Privacy Media Articles
Excerpts of Key Privacy Media Articles from Major Media
Below are many highly revealing excerpts of important privacy articles reported in the mainstream media suggesting a cover-up.
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For an index to revealing excerpts of media articles on several dozen engaging topics, click here
Daniel Ellsberg: ‘I’m sure that President Obama would have sought a life sentence in my case’
2013-06-05, Washington Post
[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
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
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)
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)
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
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
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)
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.
TSA removing 'virtual strip search' body scanners
Airport body scanners that produce graphic images of travelers' bodies will be removed from checkpoints by June, the Transportation Security Administration says, ending what critics called "virtual strip searches." Passengers will continue to pass through machines that display a generic outline of the human body, raising fewer privacy concerns. The TSA move came after Rapiscan, the manufacturer of the 174 so-called "backscatter" machines, acknowledged it could not meet a congressional-ordered deadline to install privacy software on the machines. "It is big news," said Marc Rotenberg, executive director of the Electronic Privacy Information Center. "It removes the concern that people are being viewed naked by the TSA screener." Currently, the TSA uses the 174 backscatter machines in 30 airports, and has another 76 units in storage. It uses millimeter wave machines in 170 airports. The decision to remove the backscatter machine will make moot, at least temporarily, travelers' concerns about the health effects of the machines. Backscatter machines use X-rays, while millimeter wave machines use radio waves. The TSA has long maintained both machines are safe, but recently signed an agreement with the National Academy of Sciences to study the scanners. The study will continue even though the machines are being pulled, the TSA said, because they could be reintroduced in the future.
Note: Each of those machines cost $175,000. Someone sure made a lot of money on these machines which had a very short lifespan.
Revealed: how the FBI coordinated the crackdown on Occupy
2012-12-29, The Guardian (One of the UK's leading newspapers)
New documents prove what was once dismissed as paranoid fantasy: totally integrated corporate-state repression of dissent. It was more sophisticated than we had imagined: new documents show that the violent crackdown on Occupy last fall – so mystifying at the time – was not just coordinated at the level of the FBI, the Department of Homeland Security, and local police. The crackdown, which involved, as you may recall, violent arrests, group disruption, canister missiles to the skulls of protesters, people held in handcuffs so tight they were injured, people held in bondage till they were forced to wet or soil themselves – was coordinated with the big banks themselves. The Partnership for Civil Justice Fund, in a groundbreaking scoop that should once more shame major US media outlets (why are nonprofits now some of the only entities in America left breaking major civil liberties news?), filed this request. The document – reproduced here in an easily searchable format – shows a terrifying network of coordinated DHS, FBI, police, regional fusion center, and private-sector activity so completely merged into one another that the monstrous whole is, in fact, one entity: in some cases, bearing a single name, the Domestic Security Alliance Council. And it reveals this merged entity to have one centrally planned, locally executed mission. The documents, in short, show the cops and DHS working for and with banks to target, arrest, and politically disable peaceful American citizens.
Note: For analysis of these amazing documents revealing the use of joint government and corporate counterterrorism structures against peaceful protestors of financial corruption, click here and here. For a Democracy Now! video segment on this, click here.
GOP and Feinstein join to fulfill Obama's demand for renewed warrantless eavesdropping
2012-12-28, The Guardian (One of the UK's leading newspapers)
The FISA Amendments Act of 2008 did much more than shield lawbreaking telecoms from all forms of legal accountability. It also legalized vast new, sweeping and almost certainly unconstitutional forms of warrantless government eavesdropping. [The] 2008 law gutted the 30-year-old FISA statute that had [barred] the government from eavesdropping on the communications of Americans without first obtaining a warrant from a court. Worst of all, the 2008 law legalized ... the NSA warrantless eavesdropping program secretly implemented by George Bush after the 9/11 attack. The 2008 FISA law provided that it would expire in four years unless renewed. Yesterday, the Senate debated its renewal. Several Senators - Democrats Jeff Merkley and Ron Wyden of Oregon along with Kentucky GOP Senator Rand Paul - each attempted to attach amendments to the law simply to provide some modest amounts of transparency and oversight to ensure that the government's warrantless eavesdropping powers were constrained and checked from abuse. The Democratic Chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee, Dianne Feinstein ... demanded renewal of the FISA law without any reforms. And then predictably, in virtually identical 37-54 votes, Feinstein and her conservative-Democratic comrades joined with virtually the entire GOP caucus ... to reject each one of the proposed amendments and thus give Obama exactly what he demanded: reform-free renewal of the law.
Note: For analysis of this Senate vote, click here. For deeply revealing reports from reliable major media sources on government assaults on privacy, click here.
F.B.I. Counterterrorism Agents Monitored Occupy Movement
2012-12-25, New York Times
The Federal Bureau of Investigation used counterterrorism agents to investigate the Occupy Wall Street movement, including its communications and planning, according to newly disclosed agency records. The F.B.I. records show that as early as September 2011, an agent from a counterterrorism task force in New York notified officials of two landmarks in Lower Manhattan — Federal Hall and the Museum of American Finance — “that their building was identified as a point of interest for the Occupy Wall Street.” In the following months, F.B.I. personnel around the country were routinely involved in exchanging information about the movement with businesses, local law-enforcement agencies and universities. An October 2011 memo from the bureau’s Jacksonville, Fla., field office was titled Domain Program Management Domestic Terrorist. The memo said agents discussed “past and upcoming meetings” of the movement, and its spread. It said agents should contact Occupy Wall Street activists to ascertain whether people who attended their events had “violent tendencies.” Since the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, the F.B.I. has come under criticism for deploying counterterrorism agents to conduct surveillance and gather intelligence on organizations active in environmental, animal-cruelty and poverty issues. The records were obtained by the Partnership for Civil Justice Fund, a civil-rights organization in Washington, through a Freedom of Information request to the F.B.I.
Note: For analysis of these amazing documents revealing the use of joint government and corporate counterterrorism structures against peaceful protestors of financial corruption, click here and here. For a Democracy Now! video segment on this, click here.
U.S. Terrorism Agency to Tap a Vast Database of Citizens
2012-12-12, Wall Street Journal
Through Freedom of Information Act requests and interviews with officials at numerous agencies, The Wall Street Journal has reconstructed the clash over the counterterrorism program within the administration of President Barack Obama. The attorney general [has] signed the changes into effect. The rules now allow the little-known National Counterterrorism Center to examine the government files of U.S. citizens for possible criminal behavior, even if there is no reason to suspect them. That is a departure from past practice, which barred the agency from storing information about ordinary Americans unless a person was a terror suspect or related to an investigation. Now, NCTC can copy entire government databases—flight records, casino-employee lists, the names of Americans hosting foreign-exchange students and many others. The agency has new authority to keep data about innocent U.S. citizens for up to five years, and to analyze it for suspicious patterns of behavior. Previously, both were prohibited. Data about Americans "reasonably believed to constitute terrorism information" may be permanently retained. "It's breathtaking" in its scope, said a former senior administration official. The Fourth Amendment of the Constitution says that searches of "persons, houses, papers and effects" shouldn't be conducted without "probable cause" that a crime has been committed.
Note: This article requires subscription to view at the link above. To read it for free, click here. For analysis of this sweeping increase in government privacy invasions, click here. For deeply revealing reports from reliable major media sources on government privacy invasions, click here.
Push to step up domestic use of drones
2012-11-27, San Francisco Chronicle (SF's leading newspapers)
Are unmanned aircraft, known to have difficulty avoiding collisions, safe to use in America's crowded airspace? And would their widespread use for surveillance result in unconstitutional invasions of privacy? Experts say neither question has been answered satisfactorily. Yet the federal government is rushing to open America's skies to tens of thousands of the drones - pushed to do so by a law championed by manufacturers of the unmanned aircraft. The 60-member House of Representatives' "drone caucus" - officially, the House Unmanned Systems Caucus - has helped push that agenda. And over the last four years, caucus members have drawn nearly $8 million in drone-related campaign contributions. Domestic use of drones began with limited aerial patrols of the nation's borders by Customs and Border Patrol authorities. But the industry and its allies pushed for more, leading to provisions in the FAA Modernization and Reform Act, signed into law on Feb. 14 of this year. The law requires the FAA to fully integrate the unmanned aerial vehicles into national airspace by September 2015. The FAA has predicted that 30,000 drones could be flying in the United States in less than 20 years. House members from California, Texas, Virginia and New York on the bipartisan "drone caucus" received the lion's share of the funds channeled to lawmakers from dozens of firms that are members of the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International.
Note: For deeply revealing reports from reliable major media sources on drone killings and other war crimes committed by the US in its wars of aggression in the Middle East, Asia and Africa, click here.
FBI's abuse of the surveillance state is the real scandal needing investigation
2012-11-13, The Guardian (One of the UK's leading newspapers)
The Petraeus scandal is receiving intense media scrutiny. Several of the emerging revelations are genuinely valuable, particularly those involving the conduct of the FBI and the reach of the US surveillance state. The FBI investigation began when Jill Kelley - a Tampa socialite friendly with Petraeus (and apparently very friendly with Gen. John Allen, the four-star U.S. commander of the war in Afghanistan) - received a half-dozen or so anonymous emails that she found vaguely threatening. She then informed a friend of hers who was an FBI agent, and a major FBI investigation was then launched that set out to determine the identity of the anonymous emailer. What is most striking is how sweeping, probing and invasive the FBI's investigation then became, all without any evidence of any actual crime - or the need for any search warrant. The FBI traced all of [Paula] Broadwell's physical locations, learned of all the accounts she uses, ended up reading all of her emails, investigated the identity of her anonymous lover (who turned out to be Petraeus), and then possibly read his emails as well. They also discovered "alleged inappropriate communication" to Kelley from Gen. Allen, who is not only the top commander in Afghanistan but was also just nominated by President Obama to be the Commander of US European Command and Supreme Allied Commander Europe (a nomination now "on hold"). This is a surveillance state run amok. It also highlights how any remnants of internet anonymity have been all but obliterated by the union between the state and technology companies.
Note: For deeply revealing reports from reliable major media sources on government surveillance, click here.
Rented computers secretly photographed users having sex
2012-09-26, BBC News
Rented computers from seven different companies secretly took photographs of their users, US authorities have said. The companies used software made by US company Designerware which could track key strokes and other personal data. The software, called PC Rental Agent, captured people engaging in "intimate acts", including sex. It is believed that PC Rental Agent has been installed in approximately 420,000 computers worldwide. The Federal Trade Commission ruling concerned a feature in the software, called Detective Mode, which would typically become activated if the user was late in returning equipment, or failed to pay for use. Detective Mode would assist the rental store in locating the overdue computer in order to pursue its return. Part of the process involved a pop-up window designed to look like a software registration screen. It would request personal information such as email addresses and telephone numbers that could then be used to pursue the users for payment and/or the return of equipment. In addition, the FTC said the software had access to much more sensitive information, including: usernames and passwords for email accounts, social media websites, and financial institutions. Among the other data collected were social security numbers; medical records; private emails to doctors; bank and credit card statements. Webcam pictures of children, partially undressed individuals, and intimate activities at home were also found. In the FTC's formal complaint document, it said the software had captured "couples engaged in sexual activities".
Note: Do you think other companies or intelligence agencies might be conducting similar monitoring? For more on this, click here.
2012-08-23, New York Times
[William] Binney, a 32-year veteran of the National Security Agency turned whistle-blower, ... described details about Stellar Wind, the N.S.A.’s top-secret domestic spying program begun after 9/11, which was so controversial that it nearly caused top Justice Department officials to resign in protest, in 2004. “The decision must have been made in September 2001,” Mr. Binney told me [and] cinematographer Kirsten Johnson. “That’s when the equipment started coming in.” He resigned over this in 2001 and began speaking out publicly in the last year. [Binney] is among a group of N.S.A. whistle-blowers, including Thomas A. Drake, who have each risked everything — their freedom, livelihoods and personal relationships — to warn Americans about the dangers of N.S.A. domestic spying. The N.S.A. has technical abilities that are nearly impossible to defend against if you are targeted. The 2008 amendments to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, which oversees the N.S.A. activities, are up for renewal in December. Two members of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, Senators Ron Wyden of Oregon and Mark Udall of Colorado ... have been warning about “secret interpretations” of laws and backdoor “loopholes” that allow the government to collect our private communications. Thirteen senators have signed a letter expressing concern about a “loophole” in the law that permits the collection of United States data. The A.C.L.U. and other groups have also challenged the constitutionality of the law, and the Supreme Court will hear arguments in that case on Oct. 29.
Note: The video about this on the NY Times webpage at the link above is quite revealing. One potent comment of this 32-year NSA veteran in the video is "They wanted to highly classify the extreme impeachable crimes they were committing." For deeply revealing reports from reliable major media sources on government and corporate surveillance, click here.
The new totalitarianism of surveillance technology
2012-08-15, The Guardian (One of the UK's leading newspapers)
Last week, New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg joined NYPD Commissioner Ray Kelly to unveil a major new police surveillance infrastructure, developed by Microsoft. The Domain Awareness System links existing police databases with live video feeds, including cameras using vehicle license plate recognition software. No mention was made of whether the system plans to use – or already uses – facial recognition software. But, at present, there is no law to prevent US government and law enforcement agencies from building facial recognition databases. And we know from industry newsletters that the US military, law enforcement, and the department of homeland security are betting heavily on facial recognition technology. As PC World notes, Facebook itself is a market leader in the technology – but military and security agencies are close behind. According to Homeland Security Newswire, billions of dollars are being invested in the development and manufacture of various biometric technologies capable of detecting and identifying anyone, anywhere in the world – via iris-scanning systems, already in use; foot-scanning technology (really); voice pattern ID software, and so on. What is very obvious is that this technology will not be applied merely to people under arrest, or to people under surveillance in accordance with the fourth amendment. No, the "targets" here [include] everyone. In the name of "national security", the capacity is being built to identify, track and document any citizen constantly and continuously.
Note: For deeply revealing reports from reliable major media sources on civil liberties, click here.
Trapwire surveillance system exposed in document leak
2012-08-13, The Guardian (One of the UK's leading newspapers)
[Trapwire is] a CCTV surveillance system that recognises people from their face or walk and analyses whether they might be about to commit a terrorist or criminal act. According to documents released online by WikiLeaks [it] is being used in a number of countries to try to monitor people and threats. Founded by former CIA agents, Trapwire uses data from a network of CCTV systems and numberplate readers to figure out the threat level in huge numbers of locations. The documents outlining Trapwire's existence and its deployment in the US were apparently obtained in a hack of computer systems belonging to the intelligence company Stratfor at the end of last year. Documents from the US department of homeland security show that it paid $832,000 to deploy Trapwire in Washington DC and Seattle. Stratfor describes Trapwire as "a unique, predictive software system designed to detect patterns of pre-attack surveillance and logistical planning". It serves "a wide range of law enforcement personnel and public and private security officials domestically and internationally", Stratfor says. Some have expressed doubts that Trapwire could really forecast [future] acts based on data from cameras. The claims might seem overblown, but then the idea that the US could have an international monitoring system seemed absurd until the discovery of the Echelon system, used by the US to eavesdrop on electronic communications internationally.
Note: For more on the growing use of this secret technology, click here. For deeply revealing reports from reliable major media sources on privacy, click here.
TSA defies the courts
2012-07-18, Washington Times
The days of secrecy at the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) may be coming to an end. It’s a widely held belief that the agency’s hasty embrace of expensive, X-rated x-ray machines has more to do with closed-door lobbying efforts of manufacturers than a deliberate consideration of the devices’ merits. The Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC) [has] pushed for some transparency by asking the D.C. Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals to compel the agency to hold a public notice-and-comment period on the use of pornographic scanners, as the law requires. EPIC has a good case because on July 15, 2011, the D.C. Circuit issued a ruling insisting TSA “promptly” come into compliance with Administrative Procedure Act requirements regarding public hearings. TSA believed it wasn’t subject to such rules because the virtual strip-searching of women, children and the elderly is an essential security operation. The last thing TSA wants is the public-relations disaster of having to collect and publish the horror tales from Americans subjected to humiliation from the nude photography and intrusive “pat-down” groping sessions. It’s time to admit the post-Sept. 11 experiment in having the government take over airport screening duties has been a colossal flop. TSA has defied the Administrative Procedures Act, an appellate court, the public will and common decency. It’s not enough just to pull the plug on the scanners; the plug should be pulled on TSA itself.
Note: According to this PBS report, "European Union regulators recently banned any body scanner that uses X-rays, 'in order not to risk jeopardizing citizens' health and safety.'" It also states, "The TSA tested the devices behind closed doors, without scrutiny from independent scientists." For lots more on this topic important to all air travelers, click here.