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Revealing News For a Better World

Privacy Media Articles
Excerpts of Key Privacy Media Articles in Major Media


Below are key excerpts of revealing news articles on privacy and mass surveillance issues from reliable news media sources. If any link fails to function, a paywall blocks full access, or the article is no longer available, try these digital tools.


Note: Explore our full index to key excerpts of revealing major media news articles on several dozen engaging topics. And don't miss amazing excerpts from 20 of the most revealing news articles ever published.


War Zone Surveillance Technology Is Hitting American Streets
2024-04-30, NOTUS
https://www.notus.org/technology/war-zone-surveillance-border-us

Federal and state Homeland Security grants allow local law enforcement agencies to surveil American citizens with technology more commonly found in war zones and foreign espionage operations. At least two Texas communities along the U.S.-Mexico border have purchased a product called "TraffiCatch," which collects the unique wireless and Bluetooth signals emitted by nearly all modern electronics to identify devices and track their movements. The product is also listed in a federal supply catalog run by the U.S. government's General Services Administration, which negotiates prices and contracts for federal agencies. Combining license plate information with data collected from wireless signals is the kind of surveillance the U.S. military and intelligence agencies have long used, with devices mounted in vehicles, on drones or carried by hand to pinpoint the location of cell phones and other electronic devices. Their usage was once classified and deployed in places like Afghanistan and Iraq. Today, similar devices are showing up in the streets of American cities. The Supreme Court has said that attaching a GPS tracking device to a car or getting historical location data from a cell carrier requires a search warrant. However, law enforcement has found ways around these prohibitions. Increasingly, as people walk around with headphones, fitness wearables and other devices ... their data can be linked to a car, even after they have ditched the car. Courts have not definitively grappled with the question: Under what circumstances can law enforcement passively capture ambient signal information and use it as a tracking tool?

Note: For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on police corruption and the disappearance of privacy from reliable major media sources.


House Votes to Extend–and Expand–a Major US Spy Program
2024-04-12, Wired
https://www.wired.com/story/house-section-702-vote/

The House of Representatives voted on Friday to extend Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) for two years. Section 702 permits the US government to wiretap communications between Americans and foreigners overseas. Hundreds of millions of calls, texts, and emails are intercepted by government spies each with the "compelled assistance" of US communications providers. The government argues that Americans are not themselves being targeted and thus the wiretaps are legal. Nevertheless, their calls, texts, and emails may be stored by the government for years, and can later be accessed by law enforcement without a judge's permission. The House bill also dramatically expands the statutory definition for communication service providers. "They're pushing for a major expansion of warrantless spying on Americans," US senator Ron Wyden tells WIRED. "Their amendment would force your cable guy to be a government spy and assist in monitoring Americans' communications without a warrant." "Section 702 has been abused under presidents from both political parties, and it has been used to unlawfully surveil the communications of Americans across the political spectrum," says Kia Hamadanchy, senior policy counsel at the American Civil Liberties Union. "The Senate must add a warrant requirement and rein in this out-of-control government spying."

Note: For more along these lines, see concise summaries of important news articles on government corruption and the disappearance of privacy from reliable major media sources.


Congress Has A Chance To Rein In Police Use Of Surveillance Tech
2024-04-02, The Intercept
https://theintercept.com/2024/04/02/surveillance-tech-new-york-state-police/

Hardware that breaks into your phone; software that monitors you on the internet; systems that can recognize your face and track your car: The New York State Police are drowning in surveillance tech. Last year alone, the Troopers signed at least $15 million in contracts for powerful new surveillance tools. Surveillance technology has far outpaced traditional privacy laws. In New York, lawmakers launched a years-in-the-making legislative campaign last year to rein in police intrusion. None of their bills have made it out of committee. A report from the U.S. Office of the Director of National Intelligence, put it succinctly: "The government would never have been permitted to compel billions of people to carry location tracking devices on their persons at all times, to log and track most of their social interactions, or to keep flawless records of all their reading habits." That report called specific attention to the "data broker loophole": law enforcement's practice of obtaining data for which they'd otherwise have to obtain a warrant by buying it from brokers. The New York State Police have taken greater and greater advantage of the loophole in recent years. They've also spent millions on mobile device forensic tools, or MDFTs, powerful hacking hardware and software that allow users to download full, searchable copies of a cellphone's data, including social media messages, emails, web and search histories, and minute-by-minute location information.

Note: For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on police corruption and the disappearance of privacy from reliable major media sources.


FBI Agent Says He Hassles People 'Every Day, All Day Long' Over Facebook Posts
2024-03-29, Reason
https://reason.com/2024/03/29/fbi-agent-says-he-hassles-people-every-day-all-...

The FBI spends "every day, all day long" interrogating people over their Facebook posts. At least, that's what agents told Stillwater, Oklahoma, resident Rolla Abdeljawad when they showed up at her house to ask her about her social media activity. Three FBI agents came to Abdeljawad's house and said that they had been given "screenshots" of her posts by Facebook. Her lawyer Hassan Shibly posted a video of the incident. "Facebook gave us a couple of screenshots of your account," one agent in a gray shirt said in the video. "So we no longer live in a free country and we can't say what we want?" replied Abdeljawad. "No, we totally do. That's why we're not here to arrest you or anything," a second agent in a red shirt added. "We do this every day, all day long. It's just an effort to keep everybody safe and make sure nobody has any ill will." Shibly says that he doesn't know which Facebook post caught the agents' attention, and that it was the first time he had heard of Facebook's parent company, Meta, preemptively reporting posts to law enforcement. [Abdeljawad] made multiple angry posts per day about the war in Gaza, referring to Israel as "Israhell." But none of the posts on her feed call for violence. Ironically, Abdeljawad had also posted a warning about exactly the kind of government monitoring she was later subjected to. "Don't fall for their games. Our community is being watched & they are just waiting for any reason to round us up," Abdeljawad wrote.

Note: For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on government corruption and the erosion of civil liberties from reliable major media sources.


Weaponizing Reality: The Dawn of Neurowarfare
2024-03-25, ScheerPost
https://scheerpost.com/2024/03/25/weaponizing-reality-the-dawn-of-neurowarfare/

Billionaire Elon Musk's brain-computer interface (BCI) company Neuralink made headlines earlier this year for inserting its first brain implant into a human being. Such implants ... are described as "fully implantable, cosmetically invisible, and designed to let you control a computer or mobile device anywhere you go." They can help people regain abilities lost due to aging, ailments, accidents or injuries, thus improving quality of life. Yet, great ethical concerns arise with such advancements, and the tech is already being used for questionable purposes. Some Chinese employers have started using "emotional surveillance technology" to monitor workers' brainwaves. Governments and militaries are already ... describing the human body and brain as war's next domain. On this new "battlefield," an era of neuroweapons ... has begun. The Pentagon's research arm DARPA directly or indirectly funds about half of invasive neural interface technology companies in the US. DARPA has initiated at least 40 neurotechnology-related programs over the past 24 years. As a 2024 RAND report speculates, if BCI technologies are hacked or compromised, "a malicious adversary could potentially inject fear, confusion, or anger into [a BCI] commander's brain and cause them to make decisions that result in serious harm." Academic Nicholas Evans speculates, further, that neuroimplants could "control an individual's mental functions," perhaps to manipulate memories, emotions, or even to torture the wearer. In a [military research paper] on neurowarfare: "Microbiologists have recently discovered mind-controlling parasites that can manipulate the behavior of their hosts according to their needs by switching genes on or off. Since human behavior is at least partially influenced by their genetics, nonlethal behavior modifying genetic bioweapons that spread through a highly contagious virus could thus be, in principle, possible.

Note: The CIA once used brain surgery to make six remote controlled dogs. For more, see important information on microchip implants and CIA mind control programs from reliable major media sources.


Cops Running DNA-Manufactured Faces Through Face Recognition Is a Tornado of Bad Ideas
2024-03-22, Electronic Freedom Foundation
https://www.eff.org/deeplinks/2024/03/cops-running-dna-manufactured-faces-thr...

Police in the U.S. recently combined two existing dystopian technologies in a brand new way to violate civil liberties. A police force in California recently employed the new practice of taking a DNA sample from a crime scene, running this through a service provided by US company Parabon NanoLabs that guesses what the perpetrators face looked like, and plugging this rendered image into face recognition software to build a suspect list. Parabon NanoLabs ... alleges it can create an image of the suspect's face from their DNA. Parabon NanoLabs claim to have built this system by training machine learning models on the DNA data of thousands of volunteers with 3D scans of their faces. The process is yet to be independently audited, and scientists have affirmed that predicting face shapes–particularly from DNA samples–is not possible. But this has not stopped law enforcement officers from seeking to use it, or from running these fabricated images through face recognition software. Simply put: police are using DNA to create a hypothetical and not at all accurate face, then using that face as a clue on which to base investigations into crimes. This ... threatens the rights, freedom, or even the life of whoever is unlucky enough to look a little bit like that artificial face. These technologies, and their reckless use by police forces, are an inherent threat to our individual privacy, free expression, information security, and social justice.

Note: Law enforcement officers in many U.S. states are not required to reveal that they used face recognition technology to identify suspects. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of important news articles on police corruption and the erosion of civil liberties from reliable major media sources.


Feds Ordered Google To Unmask Certain YouTube Users. Critics Say It's ‘Terrifying.'
2024-03-22, Forbes
https://www.forbes.com/sites/thomasbrewster/2024/03/22/feds-ordered-google-to...

Federal investigators have ordered Google to provide information on all viewers of select YouTube videos. In a just-unsealed case from Kentucky ... undercover cops sought to identify the individual behind the online moniker "elonmuskwhm," who they suspect of buying bitcoin for cash. In conversations with the user in early January, undercover agents sent links of YouTube tutorials for mapping via drones and augmented reality software, then asked Google for information on who had viewed the videos, which collectively have been watched over 30,000 times. The court orders show the government telling Google to provide the names, addresses, telephone numbers and user activity for all Google account users who accessed the YouTube videos between January 1 and January 8, 2023. The government also wanted the IP addresses of non-Google account owners who viewed the videos. The cops argued, "There is reason to believe that these records would be relevant and material to an ongoing criminal investigation, including by providing identification information about the perpetrators." The court granted the order and Google was told to keep the request secret. Privacy experts said the orders were unconstitutional because they threatened to undo protections in the 1st and 4th Amendments covering free speech and freedom from unreasonable searches. Albert Fox-Cahn, executive director at the Surveillance Technology Oversight Project [says that] "no one should fear a knock at the door from police simply because of what the YouTube algorithm serves up. I'm horrified that the courts are allowing this."

Note: The article refers to federal investigators and to undercover cops, but it doesn't specify who was actually doing the investigating. What agency or agencies were involved in these secret operations? For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on police corruption and the disappearance of privacy from reliable major media sources.


U.S. Park Service Says to Leave Your Cash at Home, but Some Object
2024-03-21, New York Times
https://www.nytimes.com/2024/03/21/us/cashless-national-parks-lawsuit.html

The National Park Service is continuing to convert dozens of its sites across the country to cashless payments only, drawing complaints and, now, a lawsuit. Starting in June last year, visitors to Rocky Mountain National Park in Colorado were told that they could not use cash to enter the park or use its campgrounds. The negative reactions were swift, with visitors raising privacy concerns and expressing confusion about why the American dollar would not be welcome in the U.S. parks system. Now these complaints are the subject of a lawsuit filed on March 6 in U.S. District Court in the District of Columbia, asserting that the service's policies violate federal law defining cash as "legal tender" and the visitors' "lawful right to pay in cash" at national sites, including those without bank accounts or cards or those who simply prefer to pay cash. In addition to the park service, its director, Charles F. Sams, III, and the Department of the Interior were named as defendants. One of the three plaintiffs, Toby Stover, a New York woman, drove to Hyde Park, N.Y., in January. She ... was not allowed to enter after trying to pay $10 in cash, the filing said. The plaintiffs' lawyer, Ray L. Flores, II, said in an emailed reply to questions that the legal action is being financially backed by the Children's Health Defense. Mr. Flores said in the email that cashless policies were "a key component – if not the linchpin – of the surveillance state."

Note: This article is also available here. A 2018 Guardian piece titled "The cashless society is a con and big finance is behind it" describes some of the basic problems with the push to go cashless.


Some of the Most Popular Websites Share Your Data With Over 1,500 Companies
2024-03-20, Wired
https://www.wired.com/story/cookie-pop-up-ad-tech-partner-top-websites/

Everywhere you go online, you're being tracked. Almost every time you visit a website, trackers gather data about your browsing and funnel it back into targeted advertising systems, which build up detailed profiles about your interests and make big profits in the process. At the end of last year, thousands of websites started being more transparent about how many companies your data is being shared with. A WIRED analysis of the top 10,000 most popular websites shows that dozens of sites say they are sharing data with more than 1,000 companies, while thousands of other websites are sharing data with hundreds of firms. Quiz and puzzle website JetPunk tops the pile, listing 1,809 "partners" that may collect personal information, including "browsing behavior or unique IDs." More than 20 websites from publisher Dotdash Meredith–including Investopedia.com, People.com, and Allrecipes.com–all say they can share data with 1,609 partners. The newspaper The Daily Mail lists 1,207 partners, while internet speed-monitoring firm Speedtest.net, online medical publisher WebMD, and media outlets Reuters, ESPN, and BuzzFeed all state they can share data with 809 companies. DuckDuckGo keeps a record of the companies that have the biggest tracking footprint across the web. Among the most common trackers, Google has its technology on 79 percent of websites, while those from five other companies are on more than 20 percent of websites.

Note: For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on corporate corruption and the disappearance of privacy from reliable major media sources.


Musk's SpaceX is building spy satellite network for US intelligence agency, sources say
2024-03-16, Reuters
https://www.reuters.com/technology/space/musks-spacex-is-building-spy-satelli...

SpaceX is building a network of hundreds of spy satellites under a classified contract with a U.S. intelligence agency, five sources familiar with the program said. The network is being built by SpaceX's Starshield business unit under a $1.8 billion contract signed in 2021 with the National Reconnaissance Office (NRO), an intelligence agency that manages spy satellites. The plans show the extent of SpaceX's involvement in U.S. intelligence and military projects and illustrate a deeper Pentagon investment into vast, low-Earth orbiting satellite systems aimed at supporting ground forces. If successful, the sources said the program would significantly advance the ability of the U.S. government and military to quickly spot potential targets almost anywhere on the globe. Reuters reporting discloses for the first time that the SpaceX contract is for a powerful new spy system with hundreds of satellites bearing Earth-imaging capabilities that can operate as a swarm in low orbits. The planned Starshield network is separate from Starlink, SpaceX's growing commercial broadband constellation that has about 5,500 satellites in space. The classified constellation of spy satellites represents one of the U.S. government's most sought-after capabilities in space because it is designed to offer the most persistent, pervasive and rapid coverage of activities on Earth. "No one can hide," one of the sources said of the system's potential capability, when describing the network's reach.

Note: For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on intelligence agency corruption and the disappearance of privacy from reliable major media sources.


Biometrics Giant Accenture Quietly Took Over LA Residents' Jail Reform Plan
2024-03-12, The Intercept
https://theintercept.com/2024/03/12/los-angeles-jail-accenture-measure-j/

In November 2020 ... a ballot initiative known as Measure J passed with 57 percent support, amending the LA County charter so that jailing people before trial would be treated as a last resort. In June, LA County signed over the handling of changes to pretrial detention under Measure J to the consulting firm Accenture, a behemoth in the world of biometric databases and predictive policing. Accenture has pushed counterterror and policing strategies around the globe: The company built the world's biggest biometric identification system in India, which has used similar technologies to surveil protesters and conduct crowd control as part of efforts by Prime Minister Narendra Modi's Bharatiya Janata Party to investigate the citizenship of Muslim residents. Accenture ballooned into a giant in federal consulting over the course of the "war on terror," winning hundreds of millions of dollars in lucrative contracts from federal agencies like the Department of Homeland Security for projects from a "virtual border" to recruiting and hiring Customs and Border Protection and Border Patrol agents. In 2006, Accenture won a $10 million contract for a DHS biometric ID program, the world's second biggest, to collect and share biometric data on foreign nationals entering or leaving the U.S. Several LA-based advocates told The Intercept that the contract is yet another development that calls into question the county's commitment to real criminal justice reform.

Note: For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on corporate corruption and the disappearance of privacy from reliable major media sources.


US Lawmaker Cited NYC Protests in a Defense of Warrantless Spying
2024-03-12, Wired
https://www.wired.com/story/hpsci-us-protests-section-702-presentation/

Last year, the Republican chairman of the US House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence (HPSCI) presented an image of Americans protesting the war in Gaza while implying possible ties between the protesters and Hamas, an allegation that was used to illustrate why surveillance reforms may prove detrimental to national security. In December, as many as 200 Republican staffers gathered behind closed doors to hear a presentation ... aimed at shoring up support for a US surveillance program known as Section 702. Section 702 authorizes the government to surveil foreigners located physically overseas ... but not Americans or individuals on US soil. While eavesdropping on foreigners is permitted, doing so for the explicit purpose of gaining access to an American's communications–a practice commonly referred to as "reverse targeting"–is strictly forbidden. "Yes, it's true, you cannot ‘target' protesters under 702," one aide, a legislative director for a Republican lawmaker, says. "But that doesn't mean the FBI doesn't still have the power to access those emails or listen to their calls if it wants." Between 2020 and early 2021, the FBI conducted "tens of thousands" of queries related to "civil unrest" in the United States. "Political protest is literally how America was founded. It's in our DNA," says Jason Pye, senior policy analyst at the nonprofit FreedomWorks. "Whether you agree with these protesters or not is irrelevant."

Note: The FBI has a long history of spying on political activists. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on government corruption and the disappearance of privacy from reliable major media sources.


Elon Musk v OpenAI: tech giants are inciting existential fears to evade scrutiny
2024-03-10, The Guardian (One of the UK's Leading Newspapers)
https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2024/mar/10/ai-wont-destroy-us-but-...

In 2015, the journalist Steven Levy interviewed Elon Musk and Sam Altman, two founders of OpenAI. A galaxy of Silicon Valley heavyweights, fearful of the potential consequences of AI, created the company as a non-profit-making charitable trust with the aim of developing technology in an ethical fashion to benefit "humanity as a whole". Musk, who stepped down from OpenAI's board six years ago ... is now suing his former company for breach of contract for having put profits ahead of the public good and failing to develop AI "for the benefit of humanity". In 2019, OpenAI created a for-profit subsidiary to raise money from investors, notably Microsoft. When it released ChatGPT in 2022, the model's inner workings were kept hidden. It was necessary to be less open, Ilya Sutskever, another of OpenAI's founders and at the time the company's chief scientist, claimed in response to criticism, to prevent those with malevolent intent from using it "to cause a great deal of harm". Fear of the technology has become the cover for creating a shield from scrutiny. The problems that AI poses are not existential, but social. From algorithmic bias to mass surveillance, from disinformation and censorship to copyright theft, our concern should not be that machines may one day exercise power over humans but that they already work in ways that reinforce inequalities and injustices, providing tools by which those in power can consolidate their authority.

Note: Read more about the dangers of AI in the hands of the powerful. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on media manipulation and the disappearance of privacy from reliable sources.


Emotion-tracking AI on the job: Workers fear being watched – and misunderstood
2024-03-06, Yahoo News
https://finance.yahoo.com/news/emotion-tracking-ai-job-workers-133506859.html

Emotion artificial intelligence uses biological signals such as vocal tone, facial expressions and data from wearable devices as well as text and how people use their computers, promising to detect and predict how someone is feeling. Over 50% of large employers in the U.S. use emotion AI aiming to infer employees' internal states, a practice that grew during the COVID-19 pandemic. For example, call centers monitor what their operators say and their tone of voice. We wondered what workers think about these technologies. My collaborators Shanley Corvite, Kat Roemmich, Tillie Ilana Rosenberg and I conducted a survey. 51% of participants expressed concerns about privacy, 36% noted the potential for incorrect inferences employers would accept at face value, and 33% expressed concern that emotion AI-generated inferences could be used to make unjust employment decisions. Despite emotion AI's claimed goals to infer and improve workers' well-being in the workplace, its use can lead to the opposite effect: well-being diminished due to a loss of privacy. On concerns that emotional surveillance could jeopardize their job, a participant with a diagnosed mental health condition said: "They could decide that I am no longer a good fit at work and fire me. Decide I'm not capable enough and not give a raise, or think I'm not working enough." Participants ... said they were afraid of the dynamic they would have with employers if emotion AI were integrated into their workplace.

Note: The above article was written by Nazanin Andalibi at the University of Michigan. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on corporate corruption and the disappearance of privacy from reliable major media sources.


The Government Really Is Spying On You – And It's Legal
2024-02-28, Politico
https://www.politico.com/news/magazine/2024/02/28/government-buying-your-data...

In 2018 ... the government was buying up reams of consumer data – information scraped from cellphones, social media profiles, internet ad exchanges and other open sources – and deploying it for often-clandestine purposes like law enforcement and national security in the U.S. and abroad. The places you go, the websites you visit, the opinions you post – all collected and legally sold to federal agencies. The data is used in a wide variety of law enforcement, public safety, military and intelligence missions, depending on which agency is doing the acquiring. We've seen it used for everything from rounding up undocumented immigrants or detecting border tunnels. We've also seen data used for man hunting or identifying specific people in the vicinity of crimes or known criminal activity. And generally speaking, it's often used to identify patterns. It's often used to look for outliers or things that don't belong. So say you have a military facility, you could look for devices that appear suspicious that are lingering near that facility. Did you know that your car tires actually broadcast a wireless signal to the central computer of your car, telling it what the tire pressure is? It's there for perfectly legitimate safety reasons. Governments have ... figured out that the car tire is a proxy for the car. And if you just put little sensors somewhere or you run the right code on devices that you scatter around the world, then you can kind of track people with car tires.

Note: For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on government corruption and the disappearance of privacy from reliable major media sources.


Manufacturing Consent: The Border Fiasco and the "Smart Wall"
2024-02-19, Unlimited Hangout
https://unlimitedhangout.com/2024/02/investigative-reports/manufacturing-cons...

The disastrous situation at the US-Mexico border is, and has been, intentionally produced. Illegal crossings have risen to unprecedented levels. There is a bipartisan consensus about what must be done. Tellingly, the same "solution" is also being quietly rolled out at all American ports of entry that are not currently being "overrun", such as airports. That solution, of course, is biometric surveillance, enabled by AI, facial recognition/biometrics and autonomous devices. This "solution" is not just being implemented throughout the United States as an alleged means of thwarting migrants, it is also being rapidly implemented throughout the world in apparent lockstep. Global policy agendas, ratified by nearly every country in the world ... seek both to restrict the extent of people's freedom of movement and to surveil people's movements ... through the global implementation of digital identity. The defense tech firm Anduril ... is one of the main beneficiaries of government contracts to build autonomous surveillance towers along the US-Mexico border, which are now also being rolled out along the US-Canada border. Anduril will create "a digital wall that is not a barrier so much as a web of all-seeing eyes, with intelligence to know what it sees." While Anduril is one of the main companies building the "virtual wall," they are not alone. General Dynamics, a defense firm deeply connected to organized crime, espionage scandals and corruption, has developed several hundred remote video surveillance systems (RVSS) towers for CBP while Google, another Big Tech firm with CIA connections, has been tapped by CBP to have its AI used in conjunction with Anduril's towers, which also utilize Anduril's own AI operating system known as Lattice.

Note: For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on government corruption and the disappearance of privacy from reliable major media sources.


‘A privacy nightmare': the $400m surveillance package inside the US immigration bill
2024-02-06, The Guardian (One of the UK's Leading Newspapers)
https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2024/feb/06/us-immigration-bill-mexico-bo...

The $118bn bipartisan immigration bill that the US Senate introduced on Sunday is already facing steep opposition. The 370-page measure, which also would provide additional aid to Israel and Ukraine, has drawn the ire of both Democrats and Republicans over its proposed asylum and border laws. But privacy, immigration and digital liberties experts are also concerned over another aspect of the bill: more than $400m in funding for additional border surveillance and data-gathering tools. The lion's share of that funding will go to two main tools: $170m for additional autonomous surveillance towers and $204m for "expenses related to the analysis of DNA samples", which includes those collected from migrants detained by border patrol. The bill describes autonomous surveillance towers as ones that "utilize sensors, onboard computing, and artificial intelligence to identify items of interest that would otherwise be manually identified by personnel". The rest of the funding for border surveillance ... includes $47.5m for mobile video surveillance systems and drones and $25m for "familial DNA testing". The bill also includes $25m in funding for "subterranean detection capabilities" and $10m to acquire data from unmanned surface vehicles or autonomous boats. As of early January, CBP had deployed 396 surveillance towers along the US-Mexico border, according to the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF).

Note: Read more about the secret history of facial recognition technology and undeniable evidence indicating these tools do much more harm than good. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on government corruption and the disappearance of privacy from reliable major media sources.


Bodycam Maker Axon Is on a Mission to Surveil America with AI
2024-02-01, Vice
https://www.vice.com/en/article/m7bwp4/axon-acquires-fusus-ai-surveillance-re...

Axon, maker of Tasers and police body cameras, has acquired a surveillance company that allows police to tap into camera networks in schools, retail stores, and other locations in cities and towns across America and apply AI technology to the footage. Axon acquired Fusus for an undisclosed sum. Fusus operates what it calls "real time crime centers (RTCC)" which allow police and other public agencies to analyze a wide array of video sources at a single point and apply AI that detects objects and people. These centers are reminiscent of the Department of Homeland Security's Fusion Centers–where intelligence from a diverse number of sources is collected and shared among agencies–and have already expanded to over 250 cities and counties. Last week, Axon announced a new line of cameras called Axon Body Workforce designed to be worn by workers in retail and in healthcare. Despite pushing the cameras as deterrents, data shows no evidence that they've been effective in reducing police violence or increasing transparency. The rise of Fusus is concerning to rights groups like the Electronic Frontier Foundation, which has raised alarm over the expansion of law enforcement's ability to easily surveil Americans. Notably, the concept behind Fusus' solution is similar to technology that has been deployed in South Africa for years, and which experts have said exacerbates inequality in the country.

Note: Axon has ties to paid experts who are used to exonerate police after deaths in custody. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on corporate corruption and the disappearance of privacy from reliable major media sources.


TSA sparks privacy concerns amid plans to install facial recognition systems at 400 US airports
2024-02-01, New York Post
https://nypost.com/2024/02/01/lifestyle/tsa-sparks-privacy-concerns-amid-plan...

The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) sparked privacy concerns after unveiling plans to roll out controversial facial recognition tech in over 400 US airports soon. "TSA is in the early stages of deploying its facial recognition capability to airport security checkpoints," a spokesperson [said] regarding the ambitious program. They explained that the cutting-edge tech serves to both enhance and expedite the screening process for passengers. Dubbed CAT-2 machines, these automated identification systems accomplish this by incorporating facial recognition tech to snap real-time pictures of travelers. They then compare this biometric data against the flyer's photo ID to verify that it's the real person. These CAT-scans enable "traveler use of mobile driver's licenses," thereby improving the security experience, per the spokesperson. The TSA currently has 600 CAT-2 units deployed at about 50 airports nationwide and plans to expand them to 400 federalized airports in the future. Following the implementation of these synthetic security accelerators at US airports last winter, lawmakers expressed concerns that the machines present a major privacy issue. "The TSA program is a precursor to a full-blown national surveillance state," said Oregon Senator Jeff Merkley. "Nothing could be more damaging to our national values of privacy and freedom. No government should be trusted with this power."

Note: For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on government corruption and the disappearance of privacy from reliable major media sources.


The Pentagon Tried to Hide That It Bought Americans' Data Without a Warrant
2024-01-26, Wired
https://www.wired.com/story/pentagon-data-purchases-wyden-letter/

United States officials fought to conceal details of arrangements between US spy agencies and private companies tracking the whereabouts of Americans. Obtaining location data from US phones normally requires a warrant, but police and intelligence agencies routinely pay companies instead for the data, effectively circumventing the courts. Ron Wyden, the US senator from Oregon, informed the nation's intelligence chief, Avril Haines, on Thursday that the Pentagon only agreed to release details about the data purchases, which had always been unclassified, after Wyden hindered the Senate's efforts to appoint a new director of the National Security Agency. "The secrecy around data purchases was amplified," Wyden wrote, "because intelligence agencies have sought to keep the American people in the dark." Pentagon offices known to have purchased location data from these companies include the Defense Intelligence Agency and the NSA, among others. Wyden's letter ... indicates that the NSA is also "buying Americans' domestic internet metadata." Wyden's disclosure comes amid a fight in the US House of Representatives over efforts to outlaw the purchases. Members of the House Judiciary Committee attached legislation doing so ... to a bill reauthorizing a contentious surveillance program known as Section 702. Biden administration officials and members of the intelligence committee staged a campaign against the privacy-enhancing measures.

Note: Learn more about mission creep in our comprehensive Military-Intelligence Corruption Information Center. For more, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on military corruption and the disappearance of privacy from reliable major media sources.


Face Recognition Technology Follows a Long Analog History of Surveillance and Control Based on Identifying Physical Features
2024-01-22, ScheerPost
https://scheerpost.com/2024/01/22/face-recognition-technology-follows-a-long-...

American Amara Majeed was accused of terrorism by the Sri Lankan police in 2019. Robert Williams was arrested outside his house in Detroit and detained in jail for 18 hours for allegedly stealing watches in 2020. Randal Reid spent six days in jail in 2022 for supposedly using stolen credit cards in a state he'd never even visited. In all three cases, the authorities had the wrong people. In all three, it was face recognition technology that told them they were right. Law enforcement officers in many U.S. states are not required to reveal that they used face recognition technology to identify suspects. Surveillance is predicated on the idea that people need to be tracked and their movements limited and controlled in a trade-off between privacy and security. The assumption that less privacy leads to more security is built in. That may be the case for some, but not for the people disproportionately targeted by face recognition technology. As of 2019, face recognition technology misidentified Black and Asian people at up to 100 times the rate of white people. In 2018 ... 28 members of the U.S. Congress ... were falsely matched with mug shots on file using Amazon's Rekognition tool. Much early research into face recognition software was funded by the CIA for the purposes of border surveillance. More recently, private companies have adopted data harvesting techniques, including face recognition, as part of a long practice of leveraging personal data for profit.

Note: For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on police corruption and the disappearance of privacy from reliable major media sources.


Mental Health App Data Privacy Problem is Getting Worse
2024-01-22, Yahoo News
https://finance.yahoo.com/news/the-mental-health-app-data-privacy-problem-is-...

Mental health apps have become increasingly common over the past few years, particularly due to the rise in telehealth during the coronavirus pandemic. However, there's a problem: Data privacy is being compromised in the process. In 2023 the Federal Trade Commission ordered the mental health platform BetterHelp, which is owned by Teladoc (TDOC), to pay a $7.8 million fine to consumers for sharing their mental health data for advertising purposes with Facebook (META) and Snapchat (SNAP) after previously promising to keep the information private. Cerebral, a telehealth startup, admitted last year to exposing sensitive patient information to companies like Google (GOOG, GOOGL), Meta, TikTok, and other third-party advertisers. This info included patient names, birth dates, insurance information, and the patient's responses to mental health self-evaluations through the app. Overall, according to the Mozilla Foundation's Privacy Not Included online buyer's guide, only two out of the 27 mental health apps available to users met Mozilla's privacy and security standards in 2023. A December 2022 study of 578 mental health apps published in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that 44% shared data they collected with third parties. A February 2023 report from Duke University found that out of 37 different data brokers that researchers contacted ... firms "were ultimately willing and able to sell the requested mental health data."

Note: For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on health and the disappearance of privacy from reliable major media sources.


Biden's Big Brother teams are now watching what you buy
2024-01-19, New York Post
https://nypost.com/2024/01/19/news/bidens-big-brother-teams-are-now-watching-...

Anything you purchase can be used against you. After the Jan. 6 Capitol clash, the Biden administration vastly expanded federal surveillance of average Americans. The Treasury Department's Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) stretched its "suspicious behavior" definition, warning banks to track "‘extremism' indicators that include ‘transportation charges, such as bus tickets, rental cars, or plane tickets, for travel to areas with no apparent purpose,' or ‘the purchase of books (including religious texts),'" the House committee reported. If you bought a gun or ammo since 2021, Team Biden bureaucrats may have automatically classified you as a "potential active shooter." FinCEN encouraged banks to use terms including "TRUMP" and "MAGA" for "identifying transactions on behalf of federal law enforcement," the House Judiciary Committee reports. Rep. Jordan is seeking sworn testimony about the FBI's "mass accumulation and use of Americans' private information without legal process." Jordan complained that the FBI "prepared an official report that broadly characterized certain political beliefs as indicative of domestic violent extremism." The Canadian government used emergency decrees to freeze the bank accounts of anyone suspected of being tied to COVID "Freedom Convoy" protests in 2022.

Note: For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on government corruption and the disappearance of privacy from reliable major media sources.


Moderna Surveillance Operation Targeted Independent Media Voices
2024-01-16, Lee Fang on Substack
https://www.leefang.com/p/moderna-surveillance-operation-targeted

Finances at the vaccine manufacturer Moderna began to fall almost as quickly as they had risen, as most Americans resisted getting yet another COVID booster shot. In a September call aimed at shoring up investors, Moderna's then-chief commercial officer, Arpa Garay, attributed some of the hesitancy pummeling Moderna's numbers to uninformed vaccine skeptics. What Garay hinted at during the call, but didn't disclose, was that Moderna already had a sprawling media operation in place aimed at identifying and responding to critics of vaccine policy and the drug industry. Internal company reports and communications ... show that Moderna has worked with former law enforcement and public health officials and a drug industry-funded non-governmental organization called The Public Good Projects (PGP) to confront the "root cause of vaccine hesitancy" by rapidly identifying and "shutting down misinformation." Part of this effort includes providing talking points to some 45,000 healthcare professionals "on how to respond when vaccine misinformation goes mainstream." PGP routinely sent Excel lists of accounts to amplify on Twitter and others to de-platform, including populist voices such as ZeroHedge. The messages also suggested emerging narratives to remove from the platform. The growing network these efforts rely on shows the growth of what has been called the censorship industrial complex.

Note: Learn more about Moderna's misinformation department. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on pharmaceutical industry corruption and media manipulation from reliable sources.


How Meta's New Face Camera Heralds a New Age of Surveillance
2023-12-13, New York Times
https://www.nytimes.com/2023/12/13/technology/personaltech/meta-ray-ban-glass...

For the past two weeks, I've been using a new camera to secretly snap photos and record videos of strangers in parks, on trains, inside stores and at restaurants. I was testing the recently released $300 Ray-Ban Meta glasses that Mark Zuckerberg's social networking empire made in collaboration with the iconic eyewear maker. The high-tech glasses include a camera for shooting photos and videos, and an array of speakers and microphones for listening to music and talking on the phone. The glasses, Meta says, can help you "live in the moment" while sharing what you see with the world. Meta, Apple and Magic Leap have all been hyping mixed-reality headsets that use cameras to allow their software to interact with objects in the real world. To inform people that they are being photographed, the Meta Ray-Bans include a tiny LED light embedded in the right frame to indicate when the device is recording. When a photo is snapped, it flashes momentarily. When a video is recording, it is continuously illuminated. As I shot 200 photos and videos with the glasses in public, including on BART trains, on hiking trails and in parks, no one looked at the LED light or confronted me about it. And why would anyone? It would be rude to comment on a stranger's glasses, let alone stare at them. The ubiquity of smartphones, doorbell cameras and dashcams makes it likely that you are being recorded anywhere you go. But Chris Gilliard, an independent privacy scholar who has studied the effects of surveillance technologies, said cameras hidden inside smart glasses would most likely enable bad actors – like the people shooting sneaky photos of others at the gym – to do more harm.

Note: For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on corporate corruption and the disappearance of privacy from reliable major media sources.


Pharmacies share medical data with police without a warrant, inquiry finds
2023-12-12, Washington Post
https://www.washingtonpost.com/technology/2023/12/12/pharmacy-records-police-...

The nation's largest pharmacy chains have handed over Americans' prescription records to police and government investigators without a warrant, a congressional investigation found, raising concerns about threats to medical privacy. Though some of the chains require their lawyers to review law enforcement requests, three of the largest – CVS Health, Kroger and Rite Aid, with a combined 60,000 locations nationwide – said they allow pharmacy staff members to hand over customers' medical records in the store. Pharmacies' records hold some of the most intimate details of their customers' personal lives, including years-old medical conditions and the prescriptions they take for mental health and birth control. Because the chains often share records across all locations, a pharmacy in one state can access a person's medical history from states with more-restrictive laws. The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, or HIPAA, regulates how health information is used and exchanged among "covered entities" such as hospitals and doctor's offices. But the law gives pharmacies leeway as to what legal standard they require before disclosing medical records to law enforcement. In briefings, officials with eight American pharmacy giants – Walgreens Boots Alliance, CVS, Walmart, Rite Aid, Kroger, Cigna, Optum Rx and Amazon Pharmacy – told congressional investigators that they required only a subpoena, not a warrant, to share the records.

Note: For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on corporate corruption and the disappearance of privacy from reliable major media sources.


Apple now requires court-order to release customers' information to law enforcement
2023-12-12, New York Post
https://nypost.com/2023/12/12/tech/apple-now-requires-court-order-to-release-...

Apple has said it now requires a judge's order to hand over information about its customers' push notification to law enforcement, putting the iPhone maker's policy in line with rival Google and raising the hurdle officials must clear to get app data about users. It follows the revelation from Oregon Senator Ron Wyden that officials were requesting such data from Apple as well as from Google. Apps of all kinds rely on push notifications to alert smartphone users to incoming messages, breaking news, and other updates. These are the audible "dings" or visual indicators users get when they receive an email or their sports team wins a game. What users often do not realize is that almost all such notifications travel over Google and Apple's servers. In a letter first disclosed by Reuters last week, Wyden said the practice gave the two companies unique insight into traffic flowing from those apps to users, putting them "in a unique position to facilitate government surveillance of how users are using particular apps." Apple and Google both acknowledged receiving such requests. Apple added a passage to its guidelines saying such data was available "with a subpoena or greater legal process." The passage has now been updated to refer to more stringent warrant requirements. Wyden said in a statement that Apple was "doing the right thing by matching Google and requiring a court order to hand over push notification related data."

Note: Read more about the controversial geofence warrants that use Big Tech data. As an older article about the Apple court order articulates, law enforcement can "intercept your messages, access your health records or financial data, track your location, or even access your phone's microphone or camera without your knowledge." For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on the disappearance of privacy from reliable major media sources.


Palestine: "Peace to Prosperity" Through Technocracy
2023-12-12, Unlimited Hangout
https://unlimitedhangout.com/2023/12/investigative-reports/palestine-peace-to...

The Palestinian population is intimately familiar with how new technological innovations are first weaponized against them–ranging from electric fences and unmanned drones to trap people in Gaza–to the facial recognition software monitoring Palestinians in the West Bank. Groups like Amnesty International have called Israel an Automated Apartheid and repeatedly highlight stories, testimonies, and reports about cyber-intelligence firms, including the infamous NSO Group (the Israeli surveillance company behind the Pegasus software) conducting field tests and experiments on Palestinians. Reports have highlighted: "Testing and deployment of AI surveillance and predictive policing systems in Palestinian territories. In the occupied West Bank, Israel increasingly utilizes facial recognition technology to monitor and regulate the movement of Palestinians. Israeli military leaders described AI as a significant force multiplier, allowing the IDF to use autonomous robotic drone swarms to gather surveillance data, identify targets, and streamline wartime logistics." The Palestinian towns and villages near Israeli settlements have been described as laboratories for security solutions companies to experiment their technologies on Palestinians before marketing them to places like Colombia. The Israeli government hopes to crystalize its "automated apartheid" through the tokenization and privatization of various industries and establishing a technocratic government in Gaza.

Note: For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on government corruption and the disappearance of privacy from reliable major media sources.


Congress Clashes Over the Future of America's Global Spy Program
2023-12-11, Wired
https://www.wired.com/story/section-702-house-bills-plewsa-frra/

Under ... Section 702 [of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act], the US government collects hundreds of millions of phone calls, emails, and text messages each year. An inestimable chunk belongs to American citizens, permanent residents, and others in the United States neither suspected nor accused of any crime. Police and intelligence agencies buy their way around the Fourth Amendment by paying US companies for information that they'd otherwise demand a warrant to disclose. The House Intelligence Committee's bill–the FISA Reform and Reauthorization Act, or FRRA–does nothing to address this privacy threat. What the FRRA does appear to do, despite its name, is explode the number of companies the US government may compel to cooperate with wiretaps under Section 702. That was the assessment on Friday of Marc Zwillinger, amicus curiae to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court of Review (FISCR). Section 702 currently allows the government to compel a class of companies called "electronic communications providers" to collect communications. If the FRRA becomes law, according to Zwillinger, that category would be greatly expanded to include a slew of new businesses, including "data centers, colocation providers, business landlords, and shared workspaces," as well as, he says, "hotels where guests connect to the internet." Communications may be seized under 702 and only years later dug up for an entirely different reason.

Note: For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on government corruption and the disappearance of privacy from reliable major media sources.


‘Chilling': Some Smart Toys Can Collect Kids' Iris Scans, Fingerprints, Vital Signs and More
2023-12-07, The Defender
https://childrenshealthdefense.org/defender/smart-toys-biometric-data-collect...

The annual "Trouble in Toyland" report, produced by the U.S. Public Interest Research Group (PIRG) and released before the holiday season, historically has focused on safety hazards found in traditional children's toys. According to the 38th annual "Trouble in Toyland" report, released in mid-November, "Toys that spy on children are a growing threat." The threats "stem from toys with microphones, cameras and trackers, as well as recalled toys, water beads, counterfeits and Meta Quest VR headsets." "The riskiest features of smart toys are those that can collect information, especially without our knowledge or used in a way that parents didn't agree to," said Teresa Murray, Consumer Watchdog at the U.S. PIRG Education Fund and author of the report. "It's chilling to learn what some of these toys can do," Murray said. Smart toys include "stuffed animals that listen and talk, devices that learn their habits, games with online accounts, and smart speakers, watches, play kitchens and remote cars that connect to apps or other technology," according to PIRG. Smart toys can pose the risk of data breaches, hacking, potential violations of children's privacy laws such as the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act of 1998 (COPPA), and exposure to "inappropriate or harmful material without proper filtering and parental controls." According to PIRG, "We don't know with certainty when our child plays with a connected toy that the company isn't recording us or collecting our data."

Note: A 2015 New York Times article called smart objects a "trainwreck in privacy and security." For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on corporate corruption and the disappearance of privacy from reliable major media sources.


Moderna is spying on you
2023-11-27, Lee Fang on Substack
https://www.leefang.com/p/moderna-is-spying-on-you

The Moderna misinformation reports, reported here for the first time, reveal what the pharmaceutical company is willing to do to shape public discourse around its marquee product. The mRNA COVID-19 vaccine catapulted the company to a $100 billion valuation. Behind the scenes, the marketing arm of the company has been working with former law enforcement officials and public health officials to monitor and influence vaccine policy. Key to this is a drug industry-funded NGO called Public Good Projects. PGP works closely with social media platforms, government agencies and news websites to confront the "root cause of vaccine hesitancy" by rapidly identifying and "shutting down misinformation." A network of 45,000 healthcare professionals are given talking points "and advice on how to respond when vaccine misinformation goes mainstream", according to an email from Moderna. An official training programme, developed by Moderna and PGP, alongside the American Board of Internal Medicine, [helps] healthcare workers identify medical misinformation. The online course, called the "Infodemic Training Program", represents an official partnership between biopharma and the NGO world. Meanwhile, Moderna also retains Talkwalker which uses its "Blue Silk" artificial intelligence to monitor vaccine-related conversations across 150 million websites in nearly 200 countries. Claims are automatically deemed "misinformation" if they encourage vaccine hesitancy. As the pandemic abates, Moderna is, if anything, ratcheting up its surveillance operation.

Note: Strategies to silence and censor those who challenge mainstream narratives enable COVID vaccine pharmaceutical giants to downplay the significant, emerging health risks associated with the COVID shots. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on corporate corruption and the disappearance of privacy from reliable major media sources.


AI doesn't cause harm by itself. We should worry about the people who control it
2023-11-26, The Guardian (One of the UK's Leading Newspapers)
https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2023/nov/26/artificial-intelligence...

OpenAI was created as a non-profit-making charitable trust, the purpose of which was to develop artificial general intelligence, or AGI, which, roughly speaking, is a machine that can accomplish, or surpass, any intellectual task humans can perform. It would do so, however, in an ethical fashion to benefit "humanity as a whole". Two years ago, a group of OpenAI researchers left to start a new organisation, Anthropic, fearful of the pace of AI development at their old company. One later told a reporter that "there was a 20% chance that a rogue AI would destroy humanity within the next decade". One may wonder about the psychology of continuing to create machines that one believes may extinguish human life. The problem we face is not that machines may one day exercise power over humans. That is speculation unwarranted by current developments. It is rather that we already live in societies in which power is exercised by a few to the detriment of the majority, and that technology provides a means of consolidating that power. For those who hold social, political and economic power, it makes sense to project problems as technological rather than social and as lying in the future rather than in the present. There are few tools useful to humans that cannot also cause harm. But they rarely cause harm by themselves; they do so, rather, through the ways in which they are exploited by humans, especially those with power.

Note: Read how AI is already being used for war, mass surveillance, and questionable facial recognition technology.


Secretive White House Surveillance Program Gives Cops Access to Trillions of US Phone Records
2023-11-20, Wired
https://www.wired.com/story/hemisphere-das-white-house-surveillance-trillions...

A surveillance program now known as Data Analytical Services (DAS) has for more than a decade allowed federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies to mine the details of Americans' calls, analyzing the phone records of countless people who are not suspected of any crime, including victims. Using a technique known as chain analysis, the program targets not only those in direct phone contact with a criminal suspect but anyone with whom those individuals have been in contact as well. The DAS program, formerly known as Hemisphere, is run in coordination with the telecom giant AT&T, which captures and conducts analysis of US call records for law enforcement agencies, from local police and sheriffs' departments to US customs offices and postal inspectors across the country, according to a White House memo reviewed by WIRED. Records show that the White House has provided more than $6 million to the program, which allows the targeting of the records of any calls that use AT&T's infrastructure–a maze of routers and switches that crisscross the United States. Documents released under public records laws show the DAS program has been used to produce location information on criminal suspects and their known associates, a practice deemed unconstitutional without a warrant in 2018. Orders targeting a nexus of individuals are sometimes called "community of interest" subpoenas, a phrase that among privacy advocates is synonymous with dragnet surveillance.

Note: For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on government corruption and the disappearance of privacy from reliable major media sources.


Reform Bill Would Protect Americans from Warrantless Surveillance
2023-11-07, Brennan Center for Justice
https://www.brennancenter.org/our-work/analysis-opinion/reform-bill-would-pro...

In the 1970s, congressional investigators revealed that the FBI, NSA, and CIA had spent decades illegally surveilling and harassing the civil rights and anti-war movements. These abuses shocked the American public and led Congress to implement a series of intelligence reforms, including the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA), which set strict limitations on when and how intelligence agencies could perform domestic spying. In the decades since the 9/11 attacks, changing laws and aggressive executive branch lawyering have significantly relaxed the rules that govern surveillance of Americans. We are once again seeing abuses of these powers, including instances of intelligence agents seeking access to the communications of politiciansprotesters, and journalists. Today, a bipartisan group of lawmakers ... introduced the Government Surveillance Reform Act of 2023 (GSRA) to reverse this erosion of privacy rights. The GSRA begins by tackling Section 702, a controversial surveillance law that expires at the end of this year. Section 702 allows the government to collect the communications of non-Americans located abroad without a warrant. But Americans' private phone calls, emails, and text messages are inevitably captured, too – and intelligence officials frequently perform warrantless searches for them. Intelligence officials conducted more than 200,000 of these "backdoor searches" for Americans' communications last year alone.

Note: For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on intelligence agency corruption and the disappearance of privacy from reliable major media sources.


Counterterror Director Used Hamas Attack To Justify Mass Surveillance Program Renewal
2023-11-06, The Intercept
https://theintercept.com/2023/11/06/hamas-counterterrorism-mass-surveillance-...

During a Senate briefing last week, a federal counterterrorism official cited the October 7 Hamas attack while urging Congress to reauthorize a sprawling and controversial surveillance program repeatedly used to spy on U.S. citizens on U.S. soil. "As evidenced by the events of the past month, the terrorist threat landscape is highly dynamic and our country must preserve [counterterrorism] fundamentals to ensure constant vigilance," said Director of the National Counterterrorism Center Christine Abizaid. She pointed to Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, which enables the U.S. government to gather vast amounts of intelligence – including about U.S. citizens ... without first seeking a warrant. Section 702 "provides key indications and warning on terrorist plans and ... gives us strategic insight into foreign terrorists and their networks overseas," Abizaid said. "I respectfully urge Congress to reauthorize this vital authority." The controversial program is set to expire at the end of the year, and lawmakers sympathetic to the intelligence community are scrambling to protect it. Sean Vitka ... at the civil liberties group Demand Progress [said] that now is the time to enact lasting and dramatic oversight of the 702 authority. "The government has completely failed to demonstrate that any of the privacy protections reformers have called for would impair national security ... so now we're seeing people grasping at straws trying to turn everything into an excuse for reauthorization," Vitka said.

Note: For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on government corruption and the disappearance of privacy from reliable major media sources.


Silicon Valley is piling into the business of snooping
2023-11-05, The Economist
https://www.economist.com/business/2023/11/05/silicon-valley-is-piling-into-t...

New Yorkers may have noticed an unwelcome guest hovering round their parties. In the lead-up to Labour Day weekend the New York Police Department (NYPD) said that it would use drones to look into complaints about festivities, including back-yard gatherings. Snooping police drones are an increasingly common sight in America. According to a recent survey by researchers at the Northwestern Pritzker School of Law, about a quarter of police forces now use them. Among the NYPD's suppliers is Skydio, a Silicon Valley firm that uses artificial intelligence (AI) to make drones easy to fly. The NYPD is also buying from BRINC, another startup, which makes flying machines equipped with night-vision cameras that can smash through windows. Facial-recognition software is now used more widely across America, too, with around a tenth of police forces having access to the technology. A report released in September by America's Government Accountability Office found that six federal law-enforcement agencies, including the FBI and the Secret Service, were together executing an average of 69 facial-recognition searches every day. Among the top vendors listed was Clearview AI. Surveillance capabilities may soon be further fortified by generative AI, of the type that powers ChatGPT, thanks to its ability to work with "unstructured" data such as images and video footage. The technology will let users "search the Earth for objects", much as Google lets users search the internet.

Note: For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on police corruption and the disappearance of privacy from reliable major media sources.


DHS Must Overhaul Its Flawed Automated Systems
2023-10-24, Brennan Center for Justice
https://www.brennancenter.org/our-work/analysis-opinion/dhs-must-overhaul-its...

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is likely the single largest collector and consumer in the U.S. government of detailed, often intimate, information about Americans and foreigners alike. The department stores and analyzes this information using vast data systems to determine who can enter the country and who is subjected to intrusive inspections, including by parsing through travel records, social media data, non-immigrant visa applications, and other information to detect patterns of behavior that the department has determined are worthy of scrutiny. As we explain in a new Brennan Center report, these systems ... are too often deployed in discriminatory ways that violate Americans' constitutional rights and civil liberties. It is past time for DHS to stop improvising how it designs and implements its automated systems, with inadequate mechanisms for evaluation and oversight, weak standards, and disproportionate impacts on marginalized communities and individuals. DHS must disclose additional information about its systems, including the policies that govern their operations and reports explaining how they are used. An independent body should undertake a rigorous investigation of DHS's automated systems, evaluating whether they are useful and accurate, assessing how they function, and determining whether they contain sufficient safeguards to protect privacy, civil rights, and civil liberties.

Note: For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on government corruption and the disappearance of privacy from reliable major media sources.


Why Big Tech, Cops, and Spies Were Made for One Another
2023-10-16, The Intercept
https://theintercept.com/2023/10/16/surveillance-state-big-tech/

Silicon Valley techies are pretty sanguine about commercial surveillance. But they are much less cool about government spying. Government employees and contractors are pretty cool with state surveillance. But they are far less cool with commercial surveillance. What are they both missing? That American surveillance is a public-private partnership: a symbiosis between a concentrated tech sector that has the means, motive, and opportunity to spy on every person in the world and a state that loves surveillance as much as it hates checks and balances. The tech sector has powerful allies in government: cops and spies. No government agency could ever hope to match the efficiency and scale of commercial surveillance. Meanwhile, the private sector relies on cops and spies to go to bat for them, lobbying against new privacy laws and for lax enforcement of existing ones. Think of Amazon's Ring cameras, which have blanketed entire neighborhoods in CCTV surveillance, which Ring shares with law enforcement agencies, sometimes without the consent or knowledge of the cameras' owners. Ring marketing recruits cops as street teams, showering them with freebies to distribute to local homeowners. Google ... has managed to play both sides of the culture war with its location surveillance, thanks to the "reverse warrants" that cops have used to identify all the participants at both Black Lives Matter protests and the January 6 coup. Distinguishing between state and private surveillance is a fool's errand.

Note: For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on the disappearance of privacy from reliable major media sources.


How Peter Thiel-Linked Tech is Fueling the Ukraine War
2023-10-15, ScheerPost
https://scheerpost.com/2023/10/15/how-peter-thiel-linked-tech-is-fueling-the-...

As war in Ukraine continues, controversial defense contractors and adjacent companies like Palantir, Anduril, and Clearview AI are taking advantage to develop and level-up controversial AI-driven weapons systems and surveillance technologies. These organizations' common link? The support of the controversial, yet ever-more powerful Silicon Valley billionaire Peter Thiel. Thiel-backed groups' involvement in war serves to develop not only problematic and unpredictable weapons technologies and systems, but also apparently to advance and further interconnect a larger surveillance apparatus formed by Thiel and his elite allies' collective efforts across the public and private sectors, which arguably amount to the entrenchment of a growing technocratic panopticon aimed at capturing public and private life. What's more, Thiel's funding efforts signal interest in developing expansive surveillance technologies, especially in the name of combatting "pre-crime" through "predictive policing" style surveillance. As an example, Thiel's provided significant funds to Israeli intelligence-linked startup Carbyne911 (as did Jeffrey Epstein), which develops call-handling and call-identification capacities for emergency services, and has ... a predictive-policing component. Thiel also assisted in the development and subsequent privatized spinoffs of the US Government's Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency's (DARPA) Total Information Awareness project.

Note: Peter Thiel was also recently reported to be an FBI informant. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on corporate corruption and the disappearance of privacy from reliable major media sources.


Schools Are Normalizing Intrusive Surveillance
2023-10-06, Reason
https://reason.com/2023/10/06/schools-are-normalizing-intrusive-surveillance/

Public schools ... are the focus of a new report on surveillance and kids by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU). "Over the last two decades, a segment of the educational technology (EdTech) sector that markets student surveillance products to schools – the EdTech Surveillance industry – has grown into a $3.1 billion a year economic juggernaut," begins Digital Dystopia The Danger in Buying What the EdTech Surveillance Industry is Selling. "The EdTech Surveillance industry accomplished that feat by playing on school districts' fears of school shootings, student self-harm and suicides, and bullying – marketing them as common, ever-present threats." As the authors detail, among the technologies are surveillance cameras. These are often linked to software for facial recognition, access control, behavior analysis, and weapon detection. That is, cameras scan student faces and then algorithms identify them, allow or deny them entry based on that ID, decide if their activities are threatening, and determine if objects they carry may be dangerous or forbidden. "False hits, such as mistaking a broomstick, three-ring binder, or a Google Chromebook laptop for a gun or other type of weapon, could result in an armed police response to a school," cautions the report. Students are aware that they're being observed. Of students aged 14–18 surveyed by the ACLU ... thirty-two percent say, "I always feel like I'm being watched."

Note: For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on government corruption and the disappearance of privacy from reliable major media sources.


TechScape: How police use location and search data to find suspects – and not always the right ones
2023-10-03, The Guardian (One of the UK's Leading Newspapers)
https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2023/oct/03/techscape-geofence-warrants

From Virginia to Florida, law enforcement all over the US are increasingly using tools called reverse search warrants – including geofence location warrants and keyword search warrants – to come up with a list of suspects who may have committed particular crimes. While the former is used by law enforcement to get tech companies to identify all the devices that were near a certain place at a certain time, the latter is used to get information on everyone who's searched for a particular keyword or phrase. It's a practice public defenders, privacy advocates and many lawmakers have criticised, arguing it violates fourth amendment protections against unreasonable searches. Unlike reverse search warrants, other warrants and subpoenas target a specific person that law enforcement has established there is probable cause to believe has committed a specific crime. But geofence warrants are sweeping in nature and are often used to compile a suspect list to further investigate. Google broke out how many geofence warrants it received for the first time in 2021. The company revealed it received nearly 21,000 geofence warrants between 2018 and 2020. The tech giant did not specify how many of those requests it complied with but did share that in the second half of 2020, it responded to 82% of all government requests for data in the US with some level of information. Apple has taken steps to publish its own numbers. In the first half of 2022 the company fielded a total of 13 geofence warrants and complied with none.

Note: The legal world is struggling to keep up with the rise of tech firms building ever more sophisticated means of surveilling people and their devices. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on police corruption and the disappearance of privacy from reliable major media sources.


Google User Data Has Become a Favorite Police Shortcut
2023-09-27, Bloomberg
https://www.bloomberg.com/news/features/2023-09-28/google-user-data-is-police...

Google maintains one of the world's most comprehensive repositories of location information. Drawing from phones' GPS coordinates, plus connections to Wi-Fi networks and cellular towers, it can often estimate a person's whereabouts to within several feet. It gathers this information in part to sell advertising, but police routinely dip into the data to further their investigations. The use of search data is less common, but that, too, has made its way into police stations throughout the country. Traditionally, American law enforcement obtains a warrant to search the home or belongings of a specific person, in keeping with a constitutional ban on unreasonable searches and seizures. Warrants for Google's location and search data are, in some ways, the inverse of that process, says Michael Price, the litigation director for the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers' Fourth Amendment Center. Rather than naming a suspect, law enforcement identifies basic parameters–a set of geographic coordinates or search terms–and asks Google to provide hits, essentially generating a list of leads. By their very nature, these Google warrants often return information on people who haven't been suspected of a crime. In 2018 a man in Arizona was wrongly arrested for murder based on Google location data. Google says it received a record 60,472 search warrants in the US last year, more than double the number from 2019. The company provides at least some information in about 80% of cases.

Note: For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on police corruption and the disappearance of privacy from reliable major media sources.


EFF to Michigan Court: Governments Shouldn't Be Allowed to Use a Drone to Spy on You Without a Warrant
2023-09-19, ScheerPost
https://scheerpost.com/2023/09/19/eff-to-michigan-court-governments-shouldnt-...

Should the government have to get a warrant before using a drone to spy on your home and backyard? We think so, and in an amicus brief filed last Friday in Long Lake Township v. Maxon, we urged the Michigan Supreme Court to find that warrantless drone surveillance of a home violates the Fourth Amendment. In this case, Long Lake Township hired private operators to repeatedly fly drones over Todd and Heather Maxon's home to take aerial photos and videos of their property in a zoning investigation. The Township did this without a warrant and then sought to use this documentation in a court case against them. In our brief, we argue that the township's conduct was governed by and violated the Fourth Amendment and the equivalent section of the Michigan Constitution. Drone prevalence has soared in recent years, fueled by both private and governmental use. We have documented more than 1,471 law enforcement agencies across the United States that operate drones. In some cities, police have begun implementing "drone as first responder" programs, in which drones are constantly flying over communities in response to routine calls for service. Authorities have routinely used aerial surveillance technologies against individuals participating in racial justice movements. Under this backdrop, states like Florida, Maine, Minnesota, Nevada, North Dakota, and Virginia have enacted statutes requiring warrants for police use of drones.  

Note: For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on government corruption and the disappearance of privacy from reliable major media sources.


Nissan, Kia can collect data on drivers' ‘sexual activity' and ‘sex lives': privacy watchdog
2023-09-06, New York Post
https://nypost.com/2023/09/06/nissan-kia-collect-data-about-drivers-sexual-ac...

Car makers Nissan and Kia can collect data on their drivers' "sexual activity" and "sex lives" – and may sell the info to third-party advertisers, according to a shocking study by an internet privacy watchdog. The creepy collection of personal information by the two auto companies earned them failing grades from The Mozilla Foundation, maker of the Firefox web browser, which ran privacy checks on 25 car brands. The foundation said most car companies can comb through a variety of sources to glean personal information about drivers after they pair their smartphones with a vehicle's connected services. "This invasive harvesting of information is collected via a web of sensors, microphones, cameras and the phones, apps, and connected services you use in your vehicle," according to Mozilla Foundation. The car firms can then take that data and sell it to or share it with vendors, insurance companies and others. Of the 25 car brands that were reviewed, Nissan's privacy policy "is probably the most ... messed up privacy policy we have ever read," according to Mozilla Foundation. "They come right out and say they can collect and share your sexual activity, health diagnosis data, and genetic information and other sensitive personal information for targeted marketing purposes," the foundation wrote. Mozilla Foundation also flagged other car companies such as Chrysler, Chevrolet, Toyota, Audi, Jeep, and Honda for "brazenly collecting deeply personal information from the moment they get into a car."

Note: For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on corporate corruption and the disappearance of privacy from reliable major media sources.


U.S. Spy Agency Dreams Of Surveillance Underwear It's Calling "SMART ePANTS"
2023-09-02, The Intercept
https://theintercept.com/2023/09/02/smart-epants-wearable-technology/

The future of wearable technology, beyond now-standard accessories like smartwatches and fitness tracking rings, is ePANTS, according to the intelligence community. The federal government has shelled out at least $22 million in an effort to develop "smart" clothing that spies on the wearer and its surroundings. Similar to previous moonshot projects funded by military and intelligence agencies, the inspiration may have come from science fiction and superpowers, but the basic applications are on brand for the government: surveillance and data collection. Billed as the "largest single investment to develop Active Smart Textiles," the SMART ePANTS – Smart Electrically Powered and Networked Textile Systems – program aims to develop clothing capable of recording audio, video, and geolocation data, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence announced in an August 22 press release. Garments slated for production include shirts, pants, socks, and underwear, all of which are intended to be washable. There is already evidence that private industry outside of the national security community are interested in smart clothing. Meta, Facebook's parent company, is looking to hire a researcher "with broad knowledge in smart textiles and garment construction, integration of electronics into soft and flexible systems, and who can work with a team of researchers working in haptics, sensing, tracking, and materials science."

Note: Smart objects have been called a "train wreck in privacy and security." For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on intelligence agency corruption and the disappearance of privacy from reliable major media sources.


FBI Hoovering Up DNA At A Pace That Rivals China, Holds 21 Million Samples And Counting
2023-08-29, The Intercept
https://theintercept.com/2023/08/29/fbi-dna-collection-surveillance/

The FBI has amassed 21.7 million DNA profiles – equivalent to about 7 percent of the U.S. population – according to Bureau data reviewed by The Intercept. The FBI aims to nearly double its current $56.7 million budget for dealing with its DNA catalog with an additional $53.1 million, according to its budget request for fiscal year 2024. "The requested resources will allow the FBI to process the rapidly increasing number of DNA samples collected by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security," the appeal for an increase says. "When we're talking about rapid expansion like this, it's getting us ever closer to a universal DNA database," Vera Eidelman, a staff attorney at the American Civil Liberties Union, [said]. "I think the civil liberties implications here are significant." The rapid growth of the FBI's sample load is in large part thanks to a Trump-era rule change that mandated the collection of DNA from migrants who were arrested or detained by immigration authorities. Until recently, the U.S. DNA database surpassed even that of authoritarian China, which launched an ambitious DNA collection program in 2017. That year, the BBC reported, the U.S. had about 4 percent of its population's DNA, while China had about 3 percent. While DNA has played an important role in prosecuting crimes, less than 3 percent of the profiles have assisted in cases, the Bureau's data reveals. By comparison, fingerprints collected by the FBI from current and former federal employees linked them to crimes at a rate of 12 percent each year.

Note: For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on intelligence agency corruption and the disappearance of privacy from reliable major media sources.


Intelligence Board Recommends Curbing F.B.I.'s Power to Use Surveillance Program
2023-07-31, New York Times
https://www.nytimes.com/2023/07/31/us/politics/fbi-warantless-surveillance-se...

An advisory board to President Biden has recommended limiting the F.B.I.'s ability to use a controversial warrantless surveillance program to hunt for information about Americans, even as it urged lawmakers to renew the law that authorizes it. The panel, known as the President's Intelligence Advisory Board, suggested barring the bureau from searching a database of intercepted information when looking for evidence about Americans in criminal investigations that do not involve foreign intelligence. The board ... delivered the recommendation in a declassified 39-page report. It came as Congress was debating whether to extend the law authorizing the program, known as Section 702. Under Section 702, the government can collect – from American companies like Google and AT&T and without a warrant – the communications of targeted foreigners abroad, even when they are talking to or about Americans. The notion that Section 702 creates a backdoor to the Fourth Amendment by allowing the F.B.I. to read private communications to or from an American without a warrant in ordinary criminal contexts has raised particular alarm. But the board rejected as unjustified the more sweeping reform proposal: to require the government to obtain a court warrant before using Americans' identifiers to search the repository. Requiring a court order before doing so, the board said, would prevent intelligence agencies from discovering threats to the country in a timely manner.

Note: For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on intelligence agency corruption and the disappearance of privacy from reliable major media sources.


It's a Bird. It's a Plane. It's the Police Responding to a 911 Call.
2023-07-29, The Marshall Project
https://www.themarshallproject.org/2023/07/29/police-drone-california-911

If you call 911 to report an emergency, the odds are increasing that a drone will be the first unit sent to respond. More than 1,500 departments across the country now use them, "mostly for search and rescue as well as to document crime scenes and chase suspects," according to ... MIT Technology Review. Generally, police drones don't carry weapons and are used primarily for video surveillance. It is possible for small drones to deliver chemical irritants like tear gas, however, a technology that police in Israel have used against Palestinians. In a report published on Thursday, American Civil Liberties Union Senior Policy Analyst Jay Stanley worries that these kinds of drone programs may normalize usage and "usher in an era of pervasive, suspicionless, mass aerial surveillance." He notes far more invasive turns that police drone usage could take, including warrantless surveillance of specific people, crime "hotspots" or even whole neighborhoods or cities. Stanley wonders if drone usage won't just ... "amplify the problems with the deeply broken U.S. criminal legal system." Many of the cities using drones in policing are doing so from so-called "real-time crime centers." These units function as centralized hubs to connect the various bits of surveillance and data that police collect from things like stationary cameras, drones, license plate readers and technology that listens for possible gunshots. Some centers can even integrate police body cameras and video from Ring doorbells.

Note: Police have been using military predator drones for domestic law enforcement since 2011. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on police corruption and the disappearance of privacy from reliable major media sources.


US Spies Are Lobbying Congress to Save a Phone Surveillance 'Loophole'
2023-07-27, Wired
https://www.wired.com/story/nsa-ndaa-lobbying-privacy-loophole/

An effort by United States lawmakers to prevent government agencies from domestically tracking citizens without a search warrant is facing opposition internally from one of its largest intelligence services. Officials at the National Security Agency (NSA) have approached lawmakers charged with its oversight about opposing an amendment that would prevent it from paying companies for location data instead of obtaining a warrant in court. Introduced by US representatives Warren Davidson and Sara Jacobs, the amendment ... would prohibit US military agencies from "purchasing data that would otherwise require a warrant, court order, or subpoena" to obtain. The ban would cover more than half of the US intelligence community, including the NSA, the Defense Intelligence Agency, and the newly formed National Space Intelligence Center, among others. A government report declassified by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence last month revealed that US intelligence agencies were avoiding judicial review by purchasing a "large amount" of "sensitive and intimate information" about Americans, including data that can be used to trace people's whereabouts over extended periods of time. The sensitivity of the data is such that "in the wrong hands," the report says, it could be used to "facilitate blackmail," among other undesirable outcomes. The report also acknowledges that some of the data being procured is protected under the US Constitution's Fourth Amendment.

Note: For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on intelligence agency corruption and the disappearance of privacy from reliable major media sources.


'Verified human': Worldcoin users queue up for iris scans
2023-07-25, Reuters
https://www.reuters.com/technology/verified-human-worldcoin-users-queue-up-ir...

People around the world are getting their eyeballs scanned in exchange for a digital ID and the promise of free cryptocurrency. The Worldcoin project says it aims to create a new "identity and financial network" and that its digital ID will allow users to, among other things, prove online that they are human, not a bot. The project launched on Monday, with eyeball scans taking place in countries including Britain, Japan and India. At a crypto conference in Tokyo, people on Tuesday queued in front of a gleaming silver globe flanked by placards stating: "Orbs are here." Applicants lined up to have their irises scanned by the device, before waiting for the 25 free Worldcoin tokens the company says verified users can claim. Worldcoin's data-collection is a "potential privacy nightmare," said the Electronic Privacy Information Center. Worldcoin's privacy policy ... says that data may be passed to subcontractors and could be accessed by governments and authorities. UK privacy campaign group Big Brother Watch said there was a risk biometric data could be hacked or exploited. "Digital ID systems increase state and corporate control over individuals' lives and rarely live up to the extraordinary benefits technocrats tend to attribute to them," senior advocacy officer Madeleine Stone said. In a mall in Bengaluru, India, orb-operators approached passers-by on Tuesday and showed them how to sign up. Most interviewed by Reuters said they were not worried about privacy.

Note: For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on corporate corruption and the disappearance of privacy from reliable major media sources.


How Palantir Is Shaping the Future of Warfare
2023-07-10, Time Magazine
https://time.com/6293398/palantir-future-of-warfare-ukraine/

Palantir's founding team, led by investor Peter Thiel and Alex Karp, wanted to create a company capable of using new data integration and data analytics technology – some of it developed to fight online payments fraud – to solve problems of law enforcement, national security, military tactics, and warfare. Palantir, founded in 2003, developed its tools fighting terrorism after September 11, and has done extensive work for government agencies and corporations though much of its work is secret. Palantir's MetaConstellation platform allows the user to task ... satellites to answer a specific query. Imagine you want to know what is happening in a certain location and time in the Arctic. Click on a button and MetaConstelation will schedule the right combination of satellites to survey the designated area. The platform is able to integrate data from multiple and disparate sources – think satellites, drones, and open-source intelligence – while allowing a new level of decentralised decision-making. Just as a deep learning algorithm knows how to recognise a picture of a dog after some hours of supervised learning, the Palantir algorithms can become extraordinarily apt at identifying an enemy command and control centre. Alex Karp, Palantir's CEO, has argued that "the power of advanced algorithmic warfare systems is now so great that it equates to having tactical nuclear weapons against an adversary with only conventional ones."

Note: For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on corporate corruption and the disappearance of privacy from reliable major media sources.


The Google employee who helped Edward Snowden in Hong Kong
2023-06-18, The Guardian (One of the UK's Leading Newspapers)
https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2023/jun/18/google-employee-edward-snowde...

On the morning of 10 June 2013 ... the journalist Glenn Greenwald and film-maker Laura Poitras published on the Guardian site a video revealing the identity of the NSA whistleblower behind one of the most damning leaks in modern history. It began: "My name is Ed Snowden." William Fitzgerald, then a 27-year-old policy employee at Google, knew he wanted to help. Fitzgerald found himself waiting in the lobby of the Hong Kong W Hotel to meet Greenwald and introduce him to Robert Tibbo and Jonathan Man – the men who became Snowden's legal representatives and hid him in the homes of Tibbo's refugee clients. The Snowden files told a ... sinister story, revealing mass surveillance by the US National Security Agency (NSA). The NSA files suggested that some tech firms, including Google, Facebook and Apple, were aware. Google and other tech firms worked to distance themselves from the NSA's efforts. But over time [Google's] culture appeared to shift, reflecting the changing needs of various governments. Google stopped promoting its transparency report to the media, free expression advocates were replaced by more traditional business-focused executives, and then there was Project Maven – the controversial Department of Defense drone project that Google signed on to build artificial intelligence for. Google isn't alone in vying for government contracts – Microsoft, Amazon, IBM have all since made a play for or struck multimillion-dollar deals to build tools of surveillance for various entities including the Pentagon.

Note: For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on intelligence agency corruption and the disappearance of privacy from reliable major media sources.


The US Is Openly Stockpiling Dirt on All Its Citizens
2023-06-12, Wired
https://www.wired.com/story/odni-commercially-available-information-report/

The United States government has been secretly amassing a "large amount" of "sensitive and intimate information" on its own citizens, a group of senior advisers informed Avril Haines, the director of national intelligence. The government effort to accumulate data revealing the minute details of Americans' lives [is] described soberly and at length by the director's own panel of experts in a newly declassified report. The report states that the government believes it can "persistently" track the phones of "millions of Americans" without a warrant, so long as it pays for the information. It is often trivial "to deanonymize and identify individuals" from data that was packaged ... for commercial use. Such data may be useful, it says, to "identify every person who attended a protest or rally based on their smartphone location or ad-tracking records." Such civil liberties concerns are prime examples of how "large quantities of nominally 'public' information can result in sensitive aggregations." What's more, information collected for one purpose "may be reused for other purposes," which may "raise risks beyond those originally calculated," an effect called "mission creep." "In the wrong hands," [Office of the Director of National Intelligence] advisers warn, the same mountain of data the government is quietly accumulating could be turned against Americans to "facilitate blackmail, stalking, harassment, and public shaming." These are all offenses that have been committed by intelligence agencies and White House administrations in the past.

Note: For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on government corruption and the disappearance of privacy from reliable major media sources.


Fantasy fears about AI are obscuring how we already abuse machine intelligence
2023-06-11, The Guardian (One of the UK's Leading Newspapers)
https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2023/jun/11/big-tech-warns-of-threa...

A young African American man, Randal Quran Reid, was pulled over by the state police in Georgia. He was arrested under warrants issued by Louisiana police for two cases of theft in New Orleans. The arrest warrants had been based solely on a facial recognition match, though that was never mentioned in any police document; the warrants claimed "a credible source" had identified Reid as the culprit. The facial recognition match was incorrect and Reid was released. Reid ... is not the only victim of a false facial recognition match. So far all those arrested in the US after a false match have been black. From surveillance to disinformation, we live in a world shaped by AI. The reason that Reid was wrongly incarcerated had less to do with artificial intelligence than with ... the humans that created the software and trained it. Too often when we talk of the "problem" of AI, we remove the human from the picture. We worry AI will "eliminate jobs" and make millions redundant, rather than recognise that the real decisions are made by governments and corporations and the humans that run them. We have come to view the machine as the agent and humans as victims of machine agency. Rather than seeing regulation as a means by which we can collectively shape our relationship to AI, it becomes something that is imposed from the top as a means of protecting humans from machines. It is not AI but our blindness to the way human societies are already deploying machine intelligence for political ends that should most worry us.

Note: For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on police corruption and the disappearance of privacy from reliable major media sources.


Ten Years Later, Snowden's Heroism Shines Ever Brighter
2023-06-08, CounterPunch
https://www.counterpunch.org/2023/06/08/ten-years-later-snowdens-heroism-shin...

In 2010, the Washington Post reported that "every day, collection systems at the [NSA] intercept and store 1.7 billion emails, phone calls and other type of communications." In 2011, NSA expanded a program to provide real-time location information of every American with a cell phone, acquiring more than a billion cell phone records each day from AT&T. Later, newspapers around the world began publishing confidential documents leaked by [Edward] Snowden. Americans learned that the NSA can tap almost any cell phone in the world, exploit computer games like Angry Birds to poach personal data, access anyone's email and web browsing history [and] remotely penetrate almost all computers. The NSA used Facebook and Google apps to send malware to targeted individuals. NSA filched almost 200,000,000 records a month from private computer cloud accounts. Obama perpetuated perverse Bush-era legal doctrines to totally shield federal surveillance from judicial scrutiny. Obama's Justice Department secretly decreed that all phone records of all Americans were "relevant" to terrorism investigations and that the NSA could therefore justifiably seize everyone's personal data. Snowden revealed how the NSA had covertly carried out "the most significant change in the history of American espionage from the targeted surveillance of individuals to the mass surveillance of entire populations."

Note: For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on intelligence agency corruption and the disappearance of privacy from reliable major media sources.


What's really changed 10 years after the Snowden revelations?
2023-06-07, The Guardian (One of the UK's Leading Newspapers)
https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2023/jun/07/edward-snowden-10-years-surve...

When Edward Snowden blew the whistle on mass surveillance by the US government, he traded a comfortable existence in Hawaii, the paradise of the Pacific, for indefinite exile in Russia, now a pariah in much of the world. But 10 years after Snowden was identified as the source of the biggest National Security Agency (NSA) leak in history, it is less clear whether America underwent a similarly profound transformation in its attitude to safeguarding individual privacy. Was his act of self-sacrifice worth it – did he make a difference? On 6 June 2013, the Guardian published the first story based on Snowden's disclosures, revealing that a secret court order was allowing the US government to get Verizon to share the phone records of millions of Americans. The impact was dramatic. James Clapper, the director of national intelligence, who earlier that year had testified to Congress that the NSA did not collect data on millions of Americans, was forced to apologise and admit that his statement had been "clearly erroneous". The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) filed a constitutional lawsuit in federal court. It eventually led to a ruling that held the NSA telephone collection program was and always had been illegal, a significant breakthrough given that national security surveillance programs had typically been insulated from judicial review. You will not find any coherent statement by any US security official that says clearly what harm was done by these disclosures.

Note: For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on intelligence agency corruption and the disappearance of privacy from reliable major media sources.


The AI firm that conducted ‘state surveillance' of your social media posts
2023-06-03, The Telegraph (One of the UK's Leading Newspapers)
https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2023/06/03/logically-ai-firm-social-media-po...

An industrial estate in Yorkshire is an unlikely location for ... an artificial intelligence (AI) company used by the Government to monitor people's posts on social media. Logically has been paid more than Ł1.2 million of taxpayers' money to analyse what the Government terms "disinformation" – false information deliberately seeded online – and "misinformation", which is false information that has been spread inadvertently. It does this by "ingesting" material from more than hundreds of thousands of media sources and "all public posts on major social media platforms", using AI to identify those that are potentially problematic. It has a Ł1.2 million deal with the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS), as well as another worth up to Ł1.4 million with the Department of Health and Social Care to monitor threats to high-profile individuals within the vaccine service. It also has a "partnership" with Facebook, which appears to grant Logically's fact-checkers huge influence over the content other people see. A joint press release issued in July 2021 suggests that Facebook will limit the reach of certain posts if Logically says they are untrue. "When Logically rates a piece of content as false, Facebook will significantly reduce its distribution so that fewer people see it, apply a warning label to let people know that the content has been rated false, and notify people who try to share it," states the press release.

Note: Read more about how NewsGuard, a for-profit company, works closely with government agencies and major corporate advertisers to suppress dissenting views online. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on government corruption and media manipulation from reliable sources.


The AI firm that conducted ‘state surveillance' of your social media posts
2023-06-03, The Telegraph (One of the UK's Leading Newspapers)
https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2023/06/03/logically-ai-firm-social-media-po...

These blank-looking warehouses are home to an artificial intelligence (AI) company used by the Government to monitor people's posts on social media. Logically has been paid more than Ł1.2 million of taxpayers' money to analyse what the Government terms "disinformation" – false information deliberately seeded online – and "misinformation", which is false information that has been spread inadvertently. It does this by "ingesting" material from more than hundreds of thousands of media sources and "all public posts on major social media platforms", using AI to identify those that are potentially problematic. It has a Ł1.2 million deal with the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS), as well as another worth up to Ł1.4 million with the Department of Health and Social Care to monitor threats to high-profile individuals within the vaccine service. Other blue-chip clients include US federal agencies, the Indian electoral commission, and TikTok. It also has a "partnership" with Facebook, which appears to grant Logically's fact-checkers huge influence over the content other people see. A joint press release issued in July 2021 suggests that Facebook will limit the reach of certain posts if Logically says they are untrue. "When Logically rates a piece of content as false, Facebook will significantly reduce its distribution so that fewer people see it, apply a warning label to let people know that the content has been rated false, and notify people who try to share it," states the press release.

Note: For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on government corruption and the disappearance of privacy from reliable major media sources.


U.S. Intelligence Building System to Track Mass Movement of People Around the World
2023-05-22, Vice
https://www.vice.com/en/article/88xq54/us-intelligence-building-system-to-tra...

The Pentagon's intelligence branch is developing new tech to help it track the mass movement of people around the globe and flag "anomalies." The project is called the Hidden Activity Signal and Trajectory Anomaly Characterization (HAYSTAC) program and it "aims to establish ‘normal' movement models across times, locations, and populations and determine what makes an activity atypical," according to a press release from the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (DNI). HAYSTAC will be run by the DNI's Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity (IARPA). It's kind of like DARPA, the Pentagon's blue-sky research department, but with a focus on intelligence projects. According to the agency, the project will analyze data from internet-connected devices and "smart city" sensors using AI. "An ever-increasing amount of geospatial data is created every day," Jack Cooper, HAYSTAC's program manager, said. Cooper also mentioned privacy, or rather a lack of it. "Today you might think that privacy means going to live off the grid in the middle of nowhere," he said. "That's just not realistic in today's environment. Sensors are cheap. Everybodys got one. There's no such thing as living off the grid." In one project, [contractor] AIS simulated a cyber attack. "Devices included traditional desktop systems, laptops, tablets, and mobile platforms," the firm said. "The technology tracks users through biometric features, including keystroke biometrics, mouse movement behavior, and gait detection."

Note: For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on intelligence agency corruption and the disappearance of privacy from reliable major media sources.


FBI broke own rules in January 6 and BLM intelligence search, court finds
2023-05-19, The Guardian/Associated Press
https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2023/may/19/fbi-intelligence-surveillance...

FBI officials repeatedly violated their own standards when they searched a vast repository of foreign intelligence for information related to the January 6 insurrection and racial justice protests in 2020, according court order released Friday. The violations were detailed in a secret court order issued last year by the foreign intelligence surveillance (Fisa) court, which has legal oversight of the US government's spy powers. At issue are improper queries of foreign intelligence information collected under section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, which enables the government to gather the communications of targeted foreigners outside the US. That program, which is set to expire at the end of the year, creates a database of intelligence that US agencies can search. FBI searches must have a foreign intelligence purpose or be aimed at finding evidence of a crime. But congressional critics of the program have long raised alarm about what they say are unjustified searches of the database for information about Americans, along with more general concerns about surveillance abuses. In repeated episodes disclosed on Friday, the FBI's own standards were not followed. The April 2022 order, for instances, details how the FBI queried the section 702 repository using the name of someone who was believed to have been at the Capitol during the January 6 riot. Officials obtained the information despite it not having any "analytical, investigative or evidentiary purpose", the order said.

Note: For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on intelligence agency corruption and the disappearance of privacy from reliable major media sources.


Human DNA can now be pulled from thin air or a footprint on the beach. Here's what that could mean
2023-05-15, CNN News
https://www.cnn.com/2023/05/15/health/human-dna-captured-from-air-scn/index.html

Footprints left on a beach. Air breathed in a busy room. Ocean water. Scientists have been able to collect and analyze detailed genetic data from human DNA from all these places, raising thorny ethical questions about consent, privacy and security when it comes to our biological information. The researchers from the University of Florida, who were using environmental DNA found in sand to study endangered sea turtles, said the DNA was of such high quality that the scientists could ... determine the genetic ancestry of populations living nearby. They could also match genetic information to individual participants who had volunteered to have their DNA recovered. Human DNA that has seeped into the environment through our spit, skin, sweat and blood could be used to help find missing persons, aid in forensic investigations to solve crimes, locate sites of archaeological importance, and for health monitoring. However, the ability to capture human DNA from the environment could have a range of unintended consequences – both inadvertent and malicious. These included privacy breaches, location tracking, data harvesting, and genetic surveillance of individuals or groups. [Researchers] retrieved DNA from footprints made in sand by four volunteers. They were able to sequence part of the participants' genomes. Next, the researchers took samples of air from a ... room in an animal clinic. The team recovered DNA that matched the staff volunteers [and] animal patients.

Note: This research was published in the journal Nature Ecology & Evolution. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on the disappearance of privacy from reliable major media sources.


Did Intel-Linked Dataminr Play Sinister Role In Hunter Biden Laptop Suppression?
2023-05-09, MintPress News
https://www.mintpressnews.com/intel-linked-dataminr-sinister-role-hunter-bide...

On April 20, former acting CIA Director Michael Morell admitted he orchestrated the joint letter that torpedoed the New York Post's bombshell reporting on Hunter Biden's laptop in the weeks leading up to the November 2020 US Presidential election, at the direct request of Joe Biden's campaign team. That letter ... asserted the leaked material bore unambiguous hallmarks of a Kremlin "information operation." In all, 51 former senior intelligence officials endorsed the declaration. This intervention was sufficient for Twitter to block all sharing of the NY Post's exposĂ©s and ban the outlet's official account. Twitter's public suppression of the NY Post's disclosures was complemented by a covert operation to identify and neutralize anyone discussing the contents of Hunter Biden's laptop, courtesy of Dataminr, a social media spying tool heavily connected to British and American intelligence services. In-Q-Tel [is] the CIA's venture capital arm. In 2016, The Intercept revealed In-Q-Tel was financing at least 38 separate social media spying tools, to surveil "erupting political movements, crises, epidemics, and disasters." Among them was Dataminr, which enjoys privileged access to Twitter's "firehose" – all tweets published in real time – in order to track and visualize trends as they happen. [In 2020], the U.S. was ... engulfed by incendiary large-scale protests. Dataminr kept a close eye on this upheaval every step of the way, tipping off police to the identities of demonstrators.

Note: While Hunter Biden was indicted for three felony gun charges and nine counts of tax-related crimes, his laptop also revealed suspicious business dealings with corrupt overseas firms. Learn more about the history of military-intelligence influence on the media in our comprehensive Military-Intelligence Corruption Information Center. For more, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on corporate corruption and media manipulation from reliable sources.


The Last Honest Man: Frank Church and the fight to restrain US power
2023-05-07, The Guardian (One of the UK's Leading Newspapers)
https://www.theguardian.com/books/2023/may/07/last-honest-man-frank-church-bo...

Frank Forrester Church sat in the US Senate for 24 years. He battled for civil rights and came to oppose the Vietnam war. He believed Americans were citizens, not subjects. Chairing the intelligence select committee was his most enduring accomplishment. James Risen, a Pulitzer-winning reporter now with the Intercept, sees him as a hero. The Last Honest Man is both paean and lament. "For decades ... the CIA's operations faced only glancing scrutiny from the White House, and virtually none from Congress," Risen writes. "True oversight would have to wait until 1975, and the arrival on the national stage of a senator from Idaho, Frank Church." For 16 months, Church and his committee scrutinized the CIA, FBI and National Security Agency and their many abuses. Political assassinations, covert operations and domestic surveillance finally received scrutiny and oversight. A plot to kill Fidel Castro, with an assist from organized crime, made headlines. So did the personal ties that bound John F Kennedy, mob boss Sam Giancana and their shared mistress, Judith Campbell Exner. Giancana was murdered before he testified. Before John Rosselli, another mobster, could make a third appearance, his decomposed body turned up in a steel fuel drum near Miami. Against this grizzly but intriguing backdrop, Risen's book is aptly subtitled: The CIA, the FBI, the Mafia, and the Kennedys – And One Senator's Fight to Save Democracy.

Note: Read more about James Risen's courageous reporting on the intelligence community. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on intelligence agency corruption from reliable major media sources.


AI makes non-invasive mind-reading possible by turning thoughts into text
2023-05-01, The Guardian (One of the UK's Leading Newspapers)
https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2023/may/01/ai-makes-non-invasive-mind...

An AI-based decoder that can translate brain activity into a continuous stream of text has been developed, in a breakthrough that allows a person's thoughts to be read non-invasively for the first time. The decoder could reconstruct speech with uncanny accuracy while people listened to a story – or even silently imagined one – using only fMRI scan data. Previous language decoding systems have required surgical implants. Large language models – the kind of AI underpinning OpenAI's ChatGPT ... are able to represent, in numbers, the semantic meaning of speech, allowing the scientists to look at which patterns of neuronal activity corresponded to strings of words with a particular meaning rather than attempting to read out activity word by word. The decoder was personalised and when the model was tested on another person the readout was unintelligible. It was also possible for participants on whom the decoder had been trained to thwart the system, for example by thinking of animals or quietly imagining another story. Jerry Tang, a doctoral student at the University of Texas at Austin and a co-author, said: "We take very seriously the concerns that it could be used for bad purposes and have worked to avoid that. We want to make sure people only use these types of technologies when they want to and that it helps them." Prof Tim Behrens, a computational neuroscientist ... said it opened up a host of experimental possibilities, including reading thoughts from someone dreaming.

Note: This technology has advanced considerably since Jose Delgado first stopped a charging bull using radio waves in 1965. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on mind control and the disappearance of privacy from reliable major media sources.


Big Tech Companies Are Becoming More Powerful Than Nation-States
2023-04-25, Common Dreams
https://www.commondreams.org/opinion/big-tech-companies-more-powerful-than-na...

U.S. citizens are being subjected to a relentless onslaught from intrusive technologies that have become embedded in the everyday fabric of our lives, creating unprecedented levels of social and political upheaval. These widely used technologies ... include social media and what Harvard professor Shoshanna Zuboff calls "surveillance capitalism"–the buying and selling of our personal info and even our DNA in the corporate marketplace. But powerful new ones are poised to create another wave of radical change. Under the mantle of the "Fourth Industrial Revolution," these include artificial intelligence or AI, the metaverse, the Internet of Things, the Internet of Bodies (in which our physical and health data is added into the mix to be processed by AI), and my personal favorite, police robots. This is a two-pronged effort involving both powerful corporations and government initiatives. These tech-based systems are operating "below the radar" and rarely discussed in the mainstream media. The world's biggest tech companies are now richer and more powerful than most countries. According to an article in PC Week in 2021 discussing Apple's dominance: "By taking the current valuation of Apple, Microsoft, Amazon, and others, then comparing them to the GDP of countries on a map, we can see just how crazy things have become… Valued at $2.2 trillion, the Cupertino company is richer than 96% of the world. In fact, only seven countries currently outrank the maker of the iPhone financially."

Note: For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on corporate corruption and the disappearance of privacy from reliable major media sources.


Georgia National Guard Will Use Phone Location Tracking to Recruit High School Children
2023-04-16, The Intercept
https://theintercept.com/2023/04/16/georgia-army-national-guard-location-trac...

The Georgia Army National Guard plans to combine two deeply controversial practices – military recruiting at schools and location-based phone surveillance – to persuade teens to enlist, according to contract documents reviewed by The Intercept. The federal contract materials outline plans by the Georgia Army National Guard to geofence 67 different public high schools throughout the state, targeting phones found within a one-mile boundary of their campuses with recruiting advertisements "with the intent of generating qualified leads of potential applicants for enlistment while also raising awareness of the Georgia Army National Guard." Geofencing refers generally to the practice of drawing a virtual border around a real-world area. The ad campaign will make use of a variety of surveillance advertising techniques, including capturing the unique device IDs of student phones, tracking pixels, and IP address tracking. It will also plaster recruiting solicitations across Instagram, Snapchat, streaming television, and music apps. The campaign plans not only call for broadcasting recruitment ads to kids at school, but also for pro-Guard ads to follow these students around as they continue using the internet and other apps, a practice known as retargeting. While the state's plan specifies targeting only high school juniors and seniors ages 17 and above, demographic ad targeting is known to be error prone, and experts told The Intercept it's possible the recruiting messages could reach the phones of younger children.

Note: For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on military corruption and the disappearance of privacy from reliable major media sources.


TikTok: Chinese "Trojan Horse" is Run By State Department Officials
2023-04-13, MintPress News
https://www.mintpressnews.com/tiktok-chinese-trojan-horse-run-by-state-depart...

A MintPress News investigation has found dozens of ex-U.S. State Department officials working in key positions at TikTok. Many more individuals with backgrounds in the FBI, CIA and other departments of the national security state also hold influential posts at the social media giant, affecting the content that over one billion users see. The influx of State Department officials into TikTok's upper ranks is a consequence of "Project Texas," an initiative the company began in 2020 in the hopes of avoiding being banned altogether in the United States. During his time in office, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo led the charge to shut the platform down, frequently labeling it a "spying app" and a "propaganda tool for the Chinese Communist Party." It was widely reported that the U.S. government had forced the sale of TikTok to Walmart and then Microsoft. But in late 2020, as Project Texas began, those deals mysteriously fell through, and the rhetoric about the dangers of TikTok from officials evaporated. Project Texas is a $1.5 billion security operation to move the company's data to Austin. In doing so, it announced that it was partnering with tech giant Oracle, a corporation that, as MintPress has reported on, is the CIA in all but name. Evidently, Project Texas also secretly included hiring all manner of U.S. national security state personnel to oversee the company's operations – and not just from the State Department. Virtually every branch of the national security state is present at TikTok.

Note: For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on corruption in intelligence agencies and in the corporate world from reliable major media sources.


Army Info War Division Wants Social Media Surveillance to Protect 'NATO Brand'
2023-04-07, The Intercept
https://theintercept.com/2023/04/27/army-cyber-command-nato-social-media/

The U.S. Army Cyber Command told defense contractors it planned to surveil global social media use to defend the "NATO brand," according to a 2022 webinar recording reviewed by The Intercept. "NATO is one of our key brands that we are pushing, as far as our national security alliance," [Lt. Col. David Beskow] explained. The mass social media surveillance appears to be just one component of a broader initiative to use private-sector data mining to advance the Army's information warfare efforts. Beskow expressed an interest in purchasing access to nonpublic commercial web data, corporate ownership records, supply chain data, and more. While the U.S. national security establishment frequently warns against other countries' "weaponization" of social media and the broader internet, recent reporting has shown the Pentagon engages in some of the very same conduct. Researchers from Graphika and the Stanford Internet Observatory uncovered a network of pro-U.S. Twitter and Facebook accounts covertly operated by U.S. Central Command, an embarrassing revelation that led to a "sweeping audit of how it conducts clandestine information warfare." Despite years of alarm in Washington over the threat posed by deepfake video fabrications to democratic societies, The Intercept reported last month that U.S. Special Operations Command is seeking vendors to help them make their own deepfakes to deceive foreign internet users.

Note: For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on military corruption and media manipulation from reliable sources.


Clearview AI scraped 30 billion images from Facebook and other social media sites and gave them to cops: it puts everyone into a 'perpetual police line-up'
2023-04-02, Business Insider
https://www.businessinsider.com/clearview-scraped-30-billion-images-facebook-...

A controversial facial recognition database, used by police departments across the nation, was built in part with 30 billion photos the company scraped from Facebook and other social media users without their permission. The company, Clearview AI, boasts of its potential for identifying rioters at the January 6 attack on the Capitol, saving children being abused or exploited, and helping exonerate people wrongfully accused of crimes. But critics point to privacy violations and wrongful arrests fueled by faulty identifications made by facial recognition, including cases in Detroit and New Orleans, as cause for concern over the technology. Once a photo has been scraped by Clearview AI, biometric face prints are made and cross-referenced in the database, tying the individuals to their social media profiles and other identifying information forever – and people in the photos have little recourse to try to remove themselves. CNN reported Clearview AI last year claimed the company's clients include "more than 3,100 US agencies, including the FBI and Department of Homeland Security." BBC reported Miami Police acknowledged they use the technology for all kinds of crimes, from shoplifting to murder. The risk of being included in what is functionally a "perpetual police line-up" applies to everyone, including people who think they have nothing to hide, [said] Matthew Guariglia, a senior policy analyst for the international non-profit digital rights group Electronic Frontier Fund.

Note: Read about the rising concerns of the use of Clearview AI technology in Ukraine, with claims to help reunite families, identify Russian operatives, and fight misinformation. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on corporate corruption and the disappearance of privacy from reliable major media sources.


A Front Company and a Fake Identity: How the U.S. Came to Use Spyware It Was Trying to Kill
2023-04-02, New York Times
https://www.nytimes.com/2023/04/02/us/politics/nso-contract-us-spy.html

The secret contract was finalized on Nov. 8, 2021, a deal between a company that has acted as a front for the United States government and the American affiliate of a notorious Israeli hacking firm. Under the arrangement, the Israeli firm, NSO Group, gave the U.S. government access to one of its most powerful weapons – a geolocation tool that can covertly track mobile phones around the world without the phone user's knowledge or consent. Only five days earlier, the Biden administration had announced it was taking action against NSO, whose hacking tools for years had been abused by governments around the world to spy on political dissidents, human rights activists and journalists. The White House placed NSO on a Commerce Department blacklist, declaring the company a national security threat. The secret contract ... violates the Biden administration's public policy, and still appears to be active. The contract, reviewed by The Times, stated that the "United States government" would be the ultimate user of the tool, although it is unclear which government agency authorized the deal and might be using the spyware. Elements of America's expansive national security apparatus in recent years have bought the weapons, deployed them against drug traffickers, and have quietly pushed to consolidate control of them into the hands of the United States and its closest allies. The F.B.I. purchased access in 2019 to NSO's most powerful hacking tool, known as Pegasus, which invades mobile phones and mines their contents.

Note: Read how journalists and activists have been targeted with NSO Group spyware. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on government corruption and the disappearance of privacy from reliable major media sources.


The professor trying to protect our private thoughts from technology
2023-03-26, The Guardian (One of the UK's Leading Newspapers)
https://www.theguardian.com/science/2023/mar/26/nita-farahany-the-battle-for-...

Private thoughts may not be private for much longer, heralding a nightmarish world where political views, thoughts, stray obsessions and feelings could be interrogated and punished all thanks to advances in neurotechnology. In a new book, The Battle for Your Brain, Duke University bioscience professor Nita Farahany argues that such intrusions into the human mind by technology are so close that a public discussion is long overdue and lawmakers should immediately establish brain protections as it would for any other area of personal liberty. Farahany, who served on Barack Obama's commission for the study of bioethical issues, believes that advances in neurotechnology mean that intrusions through the door of brain privacy, whether by way of military programs or by way of well-funded research labs at big tech companies, are at hand via brain-to-computer innovations like wearable tech. "All of the major tech companies have massive investments in multifunctional devices that have brain sensors in them," Farahany said. "Neural sensors will become part of our everyday technology and a part of how we interact with that technology." François du Cluzel, a project manager at Nato Act Innovation Hub, issued a report in November 2020 entitled Cognitive Warfare that, it said, "is not limited to the military or institutional world. Since the early 1990s, this capability has tended to be applied to the political, economic, cultural and societal fields."

Note: Read more about these troubling developments. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on the disappearance of privacy from reliable major media sources.


Federal Agencies Are Still Using Our Phones as Tracking Beacons
2023-03-24, Reason
https://reason.com/2023/03/24/federal-agencies-are-still-using-our-phones-as-...

Recent reports about the Secret Service and Immigration and Customs Enforcement playing fast and loose with rules regarding cellphone tracking and the FBI purchasing phone location data from commercial sources constitute an important wake-up call. They remind us that those handy mobile devices many people tote around are the most cost-effective surveillance system ever invented. "The United States Secret Service and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Homeland Security Investigations (ICE HSI) did not always adhere to Federal statute and cellsite simulator (CSS) policies when using CSS during criminal investigations," the Department of Homeland Security's Office of the Inspector General reported last month. "Separately, ICE HSI did not adhere to Department privacy policies and the applicable Federal privacy statute when using CSS." The OIG report referred to the use of what is commonly called "stingray" technology–devices that simulate cellphone towers and trick phones within range into connecting and revealing their location. "They also gather information about the phones of countless bystanders who happen to be nearby," the ACLU warns. Even the most precise phone company location data remains available with court approval. The courts are currently mulling multiple cases involving "geofence warrants" whereby law enforcement seeks data not on individuals, but on whoever was carrying a device in a designated area at a specified time.

Note: For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on government corruption and the disappearance of privacy from reliable major media sources.


Mapping Project Reveals Locations of U.S. Border Surveillance Towers
2023-03-20, The Intercept
https://theintercept.com/2023/03/20/border-surveillance-map/

The precise locations of the U.S. government's high-tech surveillance towers along the U.S-Mexico border are being made public for the first time as part of a mapping project by the Electronic Frontier Foundation. While the Department of Homeland Security's investment of more than a billion dollars into a so-called virtual wall between the U.S. and Mexico is a matter of public record, the government does not disclose where these towers are located, despite privacy concerns of residents of both countries – and the fact that individual towers are plainly visible to observers. The surveillance tower map is the result of a year's work steered by EFF Director of Investigations Dave Maass. As border surveillance towers have multiplied across the southern border, so too have they become increasingly sophisticated, packing a panoply of powerful cameras, microphones, lasers, radar antennae, and other sensors. Companies like Anduril and Google have reaped major government paydays by promising to automate the border-watching process with migrant-detecting artificial intelligence. Opponents of these modern towers, bristling with always-watching sensors, argue the increasing computerization of border security will lead inevitably to the dehumanization of an already thoroughly dehumanizing undertaking. Nobody can say for certain how many people have died attempting to cross the U.S.-Mexico border in the recent age of militarization and surveillance. Researchers estimate that the minimum is at least 10,000 dead.

Note: As the article states, the Department of Homeland Security was "the largest reorganization of the federal government since the creation of the CIA and the Defense Department," and has resulted in U.S. taxpayers funding corrupt agendas that have led to massive human rights abuses. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on government corruption and the disappearance of privacy from reliable major media sources.


After 20 Years, the Department of Homeland Security Is a Money-Guzzling Failure
2023-03-13, Newsweek
https://www.newsweek.com/after-20-years-department-homeland-security-money-gu...

In March 2003, the newly christened Department of Homeland Security, or DHS, opened its doors. The department took everything from immigration enforcement and counterterrorism to airport security and disaster response under one gargantuan bureaucracy. Despite these wide-ranging missions, the department's unifying logic in the post 9/11 era has been to wage the so-called war on terror at home. The result has been systemic abuse of minority communities, a dangerous militarization of American life, and a massive waste of money that sapped resources from addressing the real threats to our homeland. DHS agencies have militarized U.S. streets, sending officers in tactical gear to respond to civilian protests and conducting surveillance of U.S. citizens engaged in constitutionally protected activities. There are stories of DHS drones surveilling Indigenous water and land protectors and DHS forces spying on Black Lives Matter protesters. DHS even monitored journalists who reported on the department's tactics. None of these abuses have come cheap. Since its founding in 2003, the U.S. has spent $1.4 trillion on the agency. That's more than seven times what the government spent over the same period on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), including the CDC's COVID-19 pandemic response–and more than five times more than on the Environmental Protection Agency. The [DHS] was supposed to be about making the U.S. safer. But it has failed.

Note: A thorough investigation reveals details on the DHS "Disinformation Governance Board," an unsuccessful effort in 2022 to police online speech it considers inaccurate and dangerous. Now, the DHS board and its key subcommittees are undergoing sweeping changes as public concern grows over social media censorship and government overreach.


The FBI Just Admitted It Bought US Location Data
2023-03-08, Wired
https://www.wired.com/story/fbi-purchase-location-data-wray-senate/

The United States Federal Bureau of Investigation has acknowledged for the first time that it purchased US location data rather than obtaining a warrant. The disclosure came today during a US Senate hearing. Senator Ron Wyden ... put the question of the bureau's use of commercial data to its director, Christopher Wray: "Does the FBI purchase US phone-geolocation information?" Wray said his agency was not currently doing so. "To my knowledge, we do not currently purchase commercial database information that includes location data derived from internet advertising," Wray said. "I understand that we previously–as in the past–purchased some such information for a specific national security pilot project. But that's not been active for some time." In its landmark Carpenter v. United States decision, the Supreme Court held that government agencies accessing historical location data without a warrant were violating the Fourth Amendment's guarantee against unreasonable searches. The decision left open a glaring loophole that allows the government to simply purchase whatever it cannot otherwise legally obtain. US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and the Defense Intelligence Agency are among the list of federal agencies known to have taken advantage of this loophole. The Department of Homeland Security ... purchased the geolocations of millions of Americans from private marketing firms. The data were derived from ... benign sources, such as mobile games and weather apps.

Note: For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on government corruption and the disappearance of privacy from reliable major media sources.


FBI, Pentagon helped research facial recognition for street cameras, drones
2023-03-07, Washington Post
https://www.washingtonpost.com/technology/2023/03/07/facial-recognition-fbi-d...

The FBI and the Defense Department were actively involved in research and development of facial recognition software that they hoped could be used to identify people from video footage captured by street cameras and flying drones, according to thousands of pages of internal documents that provide new details about the government's ambitions to build out a powerful tool for advanced surveillance. The documents, revealed in response to an ongoing Freedom of Information Act lawsuit the American Civil Liberties Union filed against the FBI, show how closely FBI and Defense officials worked with academic researchers to refine artificial-intelligence techniques that could help in the identification or tracking of Americans without their awareness or consent. Many of the records relate to the Janus program, a project funded by the Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Agency, or IARPA. The improved facial recognition system was ultimately folded into a search tool, called Horus, and made available to the Pentagon's Combating Terrorism Technical Support Office, which helps provide military technologies to civilian police forces. No federal laws regulate how facial recognition systems can be used. The tool's use in domestic mass surveillance would be a "nightmare scenario," said Nathan Wessler, a deputy director at the ACLU. "It could give the government the ability to pervasively track as many people as they want for as long as they want. There's no good outcome for that in a democratic society."

Note: For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on intelligence agency corruption and the disappearance of privacy from reliable major media sources.


As crime-solving goes hi-tech, public defenders scramble to keep up
2023-02-24, The Guardian (One of the UK's Leading Newspapers)
https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2023/feb/24/fourth-amendment-battles-g...

Caleb Kenyon, a defense attorney in Florida, saw a geofence warrant was when a new client received an alarming email from Google in January 2020. Police were requesting personal data from the client, Zachary McCoy, and Kenyon had just seven days to stop Google from turning it over, the email said. The geofence warrant included a map and GPS coordinates, and instructed Google to provide identifying information for every user whose device was found within the radius of that location at a certain date and time. "It was so bizarre that I just didn't even have a concept for what I was dealing with," he said. Kenyon is not alone. As tech firms build ever more sophisticated means of surveilling people and their devices – technology that law enforcement is eager to take advantage of – the legal community is scrambling to keep up. The National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (NACDL) ... recently created the Fourth Amendment Center, named for the constitutional right against unreasonable searches. The center is one of the few resources available for helping attorneys better understand how new technology is being used against their clients. It can be years before the defense community catches wind of the newest surveillance tools. Unlike other search warrants, geofence warrants don't require probable cause or a specific suspect in mind; they gather information on anyone within the vicinity of an alleged crime. Advocates argue this violates the fourth amendment.

Note: For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on court system corruption and the disappearance of privacy from reliable major media sources.


New Mobile Phone Service Shows We Can Have Both Privacy and Nice Things
2023-02-15, ACLU
https://wp.api.aclu.org/news/privacy-technology/new-mobile-phone-service-show...

The recent launch of a new mobile phone service introduced significant new privacy protections into the mobile phone system. This exciting new approach highlights the failure of the existing mobile phone infrastructure to protect privacy, and points the way forward for a wide variety of technologies. Today's cellphones are generally a privacy disaster. Partly that's the result of the two companies that control the operating system software on the vast majority of the world's pocket computers. In order for your carrier to route calls and data to your phone, the network needs to constantly know which cell tower your phone is near. And when you make a call or use data, the provider can see where that traffic is going. Cell carriers track and store this accidental byproduct of the technology in order to record people's location history and network activity for marketing purposes and, in certain circumstances, for sharing with law enforcement. The new phone service, called Pretty Good Phone Privacy (PGPP), uses encryption techniques to deliberately blind itself so that it can't know that the user of a mobile device is you, or what data you are sending from that phone. You connect to the PGPP service for payment, and that's all. With PGPP's approach, the carrier simply does not have the data to turn over to anyone. It cannot be sold, leaked, or hacked, let alone offered to overreaching law enforcement agencies. Verizon, T-Mobile, AT&T, and their smaller competitors could be offering such a privacy-protecting service, but don't want to.

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


Fingerprints of unvaccinated NYC teachers reportedly sent to FBI with 'problem codes': 'Invasion of privacy'
2023-02-14, MSN News
https://www.msn.com/en-us/news/us/fingerprints-of-unvaccinated-nyc-teachers-r...

The fingerprints of unvaccinated New York City teachers were reportedly sent to the FBI with "problem code" flags, prompting outrage from former educators who lost their jobs over the mandate. Earlier this month, John Bursch, who is representing teachers who are suing the city over the mandate, said teachers who refused the shot now have a "flag in their file," which will impact their ability to get another job. "When the city puts these problem codes on employees who have been terminated because of their unconstitutional policies, not only do they have this flag in their files, but their fingerprints are sent with that flag to the FBI and the New York Criminal Justice Services, so it impacts their ongoing ability to get employment at other places," Bursch said Feb. 8. Investigative journalist Betsy Combier wrote an affidavit uncovering how the Education Department was allegedly able to "flag" certain teachers without sufficient evidence of wrongdoing. "I found out that the DOE has right now an agency called the Office of Personnel Investigation, and what they do is they have employees of the DOE who, forgive me, call themselves investigators, but they're not," Combier said. "So they work for OPI, and when they get an accusation from anybody, it doesn't matter who, well, the principals send it to them, but the original complaint against somebody could be made by anybody that this employee, that employee did something wrong."

Note: For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on coronavirus vaccines from reliable major media sources.


Now for sale: Data on your mental health
2023-02-13, Washington Post
https://www.washingtonpost.com/technology/2023/02/13/mental-health-data-brokers/

A study published Monday ... outlines how expansive the market for people's health data has become. After contacting data brokers to ask what kinds of mental health information she could buy, researcher Joanne Kim reported that she ultimately found 11 companies willing to sell bundles of data that included information on what antidepressants people were taking, whether they struggled with insomnia or attention issues, and details on other medical ailments, including Alzheimer's disease or bladder-control difficulties. Some of the data was offered in an aggregate form that would have allowed a buyer to know, for instance, a rough estimate of how many people in an individual Zip code might be depressed. But other brokers offered personally identifiable data featuring names, addresses and incomes, with one data-broker sales representative pointing to lists named "Anxiety Sufferers" and "Consumers With Clinical Depression in the United States." Some even offered a sample spreadsheet. The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, known as HIPAA, restricts how hospitals, doctors' offices and other "covered health entities" share Americans' health data. But the law doesn't protect the same information when it's sent anywhere else, allowing app makers and other companies to legally share or sell the data. Some of the data brokers offered ... opt-out forms. But ... many people probably didn't realize the brokers had collected their information in the first place. Privacy advocates have for years warned about the unregulated data trade, saying the information could be exploited by advertisers or misused for predatory means. The health-data issue has in some ways gotten worse, in large part because of the increasing sophistication with which companies can collect and share people's personal information – including not just in defined lists, but through regularly updated search tools and machine-learning analyses.

Note: For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on corporate corruption and the disappearance of privacy from reliable major media sources.


The FBI's Most Controversial Surveillance Tool Is Under Threat
2023-02-10, Wired
https://www.wired.com/story/fbi-section-702/

New details about the FBI's failures to comply with restrictions on the use of foreign intelligence for domestic crimes have emerged. Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) ... grants the government the ability to intercept the electronic communications of overseas targets who are unprotected by the Fourth Amendment. That authority is set to expire at the end of the year. But errors in the FBI's secondary use of the data–the investigation of crimes on US soil–are likely to inflame an already fierce debate over whether law enforcement agents can be trusted with such an invasive tool. Central to this tension has been a routine audit by the Department of Justice's (DOJ) national security division and the office of the director of national intelligence (ODNI) ... which unearthed new examples of the FBI failing to comply with rules limiting access to intelligence ostensibly gathered to protect US national security. Such "errors," they said, have occurred on a "large number" of occasions. A report on the audit, only recently declassified, found that in the first half of 2020, FBI personnel unlawfully searched raw FISA data on numerous occasions. In one incident, agents reportedly sought evidence of foreign influence linked to a US lawmaker. In another, an inappropriate search pertained to a local political party. In what privacy and civil liberties lawyers have termed a "backdoor search," the FBI regularly searches through unminimized data during investigations, and routinely prior to launching them.

Note: For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on intelligence agency corruption and the disappearance of privacy from reliable major media sources.


A world in which your boss spies on your brainwaves? That future is near
2023-02-09, The Guardian (One of the UK's Leading Newspapers)
https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2023/feb/09/boss-spies-brainwaves-d...

The reptilian annual World Economic Forum at Davos, where the masters of the universe meet to congratulate themselves on their benevolent dictatorship, is home to many sinister ideas. This year, one of the creepiest discussions of all was delivered under the guise of progress and productivity. Nita Farahany, a Duke University professor and futurist, gave a presentation at Davos about neurotechnology that is creating "brain transparency." The new technologies, which Farahany says are being deployed in workplaces around the world ... include a variety of wearable sensors that read the brain's electrical impulses and can show how fatigued you are, whether you're focused on the task at hand or if your attention is wandering. According to Farahany, thousands of companies have hooked workers ranging from train drivers to miners up to these devices already, in the name of workplace safety. But what we are really discussing is workplace surveillance. Farahany paints a picture of a near future in which every office worker could be fitted with a small wearable that would constantly record brain activity, creating an omnipotent record of your thoughts, attention and energy that the boss could study at leisure. Farahany acknowledges that there could be drawbacks here: "Done poorly, it could become the most oppressive technology we've ever introduced on a wide scale." All of this raises the question: what exactly is your employer buying when they give you a paycheck? For bosses, the answer is simple: "Everything."

Note: Tune into a fascinating, 17 min. conversation about this issue that raises important questions about the overreliance on technology as a tool of control, under the guise of workplace safety. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on corporate corruption from reliable major media sources.


Facial recognition bias frustrates Black asylum applicants to US, advocates say
2023-02-08, The Guardian (One of the UK's Leading Newspapers)
https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2023/feb/08/us-immigration-cbp-one-app-fa...

The US government's new mobile app for migrants to apply for asylum at the US-Mexico border is blocking many Black people from being able to file their claims because of facial recognition bias in the tech, immigration advocates say. The app, CBP One, is failing to register many people with darker skin tones, effectively barring them from their right to request entry into the US. People who have made their way to the south-west border from Haiti and African countries, in particular, are falling victim to apparent algorithm bias in the technology that the app relies on. The government announced in early January that the new CBP One mobile app would be the only way migrants arriving at the border can apply for asylum and exemption from Title 42 restrictions. Racial bias in face recognition technology has long been a problem. Increasingly used by law enforcement and government agencies to fill databases with biometric information including fingerprints and iris scans, a 2020 report by Harvard University called it the "least accurate" identifier, especially among darker-skinned women with whom the error rate is higher than 30%. Emmanuella Camille, a staff attorney with the Haitian Bridge Alliance ... said the CBP One app has helped "lighter-skin toned people from other nations" obtain their asylum appointments "but not Haitians" and other Black applicants. Besides the face recognition technology not registering them ... many asylum seekers have outdated cellphones – if they have cellphones at all – that don't support the CBP One app.

Note: For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on government corruption and the erosion of civil liberties from reliable major media sources.


Police seize on COVID-19 tech to expand global surveillance
2022-12-20, Associated Press
https://apnews.com/article/technology-police-government-surveillance-covid-19...

In the pandemic's bewildering early days, millions worldwide believed government officials who said they needed confidential data for new tech tools that could help stop coronavirus' spread. In return, governments got a firehose of individuals' private health details, photographs that captured their facial measurements and their home addresses. Now, from Beijing to Jerusalem to Hyderabad, India, and Perth, Australia, The Associated Press has found that authorities used these technologies and data to halt travel for activists and ordinary people, harass marginalized communities and link people's health information to other surveillance and law enforcement tools. In some cases, data was shared with spy agencies. China's ultra-strict zero-COVID policies recently ignited the sharpest public rebuke of the country's authoritarian leadership since ... 1989. Just as the balance between privacy and national security shifted after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, COVID-19 has given officials justification to embed tracking tools in society that have lasted long after lockdowns. What use will ultimately be made of the data collected and tools developed during the height of the pandemic remains an open question. Australia's intelligence agencies were caught "incidentally" collecting data from the national COVIDSafe app. In the U.S. ... the federal government took the opportunity to build out its surveillance toolkit, including two contracts in 2020 worth $24.9 million to the data mining and surveillance company Palantir Technologies Inc.

Note: Read an essay by constitutional attorney John W. Whitehead on COVID and the surveillance state. Detroit police recently sought COVID relief funds to install ShotSpotter microphones throughout the city. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on the coronavirus and the disappearance of privacy from reliable major media sources.


Inventor of the world wide web wants us to reclaim our data from tech giants
2022-12-16, CNN News
https://www.cnn.com/2022/12/16/tech/tim-berners-lee-inrupt-spc-intl/index.html

The internet has come a long way since Tim Berners-Lee invented the world wide web in 1989. Now, in an era of growing concern over privacy, he believes it's time for us to reclaim our personal data. Through their startup Inrupt, Berners-Lee and CEO John Bruce have created the "Solid Pod" – or Personal Online Data Store. It allows people to keep their data in one central place and control which people and applications can access it, rather than having it stored by apps or sites all over the web. Users can get a Pod from a handful of providers. Not only is user data safe from corporations, and governments, it's also less likely to be stolen by hackers, Bruce says. Launched in 2017, Inrupt reportedly raised $30 million in December 2021 and Berners-Lee says it will help deliver the next iteration of the web – "Web 3." Paul Brody, a blockchain expert for analysts Ernst and Young, believes Web 3 could change the way we use the internet. "You'll hear people talk about Web 3 and decentralization as being very similar in ideas and goals," he says. "Owning your own data and really controlling your own commerce infrastructure is something that Web 3 will enable. It will be ultimately really transformational for users." Berners-Lee hopes his platform will give control back to internet users. "I think the public has been concerned about privacy – the fact that these platforms have a huge amount of data, and they abuse it," he says. "You need to get back to a situation where you have autonomy, you have control of all your data."

Note: For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on the erosion of privacy from reliable major media sources.


How the Global Spyware Industry Spiraled Out of Control
2022-12-08, New York Times
https://www.nytimes.com/2022/12/08/us/politics/spyware-nso-pegasus-paragon.html

The Biden administration took a public stand last year against the abuse of spyware to target human rights activists, dissidents and journalists: It blacklisted the most notorious maker of the hacking tools, the Israeli firm NSO Group. But the global industry for commercial spyware – which allows governments to invade mobile phones and vacuum up data – continues to boom. Even the U.S. government is using it. The Drug Enforcement Administration is secretly deploying spyware from a different Israeli firm, according to five people familiar with the agency's operations, in the first confirmed use of commercial spyware by the federal government. The most sophisticated spyware tools – like NSO's Pegasus – have "zero-click" technology, meaning they can stealthily and remotely extract everything from a target's mobile phone, without the user having to click on a malicious link to give Pegasus remote access. They can also turn the mobile phone into a tracking and secret recording device, allowing the phone to spy on its owner. But hacking tools without zero-click capability, which are considerably cheaper, also have a significant market. Commercial spyware has been used by intelligence services and police forces to hack phones used by drug networks and terrorist groups. But it has also been abused by numerous authoritarian regimes and democracies to spy on political opponents and journalists. This has led governments to a sometimes tortured rationale for their use.

Note: Read about how NSO Group spyware was used against journalists and activists by the Mexican government. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on the disappearance of privacy from reliable major media sources.


Geofencing Warrants Are a Threat to Privacy
2022-12-05, Reason
https://reason.com/2022/12/05/geofencing-warrants-are-a-threat-to-privacy/

The House committee investigating the events of January 6, 2021, is nearly finished. Nearly 900 ... criminal prosecutions of alleged rioters remain underway, and one case has shed troubling new light on how the FBI investigated these defendants. The suspect's name is David Rhine. His lawyer is the first to present a potentially successful challenge to the geofencing warrant the FBI used to place some defendants inside the Capitol building during the attack. A previous Wired report last year found 45 federal criminal cases citing the warrant, which required Google to provide the FBI with data on devices using its location services inside a set geographic area. Rhine's case has revealed just how expansive the FBI's request to Google really was. Google initially listed 5,723 devices in response to the warrant, then whittled the tally to exclude likely Capitol staff and police as well as anyone who wasn't "entirely within the geofence, to about a 70 percent probability." The final list of identifying details handed over to the FBI had 1,535 names. It included people whose phones had been turned off or put in airplane mode, and "people who attempted to delete their location data following the attacks were singled out by the FBI for greater scrutiny." It's ... easy to envision geofencing warrants undergoing the usual surveillance mission creep. Left unchecked, law enforcement could decide geofence data would come in handy while looking for a journalist's whistleblowing source, or perhaps at political protests.

Note: For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on government corruption and the disappearance of privacy from reliable major media sources.


Mysterious company with government ties plays key internet role
2022-11-08, Washington Post
https://www.washingtonpost.com/technology/2022/11/08/trustcor-internet-addres...

An offshore company that is trusted by the major web browsers and other tech companies to vouch for the legitimacy of websites has connections to contractors for U.S. intelligence agencies and law enforcement, according to security researchers, documents and interviews. Google's Chrome, Apple's Safari, nonprofit Firefox and others allow the company, TrustCor Systems, to act as what's known as a root certificate authority, a powerful spot in the internet's infrastructure that guarantees websites are not fake, guiding users to them seamlessly. The company's Panamanian registration records show that it has the identical slate of officers, agents and partners as a spyware maker identified this year as an affiliate of Arizona-based Packet Forensics, which ... has sold communication interception services to U.S. government agencies for more than a decade. TrustCor's products include an email service that claims to be end-to-end encrypted, though experts consulted by The Washington Post said they found evidence to undermine that claim. A test version of the email service also included spyware developed by a Panamanian company related to Packet Forensics. A person familiar with Packet Forensics' work confirmed that it had used TrustCor's certificate process and its email service, MsgSafe, to intercept communications and help the U.S. government catch suspected terrorists. The physical address in Toronto given in [TrustCor's] auditor's report, 371 Front St. West, houses a UPS Store mail drop.

Note: For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on corporate corruption and the disappearance of privacy from reliable major media sources.


TikTok has become a global giant. The US is threatening to rein it in
2022-10-31, The Guardian (One of the UK's Leading Newspapers)
https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2022/oct/30/tiktok-regulation-data-pri...

Since Buzzfeed reported in June that employees of TikTok's Chinese parent company ByteDance had access to US consumer data, TikTok has been the focus of rare bipartisan calls for regulation and inquiry. Those inquiries became more pressing when in July, the FBI director, Christopher Wray, called Chinese espionage the "greatest long-term threat to our nation's ... economic vitality". TikTok is a relatively new player in the arena of massive global social media platforms but it's already caught the eye of regulators in Europe. New laws around child safety and general internet safety in the UK and the EU have forced the company to become more transparent about the way it operates and the way content spreads on its platform. In the US, moves to rein in the video platform have gained momentum only relatively recently, although there's little debate that the round of regulatory pressure is warranted. With 1 billion users, the platform, which uses an algorithmic feed to push users short-form videos, has had its fair share of run-ins with misinformation, data privacy and concerns about child safety. Experts the Guardian spoke with did not question the cybersecurity threat China posed. However, some said they worried regulators' hyper-focus on TikTok's China connection could distract from other pressing concerns, including TikTok's algorithm and how much user data the company collects, stores and shares. There are currently no federal regulations that protect such information.

Note: For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on corporate corruption and the disappearance of privacy from reliable major media sources.


Meet the Military Contractor Running Fare Collection in New York Subways – and Around the World
2022-10-03, The Intercept
https://theintercept.com/2022/10/03/cubic-military-public-transit-mta-omny/

In a cheerfully animated promotional video, a woman narrates Cubic Transportation Systems' vision for the future. Travelers will pay fares using a ticket-free mobile account. Real-time data will be aggregated, linked, and shared. "The more information that is gathered, the more powerful the system becomes," the narrator tells us. "The piece of the puzzle missing ... is you." Over the past decade, Cubic has taken the first steps toward actualizing its vision by snapping up contracts for the development of mobile-based, contactless fare collection systems in eight of America's 10 largest public transit networks. Transit authorities have embraced tap-to-pay technology for its convenience and speed, but privacy advocates are worried that the new fare collection systems pose serious surveillance and security risks. In addition to its transit operation, Cubic is a vast military contractor doing hundreds of millions of dollars in business with the U.S. military and sales to foreign militaries. The company supplies surveillance technologies, training simulators, satellite communications equipment, computing and networking platforms, and other military hardware and software. As Cubic's quiet grip on fare collection takes hold in more cities, the company's ability to process rider data grows with it, creating a sprawling corporate apparatus that has the extraordinary potential to gather up reams of information on the very people it is supposed to serve.

Note: For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on corporate corruption and the disappearance of privacy from reliable major media sources.


US courts must stop shielding government surveillance programs from accountability
2022-09-26, The Guardian (One of the UK's Leading Newspapers)
https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2022/sep/26/us-courts-government-ac...

Under a post-9/11 surveillance program known as "Upstream", the NSA is systematically searching Americans' internet communications as they enter and leave the United States. The agency sifts through these streams of data looking for "identifiers" associated with its many thousands of foreign targets – identifiers like email addresses and phone numbers. The NSA does all of this without warrants, without any individual judicial approval, and without showing that any of the people it is surveilling – including countless Americans – have done anything wrong. This surveillance raises serious constitutional concerns, but no court has ever considered a legal challenge to it because the government has claimed that allowing a suit against Upstream surveillance to go forward would implicate "state secrets". In 2007, for example, an appeals court dismissed a lawsuit filed by Khaled El-Masri claiming that, in a case of mistaken identity, he had been kidnapped and tortured by the CIA. The court acknowledged the public evidence of El-Masri's mistreatment but held that state secrets were too central to the case to allow it to go forward. And in 2010, a different appeals court dismissed a lawsuit filed by five individuals who claimed that one of Boeing's subsidiary companies had flown the planes carrying them to the black sites where they were tortured by the CIA. This use of the state secrets privilege – to dismiss cases – departs from the supreme court's narrow framing of the privilege.

Note: For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on court system corruption and the disappearance of privacy from reliable major media sources.


US asked British spy agency to stop Guardian publishing Snowden revelations
2022-08-31, The Guardian (One of the UK's leading newspapers)
https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2022/aug/31/edward-snowden-nsa-gchq-guard...

The US National Security Agency (NSA) tried to persuade its British counterpart to stop the Guardian publishing revelations about secret mass data collection from the NSA contractor, Edward Snowden. Sir Iain Lobban, the head of Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) ... rebuffed the suggestion that his agency should act as a censor on behalf of its US partner in electronic spying. British refusal to shut down publication of the leaks ... caused rifts within the Five Eyes signals intelligence coalition [according to] a new book ... by Richard Kerbaj. Kerbaj reports that the US-UK intelligence relationship was further strained when the head of the NSA, Gen Keith Alexander, failed to inform Lobban that the Americans had identified Snowden ... leaving the British agency investigating its own ranks in the search for the leaker. The Five Eyes allies were outraged that a contractor like Snowden, working as a computer systems administrator, could get access to their secrets, and that because of US government outsourcing, there were 1.5 million Americans with top security clearance like Snowden. Allies were not prepared to challenge the Americans out of anxiety that they could be cut off from the flow of intelligence. British officials also decided to bite their tongues ... because of the value of the intelligence and funding provided by the NSA. Sir Kim Darroch, the former UK national security adviser, is quoted ... saying: "The US give us more than we give them so we just have to basically get on with it."

Note: Read more on how US and UK spy agencies undermine privacy and security in this news article reported by The Guardian. For a guide from The Guardian on how to remain secure against NSA surveillance, click here.


TikTok Browser Can Track Users' Keystrokes, According to New Research
2022-08-19, New York Times
https://www.nytimes.com/2022/08/19/technology/tiktok-browser-tracking.html

The web browser used within the TikTok app can track every keystroke made by its users, according to new research that is surfacing as the Chinese-owned video app grapples with U.S. lawmakers' concerns over its data practices. The research from Felix Krause, a privacy researcher and former Google engineer, did not show how TikTok used the capability, which is embedded within the in-app browser that pops up when someone clicks an outside link. But Mr. Krause said the development was concerning because it showed TikTok had built in functionality to track users' online habits if it chose to do so. Collecting information on what people type on their phones while visiting outside websites, which can reveal credit card numbers and passwords, is often a feature of malware and other hacking tools. Apps sometimes use in-app browsers to prevent people from visiting malicious sites or to make online browsing easier with the auto-filling of text. But while Facebook and Instagram can use in-app browsers to track data like what sites a person visited ... TikTok goes further by using code that can track each character entered by users. As with many apps, TikTok offers few chances for people to click away from its service. Instead of redirecting to mobile web browsers like Safari or Chrome, an in-app browser appears when users click on ads or links embedded within the profiles of other users. These are often the moments people enter key information like credit card details or passwords.

Note: For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on corporate corruption and the disappearance of privacy from reliable major media sources.


Students lose access to books amid 'state-sponsored purging of ideas'
2022-08-17, Washington Post
https://www.washingtonpost.com/education/2022/08/17/book-ban-restriction-acce...

School librarians [will] have less freedom to choose books and schoolchildren [will have] less ability to read books they find intriguing, experts say. In the past two years, six states have passed laws that mandate parental involvement in reviewing books, making it easier for parents to remove books or restrict the texts available at school, according to a tally kept by nonprofit EveryLibrary. Policies are proliferating at the district level, too. A Texas system will divide its library into "juvenile," "young adult" and "adult" sections, with parents choosing the "level" their child can access. "This is a state-sponsored purging of ideas and identities that has no precedent in the United States of America," said John Chrastka, EveryLibrary's executive director. "We're witnessing the silencing of stories and the suppressing of information [that will make] the next generation less able to function in society." A flurry of parent-staffed websites reviewing books for inappropriate content have appeared – including "Between the Book Covers," whose website says "professional review sites cannot be entrusted," and BookLook.info, "a place for taking a closer look at the books in our children's hands." There are also Facebook groups like Utah's "LaVerna in the Library," which "collects naughty children's books." As states and districts adjust their reading rules, parents and students are working to change things, too. Teens in Texas, for example, have formed "banned book clubs" – while in Missouri, students are suing their district to restore eight pulled books.

Note: For more along these lines, see concise summaries of the disappearance of privacy in our society. Whether in our schools, on social media, or in our news, read about the increasing issue of censorship that undermines democracy in our Mass Media Information Center.


Four Takeaways From a Times Investigation Into China's Expanding Surveillance State
2022-06-21, New York Times
https://www.nytimes.com/2022/06/21/world/asia/china-surveillance-investigatio...

China's ambition to collect a staggering amount of personal data from everyday citizens is more expansive than previously known. Phone-tracking devices are now everywhere. The police are creating some of the largest DNA databases in the world. And the authorities are building upon facial recognition technology to collect voice prints from the general public. The Times' Visual Investigations team and reporters in Asia spent over a year analyzing more than a hundred thousand government bidding documents. The Chinese government's goal is clear: designing a system to maximize what the state can find out about a person's identity, activities and social connections. In a number of the bidding documents, the police said that they wanted to place cameras where people go to fulfill their common needs – like eating, traveling, shopping and entertainment. The police also wanted to install facial recognition cameras inside private spaces, like residential buildings, karaoke lounges and hotels. Authorities are using phone trackers to link people's digital lives to their physical movements. Devices known as WiFi sniffers and IMSI catchers can glean information from phones in their vicinity. DNA, iris scan samples and voice prints are being collected indiscriminately from people with no connection to crime. The government wants to connect all of these data points to build comprehensive profiles for citizens – which are accessible throughout the government.

Note: For more on this disturbing topic, see the New York Times article "How China is Policing the Future." For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on government corruption and the disappearance of privacy from reliable major media sources.


Central Bank Digital Currencies Are About Control – They Should Be Stopped
2022-04-12, Forbes
https://www.forbes.com/sites/norbertmichel/2022/04/12/central-bank-digital-cu...

I participated in an online forum called US CBDC–A Disaster in the making? We had a very productive discussion about the policy aspect of central bank digital currencies (CBDCs). I believe that the Fed should not launch a CBDC. Ever. And I think that Congress should amend the Federal Reserve Act, just to be on the safe side. I want to distinguish between a wholesale CBDC and retail CBDC. With a wholesale CBDC, banks can electronically transact with each other using a liability of the central bank. That is essentially what banks do now. But retail CBDCs are another animal altogether. Retail CBDCs allow members of the general public to make electronic payments of all kinds with a liability of the central bank. This feature–making electronic transactions using a liability of the Federal Reserve–is central to why Congress should make sure that the Fed never issues a retail CBDC. The problem is that the federal government, not privately owned commercial banks, would be responsible for issuing deposits. And while this fact might seem like a feature instead of bug, it's a major problem for anything that resembles a free society. The problem is that there is no limit to the level of control that the government could exert over people if money is purely electronic and provided directly by the government. A CBDC would give federal officials full control over the money going into–and coming out of–every person's account. This level of government control is not compatible with economic or political freedom.

Note: The above was written by Norbert Michel, Vice President and Director of the Cato Institute's Center for Monetary and Financial Alternatives. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on financial system corruption from reliable major media sources.


Here Comes the Full Amazonification of Whole Foods
2022-02-28, New York Times
https://www.nytimes.com/2022/02/28/technology/whole-foods-amazon-automation.html

"Would you like to sign in with your palm?" That was the question a cheerful Amazon employee posed when greeting me last week at the opening of a Whole Foods Market in Washington's Glover Park neighborhood. For the next 30 minutes, I shopped. Then I simply walked out, no cashier necessary. Whole Foods – or rather Amazon – would bill my account later. More than four years ago, Amazon bought Whole Foods for $13 billion. Now the Amazon-ification of the grocery chain is physically complete. Amazon designed my local grocer to be almost completely run by tracking and robotic tools for the first time. The technology, known as Just Walk Out, consists of hundreds of cameras with a god's-eye view of customers. Sensors are placed under each apple, carton of oatmeal and boule of multigrain bread. Deep-learning software analyzes the shopping activity to detect patterns and increase the accuracy of its charges. The Whole Foods in Glover Park ... has sparked a spirited local debate, with residents sparring on the Nextdoor community app and a neighborhood email list over the store's "dystopian" feeling versus its "impressive technology." Some ... said they had found errors in their bills and complained about the end of produce by the pound. Everything is now offered per item, bundle or box. Some mourned the disappearance of the checkout line, where they perused magazines. Many were suspicious of the tracking tech. "It's like George Orwell's ‘1984,'" said Allen Hengst, 72, a retired librarian.

Note: For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on food system corruption and the disappearance of privacy from reliable major media sources.


The US government is deploying robot dogs to the Mexico border. Seriously?
2022-02-14, The Guardian (One of the UK's leading newspapers)
https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2022/feb/14/us-government-deploying...

The military, technological, security and political classes in this country appear united in their desire to make robot dogs part of our future, and we should all be worried. On 1 February ... the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) issued a press release titled "Robot Dogs Take Another Step Towards Deployment at the Border". DHS dressed up their statement with the kind of adorable language made to warm the hearts of dog lovers everywhere. A picture of the "four-legged ground drone" accompanied the release. These particular robot dogs are made by Ghost Robotics, which claims that its 100lb machine was "bred" to scale "all types of natural terrain including sand, rocks and hills, as well as human-built environments, like stairs". Each robot dog is outfitted with a bevy of sensors and able to transmit real-time video and information feeds. A testing and evaluation program is under way in El Paso, Texas. As the Electronic Frontier Foundation notes, "people who live along the border are some of the most heavily surveilled people in the United States. A massive amalgamation of federal, state and local law enforcement and national security agencies are flying drones, putting up cameras and just generally attempting to negate civil liberties – capturing the general goings-on of people who live and work in proximity to the border." Then there's the question of lethal force. These specific ground drones may not be armed, but Ghost Robotics is already infamous for the combination of robot dog and robot rifle.

Note: Singapore used robot dogs to enforce pandemic distancing measures. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on government corruption and the disappearance from reliable major media sources.


C.I.A. Is Collecting in Bulk Certain Data Affecting Americans, Senators Warn
2022-02-10, New York Times
https://www.nytimes.com/2022/02/10/us/politics/cia-data-privacy.html

The Central Intelligence Agency has for years been collecting in bulk, without a warrant, some kind of data that can affect Americans' privacy. At the same time, [the C.I.A.] declared that a report about the same topic, which had prompted the letter, must remain fully classified. That report, called "Deep Dive II," was part of a set of studies by a watchdog board scrutinizing intelligence community operations under Executive Order 12333. In March 2021, the Senate Intelligence Committee received a copy of the report. Two Democrats on the panel, Senators Ron Wyden of Oregon and Martin Heinrich of New Mexico, urged Avril D. Haines, the director of national intelligence, and William J. Burns, the C.I.A. director, to declassify the activity. The senators suggested that its hidden existence cut against Americans' understanding that various pieces of legislation enacted in recent years "limit and, in some cases, prohibit the warrantless collection of Americans' records." In 2015, Congress banned bulk collection of telecommunications metadata under the Patriot Act and limited other types of bulk collection by the F.B.I. under laws governing domestic activities like the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, or FISA. Yet "the C.I.A. has secretly conducted its own bulk program" under Executive Order 12333, the senators wrote. "It has done so entirely outside the statutory framework that Congress and the public believe govern this collection, and without any of the judicial, congressional or even executive branch oversight."

Note: For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on intelligence agency corruption and the disappearance of privacy from reliable major media sources.


The Battle for the World's Most Powerful Cyberweapon
2022-01-28, New York Times
https://www.nytimes.com/2022/01/28/magazine/nso-group-israel-spyware.html

NSO Group [is] the world's most notorious maker of spyware. The F.B.I. had bought a version of Pegasus, NSO's premier spying tool. It could ... crack the encrypted communications of any iPhone or Android smartphone. Since NSO had introduced Pegasus to the global market in 2011, it had helped Mexican authorities capture Joaquín Guzmán Loera, the drug lord known as El Chapo. European investigators have quietly used Pegasus to thwart terrorist plots, fight organized crime and, in one case, take down a global child-abuse ring. Mexico deployed the software not just against gangsters but also against journalists and political dissidents. The United Arab Emirates used the software to hack the phone of a civil rights activist. Saudi Arabia used it against women's rights activists. During a presentation to officials in Washington, the company demonstrated a new system, called Phantom, that could hack any number in the United States that the F.B.I. decided to target. A slick brochure ... says that Phantom allows American law enforcement and spy agencies to get intelligence "by extracting and monitoring crucial data from mobile devices." It is an "independent solution" that requires no cooperation from AT&T, Verizon, Apple or Google. The system, it says, will "turn your target's smartphone into an intelligence gold mine." The Phantom presentation triggered a discussion among government lawyers. Last summer ... the F.B.I. finally decided not to deploy the NSO weapons.

Note: Read more about how NSO Group spyware was used against journalists and activists by the Mexican government. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on intelligence agency corruption and the disappearance of privacy from reliable major media sources.


Vaccine Passports Are Here to Stay. Why Worry?
2022-01-01, The Intercept
https://theintercept.com/2022/01/01/covid-vaccine-passports-surveillance/

The digital Covid vaccination certification, or "passport," is a mobile app that instantaneously affirms the vaccinated status, Covid test results, birth date, gender, and/or other identifiers of its holder. The information is usually mosaicked in a QR code, read by a proprietary scanner, and linked to a government registry. Led by New York, California, and Louisiana, as many as 30 states are rolling them out. The Biden administration announced last spring that it would wrangle them under national standards but so far it hasn't. Internationally, the EU and a growing number of countries are adopting them, from repressive regimes like Bahrain to democracies like Denmark. Twenty U.S. states have banned the passes, and hashtags like #NoVaccinePassports are proliferating. "Spoiler alert," tweeted British DJ ... Lange. "They are not planning on removing vax passports once introduced. This is just the first step to get you conditioned to accepting government restrictions in your daily life via your mobile phone. This digital ID is going to expand to all aspects of your life." New York, for one, is not expecting to mothball the technology when Covid wanes. State bureaucrats are "exploring how the platform could be retrofitted to verify other types of records and credentials." The surveillance technologies of the War on Contagion are inherited from the War on Terror, and the software is encoded with the same forever-war mentality: Both fight risk rather than actual threat.

Note: For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on coronavirus vaccines and the disappearance of privacy from reliable major media sources.


Vaccine Passports Are Here to Stay. Why Worry?
2022-01-01, The Intercept
https://theintercept.com/2022/01/01/covid-vaccine-passports-surveillance/

The digital Covid vaccination certification, or "passport," is a mobile app that instantaneously affirms the vaccinated status, Covid test results, birth date, gender, and/or other identifiers of its holder. The information is usually mosaicked in a QR code, read by a proprietary scanner, and linked to a government registry. Led by New York, California, and Louisiana, as many as 30 states are rolling them out. The Biden administration announced last spring that it would wrangle them under national standards but so far it hasn't. Internationally, the EU and a growing number of countries are adopting them, from repressive regimes like Bahrain to democracies like Denmark. Twenty U.S. states have banned the passes, and hashtags like #NoVaccinePassports are proliferating on both sides of the Atlantic. "Spoiler alert," tweeted British DJ ... Lange. "They are not planning on removing vax passports once introduced. This is just the first step to get you conditioned to accepting government restrictions in your daily life via your mobile phone. This digital ID is going to expand to all aspects of your life." Evidence supports the detractors' suspicions. Every government introducing a vaccine certification vows that their use is voluntary and no personal information will be held beyond its necessity. But governments are far from unanimous even on such basics as ... how long and by whom our intimate information will be held, owned, or overseen. New York, for one, is not expecting to mothball the technology when Covid wanes.

Note: For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on coronavirus vaccines and the disappearance of privacy from reliable major media sources.


China Is Watching You
2021-10-18, The Atlantic
https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2021/10/china-america-surveillance-...

Even if you have never set foot in China, Hikvision's cameras have likely seen you. By 2017, Hikvision had captured 12 percent of the North American market. Its cameras watched over apartment buildings in New York City, public recreation centers in Philadelphia, and hotels in Los Angeles. Police departments used them to monitor streets in Memphis, Tennessee, and in Lawrence, Massachusetts. London and more than half of Britain's 20 next-largest cities have deployed them. A recent search for the company's cameras, using Shodan, a tool that locates internet-connected devices, yielded nearly 5 million results, including more than 750,000 devices in the United States. Among the policies that Hikvision's products have supported is China's wide-ranging crackdown against the predominantly Muslim Uyghurs and other minority groups in the western province of Xinjiang. Far from being appalled by Hikvision's role in China's atrocities, however, plenty of foreign leaders are intrigued. They see an opportunity to acquire tools that could reduce crime and spur growth. Of course, the authoritarian-leaning among them also see a chance to monitor their domestic challengers and cement their control. The use of military language ... heightens the sense that these tools can easily become weapons. Cameras can be set to "patrol." "Intrusion detection" sounds like a method for defending a bank or a military base. Hikvision's cameras do not check identities. They "capture" faces.

Note: For more, see this Bloomberg article titled "Blacklisted Chinese Tech Found Inside Top Secret UK Lab." For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on government corruption and the disappearance of privacy from reliable major media sources.


Australia's Two Largest States Trial Facial Recognition Software to Police Pandemic Rules
2021-09-16, U.S. News & World Report/Reuters
https://www.usnews.com/news/technology/articles/2021-09-16/australias-two-lar...

Australia's two most populous states are trialling facial recognition software that lets police check people are home during COVID-19 quarantine, expanding trials that have sparked controversy to the vast majority of the country's population. Little-known tech firm Genvis Pty Ltd said on a website for its software that New South Wales (NSW) and Victoria, home to Sydney, Melbourne and more than half of Australia's 25 million population, were trialling its facial recognition products. The Perth, Western Australia-based startup developed the software in 2020 with WA state police to help enforce pandemic movement restrictions. South Australia state began trialling a similar, non-Genvis technology last month, sparking warnings from privacy advocates around the world about potential surveillance overreach. The involvement of New South Wales and Victoria, which have not disclosed that they are trialling facial recognition technology, may amplify those concerns. Under the system being trialled, people respond to random check-in requests by taking a 'selfie' at their designated home quarantine address. If the software, which also collects location data, does not verify the image against a "facial signature", police may follow up with a visit to the location to confirm the person's whereabouts. While the recognition technology has been used in countries like China, no other democracy has been reported as considering its use in connection with coronavirus containment procedures.

Note: On Sept. 21st, thousands of citizens took to the streets to protest policies like this in Melbourne alone, as shown in this revealing video. The police are responding almost like they are at war, as show in this video. Yet the major media outside of Australia are largely ignoring all of this, while the Australian press is highly biased against the protesters. Are we moving towards a police state? For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on the coronavirus and the disappearance of privacy from reliable major media sources.


How the N.Y.P.D. Is Using Post-9/11 Tools on Everyday New Yorkers
2021-09-08, New York Times
https://www.nytimes.com/2021/09/08/nyregion/nypd-9-11-police-surveillance.html

It was an unusual forearm tattoo that the police said led them to Luis Reyes, a 35-year-old man who was accused of stealing packages from a Manhattan building's mailroom in 2019. But the truth was more complicated: Mr. Reyes had first been identified by the New York Police Department's powerful facial recognition software as it analyzed surveillance video of the crime. His guilty plea this year ... was part of the sprawling legacy of one of the city's darkest days. Since the fall of the World Trade Center, the security apparatus born from the Sept. 11 attack on the city has fundamentally changed the way the country's largest police department operates, altering its approach to finding and foiling terrorist threats, but also to cracking minor cases like Mr. Reyes's. New Yorkers simply going about their daily lives routinely encounter post-9/11 digital surveillance tools like facial recognition software, license plate readers or mobile X-ray vans that can see through car doors. Surveillance drones hover above mass demonstrations and protesters say they have been questioned by antiterrorism officers after marches. The department's Intelligence Division, redesigned in 2002 to confront Al Qaeda operatives, now uses antiterror tactics to fight gang violence and street crime. The department's budget for intelligence and counterterrorism has more than quadrupled, spending more than $3 billion since 2006, and more through funding streams that are difficult to quantify, including federal grants and the secretive Police Foundation.

Note: For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on police corruption and the disappearance of privacy from reliable major media sources.


On the list: Ten prime ministers, three presidents and a king
2021-07-20, Washington Post
https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/2021/07/20/heads-of-state-pegasus-spyware/

Spies for centuries have trained their sights on those who shape destinies of nations: presidents, prime ministers, kings. And in the 21st century, most of them carry smartphones. Such is the underlying logic for some of the most tantalizing discoveries for an international investigation that in recent months scrutinized a list of more than 50,000 phone numbers that included – according to forensic analyses of dozens of iPhones – at least some people targeted by Pegasus spyware licensed to governments worldwide. The list contained the numbers of politicians and government officials by the hundreds. But what of heads of state and governments, arguably the most coveted of targets? Fourteen. Or more specifically: three presidents, 10 prime ministers and a king. Forensic testing that might have revealed infection by NSO's signature spyware, Pegasus, was not possible. Nor was it possible to determine whether any NSO client attempted to deliver Pegasus to the phones of these country leaders – much less whether any succeeded in turning these highly personal devices into pocket spies capable of tracking a national leader's nearly every movement, communication and personal relationship. According to NSO marketing materials and security researchers, Pegasus is designed to collect files, photos, call logs, location records, communications and other private data from smartphones, and can activate cameras and microphones as well for real-time surveillance at key moments.

Note: Read how this Pegasus spyware was used to target activists and journalists in Mexico. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on government corruption and the disappearance of privacy from reliable major media sources.


Revealed: leak uncovers global abuse of cyber-surveillance weapon
2021-07-18, The Guardian (One of the UK's leading newspapers)
https://www.theguardian.com/world/2021/jul/18/revealed-leak-uncovers-global-a...

Human rights activists, journalists and lawyers across the world have been targeted by authoritarian governments using hacking software sold by the Israeli surveillance company NSO Group, according to an investigation into a massive data leak. The investigation by the Guardian and 16 other media organisations suggests widespread and continuing abuse of NSO's hacking spyware, Pegasus. Pegasus is a malware that infects iPhones and Android devices to enable operators of the tool to extract messages, photos and emails, record calls and secretly activate microphones. The leak contains a list of more than 50,000 phone numbers that, it is believed, have been identified as those of people of interest by clients of NSO since 2016. The numbers of more than 180 journalists are listed in the data, including reporters, editors and executives at the Financial Times, CNN, the New York Times, France 24, the Economist, Associated Press and Reuters. The phone number of a freelance Mexican reporter, Cecilio Pineda Birto, was found in the list, apparently of interest to a Mexican client in the weeks leading up to his murder, when his killers were able to locate him at a carwash. He was among at least 25 Mexican journalists apparently selected as candidates for surveillance. The broad array of numbers in the list belonging to people who seemingly have no connection to criminality suggests some NSO clients are breaching their contracts with the company, spying on pro-democracy activists and journalists.

Note: Read more about how NSO Group spyware was used against journalists and activists by the Mexican government. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on intelligence agency corruption and the disappearance of privacy from reliable major media sources.


Huge data leak shatters the lie that the innocent need not fear surveillance
2021-07-18, The Guardian (One of the UK's leading newspapers)
https://www.theguardian.com/news/2021/jul/18/huge-data-leak-shatters-lie-inno...

Few pause to think that their phones can be transformed into surveillance devices, with someone thousands of miles away silently extracting their messages, photos and location, activating their microphone to record them in real time. Such are the capabilities of Pegasus, the spyware manufactured by NSO Group, the Israeli purveyor of weapons of mass surveillance. The Guardian will be revealing the identities of many innocent people who have been identified as candidates for possible surveillance by NSO clients in a massive leak of data. Without forensics on their devices, we cannot know whether governments successfully targeted these people. But the presence of their names on this list indicates the lengths to which governments may go to spy on critics, rivals and opponents. Journalists across the world were selected as potential targets by these clients prior to a possible hack using NSO surveillance tools. People whose phone numbers appear in the leak ... include lawyers, human rights defenders, religious figures, academics, businesspeople, diplomats, senior government officials and heads of state. One phone that has contained signs of Pegasus activity belonged to our esteemed Mexican colleague Carmen Aristegui, whose number was in the data leak and who was targeted following her exposÄ‚© of a corruption scandal involving her country's former president Enrique PeÄ‚±a Nieto. At least four of her journalist colleagues appear in the leak

Note: For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on intelligence agency corruption and the disappearance of privacy from reliable major media sources.


Yes, your phone is taking ‘invisible' pictures of you
2021-05-15, ABC News (Utah affiliate)
https://www.abc4.com/news/tech-social-media/yes-your-iphone-is-taking-invisib...

A video showing a mobile device snapping infrared images of an iPhone user is circulating around the internet. In the Tik Tok shared by user Brie Thomason, a digital camera using an infrared lens is seen filming an iPhone user observing their home screen. As the iPhone user stares blatantly at the device, Thomason's digital camera captures the iPhone snapping multiple infrared images every 5-10 seconds. While this discovery may cause some users to panic, Apple claims this is actually just an aspect of the iPhone that allows users to control their face ID and Animoji (the animated emoji function). According to Apple, this feature was first debuted as the iPhone X's most groundbreaking function; since it is not even discernible at first glance, even though it literally stares you in the face. The company calls this feature: the new TrueDepth IR camera. This camera, housed in the black notch at the top of the display, includes a number of high-tech components such as a "flood illuminator," infrared (IR) camera, and an infrared emitter. Officials say as an iPhone is used, the latter emits 30,000 infrared dots in a known pattern when a face is detected, enabling the iPhone X to generate a 3D map of a user's face. According to the team, this TrueDepth IR camera can also do this fast enough to support the creation of 3D motion data as well. So, yes, your iPhone is essentially taking "invisible" photos of you, but not for the reasons you would think.

Note: For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on corporate corruption and the disappearance of privacy from reliable major media sources.


Court Chides F.B.I., but Re-Approves Warrantless Surveillance Program
2021-04-26, New York Times
https://www.nytimes.com/2021/04/26/us/politics/fbi-fisa-surveillance.html

For a second year, the nation's surveillance court has pointed with concern to "widespread violations" by the F.B.I. of rules intended to protect Americans' privacy when analysts search emails gathered without a warrant. In a 67-page ruling ... James E. Boasberg, the presiding judge on the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, recounted several episodes uncovered by an F.B.I. audit where the bureau's analysts improperly searched for Americans' information in emails that the National Security Agency collected without warrants. Still, Judge Boasberg said he was willing to issue a legally required certification for the National Security Agency's warrantless surveillance program to operate for another year. [The program] grew out of the once-secret Stellarwind project, which President George W. Bush started after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. In 2008, Congress legalized the practice. The surveillance is carried out by the National Security Agency, but three other entities – the C.I.A., the National Counterterrorism Center and the F.B.I. – also receive access to streams of "raw" messages. The F.B.I. receives only a small portion of the messages that the National Security Agency vacuums up: The bureau gets copies of intercepts to and from targets who are deemed relevant to a full and active F.B.I. national security investigation. In 2019, the most recent year for which data is public, the program had more than 200,000 targets.

Note: For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on intelligence agency corruption and the disappearance of privacy from reliable major media sources.


F.B.I. Secretly Bought Israeli Spyware and Explored Hacking U.S. Phones
2021-01-28, New York Times
https://www.nytimes.com/2022/01/28/world/middleeast/israel-pegasus-spyware.html

It is widely regarded as the world's most potent spyware, capable of reliably cracking the encrypted communications of iPhone and Android smartphones. The software, Pegasus, made by an Israeli company, NSO Group, has been able to track terrorists and drug cartels. It has also been used against human rights activists, journalists and dissidents. Now, an investigation published Friday by The New York Times Magazine has found that Israel, which controls the export of the spyware ... has made Pegasus a key component of its national security strategy, using it to advance its interests around the world. The F.B.I. bought and tested NSO software for years with plans to use it for domestic surveillance until the agency finally decided last year not to deploy the tools. The F.B.I., in a deal never previously reported, bought the spyware in 2019. It also spent two years discussing whether to deploy a newer product, called Phantom, inside the United States. The discussions at the Justice Department and the F.B.I. continued until last summer. But Pegasus equipment is still in a New Jersey building used by the F.B.I. And the company also gave the agency a demonstration of Phantom, which could hack American phone numbers. A brochure ... says that Phantom allows American law enforcement and spy agencies to "turn your target's smartphone into an intelligence gold mine." In 2018 ... the C.I.A. bought Pegasus to help Djibouti, an American ally, fight terrorism, despite longstanding concerns about human rights abuses there.

Note: Read about how NSO Group spyware was used against journalists and activists by the Mexican government. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on intelligence agency corruption and the disappearance of privacy from reliable major media sources.


The Great Reset Conspiracy Smoothie
2020-12-08, The Intercept
https://theintercept.com/2020/12/08/great-reset-conspiracy/

Back in June, the World Economic Forum, best known for its annual Davos summit, kicked off a lunge for organizational relevance. The effort was called ... the Great Reset. And through articles, videos, webinars, podcasts, and a book by WEF founder Klaus Schwab, it provided a coronavirus-themed rebranding of all the things Davos does anyway, now hastily repackaged as a blueprint for reviving the global economy post-pandemic by "seeking a better form of capitalism." The Great Reset was a place to hawk for-profit technofixes to complex social problems; to hear heads of transnational oil giants opine about the urgent need to tackle climate change; to listen to politicians say the things they say during crises: that this is a tragedy but also an opportunity. In short, the Great Reset encompasses some good stuff that won't happen and some bad stuff that certainly will and, frankly, nothing out of the ordinary in our era of "green" billionaires readying rockets for Mars. None of this is to say that Schwab's Reset push is benign and unworthy of scrutiny. All kinds of dangerous ideas are lurking under its wide brim, from a reckless push toward more automation in the midst of a joblessness crisis, to the steady move to normalize mass surveillance and biometric tracking tools, to the very real (though not new) problem of Bill Gates's singular power over global health policy.

Note: The author of this article is courageous journalist Naomi Klein, who wrote the seminal book "The Shock Doctrine." For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on the coronavirus from reliable major media sources.


The Captain of Operation Warp Speed
2020-10-19, Wall Street Journal
https://www.wsj.com/articles/the-captain-of-operation-warp-speed-11602278486

Previous vaccines have taken a decade or more to develop, and more than half of the past 20 years have failed in clinical trials. However, four [COVID-19] vaccine candidates have entered the final phase of clinical trials prior to approval by the Food and Drug Administration. Operation Warp Speed ... organized government agencies and private companies with the goal of developing, manufacturing and distributing hundreds of millions of vaccine doses, with starting doses to be available by early 2021. At the head of the operation is Moncef Slaoui, a Moroccan-born Belgian-American scientist. Operation Warp Speed … has invested in six vaccine candidates (Moderna, Pfizer / BioNTech, Johnson & Johnson, AstraZeneca, Novavax, and Sanofi / GSK) with the hope that at least one ... will prove safe and effective in clinical trials. Four of the six vaccine candidates have already been shown to be safe and effective in the first two test phases, which test whether the vaccinations produce so-called neutralizing antibodies. Serious health problems regularly arise during vaccination attempts. "We know how to distribute vaccines to any location in the US," says Slaoui. "It happens every year for flu and shingles." Tracking systems need to be "incredibly precise" to ensure that patients are each given two doses of the same vaccine and to monitor them for adverse health effects. Operation Warp Speed … has selected medical distributor McKesson and cloud operators Google and Oracle to collect and track vaccine data.

Note: The above article is also available here. Don't miss this excellent article which raises many important questions about this operation. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on the coronavirus and vaccines from reliable major media sources.


Why The Social Dilemma is the most important documentary of our times
2020-09-18, The Independent (One of the UK's leading newspapers)
https://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/films/features/social-dilemm...

Netflix’s brilliant new 90-minute docu-drama, The Social Dilemma ... might be the most important watch of recent years. The film, which debuted at Sundance Film Festival in January, takes a premise that’s unlikely to set the world alight ... ie that Facebook, Twitter, Instagram et al aren’t exactly creating a utopia. Its masterstroke is in recruiting the very Silicon Valley insiders that built these platforms to explain their terrifying pitfalls – which they’ve realised belatedly. You don’t get a much clearer statement of social media’s dangers than an ex-Facebook executive’s claim that: “In the shortest time horizon I’m most worried about civil war.” The commonly held belief that social media companies sell users’ data is quickly cast aside – the data is actually used to create a sophisticated psychological profile of you. What they’re selling is their ability to manipulate you, or as one interviewee puts it: “It’s the gradual, slight, imperceptible change in your own behaviour and perception. It’s the only thing for them to make money from: changing what you do, how you think, who you are.” Despite it being public knowledge that Vote Leave and Trump’s 2016 election campaign harvested voters’ Facebook data on a gigantic scale, The Social Dilemma still manages to find fresh and vital tales of how these platforms destabilise modern politics. Russia’s Facebook hack to influence the 2016 US election? “The Russians didn’t hack Facebook. They used the tools that Facebook made for legitimate advertisers,” laments one of the company’s ex-investors.

Note: For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on corporate corruption and media manipulation from reliable sources.


U.S. Court: Mass Surveillance Program Exposed by Snowden Was Illegal
2020-09-02, US News & World Report/Reuters
https://www.usnews.com/news/top-news/articles/2020-09-02/us-court-mass-survei...

Seven years after former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden blew the whistle on the mass surveillance of Americans' telephone records, an appeals court has found the program was unlawful. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit said the warrantless telephone dragnet that secretly collected millions of Americans' telephone records violated the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act and may well have been unconstitutional. Snowden, who fled to Russia in the aftermath of the 2013 disclosures and still faces U.S. espionage charges, said on Twitter that the ruling was a vindication of his decision to go public with evidence of the National Security Agency's domestic eavesdropping operation. "I never imagined that I would live to see our courts condemn the NSA's activities as unlawful and in the same ruling credit me for exposing them," Snowden said. Evidence that the NSA was secretly building a vast database of U.S. telephone records ... was the first and arguably the most explosive of the Snowden revelations published by the Guardian newspaper in 2013. Up until that moment, top intelligence officials publicly insisted the NSA never knowingly collected information on Americans at all. After the program's exposure, U.S. officials fell back on the argument that the spying had played a crucial role in fighting domestic extremism. But the Ninth Circuit ruled Wednesday that those claims were "inconsistent with the contents of the classified record."

Note: For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on intelligence agency corruption and the disappearance of privacy from reliable major media sources.


How Cops Can Secretly Track Your Phone
2020-07-31, The Intercept
https://theintercept.com/2020/07/31/protests-surveillance-stingrays-dirtboxes...

As protesters around the country have marched against police brutality and in support of the Black Lives Matter movement, activists have spotted a recurring presence in the skies: mysterious planes and helicopters hovering overhead, apparently conducting surveillance on protesters. A press release ... revealed that the Drug Enforcement Agency and U.S. Marshals Service were asked by the Justice Department to provide unspecified support to law enforcement during protests. A few days later, a memo obtained by BuzzFeed News ... revealed that shortly after protests began in various cities, the DEA had sought special authority from the Justice Department to covertly spy on Black Lives Matter protesters on behalf of law enforcement. Both the DEA and the Marshals possess airplanes outfitted with so-called stingrays or dirtboxes: powerful technologies capable of tracking mobile phones or, depending on how they’re configured, collecting data and communications from mobile phones in bulk. That data can be used to identify people — protesters, for example — and track their movements during and after demonstrations, as well as to identify others who associate with them. They also can inject spying software onto specific phones. Stingrays are routinely used to target suspects in drug and other criminal investigations, but activists also believe the devices were used during protests against the Dakota Access pipeline, and against Black Lives Matter protesters over the last three months.

Note: Read more about invasive "stingray" technology and the secrecy surrounding its use. Learn how Google is siphoning all information about you it can get. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on government corruption and the disappearance of privacy from reliable major media sources.


Inside TikTok owner’s dystopian Chinese censorship machine
2020-07-12, The Telegraph (One of the UK's leading newspapers)
https://www.telegraph.co.uk/technology/2020/07/12/inside-tiktoks-dystopian-ch...

It's a fairly ordinary evening on TikTok, the video-sharing app. Things do not seem so different on Douyin, the Chinese version of TikTok, where a live streaming boom has minted new social media millionaires. Behind the scenes, however, Chinese streamers are subject to an elaborate regime of automated surveillance and censorship. One system can use facial recognition to scan live streamers' broadcasts and guess their age. Another checks whether users' faces match their state ID cards. Another system assigns streamers, who are expected to uphold "public order and good customs", a "safety rating", similar to a "credit score". If the score dips below a certain level, they are punished automatically. Meanwhile, speech and text recognition is used to ferret out sins such as "feudal superstition" [and] defamation of the Communist Party. These methods are laid bare in a little-known document from TikTok and Douyin's parent company, ByteDance, and unearthed by New York City journalist Izzy Niu, which explains how the apps have adapted China's strict internet censorship laws to the unprecedented speed and chaos of live streaming. The document raises difficult questions for TikTok, which faces privacy probes in the US and UK and has already been banned in India. Some of these methods are common in the West, too. Both Facebook and YouTube use AI to police their services, and have massively expanded their censorship during the pandemic.

Note: For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on corporate corruption and the disappearance of privacy from reliable major media sources.


Apple's iOS update is here – and it includes coronavirus contact tracing
2020-05-21, NBC News/Associated Press
https://www.nbcnews.com/tech/tech-news/apple-s-ios-update-here-it-includes-co...

Apple and Google on Wednesday released long-awaited smartphone technology to automatically notify people if they might have been exposed to the coronavirus. The companies said 22 countries and several U.S. states are already planning to build voluntary phone apps using their software. It relies on Bluetooth wireless technology to detect when someone who downloaded the app has spent time near another app user who later tests positive for the virus. Many governments have already tried, mostly unsuccessfully, to roll out their own phone apps to fight the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic. Many of those apps have encountered technical problems on Apple and Android phones and haven't been widely adopted. They often use GPS to track people's location, which Apple and Google are banning from their new tool because of privacy and accuracy concerns. Public health agencies from Germany to the states of Alabama and South Carolina have been waiting to use the Apple-Google model, while other governments have said the tech giants' privacy restrictions will be a hindrance because public health workers will have no access to the data. The companies said they're not trying to replace contact tracing, a pillar of infection control that involves trained public health workers reaching out to people who may have been exposed to an infected person. But they said their automatic "exposure notification" system can augment that process and slow the spread of COVID-19.

Note: Watch an excellent video explanation of the dangers of contract tracing by a woman who applied to do this work. She shows how the claims of it being voluntary are far from the truth. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on the coronavirus and the disappearance of privacy from reliable major media sources.


Federal Government Buys Riot Gear, Increases Security Funding, Citing Coronavirus Pandemic
2020-05-17, The Intercept
https://theintercept.com/2020/05/17/veterans-affairs-coronavirus-security-pol...

The federal government has ramped up security and police-related spending in response to the coronavirus pandemic, including issuing contracts for riot gear, disclosures show. The purchase orders include requests for disposable cuffs, gas masks, ballistic helmets, and riot gloves, along with law enforcement protective equipment for federal police assigned to protect Veterans Affairs facilities. The orders were expedited under a special authorization “in response to Covid-19 outbreak.” “Between 2005 and 2014, VA police departments acquired millions of dollars’ worth of body armor, chemical agents, night vision equipment, and other weapons and tactical gear,” The Intercept reported last year. But an Inspector General report in December 2018 found there was little oversight. The CARES Act, the $2.2 trillion stimulus legislation passed in late March, also authorized $850 million for the Coronavirus Emergency Supplemental Funding program, a federal grant program to prepare law enforcement, correctional officers, and police for the crisis. The funds have been dispensed to local governments to pay for overtime costs, purchase protective supplies, and defray expenses related to emergency policing. The grants may also be used for the purchase of unmanned aerial aircraft and video security cameras for law enforcement. Motorola Solutions, a major supplier of police technology, has encouraged local governments to use the new money to buy a range of command center software and video analytics systems.

Note: For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on the coronavirus and the disappearance of privacy from reliable major media sources.


9/11 saw much of our privacy swept aside. Coronavirus could end it altogether
2020-05-16, CNN News
https://www.cnn.com/2020/05/16/tech/surveillance-privacy-coronavirus-npw-intl...

Spit into a cup when you land in an airport, and your DNA is stored. Every phone in every city talks to every other nearby device. Cross-border travel is enabled only by governments sharing data about millions of private movements. These are all possible visions of a future that the coronavirus pandemic has rushed on us. But a lurch into an even more intense era of mass data-collection - the vast hoovering up of who went near whom and when, who is healthy to travel, and even scraps of personal DNA languishing in databases - appears to be on the verge of becoming the new reality. It took the attacks of September 11, 2001 to shove aside the previous decade's phobia of mass surveillance ... in exchange for keeping us safe from terror. Over the next 15 years, billions of people agreed to a tacit deal where Facebook or Google were permitted to learn a staggering amount about them. But the challenge presented by Covid-19 - and the urgent need to trace contacts and movements - is of another scale of intimacy. South Korea located over 10,000 cellphones near the latest outbreak and texted them. The UK government has toyed with a centralized database of movements and health records, secured by government cyber-spies, able potentially to see who has been sick and who they have been near. Russia and many others have issued QR codes. China is putting surveillance cameras right outside people's doors. Will we look back at 2020 as the moment privacy finally evaporated?

Note: For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on the coronavirus and the disappearance of privacy from reliable major media sources.


H.R. 6666 a devil of a COVID-19 government surveillance plot
2020-05-12, Washington Times
https://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2020/may/12/hr-6666-a-devil-of-a-covid-1...

What’s more devilishly un-American than launching one of the most massive government surveillance programs of private citizens in U.S. history, all under the guise of protecting people from the coronavirus? That’s the “COVID-19 Testing, Reaching, And Contacting Everyone (TRACE) Act” in all its $100 billion grant giveaway glory. According to H.R. 6666’s text: The taxpayer funds will be used to “trace and monitor the contacts of infected individuals, and to support the quarantine of such contacts, through mobile health units and, as necessary ... at [citizens’] residences.” That means government comes to your home, taps on your door and demands you take a COVID-19 test. And if you test positive, that means the government makes sure you stay at home. The top dogs at the Health and Human Services and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are in control of disbursing the $100 billion to local governments to carry out the COVID-19 testing — more specifically, to “hire, train, compensate and pay the expenses of individuals” to staff mobile health units and to knock on citizens’ doors and to enforce compliance with quarantining. This is nothing but a massive government surveillance program cloaked in a cure-the-coronavirus label. A petition at Change.org to stop the nonsense has generated about 28,000 signatures. “HR 6666 violates inalienable rights to one’s person, home and property, to one’s life, freedoms, privacy and security,” the petition states.

Note: Why the huge price tag of $100 billion, which is more than the entire 2019 budget for the US Dept. of Health and Human Services? Explore this bill which greatly threatens privacy and civil rights on the website of the US Congress at this link. This excellent and well researched video leaves little doubt that some people will be taken from their homes and children taken from their mothers. For those concerned about being traced and quarantined, this article has good information on who is behind it all. Sign a petition opposing this bill on this webpage.


Under Cover of Mass Death, Andrew Cuomo Calls in the Billionaires to Build a High-Tech Dystopia
2020-05-08, The Intercept
https://theintercept.com/2020/05/08/andrew-cuomo-eric-schmidt-coronavirus-tec...

During New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s daily coronavirus briefing on Wednesday, the somber grimace that has filled our screens for weeks was briefly replaced by something resembling a smile. The inspiration ... was a video visit from former Google CEO Eric Schmidt, who joined the governor’s briefing to announce that he will be heading up a blue-ribbon commission to reimagine New York state’s post-Covid reality, with an emphasis on permanently integrating technology into every aspect of civic life. Just one day earlier, Cuomo had announced a similar partnership with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to develop “a smarter education system.” It has taken some time to gel, but something resembling a coherent Pandemic Shock Doctrine is beginning to emerge. Call it the “Screen New Deal.” Far more high-tech than anything we have seen during previous disasters, the future that is being rushed into being as the bodies still pile up treats our past weeks of physical isolation not as a painful necessity to save lives, but as a living laboratory for a permanent — and highly profitable — no-touch future. This is a future in which, for the privileged, almost everything is home delivered, either virtually via streaming and cloud technology, or physically via driverless vehicle or drone, then screen “shared” on a mediated platform. It’s a future in which our every move, our every word, our every relationship is trackable, traceable, and data-mineable by unprecedented collaborations between government and tech giants.

Note: For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on the coronavirus pandemic and the disappearance of privacy from reliable major media sources.


Bill Gates and his coronavirus conflicts of interest
2020-04-02, Washington Times
https://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2020/apr/2/bill-gates-and-his-coronaviru...

Bill Gates ... just called for a complete and utter shutdown and quarantining of the entire American nation. “Despite urging from public health experts,” Gates wrote in a Washington Post opinion piece, “some states and counties haven’t shut down completely. This is a recipe for disaster. Because people can travel freely across state lines, so can the virus. The country’s leaders need to be clear: Shutdown anywhere means shutdown everywhere. Until the case numbers start to go down ... no one can continue business as usual or relax the shutdown.” He then added that the impacts of the new coronavirus could linger another 18 months or so, until a vaccine was developed. For the peons of America, work isn’t an option. It’s food. It’s survival. The fate of a hard-earned dream shouldn’t rest with a globalist billionaire who’s warning of dire coronavirus consequences to come — all the while making hands-over-fist coronavirus money. It’s a conflict of interest. WHO didn’t announce the coronavirus as a pandemic until the very day after Gates ... made a very large donation to a cause that benefits WHO. In a 2017 piece titled, “Meet the world’s most powerful doctor: Bill Gates,” Politico wrote: “Some billionaires are satisfied with buying themselves an island. Bill Gates got a United Nations health agency. Over the past decade, the world’s richest man has become the World Health Organization’s second-biggest donor, second only to the United States. … This largesse gives him outsized influence over its agenda. … The result, say his critics, is that Gates‘ priorities have become the WHO‘s.”

Very Important Note: To understand how the coronavirus is being used to exert more control over humanity, don't miss this incredibly important video focused on how Bill Gates is using fear around the coronavirus to push through his agenda to vaccinate everyone on the planet and then require a "digital certificate" to ensure they've been vaccinated. For other reliable, verifiable informing demonstrating how Gates' vaccine agenda has already harmed hundreds of thousands of children read this excellent article by Robert F. Kennedy, Jr.


How Russia is using authoritarian tech to curb coronavirus
2020-03-29, CNN News
https://www.cnn.com/2020/03/29/europe/russia-coronavirus-authoritarian-tech-i...

The Covid-19 pandemic is now giving Russian authorities an opportunity to test new powers and technology, and the country's privacy and free-speech advocates worry the government is building sweeping new surveillance capabilities. Perhaps the most well-publicized tech tool in Russia's arsenal for fighting coronavirus is Moscow's massive facial-recognition system. Rolled out earlier this year, the surveillance system had originally prompted an unusual public backlash, with privacy advocates filing lawsuits over unlawful surveillance. Coronavirus, however, has given an unexpected public-relations boost to the system. Last week, Moscow police claimed to have caught and fined 200 people who violated quarantine and self-isolation using facial recognition and a 170,000-camera system. Some of the alleged violators who were fined had been outside for less than half a minute before they were picked up by a camera. And then there's the use of geolocation to track coronavirus carriers. Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin earlier this week ordered Russia's Ministry of Communications to roll out a tracking system based on "the geolocation data from the mobile providers for a specific person" by the end of this week. According to a description in the government decree, information gathered under the tracking system will be used to send texts to those who have come into contact with a coronavirus carrier, and to notify regional authorities so they can put individuals into quarantine.

Note: For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on the coronavirus pandemic and the disappearance of privacy from reliable major media sources.


Virus Hands World Leaders Sweeping Powers They May Never Give Up
2020-03-25, Bloomberg
https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2020-03-25/virus-gives-world-leaders-...

Like the 9/11 terrorist attacks in the U.S., the coronavirus pandemic is a crisis of such magnitude that it threatens to change the world in which we live, with ramifications for how leaders govern. Governments are locking down cities with the help of the army, mapping population flows via smartphones and jailing or sequestering quarantine breakers using banks of CCTV and facial recognition cameras backed by artificial intelligence. The restrictions are unprecedented in peacetime and made possible only by rapid advances in technology. And while citizens across the globe may be willing to sacrifice civil liberties temporarily, history shows that emergency powers can be hard to relinquish. “A primary concern is that if the public gives governments new surveillance powers to contain Covid-19, then governments will keep these powers after the public health crisis ends,” said Adam Schwartz ... at the non-profit Electronic Frontier Foundation. “Nearly two decades after the 9/11 attacks, the U.S. government still uses many of the surveillance technologies it developed in the immediate wake.” In part, the Chinese Communist Party’s containment measures at the virus epicenter in Wuhan set the tone, with what initially seemed shocking steps to isolate the infected being subsequently adopted in countries with no comparable history of China’s state controls. For Gu Su ... at Nanjing University, China’s political culture “made its people more amenable to the draconian measures.”

Note: For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on the coronavirus and the disappearance of privacy from reliable major media sources.


The U.S. wants smartphone location data to fight coronavirus. Privacy advocates are worried.
2020-03-18, NBC News
https://www.nbcnews.com/tech/tech-news/u-s-wants-smartphone-location-data-fig...

The White House and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are asking Facebook, Google and other tech giants to give them greater access to Americans' smartphone location data in order to help them combat the spread of the coronavirus, according to four people at companies involved in the discussions who are not authorized to speak about them publicly. Federal health officials say they could use anonymous, aggregated user data collected by the tech companies to map the spread of the virus — a practice known as "syndromic surveillance" — and prevent further infections. They could also use the data to see whether people were practicing "social distancing." The federal effort [was] first reported by The Washington Post. The government officials have held at least two calls in recent days with representatives from the companies, the sources said. Those officials are "very serious" about making this happen, a person at one of the tech companies said. Similar and more aggressive surveillance practices have already been put to use in China, South Korea and Israel. The moves have set off alarm bells among privacy advocates who fear what the government may do with users' data. Facebook already provides health researchers and nongovernmental organizations in some countries with anonymized data to help disease prevention efforts. Representatives from Facebook, Google, Twitter, Apple, Amazon, Microsoft, IBM and Cisco all took part in the call with White House and federal health officials.

Note: For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on the coronavirus pandemic and the disappearance of privacy from reliable major media sources.


'The new normal': China's excessive coronavirus public monitoring could be here to stay
2020-03-08, The Guardian (One of the UK's leading newspapers)
https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/mar/09/the-new-normal-chinas-excessive...

Over the last two months, Chinese citizens have had to adjust to a new level of government intrusion. Getting into one’s apartment compound or workplace requires scanning a QR code, writing down one’s name and ID number, temperature and recent travel history. Telecom operators track people’s movements while social media platforms like WeChat and Weibo have hotlines for people to report others who may be sick. Some cities are offering people rewards for informing on sick neighbours. Chinese companies are meanwhile rolling out facial recognition technology that can detect elevated temperatures in a crowd or flag citizens not wearing a face mask. A range of apps use the personal health information of citizens to alert others of their proximity to infected patients. Experts say the virus ... has given authorities a pretext for accelerating the mass collection of personal data to track citizens. “It’s mission creep,” said Maya Wang, senior China researcher for Human Rights Watch. According to Wang, the virus is likely to be a catalyst for a further expansion of the surveillance regime. Citizens are particularly critical of a system called Health Code, which users can sign up for through Alipay or WeChat, that assigns individuals one of three colour codes based on their travel history, time spent in outbreak hotspots and exposure to potential carriers of the virus. The software, used in more than 100 cities, will soon allow people to check the colours of other residents when their ID numbers are entered.

Note: Learn in this New York Times article how everyone in China is given a red, yellow, or green code which determines how free they are to move about and even enter businesses. This article shows how foreigners are being stopped instantly from making live podcasts from China using facial recognition technology. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on the coronavirus and the disappearance of privacy from reliable major media sources.


'Fake, Fake': senior Chinese leader heckled by residents on visit to coronavirus city
2020-03-06, The Guardian (One of the UK's leading newspapers)
https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/mar/06/fake-fake-senior-chinese-leader...

Vice-premier Sun Chunlan, one of the most senior government officials to visit the centre of the coronavirus outbreak [was] heckled by residents who yelled “fake, fake, everything is fake” as she inspected the work of a neighbourhood committee charged with taking care of quarantined residents. Videos posted online showed Sun and a delegation walking along the grounds while residents appeared to shout from their apartment windows, “fake, fake,” “it’s all fake,” as well as “we protest”. Since 12 February, all residential compounds in Wuhan have been put under lockdown, barring most residents from leaving their homes. In an unusual turn of events, on Friday various Chinese state media outlets reported the videos showing public discontent. Such videos are frequently censored. Yet, the People’s Daily posted a video subtitled in English showing one person shouting “fake, fake,” which has since been removed. A government-affiliated account on WeChat ... said in an essay posted on Thursday that all the facts of the incident were “basically true”. According to state broadcaster CCTV, Sun held a meeting immediately after the incident to deal with the complaints. Staff have been dispatched to visit the residents one by one. Observers say state media may be trying to co-opt discussion of the videos, which circulated widely online, and provide their own narrative of events. Elsewhere in China, schools in provinces reporting no new cases for a number of days, started to set their opening dates in a sign of the country returning to normal. Wuhan reported 126 new coronavirus cases on Thursday but the wider province of Hubei excluding the capital recorded none for the first time during the outbreak.

Note: Remember all of the privacy and freedoms given up after 9/11? How many of those have been given back? Learn more about the serious risk of the Coronavirus increasing the surveillance state in this excellent article. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on government corruption and the disappearance of privacy from reliable major media sources.


In Coronavirus Fight, China Gives Citizens a Color Code, With Red Flags
2020-03-01, New York Times
https://www.nytimes.com/2020/03/01/business/china-coronavirus-surveillance.html

As China encourages people to return to work despite the coronavirus outbreak, it has begun a bold mass experiment in using data to regulate citizens’ lives — by requiring them to use software on their smartphones that dictates whether they should be quarantined or allowed into subways, malls and other public spaces. The system does more than decide in real time whether someone poses a contagion risk. It also appears to share information with the police, setting a template for new forms of automated social control that could persist long after the epidemic subsides. The Alipay Health Code, as China’s official news media has called the system, was first introduced in the eastern city of Hangzhou ... with the help of Ant Financial, a sister company of the e-commerce giant Alibaba. People in China sign up through Ant’s popular wallet app, Alipay, and are assigned a color code — green, yellow or red — that indicates their health status. The system is already in use in 200 cities and is being rolled out nationwide, Ant says. As soon as a user grants the software access to personal data, a piece of the program labeled “reportInfoAndLocationToPolice” sends the person’s location, city name and an identifying code number to a server. The software does not make clear to users its connection to the police. In the United States, it would be akin to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention using apps from Amazon and Facebook to track the coronavirus, then quietly sharing user information with the local sheriff’s office.

Note: Learn in this revealing article how China is blacklisting certain citizens using this system and "banning them from any number of activities, including accessing financial markets or travelling by air or train, as the use of the government’s social credit system accelerates." Learn more about the serious risk of the Coronavirus increasing the surveillance state in this excellent article. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on government corruption and the disappearance of privacy from reliable major media sources.


The coronavirus is giving China cover to expand its surveillance. What happens when the virus is gone?
2020-03-01, Fortune
https://fortune.com/2020/03/01/coronavirus-china-surveillance-tracking/

The outbreak of Covid-19 has been anathema for most of China’s economy but the novel coronavirus was a shot in the arm for the state’s surveillance apparatus, which has expanded rapidly in pursuit of the epidemic’s spread. Facial recognition cameras, phone tracking technology and voluntary registrations have all been deployed to monitor the flow of people and the possible transmission of disease. “The Chinese surveillance systems currently ... has two purposes: the first is to monitor public health and the second is to maintain political control,” says Francis Lee, a professor ... at the Chinese University of Hong Kong. Once the outbreak is controlled, however, it’s unclear whether the government will retract its new powers. While facial recognition provides a way to monitor crowds from a distance, governments have deployed close-range means of tracking individuals too. The municipal government of Hangzhou worked with ecommerce giant Alibaba to launch a feature through the company’s mobile wallet app, AliPay, that assesses the user’s risk of infection. The app generates a QR code. Guards at checkpoints in residential buildings and elsewhere can then scan that code to gain details about the user. John Bacon-Shone ... at Hong Kong University thinks that the ongoing threat of outbreaks will provide a constant justification for the new systems. “I am rather pessimistic that there will be full rollback of data collection once it has been implemented,” Bacon-Shone says.

Note: Remember all of the privacy and freedoms given up after 9/11? How many of those have been given back? Learn more about the serious risk of the Coronavirus increasing the surveillance state in this excellent article. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on government corruption and the disappearance of privacy from reliable major media sources.


A dark web tycoon pleads guilty. But how was he caught?
2020-02-08, MIT Technology Review
https://www.technologyreview.com/s/615163/a-dark-web-tycoon-pleads-guilty-but...

Cybercriminal Eric Eoin Marques pleaded guilty in an American court this week. Marques faces up to 30 years in jail for running Freedom Hosting, which temporarily existed beyond reach of the law and ended up being used to host drug markets, money-laundering operations, hacking groups, and millions of images of child abuse. Investigators were somehow able to break the layers of anonymity that Marques had constructed, leading them to locate a crucial server in France. This discovery eventually led them to Marques himself. Marques was the first in a line of famous cybercriminals to be caught despite believing that using the privacy-shielding anonymity network Tor would make them safe behind their keyboards. The case demonstrates that government agencies can trace suspects through networks that were designed to be impenetrable. Marques has blamed the American NSA’s world-class hackers, but the FBI has also been building up its efforts since 2002. And, some observers say, they often withhold key details of their investigations from defendants and judges alike—secrecy that could have wide-ranging cybersecurity implications across the internet. The FBI had found a way to break Tor’s anonymity protections, but the technical details of how it happened remain a mystery. “Perhaps the greatest overarching question related to the investigation of this case is how the government was able to pierce Tor’s veil of anonymity,” Marques’s defense lawyers wrote in a recent filing.

Note: For more on this important case, see this informative article. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on sexual abuse scandals and the disappearance of privacy from reliable major media sources.


Coronavirus Brings China's Surveillance State Out of the Shadows
2020-02-07, New York Times/Reuters
https://www.nytimes.com/reuters/2020/02/07/technology/07reuters-china-health-...

When the man from Hangzhou returned home from a business trip, the local police got in touch. They had tracked his car by his license plate in nearby Wenzhou, which has had a spate of coronavirus cases. Stay indoors for two weeks, they requested. After around 12 days, he was bored and went out early. This time, not only did the police contact him, so did his boss. He had been spotted ... by a camera with facial recognition technology, and the authorities had alerted his company as a warning. “I was a bit shocked by the ability and efficiency of the mass surveillance network. They can basically trace our movements ... at any time and any place,” said the man, who asked not to be identified for fear of repercussions. Chinese have long been aware that they are tracked by the world's most sophisticated system of electronic surveillance. The coronavirus emergency has brought some of that technology out of the shadows, providing the authorities with a justification for sweeping methods of high tech social control. Artificial intelligence and security camera companies boast that their systems can scan the streets for people with even low-grade fevers, recognize their faces even if they are wearing masks and report them to the authorities. If a coronavirus patient boards a train, the railway's "real name" system can provide a list of people sitting nearby. Mobile phone apps can tell users if they have been on a flight or a train with a known coronavirus carrier, and maps can show them ... where infected patients live.

Note: The New York Times strangely removed this article. Yet it is also available here. Is there something they don't want us to know? Read an excellent article showing how this virus scare is being used to test China's intense surveillance technologies in very disturbing ways. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on government corruption and the disappearance of privacy from reliable major media sources.


The Government Uses ‘Near Perfect Surveillance’ Data on Americans
2020-02-07, New York Times
https://www.nytimes.com/2020/02/07/opinion/dhs-cell-phone-tracking.html

“When the government tracks the location of a cellphone it achieves near perfect surveillance, as if it had attached an ankle monitor to the phone’s user,” wrote John Roberts, the chief justice of the Supreme Court, in a 2018 ruling that prevented the government from obtaining location data from cellphone towers without a warrant. “We decline to grant the state unrestricted access to a wireless carrier’s database of physical location information,” Chief Justice Roberts wrote in the decision, Carpenter v. United States. With that judicial intent in mind, it is alarming to read a new report in The Wall Street Journal that found the Trump administration “has bought access to a commercial database that maps the movements of millions of cellphones in America and is using it for immigration and border enforcement.” The data used by the government comes not from the phone companies but from a location data company, one of many that are quietly and relentlessly collecting the precise movements of all smartphone-owning Americans through their phone apps. Many apps — weather apps or coupon apps, for instance — gather and record location data without users’ understanding what the code is up to. That data can then be sold to third party buyers including, apparently, the government. The courts are [an] imperfect venue for protecting Fourth Amendment rights. The Carpenter ruling applies only to location data captured by cellphone towers and not to location data streamed from smartphone apps.

Note: For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on government corruption and the disappearance of privacy from reliable major media sources.


The Secret History of Facial Recognition
2020-01-21, Wired
https://www.wired.com/story/secret-history-facial-recognition/

Facial recognition has become a security feature of choice for phones, laptops, passports, and payment apps. Yet it is also, increasingly, a tool of state oppression and corporate surveillance. Immigration and Customs Enforcement and the FBI have deployed the technology as a digital dragnet, searching for suspects among millions of faces in state driver's license databases, sometimes without first seeking a court order. In early 1963, [Woody Bledsoe] proposed to conduct "a study to determine the feasibility of a simplified facial recognition machine." A recently declassified history of the CIA's Office of Research and Development mentions just such a project in 1965; that same year, Woody sent a letter on facial recognition to John W. Kuipers, the division's chief of analysis. In 1967 ... Woody took on one last assignment that involved recognizing patterns in the human face. The purpose of the experiment was to help law enforcement agencies quickly sift through databases of mug shots and portraits, looking for matches. As before, funding for the project appears to have come from the US government. A 1967 document declassified by the CIA in 2005 mentions an "external contract" for a facial-recognition system that would reduce search time by a hundredfold. Woody's work set an ethical tone for research on facial recognition that has been enduring and problematic. The potential abuses of facial-recognition technology were apparent almost from its birth.

Note: For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on intelligence agency corruption and the disappearance of privacy from reliable major media sources.


In the Face of Rising White Supremacist Violence, Police Continue to Investigate Victims and Activists
2020-01-20, The Intercept
https://theintercept.com/2020/01/20/political-surveillance-police-activists-t...

As white supremacists have carried out a growing number of deadly attacks in recent years, the FBI has come under mounting criticism for its failure to address the threat posed by far-right extremist ideologies, whose adherents account for most of the politically motivated violence in the U.S. At the same time, the bureau has also been heavily criticized for devoting large resources to surveilling political dissent by groups and individuals, often of color, who pose no threat but are critical of the government because they oppose official immigration policies or demand police accountability. The FBI’s preoccupation with policing nonviolent critical ideologies while neglecting to investigate ideologies tied to real, and increasing, violence was perhaps best captured in an infamous 2017 threat assessment report warning law enforcement agencies of the supposed rise of a “black identity extremist” movement targeting police. The black identity extremism category was a product of the FBI’s imagination. Last year ... bureau officials told legislators that they were doing away with a set of earlier domestic terrorism categories in favor of four larger ones. The FBI’s fictional black identity extremists would now be lumped together with white supremacists under a new “racially motivated violent extremism” category. That false equivalence made it virtually impossible for the public to know whether the FBI was devoting resources to investigating real threats of racist violence or social and racial justice groups critical of government.

Note: Read a revealing essay on COINTELPRO, the FBI program that targeted civil rights and anti-war activists from 1965-1975. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on civil liberties from reliable major media sources.


The Secretive Company That Might End Privacy as We Know It
2020-01-08, New York Times
https://www.nytimes.com/2020/01/18/technology/clearview-privacy-facial-recogn...

Mr. Ton-That — an Australian techie and onetime model — did something momentous: He invented a tool that could end your ability to walk down the street anonymously. His tiny company, Clearview AI, devised a groundbreaking facial recognition app. You take a picture of a person, upload it and get to see public photos of that person, along with links to where those photos appeared. The system — whose backbone is a database of more than three billion images that Clearview claims to have scraped from Facebook, YouTube, Venmo and millions of other websites — goes far beyond anything ever constructed by the United States government or Silicon Valley giants. Without public scrutiny, more than 600 law enforcement agencies have started using Clearview in the past year. The computer code underlying its app ... includes programming language to pair it with augmented-reality glasses; users would potentially be able to identify every person they saw. The tool could identify activists at a protest or an attractive stranger on the subway, revealing not just their names but where they lived, what they did and whom they knew. And it’s not just law enforcement: Clearview has also licensed the app to at least a handful of companies for security purposes. Because the police upload photos of people they’re trying to identify, Clearview possesses a growing database of individuals who have attracted attention from law enforcement. The company also has the ability to manipulate the results that the police see.

Note: For lots more on this disturbing new technology, read one writer's personal experience with it. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on the disappearance of privacy from reliable major media sources.


Specialized invisible dye, delivered along with a vaccine, could enable "on-patient" storage of vaccination history
2019-12-18, MIT News
https://news.mit.edu/2019/storing-vaccine-history-skin-1218

MIT researchers have now developed a novel way to record a patient's vaccination history: storing the data in a pattern of dye, invisible to the naked eye, that is delivered under the skin at the same time as the vaccine. The researchers showed that their new dye, which consists of nanocrystals called quantum dots, can remain for at least five years under the skin, where it emits near-infrared light that can be detected by a specially equipped smartphone. The researchers designed their dye to be delivered by a microneedle patch rather than a traditional syringe and needle. Such patches are now being developed to deliver vaccines for measles, rubella, and other diseases. "It's possible someday that this ‘invisible' approach could create new possibilities for data storage, biosensing, and vaccine applications that could improve how medical care is provided, particularly in the developing world," [study co-author Robert] Langer says. Tests using human cadaver skin showed that the quantum-dot patterns could be detected by smartphone cameras after up to five years of simulated sun exposure. The research was funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the Koch Institute Support (core) Grant from the National Cancer Institute.

Note: Could these quantum dots be used for tracking and monitoring people? This revealing article shows patents by Moderna suggesting their use in human vaccines. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on vaccines and the disappearance of privacy from reliable major media sources.


Google's secret cache of medical data includes names and full details of millions – whistleblower
2019-11-12, The Guardian (One of the UK's leading newspapers)
https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2019/nov/12/google-medical-data-projec...

A whistleblower who works in Project Nightingale, the secret transfer of the personal medical data of up to 50 million Americans from one of the largest healthcare providers in the US to Google, has expressed anger to the Guardian that patients are being kept in the dark about the massive deal. The anonymous whistleblower has posted a video on the social media platform Daily Motion that contains a document dump of hundreds of images of confidential files relating to Project Nightingale. The secret scheme ... involves the transfer to Google of healthcare data held by Ascension, the second-largest healthcare provider in the US. The data is being transferred with full personal details including name and medical history and can be accessed by Google staff. Unlike other similar efforts it has not been made anonymous through a process of ... de-identification. The disclosed documents include highly confidential outlines of Project Nightingale, laying out the four stages or “pillars” of the secret project. By the time the transfer is completed next March, it will have passed the personal data of 50 million or more patients in 21 states to Google, with 10 million or so files already having moved across – with no warning having been given to patients or doctors. Google has entered into similar partnerships on a much smaller scale with clients such as the Colorado Center for Personalized Medicine. But in that case all the data handed over to the search giant was encrypted, with keys being held only on the medical side.

Note: For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on corporate corruption and the disappearance of privacy from reliable major media sources.


The FBI Spends a Lot of Time Spying on Black Americans
2019-10-29, The Intercept
https://theintercept.com/2019/10/29/fbi-surveillance-black-activists/

The FBI has come under intense criticism after a 2017 leak exposed that its counterterrorism division had invented a new, unfounded domestic terrorism category it called “black identity extremism.” A number of civil rights groups have filed public records requests to try to better understand who exactly the FBI is investigating under that designation. The latest batch of FBI documents ... reveals that between 2015 and 2018, the FBI dedicated considerable time and resources to opening a series of “assessments” into the activities of individuals and groups it mostly labeled “black separatist extremists.” This designation was eventually folded into the category of “black identity extremism.” Assessments differ from full-blown investigations - or “predicated investigations,” in the bureau’s lingo - because they do not need to be predicated on a factual basis. As a new report by the civil liberties group Defending Rights & Dissent notes, when choosing targets for an assessment, agents are allowed to use ethnicity, religion, or speech protected by the First Amendment as a factor, “as long as it is not the only one.” As the report notes, “Even though the standards for opening an assessment are extraordinarily low, the FBI is allowed to use extremely intrusive investigative techniques in performing them, including physical surveillance, use of informants, and pretextual interviews.” The bureau has in recent years shifted its target from those espousing “separatist” views to the much larger group of those protesting police violence.

Note: Read more about the FBI's use of "Black Identity Extremism" as a label in its terrorism investigations. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on government corruption and the erosion of civil liberties from reliable major media sources.


India is trying to build the world's biggest facial recognition system
2019-10-18, CNN News
https://www.cnn.com/2019/10/17/tech/india-facial-recognition-intl-hnk/index.html

India has just 144 police officers for every 100,000 citizens. In recent years, authorities have turned to facial recognition technology to make up for the shortfall. India's government now ... wants to construct one of the world's largest facial recognition systems. The project envisions a future in which police from across the country's 29 states and seven union territories would have access to a single, centralized database. The daunting scope of the proposed network is laid out in a detailed 172-page document published by the National Crime Records Bureau, which requests bids from companies to build the project. The project would match images from the country's growing network of CCTV cameras against a database encompassing mug shots of criminals, passport photos and images collected by [government] agencies. It would also recognize faces on closed-circuit cameras and "generate alerts if a blacklist match is found." Security forces would be equipped with hand-held mobile devices enabling them to capture a face in the field and search it instantly against the national database, through a dedicated app. For privacy advocates, this is worrying. "India does not have a data protection law," says [Apar] Gupta [of the Internet Freedom Foundation]. "It will essentially be devoid of safeguards." It might even be linked up to Aadhaar, India's vast biometric database, which contains the personal details of 1.2 billion Indian citizens, enabling India to set up "a total, permanent surveillance state," he adds.

Note: Read an excellent article by The Civil Liberties Union for Europe about the 7 biggest privacy issues that concern facial recognition technology. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on government corruption and the disappearance of privacy from reliable major media sources.


The Trump Administration Is Using the Full Power of the U.S. Surveillance State Against Whistleblowers
2019-08-04, The Intercept
https://theintercept.com/2019/08/04/whistleblowers-surveillance-fbi-trump/

While we all live under extensive surveillance, for government employees and contractors - especially those with a security clearance - privacy is virtually nonexistent. Everything they do on their work computers is monitored. Even when they try to outsmart their work computer by taking photos directly of their screen, video cameras in their workplace might be recording their every move. Government workers with security clearance promise “never [to] divulge classified information to anyone” who is not authorized to receive it. But for many whistleblowers, the decision to go public results from troubling insights into government activity, coupled with the belief that as long as that activity remains secret, the system will not change. The growing use of the Espionage Act, a 1917 law that criminalizes the release of “national defense” information by anyone “with intent or reason to believe that it is to be used to the injury of the United States or to the advantage of a foreign nation,” shows how the system is rigged against whistleblowers. Government insiders charged under the law are not allowed to defend themselves by arguing that their decision to share what they know was prompted by an impulse to help Americans confront and end government abuses. “The act is blind to the possibility that the public’s interest ... might outweigh the government’s interest,” Jameel Jaffer, head of the Knight First Amendment Institute, wrote recently. “It is blind to the difference between whistle-blowers and spies.”

Note: The above article includes the stories of four whistleblowers charged under the Espionage act. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on intelligence agency corruption and the disappearance of privacy from reliable major media sources.


San Diego Police Department ramps up use of streetlamp video cameras, ACLU raises surveillance concerns
2019-08-04, San Diego Tribune
https://www.sandiegouniontribune.com/news/public-safety/story/2019-08-04/san-...

San Diego has installed thousands of microphones and cameras in so-called smart streetlamps in recent years as part of a program to assess traffic and parking patterns throughout the city. However, the technology over the last year caught the attention of law enforcement. Today, such video has been viewed in connection with more than 140 police investigations. Officers have increasingly turned to the footage to help crack cases, as frequently as 20 times a month. Police department officials have said that the video footage has been crucial in roughly 40 percent of these cases. Privacy groups have voiced concerns about a lack of oversight, as law enforcement has embraced the new technology. Groups, such as the American Civil Liberties Union, have pushed city councils across the country to adopt surveillance oversight ordinances that create strict rules around using everything from license plate readers to gunshot-detection systems to streetlamp cameras. San Diego’s smart streetlamp program started around 2016. Three years later, it’s still unclear what the data will ultimately be used for. Right now, only the police department has the authority to view the actual video footage. This arrangement has disturbed Matt Cagle, technology and civil liberties attorney with the ACLU. “This sounds like the quote, ‘just trust us’ approach to surveillance technology, which is a recipe for invasive uses and abuse of these systems,” he said.

Note: For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on government corruption and the disappearance of privacy from reliable major media sources.


Apple contractors 'regularly hear confidential details' on Siri recordings
2019-07-26, The Guardian (One of the UK's leading newspapers)
https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2019/jul/26/apple-contractors-regularl...

Apple contractors regularly hear confidential medical information, drug deals, and recordings of couples having sex, as part of their job providing quality control, or “grading”, the company’s Siri voice assistant. Although Apple does not explicitly disclose it in its consumer-facing privacy documentation, a small proportion of Siri recordings are passed on to contractors working for the company around the world. Apple says the data “is used to help Siri and dictation ... understand you better and recognise what you say”. But the company does not explicitly state that that work is undertaken by humans who listen to the pseudonymised recordings. A whistleblower working for the firm, who asked to remain anonymous due to fears over their job, expressed concerns about this lack of disclosure, particularly given the frequency with which accidental activations pick up extremely sensitive personal information. The whistleblower said: “There have been countless instances of recordings featuring private discussions. These recordings are accompanied by user data showing location, contact details, and app data.” Although Siri is included on most Apple devices, the contractor highlighted the Apple Watch and the company’s HomePod smart speaker as the most frequent sources of mistaken recordings. As well as the discomfort they felt listening to such private information, the contractor said they were motivated to go public about their job because of their fears that such information could be misused.

Note: For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on the disappearance of privacy from reliable major media sources.


Chinese Fund Backed By Hunter Biden Invested in Major Chinese Surveillance Firm
2019-05-03, The Intercept
https://theintercept.com/2019/05/03/biden-son-china-business/

On Wednesday, Human Rights Watch released a troubling report, which it has since walked back, about a phone application made by the Chinese government. The app provides law enforcement with easy, daily access to data detailing the religious activity, blood type, and even the amount of electricity used by ethnic minority Muslims living in the western province of Xinjiang. The app relies heavily on facial recognition software supplied by Face++, a division of the Chinese startup Megvii. The flurry of media reports this week about Face++ ... and the role of the private sector in building China's increasingly sprawling surveillance state, however, left out another prominent investor in the company: Hunter Biden. Hunter Biden's investment company in China, known as Bohai Harvest RST, has pooled money, largely from state-owned venture capital, to buy or invest in a range of industries. In 2017, Bohai Harvest bought into Face++. Bohai Harvest ... has brought Hunter Biden into close proximity to influential Chinese government and business figures. The investment fund has also partnered with a subsidiary of HNA Group. The HNA Group has made unusually extensive efforts to cultivate U.S. officials. The company floated an offer to buy out the hedge fund owned by former White House official Anthony Scaramucci; retained the legal services of Gary Locke, the former U.S. ambassador to China, shortly before his confirmation; and provided financing to a private-equity firm backed by Jeb Bush.

Note: This informative video delves into the shady dealings of Hunter Biden. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on corruption in government and in the corporate world from reliable major media sources.


Amazon reportedly employs thousands of people to listen to your Alexa conversations
2019-04-11, CNN News
https://www.cnn.com/2019/04/11/tech/amazon-alexa-listening/index.html

Not only is Alexa listening when you speak to an Echo smart speaker, an Amazon employee is potentially listening, too. Amazon (AMZN) employs a global team that transcribes the voice commands captured after the wake word is detected and feeds them back into the software ... Bloomberg reports. Amazon reportedly employs thousands of full-time workers and contractors in several countries, including the United States, Costa Rica and Romania, to listen to as many as 1,000 audio clips in shifts that last up to nine hours. The audio clips they listen to were described as "mundane" and even sometimes "possibly criminal," including listening to a potential sexual assault. In a response to the story, Amazon confirmed to CNN Business that it hires people to listen to what customers say to Alexa. Amazon doesn't "explicitly" tell Alexa users that it employs people to listen to the recordings. Amazon said in its frequently asked question section that it uses "requests to Alexa to train our speech recognition and natural language understanding systems." People can opt out of Amazon using their voice recordings to improve the software in the privacy settings section of the Alexa app. Alexa auditors don't have access to the customers' full name or address, but do have the device's serial number and the Amazon account number associated with the device. Amazon previously has been embroiled in controversy for privacy concerns regarding Alexa.

Note: For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on corporate corruption and the disappearance of privacy.


Leaked Documents Show the Government Tracking Journalists
2019-03-16, NBC (Los Angeles affiliate)
https://www.nbclosangeles.com/news/national-international/Source-Leaked-Docum...

The U.S. government created a secret database of activists, journalists, and social media influencers tied to the migrant caravan and in some cases, placed alerts on their passports. At the end of 2018, roughly 5,000 immigrants from Central America made their way north through Mexico to the United States southern border. As the migrant caravan reached the San Ysidro Port of Entry in south San Diego County, so did journalists, attorneys, and advocates who were there to work and witness the events unfolding. But in the months that followed, journalists who covered the caravan, as well as those who offered assistance to caravan members, said they felt they had become targets of intense inspections and scrutiny by border officials. Documents leaked to NBC 7 Investigates show [that the] government had listed their names in a secret database of targets, where agents collected information on them. Some had alerts placed on their passports, keeping at least two photojournalists and an attorney from entering Mexico to work. The documents were provided to NBC 7 by a Homeland Security source on the condition of anonymity. The individuals listed include ten journalists, seven of whom are U.S. citizens, a U.S. attorney, and 48 people from the U.S. and other countries, labeled as organizers, instigators or their roles “unknown.” In addition to flagging the individuals for secondary screenings, the Homeland Security source told NBC 7 that the agents also created dossiers on each person listed.

Note: For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on government corruption and the erosion of civil liberties.


The great Equifax mystery: 17 months later, the stolen data has never been found, and experts are starting to suspect a spy scheme
2019-02-13, CNBC News
https://www.cnbc.com/2019/02/13/equifax-mystery-where-is-the-data.html

On Sept. 7, 2017, the world heard an alarming announcement from credit ratings giant Equifax: In a brazen cyberattack, somebody had stolen sensitive personal information from more than 140 million people, nearly half the population of the U.S. The information included Social Security numbers, driver's license numbers, information from credit disputes and other personal details. Then, something unusual happened. The data disappeared. Completely. CNBC talked to eight experts. All of them agreed that a breach happened, and personal information from 143 million people was stolen. But none of them knows where the data is now. Security experts haven't seen the data used in any of the ways they'd expect in a theft like this — not for impersonating victims, not for accessing other websites, nothing. Most experts familiar with the case now believe that the thieves were working for a foreign government and are using the information not for financial gain, but to try to identify and recruit spies. One former senior intelligence official ... summarized the prevailing expert opinion on how the foreign intelligence agency is using the data. First, he said, the foreign government is probably combining this information with other stolen data, then analyzing it using artificial intelligence or machine learning to figure out who's likely to be — or to become — a spy for the U.S. government. Second, credit reporting data provides compromising information that can be used to turn valuable people into agents of a foreign government.

Note: For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on intelligence agency corruption and the disappearance of privacy.


Everybody Does It: The Messy Truth About Infiltrating Computer Supply Chains
2019-01-24, The Intercept
https://theintercept.com/2019/01/24/computer-supply-chain-attacks/

Bloomberg Businessweek published an alarming story: Operatives working for China's People's Liberation Army had secretly implanted microchips into motherboards made in China and sold by U.S.-based Supermicro. This allegedly gave Chinese spies clandestine access to servers belonging to over 30 American companies, including Apple, Amazon, and various government suppliers, in an operation known as a "supply chain attack," in which malicious hardware or software is inserted into products before they are shipped to surveillance targets. U.S. spy agencies ... assessed that China was adept at corrupting the software bundled closest to a computer's hardware at the factory, threatening some of the U.S. government's most sensitive machines, according to documents provided by National Security Agency whistleblower Edward Snowden. The documents also detail how the U.S. and its allies have themselves systematically targeted and subverted tech supply chains, with the NSA conducting its own such operations, including in China, in partnership with the CIA and other intelligence agencies. The documents also disclose supply chain operations by German and French intelligence. Computer hardware can be altered at various points along the supply chain, from design to manufacturing to storage to shipment. The U.S. is among the small number of countries that could, in theory, compromise devices at many different points in this pipeline, thanks to its resources and geographic reach.

Note: For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on intelligence agency corruption and the disappearance of privacy from reliable major media sources.


Your Apps Know Where You Were Last Night, and They’re Not Keeping It Secret
2018-12-10, New York Times
https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2018/12/10/business/location-data-privacy...

At least 75 companies receive anonymous, precise location data from apps whose users enable location services. Several of those businesses claim to track up to 200 million mobile devices in the United States — about half those in use last year. The database reviewed by The Times ... reveals people’s travels in startling detail, accurate to within a few yards and in some cases updated more than 14,000 times a day. These companies sell, use or analyze the data to cater to advertisers, retail outlets and even hedge funds. It’s a hot market, with sales of location-targeted advertising reaching an estimated $21 billion this year. Businesses say their interest is in the patterns, not the identities, that the data reveals. They note that the information apps collect is tied not to someone’s name or phone number but to a unique ID. But those with access to the raw data — including employees or clients — could still identify a person without consent. They could follow someone they knew, by pinpointing a phone that regularly spent time at that person’s home address. More than 1,000 popular apps contain location-sharing code from such companies. Google’s Android system was found to have about 1,200 apps with such code, compared with about 200 on Apple’s iOS.

Note: For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing privacy news articles from reliable major media sources.


How to Stop Apps From Tracking Your Location
2018-12-10, New York Times
https://www.nytimes.com/2018/12/10/technology/prevent-location-data-sharing.html

Hundreds of apps can follow your movements and share the details with advertisers, retailers and even hedge funds. It’s difficult to know for sure whether location data companies are tracking your phone. Any app that collects location data may share your information with other companies, as long as it mentions that somewhere in its privacy policy. You can head off much of the tracking on your own device by spending a few minutes changing settings. Here’s how to limit the snooping. How do I stop location tracking on iOS? Some apps have internal settings where you can indicate that you don’t want your location used for targeted advertising or other purposes. But the easiest method is to go through your device’s main privacy menu. First, open Settings and select Privacy, which has a blue icon with a white hand. Then select Location Services, which is at the top and has a little arrow. You’ll see a list of apps, along with the location setting for each. Tap on apps you want to adjust. Selecting “Never” blocks tracking by that app. The option “While Using the App” ensures that the app gets location only while in use. Choosing “Always,” allows the app to get location data even when not in use. How do I stop it on Android? First, open the Settings on your phone. On the main settings page, tap “Security & location.” On the next screen, tap Location, which can be found in the Privacy section. On the Location screen, tap “App-level permissions.” You’ll see a list of apps. To turn off location for an app, slide the toggle to the left.

Note: For more details, read the entire article at the link above. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing privacy news articles from reliable major media sources.


You Snooze, You Lose: How Insurers Dodge The Costs Of Popular Sleep Apnea Devices
2018-11-21, NPR
https://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2018/11/21/669751038/you-snooze-you...

Last March, Tony Schmidt discovered something unsettling about the machine that helps him breathe at night. Without his knowledge, it was spying on him. From his bedside, the device was tracking when he was using it and sending the information not just to his doctor, but to the maker of the machine, to the medical supply company that provided it and to his health insurer. Schmidt, an information technology specialist ... was shocked. "I had no idea they were sending my information across the wire." Like millions of people, he relies on a continuous positive airway pressure, or CPAP, machine that streams warm air into his nose while he sleeps. Without it, Schmidt would wake up hundreds of times a night. As many CPAP users discover, the life-altering device comes with caveats: Health insurance companies are often tracking whether patients use them. If they aren't, the insurers might not cover the machines or the supplies that go with them. And, faced with the popularity of CPAPs ... and their need for replacement filters, face masks and hoses, health insurers have deployed a host of tactics that can make the therapy more expensive or even price it out of reach. A host of devices now gather data about patients, including insertable heart monitors and blood glucose meters. Privacy laws have lagged behind this new technology, and patients may be surprised to learn how little control they have over how the data is used or with whom it is shared.

Note: For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on health and the disappearance of privacy.


Feds have paid undercover informants in migrant caravan
2018-11-20, NBC News
https://www.nbcnews.com/politics/immigration/feds-have-paid-undercover-inform...

The Department of Homeland Security is gathering intelligence from paid undercover informants inside the migrant caravan that is now reaching the California-Mexico border as well as monitoring the text messages of migrants, according to two DHS officials. The 4,000 migrants, mainly from Honduras, have used WhatsApp text message groups as a way to organize and communicate along their journey to the California border, and DHS personnel have joined those groups to gather that information. The intelligence gathering techniques are combined with reports from DHS personnel working in Mexico. Paying informants, placing officers in the region or monitoring the communications of non-U.S. citizens is not illegal, said John Cohen, former acting undersecretary of intelligence for DHS, but it does raise some concerns about the allocation of resources. "Those resources have to come from some place. They are not being devoted to thwarting terrorist threats, mass shootings, mailed fentanyl coming into the country or cyberattacks," said Cohen. Cohen said the caravan presents a logistical and humanitarian issue, but because the vast majority of its members want to present themselves legally to claim asylum, it is not wise to devote a significant amount of intelligence resources to it. "I find it hard to believe that the highest risk facing this nation comes from this caravan," Cohen said.

Note: For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on intelligence agency corruption and the disappearance of privacy.


CIA's ‘surveillance state’ is operating against us all
2018-11-05, The Hill (Top newspaper of Washington's political elite)
https://thehill.com/opinion/national-security/414804-surveillance-state-is-al...

Over time, the CIA upper echelon has secretly developed all kinds of policy statements and legal rationales to justify routine, widespread surveillance on U.S. soil of citizens who aren’t suspected of terrorism or being a spy. Newly declassified documents from 2014 ... reveal the CIA not only intercepted emails of U.S. citizens but they were emails of the most sensitive kind — written to Congress and involving whistleblowers reporting alleged wrongdoing within the Intelligence Community. The disclosures, kept secret until now, are two letters of “congressional notification” from the Intelligence Community inspector general at the time, Charles McCullough. He stated that during “routine counterintelligence monitoring of government computer systems,” the CIA collected emails between congressional staff and the CIA’s head of whistleblowing and source protection. McCullough added that he was concerned about the CIA’s “potential compromise to whistleblower confidentiality and the consequent ‘chilling effect’.” The March 2014 intercepts ... happened amid what’s widely referred to as the Obama administration’s war on whistleblowers and mass surveillance scandals. The evidence points to bad actors targeting candidate Donald Trump and his associates in part to keep them - and us - from learning about and digging into an even bigger scandal: our Intelligence Community increasingly spying on its own citizens, journalists, members of Congress and political enemies for the better part of two decades.

Note: The above article was written by Emmy award winning investigative journalist and former news anchor for CBS and CNN Sharyl Attkisson. She has been attacked numerous times for questioning the safety of vaccines and investigating too deeply into the lives of certain politicians. Her top-selling book Stonewalled describes her fight for truth against powerful political forces. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on intelligence agency corruption and the disappearance of privacy.


Apple Just Killed The 'GrayKey' iPhone Passcode Hack
2018-10-24, Forbes
https://www.forbes.com/sites/thomasbrewster/2018/10/24/apple-just-killed-the-...

Apple has managed to prevent the hottest iPhone hacking company in the world from doing its thing. In March, Atlanta-based Grayshift promised governments its GrayKey tech could crack the passcodes of the latest iOS models, right up to the iPhone X. From then on, Apple continued to invest in security in earnest, continually putting up barriers for Grayshift to jump over. Grayshift continued to grow, however, securing contracts with Immigration and Customs Enforcement, and the Secret Service. Now, though, Apple has put up what may be an insurmountable wall. Multiple sources familiar with the GrayKey tech tell Forbes the device can no longer break the passcodes of any iPhone running iOS 12 or above. On those devices, GrayKey can only do what’s called a “partial extraction,” sources from the forensic community said. That means police using the tool can only draw out unencrypted files and some metadata, such as file sizes and folder structures. Previously, GrayKey used “brute forcing” techniques to guess passcodes and had found a way to get around Apple’s protections preventing such repeat guesses. But no more. Though it’s clear Apple has locked GrayShift out, no one actually knows just how the iPhone maker has done it. Vladimir Katalov, chief of forensic tech provider Elcomsoft, has repeatedly uncovered weaknesses in Apple technology. But he was stumped too.

Note: For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing privacy news articles from reliable major media sources.


Internet Hacking Is About to Get Much Worse
2018-10-11, New York Times
https://www.nytimes.com/2018/10/11/opinion/internet-hacking-cybersecurity-iot...

It's no secret that computers are insecure. The risks are about to get worse, because computers are being embedded into physical devices and will affect lives, not just our data. Many of today’s new computers are not just screens that we stare at, but objects in our world with which we interact. A refrigerator is now a computer that keeps things cold; a car is now a computer with four wheels and an engine. These computers sense us and our environment, and they affect us and our environment. They talk to each other over networks ... and they have physical agency. They drive our cars, pilot our planes, and run our power plants. They control traffic, administer drugs ... and dispatch emergency services. These connected computers and the network that connects them - collectively known as “the internet of things” - affect the world in a direct physical manner. Computers fail differently than most other machines: It's not just that they can be attacked remotely - they can be attacked all at once. It’s impossible to take an old refrigerator and infect it with a virus or recruit it into a denial-of-service botnet, and a car without an internet connection simply can’t be hacked remotely. But that computer with four wheels and an engine? It - along with all other cars of the same make and model - can be made to run off the road, all at the same time. Do we want to allow vulnerable automobiles on the streets and highways during the weeks before a new security patch is written, tested, and distributed?

Note: A 2015 New York Times article called the Internet of Things a "train wreck in privacy and security". Read how a hacked vehicle may have resulted in journalist Michael Hastings' death in 2013. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on the disappearance of privacy and the risks of wireless technologies.


New Evidence of Hacked Supermicro Hardware Found in U.S. Telecom
2018-10-09, Bloomberg
https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2018-10-09/new-evidence-of-hacked-sup...

A major U.S. telecommunications company discovered manipulated hardware from Super Micro Computer Inc. in its network and removed it in August, fresh evidence of tampering in China of critical technology components bound for the U.S., according to a security expert working for the telecom company. The security expert, Yossi Appleboum, provided ... evidence of the discovery following the publication of an investigative report in Bloomberg Businessweek that detailed how China’s intelligence services had ordered subcontractors to plant malicious chips in Supermicro server motherboards over a two-year period ending in 2015. [Appleboum’s company] was hired to scan several large data centers belonging to the telecommunications company. Unusual communications from a Supermicro server and a subsequent physical inspection revealed an implant built into the server’s Ethernet connector. The executive said he has seen similar manipulations of different vendors' computer hardware made by contractors in China, not just products from Supermicro. “Supermicro is a victim - so is everyone else,” he said. There are countless points in the supply chain in China where manipulations can be introduced, and deducing them can in many cases be impossible. The manipulation of the Ethernet connector appeared to be similar to a method also used by the U.S. National Security Agency, details of which were leaked in 2013.

Note: For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on intelligence agency corruption and the disappearance of privacy.


Undercover cops break Facebook rules to track protesters, ensnare criminals
2018-10-05, NBC News
https://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/undercover-cops-break-facebook-rules-tra...

In the summer of 2015, as Memphis exploded with protests over the police killing of a 19-year-old man, activists began hearing on Facebook from someone called Bob Smith. His profile picture [was] a Guy Fawkes mask, the symbol of anti-government dissent. Smith acted as if he supported the protesters. Over the next three years, dozens of them accepted his friend requests, allowing him to observe private discussions. He described himself as a far-left Democrat, a “fellow protester” and a “man of color.” But Smith was not real. He was the creation of a white detective in the Memphis Police Department’s Office of Homeland Security whose job was to keep tabs on local activists. The detective, Tim Reynolds, outed himself in August under questioning by the American Civil Liberties Union of Tennessee, which sued the police department for allegedly violating a 1978 agreement that prohibited police from conducting surveillance of lawful protests. The revelation validated many activists’ distrust of local authorities. It also provided a rare look into the ways American law enforcement operates online. Social media monitoring - including the use of software to crunch data about people’s online activity - illustrates a policing “revolution” that has allowed authorities to not only track people but also map out their networks, said Rachel Levinson-Waldman, senior counsel at [the] Brennan Center for Justice. But there are few laws governing this kind of monitoring.

Note: Memphis police were recently reported to have systematically spied on community activists. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on police corruption and the erosion of civil liberties.


'Treating protest as terrorism': US plans crackdown on Keystone XL activists
2018-09-20, The Guardian (One of the UK's leading newspapers)
https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2018/sep/20/keystone-pipeline-protest...

Angeline Cheek is preparing for disaster. The indigenous organizer from the Fort Peck reservation in Montana fears that the proposed Keystone XL pipeline could break and spill. But environmental catastrophe is not the most immediate threat. The government has characterized pipeline opponents like her as “extremists” and violent criminals and warned of potential “terrorism”. Recently released records [suggest] that police were organizing to launch an aggressive response to possible Keystone protests, echoing the actions against the Standing Rock movement in North Dakota. There, officers engaged in intense surveillance and faced widespread accusations of excessive force. Documents obtained by the ACLU ... have renewed concerns from civil rights advocates about the government’s treatment of indigenous activists known as water protectors. Notably, one record revealed that authorities hosted a recent “anti-terrorism” training session in Montana. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the Federal Emergency Management Agency also organized a “field force operations” training to teach “mass-arrest procedures”, “riot-control formations” and other “crowd-control methods”.

Note: For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing civil liberties news articles from reliable major media sources.


Governments Can Spy on Journalists in the U.S. Using Invasive Foreign Intelligence Process
2018-09-17, The Intercept
https://theintercept.com/2018/09/17/journalists-fisa-court-spying/

The U.S. government can monitor journalists under a foreign intelligence law that allows invasive spying and operates outside the traditional court system, according to newly released documents. Targeting members of the press under the law, known as the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, requires approval from the Justice Department’s highest-ranking officials. Prior to the release of these documents, little was known about the use of FISA court orders against journalists. Previous attention had been focused on the use of National Security Letters against members of the press; the letters are administrative orders with which the FBI can obtain certain ... records without a judge’s oversight. FISA court orders can authorize much more invasive searches and collection, including the content of communications, and do so through hearings conducted in secret and outside the sort of ... judicial process that allows journalists and other targets of regular criminal warrants to eventually challenge their validity. The rules apply to media entities or journalists who are thought to be agents of a foreign government, or ... possess foreign intelligence information. “There’s a lack of clarity on the circumstances when the government might consider a journalist an agent of a foreign power,” said [Knight Institute staff attorney Ramya] Krishnan. “Think about WikiLeaks; the government has said they are an intelligence operation.”

Note: In its latest instruction manual for federal prosecutors, the US Justice Department removed a subsection titled “Need for Free Press and Public Trial”. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on judicial system corruption and the erosion of civil liberties.


Smart Dust Is Coming. Are You Ready?
2018-09-16, Forbes
https://www.forbes.com/sites/bernardmarr/2018/09/16/smart-dust-is-coming-are-...

Imagine a world where wireless devices are as small as a grain of salt. These miniaturized devices have sensors, cameras and communication mechanisms to transmit the data they collect back to a base in order to process. Today, you no longer have to imagine it: microelectromechanical systems (MEMS), often called motes, are real and they very well could be coming to a neighborhood near you. With such a small size, these devices can stay suspended in an environment just like a particle of dust. They can: Collect data including acceleration, stress, pressure, humidity, sound and more from sensors; Process the data with what amounts to an onboard computer system; Store the data in memory; Wirelessly communicate the data to the cloud, a base or other MEMs. Since smart dust devices are miniature sensors they can record anything that they are programmed to record. Since they are so small, they are difficult to detect. Your imagination can run wild regarding the negative privacy implications when smart dust falls into the wrong hands. Once billions of smart dust devices are deployed over an area it would be difficult to retrieve or capture them if necessary. The volume of smart dust that could be engaged by a rogue individual, company or government to do harm would make it challenging for the authorities to control. Many of the applications for smart dust are still in the concept stage. We might not know when it will progress to the point of wide-scale adoption, but ... it’s a question of when rather than if.

Note: This takes privacy issues to an entirely new level. This AP article states the supermicro chips are "just 0.002 inches by 0.002 inches and look like bits of powder. They're thin enough to be embedded in a piece of paper." They are also small enough to slip into a vaccine unnoticed. And check out another Forbes article titled "Stratospheric Balloons Will Rain Tiny Electronic Spies From The Sky." For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on the disappearance of privacy from reliable major media sources.


Google found to track the location of users who have opted out
2018-08-13, NBC/AP
https://www.nbcnews.com/tech/tech-news/google-tracks-your-movements-it-or-not...

Google wants to know where you go so badly that it records your movements even when you explicitly tell it not to. An Associated Press investigation found that many Google services on Android devices and iPhones store your location data even if you've used privacy settings that say they will prevent it from doing so. Computer-science researchers at Princeton confirmed these findings at the AP's request. Storing your minute-by-minute travels carries privacy risks. So the company will let you "pause" a setting called Location History. Google's support page on the subject states: "You can turn off Location History at any time. With Location History off, the places you go are no longer stored." That isn't true. Even with Location History paused, some Google apps automatically store time-stamped location data without asking. For example, Google stores a snapshot of where you are when you merely open its Maps app. And some searches that have nothing to do with location, like "chocolate chip cookies," or "kids science kits," pinpoint your precise latitude and longitude - accurate to the square foot - and save it to your Google account. Since 2014, Google has let advertisers track the effectiveness of online ads at driving foot traffic, a feature that Google has said relies on user location histories. The company is pushing further into such location-aware tracking to drive ad revenue, which rose 20 percent last year to $95.4 billion.

Note: This article instructs you how to effectively delete Google's tracking of your movements. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on corporate corruption and the disappearance of privacy.


‘Supervillain-Level’ Cyberattack Test on Cities Uncovers Shocking Flaws
2018-08-09, Newsweek
https://www.newsweek.com/supervillain-level-cyberattacks-cities-test-uncovers...

Research unveiled today shows how vulnerabilities in “smart city” technology could be compromised by hackers. Bugs were found in major cities in the U.S. and Europe, with teams from IBM and Threatcare disclosing a series of “disturbing” scenarios that could soon play out for real. These included the abuse of flood warnings, radiation alarms and, yes, traffic networks. “If someone ... were to abuse vulnerabilities like the ones we documented in smart city systems, the effects could range from inconvenient to catastrophic,” a report said. The experts were inspired by the recent incident in Hawaii in which an alert warned citizens that a ballistic missile was inbound. The blaring island alarms, made in error, caused mass panic. Research found 17 major flaws in four smart city systems, eight of which were labeled “critical.” They spotted basic errors, including weak passwords and basic authentication flaws. “Security around these sensors and controls must be a lot more stringent,” wrote IBM’s Daniel Crowley. “Attackers could manipulate water level sensor responses to report flooding in an area where there is none - creating panic, evacuations and destabilization,” Crowley wrote. In another example, he said: “Controlling additional systems could enable an attacker to set off a string of building alarms or trigger gunshot sounds on audio sensors across town, further fueling panic.”

Note: This 2015 New York Times article calls 'smart' devices, "a train wreck in privacy and security." Watch an excellent documentary uncovering the serious dangers of smart meters. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on corruption in government and the disappearance of privacy.


Memphis police accused of using fake accounts to surveil black activists
2018-08-01, The Guardian (One of the UK's leading newspapers)
https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2018/aug/01/memphis-police-black-lives-ma...

A trove of documents released by the city of Memphis late last week appear to show that its police department has been systematically using fake social media profiles to surveil local Black Lives Matter activists, and that it kept dossiers and detailed power point presentations on dozens of Memphis-area activists. The surveillance project was operated through the Memphis police department’s office of homeland security. In a deposition for a lawsuit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union over the information gathering, officials said it ... began to focus on “local individuals or groups that were staging protests” [around 2016]. This included the publication of daily joint information briefings on potential protests and known protesters. The briefings regularly included information about meetings on private property, panel discussions, town halls, and even innocuous events like “Black Owned Food Truck Sunday”. A good deal of that information appears to have been obtained by a fake MPD Facebook profile for a “Bob Smith”, which the ACLU said was used “to view private posts, join private groups, and otherwise pose as a member of the activist community”. The briefings, which contained ... photographs, dates of birth, addresses, and mental health histories were distributed beyond the department according to the ACLU lawsuit, to a number of local businesses including the region’s largest employer FedEx and the county school district.

Note: For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on police corruption and the erosion of civil liberties.


The cashless society is a con – and big finance is behind it
2018-07-19, The Guardian (One of the UK's leading newspapers)
https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2018/jul/19/cashless-society-con-bi...

All over the western world banks are shutting down cash machines and branches. They are trying to push you into using their digital payments and digital banking infrastructure. Financial institutions ... are trying to nudge us towards a cashless society and digital banking. The true motive is corporate profit. Payments companies such as Visa and Mastercard want to increase the volume of digital payments services they sell, while banks want to cut costs. The nudge requires two parts. First, they must increase the inconvenience of cash. Second, they must vigorously promote the alternative. But a cashless society is not in your interest. It is in the interest of banks and payments companies. Their job is to make you believe that it is in your interest too, and they are succeeding in doing that. The recent Visa chaos, during which millions of people who have become dependent on digital payment suddenly found themselves stranded when the monopolistic payment network crashed, was a temporary setback. Digital systems may be “convenient”, but they often come with central points of failure. Cash, on the other hand, does not crash. It does not rely on external data centres, and is not subject to remote control or remote monitoring. The cash system allows for an unmonitored “off the grid” space. This is also the reason why financial institutions and financial technology companies want to get rid of it. Cash transactions are outside the net that such institutions cast to harvest fees and data.

Note: For more on this questionable trend, see this article and this one in the UK's Guardian. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on financial industry corruption and the disappearance of privacy.


Inside China’s Dystopian Dreams: A.I., Shame and Lots of Cameras
2018-07-08, New York Times
https://www.nytimes.com/2018/07/08/business/china-surveillance-technology.html

China is reversing the commonly held vision of technology as a great democratizer, bringing people more freedom and connecting them to the world. In China, it has brought control. Cameras scan train stations for China’s most wanted. Billboard-size displays ... list the names of people who don’t pay their debts. Facial recognition scanners guard the entrances to housing complexes. Already, China has an estimated 200 million surveillance cameras. Such efforts supplement other systems that track internet use and communications, hotel stays, train and plane trips and even car travel. Invasive mass-surveillance software has been set up in the west to track members of the Uighur Muslim minority and map their relations with friends and family. [At] the intersection south of Changhong Bridge in the city of Xiangyang ... police put up cameras linked to facial recognition technology and a big, outdoor screen. Photos of lawbreakers were displayed alongside their names and government I.D. numbers. China’s surveillance companies are also looking to test the appetite for high-tech surveillance abroad. At home, China is preparing its people for next-level surveillance technology. A recent state-media propaganda film called “Amazing China” showed off a ... virtual map that provided police with records of utility use. “If there are anomalies, the system sends an alert,” a narrator says, as Chinese police officers pay a visit to an apartment with a record of erratic utility use.

Note: For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on government corruption and the disappearance of privacy.


The NSA’s Hidden Spy Hubs in Eight U.S. Cities
2018-06-25, The Intercept
https://theintercept.com/2018/06/25/att-internet-nsa-spy-hubs/

Thousands of people pass by the buildings each day and rarely give them a second glance, because their function is not publicly known. They are an integral part of one of the world’s largest telecommunications networks – and they are also linked to a controversial National Security Agency surveillance program. Atlanta, Chicago, Dallas, Los Angeles, New York City, San Francisco, Seattle, and Washington, D.C.. In each of these cities, The Intercept has identified an AT&T facility containing networking equipment that transports large quantities of internet traffic across the United States and the world. A body of evidence – including classified NSA documents, public records, and interviews with several former AT&T employees – indicates that the buildings are central to an NSA spying initiative that has for years monitored billions of emails, phone calls, and online chats passing across U.S. territory. The NSA considers AT&T to be one of its most trusted partners and has lauded the company’s “extreme willingness to help.” Little known, however, is that its scope is not restricted to AT&T’s customers. According to the NSA’s documents, it values AT&T not only because it “has access to information that transits the nation,” but also because it maintains unique relationships with other phone and internet providers. The NSA exploits these relationships for surveillance purposes, commandeering AT&T’s massive infrastructure and using it as a platform to covertly tap into communications processed by other companies.

Note: The NSA was authorized in 2016 to share communications data it collected without warrants on Americans with 16 intelligence and law enforcement agencies. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on intelligence agency corruption and the disappearance of privacy.


Supreme Court rules that police generally need a warrant to access cell phone data
2018-06-22, ABC News
https://abcnews.go.com/Politics/supreme-court-rules-police-warrant-access-cel...

The Supreme Court ruled that police generally need a search warrant to review cell phone records that include data like a user's location, which will impose a higher bar for law enforcement to access data collected on the millions of people who use smartphones on a daily basis. The plaintiff in the case, Timothy Carpenter, was convicted of multiple robbery and gun offenses in 2010 but challenged the conviction saying that officers investigating the case didn't get a warrant for his cell phone records. The government argued that law enforcement doesn't need a warrant to get cell phone records from the service provider since it's a third party. The Court ruled that the government's search, in this case, did not meet the bar for probable cause for a warrant. Chief Justice John Roberts wrote in the majority decision that the government is obligated to get a warrant before compelling a wireless provider to provide cell phone records in an investigation. "We decline to grant the state unrestricted access to a wireless carrier's database of physical location information," Roberts said.

Note: While this ruling limits police powers, the NSA was authorized in 2016 to freely share communications data it collected without warrants on Americans with 16 intelligence and law enforcement agencies. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on police corruption and the disappearance of privacy.


What 7 Creepy Patents Reveal About Facebook
2018-06-21, New York Times
https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2018/06/21/opinion/sunday/facebook-patent...

A review of hundreds of Facebook’s patent applications reveals that the company has considered tracking almost every aspect of its users’ lives: where you are, who you spend time with, whether you’re in a romantic relationship, which brands and politicians you’re talking about. The company has even attempted to patent a method for predicting when your friends will die. Taken together, Facebook’s patents show a commitment to collecting personal information, despite widespread public criticism of the company’s privacy policies and a promise from its chief executive to “do better.” “A patent portfolio is a map of how a company thinks about where its technology is going,” said Jason M. Schultz, a law professor at New York University. One patent application discusses predicting whether you’re in a romantic relationship using information such as how many times you visit another user’s page [and] the number of people in your profile picture. Another proposes using your posts and messages to infer personality traits ... then using those characteristics to select which news stories or ads to display. Another patent application discusses tracking your weekly routine and sending notifications to other users of deviations from the routine. In addition, it describes using your phone’s location in the middle of the night to establish where you live. As long as Facebook keeps collecting personal information, we should be wary.

Note: For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on corporate corruption and the disappearance of privacy.


Edward Snowden: 'The people are still powerless, but now they're aware'
2018-06-04, The Guardian (One of the UK's leading newspapers)
https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2018/jun/04/edward-snowden-people-still-p...

Edward Snowden has no regrets five years on from leaking the biggest cache of top-secret documents in history. He is wanted by the US. He is in exile in Russia. But he is satisfied with the way his revelations of mass surveillance have rocked governments, intelligence agencies and major internet companies. What has happened in the five years since? The most important change, he said, was public awareness. “The government and corporate sector preyed on our ignorance. But now we know. People are aware now. People are still powerless to stop it but we are trying. The revelations made the fight more even.” He said he had no regrets. His own life is uncertain, perhaps now more than ever, he said. His sanctuary in Russia depends on the whims of the Putin government, and the US and UK intelligence agencies have not forgiven him. For them, the issue is as raw as ever. One of the disclosures to have most impact was around the extent of collaboration between the intelligence agencies and internet companies. In 2013, the US companies were outsmarting the EU in negotiations over data protection. Snowden landed like a bomb in the middle of the negotiations and the data protection law that took effect last month is a consequence. But he will not be marking the anniversary with a “victory lap”. There is still much to be done. “The fightback is just beginning,” said Snowden. “The governments and the corporates have been in this game a long time and we are just getting started.”

Note: For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on intelligence agency corruption and the disappearance of privacy.


Facebook Gave Device Makers Deep Access to Data on Users and Friends
2018-06-03, New York Times
https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2018/06/03/technology/facebook-device-par...

As Facebook sought to become the world’s dominant social media service, it struck agreements allowing phone and other device makers access to vast amounts of its users’ personal information. Facebook has reached data-sharing partnerships with at least 60 device makers - including Apple, Amazon, BlackBerry, Microsoft and Samsung. The partnerships ... raise concerns about the company’s privacy protections and compliance with a 2011 consent decree with the Federal Trade Commission. Facebook allowed the device companies access to the data of users’ friends without their explicit consent, even after declaring that it would no longer share such information with outsiders. Some device makers could retrieve personal information even from users’ friends who believed they had barred any sharing. In interviews, several former Facebook software engineers and security experts said they were surprised at the ability to override sharing restrictions. “It’s like having door locks installed, only to find out that the locksmith also gave keys to all of his friends so they can come in and rifle through your stuff without having to ask you for permission,” said Ashkan Soltani, a research and privacy consultant who formerly served as the F.T.C.’s chief technologist.

Note: For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on corporate corruption and the disappearance of privacy.


Employers are monitoring computers, toilet breaks – even emotions. Is your boss watching you?
2018-05-14, The Guardian (One of the UK's leading newspapers)
https://www.theguardian.com/world/2018/may/14/is-your-boss-secretly-or-not-so...

Last year an American company microchipped dozens of its workers. Of the 90 people who work at [Three Square Market] headquarters, 72 are now chipped. Two months ago, the company ... started chipping people with dementia. If someone wanders off and gets lost, police can scan the chip “and they will know all their medical information, what drugs they can and can’t have, they’ll know their identity.” So far, Three Square Market has chipped 100 people, but plans to do 10,000. The company has just launched a mobile phone app that pairs the chip with the phone’s GPS, enabling the implantee’s location to be tracked. Last week, it started using it with people released from prison on probation. Some Chinese companies are using sensors in helmets and hats to scan workers’ brainwaves. There are tech companies selling products that can ... monitor keystrokes and web usage, and even photograph [employees] using their computers’ webcams. All this can be done remotely. Monitoring is built into many of the jobs that form the so-called “gig economy”. It’s not easy to object to the constant surveillance when you’re desperate for work. What has surprised [Cass Business School professor André Spicer] is how willingly people in better-paid jobs have taken to it. Spicer has watched the shift away from “monitoring something like emails to monitoring people’s bodies – the rise of bio-tracking basically. The monitoring of your vital signs, emotions, moods.”

Note: Author James Bloodworth describes the high tech monitoring of workers at Amazon warehouses in his new book, "Hired: Six Months Undercover in Low-Wage Britain". For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on microchip implants and the disappearance of privacy.


DNA of every baby born in California is stored. Who has access to it?
2018-05-12, CBS News
https://www.cbsnews.com/news/california-biobank-dna-babies-who-has-access/

The Newborn Genetic Screening test is required in all 50 states. Nearly every baby born in the United States gets a heel prick shortly after birth. Their newborn blood fills six spots on a special filter paper card. It is used to test baby for dozens of congenital disorders. Some states destroy the blood spots after a year, 12 states store them for at least 21 years. California, however, is one of a handful of states that stores the remaining blood spots for research indefinitely in a state-run biobank. The child's leftover blood spots become property of the state and may be sold to outside researchers without the parent's knowledge or consent. "I just didn't realize there was a repository of every baby born in the state. It's like fingerprints," new mom Soniya Sapre responded. In California ... you do have the right to ask the biobank to destroy the leftovers after the fact, though the agency's website states it "may not be able to comply with your request." You also have the right to find out if your child's blood spots have been used for research, but you would have to know they were being used in the first place and we've discovered that most parents don't. But researchers with the California Genetic Disease Screening Program aren't the only ones with access to samples stored in the biobank. Blood spots are given to outside researchers for $20 to $40 per spot. According to biobank records, the program sold about 16,000 blood spots over the past five years, totaling a little more than $700,000.

Note: For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on government corruption and the disappearance of privacy.


Alexa and Siri Can Hear This Hidden Command. You Cant.
2018-05-10, New York Times
https://www.nytimes.com/2018/05/10/technology/alexa-siri-hidden-command-audio...

Over the last two years, researchers in China and the United States have begun demonstrating that they can send hidden commands that are undetectable to the human ear to Apples Siri, Amazons Alexa and Googles Assistant. Researchers have been able to secretly activate the artificial intelligence systems on smartphones and smart speakers, making them dial phone numbers or open websites. In the wrong hands, the technology could be used to unlock doors, wire money or buy stuff online - simply with music playing over the radio. A group of students from University of California, Berkeley, and Georgetown University showed in 2016 that they could hide commands in white noise played over loudspeakers and through YouTube videos to get smart devices to turn on airplane mode or open a website. This month, some of those Berkeley researchers published a research paper that went further, saying they could embed commands directly into recordings of music or spoken text. So while a human listener hears someone talking or an orchestra playing, Amazons Echo speaker might hear an instruction to add something to your shopping list. There is no American law against broadcasting subliminal messages to humans, let alone machines. The Federal Communications Commission discourages the practice as counter to the public interest, and the Television Code of the National Association of Broadcasters bans transmitting messages below the threshold of normal awareness.

Note: Read how a hacked vehicle may have resulted in journalist Michael Hastings' death in 2013. A 2015 New York Times article titled "Why Smart Objects May Be a Dumb Idea" describes other major risks in creating an "Internet of Things". Vulnerabilities like those described in the article above make it possible for anyone to spy on you with these objects, accelerating the disappearance of privacy.


Palantir Knows Everything About You
2018-04-19, Bloomberg
https://www.bloomberg.com/features/2018-palantir-peter-thiel/

A former U.S. Secret Service agent named Peter Cavicchia III ran special ops for JPMorgan Chase & Co. His insider threat group ... used computer algorithms to monitor the bank’s employees. Aided by as many as 120 “forward-deployed engineers” from the data mining company Palantir Technologies Inc., which JPMorgan engaged in 2009, Cavicchia’s group vacuumed up emails and browser histories, GPS locations ... and transcripts of digitally recorded phone conversations. It all ended when the bank’s senior executives learned that they, too, were being watched. [The] spying scandal ... which has never been reported, also marked an ominous turn for Palantir. An intelligence platform designed for the global War on Terror was weaponized against ordinary Americans at home. Founded in 2004 by Peter Thiel and some fellow PayPal alumni, Palantir cut its teeth working for the Pentagon and the CIA. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services uses Palantir. The FBI uses it. The Department of Homeland Security deploys it. Police and sheriff’s departments in New York, New Orleans, Chicago, and Los Angeles have also used it, frequently ensnaring in the digital dragnet people who aren’t suspected of committing any crime. JPMorgan’s experience remains instructive. “The world changed when it became clear everyone could be targeted using Palantir,” says a former JPMorgan cyber expert who worked with Cavicchia at one point on the insider threat team. “Everyone’s a suspect, so we monitored everything.”

Note: Palantir was one of the private intelligence firms that reportedly conspired to discredit activists and journalist Glenn Greenwald, in part by submitting fake documents to WikiLeaks. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on corporate corruption and the disappearance of privacy.


I Downloaded the Information That Facebook Has on Me. Yikes.
2018-04-11, New York Times
https://www.nytimes.com/2018/04/11/technology/personaltech/i-downloaded-the-i...

I downloaded a copy of my Facebook data last week. I didn’t expect to see much. But when I opened my file, it was like opening Pandora’s box. I learned that about 500 advertisers - many that I had never heard of, like Bad Dad, a motorcycle parts store, and Space Jesus, an electronica band - had my contact information, which could include my email address, phone number and full name. Facebook also had my entire phone book, including the number to ring my apartment buzzer. The social network had even kept a permanent record of the roughly 100 people I had deleted from my friends list over the last 14 years. Facebook said unfamiliar advertisers might appear [in the file] because they might have obtained my contact information from elsewhere, compiled it into a list of people they wanted to target and uploaded that list into Facebook. Brands can obtain your information [by] buying ... from a data provider like Acxiom, which has amassed one of the world’s largest commercial databases on consumers. Let’s be clear: Facebook is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to what information tech companies have collected on me. Knowing this, I also downloaded copies of my Google data with a tool called Google Takeout. The data sets were exponentially larger than my Facebook data. Here was the biggest surprise: In a folder labeled Ads, Google kept a history of many news articles I had read. Be warned: Once you see the vast amount of data that has been collected about you, you won’t be able to unsee it.

Note: Those who want to download their own Facebook data can use this link. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on corporate corruption and the disappearance of privacy.


Department Of Homeland Security Compiling Database Of Journalists And 'Media Influencers'
2018-04-06, Forbes
https://www.forbes.com/sites/michellefabio/2018/04/06/department-of-homeland-...

Bloomberg Government reports on a FedBizOpps.gov posting by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) with the relatively benign-sounding subject “Media Monitoring Services.” The details of the attached Statement of Work, however, outline a plan to gather and monitor the public activities of media professionals and influencers and are enough to cause nightmares of constitutional proportions, particularly as the freedom of the press is under attack worldwide. As part of its "media monitoring," the DHS seeks to track more than 290,000 global news sources as well as social media. The successful contracting company will have "24/7 access to a password protected, media influencer database" ... in order to "identify any and all media coverage related to the Department of Homeland Security or a particular event." The database will be browsable by "location, beat and type of influencer," and for each influencer, the chosen contractor should "present contact details and ... an overview of the previous coverage published by the media influencer." Increasing government encroachment on the freedom of the press is the sinister backdrop to all of this. Freedom House ... recently concluded that global media freedom has reached its lowest level in the past 13 years. The independent watchdog organization blames "new threats to journalists and media outlets in major democracies" as well as "further crackdowns on independent media in authoritarian countries like Russia and China."

Note: For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on intelligence agency corruption and the manipulation of public perception.


Bosses read workers' minds: It's not the future, it's now
2018-04-03, New York Post
https://nypost.com/2018/04/30/chinese-companies-are-monitoring-employees-brains/

Chinese companies are picking their employees’ brains - literally - with mind-reading devices designed to improve efficiency and performance. Workers are being outfitted with safety helmet-like caps that monitor brain waves and send the information to computers that use artificial intelligence algorithms to detect emotional spikes, like depression, anxiety and rage. The Orwellian technology has been used on factory employees, train conductors and workers at State Grid Zhejian Electric Power. State Grid, which has 40,000 employees ... said the company’s profits have increased by about $315 million since it implemented the surveillance caps in 2014. The government-funded brain-monitoring project, called Neuro Cap, has been implemented in more than a dozen factories and businesses. Jin Jia, an associate professor of brain science and cognitive psychology at Ningbo University, which is hosting the project, said the brain caps allow workers to be better managed. Qiao Zhian, professor of management psychology at Beijing Normal University, said the devices could give companies a competitive boost - but warned they could also violate privacy in the worst way. “There is no law or regulation to limit the use of this kind of equipment in China. The employer may have a strong incentive to use the technology for higher profit, and the employees are usually in too weak a position to say no,” he said. “The selling of Facebook data is bad enough. Brain surveillance can take privacy abuse to a whole new level.”

Note: While slightly less invasive than microchip implants, the use of devices like these by government and industry threatens to fully eliminate privacy.


Are you ready? This is all the data Facebook and Google have on you
2018-03-29, The Guardian (One of the UK's leading newspapers)
https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2018/mar/28/all-the-data-facebook-g...

[Here's] how much of your information ... Facebook and Google store about you. Google stores your location ... every time you turn on your phone. You can see a timeline of where you’ve been from the very first day you started using Google on your phone. Google stores search history across all your devices. Even if you delete your search history and phone history on one device, it may still have data saved from other devices. Google creates an advertisement profile based on your information, including your location, gender, age, hobbies, career, interests, relationship status, possible weight ... and income. Google offers an option to download all of the data it stores about you. I’ve requested to download it and the file is 5.5GB big, which is roughly 3m Word documents. Facebook offers a similar option to download all your information. Mine was roughly 600MB, which is roughly 400,000 Word documents. Facebook also stores what it thinks you might be interested in based off the things you’ve liked and what you and your friends talk about. The data they collect includes tracking where you are, what applications you have installed, when you use them, what you use them for, access to your webcam and microphone at any time, your contacts, your emails, your calendar, your call history, the messages you send and receive, the files you download, the games you play, your photos and videos, your music, your search history, your browsing history, even what radio stations you listen to.

Note: For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on corporate corruption and the disappearance of privacy.


Cambridge Analytica, Trump-Tied Political Firm, Offered to Entrap Politicians
2018-03-19, New York Times
https://www.nytimes.com/2018/03/19/us/cambridge-analytica-alexander-nix.html

Sitting in a hotel bar, Alexander Nix, who runs the political data firm Cambridge Analytica, had a few ideas for a prospective client looking for help in a foreign election. The firm could send an attractive woman to seduce a rival candidate and secretly videotape the encounter, Mr. Nix said, or send someone posing as a wealthy land developer to pass a bribe. “We have a long history of working behind the scenes,” Mr. Nix said. The prospective client, though, was actually a reporter. The encounter was secretly filmed as part of a monthslong investigation into Cambridge Analytica, the data firm with ties to President Trump’s 2016 campaign. The results of Channel 4’s work were broadcast ... days after reports ... that the firm had harvested the data from more than 50 million Facebook profiles in its bid to develop techniques for predicting the behavior of individual American voters. Less noticed has been the work that Cambridge Analytica and its parent company, the SCL Group, have done outside the United States. “Many of our clients don’t want to be seen to be working with a foreign company,” he told the Channel 4 reporter. “We can set up fake IDs and websites.” Mr. Nix ... boasted that Cambridge Analytica employs front companies and former spies on behalf of political clients. The information that is uncovered ... is then put “into the bloodstream to the internet,” said Mark Turnbull, another Cambridge executive. “Then watch it grow,” he added. “It has to happen without anyone thinking, ‘That’s propaganda.’”

Note: Watch an astounding video revealing how Cambridge Analytica has successfully manipulated national elections around the world using sleazy tactics like pretty women to entrap candidates and offering major bribes while recording the exchange. And here is a video featuring the whistleblower who exposed this.


‘I made Steve Bannon’s psychological warfare tool’: meet the data war whistleblower
2018-03-18, The Guardian (One of the UK's leading newspapers)
https://www.theguardian.com/news/2018/mar/17/data-war-whistleblower-christoph...

At 24, [Christopher Wylie] came up with an idea that led to the foundation of a company called Cambridge Analytica, a data analytics firm that went on to claim a major role in the Leave campaign for Britain’s EU membership referendum, and later became a key figure in digital operations during Donald Trump’s election campaign. In 2014, Steve Bannon ... was Wylie’s boss. And Robert Mercer, the secretive US hedge-fund billionaire and Republican donor, was Cambridge Analytica’s investor. The idea they bought into was to bring big data and social media to an established military methodology – “information operations” – then turn it on the US electorate. By [2017], Steve Bannon had become Trump’s chief strategist. Cambridge Analytica’s parent company, SCL, had won contracts with the US State Department and was pitching to the Pentagon, and Wylie was genuinely freaked out. “It’s insane,” he told me one night. “The company has created psychological profiles of 230 million Americans. And now they want to work with the Pentagon? It’s like Nixon on steroids.” He ended up showing me a tranche of documents that laid out the secret workings behind Cambridge Analytica. Wylie ... came up with a plan to harvest the Facebook profiles of millions of people in the US, and to use their private and personal information to create sophisticated psychological and political profiles. And then target them with political ads designed to work on their particular psychological makeup.

Note: Billionaire Robert Mercer used this new new technology to build a corporate empire capable of swinging elections by using military propaganda strategies on civilian populations. The above article further details how mass media is being combined with Big Data to produce powerful new forms of mind control. Watch an astounding video revealing how Cambridge Analytica has successfully manipulated national elections around the world.


Monsanto demands Avaaz hands over all of its campaign data
2018-02-23, The Guardian (One of the UK's leading newspapers)
https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2018/feb/23/monsanto-demands-avaaz-ha...

A US court will today hear a request from Monsanto for access to a huge batch of internal communications by Avaaz, in a move that the campaign group says could have grave repercussions for online activism and data privacy. Monsanto is seeking the release of all lobby documents ... where the firm or its herbicide ingredient glyphosate have been mentioned. Avaaz says this would include personal information about its employees, as well as the email addresses of more than four million signatories to petitions against Monsanto’s GM and glyphosate policies. A victory for Monsanto in today’s hearing would cost the online advocacy group thousands of person-hours of work time, and hundreds of thousands of dollars, according to Avaaz’s lawyers. It could even raise the prospect of a migration out of online activism by campaigners concerned about corporate surveillance. Monsanto’s [request] demands all documents Avaaz employees have created, maintained, received, sent or copied, where these involve discussion about glyphosate, Monsanto, or the World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer, which found glyphosate to probably be carcinogenic. Monsanto filed its request shortly after a bitter EU regulatory battle ended with its license for glyphosate – the core ingredient in Roundup – being extended by just five years, rather than the 15 years originally sought.

Note: Read more on Avaaz and the power of online activism. Major lawsuits are beginning to unfold over Monsanto's lies to regulators and the public on the dangers of its products, most notably Roundup. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on corporate corruption and health.


Smart meters could leave British homes vulnerable to cyber attacks, experts have warned
2018-02-18, The Telegraph (One of the UK's leading newspapers)
https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2018/02/18/smart-meters-could-leave-british-...

New smart energy meters that the Government wants to be installed in millions of homes will leave householders vulnerable to cyber attacks. The intelligence agency GCHQ ... raised concerns over the security of the meters, which could enable hackers to steal personal details and defraud consumers by tampering with their bills. The Government wants every home in the country to have a smart meter, but only 8 million out of 27 million households have so far signed up to the Ł11 billion scheme. Cyber security experts say that making the meters universal will make them more attractive to hackers because the potential returns are so much greater if they can hack every meter using the same software. In some foreign countries hackers have already attacked smart meter networks to defraud customers. Criminals are able to artificially inflate meter readings, making bills higher. They then try to intercept payments, and if they simply skim off the difference between the real reading and the false reading, energy companies will think the bill has been paid normally. Another potential problem is the meters being used as a “Trojan horse” to access other computers and gadgets around the home if the meters are able to “talk” to the other devices. That would potentially give hackers the ability to steal personal information that could be sold on to other criminals.

Note: This 2015 New York Times article calls 'smart' devices like these meters, "a train wreck in privacy and security." The networked computerization of everyday objects often means that these objects can spy on you, accelerating the disappearance of privacy in the name of convenience. Watch an excellent documentary uncovering the serious dangers of smart meters.


Government spying on immigrants in America is now fair game.
2018-02-12, The Guardian (One of the UK's leading newspapers)
https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2018/feb/12/government-spying-immig...

Last week, the existence of a draft Department of Homeland Security (DHS) report came to light, which calls for long-term surveillance of Sunni Muslim immigrants. Internal documents obtained from the FBI and DHS last year also showed how the agencies are surveilling the Movement for Black Lives, bringing into mind tactics of Cointelpro, an FBI program which secretly and illegally conducted surveillance on the civil rights movement in order to disrupt Americans’ ability to organize politically. But these are not the only types of surveillance this administration is engaged in. On 18 October, DHS implemented a new rule to track the internet activity of all visa applicants, visa holders and legal permanent residents. The rule would also apply to naturalized US citizens. The new rule would track and store social media account information and other highly sensitive data as part of individuals’ immigration files. The policy would allow DHS to collect and track immigrants’ social media accounts handles as well as aliases, and search results from both public search engines as well as commercial databases. The rule ... seems like it was designed with the specific purpose of hampering our freedom of speech, in line with the Trump administration’s other chilling tactics of attacks on the press and crackdowns on protesters who do not fall in line with the policies of this administration. This covert surveillance, now culminating in overt spying on immigrants, is designed as a tactic to control and fracture dissent.

Note: Read more about the FBI's infamous Cointelpro program. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on intelligence agency corruption and the disappearance of privacy.


NSA Deletes “Honesty” and “Openness” From Core Values
2018-01-24, The Intercept
https://theintercept.com/2018/01/24/nsa-core-values-honesty-deleted/

The National Security Agency maintains a page on its website that outlines its mission statement. Since at least May 2016, the surveillance agency had featured honesty as the first of four “core values” listed on NSA.gov, alongside “respect for the law,” “integrity,” and “transparency.” On January 12, however, the NSA removed the mission statement page – which can still be viewed through the Internet Archive – and replaced it with a new version. Now, the parts about honesty and the pledge to be truthful have been deleted. The agency’s new top value is “commitment to service,” which it says means “excellence in the pursuit of our critical mission.” Those are not the only striking alterations. All references to “trust,” “honor,” and “openness” have disappeared. The agency previously stated on its website that it embraced transparency and claimed that all of its activities were aimed at “ensuring the safety, security, and liberty of our fellow citizens.” That has also been discarded. The new list of values includes the additions “respect for people” and “accountability.” But the section on respecting people is a reference to diversity within the NSA workforce, not a general commitment to members of the public. Accountability is defined as taking “responsibility for our decisions.” The one core value that remains essentially unchanged is “respect for the law,” which the agency says means it is “grounded in our adherence to the U.S. Constitution and compliance with the U.S. laws, regulations and policies that govern our activities.”

Note: For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on intelligence agency corruption and the disappearance of privacy.


Spending bill limited Congress' oversight of secret intelligence activities
2018-01-23, USA Today
https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/politics/2018/01/23/senate-intel-leaders-...

The White House can now direct US intelligence agencies to spend money and take covert action without approval of congressional oversight committees under a provision slipped into the bill that ended the government shutdown, leaders of the Senate intelligence committee say. A provision in the bill - requested by the White House and Pentagon - gives intelligence agencies an exemption from the law that requires them to get authorization from the intelligence committees before they spend taxpayer money, said Sen. Richard Burr, R-N.C., and chairman of the Senate panel. Section 504 of the National Security Act gives the committees the power to withhold money from the intelligence agencies if they object to surveillance programs or other intelligence activities. Burr and [Sen. Mark] Warner said the provision to weaken their oversight power comes just after they promised civil liberties advocates in the Senate that they would ensure that the FBI and other intelligence agencies don't overstep their bounds in carrying out a controversial surveillance program recently renewed by Congress. That surveillance program, Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act ... sweeps up emails, text messages, photos and other communication from an unknown number of Americans, and allows federal agents to search that data without a warrant. Burr and Warner both supported a six-year renewal of the program earlier this month.

Note: For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on intelligence agency corruption and the disappearance of privacy.


The NSA knows who you are just by the sound of your voice—and their tech predates Apple and Amazon
2018-01-20, CNBC News
https://www.cnbc.com/2018/01/20/the-nsa-can-recognize-you-by-just-your-voice-...

The National Security Agency has apparently been way ahead of Apple or Amazon. The agency has at its disposal voice recognition technology that it employs to identify terrorists, government spies, or anyone they choose — with just a phone call, according to a report by The Intercept. By using recorded audio, the NSA is able to create a "voiceprint," or a map of qualities that mark a voice as singular, and identify the person speaking. According to a classified memo ... the agency has employed this technology since at least 2006, with the document referencing technology "that identifies people by the sound of their voices." In fact, the NSA used such technology during Operation Iraqi Freedom, when analysts were able to verify audio thought to be of Saddam Hussein speaking. It suggests that national security operatives had access to high-level voice technology long before Amazon, Apple and Google's solutions became cultural touchstones. A "voiceprint" is "a dynamic computer model of the individual's vocal characteristics," the publication explained, created by an algorithm analyzing features like pitch and mouth shape. Then, using the NSA's formidable bank of recorded audio files, the agency is able to match the speaker to an identity. Identifying people through their voiceprints is a skill at which the "NSA reigns supreme," according to a leaked document from 2008. And, they're only getting better.

Note: As this BBC article from 1999 shows, mass surveillance systems with voice recognition capability have been in use for many years. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on intelligence agency corruption and the disappearance of privacy.


GOP lawmakers demand that 'alarming' memo on FISA abuses be made public
2018-01-19, MSN/Fox News
https://www.msn.com/en-us/news/politics/gop-lawmakers-demand-that-alarming-me...

A four-page memo circulating in Congress that reveals alleged United States government surveillance abuses is being described by lawmakers as “shocking.” The lawmakers said they could not yet discuss the contents of the memo they reviewed on Thursday after it was released to members by the House Intelligence Committee. But they say the memo should be immediately made public. “It is so alarming the American people have to see this,” Ohio Rep. Jim Jordan said. “It's troubling,” North Carolina Rep. Mark Meadows said. “Part of me wishes that I didn't read it because I don’t want to believe that those kinds of things could be happening in this country that I call home and love so much.” The House Intelligence Committee on Thursday approved a motion by New York Rep. Pete King to release the memo on abuses of FISA, or the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, to all House members. The memo details the Intelligence Committee’s oversight work for the FBI and Justice, including the controversy over unmasking and FISA surveillance. The process for releasing it to the public involves a committee vote. If approved, it could be released as long as there are no objections from the White House within five days. On Thursday, the Senate voted 65-34 to reauthorize a FISA provision that allows U.S. spy agencies to conduct surveillance on foreign targets abroad for six years.

Note: For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on intelligence agency corruption and the disappearance of privacy.


Hackers are flooding the internet with more fake domain names. Here’s how you can protect yourself
2018-01-18, PBS
https://www.pbs.org/newshour/nation/hackers-are-flooding-the-internet-with-mo...

The use of fake internet domain names to trick consumers into giving up personal information is more widespread than experts originally thought. This is largely because of the heightened use of Internationalized Domain Names (IDNs), which use homographs carefully crafted to look exactly like their English counterparts. Hackers create domain names that replace an English-language character with a look-alike character from another language - replacing the Latin letter ‘a’ with the Cyrillic letter ‘a,’ for instance - as a way of luring users to fake websites where they’re prompted to enter their personal information. [A new] report from ... Farsight Security identified 125 different websites, from social networking giants like Facebook and Twitter to luxury brands like Gucci and financial websites like Wells Fargo, being imitated by fake domain addresses. Between Oct. 17 and Jan. 10, the group observed more than 116,000 imitator domains of these sites in real time. Take a popular financial site like BankofAmerica.com. Cybercriminals take this domain and ... create a website that looks strikingly similar to the original Bank of America page. A user types in their login information and password on this fake Bank of America site, automatically giving cybercriminals their credentials to log in to the real thing. Most phishing attempts reach internet users through email, so you should be suspicious of any emails that include ... login links to different accounts combined with demands to update information.

Note: Read the complete Farsight Security report for more information on these common cyberattacks and how to protect yourself from them.


How ex-congresswoman helped squelch reports of secret government surveillance
2018-01-15, San Francisco Chronicle (San Francisco's leading newspaper)
http://www.sfchronicle.com/nation/article/Ex-congresswoman-helped-squelch-sto...

Two New York Times reporters learned in 2004 that the George W. Bush administration was secretly wiretapping Americans, and collecting their phone and email records. The reporters’ attempt to publish their findings were thwarted by the administration’s intense and successful lobbying of their editors. That effort ... had an unlikely ally: Rep. Jane Harman of Los Angeles, the senior Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee. Details of the far-reaching, legally unauthorized surveillance program remained secret until the Times published the article in late 2005. The newspaper’s interactions with administration officials, and Harman’s role, were described by former Times reporter James Risen this month in the Intercept, the investigative publication where he now works. The story on the program known as Stellar Wind was ready for publication before the November 2004 election, when Bush was on the ballot, but NSA Director Michael Hayden and other administration officials told Times editors, in phone calls and face-to-face meetings, that publication would damage national security and endanger lives, Risen said. He said the officials were joined in that effort by Harman, one of a handful of congressional leaders who had been briefed on the program and were enlisted by the White House to contact the Times. Members of Congress learned later that the NSA had not been seeking warrants from a secret court, as required by law, before wiretapping calls.

Note: James Risen is a courageous hero who shared two Pulitzer Prizes for his reporting around 9/11 and massive government surveillance. His recent article in The Intercept describes how a "marketplace of secrets in Washington" supports the US national security apparatus, and is used by corrupt government officials to manipulate the news.


First digital pill approved despite worries about biomedical Big Brother
2017-11-14, San Francisco Chronicle (San Francisco's leading newspaper)
http://www.sfgate.com/business/article/First-digital-pill-approved-despite-wo...

Regulators have approved the first drug with a sensor that alerts doctors when the medication has been taken. The digital pill combines two existing products: the former blockbuster psychiatric medication Abilify - long used to treat schizophrenia and bipolar disorder - with a sensor tracking system first approved in 2012. Experts say the technology could be a useful tool, but it will also change how doctors relate to their patients as they’re able to see whether they are following instructions. The pill has not yet been shown to actually improve patients’ medication compliance, a feature insurers are likely to insist on before paying for the pill. Additionally, patients must be willing to allow their doctors and caregivers to access the digital information. The technology carries risks for patient privacy, too, if there are breaches of medical data or unauthorized use as a surveillance tool, said James Giordano, a professor of neurology at Georgetown University Medical Center. “Could this type of device be used for real-time surveillance? The answer is of course it could,” said Giordano. The new pill, Abilify MyCite, is embedded with a digital sensor that is activated by stomach fluids, sending a signal to a patch worn by the patient and notifying a digital smartphone app that the medication has been taken.

Note: In 2010, it was quietly reported that Novartis AG would be seeking regulatory approval for such "chip-in-a-pill technology". For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on microchip implants and the disappearance of privacy.


The White House's Leak Hunt Is Battling the Wrong Enemy With the Wrong Weapons
2017-11-05, NBC News
https://www.nbcnews.com/think/opinion/why-white-house-searching-leakers-inste...

The Trump administration has declared all-out war on leakers. But the administration is battling the wrong enemy with the wrong weapons. Digital secrets stolen from the National Security Agency represent the real ... security problem. More than half a billion pages have been swiped. The stolen data includes some of the NSA’s most prized cyber weapons. Most were created by the agency’s own hacker team, the Tailored Access Operations (TAO) unit. Government hackers search for ways to crack into widely used computer operating systems, such as Microsoft Windows. When they discover a way in ... rather than notify the companies that their products are dangerously flawed, the NSA often secretly stores these vulnerabilities and later converts them into powerful cyber weapons, known as “exploits.” Like burglar’s tools, the exploits can secretly open a crack in a system, such as Windows, and insert an “implant” containing NSA malware - enabling the agency to take control of any computer using that Windows program. Unknown to the public, the NSA has for years been negligent in protecting its top-secret material, including these cyber weapons. Meanwhile, the Trump administration continues searching for someone who passed a few tidbits about White House bickering to a reporter, rather than focus on the NSA losing potentially deadly cyber weapons.

Note: In 2014, it was reported that the NSA was developing tools to make it relatively easy to hack millions of computers at once. Two years later, a large collection of NSA hacking tools was leaked. Now, these tools are being used by criminals against people all over the world. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles about intelligence agency corruption and the disappearance of privacy.


Critics fault FBI over domestic terrorist threats
2017-10-20, San Francisco Chronicle (San Francisco's leading newspaper)
http://www.sfgate.com/nation/article/Critics-fault-FBI-over-domestic-terroris...

The FBI counterterrorism division’s identification of a movement it calls “black identity extremists” is the latest addition to the list of protesters and dissidents the agency puts under the “domestic terrorism” umbrella. But many national security experts say the designation [is] simply a label that allows the FBI to conduct additional surveillance on “basically anyone who’s black and politically active,” said Michael German, who left the FBI in 2004. While the practice of labeling certain protest groups as domestic terrorists is not unique to President Trump’s administration, Hina Shamsi ... at the American Civil Liberties Union, said there’s concern that “abusive and unjustified investigations” by the FBI are rising. The problem, Shamsi said, is partly in the overly broad definition of domestic terrorism in the Patriot Act as a violation of the criminal laws ... intended to “influence the policy of a government by intimidation or coercion.” Eighty-four members of Congress cited that intention to intimidate or coerce in a letter to the Justice Department last week that asked whether the department had labeled Dakota Access Pipeline protesters domestic terrorists. The Justice Department did not respond to questions about the letter. The FBI report that focused on black identity extremists ... had interest groups questioning whether the designation has been used to single out members of Black Lives Matter.

Note: The Department of Homeland Security has reportedly been monitoring the Black Lives Matter movement since 2014, in some cases producing "minute-by-minute reports on protesters’ movements". For more along these lines, read about Cointelpro, the program used by corrupt intelligence agencies to spy on and attack the U.S. civil rights movement beginning in the 1960's. See also concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles about the erosion of civil liberties.


DOJ demands Facebook information from 'anti-administration activists'
2017-09-30, CNN News
http://www.cnn.com/2017/09/28/politics/facebook-anti-administration-activists...

Trump administration lawyers are demanding the private account information of potentially thousands of Facebook users in three separate search warrants served on the social media giant. The warrants specifically target the accounts of three Facebook users who are described ... as "anti-administration activists who have spoken out at organized events, and who are generally very critical of this administration's policies." One of those users, Emmelia Talarico, operated the disruptj20 page where Inauguration Day protests were organized and discussed; the page was visited by an estimated 6,000 users whose identities the government would have access to if Facebook hands over the information. Talarico says if her account information was given to the government, officials would have access to her "personal passwords, security questions and answers, and credit card information," plus "the private lists of invitees and attendees to multiple political events." The American Civil Liberties Union, representing the three Facebook users, filed a motion to quash the warrants Thursday. "What is particularly chilling about these warrants is that anti-administration political activists are going to [be] scrutinized by the very administration they are protesting," said ACLU attorney Scott Michelman. Facebook was initially served the warrants in February 2017 along with a gag order which barred the social media company from alerting the three users that the government was seeking their private information.

Note: United Nations officials recently said that the US government's treatment of activists was increasingly "incompatible with US obligations under international human rights law". For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on government corruption and the disappearance of privacy.


AI Can Tell if You're Gay: Artificial Intelligence Predicts Sexuality from One Photo with Startling Accuracy
2017-09-08, Newsweek
http://www.newsweek.com/ai-can-tell-if-youre-gay-artificial-intelligence-pred...

Two Stanford University researchers have reported startling accuracy in predicting sexual orientation using computer technology. Dr. Michal Kosinski and Yilun Wang, whose research will be published by the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, say that AI can distinguish between the face of a heterosexual man and a homosexual man in 81 percent of cases. For women, the predictive accuracy is 71 percent. The average human is less adept at identifying between straight and gay people purely based on an image: We are only able to guess correctly in 61 percent of cases for men and 54 percent for women. When scientists presented the algorithm with five facial images of a single person, the accuracy increased to 91 percent for men and 83 percent for women. Kosinski and Wang used “deep neural networks” to sample 35,326 facial images of men and women taken from a dating website. The findings advance discussion about the biological factors that may determine one’s sexual orientation. However, Kosinski tells The Economist, the research is not intended to be used to profile or “out” homosexual men and women. Rather, it is designed to demonstrate - or even warn - that technological advances can be used for such means and could pose a threat to our privacy, given that digital information is so easily accessible. The researchers argue the “digitalization of our lives and rapid progress in AI continues to erode the privacy of sexual orientation and other intimate traits.”

Note: Emerging artificial intelligence technologies are currently being developed for use in warfare. According to a United Nations report, misuse of these technologies may threaten human rights. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing privacy news articles from reliable major media sources.


US government demands details on all visitors to anti-Trump protest website
2017-08-15, The Guardian (One of the UK's leading newspapers)
https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/aug/14/donald-trump-inauguration-prote...

The US government is seeking to unmask every person who visited an anti-Trump website in what privacy advocates say is an unconstitutional “fishing expedition” for political dissidents. The warrant appears to be an escalation of the Department of Justice’s (DoJ) campaign against anti-Trump activities, including the harsh prosecution of inauguration day protesters. On 17 July, the DoJ served a website-hosting company, DreamHost, with a search warrant for every piece of information it possessed that was related to a website that was used to coordinate protests during Donald Trump’s inauguration. The warrant ... seeks to get the IP addresses of 1.3 million people who visited [the site], as well as the date and time of their visit and information about what browser or operating system they used. The warrant was made public Monday, when DreamHost announced its plans to challenge the government in court. The government has aggressively prosecuted activists arrested during the 20 January protests in Washington DC. In April, the US attorney’s office in Washington DC filed a single indictment charging more than 217 people with identical crimes, including felony rioting. The Electronic Frontier Foundation, which has been advising DreamHost, characterized the warrant as “unconstitutional”. “I can’t conceive of a legitimate justification other than casting your net as broadly as possible,” senior staff attorney Mark Rumold [said]. “What they would be getting is a list of everyone who has ever been interested in attending these protests.”

Note: In May, United Nations officials said that the US treatment of activists was increasingly "incompatible with US obligations under international human rights law". For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on government corruption and the erosion of privacy.


Google Doesn’t Want What’s Best for Us
2017-08-12, New York Times
https://www.nytimes.com/2017/08/12/opinion/sunday/google-tech-diversity-memo....

Google processes more than three billion search queries a day. It has altered our notions of privacy, tracking what we buy, what we search for online - and even our physical location at every moment of the day. It is a monopoly. So it matters how this company works - who it hires, who it fires and why. Last week, Google fired a software engineer for writing a memo that questioned the company’s gender diversity policies and made statements about women’s biological suitability for technical jobs. “Portions of the memo violate our code of conduct and cross the line by advancing harmful gender stereotypes,” Google’s chief executive, Sundar Pichai, wrote. It’s impossible to believe that Google or other large tech companies a few years ago would have reacted like this to such a memo. In 2011 when CNN filed a Freedom of Information Act request for the workplace diversity data on big tech companies, Google [asked] for its data to be excluded. Google began to disclose statistics [in 2014] showing that only 17 percent of its technical work force was female. Today Google is under growing scrutiny, and the cognitive dissonance between the outward-facing “Don’t be evil” stance and the internal misogynistic “brogrammer” rhetoric was too extreme. Google had to fire the offending engineer, James Damore, but anyone who spends time on the message boards frequented by Valley engineers will know that the “bro” culture that gave us Gamergate - an online movement that targeted women in the video game industry - [remains] prevalent.

Note: For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on corporate corruption and the erosion of privacy.


Feds Crack Trump Protesters’ Phones to Charge Them With Felony Rioting
2017-07-26, Daily Beast
http://www.thedailybeast.com/feds-crack-trump-protesters-phones-to-charge-the...

Officials seized Trump protesters’ cell phones, cracked their passwords, and are now attempting to use the contents to convict them of conspiracy to riot at the presidential inauguration. Prosecutors have indicted over 200 people on felony riot charges for protests in Washington, D.C. on January 20. Some defendants face up to 75 years in prison. Evidence against the defendants has been scant from the moment of their arrest. As demonstrators, journalists, and observers marched through the city, D.C. police officers channelled hundreds of people into a narrow, blockaded corner, where they carried out mass arrests. Some of those people ... are now suing for wrongful arrest. Police also seized more than 100 cell phones. All of the ... phones were locked. But a July 21 court document shows that investigators were successful in opening the locked phones. Prosecutors moved to use a wealth of information from the phones as evidence, including the phones’ “call detail records,” “SMS or MMS messages,” “contact logs/email logs,” “chats or other messaging applications,” “website search history and website history,” and “images or videos.” One of the more than 200 defendants has pleaded guilty to riot charges after being named extensively in a superseding indictment. But the case against most defendants is less clear; in the superseding indictment, prosecutors accuse hundreds defendants of conspiracy to riot, based on “overt acts” as banal as chanting anti-capitalist slogans or wearing dark clothing.

Note: In May, United Nations officials said that the US treatment of activists was increasingly "incompatible with US obligations under international human rights law". For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on government corruption and the erosion of civil liberties.


Installing microchips in employees is 'the right thing to do,' CEO says
2017-07-24, CNBC News
https://www.cnbc.com/2017/07/24/installing-microchips-in-employees-is-the-rig...

Forget swiping a credit card or badge to buy food at work. One Wisconsin-based tech firm is offering to install rice-size microchips in its employees' hands. Three Square Market will be the first firm in the U.S. to use the device, which was approved by the FDA in 2004, CEO Todd Westby told CNBC on Monday. "We think it's the right thing to do for advancing innovation just like the driverless car basically did in recent months," he said. The company, which provides technology for break-room markets or mini-market kiosks, is anticipating over 50 employees to be voluntarily chipped. Westby said he and his family will be chipped, too. The chip, which costs $300 per implant, is inserted with a needle between the thumb and forefinger. Once an employee has the chip installed, he or she can purchase food in the break room, open doors and log into computers. And for those who may be concerned about Big Brother watching, Westby said there is no way for employees to be tracked. "Unlike your cell phone that is trackable and traceable pretty much no matter where you are, this device is only readable if you're within six inches of a proximity reader," he said. Three Square Market's partner, BioHax International in Sweden, has already started using the microchips in about 150 of its employees.

Note: A Swedish company's chief executive was recently "chipped" live on stage to promote this dubious technology. And do you really think they are not trackable? Read about the agenda to chip all people in this powerful essay and these news articles.


Mexico spying targeted international experts in student kidnapping case
2017-07-10, The Guardian/Associated Press
https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/jul/10/spyware-mexico-kidnapping-inves...

Investigators have revealed that targets of high-tech spying in Mexico included an international group of experts backed by the Organization of American States who had criticized the government’s investigation into the disappearance of 43 students. Previous investigations by the internet watchdog group Citizen Lab found that the spyware had been directed at journalists, activists and opposition politicians in Mexico. But targeting foreign experts operating under the aegis of an international body marks an escalation of the scandal. The experts had diplomatic status, making the spying attempt even graver. The spyware, known as Pegasus, is made by the Israel-based NSO Group, which says it sells only to government agencies for use against criminals and terrorists. It turns a cellphone into an eavesdropper, giving snoopers the ability to remotely activate its microphone and camera and access its data. The spyware is uploaded when users click on a link in email messages. Citizen Lab said the spyware attempts against the international experts occurred in March 2016 as the group was preparing its final, critical report on the government investigation into the disappearances. The 43 students were detained by local police in the city of Iguala on 26 September 2014, and were turned over to a crime gang. Only one student’s remains have been identified. The experts criticized the government’s conclusions, saying ... that government investigators had not looked into other evidence.

Note: Read the report by Citizen Lab at the University of Toronto for the details of these suspicious spyware attacks. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on corruption in government and the erosion of civil liberties.


Forty-five States Refuse to Give Voter Data to Trump Panel
2017-07-06, NBC News
http://www.nbcnews.com/politics/white-house/forty-four-states-refuse-give-vot...

Forty-five states and the District of Columbia are mounting a bipartisan rebellion against President Donald Trump’s commission on vote fraud by either declining to release any of the requested data or by providing only limited information to the panel. The Presidential Advisory Commission on Voter Integrity's request for extensive personal information about voters has ignited a firestorm in many states, including from both Republican and Democrat officials who oversee elections. The panel is seeking "dates of birth, political party (if recorded in your state), last four digits of social security number if available, voter history (elections voted in) from 2006 onward, active/inactive status, cancelled status, information regarding any felony convictions, information regarding voter registration in another state, information regarding military status, and overseas citizen information." Nineteen states - both red and blue - and D.C. are flat-out refusing to comply with the request, citing privacy concerns and some claiming the 15-member vote fraud panel is politically-motivated. Many officials have expressed disbelief and outrage at the commission's call to hand over a staggering amount of voter data, some of which they say is confidential or sensitive. It is unclear how the commission plans to move forward after the backlash. The panel is slated to meet later this month.

Note: After several lawsuits, the voting panel is now telling states to hold off on sending data. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing elections corruption news articles from reliable major media sources. And don't miss the critically important information provided in our Elections Information Center.


Special Report: How the Federal Reserve serves U.S. foreign intelligence
2017-06-26, Reuters
https://www.reuters.com/article/us-fed-accounts-intelligence-specialrepo/spec...

The Federal Reserve’s little-known role housing the assets of other central banks comes with a unique benefit to the United States: It serves as a source of foreign intelligence for Washington. Senior officials from the U.S. Treasury and other government departments have turned to these otherwise confidential accounts several times a year to analyze the asset holdings of the central banks of Russia, China, Iraq, Turkey, Yemen, Libya and others, according to more than a dozen current and former senior Fed and Treasury officials. The U.S. central bank keeps a tight lid on information contained in these accounts. But according to the officials interviewed by Reuters, U.S. authorities regularly use a “need to know” confidentiality exception in the Fed’s service contracts with foreign central banks. Some 250 foreign central banks and governments keep $3.3 trillion of their assets at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, about half of the world’s official dollar reserves, using a service advertised in a 2015 slide presentation as “safe and confidential.” Other major central banks and some commercial banks offer similar services. But only the Fed offers direct access to U.S. debt markets and to the world’s reserve currency, the dollar. In all, the people interviewed by Reuters identified seven instances in the last 15 years in which the accounts gave U.S. authorities insights into the actions of foreign counterparts or market movements, at times leading to a specific U.S. response.

Note: It's quite telling that no other major media picked up this important piece. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on financial industry corruption and the disappearance of privacy.


Personal details of nearly 200 million US citizens exposed
2017-06-19, BBC News
http://www.bbc.com/news/technology-40331215

Sensitive personal details relating to almost 200 million US citizens have been accidentally exposed by a marketing firm contracted by the Republican National Committee. The 1.1 terabytes of data includes birthdates, home addresses, telephone numbers and political views of nearly 62% of the entire US population. The data was available on a publicly accessible Amazon cloud server. Anyone could access the data. The information seems to have been collected from a wide range of sources - from posts on controversial banned threads on the social network Reddit, to committees that raised funds for the Republican Party. The information was stored in spreadsheets uploaded to a server owned by Deep Root Analytics. It had last been updated in January. Although it is known that political parties routinely gather data on voters, this is the largest breach of electoral data in the US to date and privacy experts are concerned about the sheer scale of the data gathered. "This is not just sensitive, it's intimate information, predictions about people's behaviour, opinions and beliefs that people have never decided to disclose to anyone," [said] Privacy International's policy officer Frederike Kaltheuner. However, the issue of data collection and using computer models to predict voter behaviour is not just limited to marketing firms - Privacy International says that the entire online advertising ecosystem operates in the same way.

Note: Elites like hedge fund billionaire Robert Mercer have been backing a major effort to produce powerful new forms of mind control by combining mass media with Big Data. As the data collected for this purpose becomes increasingly accessible, privacy disappears.


Mexican journalists, activists targeted with spyware
2017-06-19, ABC News/Associated Press
http://abcnews.go.com/Technology/wireStory/report-mexican-journalists-activis...

Mexican journalists, lawyers and activists were targeted by spyware produced by Israel’s NSO Group that is sold exclusively to governments. [A] report by Citizen Lab at the University of Toronto said the targets included people, such as prominent journalists Carmen Aristegui and Carlos Loret de Mola, who were investigating alleged government corruption and purported human rights abuses by security forces. The people targeted received messages with links that, if clicked on, opened up their devices to being exploited and spied upon. NSO’s Pegasus spyware allows hackers access to phone calls, messages, cameras and personal data. Other targets included members of the Centro Miguel Agustin Pro Juarez, a prominent human rights group that has investigated cases such as the disappearance of 43 students whom police allegedly detained and turned over to drug gang killers; the anti-graft group Mexicans Against Corruption and Impunity; and the Mexican Institute for Competitiveness, a civil society group working on economic policy and combatting corruption. Aristegui, who exposed a case of possible conflict of interest involving a luxury home acquired from a government contractor ... was aggressively targeted. She received more than two-dozen messages with NSO links claiming to be from “the U.S. Embassy in Mexico, Amber Alerts, colleagues, people in her personal life, her bank, phone company and notifications of kidnappings,” the report said.

Note: If the above link is not working, this Associated Press article is also available here. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on corruption in government and the erosion of civil liberties.


Amazon has a patent to keep you from comparison shopping while you’re in its stores
2017-06-16, Washington Post
https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/innovations/wp/2017/06/16/amazon-has-a-pa...

As grocery shoppers work to digest Amazon’s massive acquisition of Whole Foods for $13.7 billion, the digital storefront recently scored a victory that aims to reinforce the company’s growing investments in brick-and-mortar retail. Amazon was awarded a patent May 30 that could help it choke off a common issue faced by many physical stores: Customers’ use of smartphones to compare prices even as they walk around a shop. But Amazon now has the technology to prevent that type of behavior when customers enter any of its physical stores and log onto the WiFi networks there. Titled “Physical Store Online Shopping Control,” Amazon’s patent describes a system that can identify a customer’s Internet traffic and sense when the smartphone user is trying to access a competitor’s website. When that happens, Amazon may take one of several actions. It may block access to the competitor’s site, preventing customers from viewing comparable products from rivals. It might redirect the customer to Amazon’s own site or to other, Amazon-approved sites. It might notify an Amazon salesperson to approach the customer. Or it might send the customer’s smartphone a text message, coupon or other information designed to lure the person back into Amazon’s orbit.

Note: For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing corporate corruption news articles from reliable major media sources.


As Standing Rock Camps Cleared Out, TigerSwan Expanded Surveillance to Array of Progressive Causes
2017-06-12, The Intercept
https://theintercept.com/2017/06/21/as-standing-rock-camps-cleared-out-tigers...

Leaked documents and public records reveal a troubling fusion of private security, public law enforcement, and corporate money in the fight over the Dakota Access Pipeline. By the time law enforcement officers began evicting residents of the ... resistance camp near the Standing Rock Sioux reservation on February 22, the brutal North Dakota winter had already driven away most of the pipeline opponents. It would have been a natural time for the private security company in charge of monitoring the pipeline to head home. But internal communications between TigerSwan and its client, pipeline parent company Energy Transfer Partners, show that the security firm instead reached for ways to stay in business. Indeed, TigerSwan appeared to be looking for new causes, too. The ... firm’s sweeping surveillance of anti-Dakota Access protesters had already spanned five months and expanded into Iowa, South Dakota, and Illinois. TigerSwan became particularly interested in Chicago. [Leaked] documents dated between February 19 and February 21 describe TigerSwan’s efforts to monitor an anti-Trump protest organized by the local chapter of the Answer Coalition, an anti-war, anti-racism group. Answer Coalition’s ... John Beacham, who organized the protest TigerSwan described, said that [the NoDAPL movement] was not the event’s primary focus. “They’re trying to make connections where they aren’t. It’s almost like they’re trying to cast conspiracy theories across the entire progressive movement,” he told The Intercept.

Note: The above article is part of an in-depth series, and includes many original source documents. Standing Rock activists were also targeted for investigation by the FBI’s joint terrorism taskforce. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on corporate corruption and the disappearance of privacy.


Facebook wants to secretly watch you through your smartphone camera
2017-06-09, International Business Times
http://www.ibtimes.co.uk/facebook-wants-secretly-watch-you-through-your-smart...

Facebook wants to get up close and personal with its users after a patent was revealed detailing a desire to secretly watch users through their webcam or smartphone camera, spying on your mood in order to sell you tailored content or advertisements. The purpose behind the invasive idea is to analyse people through the camera in real time while they browse online and if it recognises you looking happy, bored or sad, it would deliver an advert fitting your emotion. If you were forlorn, for example, it would be able to serve an ad to perk you up, or know what products you had previously looked at online and put them under your nose at just the right time. The social network has filed several patents over the years on emotion-based technology but this, based on 'passive imaging data' is perhaps the most unnerving, considering it would take control of cameras that weren't even switched on by the user. As described by CB Insights: "This patent proposes capturing images of the user through smartphone or laptop cameras, even when the user is not actively using the camera. By visually tracking a user's facial expression, Facebook aims to monitor the user's emotional reactions to different types of content." Other patents listed by Facebook include a text messaging platform to detect a user's mood by measuring how hard and fast they were typing, then augment the message format, such as adding emojis or changing the font size, to match their emotion.

Note: For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on corporate corruption and the disappearance of privacy.


How Congress dismantled federal Internet privacy rules
2017-05-30, Washington Post
https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/how-congress-dismantled-federal-inter...

They wanted to kill landmark privacy regulations that would soon ban Internet providers, such as Comcast and AT&T, from storing and selling customers’ browsing histories without their express consent. While the nation was distracted by the House’s pending vote to repeal Obamacare, Senate Republicans would schedule a vote to wipe out the new privacy protections. On March 23, the measure passed on a straight party-line vote, 50 to 48. President Trump signed the bill in early April without ceremony or public comment. “While everyone was focused on the latest headline crisis coming out of the White House, Congress was able to roll back privacy,” said former Federal Communications Commission chairman Tom Wheeler, who worked for nearly two years to pass the rules. The process to eliminate them took only a matter of weeks. The Internet privacy rules were adopted ... after an intense battle that pitted large Internet service providers, the advertising industry and tech giants against consumer advocates and civil rights groups. The rules required Internet service providers to get explicit consent before they gather their customers’ data - their browsing histories, the locations of businesses they physically visit and the mobile applications they use - and sell it to third parties. The requirements were modeled after a law passed decades ago by Congress that prohibited telephone companies from collecting customers’ calling histories and selling the information to third parties.

Note: For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles about government corruption and the disappearance of privacy.


Federal Court Revives Wikimedia’s Challenge to N.S.A. Surveillance
2017-05-23, New York Times
https://www.nytimes.com/2017/05/23/us/politics/nsa-surveillance-warrantless-w...

A federal appeals court on Tuesday revived a high-profile challenge to the National Security Agency’s warrantless surveillance of internet communications. The ruling ... increases the chances that the Supreme Court may someday scrutinize whether the N.S.A.’s so-called upstream system for internet surveillance complies with Fourth Amendment privacy rights. The ruling reversed a Federal District Court judge’s decision to throw out the case. The district judge had ruled that the plaintiffs - including the Wikimedia Foundation - lacked standing to sue because they could not prove that their messages had been intercepted. Because of how the internet works, surveillance of communications crossing network switches is different from traditional circuit-based phone wiretapping. While the government can target a specific phone call without touching anyone else’s communications, it cannot simply intercept a surveillance target’s email. Instead ... to find such emails it is necessary first to systematically copy data packets crossing a network switch and sift them in search of components from any messages involving a target. Documents provided by [Edward] Snowden and declassified by the government have shown that this system works through equipment installed at the facilities of companies, like AT&T, that [connect] the American internet to the rest of the world. Privacy advocates contend that the initial copying and searching of all those data packets ... violates Fourth Amendment protections against government search and seizure.

Note: For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles about intelligence agency corruption and the disappearance of privacy.


The brain is the next logical frontier for futurists
2017-05-17, Financial Times
https://www.ft.com/content/ac9e8d4c-371f-11e7-99bd-13beb0903fa3?accessToken=z...

Your perceptions of the outside world arise through brain activity. Scientists in China have managed to reverse-engineer this process, using brain activity to guess what people are looking at. Their algorithm, which analyses functional MRI brain scans collected while volunteers gaze at digits and letters, is able to furnish uncannily clear depictions of the original images. It has been termed a mind-reading algorithm; a more accurate, though less catchy, description would be a “reconstruction of visual field” algorithm. The algorithm, called the Deep Generative Multiview Model, was highlighted this month by MIT Technology Review as an emerging technology to watch. What is true for the visual cortex is also true for our auditory systems: if you hear a song, the auditory part of your brain whirrs into action. Scientists in the US have developed a programme that can turn the associated firing of neurons back into real sounds. These technologies are turning thoughts into pictures and sounds. In short, science is coming remarkably close to being able to access what is inside our heads. If such algorithms were to find their way into advertising, we may find ourselves digitally stalked not only by images of hotels and consumer goods that we once clicked on, but also by pictures we glanced at or by songs that we streamed. This requires access to brain signals, but who would bet against such a future? Millions of people, by wearing fitness bands, sign up to having their physiological signals charted round the clock.

Note: Software breakthroughs like this have many potential benefits. But these new technologies may also be used for electronic harassment or mind control. And a 2008 US Defense Intelligence Agency report described the brain as the "battlefield of future".


This 11-Year-Old Just Schooled Cybersecurity Experts By ‘Weaponizing’ a Teddy Bear
2017-05-16, Fortune
http://fortune.com/2017/05/17/reuben-paul-cybersecurity-hacking/

Cybersecurity experts were shocked Tuesday when a sixth grader showed them just how easy it would be to hack their mobile devices and weaponize a seemingly innocuous item - in this case, his smart teddy bear. At a cyber safety conference in the Hague, Netherlands, 11-year-old prodigy Reuben Paul used a small computer called a "raspberry pi" to hack into audience members' bluetooth devices and download phone numbers. Paul then reportedly used one of the numbers to hack into the teddy bear, which connects to the Internet via Bluetooth or WiFi, and used the toy to record a message from the audience by using a computer language program called Python. "I basically showed how I could connect to [a remote Internet-connected device], and send commands to it," Paul told AFP. He warned that Internet-enabled everyday objects "can be used and weaponized to spy on us or harm us," for example by scraping private information like passwords. Toys could even be programmed to say "meet me at this location and I will pick you up," he added. Though not yet a teenager, Paul is already well known among his community in Austin, Texas, and beyond. In 2014, the wunderkind founded his own company, an educational gaming website called PrudentGames. Paul is now the company's CEO.

Note: An internet-connected toy doll was recently banned in Germany because it operates "as an espionage device". A 2015 New York Times article called "smart objects" a "train wreck in privacy and security". For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on corporate corruption and the disappearance of privacy.


With New Digital Tools, Even Nonexperts Can Wage Cyberattacks
2017-05-13, New York Times
https://www.nytimes.com/2017/05/13/technology/hack-ransomware-scam-cyberattac...

A decade-old internet scourge called ransomware went mainstream on Friday when cybercriminals seized control of computers around the world, from the delivery giant FedEx in the United States to Britain’s public health system, universities in China and even Russia’s powerful Interior Ministry. Ransomware is nothing new. For years, there have been stories of individuals or companies horrified that they have been locked out of their computers and that the only way back in is to pay a ransom to someone, somewhere who has managed to take control. But computer criminals are discovering that ransomware is the most effective way to make money in the shortest amount of time. Friday’s attacks were a powerful escalation of earlier, much smaller episodes. Hackers exploited a vulnerability in Microsoft servers that was first discovered by the National Security Agency and then leaked online. It allowed the ransomware to spread [to] more than 70,000 organizations. There is even now a concept of “ransomware as a service” - a play on the Silicon Valley jargon “software as a service,” which describes the delivery of software over the internet. Now anyone can visit a web page, generate a ransomware file with the click of a mouse, encrypt someone’s systems and demand a ransom to restore access to the files. If the victim pays, the ransomware provider takes a cut of the payment. Ransomware criminals also have customer service lines that victims can call to get help paying a ransom.

Note: In 2014, it was reported that the NSA was developing tools to make it relatively easy to hack millions of computers at once. Two years later, a large collection of NSA hacking tools was leaked. Now, these tools are being used by criminals against people all over the world. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles about intelligence agency corruption and the disappearance of privacy.


The great British Brexit robbery: how our democracy was hijacked
2017-05-07, The Guardian (One of the UK's leading newspapers)
https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2017/may/07/the-great-british-brexit-r...

The story of Cambridge Analytica is one of the most profoundly unsettling of our time. SCL/Cambridge Analytica [is] effectively part of the ... defence establishment. This is not just a story about social psychology and data analytics. It has to be understood in terms of a military contractor using military strategies on a civilian population. David Miller, a professor of sociology ... and an authority in psyops and propaganda, says it is “an extraordinary scandal that this should be anywhere near a democracy.” David, [an] ex-Cambridge Analytica employee, [was] working at the firm when it introduced mass data-harvesting to its psychological warfare techniques. “It brought psychology, propaganda and technology together in this powerful new way,” David [said]. Facebook was the source of the psychological insights that enabled Cambridge Analytica to target individuals. The company ... bought consumer datasets – on everything from magazine subscriptions to airline travel – and uniquely it appended these with the psych data to voter files. “The goal is to capture every single aspect of every voter’s information environment,” said David. “And the personality data enabled Cambridge Analytica to craft individual messages.” Cambridge Analytica could target people high in neuroticism, for example, with images of immigrants “swamping” the country. Brexit came down to ... just over 1% of registered voters. It’s not a stretch to believe that ... the global 1% found a way to influence this crucial 1% of British voters.

Note: Another Guardian article recently exposed how billionaire Robert Mercer used new technology to build a corporate empire capable of swinging elections. The above article further details how mass media is being combined with Big Data to produce powerful new forms of mind control.


Facial recognition database used by FBI is out of control, House committee hears
2017-03-27, The Guardian (One of the UK's leading newspapers)
https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2017/mar/27/us-facial-recognition-data...

Approximately half of adult Americans’ photographs are stored in facial recognition databases that can be accessed by the FBI, without their knowledge or consent, in the hunt for suspected criminals. About 80% of photos in the FBI’s network are non-criminal entries, including pictures from driver’s licenses and passports. The algorithms used to identify matches are inaccurate about 15% of the time, and are more likely to misidentify black people than white people. These are just some of the damning facts presented at last week’s House oversight committee hearing, where politicians and privacy campaigners criticized the FBI and called for stricter regulation of facial recognition technology at a time when it is creeping into law enforcement and business. The FBI first launched its advanced biometric database ... in 2010, augmenting the old fingerprint database with further capabilities including facial recognition. The bureau did not inform the public ... nor did it publish a privacy impact assessment, required by law, for five years. The FBI made arrangements with 18 different states to gain access to their databases of driver’s license photos. Last year, the US government accountability office (GAO) analyzed the FBI’s use of facial recognition technology and found it to be lacking in accountability, accuracy and oversight. “It doesn’t know how often the system incorrectly identifies the wrong subject,” explained the GAO’s Diana Maurer. “Innocent people could bear the burden of being falsely accused.”

Note: For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles about government corruption and the disappearance of privacy.


C.I.A. Developed Tools to Spy on Mac Computers, WikiLeaks Disclosure Shows
2017-03-23, New York Times
https://www.nytimes.com/2017/03/23/technology/cia-spying-mac-computers-wikile...

The C.I.A. developed tools to spy on Mac computers by injecting software into the chips that control the computers’ fundamental operations, according to the latest cache of classified government documents published on Thursday by WikiLeaks. All of the surveillance tools that have been disclosed were designed to be installed on individual phones or computers. But the effects could be much wider. Cisco Systems, for example, warned customers this week that many of its popular routers, the backbone of computer networks, could be hacked using the C.I.A.’s techniques. Julian Assange, the founder of WikiLeaks, has offered to share the precise software code used by the C.I.A.’s cyberweapons with the affected companies. But major tech companies have been reluctant to directly engage with him for fear of violating American laws. The spy software described in the latest documents was designed to be injected into a Mac’s firmware, a type of software preloaded in the computer’s chips. It would then act as a “listening post,” broadcasting the user’s activities to the C.I.A. whenever the machine was connected to the internet. Tools that operate at the chip level can hide their existence and avoid being wiped out by routine software updates. Under an agreement struck during the Obama administration, intelligence agencies were supposed to share their knowledge of most security vulnerabilities with tech companies. The C.I.A. documents suggest that some key vulnerabilities were kept secret.

Note: For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles about intelligence agency corruption and the disappearance of privacy.


The Multibillion-Dollar U.S. Spy Agency You Haven’t Heard of
2017-03-20, Foreign Policy
http://foreignpolicy.com/2017/03/20/the-multibillion-dollar-u-s-spy-agency-yo...

In a heavily protected military base some 15 miles south of Washington, D.C., sits the massive headquarters of a spy agency few know exists. The [National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency, or] NGA remains by far the most shadowy member of the Big Five spy agencies, which include the CIA and the National Security Agency. Despite its lack of name recognition, the NGA’s headquarters is the third-largest building in the Washington metropolitan area. The NGA is to pictures what the NSA is to voices. Its principal function is to analyze the billions of images and miles of video captured by drones ... and spy satellites. The agency has never been involved in domestic spy scandals. However, there’s reason to believe that this will change. In March 2016, the Pentagon released the results of an investigation initiated by the Department of Defense’s Office of Inspector General to examine military spy drones in the United States. The report ... revealed that the Pentagon used unarmed surveillance drones over American soil. The investigation also quoted from an Air Force law review article pointing out the growing concern that technology designed to spy on enemies abroad may soon be turned around to spy on citizens at home. In 2016, unbeknownst to many city officials, police in Baltimore began conducting persistent aerial surveillance using a system developed for military use in Iraq. Few civilians have any idea how advanced these military eye-in-the-sky drones have become.

Note: This article was written by former ABC News producer James Bamford, whose 2001 article on Operation Northwoods revealed that the top Pentagon generals signed off on top-secret plans which stated, "We could blow up a U.S. ship in Guantanamo Bay and blame Cuba," and, "casualty lists in U.S. newspapers would cause a helpful wave of national indignation." And showing the level of major media complicity, only ABC News reported on this. For more, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on intelligence agency corruption and the disappearance of privacy.


The real shocker in the WikiLeaks scoop
2017-03-14, Washington Post
https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/the-real-shocker-in-the-wikileaks-sco...

WikiLeaks leader Julian Assange’s revelation last week of the CIA’s arsenal of hacking tools had a misplaced tone of surprise. Some scary initial stories argued that the CIA could crack Signal and WhatsApp phone encryption, not to mention your toaster and television. But ... the hardest question here is whether the CIA and other government agencies have a responsibility to disclose to software vendors the holes they discover in computer code, so they can be fixed quickly. This may sound like a no-brainer. The problem is that there’s a global market for “zero-day” exploits (ones that are unknown on the day they’re used). U.S. intelligence agencies buy some of these exploits; so do other countries’ spy services, criminal gangs and the software vendors themselves. A recent report by the Rand Corp. [calculated that] there are about two dozen companies selling or renting exploits to the United States and its allies, with many of these contractors making between $1 million and $2.5 million annually. More than 200 zero-day exploits studied by Rand went undetected for an average of 6.9 years. Given this evidence, Rand argued, “some may conclude that stockpiling zero-days may be a reasonable option” to combat potential adversaries. But let’s be honest: The real shocker in the WikiLeaks scoop is the demonstration ... that the U.S. government can’t keep secrets. It makes little sense for the CIA to argue against disclosing its cyber-tricks to computer companies if this valuable information is going to get leaked ... anyway.

Note: For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles about intelligence agency corruption and the disappearance of privacy.


WikiLeaks CIA files: Spy agency looked at ways to hack and control cars to carry out assassinations
2017-03-07, The Independent (One of the UK's leading newspapers)
http://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/gadgets-and-tech/news/wikileaks-cia-d...

WikiLeaks has alleged that the CIA looked into vehicle interference methods that could potentially enable it to assassinate people without detection. According to the whistle-blowing organisation, the CIA explored the tactic in October 2014. It hasn’t included any more details about the alleged practice. WikiLeaks included the claim in its release announcing ‘Vault 7’, a huge batch of documents, which Julian Assange claims to account for the CIA’s “entire hacking capacity”. “As of October 2014 the CIA was also looking at infecting the vehicle control systems used by modern cars and trucks,” reads a passage in the release. “The purpose of such control is not specified, but it would permit the CIA to engage in nearly undetectable assassinations.” The CIA has also been accused of using malware and hacking tools to turn TVs into covert microphones and remotely break into smartphones. The latter, according to WikiLeaks, allowed it to bypass encryption on a number of popular messaging apps, including WhatsApp. WikiLeaks describes Vault 7 as “the largest intelligence publication in history” and says that the initial batch of 8,761 files is just the first in a series of releases.

Note: See the wikileaks webpage summarizing this most important leak. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles about intelligence agency corruption and the disappearance of privacy.


With WikiLeaks Claims of C.I.A. Hacking, How Vulnerable Is Your Smartphone?
2017-03-07, New York Times
https://www.nytimes.com/2017/03/07/technology/cia-hacking-documents-wikileaks...

WikiLeaks on Tuesday released a significant cache of documents that it said came from a high-security network inside the Central Intelligence Agency. WikiLeaks called the documents Vault 7, and they lay out the capabilities of the agency’s global covert hacking program. By the end of 2016, the C.I.A. program had 5,000 registered users, including government employees and contractors, [and] had produced more than a thousand hacking systems. The files have circulated among former United States government hackers and contractors in “an unauthorized manner, one of whom provided WikiLeaks with portions of the archive,” WikiLeaks said. The software targeted by the hacking program included the most popular smartphone operating systems. Apple’s iPhone software ... was a particular target, including the development of several “zero day” exploits - a term for attacking coding flaws the company would not have known about. Google’s Android ... received even more attention. By 2016, the C.I.A. had 24 weaponized Android “zero day” software programs. The C.I.A. also targeted ... internet-connected computers and home and industrial devices running the Linux operating system. In 2010, the Obama administration promised to disclose newly discovered vulnerabilities to companies like Apple, Google and Microsoft. But the WikiLeaks documents indicate that the agency found security flaws, kept them secret and then used them for surveillance and intelligence gathering.

Note: See the wikileaks webpage summarizing this most important leak. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles about intelligence agency corruption and the disappearance of privacy.


Robert Mercer: the big data billionaire waging war on mainstream media
2017-02-26, The Guardian (One of the UK's leading newspapers)
https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2017/feb/26/robert-mercer-breitbart-war-...

I Googled “mainstream media is…” And there it was. Google’s autocomplete suggestions: “mainstream media is… dead, dying, fake news, fake, finished”. Google’s first suggested link ... leads to a website called CNSnews.com and an article: “The Mainstream media are dead.” How had it, an obscure site I’d never heard of, dominated Google’s search algorithm on the topic? In the “About us” tab, I learn CNSnews is owned by the Media Research Center. It receives a large bulk of its funding – more than $10m in the past decade – from a single source, the hedge fund billionaire Robert Mercer. Robert Mercer is the money behind an awful lot of things. He was Trump’s single biggest donor. Since 2010, Mercer has donated $45m to different political campaigns – all Republican – and another $50m to non-profits – all rightwing, ultra-conservative. This is a billionaire who is ... trying to reshape the world according to his personal beliefs. He is reported to have a $10m stake in the [Cambridge Analytica], which was spun out of a bigger British company called SCL Group. It specialises in “election management strategies” and “messaging and information operations”, refined over 25 years. In military circles this is known as “psyops” – psychological operations. Cambridge Analytica makes the astonishing boast that it has psychological profiles based on 5,000 separate pieces of data on 220 million American voters. With this, a computer ... can predict and potentially control human behaviour. It’s incredibly dangerous.

Note: The above article provides a detailed look at how mass media is being combined with Big Data to produce powerful new forms of mind control.


Banned In Germany: Kids' Doll Is Labeled An Espionage Device
2017-02-17, NPR
http://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2017/02/17/515775874/banned-in-germany...

A doll called My Friend Cayla listens a little too well, according to German regulators who say the toy is essentially a stealthy espionage device that shares what it hears and is also vulnerable to takeover by third parties. "Cayla ist verboten in Deutschland," says Jochen Homann, the president of Germany's Federal Network Agency (the Bundessnetzagentur), announcing a ban on the doll in Germany on Friday. His agency oversees electronic privacy as part of its telecommunications mandate. Cayla looks like an everyday doll and gives no notice that it collects and transmits everything it hears - in this case, to [Nuance], a voice-recognition company in the U.S. whose other customers include intelligence agencies. The My Friend Cayla doll remains for sale in the U.S., including via Amazon. Much of what the German agency says echoes the concerns of privacy and consumer advocates in the U.S., who filed a complaint against Cayla during the recent Christmas shopping season. They criticized the scope of what the Internet-connected toy captures, as well as the vulnerabilities it poses for users who link the doll with their smartphones. Consumer groups have also criticized the doll for its habit of praising commercial products, in what's often seen as a stealth marketing campaign that targets children. "For example, Cayla will happily talk about how much she loves different Disney movies," Norway's Consumer Council says. "Meanwhile, the app-provider has a commercial relationship with Disney."

Note: The use of artificial intelligence in a new Barbie doll generated controversy in 2015, while a New York Times article from that same year called "smart objects" a "train wreck in privacy and security". For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on corporate corruption and the disappearance of privacy.


New Oliver Stone doc shows how Bill Binney’s NSA ThinThread anti-terror program was canned weeks before 9/11
2017-02-03, Salon.com
http://www.salon.com/2017/02/03/watch-the-real-beautiful-mind-belongs-to-bill...

When Bill Binney, former NSA analyst and head of the anti-terror ThinThread metadata program sits in front of you and says he is not afraid of the government, you have to admire him. A wheel-chair-bound U.S. serviceman who rose in the ranks of intelligence to work in top-secret NSA programs, Binney created ThinThread prior to September 11, 2001, and says it mathematically broke down all phone communications anywhere in the world without any infringement on Constitutional rights. The program was self-running. More important, it worked. In "A Good American," the new documentary from executive producer Oliver Stone ... audiences are taken on a tense and frightening ride through Binney and his colleagues' experience developing and deploying ThinThread in tests, only to see its funding pulled just weeks before 9/11 in favor of an expensive and ineffective ... program called Trailblazer. Binney contends that ThinThread would have identified the terrorists who planned and executed the 9/11 terror attacks, thereby preventing them from occurring. When ThinThread's plug was pulled, Binney and his team challenged their NSA bosses, and in the process found themselves at odds with the U.S. government and in a complex web of lies and corruption. Thus, when Binney said he remains unafraid of possible repercussions or retaliation tied to the film's thesis, it's not hard to believe. "What else can they do to me?" he asks. "They've already tried everything to stop me."

Note: Watch a free trailer or rent the whole documentary on this webpage. Read a revealing, detailed New York Times article on Oliver Stone and his profound work to expose corruption and manipulation through film. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing intelligence agency corruption news articles from reliable major media sources. Then explore the excellent, reliable resources provided in our 9/11 Information Center.


Reporters' Spy Saga Gives Glimpse of UK Surveillance Culture
2017-02-01, ABC News/Associated Press
http://abcnews.go.com/Technology/wireStory/reporters-spy-saga-glimpse-uk-surv...

British journalist Julia Breen's scoop about racism at her local police force didn't just get her on the front page, it got her put under surveillance. Investigators logged her calls, those of her colleague Graeme Hetherington and even their modest-sized newspaper's busy switchboard in an effort to unmask their sources. The [Northern Echo newspaper] has often provided painful reading for Cleveland Police, a department responsible for a Chicago-sized patch of England's industrial northeast. The small force has weathered a series of scandals. A minority officer, Sultan Alam, was awarded 800,000 pounds ... after allegedly being framed by colleagues in retaliation for a discrimination lawsuit. The judgment made national headlines. Cleveland Police issued a statement insisting the force wasn't racist. The next day, an anonymous caller told Breen an internal police report suggested otherwise. The following morning her byline was across the front page beneath the words: "Institutional racism uncovered within Cleveland Police." Breen ... eventually forgot the episode. Cleveland Police didn't. The force secretly began logging calls to and from Breen, Hetherington and a third journalist from another newspaper. It was later calculated that the surveillance covered over 1 million minutes of calling time. The Echo isn't unique. Britain's wiretapping watchdog ... revealed in 2015 that 82 journalists' communications records had been seized as part of leak investigations across the country over a three-year period.

Note: For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles about police corruption and the disappearance of privacy.


Devices sprout ears: What do Alexa and Siri mean for privacy?
2017-01-14, Christian Science Monitor
http://www.csmonitor.com/Technology/2017/0114/Devices-sprout-ears-What-do-Ale...

Between your laptop, smartphone, smart TV, and perhaps a virtual assistant, how many microphones are in your home? The number of households with a hands-free assistant is growing by millions each year, but their convenience may come at a price. With law enforcement already using smart-device collected data as evidence, digital privacy rights are becoming more important. Amazon’s ... Echo family of devices are all variations on the theme of a smart speaker that can listen to, understand, and respond to voice commands. Like Siri’s implementation in recent iOS devices ... the device is always listening, so you don’t have to put down what you’re doing and find your phone to get an answer. But some worry there’s a fine line between always listening, and always recording. Are we truly alone when we’re with our devices? Amazon maintains a database of your conversations with the Echo. Police in Bentonville, Ark. have already submitted a search warrant for “audio recordings, transcribed records, and other text records” from the Echo of 2015 murder suspect James Andrew Bates. Amazon refused to turn over data from its servers beyond basic account information, [but] this case should be a wake-up call. The Fourth Amendment establishes the “sanctity of the home,” which prevents law enforcement from an unjustified search of a house. The “third-party doctrine,” [however] permits police to access information voluntarily shared with a third party such as your bank or phone company, even without a warrant.

Note: For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing privacy news articles from reliable major media sources.


Foreigners must provide social media accounts to enter U.S.
2016-12-23, Miami Herald/McClatchy
http://www.miamiherald.com/news/politics-government/article122774904.html

Foreign travelers will now be asked to provide links to their social media accounts before they enter the U.S. after the government implemented a new policy designed to identify “potential threats”. The request to provide links to accounts on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Instagram, Google+ and LinkedIn is optional. But privacy advocates and some technology companies oppose the move on the grounds it violates civil liberties and freedom of expression. The new policy, which was originally proposed this summer, was adopted Dec. 19 for people arriving via the ... Electronic System for Travel Authorization, which now asks about social media accounts in its online form. There is no clear indication of how the information gathered will be used. “An open-ended inquiry into ‘online presence’ would give DHS a window into applicants’ private lives,” a coalition of 28 civil rights and technology groups wrote in a letter in August in opposition to the proposal. “Scrutiny of their sensitive or controversial online profiles would lead many visa-waiver applicants to self-censor or delete their accounts, with consequences for personal, business, and travel-related activity. “The risk of discrimination based on analysis of social media content and connections is great and will fall hardest on Arab and Muslim communities,” the letter said. “It also poses significant risks to journalists, whose profession requires confidentiality and whose social media networks may convey a profile that, taken out of context, could be misconstrued.”

Note: For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles about government corruption and the erosion of privacy.


American and British Spy Agencies Targeted In-Flight Mobile Phone Use
2016-12-07, The Intercept
https://theintercept.com/2016/12/07/american-and-british-spy-agencies-targete...

In the trove of documents provided by former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden is a treasure. It begins with a riddle: "What do the President of Pakistan, a cigar smuggler, an arms dealer, a counterterrorism target, and a combatting proliferation target have in common? They all used their everyday GSM phone during a flight." This riddle appeared in 2010 in SIDtoday, the internal newsletter of the NSA's Signals Intelligence Directorate, or SID, and it was classified "top secret." It announced the emergence of a new field of espionage that had not yet been explored: the interception of data from phone calls made on board civil aircraft. In a separate internal document from a year earlier, the NSA reported that 50,000 people had already used their mobile phones in flight as of December 2008, a figure that rose to 100,000 by February 2009. In a 2012 presentation, Government Communications Headquarters, or GCHQ ... disclosed a program called "Southwinds," which was used to gather all the cellular activity, voice communication, data, metadata, and content of calls on board commercial aircraft. To spy on a telephone, all that was required was that the aircraft be cruising at an altitude above 10,000 feet. Today, approximately 100 companies permit in-flight use of telephones. This will further extend the scope of espionage by providing a pool of potential targets comprising several hundreds of thousands of people. This implies a population that goes far beyond terrorist targets.

Note: For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on intelligence agency corruption and the disappearance of privacy from reliable major media sources.


AT&T Secretly Selling Customers’ Data to Law Enforcement
2016-10-25, San Francisco Chronicle (San Francisco's leading newspaper)
http://www.sfgate.com/entertainment/the-wrap/article/AT-T-Secretly-Selling-Cu...

AT&T runs a secret program called Project Hemisphere that that searches millions and millions of call records and analyzes cellular data to help law enforcement spy on Americans, according to documents obtained by The Daily Beast. Police use the data to solve crimes by monitoring if specific cellular towers in the vicinity of wrongdoings picked up a known suspect’s cell phone. The surveillance project comes to light as the company is on the verge of acquiring Time Warner in one of the biggest media mergers in memory. Law enforcement agencies pay from $100,000 to over $1 million a year for Hemisphere access. Back in 2013, The New York Times called Hemisphere a partnership between AT&T and the government, but Daily Beast says it’s actually “a product AT&T developed, marketed, and sold at a cost of millions of dollars per year to taxpayers.” No warrant is required to access Hemisphere, but it does require a promise not to publicly disclose Hemisphere. AT&T owns significant shares in both the landline and cell phone space, which allows the company to possess information that is used by at least 28 intelligence centers. Documents show that AT&T wants to keep Hemisphere a secret, but suspects and anyone charged with a crime have the right to know the evidence against them. “The Government agency agrees not to use the data as evidence in any judicial or administrative proceedings unless there is no other available and admissible probative evidence,” documents obtained by the Beast said.

Note: For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on corporate corruption and the disappearance of privacy.


Trove of Stolen Data Is Said to Include Top-Secret U.S. Hacking Tools
2016-10-19, New York Times
https://www.nytimes.com/2016/10/20/us/harold-martin-nsa.html?_r=0

Investigators pursuing what they believe to be the largest case of mishandling classified documents in United States history have found that the huge trove of stolen documents in the possession of a National Security Agency contractor included top-secret N.S.A. hacking tools that two months ago were offered for sale on the internet. They have been hunting for electronic clues that could link those cybertools - computer code posted online for auction by an anonymous group calling itself the Shadow Brokers - to the home computers of the contractor, Harold T. Martin III, who was arrested in late August. But so far, the investigators have been frustrated in their attempt to prove that Mr. Martin deliberately leaked or sold the hacking tools. Mr. Martin ... has insisted that he got in the habit of taking material home so he could improve his skills and be better at his job. The material the F.B.I. found in his possession added up to “many terabytes” of information ... which would make it by far the largest unauthorized leak of classified material from the classified sector. That volume dwarfs the hundreds of thousands of N.S.A. documents taken by Edward J. Snowden. [Mr. Martin] long held a high-level clearance and for a time worked with the N.S.A.’s premier hacking unit, called Tailored Access Operations, which breaks into the computer networks of foreign countries and which developed the hacking tools.

Note: It was reported in 2014 that the NSA had developed specialized tools to covertly hack into computers on a mass scale by using automated systems. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles about intelligence agency corruption and the disappearance of privacy.


Yahoo 'secretly scanned customer emails' at request of US intelligence
2016-10-04, The Independent (One of the UK's leading newspapers)
http://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/gadgets-and-tech/yahoo-secretly-scann...

Yahoo has been accused of secretly building a customised software programme to search all of its customers’ incoming emails for specific information provided by US intelligence officials. The company complied with a classified US government directive, scanning hundreds of millions of Yahoo Mail accounts at the behest of the National Security Agency or FBI. Reuters said that a number of surveillance experts said this represented the first case to surface of a US Internet company agreeing to a spy agency’s demand by searching all arriving messages, as opposed to examining stored messages or scanning a small number of accounts in real time. The agency also said it was unable to determine what data the company had handed over, and if the intelligence officials had approached other email providers besides Yahoo. US phone and Internet companies are known to have handed over bulk customer data to intelligence agencies. But some former government officials and private surveillance experts said they had not previously seen either such a broad directive for real-time Web collection or one that required the creation of a new computer program. “I’ve never seen that, a wiretap in real time on a ‘selector’,” said Albert Gidari, a lawyer who represented phone and Internet companies on surveillance. A selector refers to a type of search term used to zero in on specific information. He added: “It would be really difficult for a provider to do that.”

Note: For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles about corporate corruption and the disappearance of privacy.


Want to help protesters at Standing Rock? Do more than ‘check in’
2016-10-01, San Francisco Chronicle (San Francisco's leading newspaper)
http://www.sfchronicle.com/business/article/Want-to-help-protesters-at-Standi...

Protesters at the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation in Cannon Ball, N.D., rallying against the Dakota Access oil pipeline have been calling for reinforcements since summertime. As of this week, about 800 people had come. But in the course of just a few days, more than 1.5 million people marked themselves present at the pipeline protest using Facebook - even though they weren’t actually there. A recent report by the American Civil Liberties Union revealed that law enforcement agencies across the country use location tracking and social media data to identify activists. Protesters have reported phones turning on on their own, phone calls cutting out and live video streams being interrupted as evidence that they’re being spied on, said Jennifer Cook, the policy director for the ACLU of North Dakota. Law enforcement agencies ... said they are not relying on Facebook’s check-in system to track protesters. Last week, video of violent clashes between lines of police and protesters circulated online, showing demonstrators running from officers as 142 people were arrested. Most of them were charged with rioting and criminal trespassing. About 300 people have been arrested since the protests began over the summer. Tensions have intensified in recent weeks as the pipeline’s construction moves closer to a river crossing that activists view as a critical water source that they fear will be compromised by the oil main, which many Native American tribes have said treads on sacred land.

Note: For more on this under-reported movement, see this Los Angeles Times article and this article in the UK's Guardian. For more, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on government corruption and the erosion of civil liberties.


How ‘Snowden’ the movie could help win a pardon for Snowden the man
2016-09-20, Reuters
http://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-intelligence-nsa-snowden-commenta-idUSK...

The days leading up to last Friday’s release of director Oliver Stone’s Snowden looked like one long movie trailer. The American Civil Liberties Union ... announced a campaign to win a presidential pardon for Edward Snowden, the former National Security Agency contract employee who leaked hundreds of thousands of its highly classified documents. The next day, the House Intelligence Committee released a bipartisan letter to the president that advised him against any pardon. The week before, Stone had invited me to a private screening of his movie, [along with] a small group of former government employees who were whistleblowers before Snowden – and paid a high price for it. The reason they had been persecuted is that U.S. law makes no distinction between revealing illegal government activity to the press about eavesdropping on Americans or engaging in torture, and betraying the country by passing secrets for money or ideology to foreign governments. The Espionage Act was enacted nearly a century ago following World War One, and has already been amended several times. One key issue confronting the next president ... is whether the law needs to be amended again – this time to separate the whistleblowers from the spies. Today ... the battle lines have been drawn between those in government – both the executive branch and Congress – who view the theft of government secrets as espionage, regardless of the motive, and those in civil-liberties groups and the media who see motive as a critical distinction.

Note: The above was written by James Bamford, whistleblower and author of "The Shadow Factory: The Ultra-Secret NSA From 9/11 to the Eavesdropping on America." For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing intelligence agency corruption news articles from reliable major media sources.


Snowden, A Love Story: Inside Oliver Stone's New Film
2016-09-12, Newsweek
http://www.newsweek.com/edward-snowden-oliver-stone-nsa-privacy-bill-binney-e...

Years before anyone had ever heard of [Edward] Snowden, [Bill] Binney, a gifted cryptologist and mathematician, was pushing back against the NSA’s spying overreach. In October 2001 ... he resigned rather than participate in a clandestine, massively overpriced and questionably legal electronic spying system code-named Trailblazer. Eventually, the government came after him. [Binney] was thrilled by [Oliver] Stone’s powerful biopic of Snowden, who astounded the world with his massive exposure of the NSA’s global spying programs. "I think it will help people understand what is really going on behind the scenes. They are invading the privacy of everyone," he says. "They can turn on your cellphone and listen to you. They can turn on your camera and watch you." In 2013 ... James Clapper, the director of national intelligence, [lied] under oath during a congressional hearing about the NSA’s spying programs. Snowden was watching. He had also seen what had happened to Binney and fellow NSA executives Thomas Drake, Ed Loomis and Kirk Wiebe, whose homes were raided by FBI agents after The New York Times exposed the NSA’s secret spying programs in 2005. Drake, prosecuted under the 1917 Espionage Act, was eventually acquitted ... but his career was ruined. [Snowden's] critics insist he should have pursued his complaints internally, despite the persuasive examples of Binney and his comrades that such resistance is futile, even risky.

Note: Watch a free trailer or rent the whole documentary on this webpage. Read a revealing, detailed New York Times article on Oliver Stone and his profound work to expose corruption and manipulation through film. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on intelligence agency corruption and the disappearance of privacy.


Oliver Stone on Snowden relevance: 'The US government lies all the time'
2016-09-10, The Guardian (One of the UK's leading newspapers)
https://www.theguardian.com/film/2016/sep/10/oliver-stone-snowden-us-governme...

Oliver Stone has taken aim at the US government for deceiving people about the levels of surveillance that exist in the country. His new film Snowden, about the controversial NSA informant Edward Snowden, received its world premiere. The drama ... tells of the former CIA employee’s discovery that the agency had constructed a system to spy on the public. “Americans don’t know anything about it because the government lies about it all the time,” Stone said at a press conference. “What’s going on now is pretty shocking. This story not only deals with eavesdropping but mass eavesdropping, drones and cyberwarfare. As Snowden said himself the other day, ‘It’s out of control, the world is out of control.’” The film also features a cameo from Snowden himself, who still resides at an undisclosed location in Russia while he searches for asylum elsewhere. Stone hopes that he may return to US ground but is doubtful. “Obama could pardon him and we hope so,” he said. “But he has vigorously prosecuted eight whistleblowers under the espionage act, which is an all-time record for an American president, and he’s been one of the most efficient managers of this surveillance world. It is the most extensive and invasive surveillance state that has ever existed and he’s built it up.” The film-maker ... likens [the current situation] to a George Orwell novel. “I never thought this could happen,” he said. “But from 2001 on, it’s very clear that something radical has changed. There’s more to it that meets the eye and whatever they tell you, you’ve got to look beyond.”

Note: For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on questionable intelligence agency practices and the disappearance of privacy.


Over eight years, President Barack Obama has created the most intrusive surveillance apparatus in the world. To what end?
2016-09-07, Foreign Policy
http://foreignpolicy.com/2016/09/07/every-move-you-make-obama-nsa-security-su...

Over his two terms, Obama has created the most powerful surveillance state the world has ever seen. From 22,300 miles in space, where seven Advanced Orion [spy satellites] now orbit; to a 1-million-square-foot building in the Utah desert that stores data intercepted from personal phones, emails, and social media accounts; to taps along the millions of miles of undersea cables that encircle the Earth like yarn, U.S. surveillance has expanded exponentially since Obama’s inauguration on Jan. 20, 2009. The effort to wire the world ... has cost American taxpayers more than $100 billion. Yet has the president’s blueprint for spying succeeded on its own terms? An examination of the unprecedented architecture reveals that the Obama administration may only have drowned itself in data. Privacy hasn’t been traded for security, but for the government hoarding more data than it knows how to handle. A panel set up by Obama [in 2013] to review the NSA’s operations concluded that the agency had stopped no terrorist attacks. Beyond failures to create security, there is the matter of misuse or abuse of U.S. spying, the effects of which extend well beyond violations of Americans’ constitutional liberties. Obama, meanwhile, has taken virtually no steps to fix what ails his spying apparatus, [but] has gone after people blowing the whistle on intelligence abuses. The Justice Department has charged eight leakers — more than double the number under all previous presidents combined.

Note: The above was written by James Bamford, whistleblower and author of "The Shadow Factory: The Ultra-Secret NSA From 9/11 to the Eavesdropping on America." Former US Senator Frank Church warned of the dangers of creating a surveillance state in 1975. By 2013, it had become evident that the US did not heed his warning. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles about intelligence agency corruption and the disappearance of privacy.


Powerful NSA hacking tools have been revealed online
2016-08-16, Washington Post
https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/powerful-nsa-hacking-t...

Some of the most powerful espionage tools created by the National Security Agency’s elite group of hackers have been revealed in recent days. A cache of hacking tools with code names such as Epicbanana, Buzzdirection and Egregiousblunder appeared mysteriously online over the weekend, setting the security world abuzz with speculation over whether the material was legitimate. The file appeared to be real, according to former NSA personnel who worked in the agency’s hacking division, known as Tailored Access Operations (TAO). The exploits are not run-of-the-mill tools to target everyday individuals. They are expensive software used to take over firewalls, such as Cisco and Fortinet, that are used “in the largest and most critical commercial, educational and government agencies around the world,” said [former TAO operator] Blake Darche. Some former agency employees suspect that the leak was the result of a mistake by an NSA operator, rather than a successful hack by a foreign government of the agency’s infrastructure. It is not unprecedented for a TAO operator to accidentally upload a large file of tools ... one of the former employees said. “What’s unprecedented is to not realize you made a mistake,” he said. “You would recognize, ‘Oops, I uploaded that set’ and delete it.” Critics of the NSA have suspected that the agency, when it discovers a software vulnerability, frequently does not disclose it, thereby putting at risk the cybersecurity of anyone using that product.

Note: Former US Senator Frank Church warned of the dangers of creating a surveillance state in 1975. By 2013, it had become evident that the US did not heed his warning. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles about intelligence agency corruption and the disappearance of privacy.


This Company Has Built a Profile on Every American Adult
2016-08-05, BloombergBusinessweek
http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2016-08-05/this-company-has-built-a-pr...

For more than a decade, professional snoops have been able to search troves of ... addresses, DMV records, photographs of a person’s car - and condense them into comprehensive reports costing as little as $10. Now they can combine that information with the kinds of things marketers know about you, such as which politicians you donate to, what you spend on groceries, and whether it’s weird that you ate in last night, to create a portrait of your life and predict your behavior. IDI, a year-old company in the so-called data-fusion business, is the first to centralize and weaponize all that information for its customers. Chief Executive Officer Derek Dubner says the system isn’t waiting for requests from clients - it’s already built a profile on every American adult, including young people who wouldn’t be swept up in conventional databases, which only index transactions. These personal profiles include all known addresses, phone numbers, and e-mail addresses; every piece of property ever bought or sold, plus related mortgages; past and present vehicles owned; criminal citations, from speeding tickets on up; voter registration; hunting permits; and names and phone numbers of neighbors. The reports also include photos of cars taken by private companies using automated license plate readers - billions of snapshots tagged with GPS coordinates and time stamps to help PIs surveil people or bust alibis. IDI also runs two coupon websites ... that collect purchasing and behavioral data.

Note: For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on corporate corruption and the erosion of privacy.


Google My Activity shows everything that company knows about its users – and there’s a lot
2016-06-30, The Independent (One of the UK's leading newspapers)
http://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/gadgets-and-tech/news/google-my-activ...

Google has launched a new site that shows absolutely everything it knows about its users. And there’s an awful lot of it. The new My Activity page collects all of the data that Google has generated by watching its customers as they move around the web. And depending on your settings that could include a comprehensive list of the websites you’ve visited and the things you’ve done with your phone. Google has long allowed its users to see the kinds of information that is being generated as people use the company’s products, including letting people listen in on automated recordings that it has made of its users. But the new page collects them together in a more accessible – and potentially more terrifying – way. The page shows a full catalogue of pages visited, things searched and other activity, grouped by time. It also lets people look at the same timeline through filters – looking at specific dates, which go all the way into the past, and specific products like Google search, YouTube or Android. When users open up the page for the first time, pop-ups make the case for why it has been launched and why Google collects quite so much data. By tracking people around the internet it can tailor those ads – but people can use the same site to opt out from the tracking entirely, or just delete information that they would rather wasn’t used for advertising. Users aren’t automatically opted into the interest-based advertising tools, despite heavily rolling out the feature.

Note: For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on the disappearance of privacy.


Secret Rules Make it Pretty Easy for the FBI to Spy on Journalists
2016-06-30, The Intercept
https://theintercept.com/2016/06/30/secret-rules-make-it-pretty-easy-for-the-...

Secret FBI rules allow agents to obtain journalists’ phone records with approval from two internal officials - far less oversight than under normal judicial procedures. The classified rules ... govern the FBI’s use of national security letters, which allow the bureau to obtain information about journalists’ calls without going to a judge or informing the news organization being targeted. Obtaining a journalist’s records with a national security letter (or NSL) requires the signoff of the FBI’s general counsel and the executive assistant director of the bureau’s National Security Branch. The Obama administration has come under criticism for bringing a record number of leak prosecutions and aggressively targeting journalists in the process. In 2013, after it came out that the Justice Department had secretly seized records from phone lines at the Associated Press and surveilled ... reporter James Rosen, then-Attorney General Eric Holder tightened the rules. The FBI could not label reporters as co-conspirators in order to try to identify their sources - as had happened with Rosen - and it became more difficult to get journalists’ phone records without notifying the news organization first. Yet these changes did not apply to NSLs. Those are governed by a separate set of rules. The FBI issues thousands of NSLs each year, including nearly 13,000 in 2015. Over the years, a series of Inspector General reports found significant problems with their use, yet the FBI is currently pushing to expand the types of information it can demand with an NSL.

Note: The aggressive pursuit of leaks and journalists that report them led BBC to recently ask: "Is the US government at war with whistleblowers?" Read more about the FBI's use of secret National Security Letters. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on media manipulation and the disappearance of privacy.


Tape over your laptop camera? Why it might not be as paranoid as it seems
2016-06-24, CBC (Canada's public broadcasting system)
http://www.cbc.ca/news/technology/laptop-camera-security-tape-1.3649678

A photo circulating online of Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg's personal laptop has ignited a conversation about data security. The photo shows a smiling Zuckerberg sitting next to his laptop. His computer's camera and microphone are covered with tape. Tape? Yes, tape. Covering a computer's camera doesn't protect the device from being hacked, but it does prevent a hacker from being able to see whatever the camera sees. Covering a laptop's microphone can muffle the audio enough to prevent a hacker from listening in, uninvited. Security experts say it's not paranoid - it's good sense. A hacker can get access to your entire computer, without your knowledge, relatively easily. [Security professional Dave] Lewis said he's been able to breach a system and take control of a person's laptop camera without their knowledge. "And it doesn't even always trip the light that shows the camera is live," he added. Unsurprisingly to many, women tend to be targets for this kind of hacking. It's more common than we think, said John Scott-Railton, a senior researcher at the ... University of Toronto. Scott-Railton said this practice is called "ratting," adding sometimes hackers will trade access to hacked computers. He said the same kind of software used to hack women's webcams is used to hack political dissidents, members of activist groups, and journalists. "These are people that are regularly targeted by different hacking groups because of their work. We have evidence that they're spied on through their webcams," he said.

Note: For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on the disappearance of privacy.


Whistle-Blower, Beware
2016-05-26, New York Times
http://www.nytimes.com/2016/05/26/opinion/whistle-blower-beware.html

June 6 will be the third anniversary of The Guardian’s publication of top-secret documents provided by [Edward] Snowden that showed that the National Security Agency was collecting the telephone records of tens of millions of Americans. Mr. Snowden [has been] denounced ... as a traitor. [Former Secretary of State Hillary] Clinton said in a Democratic presidential debate [that], “He could have gotten all of the protections of being a whistle-blower.” Thomas Drake would disagree. Mr. Drake was a senior N.S.A. official who had also complained, 12 years earlier, about warrantless surveillance. He went up the chain of command [to] the Defense Department’s Office of Inspector General. Things did not go well. F.B.I. agents raided his house. He was forced to resign and was indicted on 10 felony charges arising from an alleged “scheme” to improperly “retain and disclose classified information.” He ultimately pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor for “exceeding authorized use of a government computer” in exchange for the government’s dropping the other charges. He now works at an Apple store. Mr. Snowden followed the Drake case closely in the news media and drew the obvious conclusion: Going through [official] channels was worse than a dead end. [John] Crane, a former assistant inspector general in the Defense Department who oversaw the whistle-blower program, has now come forward alleging that Mr. Drake was persecuted by the very officials in his office who were supposed to protect him.

Note: John Crane was forced out of the Pentagon in 2013. His story is told in a new book, titled, Bravehearts: Whistle Blowing In The Age of Snowden by Mark Hertsgaard. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles about intelligence agency corruption and the disappearance of privacy.


How the Pentagon punished NSA whistleblowers
2016-05-22, The Guardian (One of the UK's leading newspapers)
https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2016/may/22/how-pentagon-punished-nsa-whi...

By now, almost everyone knows what Edward Snowden did. He leaked top-secret documents revealing that the National Security Agency was spying on hundreds of millions of people. The key to Snowden’s effectiveness, according to Thomas Devine, the legal director of the Government Accountability Project (GAP), was that he practised “civil disobedience” rather than “lawful” whistleblowing. “None of the lawful whistleblowers who tried to expose the government’s warrantless surveillance ... had any success,” Devine told me. “They came forward ... but the government just said, ‘They’re lying. We’re not doing those things.’ And the whistleblowers couldn’t prove their case because the government had classified all the evidence.” The NSA whistleblowers were not leftwing peace nuts. They had spent their professional lives inside the US intelligence apparatus – devoted, they thought, to the protection of the homeland and defense of the constitution. They were political conservatives, highly educated, respectful of evidence, careful with words. And they were saying, on the basis of personal experience, that the US government was being run by people who were willing to break the law and bend the state’s awesome powers to their own ends. They were saying that laws and technologies had secretly been put in place that threatened to overturn the democratic governance Americans took for granted and shrink their liberties to a vanishing point.

Note: The article above was is adapted from Mark Hertsgaard’s book, Bravehearts: Whistle Blowing in the Age of Snowden. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on intelligence agency corruption and the disappearance of privacy.


Snowden calls for whistleblower shield after claims by new Pentagon source
2016-05-22, The Guardian (One of the UK's leading newspapers)
http://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2016/may/22/snowden-whistleblower-protecti...

Edward Snowden has called for a complete overhaul of US whistleblower protections after a new source from deep inside the Pentagon came forward with a startling account of how the system became a “trap” for those seeking to expose wrongdoing. The account of John Crane ... appears to undermine Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton and [others] who argue that there were established routes for Snowden other than leaking to the media. Crane, a longtime assistant inspector general at the Pentagon, has accused his old office of retaliating against a major surveillance whistleblower, Thomas Drake. Not only did Pentagon officials provide Drake’s name to criminal investigators, Crane told the Guardian, they destroyed documents relevant to his defence. Thomas Drake’s legal ordeal ruined him financially. His case served as a prologue to Snowden’s. In 2002, Drake and NSA colleagues contacted the Pentagon inspector general to blow the whistle on [a] tool, Trailblazer, for mass-data analysis. Crane, head of the office’s whistleblower unit, assigned investigators. For over two years, with Drake as a major source, they ... prepared a lengthy secret report [that] eventually [helped] to kill the program. As far as Crane was concerned, the whistleblower system was working. But after an aspect of the NSA’s warrantless mass surveillance leaked to the New York Times, Drake himself came under investigation and eventually indictment [for] hoarding documentation – exactly what inspector-general investigators tell their whistleblowers to do.

Note: John Crane was forced out of the Pentagon in 2013. His story is told in a new book, titled, Bravehearts: Whistle Blowing In The Age of Snowden by Mark Hertsgaard. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles about intelligence agency corruption and the disappearance of privacy.


Hidden Microphones Exposed As Part of Government Surveillance Program In The Bay Area
2016-05-13, CBS News (San Francisco affiliate)
http://sanfrancisco.cbslocal.com/2016/05/13/hidden-microphones-exposed-as-par...

Hidden microphones that are part of a clandestine government surveillance program that has been operating around the Bay Area has been exposed. Imagine standing at a bus stop, talking to your friend and having your conversation recorded without you knowing. It happens all the time, and the FBI doesn’t even need a warrant to do it. Jeff Harp, a ... security analyst and former FBI special agent said, “They put microphones under rocks, they put microphones in trees, they plant microphones in equipment. I mean, there’s microphones that are planted in places that people don’t think about, because that’s the intent!” FBI agents hid microphones inside light fixtures and at a bus stop outside the Oakland Courthouse without a warrant to record conversations, between March 2010 and January 2011. Federal authorities are trying to prove real estate investors in San Mateo and Alameda counties are guilty of bid rigging and fraud and used these recordings as evidence. The lawyer for one of the accused real estate investors who will ask the judge to throw out the recordings, told KPIX 5 News that, “Speaking in a public place does not mean that the individual has no reasonable expectation of privacy … private communication in a public place qualifies as a protected ‘oral communication.'”

Note: For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles about government corruption and the disappearance of privacy.


NSA and CIA Double Their Warrantless Searches on Americans in Two Years
2016-05-03, The Intercept
https://theintercept.com/2016/05/03/nsa-and-cia-double-their-warrantless-sear...

From 2013 to 2015, the NSA and CIA doubled the number of warrantless searches they conducted for Americans’ data in a massive NSA database ostensibly collected for foreign intelligence purposes, according to a new intelligence community transparency report. The estimated number of search terms “concerning a known U.S. person” to get contents of communications within what is known as the 702 database was 4,672 - more than double the 2013 figure. And that doesn’t even include the number of FBI searches on that database. A recently released ... court ruling confirmed that the FBI is allowed to run any number of searches it wants on that database, not only for national security probes but also to hunt for evidence of traditional crimes. No estimates have ever been released of how often that happens. The missing data from the FBI is of great concern to privacy advocates. The USA Freedom Act, passed in June 2015, “conspicuously exempts the FBI” from disclosing how often it searches the 702 database, the Project on Government Oversight (POGO) wrote in a letter to the Director of National Intelligence, James Clapper, in October 2015. “There is every reason to believe the number of FBI queries far exceeds those of the CIA and NSA,” POGO wrote. “It is essential that you work with the attorney general to release statistics on the FBI’s use of U.S. person queries.” The new report also leaves unanswered how many Americans’ communications are collected in the first place.

Note: For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles about intelligence agency corruption and the disappearance of privacy.


How strangers can hack the phone in your pocket
2016-04-17, CBS News
http://www.cbsnews.com/news/60-minutes-overtime-how-strangers-can-hack-the-ph...

"There's really only two types of companies or two types of people which are those who have been hacked and realize it and those who have been hacked and haven't." That's what mobile security expert John Hering tells 60 Minutes correspondent Sharyn Alfonsi about the danger of cellphone hacking. To prove his point, Hering assembled a group of ace hackers. Jon Oberheide showed 60 Minutes an app he created that looks legitimate but allows him to take control of a phone and suck out ... information [such as] contacts, recent purchases and text messages. Another hacker, Adam Laurie, uses radio frequency identification to hack phones. "He didn't need my phone number," Alfonsi explains. "All he had to do was physically touch my phone." He demonstrated by brushing by her in the lobby of her hotel. When he did ... her phone [automatically] dialed Laurie, allowing him to listen in on anything discussed in the room with Alfonsi's phone. A so-called "CryptoPhone" ... alerts the user when someone is trying to attack or hack into his or her phone. "Certain government facilities will try to get into your phone if you get too close to them," Alfonsi explains. To demonstrate, Les Goldsmith, CEO of ESD America, a company that specializes in countersurveillance technologies, took Alfonsi for a ride ... near a secure government facility. As they were driving past, a red line appeared on the CryptoPhone, indicating that ... if she were using a regular phone, the government agency could hear her call and read her text messages.

Note: For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles about government corruption and the disappearance of privacy.


Microsoft sues government for secret searches
2016-04-14, CNN
http://money.cnn.com/2016/04/14/technology/microsoft-secret-search-lawsuit/

Microsoft filed a landmark lawsuit against the U.S. Department of Justice on Thursday. The company accuses the federal government of adopting a widespread, unconstitutional policy of looking through Microsoft customers' data - and forcing the company to keep quiet about it. Over the past 18 months, federal judges have approved 2,600 secret searches of Microsoft customers. In two-thirds of those cases, Microsoft can't even notify their customers that they've been searched - ever - because there's no expiration date on these judicial orders. At issue here is the 1986 Electronic Communications Privacy Act, which creates a double standard when it comes to a person's right to know when police are rummaging through their stuff. "People do not give up their rights when they move their private information from physical storage to the cloud," Microsoft says in its lawsuit. "The government, however, has exploited the transition to cloud computing as a means of expanding its power to conduct secret investigations." In its lawsuit, Microsoft claims that federal agents have been violating the company's First Amendment right to speak to its own customers, as well as their customers' Fourth Amendment right to know when they're being searched. This lawsuit also notes the odd, modern distinction that the government makes between searching your computer and searching your information on a company's computer. Law enforcement agents often remain covert when they dig through information stored on company data backup services.

Note: For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles about government corruption and the disappearance of privacy.


Surprise! NSA data will soon routinely be used for domestic policing that has nothing to do with terrorism
2016-03-10, Washington Post
https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/the-watch/wp/2016/03/10/surprise-nsa-data...

The “sneak-and-peek” provision of the Patriot Act that was alleged to be used only in national security and terrorism investigations has overwhelmingly been used in narcotics cases. Now the New York Times reports that National Security Agency data will be shared with other intelligence agencies like the FBI without first applying any screens for privacy. The ACLU of Massachusetts blog Privacy SOS explains [that] domestic law enforcement officials now have access to huge troves of American communications, obtained without warrants, that they can use to put people in cages. This basically formalizes what was already happening. We’ve known for a couple of years now that the Drug Enforcement Administration and the IRS were getting information from the NSA. Because that information was obtained without a warrant, the agencies were instructed to engage in “parallel construction” when explaining to courts and defense attorneys how the information had been obtained. It certainly isn’t the only time that that national security apparatus has let law enforcement agencies benefit from policies that are supposed to be reserved for terrorism investigations in order to get around the Fourth Amendment, then instructed those law enforcement agencies to misdirect, fudge and outright lie about how they obtained incriminating information. This isn’t just a few rogue agents. The lying has been a matter of policy.

Note: For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles about government corruption and the disappearance of privacy.


Snowden: FBI's claim it can't unlock the San Bernardino iPhone is 'bullshit'
2016-03-09, The Guardian (One of the UK's leading newspapers)
http://www.theguardian.com/technology/2016/mar/09/edward-snowden-fbi-san-bern...

Edward Snowden, the whistleblower whose NSA revelations sparked a debate on mass surveillance, has waded into the arguments over the FBI’s attempt to force Apple to help it unlock the iPhone 5C of one of the San Bernardino shooters. The FBI says that only Apple can deactivate certain passcode protections on the iPhone, which will allow law enforcement to guess the passcode by using brute-force. Talking via video link from Moscow to the Common Cause Blueprint for a Great Democracy conference, Snowden said: “The FBI says Apple has the ‘exclusive technical means’ to unlock the phone. Respectfully, that’s bullshit.” Snowden then went on to tweet his support for an American Civil Liberties Union report saying that the FBI’s claims in the case are fraudulent. Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak also spoke out against the FBI on the Conan O’Brien show on Monday, saying: “I side with Apple on this one. [The FBI] picked the lamest case you ever could.” Wozniak added: “Verizon turned over all the phone records and SMS messages. So they want to take this other phone that the two didn’t destroy, which was a work phone. It’s so lame and worthless to expect there’s something on it and to get Apple to expose it.” Apple’s clash with the FBI comes to a head in California this month when the two will meet in federal court to debate whether the smartphone manufacturer should be required to weaken security settings on the iPhone of the shooter.

Note: According to The New York Times, the FBI has been misleading the public about the San Bernadino attacks for months. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles about government corruption and the disappearance of privacy.


Watchdog: Canada's Electronic Spy Agency Broke Privacy Laws
2016-01-28, ABC/Associated Press
http://abcnews.go.com/International/wireStory/watchdog-canadas-electronic-spy...

Canada's electronic spy agency broke privacy laws by sharing information about Canadians with foreign partners, a federal watchdog said Thursday. Commissioner Jean-Pierre Plouffe said in his annual report that the Communications Security Establishment passed along information known as metadata to counterparts in the United States, Britain, Australia and New Zealand. Metadata is information associated with a communication, such as a telephone number or email address, but not the message itself. The communications agency intercepts and analyzes foreign communications for intelligence information of interest to the federal government. The agency is legally authorized to collect and analyze metadata churning through cyberspace. Plouffe, who keeps an eye on the highly secretive agency, said he found that it lacks clarity regarding the sharing of certain types of metadata. Defense Minister Harjit Sajjan said the sharing won't resume until he is satisfied that the proper protections are in place. Plouffe's report noted that certain metadata was not being properly minimized, or rendered unidentifiable, prior to being shared. The CSE's failure to strip out certain Canadian identity information violated the National Defense Act and therefore the federal Privacy Act as well. Privacy advocates have stressed that metadata is far from innocuous since it can reveal a great deal about a person's online behavior and interactions.

Note: Many countries do not allow their intelligence agencies to spy on their own citizens without going through a legal process. The easy way around this that has been used for decades is to simply getting the information from a friendly country. So if the CIA wants information on you in the US, they can't spy directly, but they can ask the UK to do so and pass the information to them and thus get around the laws. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing intelligence agency corruption news articles from reliable major media sources.


Obama Opens NSA’s Vast Trove of Warrantless Data to Entire Intelligence Community, Just in Time for Trump
2016-01-13, The Intercept
https://theintercept.com/2017/01/13/obama-opens-nsas-vast-trove-of-warrantles...

The Obama administration on Thursday announced new rules that will let the NSA share vast amounts of private data gathered without warrant, court orders or congressional authorization with 16 other agencies, including the FBI, the Drug Enforcement Agency, and the Department of Homeland Security. The new rules allow ... those agencies to sift through raw data collected under a broad, Reagan-era executive order that gives the NSA virtually unlimited authority to intercept communications abroad. Previously, NSA analysts would filter out information they deemed irrelevant and mask the names of innocent Americans before passing it along. The last-minute adoption of the procedures is one of many examples of the Obama administration making new executive powers established by the Bush administration permanent, on the assumption that the executive branch could be trusted to police itself. Executive Order 12333 ... serves as authorization for the NSA’s most massive surveillance programs. In 2014, a former state department official described NSA surveillance under 12333 as a “universe of collection and storage” beyond what Congress has authorized. This massive database inevitably includes vast amount of American’s communications — swept up when they speak to people abroad, when they go abroad themselves, or even if their domestic communications are simply routed abroad. That’s why access was previously limited to data that had already been screened to remove unrelated information and information identifying U.S. persons.

Note: For an important viewpoint on the real complexities going on with recent reporting on Trump links to Russia, CIA involvement in Syria, and media manipulations, don't miss this provocative article by Glenn Greenwald and this interview he gave to Fox News. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles about intelligence agency corruption and the disappearance of privacy.


The new way police are surveilling you: Calculating your threat ‘score’
2016-01-10, Washington Post
https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/public-safety/the-new-way-police-are-sur...

A new generation of technology such as the Beware software being used in Fresno has given local law enforcement officers unprecedented power to peer into the lives of citizens. But the powerful systems also have become flash points for civil libertarians and activists, who say they represent a troubling intrusion on privacy, have been deployed with little public oversight and have potential for abuse or error. “This is something that’s been building since September 11,” said Jennifer Lynch ... at the Electronic Frontier Foundation. “First funding went to the military to develop this technology, and now it has come back to domestic law enforcement. It’s the perfect storm of cheaper and easier-to-use technologies and money from state and federal governments to purchase it.” Perhaps the most controversial and revealing technology is the threat-scoring software Beware. Fresno is one of the first departments in the nation to test the program. As officers respond to calls, Beware automatically runs the address. The searches return the names of residents and scans them against a range of publicly available data to generate a color-coded threat level for each person or address: green, yellow or red. Exactly how Beware calculates threat scores is something that its maker, Intrado, considers a trade secret, so it is unclear how much weight is given to a misdemeanor, felony or threatening comment on Facebook. The fact that only Intrado — not the police or the public — knows how Beware tallies its scores is disconcerting.

Note: Learn more in this informative article. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on police corruption and the disappearance of privacy from reliable major media sources.


The new way police are surveilling you: Calculating your threat ‘score’
2016-01-10, Washington Post
https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/public-safety/the-new-way-police-are-sur...

A national debate has played out over mass surveillance by the National Security Agency. [Meanwhile], a new generation of technology ... has given local law enforcement officers unprecedented power to peer into the lives of citizens. The powerful systems also have become flash points for civil libertarians and activists. “This is something that’s been building since September 11,” said Jennifer Lynch, a senior staff attorney at the Electronic Frontier Foundation. “First funding went to the military to develop this technology, and now it has come back to domestic law enforcement. It’s the perfect storm of cheaper and easier-to-use technologies and money from state and federal governments to purchase it.” But perhaps the most controversial and revealing technology is the threat-scoring software Beware. As officers respond to calls, Beware automatically runs the address. The searches return the names of residents and scans them ... to generate a color-coded threat level for each person or address: green, yellow or red. Exactly how Beware calculates threat scores is something that its maker, Intrado, considers a trade secret, so ... only Intrado - not the police or the public - knows how Beware tallies its scores. The system might mistakenly increase someone’s threat level by misinterpreting innocuous activity on social media, like criticizing the police, and trigger a heavier response by officers.

Note: For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles about government corruption and the disappearance of privacy.


Spying on Congress and Israel: NSA Cheerleaders Discover Value of Privacy Only When Their Own Is Violated
2015-12-30, The Intercept
https://theintercept.com/2015/12/30/spying-on-congress-and-israel-nsa-cheerle...

The Wall Street Journal reported yesterday that the NSA under President Obama targeted Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his top aides for surveillance. In the process, the agency ended up eavesdropping on ... U.S. lawmakers and American-Jewish groups. People who spent many years cheering for and defending ... programs of mass surveillance are suddenly indignant now that they know the eavesdropping included them. Long-time GOP chairman of the House Intelligence Committee and unyielding NSA defender Pete Hoekstra last night was truly indignant: "WSJ report that NSA spied on Congress and Israel communications very disturbing. Actually outrageous. Maybe unprecedented abuse of power ... NSA and Obama officials need to be investigated and prosecuted. NSA loses all credibility. Scary." This pattern - whereby political officials who are vehement supporters of the Surveillance State transform overnight into crusading privacy advocates once they learn that they themselves have been spied on - is one that has repeated itself over and over. So now, with yesterday’s WSJ report, we witness the tawdry spectacle of large numbers of people who for years were fine with, responsible for, and even giddy about NSA mass surveillance suddenly objecting. Overnight, privacy is of the highest value because now it’s their privacy, rather than just yours, that is invaded.

Note: Read the full Wall Street Journal article on how the US government is secretly spying on Israeli leaders and more. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles about intelligence agency corruption and the disappearance of privacy.


What the TSA’s new body-scanner rules mean for you
2015-12-30, Washington Post
https://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/travel/what-the-tsas-new-body-scanne...

The Transportation Security Administration’s new rules for screening passengers with its controversial full-body scanners - which were quietly changed just before the busy holiday travel season - represent a significant policy reversal that could affect your next flight. Getting checked by the TSA’s advanced-imaging technology used to be entirely optional, allowing those who refused a scan to be subjected to a pat-down. In fact, many observers thought the agency installed the 740 body scanners in 160 airports with an understanding that no one would be forced to use them, ever. But on a Friday in late December, the TSA revised its rules, saying an “opt out” is no longer an option for certain passengers. “The TSA is going back on its word,” says Fred Cate, a law professor at Indiana University and prominent TSA-watcher. “The scanners were sold to Congress and the public on the promise that they were optional, but for at least some people, that is no longer the case.” In previous court filings, the agency offered written assurance that the scanners were optional. Based on the agency’s statements, a federal appeals court affirmed the legality of using the full-body scanners as long as fliers were given a choice.

Note: Read more on the controversy surrounding TSA's costly but technically questionable scanners. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing government corruption news articles from reliable major media sources.


U.S. government reveals breadth of requests for Internet records
2015-11-30, Sun Times/Reuters
http://national.suntimes.com/national-world-news/7/72/2208406/u-s-government-...

The Federal Bureau of Investigation has used a secretive authority to compel Internet and telecommunications firms to hand over customer data including an individual’s complete web browsing history and records of all online purchases, a court filing released Monday shows. The documents are believed to be the first time the government has provided details of its so-called national security letters, which are used by the FBI to conduct electronic surveillance without the need for court approval. National security letters have been available as a law enforcement tool since the 1970s, but their frequency and breadth expanded dramatically under the USA Patriot Act, which was passed shortly after the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks. They are almost always accompanied by an open-ended gag order barring companies from disclosing the contents of the demand for customer data. The secretive orders have long drawn the ire of tech companies and privacy advocates, who argue NSLs allow the government to snoop on user content without appropriate judicial oversight. Last year, the Obama administration announced it would permit Internet companies to disclose more about the number of NSLs they receive. But they can still only provide a range such as between 0 and 999 requests. Twitter has sued in federal court seeking the ability to publish more details in its semi-annual transparency reports. Several thousand NSLs are now issued by the FBI every year. At one point that number eclipsed 50,000 letters annually.

Note: Read more about the FBI's use of these controversial secret letters. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing civil liberties news articles from reliable major media sources.


After Paris, there will be no stopping the surveillance state now
2015-11-19, CBC (Canada's public broadcasting system)
http://www.cbc.ca/news/world/surveillance-state-neil-macdonald-1.3325327

The tools European security agencies now have at their disposal ... would make any American or Canadian intelligence officer drool. Britain has literally created a surveillance state. The British Security Industry Authority estimated three years ago the government has installed about six million closed-circuit TV cameras in the public square; one for every 10 citizens. The French, too, have vastly expanded public video surveillance in recent years. And it's all been done with overwhelming support from the general public, which feels safer for the presence of the surveillance, never mind the lack of objective proof that they are more protected against outrages, which keep on occurring. Both England and France are former colonial powers that ... long ago subordinated individual rights to collective security. Canada and America more dearly cherish individual rights. Still, a surveillance state is growing here, too. David Lyon, a professor of surveillance studies at Queen's University, has identified several public surveillance trends, all of which he says are "increasing at an accelerating rate." Canada is not about to become Western Europe, he says, but "it is incumbent upon us as a society to think about the ethical consequences" of mass surveillance. [Some] would argue that the cameras are desperately needed tools, and that anyone who isn't doing anything wrong has nothing to worry about. That of course is the police state justification. They hate us because we are free, we are told. The fact that we've responded by giving up ever more freedom doesn't seem to matter.

Note: Many of the politicians publicly defending the surveillance state receive huge sums of money from private security companies. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles about government corruption and the disappearance of privacy.


Mass Surveillance Isn’t the Answer to Fighting Terrorism
2015-11-17, New York Times
http://www.nytimes.com/2015/11/18/opinion/mass-surveillance-isnt-the-answer-t...

It’s a wretched yet predictable ritual after each new terrorist attack: Certain politicians and government officials waste no time exploiting the tragedy for their own ends. The remarks on Monday by John Brennan, the director of the Central Intelligence Agency, took that to a new and disgraceful low ... after coordinated terrorist attacks in Paris killed 129. Mr. Brennan complained about ... the sustained national outrage following the 2013 revelations by Edward Snowden, a former National Security Agency contractor, that the agency was using provisions of the Patriot Act to secretly collect information on millions of Americans’ phone records. It is hard to believe anything Mr. Brennan says. Last year, he bluntly denied that the C.I.A. had illegally hacked into the computers of Senate staff members conducting an investigation into the agency’s detention and torture programs when, in fact, it did. In 2011 ... he claimed that American drone strikes had not killed any civilians, despite clear evidence that they had. And his boss, James Clapper Jr., the director of national intelligence, has admitted lying to the Senate on the N.S.A.’s bulk collection of data. Even putting this lack of credibility aside, it’s not clear what extra powers Mr. Brennan is seeking. Most of the men who carried out the Paris attacks were already on the radar of intelligence officials in France and Belgium, where several of the attackers lived. The problem in this case was not a lack of data. In fact, indiscriminate bulk data sweeps have not been useful.

Note: The above is an excellent article by the New York Times editorial board. Yet the role of the largely subservient media, which strongly supported Bush's campaign to go to war in Iraq is ignored. Read this analysis to go even deeper. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles about government corruption and the disappearance of privacy.


This smart TV takes tracking to a new level
2015-11-10, Washington Post
https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/the-switch/wp/2015/11/10/this-smart-tv-ta...

When you watch your Smart TV, it could also be watching you. Vizio, a top television maker, automatically tracks the viewing habits of Smart TV owners and shares that information with advertisers in a way that could connect those preferences to what those customers do on their phones or other mobile devices. Vizio's "Smart Interactivity Program" is turned on by default for its 10 million Smart TV customers. The company analyzes snippets of what you watch, be it on Netflix or traditional television, and connects patterns in your viewing behavior with your Internet Protocol address - an online identifier that can be used to pinpoint every device connected from your home. That includes everything from your laptop and phone to your smart thermostat. That information is then shared with Vizio's partners. There are laws that limit how companies share information about video watching habits, including the Video Privacy Protection Act (VPPA). However, Vizio says that those laws do not apply to its tracking service because the company associates IP addresses with the data rather than a person's name or other "personally identifiable information." Some U.S. courts have held that IP addresses do not constitute personally identifiable information. However, privacy regulators in the European Union disagree. And IP addresses are increasingly used by data brokers to paint detailed portraits of who people are.

Note: In 21st century America, TV watches you. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles about the disappearance of privacy.


FBI spied on Burning Man music festival, documents reveal
2015-09-06, Houston Chronicle (A leading newspaper of Houston, Texas)
http://www.chron.com/national/article/FBI-spied-on-Burning-Man-music-festival...

Newly-released documents show that FBI spied on the Burning Man festival in 2010. It remains unclear if FBI agents actually attended the event. Burning Man [takes place] in an isolated Nevada desert, where up to 70,000 people gather annually for music, art, drugs and large fires. The revelations of federal surveillance come from heavily-redacted internal FBI memos handed to ... reporter Inkoo Kang, who filed a request under the federal Freedom of Information Act for any FBI documents "mentioning the phrase 'Burning Man." In late August, a private security firm contacted the FBI's Las Vegas division for help conducting a "threat assessment" ahead of the event, to which the FBI replied that they had no worrying intelligence about Burning Man. Days later, the Las Vegas division messaged the FBI's Special Events Management Unit requesting guidance on planning an approach to the festival. A subsequent paragraph, sandwiched between two entirely-redacted paragraphs, said, "scheduled overtime for special agents assigned to work special events will be approved under certain very limited and relatively rare circumstances," raising question over whether or not FBI special agents were deployed at Burning Man. A final memo listed two "accomplishments" from the operation; one was redacted, the other was "local agency liaison established/utilized." The FBI concluded that the greatest threat present at Burning Man was "use of illegal drugs by the participants."

Note: The CIA once used art as a weapon in its propaganda campaigns. Is the investigation of a large art festival merely another erosion of privacy, or is the FBI up to something comparably strange?


Many police departments spy on you without oversight. This must end
2015-08-26, The Guardian (One of the UK's leading newspapers)
http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2015/aug/26/police-want-spy-without-...

Local police around the country are increasingly using high-tech mass surveillance gear that can vacuum up private information on entire neighborhoods. Many cops are ... purposefully hiding their spying from courts to avoid any scrutiny from judges. Two important news reports from the last week have shed light on the disturbing practices. The first investigation, done by USA Today’s Brad Heath, found: “In one case after another ... police in Baltimore and other cities used the phone tracker, commonly known as a stingray, to locate the perpetrators of routine street crimes and frequently concealed that fact from the suspects, their lawyers and even judges.” Stingrays are so controversial that some state legislatures have already passed laws restricting their use – which is exactly why police want to keep [their use] secret. The Wall Street Journal also reported last week about newer devices costing as little as a few hundred dollars [that] the police supposedly don’t think ... require a court order at all to use against potential suspects. These devices are handheld or can be attached to clothing. Not only are these cops violating the constitutional rights of defendants by spying on them without court orders, but, in some cases, they’re also allegedly dismissing felony cases involving potentially dangerous criminals, so they can prevent judges from ruling on whether their surveillance tactics are legal ... all to continue their blanket surveillance practices with minimal scrutiny.

Note: For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles about the erosion of privacy rights.


AT&T Helped N.S.A. Spy on an Array of Internet Traffic
2015-08-15, MSN News/New York Times
http://www.msn.com/en-us/news/us/atandt-helped-nsa-spy-on-an-array-of-interne...

The National Security Agency’s ability to spy on vast quantities of Internet traffic passing through the United States has relied on its extraordinary, decades-long partnership with a single company: the telecom giant AT&T. The N.S.A.’s top-secret budget in 2013 for the AT&T partnership was more than twice that of the next-largest such program, [and] the company installed surveillance equipment in at least 17 of its Internet hubs on American soil, far more than its similarly sized competitor, Verizon. After the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, AT&T ... began turning over emails and phone calls “within days” after the warrantless surveillance began in October 2001. In 2011, AT&T began handing over 1.1 billion domestic cellphone calling records a day to the N.S.A. after “a push to get this flow operational prior to the 10th anniversary of 9/11,” according to an internal agency newsletter. In a 2006 lawsuit, a retired AT&T technician named Mark Klein claimed that ... he had seen a secret room in a company building in San Francisco where the N.S.A. had installed equipment. Mr. Klein claimed that AT&T was providing the N.S.A. with access to Internet traffic that AT&T transmits for other telecom companies. Such cooperative arrangements, known in the industry as “peering,” mean that communications from customers of other companies could end up on AT&T’s network.

Note: The story of Klein's lawsuit was initially suppressed by the NSA and major media including the L.A. Times. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles about questionable intelligence agency practices and the erosion of privacy.


Facial Recognition Software Moves From Overseas Wars to Local Police
2015-08-12, New York Times
http://www.nytimes.com/2015/08/13/us/facial-recognition-software-moves-from-o...

Facial recognition software, which American military and intelligence agencies used for years in Iraq and Afghanistan to identify potential terrorists, is being eagerly adopted by dozens of police departments around the country. It is being used with few guidelines and with little oversight or public disclosure. Facial recognition ... is among an array of technologies, including StingRay tracking devices and surveillance aircraft with specialized cameras, that were used in overseas wars but have found their way into local law enforcement. The F.B.I. is pushing ahead with its $1 billion Next Generation Identification program, in which the agency will gather data like fingerprints, iris scans and photographs, as well as information collected through facial recognition software. The F.B.I. system will eventually be made accessible to more than 18,000 local, state, federal and international law enforcement agencies. But people who are not criminal suspects are included in the database, and the error rate for the software is as high as 20 percent — meaning the authorities could misidentify millions of people. Among the cities that use facial recognition technology are New York and Chicago, which has linked it to 25,000 surveillance cameras. In many ways, though, San Diego County is at the forefront. Here, beat cops, detectives and even school police officers have been using hand-held devices to create a vast database of tens of thousands of photos of people — usually without the person’s consent.

Note: For more along these lines, read about the increasing militarization of police in the U.S. after 9/11, or see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles about the erosion of privacy rights.


Why ‘Smart’ Objects May Be a Dumb Idea
2015-08-10, New York Times
http://www.nytimes.com/2015/08/11/opinion/zeynep-tufekci-why-smart-objects-ma...

A safe that tallies the cash that is placed in it. A sniper rifle equipped with advanced computer technology for improved accuracy. A car that lets you stream music from the Internet. All of these innovations sound great, until you learn the risks that this type of connectivity carries. Recently, two security researchers, sitting on a couch and armed only with laptops, remotely took over a Chrysler Jeep Cherokee speeding along the highway ... while a Wired reporter was driving. A hacked car is a high-profile example of what can go wrong with the coming Internet of Things — objects equipped with software and connected to digital networks. The selling point ... is added convenience and better safety. In reality, it is a ... train wreck in privacy and security. That smart safe? Hackers can empty it with a single USB stick while erasing all [evidence] of their crime. That high-tech rifle? Researchers managed to remotely manipulate its target selection without the shooter’s knowing. The Internet of Things is also a privacy nightmare. Databases that already have too much information about us will now be bursting with data on the places we’ve driven, the food we’ve purchased and more. Last week, at Def Con, the annual information security conference, researchers set up an Internet of Things Village to show how they could hack everyday objects like baby monitors, thermostats and security cameras. Connecting everyday objects introduces new risks if done at mass scale. Once a hacker is in - she's in everywhere.

Note: Read how a hacked vehicle may have resulted in journalist Michael Hastings' death in 2013. The networked computerization of everyday objects means that these objects can spy on you, accelerating the disappearance of privacy in the name of convenience. What will happen when the "internet of things" expands to include microchip implants in people?


Germany halts treason inquiry into journalists after protests
2015-07-21, The Guardian (One of the UK's leading newspapers)
http://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/jul/31/germany-halts-treason-inquiry-jo...

A treason investigation into two journalists who reported that the German state planned to increase online surveillance has been suspended by the country’s prosecutor general following protests by leading voices across politics and media. Harald Range, Germany’s prosecutor general, said on Friday he was halting the investigation “for the good of press and media freedom”. It was the first time in more than half a century that journalists in Germany had faced charges of treason. His announcement followed a deluge of criticism and accusations that Germany’s prosecutor had “misplaced priorities”, having failed to investigate with any conviction the NSA spying scandal revealed by whistleblower Edward Snowden, and targeting instead the two investigative journalists, Markus Beckedahl and Andre Meister. The two reporters made reference to what is believed to be a genuine intelligence report that had been classified as confidential, which proposed establishing a new intelligence department to monitor the internet, in particular social media networks. Beckedahl hit out at the prosecutor’s investigation against him on Friday on the state broadcaster Deutschlandfunk, calling it “absurd” and suggesting it was meant as a general warning to scare sources from speaking to journalists. Much of the German media called the decision an attack on the freedom of the press.

Note: The NSA recently got caught spying on German reporters, possibly as a favor to the German government. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles about corruption in the intelligence community and the manipulation of public perception.


Moxie Marlinspike: The Coder Who Encrypted Your Texts
2015-07-09, Wall Street Journal
http://www.wsj.com/articles/moxie-marlinspike-the-coder-who-encrypted-your-te...

Moxie Marlinspike has ... created an encryption program that scrambles messages until they reach the intended reader. The software is effective enough to alarm governments. British Prime Minister David Cameron called protected-messaging apps a “safe space” for terrorists. The following week, President Barack Obama called them “a problem.” In a research paper released Tuesday, 15 prominent technologists cited three programs relying on Mr. Marlinspike’s code as options for shielding communications. His encrypted texting and calling app, Signal, has come up in White House meetings. Former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden, who leaked troves of U.S. spying secrets, urged listeners to use “anything” that Mr. Marlinspike releases. That endorsement was “a little bit terrifying,” Mr. Marlinspike says. But he says he sees an opening, following Mr. Snowden’s revelations, to demystify, and simplify, encryption, so more people use it. Consumer encryption tools ... have been around since the early 1990s, but most are so cumbersome that few people use them, [limiting] the use of encryption to a level law enforcement has mostly learned to live with. Adding easy-to-use encryption that companies can’t unscramble to products used by millions changes that calculus. Technology companies, once cozy with Washington, sound increasingly like Mr. Marlinspike. Apple, Facebook, Google and others are resisting efforts to give the government access to encrypted communications.

Note: For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles about the corrupt intelligence agencies that are attempting to erode privacy rights in the U.S. and elsewhere.


Security Experts Oppose Government Access to Encrypted Communication
2015-07-07, New York Times
http://www.nytimes.com/2015/07/08/technology/code-specialists-oppose-us-and-b...

An elite group of security technologists has concluded that the American and British governments cannot demand special access to encrypted communications without putting the world’s most confidential data and critical infrastructure in danger. With security breaches and awareness of nation-state surveillance at a record high and data moving online at breakneck speeds, encryption has emerged as a major issue in the debate over privacy rights. Technology companies ... have been moving to encrypt more of their corporate and customer data after learning that the National Security Agency and its counterparts were siphoning off digital communications and hacking into corporate data centers. In Britain, Prime Minister David Cameron threatened to ban encrypted messages altogether. In the United States, Michael S. Rogers, the director of the N.S.A., proposed that technology companies be required to create a digital key to unlock encrypted data. The [technology group's] new paper is the first in-depth technical analysis of government proposals by leading cryptographers and security thinkers. In the report, the group said any effort to give the government “exceptional access” to encrypted communications ... would leave confidential data and critical infrastructure like banks and the power grid at risk. With government agency breaches now the norm, the security specialists said authorities could not be trusted to keep such keys safe from hackers and criminals.

Note: For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles about corrupt intelligence agencies that erode privacy rights in the U.S. and elsewhere


How the NSA Started Investigating the New York Times' Warrantless Wiretapping Story
2015-06-27, The Intercept
https://firstlook.org/theintercept/2015/06/26/nsa-started-investigating-new-y...

Three days after the New York Times revealed that the U.S. government was secretly monitoring the calls and emails of people inside the United States without court-approved warrants, the National Security Agency issued a top-secret assessment of the damage done to intelligence efforts by the story. The conclusion: the information could lead terrorists to try to evade detection. Yet the agency gave no specific examples of investigations that had been jeopardized. The December 2005 bombshell story, by James Risen and Eric Lichtblau, set off a debate about the George W. Bush administration's expansion of spying powers after the 9/11 attacks, and also about the Times editors' decision to delay its publication for a year. White House officials had warned the Times that revealing the program would have grave consequences for national security. "To this day we've never seen any evidence – despite all the claims they made to keep us from publishing – that it did any tangible damage to national security, " Lichtblau told The Intercept. "The reality was that the story ... didn't tell terrorists anything that they didn't know," he said. The NSA's damage assessment on the article ... is among the files provided by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden. The memo recounts meetings in 2004 and 2005 in which administration officials disclosed "certain details of the special program to select individuals from the New York Times to dissuade them from publishing a story on the program at that time."

Note: You can read the revealing memo mentioned at the link above. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on civil liberties from reliable major media sources. Then explore the excellent, reliable resources provided in our Media Information Center.


Push for Privacy Standards for Facial Recognition Falters
2015-06-16, ABC News/Associated Press
http://abcnews.go.com/Technology/wireStory/push-privacy-standards-facial-reco...

Retailers have the ability to scan your face digitally, and use that identification to offer you special prices or even recognize you as a prior shoplifter. But should they use it? Should they get your permission first? Privacy advocates announced Tuesday they have walked away from a government-run effort with industry intended to ... hash out voluntary protocols for facial recognition technology in a way that doesn't hurt consumers. The Commerce Department's National Telecommunications and Information Administration, or NTIA, was acting as mediator. The two sides had been meeting for 16 months ... until the nine major privacy groups said they had hit a dead end and that "people deserve more protection than they are likely to get in this forum. At a base minimum, people should be able to walk down a public street without fear that companies they've never heard of are tracking their every movement — and identifying them by name — using facial recognition technology," the groups said. "We have been unable to obtain agreement even with that basic, specific premise." The ability to apply a unique signature to a person's face, even if you don't identify them by name, is particularly invasive, according to privacy advocates. "You can change your password and your credit card number; you cannot change your fingerprints or the precise dimensions of your face. Through facial recognition, these immutable, physical facts can be used to identify you, remotely and in secret, without any recourse."

Note: Read this article for more in this matter. Remember, the same technologies that lead to the disappearance of privacy rights for individuals are also used by corrupt corporations against nonprofit civic organizations to undermine democracy.


FBI Behind Mysterious Surveillance Aircraft Over US Cities
2015-06-02, ABC News/Associated Press
http://abcnews.go.com/Technology/wireStory/fbi-mysterious-surveillance-aircra...

Scores of low-flying planes circling American cities are part of a civilian air force operated by the FBI and obscured behind fictitious companies. The aircraft are equipped with high-tech cameras, and ... technology capable of tracking thousands of cellphones. The surveillance equipment is used for ongoing investigations, the FBI says, generally without a judge's approval. The Drug Enforcement Administration has its own planes, also registered to fake companies, according to a 2011 Justice Department ... report. At the time, the DEA had 92 aircraft in its fleet. And since 2007, the U.S. Marshals Service has operated an aerial surveillance program with its own fleet equipped with technology that can capture data from thousands of cellphones. "These are not your grandparents' surveillance aircraft," said Jay Stanley, a senior policy analyst with the American Civil Liberties Union. Evolving technology can record higher-quality video from long distances, even at night, and can capture certain identifying information from cellphones using a device known as a "cell-site simulator" [to] trick pinpointed cellphones into revealing identification numbers of subscribers, including those not suspected of a crime. The Obama administration [has] been directing local authorities through secret agreements not to reveal their own use of the devices. During the past few weeks, the AP tracked planes from the FBI's fleet on more than 100 flights over at least 11 states plus the District of Columbia.

Note: For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles about the corrupt intelligence agencies that facilitate the erosion of privacy rights in the U.S. and elsewhere.


NSA Planned to Hijack Google App Store to Hack Smartphones
2015-05-21, The Intercept
https://firstlook.org/theintercept/2015/05/21/nsa-five-eyes-google-samsung-ap...

The National Security Agency and its closest allies planned to hijack data links to Google and Samsung app stores to infect smartphones with spyware, a top-secret document reveals. The surveillance project was launched by a joint electronic eavesdropping unit called the Network Tradecraft Advancement Team, which includes spies from each of the countries in the “Five Eyes” alliance — the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, New Zealand and Australia. The top-secret document, obtained from NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden ... outlines a series of tactics that the NSA and its counterparts in the Five Eyes were [using, which included] a method to hack and hijack phone users’ connections to app stores so that they would be able to send malicious “implants” to targeted devices. The implants could then be used to collect data from the phones without their users noticing. The agencies ... were also keen to find ways to hijack [app stores] as a way of sending “selective misinformation to the targets’ handsets” as part of so-called “effects” operations that are used to spread propaganda or confuse adversaries. Moreover, the agencies wanted to gain access to companies’ app store servers so they could secretly use them for “harvesting” information about phone users. The revelations are the latest to highlight tactics adopted by the Five Eyes agencies. Last year, The Intercept reported that the NSA ... was shown to have masqueraded as a Facebook server in order to hack into computers.

Note: For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles about corruption in the intelligence community and the manipulation of public perception.


Edward Snowden: “I work a lot more now than I did at the NSA”
2015-05-15, Yahoo Finance/Business Insider
http://finance.yahoo.com/news/edward-snowden-lot-more-now-215315562.html

Edward Snowden is in exile in Moscow. He's still hard at work. Whatever he's working on, the former NSA contractor who exposed controversial US surveillance practices, says it's much tougher than his last gig. "The fact is I was getting paid an extraordinary amount of money for very little work with very little in the way of qualifications. That's changed significantly," Snowden said in an event at Stanford University on Friday, via teleconference from Moscow. Last week, a federal appeals court ruled that the NSA's massive collection of Americans' phone records is illegal — a victory for Snowden, who revealed the existence of the surveillance program in the documents he leaked to the press. Snowden said in the teleconference that he worked with reporters so that there could be a system of checks and balances, and noted that he did not publish a single document himself. Still, he couldn't leak his secrets anonymously to the reporters because his colleagues' livelihoods would have been at risk as well if the NSA conducted a witch-hunt, Snowden said. "Whistleblowers are elected by circumstance. Nobody self nominates to be a whistleblower because it’s so painful," Snowden said, [and] emphasized that he doesn't see himself as a hero or a traitor, but he had just reached the tipping point where he needed to do something.

Note: For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles about government corruption and the erosion of privacy rights from reliable major media sources.


Why NSA surveillance is worse than you’ve ever imagined
2015-05-11, Reuters
http://blogs.reuters.com/great-debate/2015/05/11/if-youre-not-outraged-about-...

Last summer ... I spent three days in Moscow hanging out with Edward Snowden for a Wired cover story. He told me that what finally drove him to leave his country and become a whistleblower was his conviction that the National Security Agency was conducting illegal surveillance on every American. Thursday, the Second Circuit Court of Appeals in New York ... ruled that the NSA program that secretly intercepts the telephone metadata of every American — who calls whom and when — was illegal. It’s now up to Congress to vote on whether or not to modify the law ... by June 1, when they need to reauthorize the Patriot Act. A PEW survey in March revealed that 52 percent of the public is now concerned about government surveillance, while 46 percent is not. There is now a sort of acceptance of highly intrusive surveillance as the new normal, [while] the American public [remains] unaware of many of the agency’s long list of abuses. It is little wonder that only slightly more than half the public is concerned. For that reason, I agree with Frederick A. O. Schwartz Jr., the former chief counsel of the Church Committee, which conducted a yearlong probe into intelligence abuses in the mid-1970s, that we need a similarly thorough ... investigation today. “Now it is time for a new committee to examine our secret government closely again,” he wrote in a recent Nation magazine article, “particularly for its actions in the post-9/11 period.”

Note: The author of this excellent article is James Bamford, the former ABC News producer who broke the story on Operation Northwoods and has written landmark books on the NSA. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles about intelligence agency corruption and the erosion of privacy rights from reliable major media sources.


The Vindication of Edward Snowden
2015-05-11, The Atlantic
http://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2015/05/the-vindication-of-edward...

Edward Snowden’s most famous leak has just been vindicated. Since June 2013, when he revealed that the telephone calls of Americans are being logged en masse, his critics have charged that he took it upon himself to expose a lawful secret. They insisted that Congress authorized the phone dragnet when it passed the U.S.A. Patriot Act. A panel of judges on the Second Circuit Court of Appeals ruled last week that the program Snowden exposed was never legal. The Patriot Act does not authorize it, contrary to the claims of George W. Bush, Barack Obama, Michael Hayden, Keith Alexander, and James Clapper. “Statutes to which the government points have never been interpreted to authorize anything approaching the breadth of the sweeping surveillance at issue here,” Judge Gerard E. Lynch declared. Consider what this means. For many years, the executive branch carried out a hugely consequential policy change that the legislature never approved. Tens of millions of innocent U.S. citizens were thus subject to invasions of privacy that no law authorized. Officials classified the program as a state secret, keeping it out of Article III courts. By doing so, they prevented the judiciary from reviewing the statutory legitimacy of NSA surveillance, subverting a core check in our system of government. The consequence: An illegal program persisted for years. This is a perfect illustration of why secret government programs are an abomination in our democracy.

Note: For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles about government corruption and the erosion of privacy rights from reliable major media sources.


DEA sued over secret bulk collection of Americans' phone records
2015-04-08, The Guardian (One of the UK's leading newspapers)
http://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2015/apr/08/dea-bulk-collection-phone-records

Human rights campaigners have prepared a federal lawsuit aiming to permanently shut down the bulk collection of billions of US phone records – not, this time, by the National Security Agency, but by the Drug Enforcement Agency. The program ... served as a template for the NSA’s gigantic and ongoing bulk surveillance of US phone data after 9/11. The revelation of mass phone-records collection in the so-called “war on drugs” raises new questions about whether the Obama administration or its successors believe US security agencies continue to have legal leeway for warrantless bulk surveillance on American citizens. Starting in 1992, the so-called “USTO” effort operated without judicial approval, despite the US constitution’s warrant requirement. Attorney general Eric Holder ended USTO in September 2013 out of fear of scandal following Snowden’s disclosures. While Snowden did not expose USTO, several NSA programs he has exposed referenced the DEA as an NSA partner, giving the DEA another secret pathway to massive amounts of US communications records. The warrantless bulk records collection provides prosecutors the ability to enter into evidence incriminating material that could otherwise be thrown out of court, [and] has not stopped the upward growth of domestic narcotics consumption.

Note: In order to deny due process to people accused of crimes, the DEA's Special Operations Division constructs lies about the origins of data obtained from warrantless mass surveillance. Award-winning journalists have presented powerful evidence of direct DEA and CIA involvement in and support of drug running and drug cartels. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles about corruption in government and in the intelligence community.


A Police Gadget Tracks Phones? Shhh! It’s Secret
2015-03-15, New York Times
http://www.nytimes.com/2015/03/16/business/a-police-gadget-tracks-phones-shhh...

A powerful new surveillance tool being adopted by police departments across the country comes with an unusual requirement: To buy it, law enforcement officials must sign a nondisclosure agreement preventing them from saying almost anything about the technology. Any disclosure about the technology, which tracks cellphones and is often called StingRay, could allow criminals and terrorists to circumvent it, the F.B.I. has said in an affidavit. But the tool is adopted in such secrecy that communities are not always sure what they are buying or whether the technology could raise serious privacy concerns. What has opponents particularly concerned about StingRay is that the technology, unlike other phone surveillance methods, can also scan all the cellphones in the area where it is being used, not just the target phone. “It’s scanning the area. What is the government doing with that information?” said Linda Lye, a lawyer for the American Civil Liberties Union of Northern California, which in 2013 sued the Justice Department to force it to disclose more about the technology. In November, in a response to the lawsuit, the government said it had asked the courts to allow the technology to capture content, not just identify subscriber location.

Note: For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles about the erosion of privacy rights from reliable major media sources.


How Spies Stole the Keys to the Encryption Castle
2015-02-19, The Intercept
https://firstlook.org/theintercept/2015/02/19/great-sim-heist

American and British spies hacked into the internal computer network of the largest manufacturer of SIM cards in the world, stealing encryption keys used to protect the privacy of cellphone communications across the globe, according to top-secret documents provided to The Intercept by National Security Agency whistleblower Edward Snowden. The hack was perpetrated by a joint unit consisting of operatives from the NSA and its British counterpart Government Communications Headquarters, or GCHQ. The breach, detailed in a secret 2010 GCHQ document, gave the surveillance agencies the potential to secretly monitor a large portion of the world’s cellular communications, including both voice and data. The company targeted by the intelligence agencies, Gemalto, is a multinational firm incorporated in the Netherlands. With these stolen encryption keys, intelligence agencies can monitor mobile communications without seeking or receiving approval from telecom companies and foreign governments. Possessing the keys also sidesteps the need to get a warrant or a wiretap, while leaving no trace on the wireless provider’s network that the communications were intercepted.

Note: In an article that updates the story above, The Intercept reports that Gemalto has now acknowledged this security breach, but is misrepresenting its significance to prevent client and investor fears from harming the company's profitability. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles about corruption in intelligence agencies and government.


Not in front of the telly: Warning over 'listening' TV
2015-02-09, BBC News
https://www.bbc.com/news/technology-31296188

Samsung is warning customers about discussing personal information in front of their smart television set. The warning applies to TV viewers who control their Samsung Smart TV using its voice activation feature. When the feature is active, such TV sets "listen" to what is said and may share what they hear with Samsung or third parties, it said. Privacy campaigners said the technology smacked of the telescreens, in George Orwell's 1984, which spied on citizens. The warning came to light via a story in ... the Daily Beast which published an excerpt of a section of Samsung's privacy policy for its net-connected Smart TV sets. These record what is said when a button on a remote control is pressed. The policy explains that the TV set will be listening to people in the same room to try to spot when commands or queries are issued via the remote. It goes on to say: "If your spoken words include personal or other sensitive information, that information will be among the data captured and transmitted to a third party." Corynne McSherry, an intellectual property lawyer for the Electronic Frontier Foundation, [said] that the third party was probably the company providing speech-to-text conversion for Samsung. She added: "If I were the customer, I might like to know who that third party was, and I'd definitely like to know whether my words were being transmitted in a secure form." The third party handling the translation from speech to text is a firm called Nuance, which specialises in voice recognition, Samsung has confirmed to the BBC.

Note: Read more about Samsung's privacy issues in this 2013 Houston Chronicle article. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on the disappearance of privacy from reliable major media sources.


Your Samsung TV is eavesdropping on your private conversations
2015-02-09, CNN News
http://money.cnn.com/2015/02/09/technology/security/samsung-smart-tv-privacy/

Many Samsung "SmartTVs" come equipped with voice recognition, which allows you to bark commands at your TV. Since the television is always listening for your voice, Samsung has warned its SmartTV customers that every word is being captured and sent over the Internet. Samsung says it needs to send your voice commands to a third-party, because that company converts your speech to text. But Samsung also collects your voice commands to perform research and determine whether it needs to make improvements to the feature. Samsung noted that a microphone appears on the screen when the voice recognition feature is turned on, notifying customers that their voice is being captured. You can opt-out of the SmartTV voice recognition feature. But even if you opt out, your voice commands will still be captured. The SmartTV has a set of pre-programmed commands that it recognizes even if you opt out of voice recognition. Samsung will collect the text of those pre-programmed voice commands (though not your voice itself) and analyze how much you're using certain commands. "Samsung does not retain voice data or sell it to third parties," the company said in a statement. "If a consumer consents and uses the voice recognition feature ... the voice data is sent to a server, which searches for the requested content then returns the desired content to the TV."

Note: For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on corporate corruption and the disappearance of privacy.


U.S. Spies on Millions of Drivers
2015-01-26, Wall Street Journal
https://www.wsj.com/articles/u-s-spies-on-millions-of-cars-1422314779

The Justice Department has been building a national database to track in real time the movement of vehicles around the U.S., a secret domestic intelligence-gathering program that scans and stores hundreds of millions of records about motorists. The primary goal of the license-plate tracking program, run by the Drug Enforcement Administration, is to seize cars, cash and other assets to combat drug trafficking, according to one government document. But the database's use has expanded to hunt for vehicles associated with numerous other potential crimes, from kidnappings to killings to rape suspects. Officials have publicly said that they track vehicles near the border with Mexico to help fight drug cartels. What hasn't been previously disclosed is that the DEA has spent years working to expand the database "throughout the United States,'' according to one email reviewed by The Wall Street Journal. Many state and local law-enforcement agencies are accessing the database for a variety of investigations ... putting a wealth of information in the hands of local officials who can track vehicles in real time on major roadways. The database raises new questions about privacy and the scope of government surveillance. The existence of the program and its expansion were described in interviews with current and former government officials, and in documents obtained by the American Civil Liberties Union through a Freedom of Information Act request. It is unclear if any court oversees or approves the intelligence-gathering.

Note: For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on government corruption and the disappearance of privacy from reliable major media sources.


New police radars can 'see' inside homes
2015-01-20, USA Today
http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/2015/01/19/police-radar-see-through-walls/...

At least 50 U.S. law enforcement agencies have secretly equipped their officers with radar devices that allow them to effectively peer through the walls of houses to see whether anyone is inside. Those agencies, including the FBI and the U.S. Marshals Service, began deploying the radar systems more than two years ago with little notice to the courts and no public disclosure of when or how they would be used. The technology raises legal and privacy issues because the U.S. Supreme Court has said officers generally cannot use high-tech sensors to tell them about the inside of a person's house without first obtaining a search warrant. The radars work like finely tuned motion detectors, using radio waves to zero in on movements as slight as human breathing from a distance of more than 50 feet. They can detect whether anyone is inside of a house, where they are and whether they are moving. The device the Marshals Service and others are using [was] first designed for use in Iraq and Afghanistan. They represent the latest example of battlefield technology finding its way home to civilian policing and bringing complex legal questions with it. Those concerns are especially thorny when it comes to technology that lets the police determine what's happening inside someone's home.

Note: This technology is not new. Working as interpreter in Washington, DC, WantToKnow.info founder Fred Burks witnessed this technology being used by the police there in the late 1980s. Explore an informative ACLU report detailing the many surveillance technologies used by police which are often used illegally. For more along these lines, see this deeply revealing summarized NPR report about The Pentagon's massive Program 1033 to widely distribute military hardware to domestic police forces.


Sharyl Attkisson sues administration over computer hacking
2015-01-05, Fox News
http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2015/01/05/sharyl-attkisson-sues-administrati...

Former CBS News correspondent Sharyl Attkisson has sued the Justice Department over the hacking of her computers, officially accusing the Obama administration of illegal surveillance while she was reporting on administration scandals. In a series of legal filings that seek $35 million in damages, Attkisson alleges that three separate computer forensic exams showed that hackers used sophisticated methods to surreptitiously monitor her work between 2011 and 2013. The intruders installed and periodically refreshed software to steal data and obtain passwords on her home and work computers. She also charges that the hackers monitored her audio using a Skype account. The award-winning reporter says she and her attorneys have "pretty good evidence" that these efforts were "connected" to the Justice Department. She said she was caught in a "Catch-22," forcing her to use the lawsuit and an administrative complaint to discover more about the surveillance through the discovery process and to learn the identities of the "John Does" named in the complaints. Attkisson learned through a Freedom of Information request that the FBI opened an investigation of the hacking case in May 2013, but says the bureau never interviewed her or even notified her of the probe. Attkisson resigned from CBS last March after complaining that she was increasingly unable to get her investigative stories on the air. She has published a best-selling book, "Stonewalled," about her battles against the network and the administration.

Note: Fox News was the only major media to cover this important case. Read a judge's supportive comments about this important case on Ms. Attkisson's website. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles about government corruption and the disappearance of privacy.


Edward Snowden wins Swedish human rights award for NSA revelations
2014-12-01, The Guardian (One of the UK's leading newspapers)
http://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2014/dec/01/nsa-whistlebloewer-edward-snow...

Whistleblower Edward Snowden received several standing ovations in the Swedish parliament after being given the Right Livelihood award for his revelations of the scale of state surveillance. Snowden, who is in exile in Russia, addressed the parliament by video from Moscow. In a symbolic gesture, his family and supporters said no one picked up the award on his behalf in the hope that one day he might be free to travel to Sweden to receive it in person. Snowden is wanted by the US on charges under the Espionage Act. His chances of a deal with the US justice department that would allow him to return home are slim and he may end up spending the rest of his days in Russia. His supporters hope that a west European country such as Sweden might grant him asylum. The awards jury, in its citation, said Snowden was being honoured “for his courage and skill in revealing the unprecedented extent of state surveillance violating basic democratic processes and constitutional rights”. The chamber was filled with members of parliament from almost all the parties. The Guardian editor, Alan Rusbridger, was also among the recipients. The jury citation said his award was in celebration of “building a global media organisation dedicated to responsible journalism in the public interest, undaunted by the challenge of exposing corporate and government malpractices”.

Note: For more along these lines, read how Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales considers Edward Snowden a hero. For more on the Snowden case, see the deeply revealing reports from reliable major media sources available here.


Government planes mimic cellphone towers to collect user data
2014-11-14, The Guardian (One of the UK's leading newspapers)
http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/nov/14/government-planes-mimic-cellphon...

The US justice department is reportedly using electronic equipment on aircraft to simulate cellphone towers so it can collect phone location and identifying information on a mass scale from users on the ground below. The US Marshals Service has for seven years flown Cessna aircraft ... that mimic cellular towers, permitting the collection of thousands of unique IDs and location data from users. The planes operate from at least five metropolitan airports, permitting a “flying range covering most of the US population”. [This] indiscriminate collection would permit ... justice department agencies to avoid having to seek records from the phone companies themselves, especially in criminal investigations where a court order may be required. The legal basis for the previously undisclosed program is unclear. It is not reportedly a national security or counterterrorism program. Michael German, a former FBI agent now with New York University Law School, said: “The government’s attitude seems to be if it can, it should, without regard to the violation of Americans’ rights, so long as nobody knows. This program is being kept secret so that the thousands of innocent Americans whose data is being collected improperly won’t complain. We shouldn’t have to just trust that the government will handle the data it intercepts about our communications properly.”

Note: For more along these lines, see these concise summaries of deeply revealing government corruption and privacy news articles from reliable sources.


FBI director attacks tech companies for embracing new modes of encryption
2014-10-16, The Guardian
http://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2014/oct/16/fbi-director-attacks-tech-comp...

The director of the FBI savaged tech companies for their recent embrace of end-to-end encryption and suggested rewriting laws to ensure law enforcement access to customer data in a speech on Thursday. James Comey said data encryption such as that employed on Apple’s latest mobile operating system would deprive police and intelligence companies. Privacy advocates contend Comey is demagoguing the issue. It took a June supreme court ruling, they point out, for law enforcement to abandon its contention that it did not require warrants at all to search through smartphones or tablets, and add that technological vulnerabilities can be exploited by hackers and foreign intelligence agencies as well as the US government. Tech companies contend that their newfound adoption of encryption is a response to overarching government surveillance, much of which occurs ... without a warrant, subject to a warrant broad enough to cover indiscriminate data collection, or under a gag order following a non-judicial subpoena. Comey did not mention such subpoenas, often in the form of National Security Letters, in his remarks. Comey acknowledged that the Snowden disclosures caused “justifiable surprise” among the public about the breadth of government surveillance, but hoped to mitigate it through greater transparency and advocacy. Yet the FBI keeps significant aspects of its surveillance reach hidden even from government oversight bodies. Intelligence officials said in a June letter to a US senator that the FBI does not tally how often it searches through NSA’s vast hoards of international communications, without warrants, for Americans’ identifying information. Comey frequently described himself as being technologically unprepared to offer specific solutions, and said he meant to begin a conversation, even at the risk of putting American tech companies at a competitive disadvantage.

Note: For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing stories about questionable intelligence agency practices from reliable sources.


Travelers, say bon voyage to privacy
2014-10-16, Dallas News
http://www.dallasnews.com/investigations/watchdog/20141016-watchdog-travelers...

Did you know that when you buy an airline ticket and make other travel reservations, the federal government keeps a record of the details in a file called Passenger Name Record or PNR? If airlines don’t comply, they can’t fly in the U.S., explains Ed Hasbrouck, a privacy expert with the Identity Project who has studied the records for years and is considered the nation’s top expert. Before each trip, the system creates a travel score for you, generated by your PNR. Before an airline can issue you a boarding pass, the system must approve your passage, Hasbrouck explains. That’s one way people on the No Fly List are targeted. The idea behind extensive use of PNRs, he says, is not necessarily to watch known suspects but to find new ones. Want to appeal the process? “It’s a secret administrative process based on the score you don’t know, based on files you haven’t seen,” Hasbrouck says. The program collects seemingly trivial details. If you have an argument with an airline gate agent and that agent enters a notation ... that record stays in your PNR. “The U.S. government is getting the data and sharing it in ways we don’t fully know about with other governments,” Hasbrouck says. The information collected by the airlines is shared with third-party data companies who store it. Where? In the cloud. Make you feel safer? In Canada and the European Union, the collection of this information spurred public debate. But not here.

Note: Read this excellent article for lots more details on how the government spies on your travels. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing civil liberties news articles from reliable sources.


Journalist Talks Confidential Sources, Getting Subpoenaed And His New Book
2014-10-14, National Public Radio
http://www.npr.org/2014/10/14/356121289/journalist-talks-confidential-sources...

TERRY GROSS: James Risen [is] an investigative reporter for The New York Times. He, along with Eric Lichtbau, broke the story about warrantless wiretapping. Now Risen is facing a prison sentence for refusing to reveal his source or sources for that story. [Risen] has a new book called "Pay Any Price: Greed, Power And Endless War," which is a series of investigations into who's making money on the War on Terror and what are some of the secret operations within it. You recently wrote an article in The New York Times with Laura Poitras who broke the Edward Snowden story along with Glenn Greenwald. And you reported on how American intelligence is trying to harvest facial imagery with the intention of - what's it for? RISEN: Facial recognition ... in a way that no [one] really understood before has become a central focus of the NSA today. They can link that up with a signals intelligence, which is the communications that they intercept [and] basically find where you are, what you're doing, who you're seeing and virtually anything about you in real time. GROSS: So ... your big story turned out kind of differently than the celebrations facing Woodward and Bernstein. RISEN: I think the times have changed. We had this period in journalism for about 30 years where there was the government and the press. The government ... wouldn't go after whistleblowers or reporters very aggressively. It's only after the - after 9/11 and after the plane case, which you may remember where Judy Miller was sent to jail. I think the post-9/11 age, the government has decided to become much more aggressive against reporters and whistleblowers.

Note: The above quotes are from the transcript of a radio interview that you can listen to by clicking on the news story link provided. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing stories about high level manipulation of mass media from reliable sources.


Court Spotlights the FBI’s Super-Secret National Security Letters
2014-10-09, The Intercept
https://firstlook.org/theintercept/2014/10/09/court-spotlight-super-secret-na...

[National security letters], the reach of which was expanded under the Patriot Act in 2001, let the FBI get business records from telephone, banking, and Internet companies with just a declaration that the information is relevant to a counterterrorism investigation. The FBI can get such information with a subpoena or another method with some judicial oversight. Can the government make demands for data entirely in secret? That was the question yesterday before a federal appeals court in San Francisco, where government lawyers argued that National Security Letters — FBI requests for information that are so secret they can’t be publicly acknowledged by the recipients — were essential to counterterrorism investigations. One of the judges seemed to question why there was no end-date on the gag orders, and why the burden was on the recipients of NSLs to challenge them. “It leaves it to the poor person who is subject to those requirements to just constantly petition the government to get rid of it,” said the judge, N. Randy Smith. The FBI sends out thousands of NSLs each year – 21,000 in fiscal year 2012. Google, Yahoo, Facebook and Microsoft filed a brief in support of the NSL challenge, arguing that they want to “publish more detailed aggregate statistics about the volume, scope and type of NSLs that the government uses to demand information about their users.” Twitter also announced this week that it was suing the U.S. government over restrictions on how it can talk about surveillance orders. Tech companies can currently make public information about the number of NSLs or Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court orders they receive in broad ranges, but Twitter wants to be more specific.

Note: For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing civil liberties news articles from reliable major media sources.


Snowden: New Zealand’s Prime Minister Isn’t Telling the Truth About Mass Surveillance
2014-09-15, The Intercept
https://firstlook.org/theintercept/2014/09/15/snowden-new-zealand-surveillance

Prime Minister John Key ... has denied that New Zealand’s spy agency GCSB engages in mass surveillance, mostly as a means of convincing the country to enact a new law vesting the agency with greater powers. Let me be clear: any statement that mass surveillance is not performed in New Zealand, or that the internet communications are not comprehensively intercepted and monitored, or that this is not intentionally and actively abetted by the GCSB, is categorically false. If you live in New Zealand, you are being watched. At the NSA I routinely came across the communications of New Zealanders in my work with a mass surveillance tool we share with GCSB, called “XKEYSCORE.” It allows total, granular access to the database of communications collected in the course of mass surveillance. It is not limited to or even used largely for the purposes of cybersecurity, as has been claimed, but is instead used primarily for reading individuals’ private email, text messages, and internet traffic. I know this because it was my full-time job in Hawaii, where I worked every day in an NSA facility with a top secret clearance. The prime minister’s claim to the public, that “there is no and there never has been any mass surveillance” is false. The GCSB, whose operations he is responsible for, is directly involved in the untargeted, bulk interception and algorithmic analysis of private communications sent via internet, satellite, radio, and phone networks. It means they have the ability see every website you visit, every text message you send, every call you make, every ticket you purchase, every donation you make, and every book you order online. From “I’m headed to church” to “I hate my boss” to “She’s in the hospital,” the GCSB is there. Your words are intercepted, stored, and analyzed by algorithms long before they’re ever read by your intended recipient.

Note: New Zealand's prime minister has acknowledged that Snowden may be right, as reported in this article. For more on this, see concise summaries of deeply revealing government surveillance news articles from reliable major media sources.


U.S. threatened massive fine to force Yahoo to release data
2014-09-11, Washington Post
http://www.washingtonpost.com/business/technology/us-threatened-massive-fine-...

The U.S. government threatened to fine Yahoo $250,000 a day in 2008 if it failed to comply with a broad demand to hand over user communications — a request the company believed was unconstitutional — according to court documents unsealed [on September 11] that illuminate how federal officials forced American tech companies to participate in the National Security Agency’s controversial PRISM program. The documents ... outline a secret and ultimately unsuccessful legal battle by Yahoo to resist the government’s demands. The company’s loss required Yahoo to become one of the first to begin providing information to PRISM, a program that gave the NSA extensive access to records of online communications by users of Yahoo and other U.S.-based technology firms. The ruling by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court of Review became a key moment in the development of PRISM, helping government officials to convince other Silicon Valley companies that unprecedented data demands had been tested in the courts and found constitutionally sound. Eventually, most major U.S. tech companies, including Google, Facebook, Apple and AOL, complied. Microsoft had joined earlier, before the ruling, NSA documents have shown. PRISM was first revealed by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden last year. Documents made it clear that the program allowed the NSA to order U.S.-based tech companies to turn over e-mails and other communications to or from foreign targets without search warrants for each of those targets. Other NSA programs gave even more wide-ranging access to personal information of people worldwide, by collecting data directly from fiber-optic connections.

Note: For more on this, see concise summaries of deeply revealing government surveillance news articles from reliable major media sources.


The U.S. Government’s Secret Plans to Spy for American Corporations
2014-09-05, The Intercept
https://firstlook.org/theintercept/2014/09/05/us-governments-plans-use-econom...

Throughout the last year, the U.S. government has repeatedly insisted that it does not engage in economic and industrial espionage, in an effort to distinguish its own spying from China’s infiltrations of Google, Nortel, and other corporate targets. [But] the NSA was caught spying on plainly financial targets such as the Brazilian oil giant Petrobras; economic summits; international credit card and banking systems; the EU antitrust commissioner investigating Google, Microsoft, and Intel; and the International Monetary Fund and World Bank. In response, the U.S. modified its denial to acknowledge that it does engage in economic spying, but unlike China, the spying is never done to benefit American corporations. But a secret 2009 report issued by [Director of National Intelligence James Clapper's] office explicitly contemplates doing exactly that. The document, the 2009 Quadrennial Intelligence Community Review—provided by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden—is a fascinating window into the mindset of America’s spies. One of the principal threats raised in the report is a scenario “in which the United States’ technological and innovative edge slips”— in particular, “that the technological capacity of foreign multinational corporations could outstrip that of U.S. corporations.” How could U.S. intelligence agencies solve that problem? The report recommends “a multi-pronged, systematic effort to gather open source and proprietary information through overt means, clandestine penetration (through physical and cyber means), and counterintelligence”.

Note: For more on this, see concise summaries of deeply revealing intelligence agency operations news articles from reliable major media sources.


The US government can brand you a terrorist based on a Facebook post
2014-08-30, The Guardian (One of the UK's leading newspapers)
http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/aug/30/terrorist-watch-list-rul...

The US government’s web of surveillance is vast and interconnected. You can be pulled into the National Security Agency’s database quietly and quickly. Through ICREACH, a Google-style search engine created for the intelligence community, the NSA provides data on private communications to 23 government agencies. More than 1,000 analysts had access to that information. It was confirmed earlier this month that the FBI shares its master watchlist, the Terrorist Screening Database, with at least 22 foreign governments, countless federal agencies, state and local law enforcement, plus private contractors. The watchlist [is] based on [low] standards and secret evidence, which ensnares innocent people. Indeed, the standards are so low that the US government’s guidelines specifically allow for a single, uncorroborated source of information – including a Facebook or Twitter post – to serve as the basis for placing you on its master watchlist. Of the 680,000 individuals on that FBI master list, roughly 40% have “no recognized terrorist group affiliation”, according to the Intercept. These individuals don’t even have a connection – as the government loosely defines it – to a designated terrorist group, but they are still branded as suspected terrorists. The US [government uses] a loose standard – so-called “reasonable suspicion” – in determining who, exactly, can be watchlisted. ["Reasonable suspicion"] requires neither “concrete evidence” nor “irrefutable evidence”. Instead, an official is permitted to consider “reasonable inferences” and “to draw from the facts in light of his/her experience”.

Note: For more on this, see concise summaries of deeply revealing terrorism news articles from reliable major media sources.


Mysterious Phony Cell Towers Could Be Intercepting Your Calls
2014-08-27, Popular Science
http://www.popsci.com/article/technology/mysterious-phony-cell-towers-could-b...

Les Goldsmith, the CEO of ESD America [marketers of the Crytophone 500], points me to a map that he and his customers have created, indicating 17 different phony cell towers known as “interceptors,” detected by the CryptoPhone 500 around the United States during the month of July alone. Interceptors look to a typical phone like an ordinary tower. Once the phone connects with the interceptor, a variety of “over-the-air” attacks become possible, from eavesdropping on calls and texts to pushing spyware to the device. “Interceptor use in the U.S. is much higher than people had anticipated,” Goldsmith says. “One of our customers took a road trip from Florida to North Carolina and he found 8 different interceptors on that trip. We even found one at South Point Casino in Las Vegas.” Who is running these interceptors and what are they doing with the calls? Goldsmith says we can’t be sure, but he has his suspicions. “Are some of them U.S. government interceptors?” [asks] Goldsmith. Interceptors vary widely in expense and sophistication – but in a nutshell, they are radio-equipped computers with software that can use arcane cellular network protocols and defeat the onboard encryption. For governments or other entities able to afford a price tag of “less than $100,000,” says Goldsmith, high-quality interceptors are quite realistic. Some interceptors are limited, only able to passively listen to either outgoing or incoming calls. But full-featured devices like the VME Dominator, available only to government agencies, can not only capture calls and texts, but even actively control the phone, sending out spoof texts, for example.

Note: Do you think the government might have put up fake cell towers to nab more data? For more on this, see concise summaries of deeply revealing government surveillance news articles from reliable major media sources.


The Surveillance Engine: How the NSA Built Its Own Secret Google
2014-08-25, The Intercept
https://firstlook.org/theintercept/2014/08/25/icreach-nsa-cia-secret-google-c...

The National Security Agency is secretly providing data to nearly two dozen U.S. government agencies with a “Google-like” search engine built to share more than 850 billion records about phone calls, emails, cellphone locations, and internet chats, according to classified documents obtained by The Intercept. The documents provide the first definitive evidence that the NSA has for years made massive amounts of surveillance data directly accessible to domestic law enforcement agencies. ICREACH [as the search engine is called] contains information on the private communications of foreigners and, it appears, millions of records on American citizens who have not been accused of any wrongdoing. Details about its existence are contained in the archive of materials provided to The Intercept by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden. Earlier revelations sourced to the Snowden documents have exposed a multitude of NSA programs for collecting large volumes of communications. The NSA has acknowledged that it shares some of its collected data with domestic agencies like the FBI, but details about the method and scope of its sharing have remained shrouded in secrecy. ICREACH has been accessible to more than 1,000 analysts at 23 U.S. government agencies that perform intelligence work, according to a 2010 memo. Information shared through ICREACH can be used to track people’s movements, map out their networks of associates, help predict future actions, and potentially reveal religious affiliations or political beliefs.

Note: For more on this, see concise summaries of deeply revealing government surveillance news articles from reliable major media sources.


New Facebook Messenger App Has Some Frightening Terms And Conditions
2014-08-18, Fox News (Memphis, Tennessee affiliate)
http://www.myfoxmemphis.com/story/26248710/new-facebook-messenger-app-has-som...

Could your smartphone be recording video of you without you knowing it? And if so, who is on the other end watching it? A new Facebook Messenger App could be violating your privacy. If you download and install the social network's new messenger app to an android device, you're giving Facebook permission to call or text people from your phone, delete your personal data even access your camera microphone. Facebook says it only needs that access to make your messaging experience better, and that these terms have been in place for months. So why are we telling you about it now? That's because some mobile Facebook users are about to find out you won't be able to access your messages through the Facebook app anymore. Instead if you want to read a message from a friend or coworker you'll have to download the messenger app and consent to any fine print. The messenger app has over 6000 reviews on the iTunes app store. Most of them are not too positive. The real question is will people still download it? And as for the people who did download it, it seems a lot are just choosing to disconnect.

Note: Many apps have terms and conditions that people never read before downloading the allow the app developer to access and even change phone logs, record conversations, and much more. Learn more in this eye-opening video. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles about the erosion of privacy rights from reliable major media sources.


Embracing flag, Snowden says he hopes to return to U.S.
2014-08-13, USA Today
http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/world/2014/08/13/snowden-wired-flag/13995013/

Development of a U.S. counterattack for cyberterrorism that could do more harm than good was one of the final events that drove Edward Snowden to leak government secrets, the former National Security Agency contractor tells Wired magazine. Snowden ... said the MonsterMind program was designed to detect a foreign cyberattack and keep it from entering the country. But it also would automatically fire back. The problem, he said, is malware can be routed through an innocent third-party country. "These attacks can be spoofed," he told Wired. MonsterMind for example ... could accidentally start a war. And it's the ultimate threat to privacy because it requires the NSA to gain access to virtually all private communications coming in from overseas. "The argument is that the only way we can identify these malicious traffic flows and respond to them is if we're analyzing all traffic flows," he said. "And if we're analyzing all traffic flows, that means we have to be intercepting all traffic flows. That means violating the Fourth Amendment, seizing private communications without a warrant, without probable cause or even a suspicion of wrongdoing. For everyone, all the time. You get exposed to a little bit of evil, a little bit of rule-breaking, a little bit of dishonesty, a little bit of deceptiveness, a little bit of disservice to the public interest, and you can brush it off, you can come to justify it," Snowden told Wired. "But if you do that, it creates a slippery slope that just increases over time. And by the time you've been in 15 years, 20 years, 25 years, you've seen it all and it doesn't shock you. And so you see it as normal."

Note: Read the cover story from Wired magazine with a deep inside report on Snowden.


For some firms, NSA eavesdropping means business
2014-08-12, San Francisco Chronicle (SF's leading newspaper)
http://www.sfgate.com/technology/article/For-some-firms-NSA-eavesdropping-mea...

To many Americans, online eavesdropping by the U.S. National Security Agency is an outrage, a threat to privacy and freedom. To some, it's a business opportunity. A small but growing number of companies have introduced Internet and communications services designed to shield users from the government's eyes. A few even advertise their products as "NSA-proof." Many of the companies have been offering encrypted online services for years, scrambling their customers' data and communications in ways that require the right computer-generated "key" to decode. They are at least as concerned with thwarting private hackers and corporate spies as they are with blocking federal agents. But some entrepreneurs in the field found motivation in the NSA, after learning that the agency has been collecting troves of Internet and phone data on ordinary citizens for years. "Privacy and democracy go hand in hand - that's why this is so important," said Jason Stockman, one of the creators of ProtonMail, which began offering an encrypted e-mail service in May. "Our goal is to protect people against mass surveillance." But most companies will quickly admit that if the NSA - or some foreign intelligence service - really wants your data, they can't guarantee protection. Since the NSA conducts its business in secret, its full capabilities remain a matter of speculation. Most companies that invoke the NSA in their marketing focus on encryption.

Note: For more on this, see concise summaries of deeply revealing government surveillance news articles from reliable major media sources.


Before Snowden: The Whistleblowers Who Tried To Lift The Veil
2014-07-22, NPR
http://www.npr.org/2014/07/22/333741495/before-snowden-the-whistleblowers-who...

Bill Binney worked at the National Security Agency [for] nearly three decades as one of its leading crypto-mathematicians. He then became one of its leading whistleblowers. The NSA is overseen by Congress, the courts and other government departments. It's also supposed to be watched from the inside by its own workers. But over the past dozen years, whistleblowers like Binney have had a rough track record. Those who tried unsuccessfully to work within the system say Edward Snowden — the former National Security Agency contractor who shared top-secret documents with reporters — learned from their bitter experience. For Binney, the decision to quit the NSA and become a whistleblower began a few weeks after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, when he says he discovered the spy agency had begun using software he'd created to scoop up information on Americans — all without a court order. "I had to get out of there, because they were using the program I built to do domestic spying, and I didn't want any part of it, I didn't want to be associated with it," he says. "I look at it as basically treason. They were subverting the Constitution." Binney says he and two other NSA colleagues who also quit tried sounding the alarm with congressional committees. But because they did not have documents to prove their charges, nobody believed them. Snowden, he says, did not repeat that mistake. "He recognized right away, it was very clear to me, that if he wanted anybody to believe him, he'd have to take a lot of documentation with him — which is what he did," Binney says.

Note: For more on this, see concise summaries of deeply revealing intelligence agency operations news articles from reliable major media sources.


Racy Photos Were Often Shared at N.S.A., Snowden Says
2014-07-21, New York Times
http://www.nytimes.com/2014/07/21/us/politics/edward-snowden-at-nsa-sexually-...

The former National Security Agency contractor Edward J. Snowden said in a wide-ranging interview ... that the oversight of surveillance programs was so weak that members of the United States military working at the spy agency sometimes shared sexually explicit photos they intercepted. He also said the British government often pioneered the most invasive surveillance programs because its intelligence services operate with fewer restrictions intended to protect individual privacy than its counterparts in the United States and other allies. “In the course of their daily work they stumble across something that is completely unrelated to their work, for example an intimate nude photo of someone in a sexually compromising situation but they’re extremely attractive,” he said. “So what do they do? They turn around in their chair and they show a co-worker. And their co-worker says: ‘Oh, hey, that’s great. Send that to Bill down the way.’ ” Mr. Snowden said that type of sharing ... was “seen as the fringe benefits of surveillance positions.” He said that this was never reported and that the system for auditing surveillance programs was “incredibly weak.” Mr. Snowden had particularly stark criticism for the British government’s surveillance programs, because in Britain the respect for individual privacy, he said, “is not strongly encoded in law or policy.” Because it has fewer restrictions, British intelligence platforms “are used as a testing ground” for programs of all five intelligence partners, a group referred to as “Five Eyes,” which includes Britain, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and the United States.”

Note: For more on this, see concise summaries of deeply revealing privacy news articles from reliable major media sources.


Meet Executive Order 12333: The Reagan rule that lets the NSA spy on Americans
2014-07-18, Washington Post
https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/meet-executive-order-12333-the-reagan...

In March I received a call from the White House counsel’s office regarding a speech I had prepared for my boss at the State Department. The speech was about the impact ... of National Security Agency surveillance practices. The draft stated that “if U.S. citizens disagree with congressional and executive branch determinations about the proper scope of signals intelligence activities, they have the opportunity to change the policy through our democratic process.” But the White House counsel’s office told me that no, that wasn’t true. I was instructed to amend the line. Some intelligence practices remain so secret, even from members of Congress, that there is no opportunity for our democracy to change them. Public debate about the bulk collection of U.S. citizens’ data by the NSA has focused largely on Section 215 of the Patriot Act. Based in part on classified facts that I am prohibited by law from publishing, I believe that Americans should be even more concerned about the collection and storage of their communications under Executive Order 12333 than under Section 215. Unlike Section 215, the executive order authorizes collection of the content of communications, not just metadata, even for U.S. persons. It does not require that the affected U.S. persons be suspected of wrongdoing and places no limits on the volume of communications by U.S. persons that may be collected and retained. None of the reforms that Obama announced earlier this year will affect such collection.

Note: The above was written by John Napier Tye, former section chief for Internet freedom in the State Department’s Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor. A 2014 Washington Post investigation sheds more light on the NSA's legally dubious domestic mass surveillance program. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles about intelligence agency corruption and the disappearance of privacy.


Edward Snowden urges professionals to encrypt client communications
2014-07-17, The Guardian (One of the UK's leading newspapers)
http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/jul/17/edward-snowden-professionals-enc...

The NSA whistleblower, Edward Snowden, has urged lawyers, journalists, doctors, accountants, priests and others with a duty to protect confidentiality to upgrade security in the wake of the spy surveillance revelations. Snowden said professionals were failing in their obligations to their clients, sources, patients and parishioners in what he described as a new and challenging world. "What last year's revelations showed us was irrefutable evidence that unencrypted communications on the internet are no longer safe. Any communications should be encrypted by default," he said. Snowden's plea for the professions to tighten security came during an extensive and revealing interview with the Guardian in Moscow. During the seven hours of interview, Snowden: • Said if he ended up in US detention in Guantánamo Bay he could live with it. • Does not have any regrets. • Said that ... he was independently secure, living on savings, and money from awards and speeches he has delivered online round the world. • Made a startling claim that a culture exists within the NSA in which, during surveillance, nude photographs picked up of people in "sexually compromising" situations are routinely passed around. He works online late into the night; a solitary, digital existence not that dissimilar to his earlier life. He said he was using part of that time to work on the new focus for his technical skills, designing encryption tools to help professionals such as journalists protect sources and data. He is negotiating foundation funding for the project, a contribution to addressing the problem of professions wanting to protect client or patient data, and in this case journalistic sources.

Note: Read the transcript of the Guardian's new interview of Edward Snowden. For more on this, see concise summaries of deeply revealing government surveillance news articles from reliable major media sources.


Hacking Online Polls and Other Ways British Spies Seek to Control the Internet
2014-07-14, The Intercept
https://firstlook.org/theintercept/2014/07/14/manipulating-online-polls-ways-...

The secretive British spy agency GCHQ has developed covert tools to seed the internet with false information, including the ability to manipulate the results of online polls, artificially inflate pageview counts on web sites, “amplif[y]” sanctioned messages on YouTube, and censor video content judged to be “extremist.” The capabilities, detailed in documents provided by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden, even include an old standby for pre-adolescent prank callers everywhere: A way to connect two unsuspecting phone users together in a call. The tools were created by GCHQ’s Joint Threat Research Intelligence Group (JTRIG), and constitute some of the most startling methods of propaganda and internet deception contained within the Snowden archive. Previously disclosed documents have detailed JTRIG’s use of “fake victim blog posts,” “false flag operations,” “honey traps” and psychological manipulation to target online activists, monitor visitors to WikiLeaks, and spy on YouTube and Facebook users. A newly released top-secret GCHQ document called “JTRIG Tools and Techniques” provides a comprehensive, birds-eye view of just how underhanded and invasive this unit’s operations are. The document—available in full here—is designed to notify other GCHQ units of JTRIG’s “weaponised capability” when it comes to the dark internet arts, and serves as a sort of hacker’s buffet for wreaking online havoc.

Note: For more on this, see concise summaries of deeply revealing intelligence agency operations news articles from reliable major media sources.


Scott Volkers: Swimming coach accused of child abuse 'too good to sack'
2014-07-10, Sydney Morning Herald (One of Australia's leading newspapers)
http://www.smh.com.au/nsw/scott-volkers-swimming-coach-accused-of-child-abuse...

When Australia's Susie O'Neill claimed the gold medal at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics, she dedicated her victory to Scott Volkers, the swimming coach who had taken over her training two years earlier. By this time, three women who had been Volkers' students were losing belief in themselves and the swimming community. Julie Gilbert, Kylie Rogers and Simone Boyce took the stand at the royal commission into child abuse in Sydney this week to describe their mental breakdowns, eating disorders, anxiety and isolation from a swimming hierarchy that refused to believe them or failed to explore the possibility that Volkers molested them – as girls aged 12 to 18 – in the 1980s. Volkers remained on the payroll of elite Australian swimming institutions until 2010, when he was finally forced to move to Brazil, where he still works as a leading coach. Was it Australia's win-at-all-costs swimming culture that kept him in the presence of young athletes? An exasperated Andrew Boe, the lawyer representing Gilbert, Rogers and Boyce, pointed out: "This is not an examination of whether he was a good swimming coach or not." Nor is it an examination of the guilt or innocence of Volkers – against whom charges concerning these three alleged victims were dropped in 2002 – or other swimming coaches. It is an inquiry into the institutional responses to abuse. Swimming Australia's association with Volkers [ended] in 2005, when the coach's fourth accuser came forward with claims that Volkers had groped her breasts and attempted to stimulate her vagina in the late 1990s, when she was 15. The allegations were very similar to the earlier cases.

Note: For more on this, see concise summaries of deeply revealing sexual abuse scandals news articles from reliable major media sources.


In NSA-intercepted data, those not targeted far outnumber the foreigners who are
2014-07-05, Washington Post
http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/in-nsa-intercepted-data...

Ordinary Internet users, American and non-American alike, far outnumber legally targeted foreigners in the communications intercepted by the National Security Agency from U.S. digital networks, according to a four-month investigation by The Washington Post. [90% of] account holders found in a large cache of intercepted conversations, which former NSA contractor Edward Snowden provided in full to The Post, were not the intended surveillance targets but were caught in a net the agency had cast for somebody else. Many of them were Americans. [Many] files, described as useless by the analysts but nonetheless retained, have a startlingly intimate, even voyeuristic quality. They tell stories of love and heartbreak, illicit sexual liaisons, mental-health crises, political and religious conversions, financial anxieties and disappointed hopes. The daily lives of more than 10,000 account holders who were not targeted are catalogued and recorded nevertheless. The cache Snowden provided came from domestic NSA operations under the broad authority granted by Congress in 2008 with amendments to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. FISA content is generally stored in closely controlled data repositories, and for more than a year. The files offer an unprecedented vantage point on the changes wrought by Section 702 of the FISA amendments, which enabled the NSA to make freer use of methods that for 30 years had required probable cause and a warrant from a judge.

Note: For more on this, see concise summaries of deeply revealing government surveillance news articles from reliable major media sources.


Court gave NSA broad leeway in surveillance, documents show
2014-06-30, Washington Post
http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/court-gave-nsa-broad-le...

A classified 2010 legal certification and other documents indicate the NSA has been given a far more elastic authority than previously known, one that allows it to intercept through U.S. companies not just the communications of its overseas targets but any communications about its targets as well. The certification — approved by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court and included among a set of documents leaked by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden — lists 193 countries that would be of valid interest for U.S. intelligence. The certification also permitted the agency to gather intelligence about entities including the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund, the European Union and the International Atomic Energy Agency. The documents underscore the remarkable breadth of potential “foreign intelligence” collection. An affidavit in support of the 2010 foreign-government certification said the NSA believes that foreigners who will be targeted for collection “possess, are expected to receive and/or are likely to communicate foreign intelligence information concerning these foreign powers.” That language could allow for surveillance of academics, journalists and human rights researchers. A Swiss academic who has information on the German government’s position in the run-up to an international trade negotiation, for instance, could be targeted if the government has determined there is a foreign-intelligence need for that information. If a U.S. college professor e-mails the Swiss professor’s e-mail address or phone number to a colleague, the American’s e-mail could be collected as well, under the program’s court-approved rules.

Note: For more on this, see concise summaries of deeply revealing intelligence agency news articles from reliable major media sources.


Supreme Court says police must get warrants for most cellphone searches
2014-06-25, Washington Post
http://www.washingtonpost.com/national/supreme-court-police-must-get-warrants...

The Supreme Court unequivocally ruled [on June 25] that privacy rights are not sacrificed to 21st-century technology, saying unanimously that police generally must obtain a warrant before searching the cellphone of someone they arrest. While the specific protection may not affect the average American, the court made a bold statement that the same concern about government prying that animated the nation’s birth applies to the abundance of digital information about an individual in the modern world. Modern cellphones “hold for many Americans the privacies of life,” Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. wrote for a court united behind the opinion’s expansive language. “The fact that technology now allows an individual to carry such information in his hand does not make the information any less worthy of the protection for which the Founders fought.” Roberts said that in most cases when police seize a cellphone from a suspect, the answer is simple: “Get a warrant.” The ruling has no impact on National Security Agency data-collection programs revealed in the past year or law enforcement use of aggregated digital information. But lawyers involved in those issues said the emphatic declarations signaled the justices’ interest in the dangers of government overreach. Stephen Vladeck, a law professor at American University, said the decision is more than simply a warning to government officials employing high-tech forms of government surveillance. “This is a cruise missile across the bow of lawyers defending warrantless search programs,” Vladeck said.

Note: For more on this, see concise summaries of deeply revealing privacy news articles from reliable major media sources.


US Pushing Local Cops to Stay Mum on Surveillance
2014-06-12, ABC News/Associated Press
http://abcnews.go.com/Politics/wireStory/us-pushing-local-cops-stay-mum-surve...

The Obama administration has been quietly advising local police not to disclose details about surveillance technology they are using to sweep up basic cellphone data from entire neighborhoods. Citing security reasons, the U.S. has intervened in routine state public records cases and criminal trials regarding use of the technology. This has resulted in police departments withholding materials or heavily censoring documents in rare instances when they disclose any [information] about the purchase and use of such powerful surveillance equipment. One well-known type of this surveillance equipment is known as a Stingray. The equipment tricks cellphones into identifying some of their owners' account information, like a unique subscriber number, and transmitting data to police as if it were a phone company's tower. That allows police to obtain cellphone information without having to ask for help from service providers ... and can locate a phone without the user even making a call or sending a text message. The Obama administration is asking agencies to withhold common information about the equipment, such as how the technology is used and how to turn it on. "These extreme secrecy efforts are in relation to very controversial, local government surveillance practices using highly invasive technology," said Nathan Freed Wessler, a staff attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union, which has fought for the release of these types of records. "People should have the facts about what the government is doing to them."

Note: For more on this, see concise summaries of deeply revealing government surveillance news articles from reliable major media sources.


Internet Giants Erect Barriers to Spy Agencies
2014-06-07, New York Times
http://www.nytimes.com/2014/06/07/technology/internet-giants-erect-barriers-t...

[Google engineers] are making it far more difficult — and far more expensive — for the National Security Agency and the intelligence arms of other governments around the world to pierce their systems. As fast as it can, Google is sealing up cracks in its systems that Edward J. Snowden revealed the N.S.A. had brilliantly exploited. It is encrypting more data as it moves among its servers and helping customers encode their own emails. Facebook, Microsoft and Yahoo are taking similar steps. After years of cooperating with the government, the immediate goal now is to thwart Washington — as well as Beijing and Moscow. The strategy is also intended to preserve business overseas in places like Brazil and Germany that have threatened to entrust data only to local providers. A year after Mr. Snowden’s revelations, the era of quiet cooperation is over. Telecommunications companies say they are denying requests to volunteer data not covered by existing law. A.T.&T., Verizon and others say that compared with a year ago, they are far more reluctant to cooperate with the United States government in “gray areas” where there is no explicit requirement for a legal warrant. But governments are fighting back, harder than ever. The cellphone giant Vodafone reported ... that a “small number” of governments around the world have demanded the ability to tap directly into its communication networks [and] noted that some countries did not issue warrants to obtain phone, email or web-searching traffic, because “the relevant agencies and authorities already have permanent access to customer communications via their own direct link.”

Note: For more on this, see concise summaries of deeply revealing government surveillance news articles from reliable major media sources.


Vodafone: governments use secret cables to tap phones
2014-06-06, The Telegraph (One of the UK's leading newspapers)
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/technology/internet-security/10880208/Vodafone-gov...

Government agencies are able to listen to phone conversations live and even track the location of citizens without warrants using secret cables connected directly to network equipment, admits Vodafone today. The company said that secret wires have been connected to its network and those belonging to competitors, giving government agencies the ability to tap in to phone and broadband traffic. In many countries this is mandatory for all telecoms companies, it said. Vodafone is today publishing its first Law Enforcement Disclosure Report which will describe exactly how the governments it deals with are eavesdropping on citizens. It is calling for an end to the use of “direct access” eavesdropping and transparency on the number of warrants issued giving access to private data. Gus Hosein, executive director of Privacy International, said: "Vodafone is taking a commendable step by taking this issue on at an international scale. And they are trying to identify the legal basis for governments' claimed powers. Governments around the world are unashamedly abusing privacy by demanding access to communications and data, and alarmingly, sometimes granting themselves direct access to the networks. Now that Vodafone has been more open, the entire industry has cover to take the necessary next step of pushing back. Pushing back against bad requests is a start, pushing back against bad laws is the next step. The usefulness of transparency reports hinges on governments abiding by the rule of law. We now know that these reports only provide a limited picture of what is going on.”

Note: For more on government surveillance of the world's population, see the deeply revealing reports from reliable major media sources available here.


Encouraging Words of Regret From Dean Baquet
2014-06-06, The Intercept
https://firstlook.org/theintercept/2014/06/06/encouraging-words-dean-baquet-w...

NPR’s David Folkenflik has a revealing new look at ... one of the most important journalistic stories of the last decade: The New York Times‘ 2004 decision ... to suppress for 15 months (through Bush’s re-election) its reporters’ discovery that the NSA was illegally eavesdropping on Americans without warrants. This episode was one significant reason Edward Snowden purposely excluded the Times from his massive trove of documents. In an interview with Folkenflik, the paper’s new executive editor, Dean Baquet, describes the paper’s exclusion from the Snowden story as “really painful.” But ... Baquet has his own checkered history in suppressing plainly newsworthy stories at the government’s request, including a particularly inexcusable 2007 decision, when he was the managing editor of The Los Angeles Times, to kill a story based on AT&T whistleblower Mark Klein’s revelations that the NSA had built secret rooms at AT&T to siphon massive amounts of domestic telephone traffic. In his NPR interview, Baquet insists that he has had a serious change of heart on such questions as a result of the last year of NSA revelations: "[Baquet] says the experience has proved that news executives are often unduly deferential to seemingly authoritative warnings unaccompanied by hard evidence." Dean Baquet’s epiphany about the U.S. government and the American media ... is long overdue, but better late than never. Let us hope that it signals an actual change in behavior.

Note: For more on this, see concise summaries of deeply revealing media corruption news articles from reliable major media sources.


N.S.A. Collecting Millions of Faces From Web Images
2014-06-01, New York Times
http://www.nytimes.com/2014/06/01/us/nsa-collecting-millions-of-faces-from-we...

The National Security Agency is harvesting huge numbers of images of people from communications that it intercepts through its global surveillance operations for use in sophisticated facial recognition programs, according to top-secret documents. The spy agency’s reliance on facial recognition technology has grown significantly over the last four years as the agency has turned to new software to exploit the flood of images included in emails, text messages, social media, videoconferences and other communications. Agency officials believe that technological advances could revolutionize the way that the N.S.A. finds intelligence targets around the world. The agency’s ambitions for this highly sensitive ability and the scale of its effort have not previously been disclosed. The agency intercepts “millions of images per day” — including about 55,000 “facial recognition quality images” — which translate into “tremendous untapped potential,” according to 2011 documents obtained from the former agency contractor Edward J. Snowden. It is not clear how many people around the world, and how many Americans, might have been caught up in the effort. Neither federal privacy laws nor the nation’s surveillance laws provide specific protections for facial images. Civil-liberties advocates and other critics are concerned that the power of the improving technology, used by government and industry, could erode privacy. “Facial recognition can be very invasive,” said Alessandro Acquisti, a researcher on facial recognition technology at Carnegie Mellon University.

Note: For another New York Times article showing how the NSA is using mobile phone apps to "snatch data revealing the player’s location, age, sex and other personal information," see this article.


Fine Line Seen in U.S. Spying on Companies
2014-05-21, New York Times
http://www.nytimes.com/2014/05/21/business/us-snooping-on-companies-cited-by-...

The National Security Agency has never said what it was seeking when it invaded the computers of Petrobras, Brazil’s huge national oil company, but angry Brazilians have guesses: the company’s troves of data on Brazil’s offshore oil reserves, or perhaps its plans for allocating licenses for exploration to foreign companies. Nor has the N.S.A. said what it intended when it got deep into the computer systems of China Telecom, one of the largest providers of mobile phone and Internet services in Chinese cities. But documents released by Edward J. Snowden, the former agency contractor now in exile in Russia, leave little doubt that the main goal was to learn about Chinese military units, whose members cannot resist texting on commercial networks. The agency’s interest in Huawei, the giant Chinese maker of Internet switching equipment, and Pacnet, the Hong Kong-based operator of undersea fiber optic cables, is more obvious: Once inside those companies’ proprietary technology, the N.S.A. would have access to millions of daily conversations and emails that never touch American shores. The [US] government does not deny it routinely spies to advance American economic advantage, which is part of its broad definition of how it protects American national security. While the N.S.A. cannot spy on Airbus and give the results to Boeing, it is free to spy on European or Asian trade negotiators and use the results to help American trade officials — and, by extension, ... American industries.

Note: For more on the realities of intelligence agency operations, see the deeply revealing reports from reliable major media sources available here.


Data Pirates of the Caribbean: The NSA Is Recording Every Cell Phone Call in the Bahamas
2014-05-19, The Intercept
https://firstlook.org/theintercept/article/2014/05/19/data-pirates-caribbean-...

The National Security Agency is secretly intercepting, recording, and archiving the audio of virtually every cell phone conversation on the island nation of the Bahamas. According to documents provided by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden, the surveillance is part of a top-secret system – code-named SOMALGET – that was implemented without the knowledge or consent of the Bahamian government. SOMALGET is part of a broader NSA program called MYSTIC, which ... is being used to secretly monitor the telecommunications systems of the Bahamas and several other countries, including Mexico, the Philippines, and Kenya. But while MYSTIC scrapes mobile networks for so-called “metadata” – information that reveals the time, source, and destination of calls – SOMALGET is a cutting-edge tool that enables the NSA to vacuum up and store the actual content of every conversation in an entire country. The program raises profound questions about the nature and extent of American surveillance abroad. The U.S. intelligence community routinely justifies its massive spying efforts by citing the threats to national security posed by global terrorism and unpredictable rival nations like Russia and Iran. But the NSA documents indicate that SOMALGET has been deployed in the Bahamas to locate “international narcotics traffickers and special-interest alien smugglers” – traditional law-enforcement concerns, but a far cry from derailing terror plots or intercepting weapons of mass destruction.

Note: For more on the realities of intelligence agency operations, see the deeply revealing reports from reliable major media sources available here.


Everyone should know just how much the government lied to defend the NSA
2014-05-17, The Guardian (One of the UK's leading newspapers)
http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/may/17/government-lies-nsa-just...

Just before Edward Snowden became a household name, the ACLU argued before the supreme court that the FISA Amendments Act – one of the two main laws used by the NSA to conduct mass surveillance – was unconstitutional. In a sharply divided opinion, the Supreme Court ruled, 5-4, that the case should be dismissed because the plaintiffs didn't have "standing". The court relied on two claims by the Justice Department to support their ruling: 1) that the NSA would only get the content of Americans' communications without a warrant when they are targeting a foreigner abroad for surveillance, and 2) that the Justice Department would notify criminal defendants who have been spied on under the Fisa Amendments Act, so there exists some way to challenge the law in court. It turns out that neither of those statements were true. One of the most explosive Snowden revelations exposed a then-secret technique known as "about" surveillance. As the New York Times first reported, the NSA "is searching the contents of vast amounts of Americans' e-mail and text communications into and out of the country, hunting for people who mention information about foreigners under surveillance." In other words, the NSA doesn't just target a contact overseas – it sweeps up everyone's international communications into a dragnet and searches them for keywords. The Snowden leaks also pushed the Justice Department to admit ... that the government hadn't been notifying any defendants they were being charged based on NSA surveillance.

Note: For more on the realities of intelligence agency operations, see the deeply revealing reports from reliable major media sources available here.


Glenn Greenwald: from Martin Luther King to Anonymous, the state targets dissenters not just "bad guys"
2014-05-13, The Guardian (One of the UK's leading newspapers)
http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/may/13/glenn-greenwald-anonymous-mass-s...

The opportunity those in power have to characterise political opponents as "national security threats" or even "terrorists" has repeatedly proven irresistible. In the past decade, the government ... has formally so designated environmental activists, broad swaths of anti-government rightwing groups, anti-war activists, and associations organised around Palestinian rights. One document from the Snowden files, dated 3 October 2012, chillingly underscores the point. It revealed that the agency has been monitoring the online activities of individuals it believes express "radical" ideas and who have a "radicalising" influence on others. Among the information collected about the individuals, at least one of whom is a "US person", are details of their online sex activities and "online promiscuity." The agency discusses ways to exploit this information to destroy their reputations and credibility. The record is suffused with examples of groups and individuals being placed under government surveillance by virtue of their dissenting views and activism – Martin Luther King, the civil rights movement, anti-war activists, environmentalists. The NSA's treatment of Anonymous ... is especially troubling and extreme. Gabriella Coleman, a specialist on Anonymous at McGill University, said that [Anonymous] "is not a defined" entity but rather "an idea that mobilises activists to take collective action and voice political discontent. It is a broad-based global social movement with no centralised or official organised leadership structure. Some have rallied around the name to engage in digital civil disobedience, but nothing remotely resembling terrorism."

Note: This excerpt is from the new book No Place to Hide by Glenn Greenwald. For more on government surveillance, see the deeply revealing reports from reliable major media sources available here.


United States Of Secrets
2014-05-12, KPBS.org
http://www.kpbs.org/news/2014/may/12/frontline-united-states-secrets/

When NSA contractor Edward Snowden downloaded tens of thousands of top-secret documents from a highly secure government network, it led to the largest leak of classified information in history — and sparked a fierce debate over privacy, technology and democracy in the post-9/11 world. Now, in "United States Of Secrets," FRONTLINE goes behind the headlines to reveal the dramatic inside story of how the U.S. government came to monitor and collect the communications of millions of people around the world—including ordinary Americans—and the lengths they went to trying to hide the massive surveillance program from the public. “This is as close to the complete picture as anyone has yet put together — and it’s bigger and more pervasive than we thought,” says veteran FRONTLINE filmmaker Michael Kirk. In part one ... Kirk [pieces] together the secret history of the unprecedented surveillance program that began in the wake of September 11 and continues today – even after the revelations of its existence by Edward Snowden. Then, in part two, premiering Tuesday, May 20 ..., veteran FRONTLINE filmmaker Martin Smith continues the story, exploring the secret relationship between Silicon Valley and the National Security Agency, and investigating how the government and tech companies have worked together to gather and warehouse your data. “Through in-depth interviews with more than 60 whistleblowers, elected officials, journalists, intelligence insiders and cabinet officials, we have woven together the secret narrative that reveals the scale and scope of the government’s spying program,” says Kirk.

Note: Don't miss this engaging program, available at this link. For more on government surveillance, see the deeply revealing reports from reliable major media sources available here.


Glenn Greenwald: the explosive day we revealed Edward Snowden's identity to the world
2014-05-11, The Guardian (One of the UK's leading newspapers)
http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/may/11/glenn-greenwald-nsa-whistleblowe...

On Sunday 9 June 2013, the Guardian published the story that revealed [Edward] Snowden to the world. The article told Snowden's story, conveyed his motives, and proclaimed that "Snowden will go down in history as one of America's most consequential whistleblowers, alongside Daniel Ellsberg and Bradley [now Chelsea] Manning." We quoted [a note from Snowden that said:] "I understand that I will be made to suffer for my actions … but I will be satisfied if the federation of secret law, unequal pardon and irresistible executive powers that rule the world that I love are revealed even for an instant." The reaction to the article and the video was more intense than anything I had experienced as a writer. Ellsberg himself, writing the following day in the Guardian, proclaimed that "there has not been in American history a more important leak than Edward Snowden's release of NSA material – and that definitely includes the Pentagon Papers 40 years ago". Several hundred thousand people posted the link to their Facebook accounts in the first several days alone. Almost three million people watched the interview on YouTube. Many more saw it on the Guardian's website. The overwhelming response was shock and inspiration at Snowden's courage.

Note: Don't miss the full, exciting story of how Snowden originally came to leak his stunning information at the link above. This excerpt is from the new book No Place to Hide by Glenn Greenwald. For more on government surveillance, see the deeply revealing reports from reliable major media sources available here.


Keith Alexander Unplugged: on Bush/Obama, 1.7 million stolen documents
2014-05-08, The Intercept
https://firstlook.org/theintercept/2014/05/08/keith-alexander-unplugged-busho...

Back in December, 60 Minutes broadcast a now-notorious segment of pure access journalism in which they gullibly disseminated one false NSA claim after the next. The program claimed that Snowden “is believed to still have access to 1.5 million classified documents he has not leaked”. Ever since then, that Snowden “stole” 1.7 or 1.8 million documents from the NSA has been repeated over and over again by US media outlets as verified fact. The Washington Post‘s Walter Pincus, citing an anonymous official source, purported to tell readers that “among the roughly 1.7 million documents he walked away with — the vast majority of which have not been made public — are highly sensitive, specific intelligence reports”. Reuters frequently includes in its reports the unchallenged assertion that “Snowden was believed to have taken 1.7 million computerized documents.” In fact, that number is and always has been a pure fabrication, as even Keith Alexander admits. The claimed number has changed more times than one can count: always magically morphing into randomly chosen higher and scarier numbers. The reality, in the words of the General, is that the US Government ”really [doesn't know] what he actually took with him” and they ”don’t have an accurate way of counting”. All they know is how many documents he accessed in his entire career at NSA, which is a radically different question from how many documents he took. But that hasn’t stopped American media outlets from repeatedly affirming the inflammatory evidence-free claim that Snowden took 1.7 million documents.

Note: For more on the realities of intelligence agency operations, see the deeply revealing reports from reliable major media sources available here.


Snowden: Why hasn’t the Director of National Intelligence been punished for lying to Congress
2014-05-01, Washington Post blog
http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/the-switch/wp/2014/05/01/snowden-why-hasn...

Former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden, and one of the reporters who first broke the news of Snowden's documents, Laura Poitras, received a Ridenhour Truth-Teller prize [on April 30] to a standing ovation at the National Press Club. Snowden leaked classified documents that exposed the NSA's massive global surveillance programs. Snowden ... compared his actions with that of Director of National Intelligence James R. Clapper, who denied that the NSA was "wittingly" collecting data on millions of Americans in a Senate Intelligence Committee hearing last spring -- a claim at odds with revelations about domestic phone records collection as a result of documents provided by Snowden. "The oath that I remember is James Clapper raising his hand, swearing to tell the truth and then lying to the American public," Snowden said. "I also swore an oath, but that oath was not to secrecy, but to defend the American Constitution." While Clapper has accused Snowden of perpetrating the most "massive and damaging theft of intelligence" in U.S. history, Snowden argues his actions were serving a larger public interest that superseded the national intelligence need for secrecy. Later in the speech, he described Clapper as having "committed a crime by lying under oath to the American people," and questioned why charges were never brought against the director. By contrast, Snowden said, charges were brought against him soon after he revealed himself as the source of the leaks.

Note: For more on the construction of a total surveillance state, see the deeply revealing reports from reliable major media sources available here.


British Spy Chiefs Secretly Begged to Play in NSA’s Data Pools
2014-04-30, The Intercept
https://firstlook.org/theintercept/article/2014/04/30/gchq-prism-nsa-fisa-uns...

Britain’s electronic surveillance agency, Government Communications Headquarters [GCHQ], has long presented its collaboration with the National Security Agency’s massive electronic spying efforts as proportionate, carefully monitored, and well within the bounds of privacy laws. But according to a top-secret document in the archive of material provided to The Intercept by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden, GCHQ secretly coveted the NSA’s vast troves of private communications and sought “unsupervised access” to its data as recently as last year. The document, dated April 2013, reveals that GCHQ requested broad new authority to tap into data collected under a law that authorizes a variety of controversial NSA surveillance initiatives, including the PRISM program. PRISM is a system used by the NSA and the FBI to obtain the content of personal emails, chats, photos, videos, and other data processed by nine of the world’s largest internet companies, including Google, Yahoo!, Microsoft, Apple, Facebook, and Skype. The arrangement GCHQ proposed would also have provided the British agency with greater access to millions of international phone calls and emails that the NSA siphons directly from phone networks and the internet. The Snowden files do not indicate whether NSA granted GCHQ’s request, but they do show that the NSA was “supportive” of the idea, and that GCHQ was permitted extensive access to PRISM during the London Olympics in 2012. The request for the broad access was communicated at “leadership” level.

Note: For more on the construction of a total surveillance state, see the deeply revealing reports from reliable major media sources available here.


Biometric Surveillance Means Someone Is Always Watching
2014-04-17, Newsweek
https://www.newsweek.com/2014/04/25/biometric-surveillance-means-someone-alwa...

From 2008 to 2010, as Edward Snowden has revealed, the National Security Agency (NSA) collaborated with the British Government Communications Headquarters to intercept the webcam footage of over 1.8 million Yahoo users. The agencies were analyzing images they downloaded from webcams and scanning them for known terrorists who might be using the service to communicate, matching faces from the footage to suspects with the help of a new technology called face recognition. In attempting to find faces, the Pentagon's Optic Nerve program recorded webcam sex by its unknowing targets–up to 11 percent of the material the program collected was "undesirable nudity" that employees were warned not to access. And that's just the beginning of what face recognition technology might mean for us in the digital era. The U.S. government is in the process of building the world's largest cache of face recognition data, with the goal of identifying every person in the country. The creation of such a database would mean that anyone could be tracked wherever his or her face appears, whether it's on a city street or in a mall. Today's laws don't protect Americans from having their webcams scanned for facial data. "If cameras connected to databases can do face recognition, it will become impossible to be anonymous in society," [attorney Jennifer] Lynch says. That means every person in the U.S. would be passively tracked at all times.

Note: For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on government corruption and the disappearance of privacy from reliable major media sources.


Stories about NSA surveillance, Snowden leaks win Pulitzers for two news groups
2014-04-14, CNN
http://www.cnn.com/2014/04/14/us/pulitzer-prizes-journalism

Two news organizations' stories about National Security Agency surveillance, based upon documents leaked by Edward Snowden, have been awarded the Pulitzer Prize for public service, often described as the highest prize in American journalism. The Washington Post and ... The Guardian each received the prize on [April 14]. The recognition of the NSA reporting was most significant because of the questions raised by Snowden's leaks and the reaction to them. Snowden, who has been living in Russia while seeking asylum from U.S. prosecution, said in a statement that the Pulitzer board's recognition of the coverage was "vindication for everyone who believes that the public has a role in government." "We owe it to the efforts of the brave reporters and their colleagues who kept working in the face of extraordinary intimidation, including the forced destruction of journalistic materials, the inappropriate use of terrorism laws, and so many other means of pressure to get them to stop what the world now recognizes was work of vital public importance." While Snowden provided a trove of documents, reporters including Glenn Greenwald, working for the Guardian; Barton Gellman, working for The Post; and Laura Poitras, who worked with both, pored over the raw information, decided with their editors what parts were ethical to publish, and turned the information into stories that stunned readers around the world.

Note: For more on the historic Snowden revelations, see the deeply revealing reports from reliable major media sources available here.


The “Cuban Twitter” Scam Is a Drop in the Internet Propaganda Bucket
2014-04-04, The Intercept
https://firstlook.org/theintercept/2014/04/04/cuban-twitter-scam-social-media...

This week, the Associated Press exposed a secret program run by the U.S. Agency for International Development to create “a Twitter-like Cuban communications network” run through “secret shell companies” in order to create the false appearance of being a privately owned operation. Unbeknownst to the service’s Cuban users was the fact that “American contractors were gathering their private data in the hope that it might be used for political purposes”–specifically, to manipulate those users in order to foment dissent in Cuba and subvert its government. This sort of operation is frequently discussed at western intelligence agencies, which have plotted ways to covertly use social media for ”propaganda,” “deception,” “mass messaging,” and “pushing stories.” One previously undisclosed top-secret document–prepared by GCHQ for the 2010 annual “SIGDEV” gathering of the “Five Eyes” surveillance alliance comprising the UK, Canada, New Zealand, Australia, and the U.S.–explicitly discusses ways to exploit Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, and other social media as secret platforms for propaganda. Those programs, carried out in secrecy and with little accountability ... threaten the integrity of the internet itself, as state-disseminated propaganda masquerades as free online speech and organizing. There is thus little or no ability for an internet user to know when they are being covertly propagandized by their government, which is precisely what makes it so appealing to intelligence agencies, so powerful, and so dangerous.

Note: For more on the realities of intelligence agency operations, see the deeply revealing reports from reliable major media sources available here.


NSA performed warrantless searches on Americans' calls and emails – Clapper
2014-04-01, The Guardian (One of the UK's leading newspapers)
http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/apr/01/nsa-surveillance-loophole-americ...

US intelligence chiefs have confirmed that the National Security Agency has [performed] warrantless searches on Americans’ communications. The NSA's collection programs are ostensibly targeted at foreigners, but in August the Guardian revealed a secret rule change allowing NSA analysts to search for Americans' details within the databases. Now, in a letter to Senator Ron Wyden, an Oregon Democrat on the intelligence committee, the director of national intelligence, James Clapper, has confirmed the use of this legal authority to search for data related to “US persons”. The legal authority to perform the searches, revealed in top-secret NSA documents provided ... by Edward Snowden, was denounced by Wyden as a “backdoor search loophole.” Many of the NSA's most controversial programs collect information under the law affected by the so-called loophole. These include Prism, which allows the agency to collect data from Google, Apple, Facebook, Yahoo and other tech companies, and the agency's Upstream program – a huge network of internet cable taps. Confirmation that the NSA has searched for Americans’ communications in its phone call and email databases complicates President Barack Obama’s initial defenses of the broad surveillance in June. Wyden and Udall [said] “Today’s admission by the Director of National Intelligence is further proof that meaningful surveillance reform must include closing the back-door searches loophole and requiring the intelligence community to show probable cause before deliberately searching through ... the communications of individual Americans."

Note: For more on the realities of intelligence agency operations, see the deeply revealing reports from reliable major media sources available here.


NSA surveillance program reaches ‘into the past’ to retrieve, replay phone calls
2014-03-18, Washington Post
http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/nsa-surveillance-progra...

The National Security Agency has built a surveillance system capable of recording “100 percent” of a foreign country’s telephone calls, enabling the agency to rewind and review conversations as long as a month after they take place, according to people with direct knowledge of the effort and documents supplied by former contractor Edward Snowden. A senior manager for the program compares it to a time machine — one that can replay the voices from any call without requiring that a person be identified in advance for surveillance. The voice interception program, called MYSTIC, began in 2009. Its RETRO tool, short for “retrospective retrieval,” and related projects reached full capacity against the first target nation in 2011. Planning documents two years later anticipated similar operations elsewhere. In the initial deployment, collection systems are recording “every single” conversation nationwide, storing billions of them in a 30-day rolling buffer that clears the oldest calls as new ones arrive, according to a classified summary. Analysts listen to only a fraction of 1 percent of the calls, but the absolute numbers are high. Each month, they send millions of voice clippings, or “cuts,” for processing and long-term storage. At the request of U.S. officials, The Washington Post is withholding details that could be used to identify the country where the system is being employed or other countries where its use was envisioned.

Note: Though technically it is illegal for the NSA to snoop on Americans without good cause, all they have to do is to share this technology with another country like the UK, and then ask the UK to do the snooping and send the results back to them, thereby circumventing the law. For more on NSA surveillance, see the deeply revealing reports from reliable major media sources available here.


NSA posed as Facebook to infect computers with malware, report says
2014-03-12, Los Angeles Times
http://www.latimes.com/business/technology/la-fi-tn-nsa-posing-facebook-malwa...

The National Security Agency has reportedly used automated systems to infect user computers with malware since 2010. At times the agency pretended to be Facebook to install its malware. The NSA has been using a program codenamed TURBINE to contaminate computers and networks with malware "implants" capable of spying on users, according to the Intercept, which cited documents provided by whistleblower Edward Snowden. Between 85,000 and 100,000 of these implants have been deployed worldwide thus far. To infect computers with malware, the NSA has relied on various tactics, including posing as Facebook. The federal agency performed what is known as a "man-on-the-side" attack in which it tricked users computers into thinking that they were accessing real Facebook servers. Once the user had been fooled, the NSA hacked into the user's computer and extracted data from their hard drive. Facebook said it had no knowledge of the NSA"s TURBINE program. However, [Facebook] said it is no longer possible for the NSA or hackers to attack users that way, but Facebook warned that other websites and social networks may still be vulnerable to those types of attacks. "This method of network level disruption does not work for traffic carried over HTTPS, which Facebook finished integrating by default last year," Facebook told the National Journal.

Note: For more on NSA surveillance, see the deeply revealing reports from reliable major media sources available here.


Optic Nerve: millions of Yahoo webcam images intercepted by GCHQ
2014-02-27, The Guardian (One of the UK's leading newspapers)
http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/feb/27/gchq-nsa-webcam-images-internet-...

Britain's surveillance agency GCHQ, with aid from the US National Security Agency, intercepted and stored the webcam images of millions of internet users not suspected of wrongdoing, secret documents reveal. GCHQ files dating between 2008 and 2010 explicitly state that a surveillance program codenamed Optic Nerve collected still images of Yahoo webcam chats in bulk and saved them to agency databases, regardless of whether individual users were an intelligence target or not. In one six-month period in 2008 alone, the agency collected webcam imagery – including substantial quantities of sexually explicit communications – from more than 1.8 million Yahoo user accounts globally. Yahoo ... denied any prior knowledge of the program, accusing the agencies of "a whole new level of violation of our users' privacy". Optic Nerve, the documents provided by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden show, began as a prototype in 2008 and was still active in 2012. The system, eerily reminiscent of the telescreens evoked in George Orwell's Nineteen Eighty-Four, was used for experiments in automated facial recognition, to monitor GCHQ's existing targets, and to discover new targets of interest. Such searches could be used to try to find terror suspects or criminals making use of multiple, anonymous user IDs. Rather than collecting webcam chats in their entirety, the program saved one image every five minutes from the users' feeds ... to avoid overloading GCHQ's servers. The documents describe these users as "unselected" – intelligence agency parlance for bulk rather than targeted collection.

Note: For more on government surveillance, see the deeply revealing reports from reliable major media sources available here.


Judge Tosses Muslim Spying Suit Against NYPD, Says Any Damage Was Caused by Reporters Who Exposed It
2014-02-21, The Intercept
https://firstlook.org/theintercept/2014/02/21/judge-tosses-muslim-spying-suit...

A federal judge in Newark has thrown out a lawsuit against the New York Police Department for spying on New Jersey Muslims, saying if anyone was at fault, it was the Associated Press for telling people about it. In his ruling ... U.S. District Court Judge William J. Martini simultaneously demonstrated the willingness of the judiciary to give law enforcement alarming latitude in the name of fighting terror, greenlighted the targeting of Muslims based solely on their religious beliefs, and blamed the media for upsetting people by telling them what their government was doing. The NYPD’s clandestine spying on daily life in Muslim communities in the region — with no probable cause, and nothing to show for it — was exposed in a Pulitzer-Prize winning series of stories by the AP. The stories described infiltration and surveillance of at least 20 mosques, 14 restaurants, 11 retail stores, two grade schools, and two Muslim student associations in New Jersey alone. In a cursory, 10-page ruling issued before even hearing oral arguments, Martini essentially said that what the targets didn’t know didn’t hurt them: "None of the Plaintiffs’ injuries arose until after the Associated Press released unredacted, confidential NYPD documents and articles expressing its own interpretation of those documents. Nowhere in the Complaint do Plaintiffs allege that they suffered harm prior to the unauthorized release of the documents by the Associated Press. This confirms that Plaintiffs’ alleged injuries flow from the Associated Press’s unauthorized disclosure of the documents. The harms are not “fairly traceable” to any act of surveillance."

Note: For more on government corruption, see the deeply revealing reports from reliable major media sources available here.


Indiana Woman Sues US Customs Over Detention
2014-02-20, CBS Cleveland
http://cleveland.cbslocal.com/2014/02/20/indiana-woman-sues-us-customs-over-d...

An Indiana University faculty member has sued two U.S. customs agents for detaining her after the government eavesdropped on emails she exchanged with a Greek friend. The American Civil Liberties Union of Indiana filed a federal lawsuit [on February 19] alleging the customs agents violated Christine Von Der Haar’s constitutional protection against unreasonable searches and seizures. “This case raises troubling issues about the power of the government to detain and question citizens,” said Ken Falk, the ACLU of Indiana legal director who represents Von Der Haar. The lawsuit alleges Von Der Haar, a senior lecturer in the sociology department at Indiana University in Bloomington, was confined in a guarded room at Indianapolis International Airport for more than 20 minutes on June 8, 2012, while she was questioned about her relationship with her friend. The lawsuit alleges the questioning was based on surreptitious monitoring of communications between Von Der Haar and her friend, Dimitris Papatheodoropoulus. The two “communicated frequently through emails. Some of these emails were flirtatious and romantic in nature,” the lawsuit said. Von Der Haar felt she had no choice but to answer questions from the agents, whom she believed to be armed, and did not believe she could leave until they released her, the lawsuit said. “The detention of Dr. Von Der Haar was without cause or justification,” the complaint said, and “caused her anxiety, concern, distress and other damages.” The lawsuit names the two customs agents as defendants and seeks damages.

Note: For more on government abuses of civil liberties, see the deeply revealing reports from reliable major media sources available here.


NSA monitored US law firm and overseas client
2014-02-16, Boston Globe/New York Times
http://www.bostonglobe.com/news/nation/2014/02/16/eavesdropping-ensnared-law-...

The list of those caught up in the global surveillance net cast by the National Security Agency and its overseas partners, from social media users to foreign heads of state, now includes another entry: US lawyers. A top-secret document, obtained by former NSA contractor Edward J. Snowden, shows that a US law firm was monitored while representing a foreign government in trade disputes with the United States. The disclosure offers a rare glimpse of a specific instance of Americans ensnared by the eavesdroppers and is of particular interest because US lawyers with clients overseas have expressed growing concern that their confidential communications could be compromised by such surveillance. The government of Indonesia had retained the law firm for help in trade talks, according to the February 2013 document. The NSA’s Australian counterpart, the Australian Signals Directorate, notified the agency that it was conducting surveillance of the talks, including communications between Indonesian officials and the US law firm, and offered to share information. The NSA is banned from targeting Americans, including businesses, law firms, and other organizations based in the United States, for surveillance without warrants, and intelligence officials have repeatedly said the NSA does not use spy services of its partners in the so-called Five Eyes alliance — Australia, Britain, Canada, and New Zealand — to skirt the law. The Australians told officials at an NSA liaison office in Canberra, that “information covered by attorney-client privilege may be included” in the intelligence gathering. Most attorney-client conversations do not get special protections under US law from NSA eavesdropping.

Note: For more on intense deception perpetrated by the intelligence community, see the deeply revealing reports from reliable major media sources available here.


Snowden Docs Show British Spies Used Sex and 'Dirty Tricks'
2014-02-07, NBC News
http://www.nbcnews.com/news/investigations/snowden-docs-british-spies-used-se...

British spies have developed "dirty tricks" ... that include releasing computer viruses, spying on journalists and diplomats, jamming phones and computers, and using sex to lure targets into "honey traps." Documents taken from the National Security Agency by Edward Snowden ... describe techniques developed by a secret British spy unit called the Joint Threat Research and Intelligence Group (JTRIG). According to the documents ... the agency's goal was to "destroy, deny, degrade [and] disrupt" enemies by "discrediting" them, planting misinformation and shutting down their communications. The propaganda campaigns use deception, mass messaging and "pushing stories" via Twitter, Flickr, Facebook and YouTube. JTRIG also uses "false flag" operations, in which British agents carry out online actions that are designed to look like they were performed by one of Britain's adversaries. Other documents ... show that JTRIG ... used a DDOS attack to shut down Internet chat rooms used by members of the hacktivist group known as Anonymous. A computer virus called Ambassadors Reception was "used in a variety of different areas" and was "very effective." When sent to adversaries ... the virus will "encrypt itself, delete all emails ... and block the computer user from logging on. Spies have long used sexual "honey traps" to snare, blackmail and influence targets. Most often, a male target is led to believe he has an opportunity for a romantic relationship or a sexual liaison with a woman, only to find that the woman is actually an intelligence operative.

Note: You can read the documents released by Snowden at this link and this one. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on intelligence agency corruption from reliable major media sources.


New surveillance technology can track everyone in an area for several hours at a time
2014-02-05, Washington Post
http://www.washingtonpost.com/business/technology/new-surveillance-technology...

From 10,000 feet up, tracking an entire city at one glance: Ohio-based Persistent Surveillance Systems is trying to convince cities across the country that its surveillance technology can help reduce crime. Its new generation of camera technology is far more powerful than the police cameras to which America has grown accustomed. But these newer cameras have sparked some privacy concerns. A new, far more powerful generation is being quietly deployed [from small aircraft] that can track every vehicle and person across an area the size of a small city, for several hours at a time. Although these cameras can’t read license plates or see faces, they provide such a wealth of data that police, businesses and even private individuals can use them to help identify people and track their movements. Already, the cameras have been flown above major public events such as the Ohio political rally where Sen. John McCain named Sarah Palin as his running mate in 2008. They’ve been flown above Baltimore; Philadelphia; Compton, Calif.; and Dayton [OH] in demonstrations for police. They’ve also been used for traffic impact studies, [and] for security at NASCAR races. Defense contractors are developing similar technology for the military, but its potential for civilian use is raising novel civil liberties concerns. In Dayton, where Persistent Surveillance Systems is based, city officials balked last year when police considered paying for 200 hours of flights, in part because of privacy complaints. The Supreme Court generally has given wide latitude to police using aerial surveillance as long as the photography captures images visible to the naked eye.

Note: For more on surveillance by government agencies and corporations, see the deeply revealing reports from reliable major media sources available here.


Snowden Docs Show UK Spies Attacked Anonymous, Hackers
2014-02-04, NBC News
https://www.nbcnews.com/news/investigations/war-anonymous-british-spies-attac...

A secret British spy unit created to mount cyber attacks on Britain’s enemies has waged war on the hacktivists of Anonymous and LulzSec, according to documents taken from the National Security Agency by Edward Snowden and obtained by NBC News. The blunt instrument the spy unit used to target hackers, however, also interrupted the web communications of political dissidents who did not engage in any illegal hacking. It may also have shut down websites with no connection to Anonymous. A division of Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ), the British counterpart of the NSA, shut down communications among Anonymous hacktivists by launching a “denial of service” (DDOS) attack – the same technique hackers use to take down bank, retail and government websites – making the British government the first Western government known to have conducted such an attack. The documents ... show that the unit known as the Joint Threat Research Intelligence Group, or JTRIG, boasted of using the DDOS attack – which it dubbed Rolling Thunder - and other techniques to scare away 80 percent of the users of Anonymous internet chat rooms. Among the methods listed in the document were jamming phones, computers and email accounts and masquerading as an enemy in a "false flag" operation. A British hacktivist known as T-Flow, who was prosecuted for hacking, [said] no evidence of how his identity was discovered ever appeared in court documents.

Note: For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on intelligence agency corruption from reliable major media sources.


Snowden docs reveal British spies snooped on YouTube and Facebook
2014-01-27, NBC News
http://investigations.nbcnews.com/_news/2014/01/27/22469304-snowden-docs-reve...

The British government can tap into the cables carrying the world’s web traffic at will and spy on what people are doing on some of the world’s most popular social media sites ... without the knowledge or consent of the companies. Documents taken from the National Security Agency by Edward Snowden and obtained by NBC News detail how British cyber spies demonstrated a pilot program to their U.S. partners in 2012 in which they were able to monitor YouTube in real time and collect addresses from the billions of videos watched daily, as well as some user information, for analysis. At the time the documents were printed, they were also able to spy on Facebook and Twitter. Called “Psychology A New Kind of SIGDEV" (Signals Development), the presentation includes a section that spells out “Broad real-time monitoring of online activity” of YouTube videos, URLs “liked” on Facebook, and Blogspot/Blogger visits. The monitoring program is called “Squeaky Dolphin.” Experts told NBC News the documents show the British had to have been either physically able to tap the cables carrying the world’s web traffic or able to use a third party to gain physical access to the massive stream of data. Representatives of Facebook and Google, which owns YouTube, said they ... were unaware the collection had occurred. The NSA does analysis of social media similar to that in the GCHQ demonstration. In 2010 ... GCHQ exploited unencrypted data from Twitter to identify specific users around the world and target them with propaganda.

Note: Read an article diving deeper and showing how online reputations are ruthlessly destroyed by powerful groups. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles about questionable intelligence agency practices and the erosion of privacy.


Snowden: NSA conducts industrial espionage too
2014-01-26, CBS News/Reuters
http://www.cbsnews.com/news/snowden-nsa-conducts-industrial-espionage-too/

The U.S. National Security Agency is involved in industrial espionage and will grab any intelligence it can get its hands on regardless of its value to national security, former NSA contractor Edward Snowden told a German TV network. ARD TV quoted Snowden saying the NSA does not limit its espionage to issues of national security and he cited German engineering firm, Siemens as one target. "If there's information at Siemens that's beneficial to U.S. national interests - even if it doesn't have anything to do with national security - then they'll take that information nevertheless," Snowden said. Snowden's claim the NSA is engaged in industrial espionage follows a New York Times report earlier this month that the NSA put software in almost 100,000 computers around the world, allowing it to carry out surveillance on those devices and could provide a digital highway for cyberattacks. The NSA planted most of the software after gaining access to computer networks, but has also used a secret technology that allows it entry even to computers not connected to the Internet, the newspaper said, citing U.S. officials, computer experts and documents leaked by Snowden. Frequent targets of the programme, code-named Quantum, included units of the Chinese military and industrial targets.

Note: For more on the realities of intelligence agency operations, see the deeply revealing reports from reliable major media sources available here.


Watchdog Report Says N.S.A. Program Is Illegal and Should End
2014-01-23, New York Times
http://www.nytimes.com/2014/01/23/us/politics/watchdog-report-says-nsa-progra...

An independent federal privacy watchdog has concluded that the National Security Agency’s program to collect bulk phone call records has provided only “minimal” benefits in counterterrorism efforts, is illegal and should be shut down. The findings are laid out in a 238-page report [that represents] the first major public statement by the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board, which Congress made an independent agency in 2007 and only recently became fully operational. The Obama administration has portrayed the bulk collection program as useful and lawful. But in its report, the board lays out what may be the most detailed critique of the government’s once-secret legal theory behind the program: that a law known as Section 215 of the Patriot Act, which allows the F.B.I. to obtain business records deemed “relevant” to an investigation, can be legitimately interpreted as authorizing the N.S.A. to collect all calling records in the country. The program “lacks a viable legal foundation under Section 215, implicates constitutional concerns under the First and Fourth Amendments, raises serious threats to privacy and civil liberties as a policy matter, and has shown only limited value,” the report said. “As a result, the board recommends that the government end the program.” The report also sheds light on the history of the once-secret bulk collection program. It contains the first official acknowledgment that the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court produced no judicial opinion detailing its legal rationale for the program until last August, even though it had been issuing orders to phone companies for the records and to the N.S.A. for how it could handle them since May 2006.

Note: The PCLOB report is titled "Report on the Telephone Records Program Conducted under Section 215 of the USA PATRIOT Act and on the Operations of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court," and is available here. For more on government attacks to privacy, see the deeply revealing reports from reliable major media sources available here.


NSA collects millions of text messages daily in 'untargeted' global sweep
2014-01-16, The Guardian (One of the UK's leading newspapers)
http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/jan/16/nsa-collects-millions-text-messa...

The National Security Agency has collected almost 200 million text messages a day from across the globe, using them to extract data including location, contact networks and credit card details, according to top-secret documents. The NSA program, codenamed Dishfire, collects “pretty much everything it can”, according to GCHQ documents, rather than merely storing the communications of existing surveillance targets. The NSA has made extensive use of its vast text message database to extract information on people’s travel plans, contact books, financial transactions and more – including of individuals under no suspicion of illegal activity. On average, each day the NSA was able to extract: • More than 5 million missed-call alerts, for use in contact-chaining analysis (working out someone’s social network from who they contact and when) • Details of 1.6 million border crossings a day, from network roaming alerts • More than 110,000 names, from electronic business cards, which also included the ability to extract and save images. • Over 800,000 financial transactions, either through text-to-text payments or linking credit cards to phone users The agency was also able to extract geolocation data from more than 76,000 text messages a day, including from “requests by people for route info” and “setting up meetings”.

Note: For more on government surveillance, see the deeply revealing reports from reliable major media sources available here.


Keep the focus on facts about NSA spying
2014-01-16, San Francisco Chronicle (SF's leading newspaper)
http://www.sfgate.com/opinion/article/Keep-the-focus-on-facts-about-NSA-spyin...

To have a genuinely constructive debate, data must be compiled, evidence must be amassed and verifiable truths must be presented. This truism is particularly significant when it comes to debates about security and liberty. Without facts, we get the counterproductive discourse we are being treated to right now - the one hijacked by National Security Administration defenders throwing temper tantrums, tossing out fear-mongering platitudes and trying to prevent any scrutiny of the agency. Tune into a national news program and you inevitably will hear pundits who have spent the last decade mindlessly cheering on wars and warrantless wiretapping now echoing the talking points emanating from surveillance-state apparatchiks like Reps. Mike Rogers, R-Mich., and Dutch Ruppersberger, D-Md. This week, these two lawmakers, who head the House Intelligence Committee, summarized all the bluster in a press release that should be enshrined for posterity. In an attempt to defend the NSA, the bipartisan duo breathlessly claimed that whistle-blower Edward Snowden ended up "endangering each and every American" by exposing the government's mass surveillance (i.e., metadata) programs. They indicted Snowden's patriotism and said his disclosures of the NSA's unlawful and unconstitutional programs "aligned him with our enemy." But the facts now leaking out of the government's national security apparatus are doing the opposite. They are debunking - rather than confirming - the NSA defenders' platitudes.

Note: For more on government surveillance, see the deeply revealing reports from reliable major media sources available here.


N.S.A. Devises Radio Pathway Into Computers
2014-01-15, New York Times
http://www.nytimes.com/2014/01/15/us/nsa-effort-pries-open-computers-not-conn...

The National Security Agency has implanted software in nearly 100,000 computers around the world that allows the United States to conduct surveillance on those machines and can also create a digital highway for launching cyberattacks. While most of the software is inserted by gaining access to computer networks, the N.S.A. has increasingly made use of a secret technology that enables it to enter and alter data in computers even if they are not connected to the Internet, according to N.S.A. documents, computer experts and American officials. The technology, which the agency has used since at least 2008, relies on a covert channel of radio waves that can be transmitted from tiny circuit boards and USB cards inserted surreptitiously into the computers. In some cases, they are sent to a briefcase-size relay station that intelligence agencies can set up miles away from the target. In most cases, the radio frequency hardware must be physically inserted by a spy, a manufacturer or an unwitting user. Among the most frequent targets of the N.S.A. and its Pentagon partner, United States Cyber Command, have been units of the Chinese Army, which the United States has accused of launching regular digital probes and attacks on American industrial and military targets, usually to steal secrets or intellectual property. But the program, code-named Quantum, has also been successful in inserting software into Russian military networks and systems used by the Mexican police and drug cartels, trade institutions inside the European Union, and sometime partners against terrorism like Saudi Arabia, India and Pakistan.

Note: For more on government surveillance, see the deeply revealing reports from reliable major media sources available here.


Edward Snowden, after months of NSA revelations, says his mission’s accomplished
2013-12-23, Washington Post
http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/edward-snowden-after-mo...

Taken together, the [Edward Snowden] revelations have brought to light a global surveillance system that cast off many of its historical restraints after the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. Secret legal authorities empowered the NSA to sweep in the telephone, Internet and location records of whole populations. Six months after the first revelations ... Snowden agreed to reflect at length on the roots and repercussions of his choice. He was relaxed and animated over two days of nearly unbroken conversation. Snowden offered vignettes from his intelligence career and from his recent life as “an indoor cat” in Russia. But he consistently steered the conversation back to surveillance, democracy and the meaning of the documents he exposed. “For me, in terms of personal satisfaction, the mission’s already accomplished,” he said. “I already won. As soon as the journalists were able to work, everything that I had been trying to do was validated. Because, remember, I didn’t want to change society. I wanted to give society a chance to determine if it should change itself. All I wanted was for the public to be able to have a say in how they are governed,” he said. Snowden ... had come to believe that a dangerous machine of mass surveillance was growing unchecked. Closed-door oversight by Congress and the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court was a “graveyard of judgment,” he said, manipulated by the agency it was supposed to keep in check. The NSA’s business is “information dominance,” the use of other people’s secrets to shape events. At 29, Snowden upended the agency on its own turf.

Note: For more on the realities of intelligence agency activities, see the deeply revealing reports from reliable major media sources available here.


Stealth Surprises in NSA Report Take on Non-NSA Spying
2013-12-20, ABC News
http://abcnews.go.com/Blotter/stealth-surprises-nsa-report-nsa-spying/story?i...

The White House's expert NSA panel may have made headlines ... for telling President Barack Obama to knock off the collection of Americans' meta-data, but surveillance experts said they were surprised that the panel also took to task some controversial non-NSA-related spy tactics as well. One recommendation was to impose much stricter oversight on the FBI's ability to issue National Security Letters (NSLs), which have been used to obtain telephone call records and credit reports in terrorism and espionage cases. Another even more peculiar recommendation by the five national security experts ... was their advice that "governments" shouldn't hack into bank accounts and drain funds. "Governments should not use their offensive cyber capabilities to change the amounts held in financial accounts or otherwise manipulate the financial systems," the unanimous Review Group on Intelligence and Communications Technologies report warned Obama. "That was a strangely specific recommendation for something nobody was talking about," Kel McClanahan, executive director of government transparency group National Security Counselors, told ABC News. Michelle Richardson, the American Civil Liberties Union's legislative council in Washington, also said the findings on "NSLs" and government hacking were unexpected -- but welcomed.

Note: The fact that this expert panel would even mention governments manipulating financial accounts suggests that if it hasn't already happened, some were seriously considering this. For lots more on this strange news, click here. For more on the realities of intelligence agency activities, see the deeply revealing reports from reliable major media sources available here.


GCHQ and NSA targeted charities, Germans, Israeli PM and EU chief
2013-12-20, The Guardian (One of the UK's leading newspapers)
http://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2013/dec/20/gchq-targeted-aid-agencies-ger...

British and American intelligence agencies had a comprehensive list of surveillance targets that included the EU's competition commissioner, German government buildings in Berlin and overseas, and the heads of institutions that provide humanitarian and financial help to Africa, top-secret documents reveal. The papers show GCHQ [and the NSA were] targeting organisations such as the United Nations development programme, the UN's children's charity Unicef and Médecins du Monde, a French organisation that provides doctors and medical volunteers to conflict zones. The head of the Economic Community of West African States (Ecowas) also appears in the documents, along with text messages he sent to colleagues. One GCHQ document, drafted in January 2009, makes clear that the agencies were targeting an email address listed as belonging to another important American ally – the "Israeli prime minister". Ehud Olmert was in office at the time. Three further Israeli targets appeared on GCHQ documents, including another email address understood to have been used to send messages between the then Israeli defence minister, Ehud Barak, and his chief of staff, Yoni Koren. The names and details are the latest revelations to come from documents leaked by the whistleblower Edward Snowden. They provoked a furious reaction. The disclosures reflect the breadth of targets sought by the agencies, which goes far beyond the desire to intercept the communications of potential terrorists and criminals, or diplomats and officials from hostile countries.

Note: Later reports revealed that GHCQ also targeted the global human rights organization Amnesty International. For more on the realities of intelligence agency activities, see the deeply revealing reports from reliable major media sources available here.


Secret contract tied NSA and security industry pioneer
2013-12-20, CNBC/Reuters
http://www.cnbc.com/id/101290438

As a key part of a campaign to embed encryption software that it could crack into widely used computer products, the U.S. National Security Agency arranged a secret $10 million contract with RSA, one of the most influential firms in the computer security industry. Documents leaked by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden show that the NSA created and promulgated a flawed formula for generating random numbers to create a "back door" in encryption products, the New York Times reported in September. Reuters later reported that RSA became the most important distributor of that formula by rolling it into a software tool called Bsafe that is used to enhance security in personal computers and many other products. Undisclosed until now was that RSA received $10 million in a deal that set the NSA formula as the preferred, or default, method for number generation in the BSafe software, according to two sources familiar with the contract. Although that sum might seem paltry, it represented more than a third of the revenue that the relevant division at RSA had taken in during the entire previous year. The RSA deal shows one way the NSA carried out what Snowden's documents describe as a key strategy for enhancing surveillance: the systematic erosion of security tools. NSA documents released in recent months called for using "commercial relationships" to advance that goal, but did not name any security companies as collaborators.

Note: For more on the realities of intelligence agency activities, see the deeply revealing reports from reliable major media sources available here.


NSA’s indiscriminate spying ‘collapsing,’ Snowden says in open letter
2013-12-17, Washington Post/Associated Press
http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/nsas-indiscriminate-spying-collapsing-sno...

National Security Agency leaker Edward Snowden wrote in a lengthy “open letter to the people of Brazil” that he has been inspired by the global debate ignited by his release of thousands of documents and that the NSA’s culture of indiscriminate global espionage “is collapsing.” In the letter, Snowden commended the Brazilian government for its strong stand against U.S. spying. He wrote that he would be willing to help the South American nation investigate NSA spying on its soil but could not fully participate in doing so without being granted political asylum, because the U.S. “government will continue to interfere with my ability to speak.” The documents revealed that Brazil is the top NSA target in Latin America, in spying that has included the monitoring of Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff’s cellphone and hacking into the internal network of the state-run oil company Petrobras. In his letter, Snowden dismissed U.S. explanations to the Brazilian government and others that the bulk metadata gathered on billions of e-mails and calls was more “data collection” than surveillance. “There is a huge difference between legal programs, legitimate spying ... and these programs of dragnet mass surveillance that put entire populations under an all-seeing eye and save copies forever,” he wrote. “These programs were never about terrorism: they’re about economic spying, social control, and diplomatic manipulation. They’re about power.” Brazilian senators have asked for Snowden’s help during hearings about the NSA’s targeting of Brazil, an important transit hub for transatlantic fiber-optic cables that are hacked.

Note: To read Snowden's full, inspiring letter, click here.


United States of Secrets: William Binney
2013-12-13, PBS
https://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/government-elections-politics/united...

A 36-year NSA veteran, William Binney resigned from the agency and became a whistleblower after discovering that elements of a data-monitoring program he had helped develop - nicknamed ThinThread - were being used to spy on Americans. So 2005, December, The New York Times article comes out. ... How important was it? "It touched on that real issues," [said Binney]. "The warrantless wiretapping was not really a major component of it, but it touched on the data mining, which is really, really the big issue, data mining of the metadata and content. That was really the big issue, because that's how you can monitor the entire population simultaneously, whereas the warrantless wiretaps were isolated cases. You could pick an isolated number of them and do them, whereas in the mining process, you would do the entire population." The administration [used] this article to start an aggressive whistleblowing hunt. "[On July 22, 2005] the FBI was in my house ... pointing a gun at me when I was coming out of the shower. The raid took about seven hours. At the time we didn't know that Tom Drake had gone to The Baltimore Sun," [said Binney]. "Material [Tom Drake was indicted for] was clearly marked unclassified, and all they did was draw a line through it and classified that material, and then they charged him with having classified material. It's like framing him. The judge in the court ... knew they were framing him," [said Biney].

Note: For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on intelligence agency corruption and the disappearance of privacy.


NSA review to leave spying programs largely unchanged, reports say
2013-12-13, The Guardian (One of the UK's leading newspapers)
http://www.theguardian.com/world/2013/dec/13/nsa-review-to-leave-spying-progr...

A participant in a White House-sponsored review of surveillance activities described as “shameful” an apparent decision to leave most of the National Security Agency’s controversial bulk spying intact. Sascha Meinrath, director of the Open Technology Institute, said [on December 13] that ... “The review group was searching for ways to make the most modest pivot necessary to continue business as usual.” Should the review group’s report resemble descriptions that leaked ... the report “does nothing to alter the lack of trust the global populace has for what the US is doing, and nothing to restore our reputation as an ethical internet steward,” said Meinrath, who met with the advisory panel and White House officials twice to discuss the bulk surveillance programs that have sparked international outrage. Leaks about the review group’s expected recommendations to the New York Times and Wall Street Journal strengthened Meinrath and other participants’ long-standing suspicions that much of the NSA’s sweeping spy powers would survive. The Times quoted an anonymous official familiar with the group saying its report “says we can’t dismantle these programs, but we need to change the way almost all of them operate”. According to the leaks, the review group will recommend that bulk collection of every American’s phone call data continue, possibly by the phone companies instead of the NSA, with tighter restrictions than the “reasonable, articulable suspicion” standard for searching through them that the NSA currently employs.

Note: For more on massive government intrusions of citizens' privacy, see the deeply revealing reports from reliable major media sources available here.


Former whistleblowers: open letter to intelligence employees after Snowden
2013-12-11, The Guardian (One of the UK's leading newspapers)
http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2013/dec/11/whistleblowers-open-lett...

At least since the aftermath of September 2001, western governments and intelligence agencies have been hard at work expanding the scope of their own power, while eroding privacy, civil liberties and public control of policy. What used to be viewed as paranoid, Orwellian, tin-foil hat fantasies [turn] out post-Snowden, to be not even the whole story. We've been warned for years that these things were going on: wholesale surveillance of entire populations, militarization of the internet, the end of privacy. Secret laws, secret interpretations of secret laws by secret courts and no effective parliamentary oversight whatsoever. By and large the media have paid scant attention to this, even as more and more courageous, principled whistleblowers stepped forward. The unprecedented persecution of truth-tellers, initiated by the Bush administration and severely accelerated by the Obama administration, has been mostly ignored, while record numbers of well-meaning people are charged with serious felonies simply for letting their fellow citizens know what's going on. Numerous ex-NSA officials have come forward in the past decade, disclosing massive fraud, vast illegalities and abuse of power in [that] agency, including Thomas Drake, William Binney and Kirk Wiebe. The response was 100% persecution and 0% accountability by both the NSA and the rest of government. Since the summer of 2013, the public has witnessed a shift in debate over these matters. The reason is that one courageous person: Edward Snowden.

Note: For more on government corruption, see the deeply revealing reports from reliable major media sources available here.


Law enforcement using methods from NSA playbook
2013-12-08, USA Today
http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2013/12/08/cellphone-data-spying-ns...

The National Security Agency isn't the only government entity secretly collecting data from people's cellphones. Local police are increasingly scooping it up, too. Armed with new technologies, including mobile devices that tap into cellphone data in real time, dozens of local and state police agencies are capturing information about thousands of cellphone users at a time, whether they are targets of an investigation or not. The records, from more than 125 police agencies in 33 states, reveal [that] about one in four law-enforcement agencies have used a tactic known as a "tower dump," which gives police data about the identity, activity and location of any phone that connects to the targeted cellphone towers over a set span of time, usually an hour or two. A typical dump covers multiple towers, and wireless providers, and can net information from thousands of phones. At least 25 police departments own a Stingray, a suitcase-size device that costs as much as $400,000 and acts as a fake cell tower. The system, typically installed in a vehicle so it can be moved into any neighborhood, tricks all nearby phones into connecting to it and feeding data to police. In some states, the devices are available to any local police department via state surveillance units. Organizations such as the American Civil Liberties Union and Electronic Privacy Information Center say the swelling ability by even small-town police departments to easily and quickly obtain large amounts of cellphone data raises questions about the erosion of people's privacy as well as their Fourth Amendment protections against unreasonable search and seizure.

Note: For more on massive government intrusions of citizens' privacy, see the deeply revealing reports from reliable major media sources available here.


Canada allowed widespread NSA surveillance at 2010 G20 summit
2013-11-28, NBC News/Reuters
http://www.nbcnews.com/id/53688035#.UpkAXo2f8h0

Canada allowed the U.S. National Security Agency (NSA) to conduct widespread surveillance during the 2010 Group of 20 summit in Toronto, according to a media report that cited documents from former NSA contractor Edward Snowden. The report by the Canadian Broadcasting Corp ... cited briefing notes it said showed the United States turned its Ottawa embassy into a security command post during a six-day spying operation by the top-secret U.S. agency as President Barack Obama and other world leaders met that June. One of the bylines on the CBC report was Glenn Greenwald, the U.S. journalist who has worked with Snowden on several other NSA stories. CBC ... quoted an NSA briefing note describing the operation as "closely coordinated with the Canadian partner". The Canadian equivalent of the NSA is the Communications Security Establishment Canada, or CSEC. CBC said the documents did not reveal the targets of the NSA operation, but described part of the U.S. eavesdropping agency's mandate at the Toronto summit as "providing support to policymakers". CSEC, which has a very low public profile, employs about 2,000 people. It is part of the so-called Five Eyes intelligence-sharing network that also includes the United States, Britain, New Zealand and Australia. Last month, Brazil angrily demanded an explanation for media reports which said CSEC agents had targeted its mines and energy industry.

Note: For more on the realities of intelligence agency activities, see the deeply revealing reports from reliable major media sources available here.


Corporate Espionage Undermines Democracy
2013-11-26, MSN/Reuters
http://money.msn.com/business-news/article.aspx?feed=OBR&Date=20131127&ID=171...

It’s not just the NSA that has been caught spying on Americans. Some of our nation’s largest corporations have been conducting espionage as well, against civic groups. That’s the lesson of a new report on corporate espionage against nonprofit organizations by ... Essential Information. The title of the report is Spooky Business, and it is apt. Spooky Business is like a Canterbury Tales of corporate snoopery: Hiring investigators to pose as volunteers and journalists. Hacking. Wiretapping. Information warfare. Physical intrusion. Investigating the private lives of nonprofit leaders. Dumpster diving using an active duty police officer to gain access to trash receptacles. Electronic surveillance. Many different types of nonprofit civic organizations have been targeted by corporate spies: environmental, public interest, consumer, food safety, animal rights, pesticide reform, nursing home reform, gun control and social justice. A diverse constellation of corporations has planned or executed corporate espionage against these nonprofit civic organizations. Food companies like Kraft, Coca-Cola, Burger King, McDonald’s and Monsanto. Oil companies like Shell, BP and Chevron. Chemical companies like Dow and Sasol. Also involved are the retailers (Wal-Mart), banks (Bank of America), and, of course, the nation’s most powerful trade association: the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. Plenty of mercenary spooks have joined up to abet them, including former officials at the FBI, CIA, NSA, Secret Service and U.S. military. Sometimes even government contractors are part of the snooping.

Note: For more on corporate corruption, see the deeply revealing reports from reliable major media sources available here.


Intel officials believe Snowden has 'doomsday' cache
2013-11-26, MSN/Reuters
http://news.msn.com/us/intel-officials-believe-snowden-has-doomsday-cache

British and U.S. intelligence officials say they are worried about a "doomsday" cache of highly classified, heavily encrypted material they believe former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden has stored on a data cloud. The cache contains documents generated by the NSA and other agencies and includes names of U.S. and allied intelligence personnel, seven current and former U.S. officials and other sources briefed on the matter said. One source described the cache of still unpublished material as Snowden's "insurance policy" against arrest or physical harm. U.S. officials and other sources said only a small proportion of the classified material Snowden downloaded during stints as a contract systems administrator for NSA has been made public. Some Obama Administration officials have said privately that Snowden downloaded enough material to fuel two more years of news stories. "The worst is yet to come," said one former U.S. official who follows the investigation closely. Snowden ... is believed to have downloaded between 50,000 and 200,000 classified NSA and British government documents. [It is] estimated that the total number of Snowden documents made public so far is over 500. Glenn Greenwald, who met with Snowden in Hong Kong and was among the first to report on the leaked documents for the Guardian newspaper, said the former NSA contractor had "taken extreme precautions to make sure many different people around the world have these archives to insure the stories will inevitably be published."

Note: For more on the realities of intelligence agency operations, see the deeply revealing reports from reliable major media sources available here.


Edward Snowden a 'hero' for NSA disclosures, Wikipedia founder says
2013-11-25, The Guardian (One of the UK's leading newspapers)
http://www.theguardian.com/world/2013/nov/25/edward-snowden-nsa-wikipedia-fou...

Jimmy Wales, the founder of Wikipedia, has called on Barack Obama to rein in the National Security Agency as he described the whistleblower Edward Snowden as "a hero" whom history will judge "very favourably". Wales called for a "major re-evaluation" of the NSA, adding that the public "would have never approved this sweeping surveillance program" had it been put to a vote. The revelations, Wales said, had been "incredibly damaging and embarrassing to the US. It makes it very difficult for someone like me to go out, as I do, [to] speak to people in authoritarian countries, and say: 'You shouldn’t be spying on activists, you shouldn’t be censoring the internet', when we [in the US] are complicit in these acts of extraordinary intrusion into people’s personal lives. [Snowden] has exposed what I believe to be criminal wrongdoing, lying to Congress, and certainly [an] affront to the Fourth Amendment. I think that history will judge him very favourably. There is a growing sense of concern in Congress about this, a growing sense in Congress that public is angry about this, that they have been misled and I think we are going to see legislation to change this."

Note: For more on the realities of intelligence agency activities, see the deeply revealing reports from reliable major media sources available here.


US and UK struck secret deal to allow NSA to 'unmask' Britons' personal data
2013-11-20, The Guardian (One of the UK's leading newspapers)
http://www.theguardian.com/world/2013/nov/20/us-uk-secret-deal-surveillance-p...

The phone, internet and email records of UK citizens not suspected of any wrongdoing have been analysed and stored by America's National Security Agency under a secret deal that was approved by British intelligence officials, according to documents from the whistleblower Edward Snowden. In the first explicit confirmation that UK citizens have been caught up in US mass surveillance programs, an NSA memo describes how in 2007 an agreement was reached that allowed the agency to "unmask" and hold on to personal data about Britons that had previously been off limits. The memo ... says the material is being put in databases where it can be made available to other members of the US intelligence and military community. Until now, it had been generally understood that the citizens of each country were protected from surveillance by any of the others. But the Snowden material reveals that: • In 2007, the rules were changed to allow the NSA to analyse and retain any British citizens' mobile phone and fax numbers, emails and IP addresses swept up by its dragnet. • These communications were "incidentally collected" by the NSA, meaning the individuals were not the initial targets of surveillance operations and therefore were not suspected of wrongdoing. • The NSA has been using the UK data to conduct so-called "pattern of life" or "contact-chaining" analyses, under which the agency can look up to three "hops" away from a target of interest – examining the communications of a friend of a friend of a friend. Three hops for a typical Facebook user could pull the data of more than 5 million people into the dragnet.

Note: For more on government threats to privacy, see the deeply revealing reports from reliable major media sources available here.


FISA court order that allowed NSA surveillance is revealed for first time
2013-11-19, The Guardian (One of the UK's leading newspapers)
http://www.theguardian.com/world/2013/nov/19/court-order-that-allowed-nsa-sur...

A secret court order that authorised a massive trawl by the National Security Agency of Americans' email and internet data was published for the first time on [November 18], among a trove of documents that also revealed a judge's concern that the NSA "continuously" and "systematically" violated the limits placed on the program. Another later court order found that what it called "systemic overcollection" had taken place. In a heavily redacted opinion Colleen Kollar-Kotelly, the former presiding judge of the FISA court, placed legal weight on the methods of surveillance employed by the NSA, which had never before collected the internet data of “an enormous volume of communications”. The methods, known as pen registers and trap-and-trace devices, record the incoming and outgoing routing information of communications. Kollar-Kotelly ruled that acquiring the metadata, and not the content, of email and internet usage in bulk was harmonious with the “purpose” of Congress and prior court rulings – even though no surveillance statute ever authorized it and top officials at the Justice Department and the FBI threatened to resign in 2004 over what they considered its dubious legality. The type of data collected under the program included information on the "to", "from" and "bcc" lines of an email rather than the content. Metadata, wrote Kollar-Kotelly, enjoyed no protection under the fourth amendment to the US constitution, a precedent established by the Supreme Court in 1979 in a single case on which the NSA relies currently.

Note: For more on government corruption, see the deeply revealing reports from reliable major media sources available here.


No Morsel Too Minuscule for All-Consuming N.S.A.
2013-11-03, New York Times
http://www.nytimes.com/2013/11/03/world/no-morsel-too-minuscule-for-all-consu...

When Ban Ki-moon, the United Nations secretary general, sat down with President Obama at the White House in April to discuss Syrian chemical weapons, Israeli-Palestinian peace talks and climate change, it was a cordial, routine exchange. The National Security Agency nonetheless went to work in advance and intercepted Mr. Ban’s talking points for the meeting, a feat the agency later reported as an “operational highlight” in a weekly internal brag sheet. It was emblematic of an agency that for decades has operated on the principle that any eavesdropping that can be done on a foreign target of any conceivable interest — now or in the future — should be done. After all, American intelligence officials reasoned, who’s going to find out? From thousands of classified documents, the National Security Agency emerges as an electronic omnivore of staggering capabilities, eavesdropping and hacking its way around the world to strip governments and other targets of their secrets, all the while enforcing the utmost secrecy about its own operations. It spies routinely on friends as well as foes, as has become obvious in recent weeks; the agency’s official mission list includes using its surveillance powers to achieve “diplomatic advantage” over such allies as France and Germany and “economic advantage” over Japan and Brazil, among other countries. The scale of eavesdropping by the N.S.A., with 35,000 workers and $10.8 billion a year, sets it apart.

Note: For more on the realities of intelligence agency operations, see the deeply revealing reports from reliable major media sources available here.


GCHQ and European spy agencies worked together on mass surveillance
2013-11-01, The Guardian (One of the UK's leading newspapers)
http://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2013/nov/01/gchq-europe-spy-agencies-mass-...

The German, French, Spanish and Swedish intelligence services have all developed methods of mass surveillance of internet and phone traffic over the past five years in close partnership with Britain's GCHQ eavesdropping agency. The bulk monitoring is carried out through direct taps into fibre optic cables and the development of covert relationships with telecommunications companies. A loose but growing eavesdropping alliance has allowed intelligence agencies from one country to cultivate ties with corporations from another to facilitate the trawling of the web, according to GCHQ documents leaked by the former US intelligence contractor Edward Snowden. The files also make clear that GCHQ played a leading role in advising its European counterparts how to work around national laws intended to restrict the surveillance power of intelligence agencies. US intelligence officials have insisted the mass monitoring was carried out by the security agencies in the countries involved and shared with the US. The Guardian revealed the existence of GCHQ's Tempora programme, in which the electronic intelligence agency tapped directly into the transatlantic fibre optic cables to carry out bulk surveillance. GCHQ officials expressed admiration for the technical capabilities of German intelligence to do the same thing, [saying] the Federal Intelligence Service (BND) had "huge technological potential and good access to the heart of the internet – they are already seeing some bearers running at 40Gbps and 100Gbps". Bearers is the GCHQ term for the fibre optic cables, and gigabits per second (Gbps) measures the speed at which data runs through them.

Note: For more on the realities of intelligence agency operations, see the deeply revealing reports from reliable major media sources available here.


Spain colluded in NSA spying on its citizens, Spanish newspaper reports
2013-10-30, The Guardian (One of the UK's leading newspapers)
http://www.theguardian.com/world/2013/oct/30/spain-colluded-nsa-spying-citize...

The widespread surveillance of Spanish citizens by the US National Security Agency, which caused outrage when it was reported this week, was the product of a collaboration with Spain's intelligence services, according to one Spanish newspaper. Spanish agents not only knew about the work of the NSA but also facilitated it, El Mundo reports. An NSA document entitled "Sharing computer network operations cryptologic information with foreign partners" reportedly shows how the US relies on the collaboration of many countries to give it access to intelligence information, including electronic metadata. According to the document seen by El Mundo, the US classifies cooperation with various countries on four different levels. In the first group – "Comprehensive Cooperation" – are the UK, Australia, Canada and New Zealand. The second group – "Focused Cooperation" – of which Spain is a member, includes 19 countries, all of them European, apart from Japan and South Korea. The third group – "Limited cooperation" – consists of countries such as France, Israel, India and Pakistan; while the fourth – "Exceptional Cooperation" – is made up of countries that the US considers to be hostile to its interests. The NSA documents [suggest] the Spanish intelligence services were working hand in hand with the NSA, as were other foreign agencies. But if there was any doubt as to who held the upper hand, the NSA documents make clear that any collaboration was always to serve the needs of protecting American interests.

Note: For more on the realities of intelligence agency activities, see the deeply revealing reports from reliable major media sources available here.


NSA monitored calls of 35 world leaders after US official handed over contacts
2013-10-24, The Guardian (One of the UK's leading newspapers)
http://www.theguardian.com/world/2013/oct/24/nsa-surveillance-world-leaders-c...

The National Security Agency monitored the phone conversations of 35 world leaders after being given the numbers by an official in another US government department, according to a classified document provided by whistleblower Edward Snowden. The confidential memo reveals that the NSA encourages senior officials in its "customer" departments, such as the White House, State and the Pentagon, to share their "Rolodexes" so the agency can add the phone numbers of leading foreign politicians to their surveillance systems. The document notes that one unnamed US official handed over 200 numbers, including those of the 35 world leaders, none of whom is named. These were immediately "tasked" for monitoring by the NSA. The revelation is set to add to mounting diplomatic tensions between the US and its allies, after the German chancellor Angela Merkel ... accused the US of tapping her mobile phone. The NSA memo obtained by the Guardian suggests that such surveillance was not isolated, as the agency routinely monitors the phone numbers of world leaders – and even asks for the assistance of other US officials to do so. The memo, dated October 2006 and which was issued to staff in the agency's Signals Intelligence Directorate (SID), was titled "Customers Can Help SID Obtain Targetable Phone Numbers". In the wake of the Merkel row, the US is facing growing international criticism that any intelligence benefit from spying on friendly governments is far outweighed by the potential diplomatic damage.

Note: For more on the hidden realities of intelligence agency operations, see the deeply revealing reports from reliable major media sources available here.


Security Check Now Starts Long Before You Fly
2013-10-22, New York Times
http://www.nytimes.com/2013/10/22/business/security-check-now-starts-long-bef...

The Transportation Security Administration is expanding its screening of passengers before they arrive at the airport by searching a wide array of government and private databases that can include records like car registrations and employment information. It is unclear precisely what information the agency is relying upon to make these risk assessments, given the extensive range of records it can access, including tax identification number, past travel itineraries, property records, physical characteristics, and law enforcement or intelligence information. The measures go beyond the background check the government has conducted for years, called Secure Flight, in which a passenger’s name, gender and date of birth are compared with terrorist watch lists. Now, the search includes using a traveler’s passport number, which is already used to screen people at the border, and other identifiers to access a system of databases maintained by the Department of Homeland Security. “I think the best way to look at it is as a pre-crime assessment every time you fly,” said Edward Hasbrouck, a consultant to the Identity Project, one of the groups that oppose the prescreening initiatives. “The default will be the highest, most intrusive level of search, and anything less will be conditioned on providing some additional information in some fashion.” Critics argue that the problem with what the agency calls an “intelligence-driven, risk-based analysis” of passenger data is that secret computer rules, not humans, make these determinations. Civil liberties groups have questioned whether the agency has the legal authority to make these assessments.

Note: For more on the realities of intelligence agency operations, see the deeply revealing reports from reliable major media sources available here.


Edward Snowden is no traitor
2013-10-21, Washington Post
http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/richard-cohen-edward-snowden-is-no-tra...

What are we to make of Edward Snowden? I know what I once made of him. He was no real whistleblower, I wrote, but “ridiculously cinematic” and “narcissistic” as well. As time has proved, my judgments were just plain wrong. Whatever Snowden is, he is curiously modest and has bent over backward to ensure that the information he has divulged has done as little damage as possible. As a “traitor,” he lacks the requisite intent and menace. But traitor is what Snowden has been roundly called. Harry Reid: “I think Snowden is a traitor.” John Boehner: “He’s a traitor.” Rep. Peter King: “This guy is a traitor; he’s a defector.” And Dick Cheney not only denounced Snowden as a “traitor” but also suggested that he might have shared information with the Chinese. This innuendo, as with Saddam Hussein’s weapons of mass destruction, is more proof of Cheney’s unerring determination to be cosmically wrong. The early denunciations of Snowden now seem both over the top and beside the point. If he is a traitor, then which side did he betray and to whom does he now owe allegiance? Snowden seems to have sold out to no one. In fact, a knowledgeable source says that Snowden has not even sold his life story and has rebuffed offers of cash for interviews. Maybe his most un-American act is passing up a chance at easy money. Someone ought to look into this. Snowden’s residency in Russia has been forced upon him — he had nowhere else to go. Snowden insists that neither the Russians nor, before them, the Chinese have gotten their grubby hands on his top-secret material.

Note: For more on the hidden realities of intelligence agency operations, see the deeply revealing reports from reliable major media sources available here.


Snowden Says He Took No Secret Files to Russia
2013-10-17, New York Times
http://www.nytimes.com/2013/10/18/world/snowden-says-he-took-no-secret-files-...

Edward J. Snowden, the former National Security Agency contractor, said in an extensive interview this month that he did not take any secret N.S.A. documents with him to Russia when he fled there in June, assuring that Russian intelligence officials could not get access to them. He also asserted that he was able to protect the documents from China’s spies because he was familiar with that nation’s intelligence abilities, saying that as an N.S.A. contractor he had targeted Chinese operations and had taught a course on Chinese cybercounterintelligence. “There’s a zero percent chance the Russians or Chinese have received any documents,” he said. Mr. Snowden added that inside the spy agency “there’s a lot of dissent.” But he said that people were kept in line through “fear and a false image of patriotism,” which he described as “obedience to authority.” He said he believed that if he tried to question the N.S.A.’s surveillance operations as an insider, his efforts “would have been buried forever,” and he would “have been discredited and ruined.” Mr. Snowden said he finally decided to act when he discovered a copy of a classified 2009 inspector general’s report on the N.S.A.’s warrantless wiretapping program during the Bush administration. After reading about the program, which skirted the existing surveillance laws, he concluded that it had been illegal, he said. “If the highest officials in government can break the law without fearing punishment or even any repercussions at all,” he said, “secret powers become tremendously dangerous.”

Note: For more on the hidden realities of intelligence agency operations, see the deeply revealing reports from reliable major media sources available here.


Privacy Fears Grow as Cities Increase Surveillance
2013-10-14, New York Times
http://www.nytimes.com/2013/10/14/technology/privacy-fears-as-surveillance-gr...

Federal grants of $7 million, initially intended to help thwart terror attacks at the port in Oakland, Calif., are instead going to a police initiative that will collect and analyze reams of surveillance data. The new system ... is the latest example of how cities are compiling and processing large amounts of information, known as big data, for routine law enforcement. And the system underscores how technology has enabled the tracking of people in many aspects of life. Like the Oakland effort, other pushes to use new surveillance tools in law enforcement are supported with federal dollars. The New York Police Department, aided by federal financing, has a big data system that links 3,000 surveillance cameras with license plate readers, radiation sensors, criminal databases and terror suspect lists. Police in Massachusetts have used federal money to buy automated license plate scanners. And police in Texas have bought a drone with homeland security money. [Critics] of the Oakland initiative, formally known as the Domain Awareness Center, [say] the program, which will create a central repository of surveillance information, will also gather data about the everyday movements and habits of law-abiding residents. Oakland has a contract with the Science Applications International Corporation, or SAIC, to build its system. That company has earned the bulk of its $12 billion in annual revenue from military contracts.

Note: For more on government privacy invasions, see the deeply revealing reports from reliable major media sources available here.


The Snowden files: why the British public should be worried about GCHQ
2013-10-03, The Guardian (One of the UK's leading newspapers)
http://www.theguardian.com/world/2013/oct/03/edward-snowden-files-john-lanche...

The problem and the risk [with surveillance by GCHQ] comes in the area of mass capture of data, or strategic surveillance. This is the kind of intelligence gathering that sucks in data from everyone, everywhere: from phones, internet use from email to website visits, social networking, instant messaging and video calls, and even areas such as video gaming; in short, everything digital. In the US, the Prism programme may have given the NSA access to the servers of companies such as Google and Facebook; in the UK, GCHQ has gained a similar degree of access via its Tempora programme, and the two of them together have a cable- and network-tapping capabilities collectively called Upstream, which have the ability to intercept anything that travels over the internet. This data is fed into a database called XKeyscore, which allows analysts to extract information "in real time", ie immediately. What this adds up to is a new thing in human history: with a couple of clicks of a mouse, an agent of the state can target your home phone, or your mobile, or your email, or your passport number, or any of your credit card numbers, or your address, or any of your log-ins to a web service. Using that "selector", the state can get access to all the content of your communications, via any of those channels; can gather information about anyone you communicate with, can get a full picture of all your internet use, can track your location online and offline. It can, in essence, know everything about you, including – thanks to the ability to look at your internet searches – what's on your mind.

Note: For an excellent 15-minute BBC Newsnight interview with Glenn Greenwald defending Edward Snowden's release of secret documents, click here. For more on government privacy invasions, see the deeply revealing reports from reliable major media sources available here.


As F.B.I. Pursued Snowden, an E-Mail Service Stood Firm
2013-10-03, New York Times
http://www.nytimes.com/2013/10/03/us/snowdens-e-mail-provider-discusses-press...

The owner of the e-mail service [Lavabit, Ladar Levison,] said he closed it down after the government, in pursuit of Edward J. Snowden, sought untrammeled access to the protected messages of all his customers. Mr. Levison was willing to allow investigators with a court order to tap Mr. Snowden’s e-mail account; he had complied with similar narrowly targeted requests involving other customers about two dozen times. But they wanted more, he said: the passwords, encryption keys and computer code that would essentially allow the government untrammeled access to the protected messages of all his customers. That, he said, was too much. On Aug. 8, Mr. Levison closed Lavabit rather than, in his view, betray his promise of secure e-mail to his customers. On [October 2], a federal judge unsealed documents in the case, allowing the tech entrepreneur to speak candidly for the first time about his experiences. He had been summoned to testify to a grand jury in Virginia; forbidden to discuss his case; held in contempt of court and fined $10,000 for handing over his private encryption keys on paper and not in digital form; and, finally, threatened with arrest for saying too much when he shuttered his business. While Mr. Levison’s struggles have been with the F.B.I., hovering in the background is the N.S.A., which has worked secretly for years to undermine or bypass encrypted services like Lavabit so that their electronic message scrambling cannot obstruct the agency’s spying. Mr. Levison’s case shows how law enforcement officials can use legal tools to pry open messages, no matter how well protected.

Note: For an excellent 15-minute BBC Newsnight interview with Glenn Greenwald defending Edward Snowden's release of secret documents, click here. For more on government privacy invasions, see the deeply revealing reports from reliable major media sources available here.


N.S.A. Gathers Data on Social Connections of U.S. Citizens
2013-09-29, New York Times
http://www.nytimes.com/2013/09/29/us/nsa-examines-social-networks-of-us-citiz...

Since 2010, the National Security Agency has been exploiting its huge collections of data to create sophisticated graphs of some Americans’ social connections that can identify their associates, their locations at certain times, their traveling companions and other personal information, according to newly disclosed documents and interviews with officials. The spy agency began allowing the analysis of phone call and e-mail logs in November 2010 to examine Americans’ networks of associations for foreign intelligence purposes after N.S.A. officials lifted restrictions on the practice, according to documents provided by Edward J. Snowden, the former N.S.A. contractor. The agency was authorized to conduct “large-scale graph analysis on very large sets of communications metadata without having to check foreignness” of every e-mail address, phone number or other identifier, the document said. The agency can augment the communications data with material from public, commercial and other sources, including bank codes, insurance information, Facebook profiles, passenger manifests, voter registration rolls and GPS location information, as well as property records and unspecified tax data, according to the documents. They do not indicate any restrictions on the use of such “enrichment” data, and several former senior Obama administration officials said the agency drew on it for both Americans and foreigners. Almost everything about the agency’s operations is hidden, and the decision to revise the limits concerning Americans was made in secret, without review by the nation’s intelligence court or any public debate.

Note: For an excellent 15-minute BBC Newsnight interview with Glenn Greenwald defending Edward Snowden's release of secret documents, click here. For more on government surveillance, see the deeply revealing reports from reliable major media sources available here.


NSA spied on Martin Luther King, documents reveal
2013-09-25, USA Today
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-24279394

The US National Security Agency spied on civil rights leader Martin Luther King and boxer Muhammad Ali during the height of the Vietnam War protests, declassified documents reveal. The documents show the NSA also tracked journalists from the New York Times and the Washington Post and two senators. Some NSA officials later described the programme as "disreputable if not outright illegal", the documents show. The operation, dubbed "Minaret", was originally exposed in the 1970s. However, the names of those on the phone-tapping "watch list" had been kept secret until now. The secret papers were published after a government panel ruled in favour of researchers at George Washington University. The university's National Security Archive - a research institute that seeks to check government secrecy - described the names on the NSA's watch-list as "eye-popping". The agency eavesdropped on civil rights leaders Martin Luther King and Whitney Young as well as boxing champion Muhammad Ali, New York Times journalist Tom Wicker and Washington Post columnist Art Buchwald. The NSA also monitored the overseas phone calls of two prominent US senators - Democrat Frank Church and Republican Howard Baker. In 1967 the strength of the anti-war campaign led President Lyndon Johnson to ask US intelligence agencies to find out if some protests were being stoked by foreign governments. Many of those targeted were considered to be critics of US involvement in the Vietnam War. The NSA worked with other spy agencies to draw up the "watch lists" of anti-war critics, tapping their phone calls. The programme continued after Richard Nixon entered the White House in 1969.

Note: These names were kept secret until now allegedly for reason of "national security." Note how this term is repeatedly used to cover up illegal government activity solely to protect those who commit these crimes. For more on the hidden realities of intelligence agency operations, see the deeply revealing reports from reliable major media sources available here.


NSA stories around the world
2013-09-23, The Guardian (One of the UK's leading newspapers)
http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2013/sep/23/various-items-nsa-india-...

One of the most overlooked aspects of the NSA reporting in the US has been just how global of a story this has become. Last week it was revealed that Belgium's largest telecom, Belgacom, was the victim of a massive hacking attack which systematically compromised its system for as long as two years. Last week, using documents obtained from NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden, Laura Poitras and other D