Tag Archives | Surveillance

1984 Action Day, 8th June – Orwell as Relevant as Ever

On 8th June 1949 George Orwell published his novel ‘1984’. It was a warning of the society that would emerge if the totalitarian thinking he believed had taken root in the minds of intellectuals and policymakers everywhere was left unchecked.

Sixty-six years later we find that Orwell’s novel resonates as strongly as ever.

Democratic governments around the world are enacting laws that enable greater and greater monitoring of the people, curtail freedom of speech and undermine protections once enshrined in our legal systems.

Bill C-51 in Canada, a new pro surveillance law in France, the Counter-Terrorism Legislative Amendment (Foreign Fighters) Act 2014 in Australia, a 1.6M euros system to track social media in Spain… And In the UK the Counter-Terrorism and Security Act 2015, a proposed new Counter-Extremism Bill and plans to re-introduce the “snoopers charter” to spy on all communications. To name but a few!

All this removal of freedoms is being done under the guise of protecting those very freedoms using a skewed human rights agenda that justifies anything in the name of “national security”, for example the UK’s so-called ‘Protection of Freedoms Act’.… Read the rest

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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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Snowden Digital Surveillance Archive


via Snowden Archive:

This archive is a collection of all documents leaked by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden that have subsequently been published by news media.

Our aim in creating this archive is to provide a tool that would facilitate citizen, researcher and journalist access to these important documents. Indexes, document descriptions, links to original documents and to related news stories, a glossary and comprehensive search features are all designed to enable a better understanding of state surveillance programs within the wider context of surveillance by the U.S. National Security Agency (NSA) along with its partners in the Five Eyes countries – U.K., Canada, Australia and New Zealand.

Our hope is that this resource will contribute to greater awareness of the broad scope, intimate reach and profound implications of the global surveillance infrastructures and practices that Edward Snowden’s historic document leak reveals.

The Snowden Archive is the result of a research collaboration between Canadian Journalists for Free Expression (CJFE) and the Politics of Surveillance Project at the Faculty of Information at the University of Toronto.

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How To Make A Secret Phone Call


Photo: pug50 (CC)

Keeping your phone calls private is insanely difficult as Fast Company‘s DJ Pangburn finds out from Curtis Wallen:

…Amid pervasive sensors, drones, and data collection, making a private phone call can be a Herculean task.

Nevertheless, Wallen thinks it can be done—in short, by using a prepaid “burner” phone, posting its phone number publicly on Twitter as an encrypted message, and waiting for your partner to decrypt the message and call you at a later time.

His step-by-step instructions for making a clandestine phone call are as follows:

  1. Analyze your daily movements, paying special attention to anchor points (basis of operation like home or work) and dormant periods in schedules (8-12 p.m. or when cell phones aren’t changing locations);
  2. Leave your daily cell phone behind during dormant periods and purchase a prepaid no-contract cell phone (“burner phone”);
  3. After storing burner phone in a Faraday bag, activate it using a clean computer connected to a public Wi-Fi network;
  4. Encrypt the cell phone number using a onetime pad (OTP) system and rename an image file with the encrypted code.
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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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