tagged w/ Invasion of Privacy
Take a break from presidential politics for one of the most important stories you'll read this week...
TrapWire is a surveillance system designed by former high-ranking government officials now working for an entity called Abraxas, which utilizes footage from CCTV cameras located all over the country. The video footage is then downloaded to a secure server and analyzed as a means to predict crimes or criminal behavior before they happen. It’s all very Minority Report, and as that film reminded us, altogether dangerous.
http://veracitystew.com/?p=41447Take a break from presidential politics for one of the most important stories... more
For spy tools, drones are pretty easy to spot. And hear, because they’re as loud as a gut-busting rock concert. But now the intelligence community’s research division, Iarpa, plans to start designing a silent drone inspired by quiet, creeping, flying owls.
Iarpa has reportedly awarded a $4.8 million contract to Connecticut firm D-Star Engineering to develop the ultra-quiet drone, Aviation Week reports. It’s the next step in developing a workable drone as part of the agency’s Great Horned Owl Program, which the agency hopes will let the military collect intelligence “without anyone knowing you are there,” (.pdf) according to an agency briefing.
Sound, after all, is the number one signature “that gives away the location of low-altitude UAVs and gives away their presence.” Which sort of defeats the point of having a secret surveillance eye in the sky. In some cases, you might want people to know you’re watching. At other times, you want to sneak up quietly.
But it’s hard to do without sacrificing payload. The added weight of sensors, and the ability to operate for longer periods, comes with trading out stealthiness. Drones powered by batteries: They’re quiet, but can’t stay in the air for long. Then there’s the added noise caused by airflow generated from propellers, and noise from gasoline or diesel engines (not counting batteries), with their moving pistons, turbofan and gears.
Iarpa wants to keep these efficent and relatively noisy engines for normal flight. But when the drone needs to be stealthy, its operator would switch to battery power, like a hybrid car. That means — for the duration of battery flight — the noisy gears would shut off. The propellers would also likely be ducted, which would mean less noise from vortices whipped up by the propellers and fewer moving parts. Likely, the drone will take off vertically.
Full Story: http://www.wired.com/dangerroom/2012/07/owl/For spy tools, drones are pretty easy to spot. And hear, because they’re as loud... more
Within the next year or two, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security will instantly know everything about your body, clothes, and luggage with a new laser-based molecular scanner fired from 164 feet (50 meters) away. From traces of drugs or gun powder on your clothes to what you had for breakfast to the adrenaline level in your body—agents will be able to get any information they want without even touching you.
And without you knowing it.
The technology is so incredibly effective that, in November 2011, its inventors were subcontracted by In-Q-Tel to work with the US Department of Homeland Security. In-Q-Tel is a company founded "in February 1999 by a group of private citizens at the request of the Director of the CIA and with the support of the U.S. Congress." According to In-Q-Tel, they are the bridge between the Agency and new technology companies.
Full Story: http://gizmodo.com/5923980/the-secret-government-laser-that-instantly-knows-everything-about-youWithin the next year or two, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security will instantly... more
The privacy issue should be of paramount concern in this new front of law enforcement, and the technology is only advancing. Predator drones are armed with advanced radar, hi-res cameras and heat sensors, which will be used in surveillance of the American citizenry, which begs the question, What exactly will they be looking for?
http://veracitystew.com/?p=35350The privacy issue should be of paramount concern in this new front of law enforcement,... more
'It’s not bad enough that right-wing media have attempted to portray the Occupy Movement as dirty hippies, lazy freeloaders, ignorant dupes, leftist traitors, godless heathens, diabolical Marxists, violent revolutionaries, and White House plants, Breitbart is adding Al-Qaeda terrorists to this list. If it wasn’t so dangerously provocative it would be moderately humorous. But Breitbart’s accusations are irresponsible and his activities may be illegal."
http://veracitystew.com/2011/10/18/breitbarts-slimy-efforts-to-discredit-occupy-wall-street/'It’s not bad enough that right-wing media have attempted to portray the... more
Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan is demanding that state police RELEASE THE NAMES OF EVERY PERSON IN ILLINOIS WHO HOLDS A FIREARM OWNER'S IDENTIFICATION CARD (FOID).
To own a gun in Illinois, you must register for an FOID card. Up until now, the list of names has been kept private by state police, but Attorney General Madigan's office says the public has "a legitimate interest" in knowing the names of registered gun owners.
The only "legitimate interest" is by anti-gun zealots who want to restrict and eventually ELIMINATE your right to own a gun
This is an INVASION OF PRIVACY.
In September, the Associated Press requested the names of each FOID cardholder through the Freedom of Information Act. State police said no... and now Attorney General Madigan has ruled the names can be made public.
Republicans have sponsored legislation in both the House and Senate arguing that gun owner information should be kept secret.
A sponsor of such legislation, Rep. Ron Stephens, (R-Greenville) says, "You can own a handgun, and information about whether you do or don't is private information. There is no reason for anyone or any government agency to make available to you or anyone else whether I have a FOID card."
On Tuesday, Stephens' bill failed 5-5 in committee---so we need to take action immediately and make sure we register our opposition to this infringement of the Constitutional rights of Gun Owners in IL.Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan is demanding that state police RELEASE THE... more
Drone aircraft are patrolling U.S. Cities
April 26, 2010 in News
Public Intelligence has received several messages from the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department requesting the removal of a Law Enforcement Sensitive document which was published on March 25, 2010 regarding Nevada’s “Silver Shield” infrastructure protection program. The document, which is from November 2007, reveals that Las Vegas Police are using unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) and systems to patrol the city and deliver aerial imagery during incidents or special events. Though isolated reports of domestic UAV use do exist, there has not been widespread coverage of the growing use of unmanned aircraft systems over U.S. cities. In March 2006, Declan McCullagh of CNET News reported that police agencies around the country were looking at the use of UAVs for all sorts of purposes, including everything from border patrol to domestic surveillance. In an article titled “Drone aircraft may prowl U.S. skies” McCullagh writes:
In a scene that could have been inspired by the movie “Minority Report,” one North Carolina county is using a UAV equipped with low-light and infrared cameras to keep watch on its citizens. The aircraft has been dispatched to monitor gatherings of motorcycle riders at the Gaston County fairgrounds from just a few hundred feet in the air--close enough to identify faces--and many more uses, such as the aerial detection of marijuana fields, are planned. That raises not just privacy concerns, but also safety concerns because of the possibility of collisions with commercial and general aviation aircraft.
In early January 2010, KPRC News Houston reported on the Houston Police Department and the Department of Homeland Security deploying UAVs for surveillance purposes:
The document released by Public Intelligence corroborates these previous reports, indicating that as early as November 2007, Nevada law enforcement officials were discussing plans to implement the use of UAVs for aerial surveillance during special events and during incident response. Given the character of earlier reports concerning the use of UAVs in other states, it is reasonable to assume that the usage of these unmanned systems is likely be widespread throughout the U.S. The document also indicates that the UAVs feed into a system that is integrated with the local fusion center, along with various systems for recording and geo-mapping “Suspicious Activity Reports” which may be filed by businesses and “critical infrastructure” throughout the state.
Share|Drone aircraft are patrolling U.S. Cities
April 26, 2010 in News
Forcing people to provide a DNA sample without any judicial oversight, just because a single police officer has arrested them, violates the Constitution. That’s why California’s law mandating that DNA samples be taken from all felony arrestees is facing a legal challenge from the ACLU of Northern California (ACLU-NC).
At issue is Proposition 69, a voter-enacted law which mandates that anyone arrested on suspicion of a felony in California has to hand over a DNA sample, regardless of whether or not they are ever charged or convicted. As a result, tens of thousands of innocent Californians will be subject to a lifetime of genetic surveillance because a single police officer suspected them of a crime.
ACLU-NC filed suit in federal court last year seeking to stop this invasive law that violates the Fourth Amendment. Last week, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals heard oral arguments in the ACLU’s appeal of a lower court’s denial of a request for a preliminary injunction to halt the law while the suit continues. The appeals court hearing on July 13 showed that the court takes the privacy concerns and other constitutional issues in this case very seriously. The court clearly recognized the importance of the case, questioning both sides closely and extending the time allotted for oral argument.
Instead of being limited to serious, violent offenses, this law even applies to someone who has written a bad check, shoplifters, and people arrested during political demonstrations. And because collection occurs before any review by a prosecutor or a court, even people who are wrongfully arrested — either because of police misconduct or because the police simply had been provided with incorrect information — will be ordered to provide a sample. For example, a domestic violence victim who injured her partner in self defense might well be arrested while the police investigated her story and then released when they confirmed it, but would still have had to provide a sample.
The practice of automatically collecting DNA from people who are merely arrested ignores the presumption of innocence and blurs the line between being suspected of a crime and being convicted.
(more @ link)Forcing people to provide a DNA sample without any judicial oversight, just because a... more
White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel is fond of saying, “You don’t ever want a crisis to go to waste; it’s an opportunity to do important things that you would otherwise avoid.” Well, the Obama Administration certainly has not let the British Petroleum (BP) Deepwater Horizon oil rig crisis go to waste, using it as a smokescreen to silently assault and further diminish American citizens’ personal freedom.
While the nation has its eyes and ears focused on the blame game ping-pong match between President Obama and BP top brass, President Obama on Thursday, June 10, quietly announced a new Executive Order establishing the “National Prevention, Health Promotion, and Public Health Council.”
Claiming the “authority vested in me as President by the Constitution and the laws of the United States of America,” President Obama has truly gone off the deep end this time in his most atrocious attempt to date to control every aspect of Americans’ lives.
According to Sec. 5. of the Executive Order that details the President’s “National Prevention and Health Promotion Strategy,” the Council will be charged with carrying out “lifestyle behavior modification” among American citizens that do not exhibit “healthy behavior.”
The President’s desired lifestyle behavior modifications focus on:
* smoking cessation;
* proper nutrition;
* appropriate exercise;
* mental health;
* behavioral health;
* sedentary behavior;
* substance-use disorder; and
* domestic violence screenings.
Making matters even worse, if that is even possible at this point, President Obama will create an “Advisory Group” composed of experts hand-picked from the public health field and various other areas of expertise “outside the Federal Government.”
Let’s consider who the President has sought advice and mentoring from in the past:
* Rev. Jeremiah Wright, who the Anti-Defamation League calls a “Messenger of Intolerance,” and
* Bill Ayers, leader of the 1960′s domestic terrorist group ”Weatherman” that was “responsible for 30 bombings aimed at destroying the defense and security infrastructures of the U.S.”
Now, President Obama is going to seek medical advisors who will be charged with modifying lifestyles and behaviors of those citizens he deems unhealthy? “Paging Dr. Kevorkian! You’re wanted in the White House STAT by President Obama!”
Whether you are a child, a parent, a worker, or retired, the President’s approximately 25-member “Advisory Group” will soon be present in every aspect of Americans’ lives, as the Executive Order prescribes. Specifically, our new so-called lifestyle behavior modification advisors will be actively carrying out the President’s orders in:
* worksite health promotion;
* community services, including community health centers;
* preventive medicine;
* health coaching;
* public health education;
* geriatrics; and
* rehabilitation medicine.
President Obama’s sweeping plan to enforce “lifestyle behavior modification” is chock full of open-ended target areas, especially when it comes to issues of “mental” and “behavioral” health, “proper nutrition,” “sedentary behavior,” and “appropriate exercise.” The President’s Executive Order is a blatant and forceful attempt to adjust the way Americans young and old think, behave, eat, drink and whatever else free will used to entitle our nation’s citizens to enjoy as prescribed by the Founding Fathers.
If you are feeling stressed-out, sad, confused, hungry, thirsty, bored, or tired, do you honestly trust President Obama and his “Advisory Group” to act in your best interests?White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel is fond of saying, “You don’t ever... more
UC Berkeley is adding something a little different this year in its welcome package -- cotton swabs for a DNA sample.
In the past, incoming freshman and transfer students have received a rather typical welcome book from the College of Letters and Science's "On the Same Page" program, but this year the students will be asked for more.
The students will be asked to voluntarily submit a DNA sample. The cotton swabs will come with two bar code labels. One label will be put on the DNA sample and the other is kept for the students own records.
The confidential process is being overseen by Jasper Rine, a campus professor of Genetics and Development Biology, who says the test results will help students make decisions about their diet and lifestyle.
Once the DNA sample is sent in and tested, it will show the student’s ability to tolerate alcohol, absorb folic acid and metabolize lactose.
The results of the test will be put in a secure online database where students will be able to retrieve their results by using their bar code.
Rine hopes that this will excite students to be more hands-on with their college experience.
(more @ link)UC Berkeley is adding something a little different this year in its welcome package --... more
Concerned about the security of your personal information on the internet? We all are, and thanks to Mark Zuckerberg, we’re more concerned than ever before. While having your Facebook profile show up in search engines for anyone talented enough to Google your name may be worrisome, it’s far from the worst case scenario. What if there was a website that pulled data from all of your social networking profiles, from Twitter to Flickr, and put it on display for anyone with curious eyes to see?
I hate to break it to you, but there is… introducing… Spokeo!
What Is A Spokeo?
Founded by a team of Stanford alumni in 2006, Spokeo didn’t start out pure evil. The original vision for Spokeo.com was to be a social networking aggregator, a la FriendFeed. This would allow their users to follow their friends, family, and colleagues across several social networking platforms. Nothing wrong with that, right?
Well, Spokeo’s alarming business model began to unveil shortly thereafter. Redesigning their site in 2008, Spokeo made it possible for users to import their e-mail contacts and create friend lists. At this point, it became apparent that Spokeo had more information on you than you may be comfortable with, including LinkedIn profiles, Picasa photos, and personal blog posts.
This year, Spokeo revamped their site once again, transforming into the all-knowing, data-hungry monster it is today.
How Does It Work?
Type in a name, any name, and if you’re feeling specific feel free to narrow your search by adding in a city and state. Spokeo will then pull data from its massive scraped database of personal information and provide you with every detail you did, or didn’t want to know about that person’s life. Now, if you’re skeptical, you may think that this isn’t as bad as it seems — who cares if someone can search information that people have knowingly and willingly made available across social networking websites, right? Sure, that’s a valid argument, but (and this is a big BUT) it doesn’t stop at social networking sites.
Spokeo collects information not only from online profiles, but also from government censuses, property listings, and business websites. Sure, this information is all publically accessible, but did you really fill out your census assuming that your answers would be easily searchable on the internet? The real concern here lies in the fact that all of this information is taken from different sources, stacked together, and readily displayed for the average (or not so average) person to find.
What Information Does Spokeo Provide?
So what information, exactly, does Spokeo have on you? You may not want to know the answer. Let’s start with a rundown of the “basic profile” information: name, address, phone number, age, gender, ethnicity, zodiac sign, relationship, children, occupation, education level, hobbies, and home ownership status.
Moving on, anyone who looks you up will be provided with a list of your personal interests and hobbies that include: which sports you play, what kind of books you read, your taste in music, personality traits, what type of automobiles you prefer, and what type of investments you research. Oh, and that’s just the beginning.
Searchers are then given a breakdown of your household and the people living in it. How many people are living there? What type of home do you live in? Do you have children? A fireplace? A swimming pool? How long have you been living there? What kind of neighborhood do you live in? Most importantly, how much is your home worth?
Paid Options For The Ultra-Creep
For a measly $4.95 per month, potential stalkers, convicted felons, and bitter ex-lovers can get a bit more information on you. That is, if they’re crazy enough to provide this data devouring beast with their credit card information. Fear not, though, logic isn’t among the strongest of traits in the obsessive.
So what information is disclosed when you pay off Spokeo? For starters, your “basic profile” will be expanded upon to disclose your religion, political affiliation, birthday, and spoken languages. Moving on to your “wealth” info, Spokeo provides anyone willing to pay 5 bucks with your estimated income, investments, and mortgage value. What a steal!
Next up, your average psychopath can get expanded information on your “lifestyle indicators.” I can only imagine what kind of info lies behind closed gates.
Last, but certainly not least, a paid-membership to Spokeo provides customers with detailed (“full,” as they describe it) household information. Considering the fact that the standard household info contains the number of people living in your home, whether or not your house has a fireplace, central air/heating, and/or a swimming pool, you can only imagine what information 5 dollars will get you. Blueprints of your home? A live webcam feed of your living room? Probably lots of cool stuff that any web-savvy burglar would like to know.
Oh, and let’s not forget that your basic household information indicates whether or not you have children. It can only be assumed that paying customers will be given a few more details on that aspect of your life. With all of the data Spokeo has racked up, I’d hope that they at least do a criminal background check before giving anyone with internet access and a credit card such information. My guess, however, is that they don’t.
The Accuracy Of Spokeo's Data
Now, you may be curious about the accuracy of the data and personal information that Spokeo has on file. Without question, the data available at this time is far from “perfect.” Keep in mind, though, Spokeo’s new, enhanced version just launched a couple of months back.
In any case, here are some general notes I’ve compiled on the accuracy of Spokeo’s information after a bit of research:
* Address & Phone Number: The addresses and phone numbers they have listed are very accurate, not surprising as they are pulled from the phone book.
* Photos: The photos given are not accurate in the slightest, I have no idea where these (seemingly random) photos are coming from.
* Basic Profile: Info in the basic profile information is, for the most part, accurate. The exception here is estimated home value (no, my home is not worth over a million dollars, unfortunately).
* Lifestyle & Interests: The lifestyle and interests section is somewhat accurate, I’d say around 50 percent of what they have listed on there is correct (yes, I own dogs; no, I don’t enjoy knitting).
* Household: The names and ages of household members are accurate, as well as the home description and length of residence. The estimated home value, again, is off.
* Neighborhood: Containing median income, home value, as well as age, ethnicity, and occupation distribution, the neighborhood information looks accurate in general. Not much to add here.
A Cause For Concern?
Spokeo’s large database of personal information is definitely of concern. While there are several notable inaccuracies in the info they provide at this point, it’s important to recognize that they are just getting started. Without a doubt, Spokeo will do everything in their power to make their information more precise, and more detailed.
Obviously, you don’t want random lurkers, criminals, or creeps of other varieties to have easy access to all of your personal info, but you may not want current or potential employers to have it either. Thanks to Spokeo, with as little information as your name, the outcome of your job interview may be predetermined before even stepping foot in the door. These are just some of the potential problems that a website like Spokeo can cause in your life, if you think about it, the list is nearly endless.
How do you feel about your personal information being neatly compiled and readily available on the internet?Concerned about the security of your personal information on the internet? We all are,... more
It's time again for the Census! This once a decade occurrence was established in the Constitution by our Founding Fathers, however, more invasive questioning than ever has some people asking "what's going on?"
Since the Constitution only specifies that the Census get a head count once every ten years, where does the bureau get authority for their modern-day foray into private questioning? Or do they even have any? See the link for more...It's time again for the Census! This once a decade occurrence was established in... more
In a demo that drew gasps at TED2010, Blaise Aguera y Arcas demos new augmented-reality mapping technology from Microsoft.
http://www.ted.com/talks/blaise_aguera.htmlIn a demo that drew gasps at TED2010, Blaise Aguera y Arcas demos new... more
3 years ago
CNN is reporting on findings from a Freedom of Information request initiated by the Electronic Privacy Information Center that has revealed that, contrary to public statements by the Transportation Security Agency, full-body scanners can store and transmit images.
"In the [FOIA] documents, obtained by the privacy group and provided to CNN, the TSA specifies that the body scanners it purchases must have the ability to store and send images when in 'test mode.' ... 'There is no way for someone in the airport environment to put the machine into the test mode,' [an anonymous] official said, adding that test mode can be enabled only in TSA test facilities. But the official declined to say whether activating test mode requires additional hardware, software or simply additional knowledge of how the machines operate.
Source: http://www.cnn.com/2010/TRAVEL/01/11/body.scanners/CNN is reporting on findings from a Freedom of Information request initiated by the... more
Incremental erosion of freedom will ensure victory for terrorism
A Pennsylvania Walmart Supercenter videotaped employees and customers in a unisex bathroom, several former and current Walmart employees alleged in a lawsuit filed this week.
Seven former and current employees from the Tire and Lube department at the Walmart in Easton, Pa., filed a lawsuit in county court against the Arkansas-based corporation and four local managers Dec. 21.
Several employees discovered an "off-the-shelf" video camera in a store bathroom March 31, 2008, according to the court filing. The unisex bathroom, which also served as a changing room, was used by employees and customers. Customers and employees were not notifed of the surveillance, according to the court filing.
"I am incredulous that anyone would think that it's appropriate conduct for any reason to photograph people in a changing room and bathroom," said Erv McLain, the plaintiffs' attorney.
Walmart said two workers were responsible for the camera.
"Two associates were terminated for placing a camera in an associate dressing room bathroom," Walmart spokesman Greg Rossiter said. "When store management learned of the camera, it was immediately removed."
The company declined further comment.
According to the court filing, the camera was installed by Walmart's loss-prevention unit.
The camera was used to monitor employees for possible theft and it is unclear how long the surveillance took place, McLain said. None of the plaintiffs, however, were accused of stealing from the store.
A store manager acknowledged the existence of the surveillance camera only after employees produced a photo of the camera, McLain said.
"The filming of anyone, including employees, is not something that is unheard of in the industry," McLain said. "But to do it in a changing room and bathroom is totally unprecedented and it could border on criminal activity."
The retailer's "Security and Privacy" policy states that at "some stores and clubs [Walmart] may record your presence on security monitors for safety and security purposes," according to court documents.
(more @ link)A Pennsylvania Walmart Supercenter videotaped employees and customers in a unisex... more
Many of the security tools used by national governments lack scientific underpinning. This was posited by a team of thirteen international behavioural scientists, including Bruno Verschuere and Geert Crombez (Ghent University), in a recent publication in the Open Access Journal of Forensic Psychology.
he team denounces the current situation regarding the use of tools and methods to protect national security.
In their article, they provide a range of examples of equipment, software and methods that are used at airports, by social services and investigative authorities (e.g., Screening Passengers by Observation Technique or SPOT), even though the effectiveness of these tools has not been shown. Moreover, many of these methods are unlikely to work, given that they, for example, attempt to detect deceit by measuring physiological stress signals. And this supposed relationship between stress and deception has been debated in science for years. In all, the use of these tools results in a false sense of security.Many of the security tools used by national governments lack scientific underpinning.... more
Ever get the feeling you're being watched?
Check out the Los Angeles Police Department's creepy new public service announcement for its city-wide anti-terrorism iWatch program. The civilian program was launched earlier this month and is endorsed by 63 police chiefs around the country.
The ad features wide-eyed, blink-free residents reciting Orwellian mantras and looking as if they're about to crawl out of your television like that girl in "The Ring."
So what have we learned by this ad?
We've learned that terrorism is actually a crime. And that if we smell something suspicious, we should report it. Think about the power of that. I'm James Hibberd and I watch my America.Ever get the feeling you're being watched?
Check out the Los Angeles Police... more
Look, it’s really no big surprise how far we’ve let slip our right to privacy. What comes as something of a shock is how happily we’ve volunteered its erosion, cookie by cookie, behavioral analysis by behavioral analysis. Well, maybe one guy wasn’t so startled: Josh Harris, founder in the ’90s of Pseudo, the first Internet TV network, and explorer from the turn of the century onward into people’s zeal for letting the world intercede on their lives, so long as the camera remained trained on them.
In the documentary WE LIVE IN PUBLIC, director Ondi Timoner focuses on two of Harris’ most prominent and controversial ventures: Quiet: We Live in Public, an experiment in which 100 people were shut into a Soho, NY basement with all the comforts of home, plus 24/7 surveillance, mandatory uniforms, communal sleeping quarters, fascistic interrogators, and a fully-stocked armory (danger, Will Robinson!); and weliveinpublic.com, essentially the same concept, but located in his loft and turned on himself and his then-girlfriend (who, not all that surprisingly, pretty quickly became his then-not-girlfriend). That FEMA raids and Harris’ shredding sanity eventually play into the drama probably won’t come as a surprise to anyone.
Timoner is best known for the incredible rock doc, DIG!, which also focused on a artist too sold on the purity of his genius: Anton Newcombe of the Brian Jonestown Massacre. Like that film, WE LIVE IN PUBLIC shows what happens when one follows a dangerous idea to its logical conclusion. Added here though, is an acknowledgment that Harris, however mad his dreams, well foresaw how that nightmare would become our everyday reality — in that way, the film serves both as a disturbing and mesmerizing drama, and a sobering warning.
Click on the link above to hear my interview with Timoner.Look, it’s really no big surprise how far we’ve let slip our right to... more