Tags: Surveillance State

How the Department of Homeland Security Monitored and Tracked Peaceful “Black Lives Matter” Protests

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They also show the department watching over gatherings that seem benign and even mundane. For example, DHS circulated information on a nationwide series of silent vigils and a DHS-funded agency planned to monitor a funk music parade and a walk to end breast cancer in the nation’s capital.

“It is concerning that the government would be diverting resources towards surveilling citizens who are assembling and expressing their First Amendment rights,” says Maurice Mitchell, an organizer with Blackbird, a group that helps support activism against police violence in communities across the country. “The fact that our government is doing this — I can only assume to disrupt us — is pretty alarming… Directly after 9/11, people said, ‘if you’re not doing anything wrong you have nothing to worry about.’ Well, now we’re fighting back against police brutality and extrajudicial killings, yet they are using this supposedly anti-terrorist infrastructure against us.”

– From the Intercept article: Feds Regularly Monitored Black Lives Matter Since Ferguson

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has nothing to do with fighting terrorism. Nothing.

In fact, as I and many others have stated for years, the primary purpose of the DHS, and well as the other intelligence-industrial complex agencies, is to keep the unwashed masses in line when they wake up to the incredible criminality and theft perpetrated by the status quo. Pointing this out in 2015 isn’t particularly novel, prescient or insightful. It’s just obvious.

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FBI Confirms No Major Terrorism Cases Cracked via Unconstitutional Patriot Act Phone Spying

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FBI agents can’t point to any major terrorism cases they’ve cracked thanks to the key snooping powers in the Patriot Act, the Justice Department’s inspector general said in a report Thursday that could complicate efforts to keep key parts of the law operating.

Inspector General Michael E. Horowitz said that between 2004 and 2009, the FBI tripled its use of bulk collection under Section 215 of the Patriot Act, which allows government agents to compel businesses to turn over records and documents, and increasingly scooped up records of Americans who had no ties to official terrorism investigations.

– From the Washington Times article: FBI Admits No Major Cases Cracked with Patriot Act Snooping Powers 

Back in 2013, as debate about the Snowden revelations was at its zenith, I published a post titled NSA Chief Admits “Only One or Perhaps Two” Terror Plots Stopped by Spy Program. Here’s an excerpt:

The Obama administration’s credibility on intelligence suffered another blow Wednesday as the chief of the National Security Agency admitted that officials put out numbers that vastly overstated the counterterrorism successes of the government’s warrantless bulk collection of all Americans’ phone records.

Pressed by the Democratic chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee at an oversight hearing, Gen. Keith B. Alexander admitted that the number of terrorist plots foiled by the NSA’s huge database of every phone call made in or to America was only one or perhaps two — far smaller than the 54 originally claimed by the administration.

“One or perhaps two.” Or perhaps zero. The guy has the nerve to say “perhaps.” How do you not know? What a bunch of lying assholes. How the heck does 54 turn into “one or two,” and I’ll tell you something else, I don’t believe the one or two figure for a minute. I mean there’s no way he would say “zero” when he is fighting to keep his petty little Stasi state intact. Furthermore, how about some details here. What was the one plot the NSA foiled? Some teenager throwing firecrackers on the White House lawn? These guys need to get lost already. From the Washington Times:

As time has passed and the years have gone by, it has become increasingly clear that the phone records collection program hasn’t stopped a single terror attack. In fact, a recently published report by the Justice Department’s inspector general admitted as much. This takes on increased significance with parts of the Patriot Act set to automatically sunset on June 1st.

The Washington Times reports:

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The Stock Market Myth and How the Japanese Middle Class is on the Precipice Thanks to Abenomics

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Data back this up. According to labor ministry figures announced April 1, the number of households living on welfare hit a record 1,618,817 in January. This figure has been on the rise for the last two decades.

On the other hand, data also show that the rich became even wealthier under Abe’s tenure.

– From the Japan Times article: Under ‘Abenomics,’ Rich Thrive but Middle Class on Precipice

Although a sizable amount of people globally are now aware of the historic theft being perpetrated on them by the various oligarchies in control of their respective nation-states, the number of people cognizant and angry about it remains far too low relative to the degree of theft. There are many reasons for this, but I believe the most powerful factor is that extremely sophisticated propaganda has convinced the majority of humanity to buy into all sorts of myths about their particular country or tribe, which keeps them complacent, passive and focused on an exaggerated external threat.

While many of these myths are targeted to specific groups or nationalities, the most powerful ones are those that target humanity on a global scale. Of these, one of the most effective has been the stock market. Pretty much everyone is taught, and buys into the idea, that rising stock markets mean rising prosperity and a strong economy. Part of this has to do with the history of the Great Depression, which is primarily associated with crashing equity markets. The idea of a rising stock market equating to a healthy economy and shared prosperity; however, is in fact a myth. A very powerful and dangerous myth at that.

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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.”

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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:

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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.

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Big Brother is Coming to Your Car

This is a topic that has been on my radar screen for a while, but one that very few Americans seem to be paying attention to despite the egregious revelations concerning NSA spying that have emerged recently. I first flagged this issue in late 2012 in an article titled: Coming to Your Car: Mandatory Black Boxes That Record Everything.

The latest push for tracking devices in cars is being sold as necessary in order to raise funds to pay for the nation’s decayed highway infrastructure. For example:

 As America’s road planners struggle to find the cash to mend a crumbling highway system, many are beginning to see a solution in a little black box that fits neatly by the dashboard of your car.

This is simply idiotic. There is already a tax per gallon on gasoline, so people are already being taxed based on how much they drive. Only a control-freak, moronic government bureaucrat would come to the conclusion that the solution to this problem is to install Orwellian tracking devices in people’s cars.

More from the LA Times:

WASHINGTON — As America’s road planners struggle to find the cash to mend a crumbling highway system, many are beginning to see a solution in a little black box that fits neatly by the dashboard of your car.

The devices, which track every mile a motorist drives and transmit that information to bureaucrats, are at the center of a controversial attempt in Washington and state planning offices to overhaul the outdated system for funding America’s major roads.

Are people really so dumb they will agree to this? Probably.

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Meet SIBIOS: Argentina’s Massive, Orwellian Biometric Database

Two years ago, the UK dismantled their national ID scheme and shredded their National Identity Registry in response to great public outcry over the privacy-invasive program. Unfortunately privacy protections have been less rosy elsewhere. In Argentina, the national ID fight was lost some time ago. A law enacted during the military dictatorship forced all individuals to obtain a government-mandated ID. Now, they are in the process of enhancing its mandatory National Registry of Persons (RENAPER) with biometric data such as fingerprints and digitized faces. The government plans to repurpose this database in order to facilitate “easyaccess” to law enforcement by merging this data into a new, security-focused integrated system. This raises the specter of mass surveillance, as Argentinean law enforcement will have access to mass repositories of citizen information and be able to leverage existing facial recognition and fingerprint matching technologies in order to identify any citizen anywhere.

– From the EFF’s must read article: Biometrics in Argentina: Mass Surveillance as a State Policy

The above passage was written in early 2012, but I had never taken the time to look into Argentina’s burgeoning and extremely creepy biometric database until now. It takes on increased importance to Americans now that Apple has rolled out its iPhone 5NsA.

Don’t worry though, Apple is a private company and they’d never work with the NSA or anything…

The video below is the promotional video of the Biometric ID Database in Argentina, and is an epic example of state propaganda.

Because the Argentine government has such a storied history of doing the right thing…

In Liberty,

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As its Currency Collapses, India Doubles Down on Big Brother Surveillance

What’s a clueless government trying to micromanage the affairs of over a billion people supposed to do when the wheels start coming off the wagon? If you’re India, you blame the country’s financial and societal woes on the buying of gold and attempt to prevent people from purchasing it. When that doesn’t work, and your currency continues to collapse, then what?

Well, you decide to double down on a surveillance state. That’s precisely what the enlightened government bureaucrats at India’s Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) have decided to do. From The Hindu:

Amid a raging global debate on privacy versus surveillance, monitoring and use of intrusive technologies by governments, the Directorate of Forensic Sciences in the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) is set to purchase a range of equipment and software that will allow it to conduct deep search, surveillance and monitoring of voice calls, SMS, email, video, Internet, chat, browsing and Skype sessions on an unprecedented scale.

The MHA document of July 12, 2013 also lists software-based tool kits for logical level analysis of GSM and CDMA mobile phones — which will comprehensively cover phones and SIMs used by India’s 860 million subscribers across 2G and 3G networks. This will be capable of extracting the phone’s basic information and SIM card data, including in your phonebook and contact list, call logs, caller group information, organizer, notes, live and deleted SMSs, web browser artifacts, multimedia and email messages with attachments, multimedia image audio and video files and details of installed applications, their data, traffic and sessions log. It will allow access to iPhone backup analysis, including those which are password protected. Blackberry, considered safe by unsuspecting users, will also be fair game, since it will support Blackberry IPD backup analysis, even when password protected.

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