Tag Archives | Surveillance

We can’t expect intelligence services to prevent every terrorist attack

Todd Kopriva (CC BY 2.0)

Todd Kopriva (CC BY 2.0)

By Damien Van Puyvelde, University of Texas at El Paso

The recent events in Paris have once again cast doubts on the ability of French intelligence to provide national security.

Following the attacks, French Prime Minister Manuel Valls did not hesitate to admit to a lapse in security. The two Kouachi brothers, responsible for killing 12 people, were well known to French intelligence agents and for a time closely tracked. Yet they managed to slip through.

This is particularly troubling since the French domestic intelligence services (DGSI) were reformed in 2008 and again in 2014 following the attacks carried by Mohamed Merah, a French citizen who gunned down several French soldiers and Jewish schoolchildren in three separate incidents.

The apparent recurrence of intelligence failures in France and elsewhere has long been debated by security experts, and ultimately begs the question: what can be expected from intelligence services?… Read the rest

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All the Creepy Ways Big Brother Is Watching You

1984

John W. Whitehead Via Activist Post:

“You had to live—did live, from habit that became instinct—in the assumption that every sound you made was overheard, and, except in darkness, every movement scrutinized.”
—George Orwell, 1984

None of us are perfect. All of us bend the rules occasionally. Even before the age of overcriminalization, when the most upstanding citizen could be counted on to break at least three laws a day without knowing it, most of us have knowingly flouted the law from time to time.

Indeed, there was a time when most Americans thought nothing of driving a few miles over the speed limit, pausing (rather than coming to a full stop) at a red light when making a right-hand turn if no one was around, jaywalking across the street, and letting their kid play hookie from school once in a while. Of course, that was before the era of speed cameras that ticket you for going even a mile over the posted limit, red light cameras that fine you for making safe “rolling stop” right-hand turns on red, surveillance cameras equipped with facial recognition software mounted on street corners, and school truancy laws that fine parents for “unexcused” absences.

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The NSA hides surveillance software in hard drives

Pawel Loj (CC BY 2.0)

Pawel Loj (CC BY 2.0)

Jon Fingas (@jonfingas) via Engadget:

It’s been known for a while that the NSA will intercept and bug equipment to spy on its soon-to-be owners, but the intellgency [sic] agency’s techniques are apparently more clever than first thought. Security researchers at Kaspersky Lab have discovered apparently state-created spyware buried in the firmware of hard drives from big names like Seagate, Toshiba and Western Digital. When present, the code lets snoops collect data and map networks that would otherwise be inaccessible — all they need to retrieve info is for an unwitting user to insert infected storage (such as a CD or USB drive) into an internet-connected PC. The malware also isn’t sitting in regular storage, so you can’t easily get rid of it or even detect it.

Kaspersky isn’t explicitly naming the culprits, but it also isn’t shy about pointing a finger in the US government’s direction.

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Twitter’s Latest Transparency Report

Every 6 months, Twitter releases a statement that outlines government requests for information on its users. They’ve released their latest report, though it has been heavily redacted.

In October, Twitter sued the US government “to allow it to release more information (the case is still pending), and today, the government allowed Twitter to publish a heavily redacted version of a letter the company drafted to inform its users about surveillance requests.”

Screen-shot-2015-02-09-at-9.39.59-AM

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War Is the New Normal

Moyan Brenn (CC BY 2.0)

Moyan Brenn (CC BY 2.0)

Via William J. Astore at TomDispatch:

It was launched immediately after the 9/11 attacks, when I was still in the military, and almost immediately became known as the Global War on Terror, or GWOT.  Pentagon insiders called it “the long war,” an open-ended, perhaps unending, conflict against nations and terror networks mainly of a radical Islamist bent.  It saw the revival of counterinsurgency doctrine, buried in the aftermath of defeat in Vietnam, and a reinterpretation of that disaster as well.  Over the years, its chief characteristic became ever clearer: a “Groundhog Day” kind of repetition.  Just when you thought it was over (Iraq, Afghanistan), just after victory (of a sort) was declared, it began again.

Now, as we find ourselves enmeshed in Iraq War 3.0, what better way to memorialize the post-9/11 American way of war than through repetition.  Back in July 2010, I wrote an article for TomDispatch on the seven reasons why America can’t stop making war.  More than four years later, with the war on terror still ongoing, with the mission eternally unaccomplished, here’s a fresh take on the top seven reasons why never-ending war is the new normal in America.  In this sequel, I make only one promise: no declarations of victory (and mark it on your calendars, I’m planning to be back with seven new reasons in 2019).

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The loneliness of the long-distance drone pilot

Aaron Sankin via The Kernel:

Bruce Black had been preparing for this moment for most of his life.

Growing up, he always wanted to be a pilot. After graduating from New Mexico State University in 1984 with a degree in geology, Black was commissioned as an officer in the Air Force. He spent years as an instructor pilot before quitting to join the FBI, where he specialized in chasing down white-collar criminals, but the pull of military was too strong. He eventually found himself in the air above Afghanistan.

Black flew constantly. Once, in the spring of 2007, Black’s job was to serve as another set of eyes high above a firefight happening on the ground. An Army convoy had been patrolling near a site of a previous strike and gotten ambushed by Taliban fighters while returning to base. Black was acting as a crucial communications relay, sending life-and-death updates back and forth from the men and women on the ground to the Pentagon and a network of support staff located around the world through the military’s version of the Internet.

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Rollerball Amerika 2015

rollerballdvdVia Philip A. Farruggio – World News Trust:

You must see or revisit Norman Jewison’s 1975 film Rollerball, starring James Caan as superstar player Jonathan E.

In it, we see a world no longer made up of countries, but of corporations that control every bit of life for the people. There are no longer wars, just a complacent populace who “go along to get along.”

A very select few are chosen by the corporations to become executives, giving them elite status. It seems everyone loves the violent sport Rollerball, which is like our current NFL football on steroids.

Jonathan E. is their Michael Jordan or Lebron James superplayer who is revered worldwide, even by the fans of opposing teams. He has everything a man could wish to have: a fine sprawling ranch, with servants and horses, and gorgeous female companions chosen for him by the Energy corporation that rules Houston and the surrounding areas.

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American Fascism

frames w english subtitles from the anti-fascist movie 'ordinary fascism' (Обыкновенный фашизм, 1965)

frames w english subtitles from the anti-fascist movie ‘ordinary fascism’ (Обыкновенный фашизм, 1965)
Karl-Ludwig Poggemann (CC BY 2.0)

 

By Laurence W. Britt via Information Clearing House:

The cliché that people and nations learn from history is not only overused, but also overestimated; often we fail to learn from history, or draw the wrong conclusions. Sadly, historical amnesia is the norm.

 We are two-and-a-half generations removed from the horrors of Nazi Germany, although constant reminders jog the consciousness. German and Italian fascism form the historical models that define this twisted political worldview. Although they no longer exist, this worldview and the characteristics of these models have been imitated by protofascist1 regimes at various times in the twentieth century. Both the original German and Italian models and the later protofascist regimes show remarkably similar characteristics. Although many scholars question any direct connection among these regimes, few can dispute their visual similarities.

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If Obama Gets His Way, Sharing This Story Will Soon Be a Felony

Johan Larsson (CC BY 2.0)

Johan Larsson (CC BY 2.0)

Gregory Krieg Via Policy.Mic

On Jan. 20, this website published a story titled, “If This Is Your Password, Change It Immediately.” The article included a list of the 25 personal passwords — “password” and “abc123″ among them — most commonly found in databases of personal account information routinely leaked by hackers. The material came from SplashData, an internet security firm that seeks out vulnerable targets and reports on them to an often endangered public. The list of passwords appeared in various forms on outlets including CBS NewsNPR and the BBC, to name a few.

Later that night, President Barack Obama in his State of the Union address made the case for a new proposal to rewrite and tighten federal cybersecurity laws, so that no “foreign nation” or “hacker” would have the ability to “shut down our networks, steal our trade secrets or invade the privacy of American families.

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