Tag Archives | Security

Rep. Proposes Enclosing Congress Within Plexiglas Bubble

United-States-CongressNo, it’s not an Onion headline. Indiana Republican Dan Burton wants to encase the House of Representatives within impenetrable Plexiglas for protection from the outside world. CBS News writes:

An aide to Rep. Dan Burton (R-Ind.) tells CBS News that the Indiana Republican plans to introduce legislation next week that would encase the House Gallery in “a transparent and substantial material” such as Plexiglas that would keep members of the public from being able to throw explosives or make other attacks on members on the House floor.

Burton has introduced similar legislation in the past. It reads in part, “The Architect of the Capitol shall enclose the visitors’ galleries of the House of Representatives with a transparent and substantial material, and shall install equipment so that the proceedings on the floor of the House of Representatives will be clearly audible in the galleries.”

A past version of the legislation, which will be reintroduced in the wake of the shooting of Rep.

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BrumiLeaks, CCTV and the Attempted Murder of Democracy


Brummie: a native of the British city of Birmingham.
— Oxford English Dictionary

Whilst the WikiLeaks founder was languishing in a prison cell in London, a storm was brewing in England’s second largest city Birmingham, where leaked emails reveal the lengths that advocates of surveillance cameras will go to further their agenda. The BrumiLeaks may appear less controversial than the WikiLeaks that have dominated mainstream headlines in recent weeks, but they do more to lift the lid on just how the surveillance state continues its steady creep forward and why eternal vigilance is required by freedom loving citizens. A perfect example of what is happening the world over – for Birmingham read a town near you.

The Birmingham story so far …

Last month Birmingham City Council was named and shamed as the UK local authority that had spent the most on surveillance cameras between 2007 and 2010 [1]. The council and police in Birmingham also found themselves embroiled in a public relations disaster after they failed to properly consult residents about the installation of hundreds of CCTV and Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) cameras in leafy Birmingham suburbs – part of a project named ‘Project Champion’.… Read the rest

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The Lobbyists Behind ‘Naked Scanners’

full.body.scan[1]Wondering what exactly prompted the TSA to adopt the outrage-provoking “nude body scanners”, which are both controversial and of questionable effectiveness? The Washington Examiner explains:

The degradations of passing through full-body scanners that provide naked pictures of you to Transportation Security Administration agents may not mean that the terrorists have won — but they do mark victories for a few politically connected high-tech companies and their revolving-door lobbyists.

Many experts and critics suspect that the full-body “naked scanners” recently deployed at U.S. airports do little to make us more secure, and a lot to make us angry, embarrassed and late. For instance, the scanners can’t see through skin, and so weapons or explosives can be hidden safely in body cavities.

But this is government we’re talking about. A program or product doesn’t need to be effective, it only needs to have a good lobby. And the naked-scanner lobby is small but well-connected.

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Engineer Invents Underwear To Protect Privacy At Airport

Shielding Underwear

Rocky Flats Gear/AP

If it’s easy enough for an engineer to manufacture underwear to maintain some privacy when going through the body scanners, how long before people wear entire outfits like this rendering the scans useless. The New York Daily News reports:

While holiday travelers may not get through this week without a Transportation Security Administration agent touching their junk, a man in Colorado has a new invention he says will prevent anyone from looking at it.

Jeff Buske has created a special kind of underwear with strategically placed fig-leaf designs he says will shield TSA scanners from viewing fliers’ private parts and keep travelers safe from radiation emitted from the notorious “backscatter” x-ray machines.

Buske, an engineer, said his briefs, bras and inserts, which he’s marketing under the name Rocky Top Gear, use a special metal that protects people’s privacy when undergoing medical or security screenings.

“The object is…to protect the public, educate people and ultimately see these X-ray machines put in the Dumpster,” Buske told CBS4 Denver.
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How To Israel-ify America’s Airport Security

c1a61f52fdee1e3e142f9c0130e7_grandeSecurity screening at North American airports is inconvenient and invasive, yet at times seems as if it’s all for show. How could it be done better? In Israel, they examine behavior rather than shoes or crotches. The Toronto Star enlightens us:

While North America’s airports groan under the weight of another sea-change in security protocols, one word keeps popping out of the mouths of experts: Israelification.

That is, how can we make our airports more like Israel’s, which deal with far greater terror threat with far less inconvenience. Despite facing dozens of potential threats each day, the security set-up at Israel’s largest hub, Tel Aviv’s Ben Gurion Airport, has not been breached since 2002. How do they manage that?

The first layer of actual security that greets travellers at Tel Aviv’s Ben Gurion International Airport is a roadside check. All drivers are stopped and asked two questions: How are you? Where are you coming from?

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Fighting Monkeys With Monkeys…

The more we train our fellow primates for tasks once relegated to human beings, the closer we are as a species to seeing the Statue of Liberty half-submerged in a shoreline. Sara Sidner writes on CNN: Grey Langur Monkey
New Delhi, India — Chotu is not happy to see visitors. He is busy scratching himself and intensely surveying his surroundings when he's approached.
He and his buddies Pinki and Mangu are in the middle of their eight-hour shifts. They have important jobs to do. They are some of more than 100,000 security forces protecting people during the Commonwealth Games in New Delhi.
But Chotu and his gang are a special force trained to put a stop to any monkeying around near the stadiums. Chotu, Pinki and Mangu are langur monkeys. Their trainers said each one has the ability to scare off 50 potential attackers — namely the wild smaller macaque monkeys that roam the streets and buildings of Delhi. The wild monkeys are known for some naughty habits. You can't blame the macaques; they're just being themselves. The wild monkeys are in a densely populated city where they occasionally have run-ins with humans — especially if there is a chance to snatch some food.
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Internet Eyes Citizen Spy Game – The New Stasi?

Liberty lies in the hearts of men and women; when it dies there, no constitution, no law, no court can save it…
– Judge Learned Hand, ‘The Spirit of Liberty’ speech (1944)

The launch of Internet Eyes on 4th October (as part of a three month trial) marks another disturbing chapter in Britain’s surveillance society.

Internet EyesIn the autumn of 2009 Internet Eyes Limited hit the headlines when they announced their desire to launch a CCTV game that they were keen to claim was not a game. Private individuals would subscribe to private camera feeds connected to the internet and spy on people going about their business, with a cash prize each month for the person who reports the most infringements. The game is now being launched as part of a three month trial at 12 shops (including Costcutter and Spar franchises) in towns including Reading, Wokingham and Newton Abbott.

The UK’s Information Commissioner has put private profit above personal privacy in allowing a private company to launch its Stasi style citizen spy game rather than defending the rights of British citizens.… Read the rest

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Speed Cameras, ANPR and Project Columbus

Photo: Kaihsu Ta (CC)

Photo: Kaihsu Ta (CC)

– The expansion of automated checkpoints around the UK

Data Protection expert Chris Pounder of Amberhawk Training[1] has warned that moves by UK local authorities to remove speed cameras could lead to an increase in Automatic Number Plate Recognition or ANPR cameras. In a recent blog post ‘Data Protection and surveillance: swapping the speed camera for ANPR?'[2] Pounder suggests that as speed cameras are removed, more accidents could occur so that over time, there will be increased public pressure to do something to counter the rising accident rate, and he says: “ANPR installations (which only need a few cameras) will be the technological fix of choice”. Pounder goes on:

In this way, specific surveillance of an accident black spot by a speed camera (which only captures the image of speeding cars breaking the law) is replaced by general surveillance of all vehicles passing the cameras (where records of date, time, driver details, location are all retained for possibly up to 5 years).

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Body Scanner Vans: Are They In Your Neighborhood?

Via Allen Greenberg's blog at Forbes:
As the privacy controversy around full-body security scans begins to simmer, it’s worth noting that courthouses and airport security checkpoints aren’t the only places where backscatter x-ray vision is being deployed. The same technology, capable of seeing through clothes and walls, has also been rolling out on U.S. streets. American Science & Engineering, a company based in Billerica, Massachusetts, has sold U.S. and foreign government agencies more than 500 backscatter x-ray scanners mounted in vans that can be driven past neighboring vehicles to see their contents, Joe Reiss, a vice president of marketing at the company told me in an interview. While the biggest buyer of AS&E’s machines over the last seven years has been the Department of Defense operations in Afghanistan and Iraq, Reiss says law enforcement agencies have also deployed the vans to search for vehicle-based bombs in the U.S.
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