Tags: Surveillance State

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,
Mike

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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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Sales of George Orwell’s 1984 Have Soared 126%

I first read this story earlier in the day via the Washington Examiner.  That was a few hours ago and at the time their story stated sales were up a mere 69%.  They subsequently  updated the article to inform readers that sales had risen to up 91%.  Well I just checked for myself and the figures now show a 126% increase.  It’s all very dynamic, so here is the link for you to check for yourself.  I couldn’t resist posting a screen shot as well.  I suppose it makes sense that people would want to get up to speed on the dystopian world being constructed rapidly and secretly around them.

1984sales

In Liberty,
Mike

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Picture of the Day: CHANGE

Actually the image is titled “Stasi USA” and it’s another brilliant gem from William Banzai7. Some things never CHANGE.

Change

 

Even the Author of the Patriot Act Slams the NSA and Eric Holder on Spying

You know it’s bad when the author of what might be the most unconstitutional bill in U.S. history criticizes you for being too authoritarian on civil rights.  Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner (R-Wisc.), the man who introduced the Patriot Act in October 2001 has written a letter to Eric Holder at the Department of Injustice expressing dismay about the aggressive interpretation of the Patriot Act.  All indications are that this guy is merely playing politics and doesn’t really care much about the Constitution, but it still offers some precious irony.

Here are some excerpts:

As the author of the Patriot Act, I am extremely troubled by the FBI’s interpretation of this legislation. While I believe the Patriot Act appropriately balanced national security concerns and civil rights, I have always worried about potential abuses.

“The Bureau’s broad application for phone records was made under the so-called business records provision of the Act.  I do not believe the broadly drafted FISA order is consistent with the requirements of the Patriot Act. Seizing phone records of millions of innocent people is excessive and un-American.”

Full letter embedded below.

 

Mayor Bloomberg on Drones: “Oh it’s Big Brother. Get Used to it”

While hosting his weekly radio show this past Friday, Your Royal Highness Mayor Michael Bloomberg explained to the serfs of NYC that privacy is dead and that you just “can’t keep the tide” of the surveillance state from coming in.  His quotes perfectly demonstrate the attitude he takes toward his subjects and are quite revealing.  For instance:

“Everybody wants their privacy, but I don’t know how you’re going to maintain it.  It’s just we’re going into a different world, uncharted, and, like it or not, what people can do, what governments can do, is different.  And you can to some extent control, but you can’t keep the tides from coming in.”

“The argument against using automation, it’s this craziness– oh, it’s Big Brother. Get used to it.”

As if that isn’t bad enough, it also become 100% crystal clear that this guy wants to fill the skies of NYC with “freedom birds.”  He sees absolutely no problem with it at all.  In his own words:

“But what’s the difference whether the drone is up in the air or on the building? I mean intellectually I have trouble making a distinction. And you know you’re gonna have face recognition software.  People are working on that.”

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