Tag Archives | Surveillance

Under the Global Shadow of Big Brother, Journalism Must Light Up the Political Sky

GSM base station 2Every new revelation about the global reach of the National Security Agency underscores that the extremism of the surveillance state has reached gargantuan proportions. The Washington Post just reported that the NSA “is gathering nearly 5 billion records a day on the whereabouts of cellphones around the world.” Documents provided by whistleblower Edward Snowden have forced top officials in Washington to admit the indefensible while defending it. One of the main obstacles to further expansion of their Orwellian empire is real journalism.

Real journalism is “subversive” of deception that can’t stand the light of day. This is a huge problem for the Obama administration and the many surveillance-state flunkies of both parties in Congress. What they want is fake journalism, deferring to government storylines and respectful of authority even when it is illegitimate.

In motion now, on both sides of the Atlantic, are top-down efforts to quash real journalism when and how it matters most.… Read the rest

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NSA’s Secret Plan To Spy On Radicals’ Internet Porn Habits

In the recently published satirical novel by Dave Eggers The Circle, any politician or opponent of the omnipotent social media monolith that is at the center of the plot is derailed with revelations of their Internet porn habits. As it turns out, that was exactly the plan of the good ole NSA (National Security Agency), at least until Edward Snowden screwed things up. From Huffington Post:

The National Security Agency has been gathering records of online sexual activity and evidence of visits to pornographic websites as part of a proposed plan to harm the reputations of those whom the agency believes are radicalizing others through incendiary speeches, according to a top-secret NSA document. The document, provided by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden, identifies six targets, all Muslims, as “exemplars” of how “personal vulnerabilities” can be learned through electronic surveillance, and then exploited to undermine a target’s credibility, reputation and authority.

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China’s Smog Problem Is Reportedly Impairing the Country’s Surveillance Networks

chinaKatie Drummond writing at the Verge:

The dense clouds of smog that sometimes blanket cities in China have myriad ramifications: they close businesses and schools, force residents indoors for days at a time, and are a notorious health hazard. They’re reportedly also, as the Chinese government is now acutely aware, a danger to national security.

Extensive networks of surveillance cameras in major Chinese cities are essentially useless during severe bouts of smog, according to a new report from the South China Morning Post. An estimated 20 million cameras have become a pervasive presence in the country, but they can’t operate through thick layers of particulate matter that characterize smog pollution. And as smoggy days become more common, authorities reportedly worry that criminal and terror activity will increase.

Unfortunately, that doesn’t mean officials are looking to curb pollution levels. Rather, they’re funding two research programs to design new security cameras that can cut through all that haze — and looking for solutions within four years.

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America’s Plan to Kill Online Privacy Rights Everywhere

Dilma Roussef graffitiThe United States of America is shaping up as the evil totalitarian state of the 21st Century if this report from Foreign Policy‘s The Cable is correct:

The United States and its key intelligence allies are quietly working behind the scenes to kneecap a mounting movement in the United Nations to promote a universal human right to online privacy, according to diplomatic sources and an internal American government document obtained by The Cable.

The diplomatic battle is playing out in an obscure U.N. General Assembly committee that is considering a proposal by Brazil and Germany to place constraints on unchecked internet surveillance by the National Security Agency and other foreign intelligence services. American representatives have made it clear that they won’t tolerate such checks on their global surveillance network. The stakes are high, particularly in Washington — which is seeking to contain an international backlash against NSA spying – and in Brasilia, where Brazilian President Dilma Roussef is personally involved in monitoring the U.N.

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NSA Files: Decoded

Leave it to a foreign news organization to really dig into the National Security Agency’s surveillance files. One imagines that the NSA and other US government agencies would make it “impractical” for American purveyors of “news” to attempt anything similar. Great multimedia presentation too, from The Guardian:

When Edward Snowden met journalists in his cramped room in Hong Kong’s Mira hotel in June, his mission was ambitious. Amid the clutter of laundry, meal trays and his four laptops, he wanted to start a debate about mass surveillance. He succeeded beyond anything the journalists or Snowden himself ever imagined. His disclosures about the NSA resonated with Americans from day one. But they also exploded round the world. For some, like Congresswoman Zoe Lofgren, it is a vitally important issue, one of the biggest of our time: nothing less than the defence of democracy in the digital age.

Guardian NSA

But the intelligence agencies dismiss such claims, arguing that their programs are constitutional, and subject to rigorous congressional and judicial oversight.

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CIA Grabbing Data On Money Transfers Using Patriot Act

CIAOne senses that this is only the tip of the iceberg, but nonetheless the CIA’s bulk collection of international money transfer details is making headlines today; this report from CNN:

The CIA is collecting bulk records on international money transfers, using the same Patriot Act legal authority that has become the center of controversy in U.S. surveillance programs, a source told CNN.

A person familiar with the program said the agency’s efforts are an outgrowth of terror finance-tracking programs that were established in the wake of the September 11, 2001, terror attacks and revealed that al Qaeda funded the hijackers using methods such as smuggled cash, money transfers, and credit and debit cards.

The Treasury Department and the National Security Agency have other programs that similarly focus on financial transaction data. The CIA program provides some redundancies intended to catch transactions that may not draw attention in other programs.

The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times first reported the existence of the CIA program Thursday night, saying it has sparked concerns from lawmakers.

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AT&T Sells Call Data To CIA For $10 Million Per Year

towerThis of course raises the question, are you the telecom’s customer, or their product? The New York Times reports:

The C.I.A. is paying AT&T more than $10 million a year to assist with overseas counterterrorism investigations by exploiting the company’s vast database of phone records, which includes Americans’ international calls, according to government officials.

The cooperation is conducted under a voluntary contract, not under subpoenas or court orders compelling the company to participate. AT&T searches its database and provides records of calls that may help identify foreign associates, the officials said. The company has a huge archive of data on phone calls, both foreign and domestic, that were handled by its network equipment, not just those of its own customers.

The disclosure sheds further light on the ties between intelligence officials and communications service providers.

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Seattle Police Department Has Network That Can Track All Wi-Fi Devices

trackingThe mesh network is looking out for you! Via the Raw Story:

The Seattle Police Department purchased a “mesh network” in February that will be used by emergency responders, which will be capable of tracking anyone with Wi-Fi enabled device.

The network is not yet turned on, according to Seattle Police, but once it is, it will be able to determine the IP address, device type, downloaded applications, current location, and historical location of any device that searches for a Wi-Fi signal. The network is capable of storing that information for the previous 1,000 times a particular device attempted to access a Wi-Fi signal.

Jamela Debelak, of the American Civil Liberties Union (ALCU), is worried that police will use the network for more than just coordinating emergency responders; “Once these kinds of tools are in place, they don’t go away.”

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Big Brother’s Loyal Sister: How Dianne Feinstein Is Betraying Civil Liberties

Diane Feinstein

Diane Feinstein

Ever since the first big revelations about the National Security Agency five months ago, Dianne Feinstein has been in overdrive to defend the surveillance state. As chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee, she generates an abundance of fog, weasel words, anti-whistleblower slander and bogus notions of reform — while methodically stabbing civil liberties in the back.

Feinstein’s powerful service to Big Brother, reaching new heights in recent months, is just getting started. She’s hard at work to muddy all the waters of public discourse she can — striving to protect the NSA from real legislative remedies while serving as a key political enabler for President Obama’s shameless abuse of the First, Fourth and Fifth Amendments.

Last Sunday, on CBS, when Feinstein told “Face the Nation” viewers that Edward Snowden has done “enormous disservice to our country,” it was one of her more restrained smears. In June, when Snowden first went public as a whistleblower, Feinstein quickly declared that he had committed “an act of treason.” Since then, she has refused to tone down the claim.… Read the rest

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Notorious Arizona Sheriff Sheriff Joe Arpaio To Deploy Unmanned Drones

SheriffJoePhoenix’s ABC15 reports on the forging ahead with new forms of corrupt policing:

Arpaio confirms to ABC15 he has a plan to use drones, if he can get them. While Arpaio didn’t specify exactly the types of drones he wants, at a Tuesday press conference, he said the models they’re eyeing are between $5,000 and $20,000, and he’d like them outfitted with cameras and infrared capabilities.

The first drone, if obtained, would circle or hover in the areas above Arpaio’s jails, he explained. “Surveillance regarding crime scenes and drugs, catching dope peddlers,” Arpaio described.

When asked about people’s privacy, Arpaio responded without hesitation. “Privacy in the jails? Privacy for criminals, privacy for those with drugs? They better watch out.”

As for the cost of the drones, Arpaio says the money would come mainly through drug seizure dollars. “Isn’t it great? It would be the criminals buying these to arrest more criminals,” said Arpaio.

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