related to the presentation of evidence obtained through use of cell site simulators on the basis that it would be too ‘burdensome’ and is insufficiently important to justify the work involved to produce the records.”

The Chicago Police Department is one of many law enforcement agencies employing technologies such as Stingray, a brand-name and generic term for a device which mimics cell phone towers and collect data from phone calls, texts and more.… Read the rest

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Kris Kuksi’s ‘False-Patriot Revolution’

Disinfo.com features this iconic work by an artist making some of the most influential and recognizable art of our time.

Kris Kuksi ‘False-Patriot Revolution’ was exhibited at the Mark Moore Gallery, Los Angeles

KRIS KUKSI – Antiquity in the Faux Nov 15 – Dec 20, 2014 | All photos by Kris Kuksi.

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Kris Kuksi’s ‘False-Patriot Revolution’

Kris Kuksi Interview with Disinformation

Disinfo: What can you tell us about the guillotine piece  ‘False-Patriot Revolution’?

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U.S. Secretly Tracked Billions Of Calls For Decades

Phone pole3.jpg

Did you think it was just the NSA that was tracking your phone calls? Turns out that the US Justice Department and Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) have been doing it for decades in furtherance of the so-called war on drugs, reports USA Today:

The U.S. government started keeping secret records of Americans’ international telephone calls nearly a decade before the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, harvesting billions of calls in a program that provided a blueprint for the far broader National Security Agency surveillance that followed.

For more than two decades, the Justice Department and the Drug Enforcement Administration amassed logs of virtually all telephone calls from the USA to as many as 116 countries linked to drug trafficking, current and former officials involved with the operation said. The targeted countries changed over time but included Canada, Mexico and most of Central and South America.

Federal investigators used the call records to track drug cartels’ distribution networks in the USA, allowing agents to detect previously unknown trafficking rings and money handlers.

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CCTV Looking Out For Them Not You

cctv advocates reading list
Essential reading for all CCTV advocates

How did the United Kingdom, a country that supposedly had such high regard for individual freedom, fall under the spell of an all pervasive surveillance state? To understand how the spell was cast and why it was effective, we need to look back to the 1990s when the CCTV camera gold rush began in earnest.

A key catalyst was the manufacture of consent — the government, assisted by its trusted media, went on a charm offensive to create support for CCTV cameras. Despite the fact that the technology was untested and therefore had no evidence in support of their claims, they promoted cameras as a magical solution to fix all of society’s ills.

Central government funding and the creation of the CCTV myth

In the 1990s, the central government invited local councils to bid for funding in a series of “competitions” called “City Challenge”. Shortly after the announcement of one such funding round in 1994, the Home Office published a guidance document entitled ‘CCTV – Looking out for you’ [1].… Read the rest

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David and Goliath: What do we do about surveillance?

Jonathan McIntosh (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Jonathan McIntosh (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Douglas Heaven via New Scientist:

“DEAR subscriber, you have been registered as a participant in a mass disturbance.” This text was sent by the Ukrainian government last year to everyone with a cellphone known to have been near a protest in the capital, Kiev.

Just what you’d expect from an ex-Soviet country? Not so fast. In the US and Europe, police are also seeking information on phones linked to specific places and times – and always without a warrant. We’re all spied on. Our phones are bugged, our laptops inveterate informants. Reports on activities that define you – where you go, who you meet, what you buy – are sold to the highest bidder. But do we notice? And do we care?

Bruce Schneier does his best to make us do both. But it’s tough: as it fades into the background, surveillance gets easier to ignore.

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ACLU Report: Chicago Now The Stop And Frisk Capital of U.S.

Doug Siefken (CC BY 2.0)

Doug Siefken (CC BY 2.0)

Aaron Cynic writes at Chicagoist:

Chicago Police are leading the way now in “stop-and-frisk,” surpassing even New York City’s use of the controversial practice. According to a report released by the Illinois American Civil Liberties Union yesterday, CPD conducted a quarter million stops that did not lead to an arrest, with Chicagoans being stopped more than 4 times as often as people in New York.

“Chicago has been systematically abusing this practice, for reasons that are not justified by our constitution,” said Harvey Grossman legal director for the Illinois ACLU.

As in New York (and many other places nationwide), the stops disproportionately target people of color. African Americans were subjected to 72 percent of all stops and more stops occur per capita in neighborhoods populated predominantly by people of color. On average, 93.6 per 1,000 Chicagoans were stopped. In Englewood, that number jumps to 266 per 1,000 but around Lincoln/Foster, it’s 43 per 1,000.… Read the rest

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Technology should be used to create social mobility – not to spy on citizens

Private eyes are watching you: the British government communications headquarters (GCHQ) is monitoring the communications of millions of people. Photograph: GCHQ / British Ministry of Defence/EPA

Private eyes are watching you: the British government communications headquarters (GCHQ) is monitoring the communications of millions of people. Photograph: GCHQ / British Ministry of Defence/EPA

Cory Doctorow via The Guardian:

Why spy? That’s the several-million pound question, in the wake of the Snowden revelations. Why would the US continue to wiretap its entire population, given that the only “terrorism” they caught with it was a single attempt to send a small amount of money to Al Shabab?

One obvious answer is: because they can. Spying is cheap, and cheaper every day. Many people have compared NSA/GCHQ mass spying to the surveillance programme of East Germany’s notorious Stasi, but the differences between theNSA and the Stasi are more interesting than the similarities.

The most important difference is size. The Stasi employed one snitch for every 50 or 60 people it watched. We can’t be sure of the size of the entire Five Eyes global surveillance workforce, but there are only about 1.4 million Americans with Top Secret clearance, and many of them don’t work at or for the NSA, which means that the number is smaller than that (the other Five Eyes states have much smaller workforces than the US).

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Google Becomes Ministry of Truth

Carlos Luna (CC BY 2.0)

Carlos Luna (CC BY 2.0)

There’s no way this can go horribly wrong, right?

Jon Rappoport via War is Crime:

“…if all records told the same tale — then the lie passed into history and became truth.” (George Orwell,1984)

The New Scientist has the stunning story (2/28/15, “Google wants to rank websites based on facts not links,” by Hal Hodson):

“The internet is stuffed with garbage. Anti-vaccination websites make the front page of Google, and fact-free ‘news’ stories spread like wildfire. Google has devised a fix — rank websites according to their truthfulness.”

Great idea, right? Sure it is.

The author of the article lets the cat out of the bag right away with his comment about “anti-vaccination” websites. These sites will obviously be shoved into obscurity by Google because they’re “garbage”…whereas “truthful” pro-vaccine sites will dominate top ranked pages on the search engine.

This is wonderful if you believe what the CDC tells you about vaccine safety and efficacy.

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