Tags: 4th Amendment

Asset Forfeiture – How Cops Continue to Steal Americans’ Hard Earned Cash with Zero Repercussions

Screen Shot 2014-07-28 at 12.59.05 PMAlmost exactly one year ago today, I published a post which went on to become extremely popular titled: Why You Should Never, Ever Drive Through Tenaha, Texas. If you failed to read it the first time around, I suggest you take look as it provides a good outline of just what is at stake when it comes to this destructive and abusive practice increasingly utilized by police departments across these United States with zero repercussions for the offending officers. In last years article I noted that:

Read the Full Article »

Like this post?
Donate bitcoins: 1LefuVV2eCnW9VKjJGJzgZWa9vHg7Rc3r1


 Follow me on Twitter.

The Obama Administration is Forcing Local Cops to Stay Silent on Surveillance

Screen Shot 2014-06-13 at 2.39.47 PMThe criminality of the Obama Administration is at this point almost beyond description. Earlier this week I highlighted a shocking discovery in my post titled: The Obama Administration is Trying to Cover up the VA Scandal by Issuing Subpoenas to Whistle-Blower Sites. In that piece, it was noted that:


Instead, it’s lawyers from the President Barack Obama administration employing the power of the administrative subpoena in a bid to siphon data from POGO’s encrypted submission portal. POGO’s site encourages whistleblowers to use Tor as the gateway and has garnered more than 700 tips about abuse and mismanagement at the US Veterans Administration after less than a month of operation.

Read the Full Article »

Like this post?
Donate bitcoins: 1LefuVV2eCnW9VKjJGJzgZWa9vHg7Rc3r1


 Follow me on Twitter.

The NSA Claims it is “Too Big to Comply” with a Court Order

Screen Shot 2014-06-10 at 11.35.48 AMThe fact that that the NSA is now claiming it is “Too Big to Comply” with a court order is an extremely important revelation since it further proves that the super rich and super powerful are in no way shape or form subject to the same laws as the rest of us. The mega banks are “Too Big to Fail,” multi-national corporations are “Too Big to Pay Taxes” and the government is just “Too Big to be Useful.” The rule of law no longer exists in America (remember Jon Corzine), which in turn means there is no longer a functioning society. This may not be obvious to most people at the moment, but it will become painfully clear to everyone in time unless these trends are reversed.

The specific incident I have chosen to highlight to demonstrate this point today relates to the NSA’s claim that it cannot comply with a court order because it’s essentially too complex and compliance will damage “national security.”

Read the Full Article »

Like this post?
Donate bitcoins: 1LefuVV2eCnW9VKjJGJzgZWa9vHg7Rc3r1


 Follow me on Twitter.

Video of the Day – Teen Makes Nancy Pelosi Squirm with His Question on the NSA

Screen Shot 2014-06-03 at 3.07.38 PMYou’ve got to give young Andrew Demeter a lot of credit. Given the chance to meet a powerful Congresswoman, most people would melt into a sad puddle of unjustified reverence and pathetic groveling. Not this young man. When he was given the opportunity to ask Nancy Pelosi a question, he confronted her on the NSA’s unconstitutional spy practices and why she hasn’t done anything to stop it, considering she claims to be so “liberal.”

Read the Full Article »

Like this post?
Donate bitcoins: 1LefuVV2eCnW9VKjJGJzgZWa9vHg7Rc3r1


 Follow me on Twitter.

License Plate Readers Stir Controversy in California as the NYPD Prepares to Use Drones

One of the many civil liberties related themes I have focused on over the past several years has to do with how emerging technologies can pose a threat, first to our basic 4th Amendment rights, and then ultimately to freedom itself. Two of the most high profile technologies in this regard, and which have extremely high potential for abuse, are license plate readers and drones.

I’m no luddite saying that these technologies should be banned. In fact, I can certainly see reasonable uses for both within a broad range of society. However, I am saying that unless we have an engaged citizenry holding public officials’ feet to the fire, these technologies will certainly be abused and before you know it you’ll find yourself in Room 101 staring down at a ravenous rat army wishing you had said something earlier.

The biggest challenge we face is that the general public has become so dumbed down, distracted and confused when it comes to the most existential issues we face as a society. Rather than focusing on key issues that really matter, the mainstream media largely blows up and obsesses over immaterial, yet emotionally charged events that don’t mean anything in the larger scheme of things.

License plate readers and drones are two great examples of this dilemma. Both have been advancing into our lives in an increasing manner and most people don’t have the slightest clue. How can people have informed opinions on such keys issues when they have no idea what is happening around them.

Let’s start with the license plate scanners. Before reading further, I suggest going back and checking out my post from earlier this year: How the Repo Industry is Collecting Data on Virtually Every Car in America.

Now that you are sufficiently disturbed about the extent to which your privacy is being violated day in and day out, let’s focus on some good news. The fact that there is now a bill in the California state legislature that will attempt to put some boundaries around this technology.

We learn from CBS News that:

Read the Full Article »

Like this post?
Donate bitcoins: 1LefuVV2eCnW9VKjJGJzgZWa9vHg7Rc3r1


 Follow me on Twitter.

Congress Guts Anti-NSA Spying Bill Beyond Recognition; Original Cosponsor Justin Amash Votes No

It’s shameful that the president of the United States, the chairman of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, and the leaders of the country’s surveillance agencies refuse to accept consensus reforms that will keep our country safe while upholding the Constitution. And it mocks our system of government that they worked to gut key provisions of the Freedom Act behind closed doors.

– Rep. Justin Amash of Michigan, original cosponsor of the USA Freedom Act

In what will come as no surprise to any of you, there are very few members of Congress I have even the slightest degree of respect for. However, Justin Amash is one of them.

Rep. Amash is 34 years old and was first elected to Congress in 2010. He has been on my radar screen for several years now as one of the few elected representatives who act more like statesmen than politicians. He has been on the right side of many civil liberties related issues, including his opposition to the NDAA’s provision that allows for the indefinite detention of American citizens without a trial. More recently, last summer he authored an anti-NSA amendment known as the “Amash Amendment,” which was defeated by establishment authoritarians in both political parties. I covered that story in my post: NSA Holds “Top Secret” Meeting to Stop Powerful Anti-Spying Amendment.

Being the fighter that he is, Amash regrouped and came back with an anti-NSA spying bill with some teeth to it: The USA Freedom Act. This bill concerned the establishment to such a degree that Senator Feinstein launched her own competing bill, which believe it or not, intended to codify the NSA’s unconstitutional practices into law.

In the end, what the status quo did was water down the once robust USA Freedom Act into oblivion. Don’t take my word for it, Justin Amash wrote the following on his Facebook page:

Today, I will vote no on ‪#‎HR3361‬, the ‪#‎USAFREEDOMAct‬.

I am an original cosponsor of the Freedom Act, and I was involved in its drafting. At its best, the Freedom Act would have reined in the government’s unconstitutional domestic spying programs, ended the indiscriminate collection of Americans’ private records, and made the secret FISA court function more like a real court—with real arguments and real adversaries.

I was and am proud of the work our group, led by Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner, did to promote this legislation, as originally drafted.

However, the revised bill that makes its way to the House floor this morning doesn’t look much like the Freedom Act.

This morning’s bill maintains and codifies a large-scale, unconstitutional domestic spying program. It claims to end “bulk collection” of Americans’ data only in a very technical sense: The bill prohibits the government from, for example, ordering a telephone company to turn over all its call records every day.

But the bill was so weakened in behind-the-scenes negotiations over the last week that the government still can order—without probable cause—a telephone company to turn over all call records for “area code 616″ or for “phone calls made east of the Mississippi.” The bill green-lights the government’s massive data collection activities that sweep up Americans’ records in violation of the Fourth Amendment.

Read the Full Article »

Like this post?
Donate bitcoins: 1LefuVV2eCnW9VKjJGJzgZWa9vHg7Rc3r1


 Follow me on Twitter.

Can Police Search Your Cell Phone Without a Warrant? The Supreme Court is About to Decide

Two very important cases related to the 4th Amendment protection of cellphone data went before the Supreme Court yesterday. At issue here is whether or not police can search someone’s cellphone upon arrest. As usual, the Obama administration’s Justice Department is arguing against the citizenry, and in favor of the (police) state. Let’s not forget that the “Justice” Department also argued in favor of the police being able to place GPS tracking devices on people’s cars without a warrant back in 2011. Fortunately, the Supreme Court ruled against it.

Naturally, the feds in the current case will discuss all of the criminals they were able to bring to justice as a result of these privacy violations, but they will certainly not point out America’s current epidemic of unlawful arrests, as well as arrests for petty non-violent crimes that happen each and every day. For instance, let’s not forget statistics that came out last fall from the FBI that showed police make an arrest every two seconds in the USA. I covered this in detail in my post: Land of the Free: American Police Make an Arrest Every 2 Seconds in 2012.

That translates to 12.2 million arrests in 2012, only 521,196 of which were for violent crimes. So should cops be able to search cellphones of millions of Americans being arrested for non-violent crimes such as drug possession? Or what about the street artist in NYC who was unlawfully arrested for putting on a puppet show? Or the guy who’s house was raided by police for a parody Twitter account. Allowing cops to search cellphones upon arrest in a trigger happy police state seems barbaric, immoral and downright stupid to me.

Furthermore, isn’t it interesting that the feds appear so obsessed with taking away your civil liberties to catch petty criminals, yet they couldn’t put a single banker behind bars for the far more egregious crime of destroying the U.S. economy and ruining millions of lives?

Here are some excerpts from The New York Times article to help you get up to speed on what’s at stake:

WASHINGTON — In a major test of how to interpret the Fourth Amendment in the digital age, the Supreme Court on Tuesday will consider two cases about whether the police need warrants to search the cellphones of the people they arrest.

“The implications of these cases are huge,” said Orin S. Kerr, a law professor at George Washington University, noting that about 12 million people are arrested every year, often for minor offenses, and that about 90 percent of Americans have cellphones.

Read the Full Article »

Like this post?
Donate bitcoins: 1LefuVV2eCnW9VKjJGJzgZWa9vHg7Rc3r1


 Follow me on Twitter.

Meet AISight – The Artificial Intelligence Software Being Installed on CCTV Networks Globally

If you thought that CCTV cameras tracking your every move in public was bad enough, you’re going to just love AISight (pronounced “eyesight” of course). The invention of a Houston, Texas based company called BRS Labs (which stands for Behavioral Recognition Systems) is headed by former secret service special agent John Frazzini, and this Orwellian surveillance platform brings artificial intelligence to all of those creepy cameras that have been installed everywhere around you.

Apparently, this system is currently being installed in Boston, and has already been implemented in Chicago and Washington. In the event you live in these cities, I bet you’ve never heard of AISight, and more importantly, I bet there’s been little to no public debate.

The most disturbing part about this platform is that this artificial intelligence defines what is “normal” behavior and anything that falls outside of that narrow band can be flagged for “pre crime” potential. Ultimately, if these things are allowed to proliferate, it will condition humans to behave like zombie automatons fearful that anything interesting or creative might be viewed as criminal.

The NYPD recently engaged in such behavior when it arrested a street artist unlawfully. Now imagine if a computer could do the work the work without human involvement.

The entire sad incident was caught on video. See below:

The “War on Street Artists” – Puppeteer Unlawfully Arrested and Harassed in NYC Subway

For more details on AISight, we turn to ITProPortal:

Imagine a major city completely covered by a video surveillance system designed to monitor the every move of its citizens. Now imagine that the system is run by a fast-learning machine intelligence, that’s designed to spot crimes before they even happen. No, this isn’t the dystopian dream of a cyber-punk science fiction author, or the writers of TV show “Person of Interest”. This is Boston, on the US East Coast, and it could soon be many more cities around the world.

Behavioral Recognition Systems, Inc. (BRS Labs) is a software development company based out of a nondescript office block in Houston Texas, with the motto: “New World. New security.”

BRS Labs’ AISight is different because it doesn’t rely on a human programmer to tell it what behaviour is suspicious. It learns that all by itself.

The system enables a machine to monitor is environment, and build up a detailed profile of what can be considered “normal” behaviour. The AI can then determine what kind of behavior is abnormal, without human pre-programing.

Just what the world needs.

Oh, but wait, it gets even better…

What’s more, AISight permanently learns and registers when changes in normal behavior occur, so no ongoing programing is required from human operators. In order to do this, it employs a technology known as “artificial neural networks”, which mimics the function of the human brain.

Read the Full Article »

Like this post?
Donate bitcoins: 1LefuVV2eCnW9VKjJGJzgZWa9vHg7Rc3r1


 Follow me on Twitter.

FBI Plans to Have 52 Million Photos in Facial Recognition Database by 2015

I have highlighted the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) and it great work on this website on many occasions. The organization has been at the forefront of many privacy and civil liberties related issues, including the increasing use of drones by the U.S. government domestically, unconstitutional NSA spying, as well as a host of other issues.

The latest article from them that caught my attention was published a couple of days ago, and shines light on the disturbing push by the FBI to create an extensive facial recognition database, which will include criminal and non-criminal photos alike. The information received by the EFF via a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request, demonstrates that the feds may have a mugshot database with up to 52 million photos by 2015.

The program is called Next Generation Identification (NGI), and the aspect of it that bothers the EFF most is the fact that non-criminal and criminal photos will be combined in the same database. So someone who has no criminal record can suddenly be flagged as a suspect just because an algorithm says so. What’s worst, research shows that the potential for false positive identification increases as the dataset increases.

To see if your state is participating, take a look at this map courtesy of the EFF.

Screen Shot 2014-04-16 at 10.52.50 AM

More from the EFF:

New documents released by the FBI show that the Bureau is well on its way toward its goal of a fully operational face recognition database by this summer.

EFF received these records in response to our Freedom of Information Act lawsuit for information on Next Generation Identification (NGI)—the FBI’s massive biometric database that may hold records on as much as one third of the U.S. population. The facial recognition component of this database poses real threats to privacy for all Americans.

NGI builds on the FBI’s legacy fingerprint database—which already contains well over 100 million individual records—and has been designed to include multiple forms of biometric data, including palm prints and iris scans in addition to fingerprints and face recognition data. NGI combines all these forms of data in each individual’s file, linking them to personal and biographic data like name, home address, ID number, immigration status, age, race, etc. This immense database is shared with other federal agencies and with the approximately 18,000 tribal, state and local law enforcement agencies across the United States.

The records we received show that the face recognition component of NGI may include as many as 52 million face images by 2015.
Like this post?
Donate bitcoins: 1LefuVV2eCnW9VKjJGJzgZWa9vHg7Rc3r1


 Follow me on Twitter.

Department of Homeland Security Moves to Install National License Plate Tracking System

*I have just been informed of some really great news. The DHS has canceled the plan due to outrage. This is what we can achieve if we are informed and keep the pressure on. I expect them to be back at it in the future, so stay vigilant. Article on the cancelation can be found here. I have left my original post intact below.

Earlier today, I highlighted a program planned by the FCC named the Critical Information Needs study, which will embed “government researchers” into media organizations in order to make sure they are doing their job properly. This insane anti-free press measure is extraordinarily disturbing and now we find out that the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has plans to outsource the creation of a gigantic, comprehensive nationwide license plate database to a private corporation.

The status quo is now overtly doubling down on surveillance in the wake of the Snowden revelations rather than reigning them in. Game is on folks. Things are getting very serious.

From the Washington Post:

The Department of Homeland Security wants a private company to provide a national license-plate tracking system that would give the agency access to vast amounts of information from commercial and law enforcement tag readers, according to a government proposal that does not specify what privacy safeguards would be put in place.

The national license-plate recognition database, which would draw data from readers that scan the tags of every vehicle crossing their paths, would help catch fugitive illegal immigrants, according to a DHS solicitation. But the database could easily contain more than 1 billion records and could be shared with other law enforcement agencies, raising concerns that the movements of ordinary citizens who are under no criminal suspicion could be scrutinized.

It’s for the children! How can you object to saving the children!

“It is important to note that this database would be run by a commercial enterprise, and the data would be collected and stored by the commercial enterprise, not the government,” she said.

Yeah, because that makes me feel so much better…

But civil liberties groups are not assuaged. “Ultimately, you’re creating a national database of location information,” said Jennifer Lynch, a staff attorney with the Electronic Frontier Foundation. “When all that data is compiled and aggregated, you can track somebody as they’re going through their life.”

The agency said the length of time the data is retained would be up to the winning vendor.Vigilant Solutions, for instance, one of the leading providers of tag-reader data, keeps its records indefinitely.

Read the Full Article »

Like this post?
Donate bitcoins: 1LefuVV2eCnW9VKjJGJzgZWa9vHg7Rc3r1


 Follow me on Twitter.