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Privacy Media Articles
Excerpts of Key Privacy Media Articles in Major Media


Below are highly revealing excerpts of important privacy articles reported in the media suggesting a major cover-up. Links are provided to the full articles on major media websites. If any link fails to function, read this webpage. These privacy articles are listed by article date. You can also explore the articles listed by order of importance or by date posted. By choosing to educate ourselves on these important issues and to spread the word, we can and will build a brighter future.

Note: Explore our full index to revealing excerpts of key major media news articles on several dozen engaging topics. And don't miss amazing excerpts from 20 of the most revealing news articles ever published.


How cash rules surveillance policy
2013-07-04, San Francisco Chronicle (SF's leading newspaper)
http://www.sfchronicle.com/opinion/article/How-cash-rules-surveillance-policy...

Have you noticed anything missing in the political discourse about the National Security Administration's unprecedented mass surveillance? There's at least been some conversation about the intelligence community's potential criminality and constitutional violations. But there have only been veiled references to how cash undoubtedly tilts the debate against those who challenge the national security state. Those indirect references have come in stories about Booz Allen Hamilton, the security contractor that employed Edward Snowden. CNN/Money notes that 99 percent of the firm's multibillion-dollar annual revenues now come from the federal government. Those revenues are part of a larger and growing economic sector within the military-industrial complex - a sector that, according to author Tim Shorrock, is "a $56 billion-a-year industry." Yet few in the Washington press corps mention that politicians' attacks on surveillance critics may have nothing to do with principle and everything to do with shilling for campaign donors. For a taste of what that kind of institutionalized corruption looks like, peruse the Influence Explorer site to see how much Booz Allen Hamilton and its parent company, the Carlyle Group, spend. As you'll see, from Barack Obama to John McCain, many of the politicians publicly defending the surveillance state have taken huge sums of money from the firms. Simply put, there are corporate forces with a vested financial interest in making sure the debate over security is tilted toward the surveillance state and against critics of that surveillance state.

Note: Tim Shorrock, quoted above, is the author of Spies for Hire: The Secret World of Intelligence Outsourcing.


GCHQ taps fibre-optic cables for secret access to world's communications
2013-06-21, The Guardian (One of the UK's leading newspapers)
http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2013/jun/21/gchq-cables-secret-world-communicati...

Britain's spy agency GCHQ has secretly gained access to the network of cables which carry the world's phone calls and internet traffic and has started to process vast streams of sensitive personal information which it is sharing with its American partner, the National Security Agency (NSA). The sheer scale of the agency's ambition is reflected in the titles of its two principal components: Mastering the Internet and Global Telecoms Exploitation, aimed at scooping up as much online and telephone traffic as possible. This is all being carried out without any form of public acknowledgement or debate. One key innovation has been GCHQ's ability to tap into and store huge volumes of data drawn from fibre-optic cables for up to 30 days so that it can be sifted and analysed. GCHQ and the NSA are consequently able to access and process vast quantities of communications between entirely innocent people, as well as targeted suspects. This includes recordings of phone calls, the content of email messages, entries on Facebook and the history of any internet user's access to websites – all of which is deemed legal, even though the warrant system was supposed to limit interception to a specified range of targets. The existence of the programme has been disclosed in documents shown to the Guardian by the NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden. Britain's technical capacity to tap into the cables that carry the world's communications ... has made GCHQ an intelligence superpower. A total of 850,000 NSA employees and US private contractors with top secret clearance had access to GCHQ databases.

Note: For solid evidence spy agencies targeted even top politicians, click here. For more on intelligence agency corruption, see the deeply revealing reports from reliable major media sources available here.


FBI uses drones for surveillance in U.S
2013-06-20, CNN
http://www.cnn.com/2013/06/19/politics/fbi-drones/index.html

FBI Director Robert Mueller acknowledged [to the Senate Judiciary Committee on June 19 that] the law enforcement agency uses drone aircraft in the United States for surveillance. He did not say how many unmanned surveillance vehicles (UAVs) the FBI has or how often they have been used. But a law enforcement official told CNN the FBI has used them a little more than a dozen times but did not say when that started. The official said drones are useful in hostage and barricade situations because they operate more quietly and are less visible than traditional aircraft such as helicopters. Bureau spokesman Paul Bresson said their use allows "us to learn critical information that otherwise would be difficult to obtain without introducing serious risk to law enforcement personnel." Bresson said the aircraft can only be used to perform surveillance on stationary subjects and the FBI must first get approval from the Federal Aviation Administration to fly in a "very confined geographic area." Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Dianne Feinstein expressed concern over drone use domestically. "I think the greatest threat to the privacy of Americans is the drone and the use of the drone, and the very few regulations that are on it today and the booming industry of commercial drones," the California Democrat said. The FAA forecasts some 10,000 civilian drones will be in use in the United States within five years, including those for law enforcement and commercial purposes.

Note: For more on domestic US drone surveillance, click here. For deeply revealing reports from reliable major media sources on the hidden realities of intelligence agencies, click here.


Tech firms push back on digital spying
2013-06-18, San Francisco Chronicle (SF's leading newspaper)
http://www.sfchronicle.com/technology/article/Tech-firms-push-back-on-digital...

Edward Snowden, the whistle-blower shining spotlights on federal surveillance practices, made a rhetorical - and volatile - point during an online question-and-answer session Monday. "If Facebook, Google, Microsoft and Apple refused to provide this cooperation with the intelligence community, what do you think the government would do? Shut them down?" he asked. Snowden's point implies that tech companies should push back on all government requests for data on their users. Prosecuting these much-used companies for noncompliance would only shed light on the extent of the programs they aimed to keep secret in the first place. Whether a tech company dares go that far remains to be seen. But in the past week a number of household names in Silicon Valley have at least started demanding more freedom to disclose what the government wants to know about their users. As the tech companies associated with Snowden's leaked materials scramble to comply with government requests, they're also scrambling to save face with customers. It's still not clear what exact technical mechanism the government used to acquire information about users of Facebook, Google, Microsoft, Yahoo and Apple, among others. But it is clear that some Internet users have come to view these tech giants as proxy spies as a result of their assumed compliance. The companies say they would like nothing better than to clear their names, but they simply aren't allowed to release details about government requests.

Note: For deeply revealing reports from reliable major media sources on government assaults on privacy, click here.


Google challenges U.S. gag order, citing First Amendment
2013-06-18, Washington Post
http://www.washingtonpost.com/business/technology/google-challenges-us-gag-or...

Google asked the secretive Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court on [June 18] to ease long-standing gag orders over data requests the court makes, arguing that the company has a constitutional right to speak about information it is forced to give the government. The legal filing, which invokes the First Amendment’s guarantee of free speech, is the latest move by the California-based tech giant to protect its reputation in the aftermath of news reports about broad National Security Agency surveillance of Internet traffic. Revelations about the program, called PRISM, have opened fissures between U.S. officials and the involved companies, which have scrambled to reassure their users without violating strict rules against disclosing information that the government has classified as top secret. A high-profile legal showdown might help Google’s efforts to portray itself as aggressively resisting government surveillance, and a victory could bolster the company’s campaign to portray government surveillance requests as targeted narrowly and affecting only a small number of users. [The] unusual legal move came after days of intense talks between federal officials and several of the technology companies, including Google, over what details can be released. It also comes as the firms increasingly show signs of wanting to outdo each other in demonstrating their commitment to protecting user privacy. Facebook, Microsoft and Yahoo in recent days have won federal government permission to include requests from the court as part of the overall number of data requests they receive from federal, state and local officials.

Note: For deeply revealing reports from reliable major media sources on government assaults on privacy, click here.


GCHQ intercepted foreign politicians' communications at G20 summits
2013-06-16, The Guardian (One of the UK's leading newspapers)
http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2013/jun/16/gchq-intercepted-communications-g20-...

Foreign politicians and officials who took part in two G20 summit meetings in London in 2009 had their computers monitored and their phone calls intercepted on the instructions of their British government hosts. Some delegates were tricked into using internet cafes which had been set up by British intelligence agencies to read their email traffic. The disclosure raises new questions about the boundaries of surveillance by GCHQ [Government Communications Headquarters] and its American sister organisation, the National Security Agency [NSA], whose access to phone records and internet data has been defended as necessary in the fight against terrorism and serious crime. There have often been rumours of this kind of espionage at international conferences, but it is highly unusual for hard evidence to confirm it and spell out the detail. The evidence is contained in documents – classified as top secret – which were uncovered by the NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden and seen by the Guardian. They reveal that during G20 meetings in April and September 2009 GCHQ used what one document calls "ground-breaking intelligence capabilities" to intercept the communications of visiting delegations. This included: • Setting up internet cafes where they used an email interception programme and key-logging software to spy on delegates' use of computers; • Penetrating the security on delegates' BlackBerrys to monitor their email messages and phone calls; • Supplying 45 analysts with a live round-the-clock summary of who was phoning who at the summit.

Note: For deeply revealing reports from reliable major media sources on the hidden realities of intelligence agencies, click here


3 NSA veterans speak out on whistle-blower: We told you so
2013-06-16, USA Today
http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/politics/2013/06/16/snowden-whistleblower-...

When a National Security Agency contractor revealed top-secret details this month on the government's collection of Americans' phone and Internet records, one select group of intelligence veterans breathed a sigh of relief. Thomas Drake, William Binney and J. Kirk Wiebe belong to a select fraternity: the NSA officials who paved the way. For years, the three whistle-blowers had told anyone who would listen that the NSA collects huge swaths of communications data from U.S. citizens. They had spent decades in the top ranks of the agency, designing and managing the very data-collection systems they say have been turned against Americans. When they became convinced that fundamental constitutional rights were being violated, they complained first to their superiors, then to federal investigators, congressional oversight committees and, finally, to the news media. They have been investigated as criminals and forced to give up careers, reputations and friendships built over a lifetime. Today, they feel vindicated. They say the documents leaked by Edward Snowden, the 29-year-old former NSA contractor who worked as a systems administrator, proves their claims of sweeping government surveillance of millions of Americans not suspected of any wrongdoing. They say those revelations only hint at the programs' reach. On [June 15], USA TODAY brought Drake, Binney and Wiebe together for the first time since the story broke to discuss the NSA revelations. With their lawyer, Jesselyn Radack of the Government Accountability Project, they weighed their implications and their repercussions.

Note: See the link above for a great interview of these courageous whistleblowers. For deeply revealing reports from reliable major media sources on the hidden realities of intelligence agencies, click here


State photo-ID databases become troves for police
2013-06-16, Washington Post
http://www.washingtonpost.com/business/technology/state-photo-id-databases-be...

The faces of more than 120 million people are in searchable photo databases that state officials assembled to prevent driver’s-license fraud but that increasingly are used by police to identify suspects, accomplices and even innocent bystanders in a wide range of criminal investigations. The facial databases have grown rapidly in recent years and generally operate with few legal safeguards beyond the requirement that searches are conducted for “law enforcement purposes.” The most widely used systems were honed on the battlefields of Afghanistan and Iraq as soldiers sought to identify insurgents. The increasingly widespread deployment of the technology in the United States has helped police [identify people who] leave behind images on surveillance videos or social-media sites that can be compared against official photo databases. But law enforcement use of such facial searches is blurring the traditional boundaries between criminal and non-criminal databases, putting images of people never arrested in what amount to perpetual digital lineups. Though not yet as reliable as fingerprints, these technologies can help determine identity through individual variations in irises, skin textures, vein patterns, palm prints and a person’s gait while walking. Facial-recognition systems ... can be deployed remotely, without subjects knowing that their faces have been captured.

Note: For deeply revealing reports from reliable major media sources on government assaults on privacy, click here.


NSA surveillance played little role in foiling terror plots, experts say
2013-06-12, The Guardian (One of the UK's leading newspapers)
http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2013/jun/12/nsa-surveillance-data-terror-attack

Lawyers and intelligence experts with direct knowledge of two intercepted terrorist plots that the Obama administration says confirm the value of the NSA's vast data-mining activities have questioned whether the surveillance sweeps played a significant role, if any, in foiling the attacks. The defence of the controversial data collection operations ... has been led by Dianne Feinstein, chairwoman of the Senate intelligence committee, and her equivalent in the House, Mike Rogers. The two politicians have attempted to justify the NSA's use of vast data sweeps such as Prism and Boundless Informant by pointing to the arrests and convictions of would-be New York subway bomber Najibullah Zazi in 2009 and David Headley, who is serving a 35-year prison sentence for his role in the 2008 Mumbai attacks. But court documents lodged in the US and UK, as well as interviews with involved parties, suggest that data-mining through Prism and other NSA programmes played a relatively minor role in the interception of the two plots. Conventional surveillance techniques, in both cases including old-fashioned tip-offs from intelligence services in Britain, appear to have initiated the investigations. The Headley case is a peculiar choice for the administration to highlight as an example of the virtues of data-mining. The fact that the Mumbai attacks occurred, with such devastating effect, in itself suggests that the NSA's secret programmes were limited in their value as he was captured only after the event. Headley ... had been an informant working for the Drug Enforcement Administration perhaps as recently as 2005. There are suggestions that he might have then worked in some capacity for the FBI or CIA.

Note: For deeply revealing reports from reliable major media sources on the realities of intelligence agency activity, click here.


Connecting the Dots on PRISM, Phone Surveillance, and the NSA’s Massive Spy Center
2013-06-12, Wired Magazine
http://www.wired.com/threatlevel/2013/06/nsa-prism-verizon-surveillance

Long before Edward Snowden walked out of the NSA with his trove of documents, whistleblowers there had been trying for years to bring attention to the massive turn toward domestic spying that the agency was making. Last year in my Wired cover story on the enormous new NSA data center in Utah, Bill Binney, the man who largely designed the agency’s worldwide eavesdropping system, warned of the secret, nationwide surveillance. He told how the NSA had gained access to billions of billing records not only from AT&T but also from Verizon. I also wrote about Adrienne J. Kinne, an NSA intercept operator who attempted to blow the whistle on the NSA’s illegal eavesdropping on Americans following the 9/11 attacks. She [attempted and failed] to end the illegal activity with appeals all the way up the chain of command to Major General Keith Alexander. The deception by General Alexander is especially troubling. In my new cover story for Wired’s July issue ...I show how he has become the most powerful intelligence chief in the nation’s history. Never before has anyone in America’s intelligence sphere come close to his degree of power, the number of people under his command, the expanse of his rule, the length of his reign, or the depth of his secrecy. A four-star Army general, his authority extends across three domains: He is director of the world’s largest intelligence service, the National Security Agency; chief of the Central Security Service; and commander of the U.S. Cyber Command. As such, he has his own secret military, presiding over the Navy’s 10th Fleet, the 24th Air Force, and the Second Army.

Note: James Bamford, the author of this article, was the ABC producer responsible for breaking the story on Operation Northwoods, which proved a level of deception almost beyond belief at the very highest levels of the Pentagon. For more on this, click here. For deeply revealing reports from reliable major media sources on the realities of intelligence agency activity, click here.


U.S., British intelligence mining data from nine U.S. Internet companies in broad secret program
2013-06-07, Washington Post
http://www.washingtonpost.com/investigations/us-intelligence-mining-data-from...

The National Security Agency and the FBI are tapping directly into the central servers of nine leading U.S. Internet companies, extracting audio and video chats, photographs, e-mails, documents, and connection logs. The program, code-named PRISM, has not been made public until now. It may be the first of its kind. Equally unusual is the way the NSA extracts what it wants, according to the document: “Collection directly from the servers of these U.S. Service Providers: Microsoft, Yahoo, Google, Facebook, PalTalk, AOL, Skype, YouTube, Apple.” GCHQ, Britain’s equivalent of the NSA, also has been secretly gathering intelligence from the same internet companies through an operation set up by the NSA. PRISM was launched from the ashes of President George W. Bush’s secret program of warrantless domestic surveillance in 2007, after news media disclosures, lawsuits and the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court forced the president to look for new authority. Congress obliged with the Protect America Act in 2007 and the FISA Amendments Act of 2008, which immunized private companies that cooperated voluntarily with U.S. intelligence collection. Government officials and the document itself made clear that the NSA regarded the identities of its private partners as PRISM’s most sensitive secret, fearing that the companies would withdraw from the program if exposed. “98 percent of PRISM production is based on Yahoo, Google and Microsoft; we need to make sure we don’t harm these sources,” the briefing’s author wrote in his speaker’s notes.

Note: For graphs and lots more on the Prism program, see the Guardian article at this link. Technically, U.S. officials are not allowed to mine personal data from U.S. citizens. Yet if U.K. authorities mine data on U.S. citizens, they can share it freely with officials in the U.S. and vice versa. There is evidence that this happens quite frequently, thus circumventing privacy protections. For an excellent article which goes deep into this issue, click here.


Everything you need to know about the NSA’s phone records scandal
2013-06-06, Washington Post
http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/wonkblog/wp/2013/06/06/everything-you-nee...

The Guardian [has] released a classified court order requiring Verizon to turn over records of all domestic phone calls to the National Security Agency. The revelation has led to a renewed debate over the legality and policy merits of indiscriminate government surveillance of Americans. The court order, issued by the secret Foreign Intelligence Surveillance court, only sought metadata — a fancy word for information like what numbers you called, what time you made the calls, and how long the calls were. The order does not seek the audio of calls. Of course, it’s possible the NSA has other programs collecting the contents of calls. In 2006 a whistleblower reported the existence of a secret, NSA-controlled room in an AT&T switching facility in San Francisco. So it’s possible the NSA is using rooms like that to listen to everyone’s phone calls. But all we know for sure is that the NSA has been requesting information about our phone calls. We only have proof of spying on Verizon customers, but it’s hard to imagine the NSA limiting its surveillance program to one company. There are probably similar orders in effect for AT&T and CenturyLink, the other major telephone companies. The order includes hints that the NSA is also collecting information from cellular customers. In addition to phone numbers and call times, the order seeks information about the specific cell phone tower the customer used to connect to the network during each call. Cellphones make calls using the closest tower. So if the NSA knows you made a call using a specific tower, they can safely assume you were near that tower at the time of the call.

Note: For graphs and lots more on the Prism program, see the Guardian article at this link. Technically, U.S. officials are not allowed to mine personal data from U.S. citizens. Yet if U.K. authorities mine data on U.S. citizens, they can share it freely with officials in the U.S. and vice versa. There is evidence that this happens quite frequently, thus circumventing privacy protections. For an excellent article which goes deep into this issue, click here.


Daniel Ellsberg: ‘I’m sure that President Obama would have sought a life sentence in my case’
2013-06-05, Washington Post
http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/wonkblog/wp/2013/06/05/daniel-ellsberg-im...

[Daniel] Ellsberg is one of the most outspoken critics of the Obama administration’s prosecution of leakers. Under President Obama’s tenure, the government has prosecuted six individuals for releasing classified information to media organizations. Ellsberg is particularly fierce in his support of Bradley Manning, a young soldier who released a large amount of classified information to WikiLeaks. Manning was arrested in 2010, and his military court-martial began this week. Ellsberg considers Manning a hero, and he argues that there is little difference between what Manning did in 2010 and what Ellsberg did four decades earlier. [Q.}: In a 1973 interview, you said that a “secondary objective” of releasing the Pentagon Papers was “the hope of changing the tolerance of Executive secrecy that had grown up over the last quarter of a century both in Congress and the courts and in the public at large.” How has that “tolerance of secrecy” changed over the last four decades? DE: There’s been very great tolerance that if the magic words “national security,” or the new words “homeland security” are invoked, Congress has given the president virtually a free hand in deciding what information they will know as well as the public. I wouldn’t count on the current court with its current makeup making the same ruling with the Pentagon Papers as they did 40 years ago. I’m sure that President Obama would have sought a life sentence in my case. Various things that were counted as unconstitutional then have been put in the president’s hands now. He’s become an elected monarch. Nixon’s slogan, “when the president does it, it’s not illegal,” is pretty much endorsed now.

Note: To see key quotes showing the amazing courage and dedication of Snowden, click here. For deeply revealing reports from reliable major media sources on the realities of intelligence agency activity, click here.


Supreme Court says police may take DNA samples from arrestees
2013-06-03, Washington Post
http://articles.washingtonpost.com/2013-06-03/politics/39704073_1_dna-samples...

A divided Supreme Court ruled [on June 3] that police may take DNA samples when booking those arrested for serious crimes, narrowly upholding a Maryland law and opening the door to more widespread collection of DNA by law enforcement. The court ruled 5 to 4 that government has a legitimate interest in collecting DNA from arrestees ... to establish the identity of the person in custody. Conservative Justice Antonin Scalia ... amplified his displeasure by reading a summary of his dissent from the bench. “The court has cast aside a bedrock rule of our Fourth Amendment law: that the government may not search its citizens for evidence of crime unless there is a reasonable cause to believe that such evidence will be found,” Scalia said from the bench. He added, “Make no mistake about it: As an entirely predictable consequence of today’s decision, your DNA can be taken and entered into a national DNA database if you are ever arrested, rightly or wrongly, and for whatever reason.” Steven R. Shapiro, legal director of the American Civil Liberties Union said the decision “creates a gaping new exception to the Fourth Amendment” and violates a long-established understanding that “police cannot search for evidence of a crime ... without individualized suspicion.”

Note: For deeply revealing reports from reliable major media sources on government assaults on privacy, click here.


Gov't Probe Obtains Wide Swath of AP Phone Records
2013-05-13, ABC News/Associated Press
http://abcnews.go.com/Politics/wireStory/govt-obtains-wide-ap-phone-records-p...

The Justice Department secretly obtained two months of telephone records of reporters and editors for The Associated Press in what the news cooperative's top executive called a "massive and unprecedented intrusion" into how news organizations gather the news. The records obtained by the Justice Department listed outgoing calls for the work and personal phone numbers of individual reporters, for general AP office numbers in New York, Washington and Hartford, Conn., and for the main number for the AP in the House of Representatives press gallery. In all, the government seized the records for more than 20 separate telephone lines assigned to AP and its journalists in April and May of 2012. The government would not say why it sought the records. Officials have previously said in public testimony that the U.S. attorney in Washington is conducting a criminal investigation into who may have provided information contained in a May 7, 2012, AP story about a foiled terror plot. The story disclosed details of a CIA operation in Yemen that stopped an al-Qaida plot in the spring of 2012 to detonate a bomb on an airplane bound for the United States. Prosecutors have sought phone records from reporters before, but the seizure of records from such a wide array of AP offices, including general AP switchboards numbers and an office-wide shared fax line, is unusual.

Note: For deeply revealing reports from reliable major media sources on government corruption, click here.


Are all telephone calls recorded and accessible to the US government?
2013-05-04, The Guardian (One of the UK's leading newspapers)
http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2013/may/04/telephone-calls-recorded-...

CNN's Out Front with Erin Burnett [has been] focused on the possible involvement in the Boston Marathon attack of Katherine Russell, the 24-year-old American widow of the deceased suspect, Tamerlan Tsarnaev. Anonymous government officials are claiming that they are now focused on telephone calls between Russell and Tsarnaev that took place both before and after the attack to determine if she had prior knowledge of the plot or participated in any way. Burnett interviewed Tim Clemente, a former FBI counterterrorism agent, about whether the FBI would be able to discover the contents of past telephone conversations between the two. He quite clearly insisted that they could: BURNETT: There's no way they actually can find out what happened, right, unless she tells them? CLEMENTE: No, there is a way. We certainly have ways in national security investigations to find out exactly what was said in that conversation. We certainly can find that out. BURNETT: So they can actually get that? People are saying, look, that is incredible. CLEMENTE: No, welcome to America. All of that stuff is being captured as we speak whether we know it or like it or not. On Thursday night, Clemente again appeared on CNN. He reiterated what he said the night before but added expressly that "all digital communications in the past" are recorded and stored. All digital communications - meaning telephone calls, emails, online chats and the like - are automatically recorded and stored and accessible to the government after the fact. To describe that is to define what a ubiquitous, limitless Surveillance State is.

Note: All of our communications have been monitored by government computers for years. BBC News reported in this this 1999 article about the Echelon network which monitors all communications globally. For deeply revealing reports from reliable major media sources on government and corporate threats to privacy, click here.


Domestic drones and their unique dangers
2013-03-29, The Guardian (One of the UK's leading newspapers)
http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2013/mar/29/domestic-drones-unique-da...

The use of drones by domestic US law enforcement agencies is growing rapidly, both in terms of numbers and types of usage. As a result, civil liberties and privacy groups led by the ACLU ... have been devoting increasing efforts to publicizing their unique dangers and agitating for statutory limits. The belief that weaponized drones won't be used on US soil is patently irrational. Police departments are already speaking openly about how their drones "could be equipped to carry nonlethal weapons such as Tasers or a bean-bag gun." The drone industry has already developed and is now aggressively marketing precisely such weaponized drones for domestic law enforcement use. Domestic weaponized drones will be much smaller and cheaper, as well as more agile - but just as lethal [as the large missile-firing drones used by the US military overseas]. The nation's leading manufacturer of small "unmanned aircraft systems" (UAS) ... is AeroVironment, Inc. (AV). AV is now focused on drone products - such as the "Qube" - that are so small that they can be "transported in the trunk of a police vehicle or carried in a backpack." AV's website ... touts a February, 2013 Defense News article describing how much the US Army loves [its] "Switchblade" [drone]. Time Magazine heralded this tiny drone weapon as "one of the best inventions of 2012", gushing: "the Switchblade drone can be carried into battle in a backpack. It's a kamikaze: the person controlling it uses a real-time video feed from the drone to crash it into a precise target. Its tiny warhead detonates on impact."

Note: This important article also discusses drones used by government agencies such as police for purposes of continuous surveillance. But it misses entirely another major dimension: privately owned and controlled drones, which are becoming dirt cheap and within the reach of virtually anyone. Will the new "DroneWorld" in the making combine the worst features of the Police State with the Wild West?


Your car may be invading your privacy
2013-03-24, USA Today
http://www.usatoday.com/story/money/cars/2013/03/24/car-spying-edr-data-priva...

Is your car spying on you? If it's a recent model, has a fancy infotainment system or is equipped with toll-booth transponders or other units you brought into the car that can monitor your driving, your driving habits or destination could be open to the scrutiny of others. If your car is electric, it's almost surely capable of ratting you out. You may have given your permission, or you may be the last to know. All too often, "people don't know it's happening," says Dorothy Glancy, a law professor at Santa Clara University in California who specializes in transportation and privacy. "People should be able to decide whether they want it collected or not." Try as you may to protect your privacy while driving, it's only going to get harder. The government is about to mandate installation of black-box accident recorders, a dumbed-down version of those found on airliners — that remember all the critical details leading up to a crash, from your car's speed to whether you were wearing a seat belt. The devices are already built into 96% of new cars. Privacy becomes an issue when data end up in the hands of outsiders whom motorists don't suspect have access to it, or when the data are repurposed for reasons beyond those for which they were originally intended. Though the information is being collected with the best of intentions — safer cars or to provide drivers with more services and conveniences — there is always the danger it can end up in lawsuits, or in the hands of the government or with marketers looking to drum up business from passing motorists.

Note: For more on the OnStar system in most GM cars now and how it allows spying on you, read the CNN article titled "OnStar's 'brazen' data tracking comes under fire" at this link.


U.S. to let spy agencies scour Americans' finances
2013-03-13, Chicago Tribune/Reuters
http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2013-03-13/business/chi-us-to-let-spy-agen...

The Obama administration is drawing up plans to give all U.S. spy agencies full access to a massive database that contains financial data on American citizens and others who bank in the country, according to a Treasury Department document. The proposed plan represents a major step by U.S. intelligence agencies to spot and track down [targeted persons] by bringing together financial databanks, criminal records and military intelligence. Financial institutions that operate in the United States are required by law to file reports of "suspicious customer activity," such as large money transfers or unusually structured bank accounts, to Treasury's Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN). The Federal Bureau of Investigation already has full access to the database. However, intelligence agencies, such as the Central Intelligence Agency and the National Security Agency, currently have to make case-by-case requests for information to FinCEN. The Treasury plan would give spy agencies the ability to analyze more raw financial data than they have ever had before. Financial institutions file more than 15 million "suspicious activity reports" every year, according to Treasury. Banks, for instance, are required to report all personal cash transactions exceeding $10,000.

Note: For deeply revealing reports from reliable major media sources on the games intelligence agencies play, click here.


Raytheon software trolls social networks
2013-02-12, San Francisco Chronicle (SF's leading newspaper)
http://www.sfgate.com/technology/article/Raytheon-software-trolls-social-netw...

Raytheon, a Massachusetts defense contractor, has built tracking software that pulls information from social networks, according to a video obtained by the Guardian newspaper in London. "[Raytheon] has acknowledged the technology was shared with U.S. government and industry as part of a joint research and development effort, in 2010, to help build a national security system capable of analyzing 'trillions of entities' from cyberspace." Using public data from Facebook, Twitter, Gowalla and Foursquare, the software - called RIOT, or Rapid Information Overlay Technology - apparently gathers uploaded information and forms a profile of a person's every move that was registered with one of the websites. The video obtained by the newspaper starts with a demonstration by Raytheon's "principal investigator," Brian Urch, showing how easy it is to track an employee named Nick - a real person - based on all the places he has checked in using his smartphone. "When people take pictures and post them on the Internet using their smartphones, the phone will actually embed the latitude and longitude in the header data - so we're going to take advantage of that," Urch says. "So now we know where Nick's gone ... and now we'll predict where he'll be in the future." Urch goes on to analyze - using graphs and calendars - where Nick likes to spend his personal time and make predictions about his behavior. "If you ever wanted to get a hold of his laptop, you might want to visit the gym at 6 a.m. on Monday," Urch says with alarming casualness.

Note: To read the full Guardian article, click here.


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