Tag Archives: surveillance
By: Derrick Broze, Anti-Media |
New internal documents from the Federal Bureau of Investigation reveal that surveillance planes the agency flew over Baltimore and Ferguson during highly-publicized protests also operated thermal imaging equipment.
The documents, obtained by the American Civil Liberties Union via Freedom of Information Act requests, outline how the bureau is using planes equipped with infrared and night vision cameras. They also reveal that the FBI retains the videos for an unspecified length of time.
According to the FBI’s own flight logs, the agency flew 10 surveillance flights over Baltimore from April 29 to May 3, comprising a total of 36.2 flight hours. The flights took place mostly at night and typically involved a Baltimore Police Department representative and an FBI agent. Evidence logs show that at least half the flights conducted video surveillance, and the FBI is apparently holding on to copies of these videos. Still other flights conducted “electronic surveillance,” but specific details were redacted.
Anti-Media has previously asked whether or not these planes might be employing the controversial “Stingray,” a cell site simulator surveillance tool . The devices are capable of gathering location, phone numbers, and in some cases, actual contents of conversations from nearby phones.
In September, a report from The North Star Post exposed the existence of a fleet of surveillance aircraft operated by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA). The planes fly over various locations within the United States, as well as across foreign destinations. The Post reported that photos of DEA planes appear to show stingray technology, or advanced imaging technology, attached to the body of the aircraft. This would confirm suspicions that these aircraft are outfitted with DRT cell site simulators, or “dirt boxes,” as they are known when installed in planes.
The existence of dirt boxes was first revealed in late 2014, when the Wall Street Journal revealed a cell-phone monitoring program operated by the U.S. Marshals Service using small planes. The program involved the Marshals using Cessna planes mounted with Stingrays. The dirt boxes are supposed to be used for criminal investigations, but the ACLU says they can collect data from tens of thousands of people on each flight. If the planes flying over Ferguson and Baltimore are using dirt boxes, that information is censored through the government’s redactions.
In June, Anti Media also reported on the existence of at least 100 surveillance planes operated by the FBI — planes managed by fake front companies rarely granted judicial approval for such actions. Some of these companies include FVX Research, KQM Aviation, NBR Aviation, and PXW Services.
The new documents obtained by the ACLU show a Cessna propeller plane registered to another FBI front company, NG Research. Records from the Federal Aviation Administration show the FBI installed a Paravion Technology infrared camera mount and a FLIR Talon multi-sensor camera system on the exterior of the plane. The FLIR system includes a “thermal imager,” an optical camera, and a “laser illuminator” for recording at night.
Though Comey and his bureau have no qualms about such warrantless, widespread surveillance, the ACLU challenged the agency’s notion.
As the organization wrote:
“In its Domestic Investigations and Operations Guide, the FBI takes the position that no Fourth Amendment protections apply to ‘aerial surveillance conducted from navigable airspace.’ While that is an accurate statement of Supreme Court precedent when it comes to visual observation and use of normal cameras from a plane, it fails to grapple with the effect of advances in surveillance technology. Use of infrared and night-vision camera technology changes the equation by raising the potential for invasions of privacy. The capabilities of the surveillance gear matter. If the infrared camera is capable of observing information about the inside of private homes and offices, for example, the Supreme Court has already explained that the Fourth Amendment’s warrant requirement applies.”
It seems that citizens’ legal protections against the rapidly growing surveillance industry will depend on how much information is available. Without a proper understanding of what tools government agencies employ, the public and judicial authorities will remain ignorant and ripe for exploitation — all while the State continues its indiscriminate monitoring. If freedom is to survive the exponential growth of surveillance technology, the populace must invest both in education and in taking counter-measures to combat the prying eyes of Big Brother.
Derrick Broze joined Anti-Media as an independent journalist in July of 2014. His topics of interest include solutions to the police state, the surveillance state, economic inequality, attacks on Native communities, and oppression in all its forms. He was born in Houston, Texas.
NSA can listen, take photos and locate the phone even when turned off.
The former U.S. spy, Edward Snowden, said in an interview published Monday by the BBC that British intelligence services are able to gain “total control” of mobile phones.
The former analyst with the U.S. National Security Agency (NSA) detailed from Moscow, where he moved to in 2013 to escape U.S. persecution, the characteristics of a software called “Smurf Suite”.
This is a group of programs that, according to Snowden, British spying agency, GCHQ, uses to manipulate smartphones.
“With ‘Dreamy Smurf’ they can turn off and on your phone without your knowledge. ‘Nosey Smurf’ is the tool that handles the microphone. For example, if the phone is in your pocket, they can activate the microphone and hear everything that happens to your around even if the phone is off,” said the former NSA analyst.
Another application allegedly used by the secret services is ‘Tracker Smurf’, a geolocation tool that allows to follow the footsteps of someone with “more precision than you would get by the usual method of triangulation between cell towers.”
There is also a program called ‘Paranoid Smurf’, which makes it difficult for the rest of spy applications to be detected. The latter program “is a self-defense tool to manipulate your terminal.
For example, if the phone if someone takes their phone to a technician because he believes something strange has happened, “the program makes it much more difficult to realize that something is wrong,” Snowden said. “They can do much more, they can even photograph you,” said Snowden.
According to him, secret agencies can gain access of any phone via a text message that would go unnoticed for whoever is the object of monitoring. “It is called an ‘exploit’. It is a message intended to be sent to a phone number, like any other, but when it reaches the terminal it remains hidden, not shown to the user,” he said.
Luis R. Miranda is an award-winning journalist and the founder and editor-in-chief at The Real Agenda. His career spans over 18 years and almost every form of news media. His articles include subjects such as environmentalism, Agenda 21, climate change, geopolitics, globalisation, health, vaccines, food safety, corporate control of governments, immigration and banking cartels, among others. Luis has worked as a news reporter, on-air personality for Live and Live-to-tape news programs. He has also worked as a script writer, producer and co-producer on broadcast news. Read more about Luis.
By: Nicholas West | Techswarm –
As drone expert, P.W. Singer said, “At this point, it doesn’t really matter if you are against the technology, because it’s coming.” According to Singer, “The miniaturization of drones is where it really gets interesting. You can use these things anywhere, put them anyplace, and the target will never even know they’re being watched.”
This has been the promise that the Air Force made quite clear in their video early last year about nanodrone tech that you can see below. According to the USAF, Micro Air Vehicles (MAVs), combined with the ability to harvest energy, will enable insect-sized drone swarms to be dropped from military aircraft to stay aloft for a prolonged amount of time, offering a host of functions, including assassination.
DARPA is now announcing a new wave of these microdrones under the Fast Lightweight Autonomy program. As the name indicates, they ideally would like humans to be completely removed from the control process.
For now, they clearly state “overseas” as the theater of operation, but it doesn’t take much imagination to see how these microdrones could be applied in the U.S., especially amid an increasingly tense urban environment in the wake of confrontations with domestic police. And, as always, the tantalizing application in disaster relief paves the way for easy introduction.
(My emphasis added in press release)
DARPA aims to give small unmanned aerial vehicles advanced perception and autonomy to rapidly search buildings or other cluttered environments without teleoperation.
Military teams patrolling dangerous urban environments overseas and rescue teams responding to disasters such as earthquakes or floods currently rely on remotely piloted unmanned aerial vehicles to provide a bird’s-eye view of the situation and spot threats that can’t be seen from the ground. But to know what’s going on inside an unstable building or a threatening indoor space often requires physical entry, which can put troops or civilian response teams in danger.
To address these challenges, DARPA issued a Broad Agency Announcement solicitation today for the Fast Lightweight Autonomy (FLA) program. FLA focuses on creating a new class of algorithms to enable small, unmanned aerial vehicles to quickly navigate a labyrinth of rooms, stairways and corridors or other obstacle-filled environments without a remote pilot. The solicitation is available here: http://go.usa.gov/MGWx
The program aims to develop and demonstrate autonomous UAVs small enough to fit through an open window and able to fly at speeds up to 20 meters per second (45 miles per hour)—while navigating within complex indoor spaces independent of communication with outside operators or sensors and without reliance on GPS waypoints.
“Birds of prey and flying insects exhibit the kinds of capabilities we want for small UAVs,” said Mark Micire, DARPA program manager. “Goshawks, for example, can fly very fast through a dense forest without smacking into a tree. Many insects, too, can dart and hover with incredible speed and precision. The goal of the FLA program is to explore non-traditional perception and autonomy methods that would give small UAVs the capacity to perform in a similar way, including an ability to easily navigate tight spaces at high speed and quickly recognize if it had already been in a room before.
“Urban and disaster relief operations would be obvious key beneficiaries, but applications for this technology could extend to a wide variety of missions using small and large unmanned systems linked together with manned platforms as a system of systems,” said Stefanie Tompkins, director of DARPA’s Defense Sciences Office. “By enabling unmanned systems to learn ‘muscle memory’ and perception for basic tasks like avoiding obstacles, it would relieve overload and stress on human operators so they can focus on supervising the systems and executing the larger mission.”
Since the focus of the program is improving perception and reducing dependence on external sources—as opposed to designing new small UAVs—DARPA will provide performers selected for the program with the same small UAV testbed as government-furnished equipment.
The US Department of Homeland Security already has an arsenal of drones to be deployed for whatever the agency deems fit, but the actual capabilities of those vehicles exceed what many Americans may expect.
The unmanned drones being used inside of the United States right now can’t shoot Hellfire missiles like their overseas counterparts. They can, however, conduct surveillance, intercept communications and even determine whether or not a person thousands of feet below the aircraft is armed.
The latest revelation comes courtesy of a DHS document that was recently obtained by the Electronic Privacy Information Center, or EPIC, through a Freedom of Information Act request. After analyzing a partially-redacted drone “performance specification” file received through their FOIA plea, EPIC said that records indicate “the Bureau of Customs and Border Protection is operating drones in the United States capable of intercepting electronic communications.”
Of the ten Predator B drones currently maintained by the agency, EPIC adds that the document confirms that those aircraft “have the capacity to recognize and identify a person on the ground.”
“The records obtained by EPIC raise questions about the agency’s compliance with federal privacy laws and the scope of domestic surveillance,” the center writes on their website this week.
Speaking to CNet, EPIC’s Open Government Project director, Ginger McCall, says the discovery shows just how dangerous drones could be to the privacy of the millions of Americans who could have drones overhead right this moment.
“The documents clearly evidence that the Department of Homeland Security is developing drones with signals interception technology and the capability to identify people on the ground,” McCall says. “This allows for invasive surveillance, including potential communications surveillance, that could run afoul of federal privacy laws.”
Since EPIC published their FOID’d documents last week, Cnet has managed to scrounge up an unredacted copy that outlines what the DHS was looking for in drones when the report was written in 2010. Specifically, the performance specifications note that while the DHS is not implementing drones for eavesdropping on America right now, “Further tasks, such as communication relay and interception, although not yet evaluated in the field, are assessed to also be best performed” by the unmanned aerial vehicles.
Additionally, DHS drones must “be capable of identifying a standing human being at night as likely armed or not” and “be capable of marking a target into a retrievable database.” No information is given as to what database that refers to, but a Homeland Security official speaking on condition of anonymity tells DHS that the drones lack — for now, at least — the ability to read a subject’s face to find out who they are.
“The drones are able to identify whether movement on the ground comes from a human or an animal, but that they do not perform facial recognition,” Cnet reporter Declan McCullagh says the DHS source’s claims.
“Any potential deployment of such technology in the future would be implemented in full consideration of civil rights, civil liberties, and privacy interests and in a manner consistent with the law and long standing law enforcement practices,” the source adds.
The Homeland Security department’s drones are currently used to allow federal officials to monitor any criminal activity on America’s borders to the north and south. As RT reported recently, however, a 2012 Supreme Court ruling determined that the government can conduct border patrol operations within 100 miles of an international crossing. By that logic, the approximately 200 million Americans residing within that parameter are subject to Border Patrol searches and, perhaps soon enough, surveillance drones.
By: John W. Whitehead, The Rutherford Institute |
“Every day in communities across the United States, children and adolescents spend the majority of their waking hours in schools that have increasingly come to resemble places of detention more than places of learning. From metal detectors to drug tests, from increased policing to all-seeing electronic surveillance, the public schools of the twenty-first century reflect a society that has become fixated on crime, security and violence.”—Investigative journalist Annette Fuentes
In the American police state, you’re either a prisoner (shackled, controlled, monitored, ordered about, limited in what you can do and say, your life not your own) or a prison bureaucrat (police officer, judge, jailer, spy, profiteer, etc.).
Indeed, at a time when we are all viewed as suspects, there are so many ways in which a person can be branded a criminal for violating any number of laws, regulations or policies. Even if you haven’t knowingly violated any laws, there is still a myriad of ways in which you can run afoul of the police state and end up on the wrong side of a jail cell.
Unfortunately, when you’re a child in the American police state, life is that much worse.
Microcosms of the police state, America’s public schools contain almost every aspect of the militarized, intolerant, senseless, overcriminalized, legalistic, surveillance-riddled, totalitarian landscape that plagues those of us on the “outside.”
From the moment a child enters one of the nation’s 98,000 public schools to the moment she graduates, she will be exposed to a steady diet of draconian zero tolerance policies that criminalize childish behavior, overreaching anti-bullying statutes that criminalize speech, school resource officers (police) tasked with disciplining and/or arresting so-called “disorderly” students, standardized testing that emphasizes rote answers over critical thinking, politically correct mindsets that teach young people to censor themselves and those around them, and extensive biometric and surveillance systems that, coupled with the rest, acclimate young people to a world in which they have no freedom of thought, speech or movement.
If your child is fortunate enough to survive his encounter with the public schools, you should count yourself fortunate.
Most students are not so lucky.
By the time the average young person in America finishes their public school education, nearly one out of every three of them will have been arrested.
More than 3 million students are suspended or expelled from schools every year, often for minor misbehavior, such as “disruptive behavior” or “insubordination.” Black students are three times more likely than white students to face suspension and expulsion.
For instance, a Virginia sixth grader, the son of two school teachers and a member of the school’s gifted program, was suspended for a year after school officials found a leaf (likely a maple leaf) in his backpack that they suspected was marijuana. Despite the fact that the leaf in question was not marijuana (a fact that officials knew almost immediately), the 11-year-old was still kicked out of school, charged with marijuana possession in juvenile court, enrolled in an alternative school away from his friends, subjected to twice-daily searches for drugs, and forced to be evaluated for substance abuse problems.
As the Washington Post warns: “It doesn’t matter if your son or daughter brings a real pot leaf to school, or if he brings something that looks like a pot leaf—okra, tomato, maple, buckeye, etc. If your kid calls it marijuana as a joke, or if another kid thinks it might be marijuana, that’s grounds for expulsion.”
Many state laws require that schools notify law enforcement whenever a student is found with an “imitation controlled substance,” basically anything that look likes a drug but isn’t actually illegal. As a result, students have been suspended for bringing to school household spices such as oregano, breath mints, birth control pills and powdered sugar.
It’s not just look-alike drugs that can get a student in trouble under school zero tolerance policies. Look-alike weapons (toy guns—even Lego-sized ones, hand-drawn pictures of guns, pencils twirled in a “threatening” manner, imaginary bows and arrows, even fingers positioned like guns) can also land a student in detention.
Acts of kindness, concern or basic manners can also result in suspensions. One 13-year-old was given detention for exposing the school to “liability” by sharing his lunch with a hungry friend. A third grader was suspended for shaving her head in sympathy for a friend who had lost her hair to chemotherapy. And then there was the high school senior who was suspended for saying “bless you” after a fellow classmate sneezed.
Unfortunately, while these may appear to be isolated incidents, they are indicative of a nationwide phenomenon in which children are treated like suspects and criminals, especially within the public schools.
The schools have become a microcosm of the American police state, right down to the host of surveillance technologies, including video cameras, finger and palm scanners, iris scanners, as well as RFID and GPS tracking devices, employed to keep constant watch over their student bodies.
Making matters worse are the police.
Students accused of being disorderly or noncompliant have a difficult enough time navigating the bureaucracy of school boards, but when you bring the police into the picture, after-school detention and visits to the principal’s office are transformed into punishments such as misdemeanor tickets, juvenile court, handcuffs, tasers and even prison terms.
In the absence of school-appropriate guidelines, police are more and more “stepping in to deal with minor rulebreaking—sagging pants, disrespectful comments, brief physical skirmishes. What previously might have resulted in a detention or a visit to the principal’s office was replaced with excruciating pain and temporary blindness, often followed by a trip to the courthouse.”
Thanks to a combination of media hype, political pandering and financial incentives, the use of armed police officers to patrol school hallways has risen dramatically in the years since the Columbine school shooting (nearly 20,000 by 2003). Funded by the U.S. Department of Justice, these school resource officers (SROs) have become de facto wardens in the elementary, middle and high schools, doling out their own brand of justice to the so-called “criminals” in their midst with the help of tasers, pepperspray, batons and brute force.
The horror stories are legion.
One SRO is accused of punching a 13-year-old student in the face for cutting the cafeteria line. That same cop put another student in a chokehold a week later, allegedly knocking the student unconscious and causing a brain injury. In Pennsylvania, a student was tased after ignoring an order to put his cell phone away.
Defending the use of handcuffs and pepper spray to subdue students, one Alabama police department reasoned that if they can employ such tactics on young people away from school, they should also be permitted to do so on campus.
Now advocates for such harsh police tactics and weaponry will tell you that school safety should be our first priority lest we find ourselves with another Sandy Hook. What they will not tell you is that such shootings are rare. As one congressional report found, the schools are, generally speaking, safe places for children.
In their zeal to crack down on guns and lock down the schools, these cheerleaders for police state tactics in the schools might also fail to mention the lucrative, multi-million dollar deals being cut with military contractors such as Taser International to equip these school cops with tasers, tanks, rifles and $100,000 shooting detection systems.
Indeed, the transformation of hometown police departments into extensions of the military has been mirrored in the public schools, where school police have been gifted with high-powered M16 rifles, MRAP armored vehicles, grenade launchers, and other military gear. One Texas school district even boasts its own 12-member SWAT team.
According to one law review article on the school-to-prison pipeline, “Many school districts have formed their own police departments, some so large they rival the forces of major United States cities in size. For example, the safety division in New York City’s public schools is so large that if it were a local police department, it would be the fifth-largest police force in the country.”
The ramifications are far-reaching.
The term “school-to-prison pipeline” refers to a phenomenon in which children who are suspended or expelled from school have a greater likelihood of ending up in jail. One study found that “being suspended or expelled made a student nearly three times more likely to come into contact with the juvenile justice system within the next year.”
Not content to add police to their employee rosters, the schools have also come to resemble prisons, complete with surveillance cameras, metal detectors, drug-sniffing dogs, random locker searches and active shooter drills. The Detroit public schools boast a “‘$5.6 million 23,000-sq ft. state of the art Command Center’ and ‘$41.7 million district-wide security initiative’ including metal detectors and ID system where visitors’ names are checked against the sex offender registry.”
As if it weren’t bad enough that the nation’s schools have come to resemble prisons, the government is also contracting with private prisons to lock up our young people for behavior that once would have merited a stern lecture. Nearly 40 percent of those young people who are arrested will serve time in a private prison, where the emphasis is on making profits for large megacorporations above all else.
Private prisons, the largest among them being GEO and the Corrections Corporation of America, profit by taking over a state’s prison population for a fee. Many states, under contract with these private prisons, agree to keep the prisons full, which in turn results in more Americans being arrested, found guilty and jailed for nonviolent “crimes” such as holding Bible studies in their back yard. As the Washington Post points out, “With the growing influence of the prison lobby, the nation is, in effect, commoditizing human bodies for an industry in militant pursuit of profit… The influence of private prisons creates a system that trades money for human freedom, often at the expense of the nation’s most vulnerable populations: children, immigrants and the poor.”
This profit-driven system of incarceration has also given rise to a growth in juvenile prisons and financial incentives for jailing young people. Indeed, young people have become easy targets for the private prison industry, which profits from criminalizing childish behavior and jailing young people. For instance, two Pennsylvania judges made headlines when it was revealed that they had been conspiring with two businessmen in a $2.6 million “kids for cash” scandal that resulted in more than 2500 children being found guilty and jailed in for-profit private prisons.
It has been said that America’s schools are the training ground for future generations. Instead of raising up a generation of freedom fighters, however, we seem to be busy churning out newly minted citizens of the American police state who are being taught the hard way what it means to comply, fear and march in lockstep with the government’s dictates.
As I point out in my book Battlefield America: The War on the American People, with every school police raid and overzealous punishment that is carried out in the name of school safety, the lesson being imparted is that Americans—especially young people—have no rights at all against the state or the police.
I’ll conclude with one hopeful anecdote about a Philadelphia school dubbed the “Jones Jail” because of its bad reputation for violence among the student body. Situated in a desperately poor and dangerous part of the city, the John Paul Jones Middle School’s student body had grown up among drug users, drug peddlers, prostitutes and gun violence. “By middle school,” reports The Atlantic, most of these students “have witnessed more violence than most Americans who didn’t serve in a war ever will.”
According to investigative reporters Jeff Deeney, “School police officers patrolled the building at John Paul Jones, and children were routinely submitted to scans with metal detecting wands. All the windows were covered in metal grating and one room that held computers even had thick iron prison bars on its exterior… Every day… [police] would set up a perimeter of police officers on the blocks around the school, and those police were there to protect neighbors from the children, not to protect the children from the neighborhood.”
In other words, John Paul Jones, one of the city’s most dangerous schools, was a perfect example of the school-to-prison, police state apparatus at work among the nation’s youngest and most impressionable citizens.
When management of John Paul Jones was taken over by a charter school that opted to de-escalate the police state presence, stripping away the metal detectors and barred windows, local police protested. In fact, they showed up wearing Kevlar vests. Nevertheless, school officials remained determined to do away with institutional control and surveillance, as well as aggressive security guards, and focus on noncoercive, nonviolent conflict resolution with an emphasis on student empowerment, relationship building and anger management.
The result: a 90% drop in serious incidents—drug sales, weapons, assaults, rapes—in one year alone. As one fifth-grader remarked on the changes, “There are no more fights. There are no more police. That’s better for the community.”
The lesson for the rest of us is this: you not only get what you pay for, but you reap what you sow.
If you want a nation of criminals, treat the citizenry like criminals.
If you want young people who grow up seeing themselves as prisoners, run the schools like prisons.
But if you want to raise up a generation of freedom fighters, who will actually operate with justice, fairness, accountability and equality towards each other and their government, then run the schools like freedom forums. Remove the metal detectors and surveillance cameras, re-assign the cops elsewhere, and start treating our nation’s young people like citizens of a republic and not inmates in a police state.
Contributed by John W. Whitehead of The Rutherford Institute.
By: Joe Wright |
Anyone who was called crazy for shouting from the rooftops back in 2005 when the first sign of drone testing in the United States was uncovered appears to have been vindicated. Small comfort as we are finally coming face to face with the consequences of our apathy.
North Dakota made international news recently as the first state to legalize weaponized drones for use upon its own citizens. But this still isn’t enough evidence for those whose heads remain buried in the sands of (they hope) blissful ignorance.
Several stunning revelations come from a mainstream media article that seems to accurately identify the problem: “Drone Policing in US Seen as ‘Wild West’.” AFP cites the Electronic Frontier Foundation’s discovery that “60 police forces across the country — from Houston, Texas, to Mobile, Alabama, North Little Rock, Arkansas, and Miami-Dade County — have asked for drone certification” and that, “Up to two dozen police forces are currently fully equipped with drones and trained to use them, including pioneers Grand Forks in North Dakota; Arlington, Texas; Mesa County, Colorado and the Utah Highway Patrol.”
Naturally, these police departments are attempting to justify drones as far cheaper alternatives to helicopters and other conventional aircraft. But that actually exacerbates the real problem, which is that it becoming cheaper and cheaper to institute pervasive surveillance and tracking … and now weaponization.
There have been some positive signs of semi-awakening to this reality, however. The actual sponsor of North Dakota’s drone legislation is having second thoughts and is aiming to change the law within two years, claiming that the police union imposed an amendment that directly reversed his original intent. Some of the more educated and active areas of the country have also pushed back hard against their department’s drone initiatives forcing police to abandon their fast-track plans.
However, a disturbing comment appears in the AFP article from a Director at the Teal Group Corporation, an aerospace defense contractor that obviously would love to see a drone swarm in every town. Philip Finnegan acknowledges that there is some “political risk” at the moment, but is betting on the short-term memory of the American population, as well as their tendency to become acclimatized to all of the trappings of a full-blown police state.
He predicted that the commercial market will take off within five years as the public grows increasingly comfortable with drones and law enforcement uses them more.
So there you have the mentality of those who would profit from the further eradication of liberty inside the United States … just wait it out, you’ll give up and take it eventually.
Don’t become comfortable; spread the word and resist now, because if we think we currently have problems with a brutal police force imagine that force empowered by the same joystick surveillance and weapons that have taken over in “enemy territory.”
Where does your local police force stand on the use of drones? Please leave your comments below.
Joe Wright’s articles can be found at ActivistPost.com
By: Kristen Anderson, Activist Post |
Don’t feel like your privacy is invaded enough? Hoping that the government will begin collecting more of your personal data? Good news! Garbage trucks may soon hit the streets fitted with license plate readers in the San Francisco Bay Area. These handy scanners will sweep the streets at least once a week and provide law enforcement with vehicle location in real time.
The City Counsel voted 4-1 in August to continue planning how to use the technology to provide efficient and effective intelligence to local law enforcement. The scanners cost $15,000 each, and the city could have a constant stream of data coming in.
While law enforcement touts this as an efficient way to deter vehicle theft and locate vehicles that have already been stolen, many are expressing alarm. The plan raises significant concerns due to the fact that it would turn private waste collection companies into agents of law enforcement. The ramifications of this kind of data storage is causing outrage among civil liberties activists because it is not clear what the limits of this data are. Will the data really only be used to help locate stolen vehicles? Or will it be used if law enforcement want to find a criminal suspect? Will it be used if the government wants to monitor the movements of certain citizens? How long before this plan comes to a city near you?
Kristen Anderson writes for ActivistPost.com
By: Jason Erickson, Tech Swarm |
Although drones have been all but welcomed into American skies by the U.S. government, the devil still remains in the details.
The proliferation of drones for hobby, commercial, or law enforcement has faced some significant setbacks, while still marching forward as though it’s inevitable that drones will be part of the future landscape in America.
There are several issues at play, especially when it comes to smaller drones such as the quadcopters that tend to be used most by hobbyists, journalists and local law enforcement. The primary issue is of course privacy, as it appears that even sunbathing 200 feet in the air on a wind turbine doesn’t guarantee a bit of seclusion these days. But, in tandem with that, is the idea that a remote-controlled device equipped with fast-spinning blades is becoming an increasing part of the public experience, which one man recently likened to a “flying lawnmower.”
One company believes they have found a solution that might work to help alleviate safety concerns: essentially putting drones on a leash.
The Mid-Atlantic Aviation Partnership at Virginia Tech will collaborate with Drone Aviation Holding Corp., a Jacksonville-based aviation company, to research, test, and advance the commercialization of the company’s tethered unmanned aircraft systems, also known as drones.
The organizations began test flights this month in Jacksonville, Florida, to explore the reliability, safety, and commercial-use cases for the company’s family of tethered drones, and ultimately report the results to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).
“We are excited to demonstrate the advantages and many potential civil and commercial uses of our tethered drones,” said Jay Nussbaum, chairman of Drone Aviation Holding Corp. “This ongoing partnership will focus on evaluating the increased safety features and technical advantages of our tethered drones and sharing that data with the FAA for the potential commercial deployment of ‘WATT’ systems into the national airspace for first responders and commercial entities.”
The FAA selected the Mid-Atlantic Aviation Partnership at Virginia Tech in December, 2013, as one of six national test sites to conduct research to integrate unmanned aircraft into the nation’s airspace. Since then, the partnership has worked with unmanned aircraft systems to aid emergency responders, survey energy pipeline infrastructure, study agricultural land, and teach reporters to cover news.
“At Virginia Tech, we see tremendous opportunity for tethered-drone technology because of its unique capabilities and safety profile, making it applicable to a large number of applications from news broadcasting to emergency response and facility security,” said Rose Mooney, executive director of the Mid-Atlantic Aviation Partnership, headquartered at the Institute for Critical Technology and Applied Science at Virginia Tech. “We look forward to working with Drone Aviation Holding Corp., the FAA, and our consortium partners to explore the commercial application of this this novel UAS technology.”
The WATT-200 is designed to safely provide secure and reliable aerial monitoring for extended durations while being tethered to the ground via a high strength armored tether. Unlike hobbyist drones or manned aircraft, the WATT model delivers the long-flight duration and commercial grade, real-time video-monitoring capabilities day or night, the company said.
While it is commendable to look for solutions that will prevent the type of free-for-all that is developing in the small drone sector, the idea of tethered drones sounds like the possible establishment of fixed drone outposts. In a society that already is plagued by excessive surveillance, is this just one more step toward the expansion of an all-seeing eye?
Jason Erickson writes for TechSwarm
By: Mac Slavo | SHTFplan.com –
Implantable RFID tracking chips. You know, to stop terrorism.
And to keep tabs on all the welfare queens, in order to keep tax dollars accountable.
There will be other rationales, too.
But really, governments just want to do all the spying they can within their power – and right now, technology offers more power than ever before to carry out universal surveillance, track and trace every person and every thing and put civil rights in the backseat where they belong.
The latest proposal from a politician in the Finnish government seems like a near-future dystopic film, but may not be far reality.
It’s not much of a stretch to imagine that the U.S., Britain or other governments in Europe would do this too, if they could get away with it.
In fact, an RFID chipped population could only be years away.
Sputnik News reports:
A politician from Finland’s conservative Finns Party suggested implanting welfare recipients with satellite-tracking chips following news that some recipients continued receiving payments after leaving the country to join ISIL.
A member of Finland’s right-wing Finns Party, Pasi Maenranta, has suggested implanting all recipients of government assistance with satellite-tracked chips if they choose to leave the country.
Maenranta made the proposal after Finnish media revealed that some recipients of government assistance continued to receive payments after leaving the country to join ISIL in Syria and Iraq.
“The law should be changed: To receive payments from Kela [the Social Insurance Institution], one has to tell exact data about your location using your personal code, read by a satellite. It is also possible to implant electronic chips to all going abroad, who for example receive medical welfare from Kela,” Maenranta wrote on his Facebook page.
It is true that Western governments essentially created ISIS, by agitating angry Muslims with continued aggression, while at the same time funding the “new al Qaeda” extremist group via the misguided efforts to arm and bankroll “Libyan rebels” and “Syrian rebels.”
Really, the Pentagon and NATO have been building up our own enemy, and using its horrendous violence to frighten the public back into the War on Terror.
Under the new twist, Muslim immigration to the West has been increased, and Western governments have been subsidizing future jihadists, too. Many are on the government dole, until and even after, they decide to leave and join ISIS/ISIL.
Meanwhile, normal struggling citizens who accept government assistance might be tracked via an implanted chips… betraying all the rights governments in “free countries” are supposed to protect. They might not be doing anything wrong at all, but now they are under constant watch.
But as George W. Bush famously said, “they hate us for our freedoms,” right?
By: Brandon Turbeville | Activist Post –
Never a country known for its human rights and civil liberties, Kuwait is now attempting to take the lead in the Gulf for the country most integrated with the technological control grid and biometric surveillance state. This is because the small nation recently announced the passage of a law that mandates every person residing in Kuwait must submit to a DNA sample that will be stored in a massive database upon penalty of fines and jail time.
Kuwait has 1.3 million citizens that will be subject to the law but its 2.9 million foreign residents are subject as well. Any person who refuses to submit to the DNA tests and data mining operation will be subject to $33,000 in fines and up to one year in prison. Any person who provides a fake sample will face up to seven years.
Kuwait passed this law conveniently after an Islamic State (and thus NATO-directed) bombing of a Shiite mosque on June 26. The law is being justified as a way to make it easier for law enforcement to track down criminals and terrorists after the attacks have been committed. Thus, the incident stands as another Problem-Reaction-Solution-style terrorist attack justifying an even more totalitarian police state response.
“We have approved the DNA testing law and approved the additional funding. We are prepared to approve anything needed to boost security measures in the country,” independent MP Jamal Al Omar said.
Kuwait now stands as the only country in the world that makes DNA tests and participation in a DNA database compulsory. But is it just the first? After all, many countries including England, Australia, Sweden, and the United States maintain stored databases of the DNA of convicted criminals with the United States maintaining a database of the DNA of even those who have merely been arrested but not convicted. In addition, the U.S. database also maintains the DNA of missing persons and their families. Now, with the exception of Kuwait, the United States maintains the world’s largest DNA database.
The growing number of countries building, maintaining, and subsequently mandating various forms of biometric identification and biometric databases is not only concerning, it is becoming the norm. In 2012, India launched a nationwide program involving the allocation of a Unique Identification Number (UID) to every single one of its 1.2 billion residents. Each of the numbers are tied to the biometric data of the recipient using three different forms of information – fingerprints, iris scans, and pictures of the face. All ten digits of the hand will be recorded, and both eyes are scanned.
The Japanese have had a mandatory national UID system in place since 2002, under the Basic Resident Register (BRR) program. Under the BRR, each individual must provide their name, birthdate, gender, and physical address to municipal governments who, in turn, issue the citizen a UID. However, an update to the initiative, called My Number Bill, was introduced in February 2012 that streamlined the information sharing process between government tax, social security, and emergency mitigation agencies. This was merely the next phase toward the goal of the Japanese government to centralize already-collected information about each one of its citizens and to expand this program to contain even more data. The information collected on Japanese citizens under their current system is fed into a nationwide computer database known as the Juki-net, which is made up of 3,200 municipal governments. The Juki-net serves as the common data sharing database between the municipal governments and, to some extent, the central government.
Israel also has a mandatory biometrics program. As Justin Lee writes for BiometricUpdate.com,
Initially passed by the Knesset in December 2009, the Biometric Database Law mandates the collection of fingerprints and facial images from all Israeli residents, as well as integrating these biometric details in domestic ID cards and national passports.
The legislation also called for the creation of a biometric government database for the purpose of managing access control, identification of individuals and to help law enforcement officials locate criminal suspects. The law is intended to curb identity theft, as well as the loss, theft and destruction of the current blue ID cards issued by the Interior Ministry.
In a report submitted to the Prime Minister’s Office and to the Knesset Chairman, Erdan emphasized the importance of implementing the biometric system and said the transition would be gradual.
“Smart biometric records that cannot be faked […] will lead to the full protection of the identity of Israeli citizens,” Erdan told Channel 10. “It will provide a balance between our duty to ensure the security of citizens and our duty to protect their privacy. We will promote a gradual transition to mandatory biometric documentation.”
The first phase of the biometric identification system was implemented in June 2013, and since then, some 640,000 people have volunteered to submit their biometric details to the database, said Erdan.
While most of the data collection and database storage via biometrics in the United States is rolled out under the auspices of greater convenience, concepts such as biometric programs for food stamp recipients, and employee tagging are gaining traction, indicating that the push for the eventual mandating of participation in such programs is clearly not far off.
Kuwait may be the first in terms of mandating DNA database participation in the world, but it is only first. Kuwait simply stands as the latest country to make a step forward in the international game of leap frog toward a global surveillance state, technological control grid, and total prison planet.
Brandon Turbeville is an author out of Florence, South Carolina. He has a Bachelor’s Degree from Francis Marion University and is the author of six books, Codex Alimentarius — The End of Health Freedom, 7 Real Conspiracies, Five Sense Solutions and Dispatches From a Dissident, volume 1 and volume 2, and The Road to Damascus: The Anglo-American Assault on Syria. Turbeville has published over 500 articles dealing on a wide variety of subjects including health, economics, government corruption, and civil liberties. Brandon Turbeville’s podcast Truth on The Tracks can be found every Monday night 9 pm EST at UCYTV. He is available for radio and TV interviews. Please contact activistpost (at) gmail.com.
By: Carey Wedler | AntiMedia –
Leaked emails from an Italian-based hacking company reveal that government agencies engage in surveillance more invasive than previously thought, spending millions of dollars on spyware and malware software to accomplish their questionable goals. Tellingly, their use of the product places them squarely in the same category as other repressive regimes around the world.
After hackers ironically hacked Hacking Team, a Milan-based company that sells strictly to governments, hundreds of gigabytes of emails and financial records were leaked. The emails show that the FBI, DEA, and U.S. Army all purchased software that enables them to view suspects’ photos, emails, listen to and record their conversations, and activate the cameras on their computers, among other things.
According to documents obtained by The Intercept, an internal request to purchase RCS was denied by DEA management in 2011 because it was “too controversial.” By 2012, however, the DEA had resolved its concerns, likely spending a similar amount to the $773,226.64 (plus thousands in maintenance fees) the FBI invested in its own set of software.
Hacking Team was so committed to business with these American agencies that it concocted codenames to refer to them. As The Intercept summarizes,
Hacking Team has been sharply criticized for its sale of RCS to oppressive regimes around the world. From Sudan to Bahrain, Hacking Team seeks business opportunities with rulers that target political activists, journalists, and political opponents—putting the American government agencies that employ the same technology—and often have the same objectives— in questionable company.
Aside from RCS, one of the more contentious revelations is the company’s hard sell that it can bypass encryption, a capability the FBI has openly desired since phone companies made encryption a default setting last year. According to one company newsletter, Hacking Team offers “technologies to ACCESS THE DATA…IN CLEARTEXT, BEFORE it gets encrypted by the device and sent to the network and AFTER it is received from the network and decrypted by the device itself. Actually, THIS IS precisely WHAT WE DO.”
The FBI did seek warrants to use Hacking Team technology in a handful of cases, but apparently uses a different platform for “critical” investigations. What the FBI really wanted from the Italian firm, according to leaked emails, was “more ability to go after users of Tor, the anonymizing web browser.” Such users accounted for 60% of the FBI’s use of Hacking Team products.
Regardless of how the technology is used, the FBI has encountered skepticism from lawmakers. Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, asked the director of the FBI for “more specific information about the FBI’s current use of spyware,” in order for the Senate Judiciary Committee to investigate “serious privacy concerns.”
In spite of these legitimate concerns, the technology is permeating other levels of government. Largely because of aggressive marketing by Hacking Team, District Attorney offices around the country are eager to use the software. From San Bernadino to Manhattan, government lawyers have expressed strong interest in using the company’s products for investigations, suggesting a dangerous permeation of unconstitutional surveillance into an already decaying justice system.
Whether or not the government agencies who have purchased the software use it extensively or not is, at this point, irrelevant. That such bureaus and government officials have so much as the desire to use it–in some cases, in spite of a clear understanding of its controversial nature—is cause enough for concern.
Meanwhile, Hacking Team has remained ambivalent. Company spokesperson Eric Rabe said, “we do not disclose the names or locations of our clients” and “we cannot comment on the validity of documents purportedly from our company.”
More telling of the company’s rationalization of perpetuating authoritarianism in the name of profit, however, is a quote from Giancarlo Russo, the company’s chief operating officer. In a 2013 email, he wrote,
“If you buy a Ferrari… they can teach you how to drive. They cannot grant you will be the winner of the race…If Beretta sell [sic] you a gun, the most peculiar and sophisticated one, they can teach how to use it. They can not grant you are going to shoot your target properly on the field.”
Editor’s note: An earlier version of this article referred to Hacking Team as “Hacking Tools.” The error has since been corrected.