As of Aug. 24th, we're $5,800 in the red for 2017. Please donate here to support this vital work.
Subscribe here to our free email list

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.


Whistle-Blower, Beware
2016-05-26, New York Times
http://www.nytimes.com/2016/05/26/opinion/whistle-blower-beware.html

June 6 will be the third anniversary of The Guardian’s publication of top-secret documents provided by [Edward] Snowden that showed that the National Security Agency was collecting the telephone records of tens of millions of Americans. Mr. Snowden [has been] denounced ... as a traitor. [Former Secretary of State Hillary] Clinton said in a Democratic presidential debate [that], “He could have gotten all of the protections of being a whistle-blower.” Thomas Drake would disagree. Mr. Drake was a senior N.S.A. official who had also complained, 12 years earlier, about warrantless surveillance. He went up the chain of command [to] the Defense Department’s Office of Inspector General. Things did not go well. F.B.I. agents raided his house. He was forced to resign and was indicted on 10 felony charges arising from an alleged “scheme” to improperly “retain and disclose classified information.” He ultimately pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor for “exceeding authorized use of a government computer” in exchange for the government’s dropping the other charges. He now works at an Apple store. Mr. Snowden followed the Drake case closely in the news media and drew the obvious conclusion: Going through [official] channels was worse than a dead end. [John] Crane, a former assistant inspector general in the Defense Department who oversaw the whistle-blower program, has now come forward alleging that Mr. Drake was persecuted by the very officials in his office who were supposed to protect him.

Note: John Crane was forced out of the Pentagon in 2013. His story is told in a new book, titled, Bravehearts: Whistle Blowing In The Age of Snowden by Mark Hertsgaard. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles about intelligence agency corruption and the disappearance of privacy.


Snowden calls for whistleblower shield after claims by new Pentagon source
2016-05-22, The Guardian (One of the UK's leading newspapers)
http://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2016/may/22/snowden-whistleblower-protecti...

Edward Snowden has called for a complete overhaul of US whistleblower protections after a new source from deep inside the Pentagon came forward with a startling account of how the system became a “trap” for those seeking to expose wrongdoing. The account of John Crane ... appears to undermine Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton and [others] who argue that there were established routes for Snowden other than leaking to the media. Crane, a longtime assistant inspector general at the Pentagon, has accused his old office of retaliating against a major surveillance whistleblower, Thomas Drake. Not only did Pentagon officials provide Drake’s name to criminal investigators, Crane told the Guardian, they destroyed documents relevant to his defence. Thomas Drake’s legal ordeal ruined him financially. His case served as a prologue to Snowden’s. In 2002, Drake and NSA colleagues contacted the Pentagon inspector general to blow the whistle on [a] tool, Trailblazer, for mass-data analysis. Crane, head of the office’s whistleblower unit, assigned investigators. For over two years, with Drake as a major source, they ... prepared a lengthy secret report [that] eventually [helped] to kill the program. As far as Crane was concerned, the whistleblower system was working. But after an aspect of the NSA’s warrantless mass surveillance leaked to the New York Times, Drake himself came under investigation and eventually indictment [for] hoarding documentation – exactly what inspector-general investigators tell their whistleblowers to do.

Note: John Crane was forced out of the Pentagon in 2013. His story is told in a new book, titled, Bravehearts: Whistle Blowing In The Age of Snowden by Mark Hertsgaard. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles about intelligence agency corruption and the disappearance of privacy.


Hidden Microphones Exposed As Part of Government Surveillance Program In The Bay Area
2016-05-13, CBS News (San Francisco affiliate)
http://sanfrancisco.cbslocal.com/2016/05/13/hidden-microphones-exposed-as-par...

Hidden microphones that are part of a clandestine government surveillance program that has been operating around the Bay Area has been exposed. Imagine standing at a bus stop, talking to your friend and having your conversation recorded without you knowing. It happens all the time, and the FBI doesn’t even need a warrant to do it. Jeff Harp, a ... security analyst and former FBI special agent said, “They put microphones under rocks, they put microphones in trees, they plant microphones in equipment. I mean, there’s microphones that are planted in places that people don’t think about, because that’s the intent!” FBI agents hid microphones inside light fixtures and at a bus stop outside the Oakland Courthouse without a warrant to record conversations, between March 2010 and January 2011. Federal authorities are trying to prove real estate investors in San Mateo and Alameda counties are guilty of bid rigging and fraud and used these recordings as evidence. The lawyer for one of the accused real estate investors who will ask the judge to throw out the recordings, told KPIX 5 News that, “Speaking in a public place does not mean that the individual has no reasonable expectation of privacy … private communication in a public place qualifies as a protected ‘oral communication.'”

Note: For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles about government corruption and the disappearance of privacy.


NSA and CIA Double Their Warrantless Searches on Americans in Two Years
2016-05-03, The Intercept
https://theintercept.com/2016/05/03/nsa-and-cia-double-their-warrantless-sear...

From 2013 to 2015, the NSA and CIA doubled the number of warrantless searches they conducted for Americans’ data in a massive NSA database ostensibly collected for foreign intelligence purposes, according to a new intelligence community transparency report. The estimated number of search terms “concerning a known U.S. person” to get contents of communications within what is known as the 702 database was 4,672 - more than double the 2013 figure. And that doesn’t even include the number of FBI searches on that database. A recently released ... court ruling confirmed that the FBI is allowed to run any number of searches it wants on that database, not only for national security probes but also to hunt for evidence of traditional crimes. No estimates have ever been released of how often that happens. The missing data from the FBI is of great concern to privacy advocates. The USA Freedom Act, passed in June 2015, “conspicuously exempts the FBI” from disclosing how often it searches the 702 database, the Project on Government Oversight (POGO) wrote in a letter to the Director of National Intelligence, James Clapper, in October 2015. “There is every reason to believe the number of FBI queries far exceeds those of the CIA and NSA,” POGO wrote. “It is essential that you work with the attorney general to release statistics on the FBI’s use of U.S. person queries.” The new report also leaves unanswered how many Americans’ communications are collected in the first place.

Note: For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles about intelligence agency corruption and the disappearance of privacy.


How strangers can hack the phone in your pocket
2016-04-17, CBS News
http://www.cbsnews.com/news/60-minutes-overtime-how-strangers-can-hack-the-ph...

"There's really only two types of companies or two types of people which are those who have been hacked and realize it and those who have been hacked and haven't." That's what mobile security expert John Hering tells 60 Minutes correspondent Sharyn Alfonsi about the danger of cellphone hacking. To prove his point, Hering assembled a group of ace hackers. Jon Oberheide showed 60 Minutes an app he created that looks legitimate but allows him to take control of a phone and suck out ... information [such as] contacts, recent purchases and text messages. Another hacker, Adam Laurie, uses radio frequency identification to hack phones. "He didn't need my phone number," Alfonsi explains. "All he had to do was physically touch my phone." He demonstrated by brushing by her in the lobby of her hotel. When he did ... her phone [automatically] dialed Laurie, allowing him to listen in on anything discussed in the room with Alfonsi's phone. A so-called "CryptoPhone" ... alerts the user when someone is trying to attack or hack into his or her phone. "Certain government facilities will try to get into your phone if you get too close to them," Alfonsi explains. To demonstrate, Les Goldsmith, CEO of ESD America, a company that specializes in countersurveillance technologies, took Alfonsi for a ride ... near a secure government facility. As they were driving past, a red line appeared on the CryptoPhone, indicating that ... if she were using a regular phone, the government agency could hear her call and read her text messages.

Note: For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles about government corruption and the disappearance of privacy.


Microsoft sues government for secret searches
2016-04-14, CNN
http://money.cnn.com/2016/04/14/technology/microsoft-secret-search-lawsuit/

Microsoft filed a landmark lawsuit against the U.S. Department of Justice on Thursday. The company accuses the federal government of adopting a widespread, unconstitutional policy of looking through Microsoft customers' data - and forcing the company to keep quiet about it. Over the past 18 months, federal judges have approved 2,600 secret searches of Microsoft customers. In two-thirds of those cases, Microsoft can't even notify their customers that they've been searched - ever - because there's no expiration date on these judicial orders. At issue here is the 1986 Electronic Communications Privacy Act, which creates a double standard when it comes to a person's right to know when police are rummaging through their stuff. "People do not give up their rights when they move their private information from physical storage to the cloud," Microsoft says in its lawsuit. "The government, however, has exploited the transition to cloud computing as a means of expanding its power to conduct secret investigations." In its lawsuit, Microsoft claims that federal agents have been violating the company's First Amendment right to speak to its own customers, as well as their customers' Fourth Amendment right to know when they're being searched. This lawsuit also notes the odd, modern distinction that the government makes between searching your computer and searching your information on a company's computer. Law enforcement agents often remain covert when they dig through information stored on company data backup services.

Note: For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles about government corruption and the disappearance of privacy.


Surprise! NSA data will soon routinely be used for domestic policing that has nothing to do with terrorism
2016-03-10, Washington Post
https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/the-watch/wp/2016/03/10/surprise-nsa-data...

The “sneak-and-peek” provision of the Patriot Act that was alleged to be used only in national security and terrorism investigations has overwhelmingly been used in narcotics cases. Now the New York Times reports that National Security Agency data will be shared with other intelligence agencies like the FBI without first applying any screens for privacy. The ACLU of Massachusetts blog Privacy SOS explains [that] domestic law enforcement officials now have access to huge troves of American communications, obtained without warrants, that they can use to put people in cages. This basically formalizes what was already happening. We’ve known for a couple of years now that the Drug Enforcement Administration and the IRS were getting information from the NSA. Because that information was obtained without a warrant, the agencies were instructed to engage in “parallel construction” when explaining to courts and defense attorneys how the information had been obtained. It certainly isn’t the only time that that national security apparatus has let law enforcement agencies benefit from policies that are supposed to be reserved for terrorism investigations in order to get around the Fourth Amendment, then instructed those law enforcement agencies to misdirect, fudge and outright lie about how they obtained incriminating information. This isn’t just a few rogue agents. The lying has been a matter of policy.

Note: For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles about government corruption and the disappearance of privacy.


Snowden: FBI's claim it can't unlock the San Bernardino iPhone is 'bullshit'
2016-03-09, The Guardian (One of the UK's leading newspapers)
http://www.theguardian.com/technology/2016/mar/09/edward-snowden-fbi-san-bern...

Edward Snowden, the whistleblower whose NSA revelations sparked a debate on mass surveillance, has waded into the arguments over the FBI’s attempt to force Apple to help it unlock the iPhone 5C of one of the San Bernardino shooters. The FBI says that only Apple can deactivate certain passcode protections on the iPhone, which will allow law enforcement to guess the passcode by using brute-force. Talking via video link from Moscow to the Common Cause Blueprint for a Great Democracy conference, Snowden said: “The FBI says Apple has the ‘exclusive technical means’ to unlock the phone. Respectfully, that’s bullshit.” Snowden then went on to tweet his support for an American Civil Liberties Union report saying that the FBI’s claims in the case are fraudulent. Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak also spoke out against the FBI on the Conan O’Brien show on Monday, saying: “I side with Apple on this one. [The FBI] picked the lamest case you ever could.” Wozniak added: “Verizon turned over all the phone records and SMS messages. So they want to take this other phone that the two didn’t destroy, which was a work phone. It’s so lame and worthless to expect there’s something on it and to get Apple to expose it.” Apple’s clash with the FBI comes to a head in California this month when the two will meet in federal court to debate whether the smartphone manufacturer should be required to weaken security settings on the iPhone of the shooter.

Note: According to The New York Times, the FBI has been misleading the public about the San Bernadino attacks for months. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles about government corruption and the disappearance of privacy.


Watchdog: Canada's Electronic Spy Agency Broke Privacy Laws
2016-01-28, ABC/Associated Press
http://abcnews.go.com/International/wireStory/watchdog-canadas-electronic-spy...

Canada's electronic spy agency broke privacy laws by sharing information about Canadians with foreign partners, a federal watchdog said Thursday. Commissioner Jean-Pierre Plouffe said in his annual report that the Communications Security Establishment passed along information known as metadata to counterparts in the United States, Britain, Australia and New Zealand. Metadata is information associated with a communication, such as a telephone number or email address, but not the message itself. The communications agency intercepts and analyzes foreign communications for intelligence information of interest to the federal government. The agency is legally authorized to collect and analyze metadata churning through cyberspace. Plouffe, who keeps an eye on the highly secretive agency, said he found that it lacks clarity regarding the sharing of certain types of metadata. Defense Minister Harjit Sajjan said the sharing won't resume until he is satisfied that the proper protections are in place. Plouffe's report noted that certain metadata was not being properly minimized, or rendered unidentifiable, prior to being shared. The CSE's failure to strip out certain Canadian identity information violated the National Defense Act and therefore the federal Privacy Act as well. Privacy advocates have stressed that metadata is far from innocuous since it can reveal a great deal about a person's online behavior and interactions.

Note: Many countries do not allow their intelligence agencies to spy on their own citizens without going through a legal process. The easy way around this that has been used for decades is to simply getting the information from a friendly country. So if the CIA wants information on you in the US, they can't spy directly, but they can ask the UK to do so and pass the information to them and thus get around the laws. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing intelligence agency corruption news articles from reliable major media sources.


Obama Opens NSA’s Vast Trove of Warrantless Data to Entire Intelligence Community, Just in Time for Trump
2016-01-13, The Intercept
https://theintercept.com/2017/01/13/obama-opens-nsas-vast-trove-of-warrantles...

The Obama administration on Thursday announced new rules that will let the NSA share vast amounts of private data gathered without warrant, court orders or congressional authorization with 16 other agencies, including the FBI, the Drug Enforcement Agency, and the Department of Homeland Security. The new rules allow ... those agencies to sift through raw data collected under a broad, Reagan-era executive order that gives the NSA virtually unlimited authority to intercept communications abroad. Previously, NSA analysts would filter out information they deemed irrelevant and mask the names of innocent Americans before passing it along. The last-minute adoption of the procedures is one of many examples of the Obama administration making new executive powers established by the Bush administration permanent, on the assumption that the executive branch could be trusted to police itself. Executive Order 12333 ... serves as authorization for the NSA’s most massive surveillance programs. In 2014, a former state department official described NSA surveillance under 12333 as a “universe of collection and storage” beyond what Congress has authorized. This massive database inevitably includes vast amount of American’s communications — swept up when they speak to people abroad, when they go abroad themselves, or even if their domestic communications are simply routed abroad. That’s why access was previously limited to data that had already been screened to remove unrelated information and information identifying U.S. persons.

Note: For an important viewpoint on the real complexities going on with recent reporting on Trump links to Russia, CIA involvement in Syria, and media manipulations, don't miss this provocative article by Glenn Greenwald and this interview he gave to Fox News. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles about intelligence agency corruption and the disappearance of privacy.


The new way police are surveilling you: Calculating your threat ‘score’
2016-01-10, Washington Post
https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/public-safety/the-new-way-police-are-sur...

A national debate has played out over mass surveillance by the National Security Agency. [Meanwhile], a new generation of technology ... has given local law enforcement officers unprecedented power to peer into the lives of citizens. The powerful systems also have become flash points for civil libertarians and activists. “This is something that’s been building since September 11,” said Jennifer Lynch, a senior staff attorney at the Electronic Frontier Foundation. “First funding went to the military to develop this technology, and now it has come back to domestic law enforcement. It’s the perfect storm of cheaper and easier-to-use technologies and money from state and federal governments to purchase it.” But perhaps the most controversial and revealing technology is the threat-scoring software Beware. As officers respond to calls, Beware automatically runs the address. The searches return the names of residents and scans them ... to generate a color-coded threat level for each person or address: green, yellow or red. Exactly how Beware calculates threat scores is something that its maker, Intrado, considers a trade secret, so ... only Intrado - not the police or the public - knows how Beware tallies its scores. The system might mistakenly increase someone’s threat level by misinterpreting innocuous activity on social media, like criticizing the police, and trigger a heavier response by officers.

Note: For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles about government corruption and the disappearance of privacy.


Spying on Congress and Israel: NSA Cheerleaders Discover Value of Privacy Only When Their Own Is Violated
2015-12-30, The Intercept
https://theintercept.com/2015/12/30/spying-on-congress-and-israel-nsa-cheerle...

The Wall Street Journal reported yesterday that the NSA under President Obama targeted Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his top aides for surveillance. In the process, the agency ended up eavesdropping on ... U.S. lawmakers and American-Jewish groups. People who spent many years cheering for and defending ... programs of mass surveillance are suddenly indignant now that they know the eavesdropping included them. Long-time GOP chairman of the House Intelligence Committee and unyielding NSA defender Pete Hoekstra last night was truly indignant: "WSJ report that NSA spied on Congress and Israel communications very disturbing. Actually outrageous. Maybe unprecedented abuse of power ... NSA and Obama officials need to be investigated and prosecuted. NSA loses all credibility. Scary." This pattern - whereby political officials who are vehement supporters of the Surveillance State transform overnight into crusading privacy advocates once they learn that they themselves have been spied on - is one that has repeated itself over and over. So now, with yesterday’s WSJ report, we witness the tawdry spectacle of large numbers of people who for years were fine with, responsible for, and even giddy about NSA mass surveillance suddenly objecting. Overnight, privacy is of the highest value because now it’s their privacy, rather than just yours, that is invaded.

Note: Read the full Wall Street Journal article on how the US government is secretly spying on Israeli leaders and more. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles about intelligence agency corruption and the disappearance of privacy.


What the TSA’s new body-scanner rules mean for you
2015-12-30, Washington Post
https://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/travel/what-the-tsas-new-body-scanne...

The Transportation Security Administration’s new rules for screening passengers with its controversial full-body scanners - which were quietly changed just before the busy holiday travel season - represent a significant policy reversal that could affect your next flight. Getting checked by the TSA’s advanced-imaging technology used to be entirely optional, allowing those who refused a scan to be subjected to a pat-down. In fact, many observers thought the agency installed the 740 body scanners in 160 airports with an understanding that no one would be forced to use them, ever. But on a Friday in late December, the TSA revised its rules, saying an “opt out” is no longer an option for certain passengers. “The TSA is going back on its word,” says Fred Cate, a law professor at Indiana University and prominent TSA-watcher. “The scanners were sold to Congress and the public on the promise that they were optional, but for at least some people, that is no longer the case.” In previous court filings, the agency offered written assurance that the scanners were optional. Based on the agency’s statements, a federal appeals court affirmed the legality of using the full-body scanners as long as fliers were given a choice.

Note: Read more on the controversy surrounding TSA's costly but technically questionable scanners. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing government corruption news articles from reliable major media sources.


U.S. government reveals breadth of requests for Internet records
2015-11-30, Sun Times/Reuters
http://national.suntimes.com/national-world-news/7/72/2208406/u-s-government-...

The Federal Bureau of Investigation has used a secretive authority to compel Internet and telecommunications firms to hand over customer data including an individual’s complete web browsing history and records of all online purchases, a court filing released Monday shows. The documents are believed to be the first time the government has provided details of its so-called national security letters, which are used by the FBI to conduct electronic surveillance without the need for court approval. National security letters have been available as a law enforcement tool since the 1970s, but their frequency and breadth expanded dramatically under the USA Patriot Act, which was passed shortly after the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks. They are almost always accompanied by an open-ended gag order barring companies from disclosing the contents of the demand for customer data. The secretive orders have long drawn the ire of tech companies and privacy advocates, who argue NSLs allow the government to snoop on user content without appropriate judicial oversight. Last year, the Obama administration announced it would permit Internet companies to disclose more about the number of NSLs they receive. But they can still only provide a range such as between 0 and 999 requests. Twitter has sued in federal court seeking the ability to publish more details in its semi-annual transparency reports. Several thousand NSLs are now issued by the FBI every year. At one point that number eclipsed 50,000 letters annually.

Note: Read more about the FBI's use of these controversial secret letters. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing civil liberties news articles from reliable major media sources.


After Paris, there will be no stopping the surveillance state now
2015-11-19, CBC (Canada's public broadcasting system)
http://www.cbc.ca/news/world/surveillance-state-neil-macdonald-1.3325327

The tools European security agencies now have at their disposal ... would make any American or Canadian intelligence officer drool. Britain has literally created a surveillance state. The British Security Industry Authority estimated three years ago the government has installed about six million closed-circuit TV cameras in the public square; one for every 10 citizens. The French, too, have vastly expanded public video surveillance in recent years. And it's all been done with overwhelming support from the general public, which feels safer for the presence of the surveillance, never mind the lack of objective proof that they are more protected against outrages, which keep on occurring. Both England and France are former colonial powers that ... long ago subordinated individual rights to collective security. Canada and America more dearly cherish individual rights. Still, a surveillance state is growing here, too. David Lyon, a professor of surveillance studies at Queen's University, has identified several public surveillance trends, all of which he says are "increasing at an accelerating rate." Canada is not about to become Western Europe, he says, but "it is incumbent upon us as a society to think about the ethical consequences" of mass surveillance. [Some] would argue that the cameras are desperately needed tools, and that anyone who isn't doing anything wrong has nothing to worry about. That of course is the police state justification. They hate us because we are free, we are told. The fact that we've responded by giving up ever more freedom doesn't seem to matter.

Note: Many of the politicians publicly defending the surveillance state receive huge sums of money from private security companies. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles about government corruption and the disappearance of privacy.


Mass Surveillance Isn’t the Answer to Fighting Terrorism
2015-11-17, New York Times
http://www.nytimes.com/2015/11/18/opinion/mass-surveillance-isnt-the-answer-t...

It’s a wretched yet predictable ritual after each new terrorist attack: Certain politicians and government officials waste no time exploiting the tragedy for their own ends. The remarks on Monday by John Brennan, the director of the Central Intelligence Agency, took that to a new and disgraceful low ... after coordinated terrorist attacks in Paris killed 129. Mr. Brennan complained about ... the sustained national outrage following the 2013 revelations by Edward Snowden, a former National Security Agency contractor, that the agency was using provisions of the Patriot Act to secretly collect information on millions of Americans’ phone records. It is hard to believe anything Mr. Brennan says. Last year, he bluntly denied that the C.I.A. had illegally hacked into the computers of Senate staff members conducting an investigation into the agency’s detention and torture programs when, in fact, it did. In 2011 ... he claimed that American drone strikes had not killed any civilians, despite clear evidence that they had. And his boss, James Clapper Jr., the director of national intelligence, has admitted lying to the Senate on the N.S.A.’s bulk collection of data. Even putting this lack of credibility aside, it’s not clear what extra powers Mr. Brennan is seeking. Most of the men who carried out the Paris attacks were already on the radar of intelligence officials in France and Belgium, where several of the attackers lived. The problem in this case was not a lack of data. In fact, indiscriminate bulk data sweeps have not been useful.

Note: The above is an excellent article by the New York Times editorial board. Yet the role of the largely subservient media, which strongly supported Bush's campaign to go to war in Iraq is ignored. Read this analysis to go even deeper. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles about government corruption and the disappearance of privacy.


This smart TV takes tracking to a new level
2015-11-10, Washington Post
https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/the-switch/wp/2015/11/10/this-smart-tv-ta...

When you watch your Smart TV, it could also be watching you. Vizio, a top television maker, automatically tracks the viewing habits of Smart TV owners and shares that information with advertisers in a way that could connect those preferences to what those customers do on their phones or other mobile devices. Vizio's "Smart Interactivity Program" is turned on by default for its 10 million Smart TV customers. The company analyzes snippets of what you watch, be it on Netflix or traditional television, and connects patterns in your viewing behavior with your Internet Protocol address - an online identifier that can be used to pinpoint every device connected from your home. That includes everything from your laptop and phone to your smart thermostat. That information is then shared with Vizio's partners. There are laws that limit how companies share information about video watching habits, including the Video Privacy Protection Act (VPPA). However, Vizio says that those laws do not apply to its tracking service because the company associates IP addresses with the data rather than a person's name or other "personally identifiable information." Some U.S. courts have held that IP addresses do not constitute personally identifiable information. However, privacy regulators in the European Union disagree. And IP addresses are increasingly used by data brokers to paint detailed portraits of who people are.

Note: In 21st century America, TV watches you. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles about the disappearance of privacy.


FBI spied on Burning Man music festival, documents reveal
2015-09-06, Houston Chronicle (A leading newspaper of Houston, Texas)
http://www.chron.com/national/article/FBI-spied-on-Burning-Man-music-festival...

Newly-released documents show that FBI spied on the Burning Man festival in 2010. It remains unclear if FBI agents actually attended the event. Burning Man [takes place] in an isolated Nevada desert, where up to 70,000 people gather annually for music, art, drugs and large fires. The revelations of federal surveillance come from heavily-redacted internal FBI memos handed to ... reporter Inkoo Kang, who filed a request under the federal Freedom of Information Act for any FBI documents "mentioning the phrase 'Burning Man." In late August, a private security firm contacted the FBI's Las Vegas division for help conducting a "threat assessment" ahead of the event, to which the FBI replied that they had no worrying intelligence about Burning Man. Days later, the Las Vegas division messaged the FBI's Special Events Management Unit requesting guidance on planning an approach to the festival. A subsequent paragraph, sandwiched between two entirely-redacted paragraphs, said, "scheduled overtime for special agents assigned to work special events will be approved under certain very limited and relatively rare circumstances," raising question over whether or not FBI special agents were deployed at Burning Man. A final memo listed two "accomplishments" from the operation; one was redacted, the other was "local agency liaison established/utilized." The FBI concluded that the greatest threat present at Burning Man was "use of illegal drugs by the participants."

Note: The CIA once used art as a weapon in its propaganda campaigns. Is the investigation of a large art festival merely another erosion of privacy, or is the FBI up to something comparably strange?


Many police departments spy on you without oversight. This must end
2015-08-26, The Guardian (One of the UK's leading newspapers)
http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2015/aug/26/police-want-spy-without-...

Local police around the country are increasingly using high-tech mass surveillance gear that can vacuum up private information on entire neighborhoods. Many cops are ... purposefully hiding their spying from courts to avoid any scrutiny from judges. Two important news reports from the last week have shed light on the disturbing practices. The first investigation, done by USA Today’s Brad Heath, found: “In one case after another ... police in Baltimore and other cities used the phone tracker, commonly known as a stingray, to locate the perpetrators of routine street crimes and frequently concealed that fact from the suspects, their lawyers and even judges.” Stingrays are so controversial that some state legislatures have already passed laws restricting their use – which is exactly why police want to keep [their use] secret. The Wall Street Journal also reported last week about newer devices costing as little as a few hundred dollars [that] the police supposedly don’t think ... require a court order at all to use against potential suspects. These devices are handheld or can be attached to clothing. Not only are these cops violating the constitutional rights of defendants by spying on them without court orders, but, in some cases, they’re also allegedly dismissing felony cases involving potentially dangerous criminals, so they can prevent judges from ruling on whether their surveillance tactics are legal ... all to continue their blanket surveillance practices with minimal scrutiny.

Note: For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles about the erosion of privacy rights.


AT&T Helped N.S.A. Spy on an Array of Internet Traffic
2015-08-15, MSN News/New York Times
http://www.msn.com/en-us/news/us/atandt-helped-nsa-spy-on-an-array-of-interne...

The National Security Agency’s ability to spy on vast quantities of Internet traffic passing through the United States has relied on its extraordinary, decades-long partnership with a single company: the telecom giant AT&T. The N.S.A.’s top-secret budget in 2013 for the AT&T partnership was more than twice that of the next-largest such program, [and] the company installed surveillance equipment in at least 17 of its Internet hubs on American soil, far more than its similarly sized competitor, Verizon. After the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, AT&T ... began turning over emails and phone calls “within days” after the warrantless surveillance began in October 2001. In 2011, AT&T began handing over 1.1 billion domestic cellphone calling records a day to the N.S.A. after “a push to get this flow operational prior to the 10th anniversary of 9/11,” according to an internal agency newsletter. In a 2006 lawsuit, a retired AT&T technician named Mark Klein claimed that ... he had seen a secret room in a company building in San Francisco where the N.S.A. had installed equipment. Mr. Klein claimed that AT&T was providing the N.S.A. with access to Internet traffic that AT&T transmits for other telecom companies. Such cooperative arrangements, known in the industry as “peering,” mean that communications from customers of other companies could end up on AT&T’s network.

Note: The story of Klein's lawsuit was initially suppressed by the NSA and major media including the L.A. Times. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles about questionable intelligence agency practices and the erosion of privacy.


Important 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.