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The United States government has been secretly amassing a "large amount" of "sensitive and intimate information" on its own citizens, a group of senior advisers informed Avril Haines, the director of national intelligence. The government effort to accumulate data revealing the minute details of Americans' lives [is] described soberly and at length by the director's own panel of experts in a newly declassified report. The report states that the government believes it can "persistently" track the phones of "millions of Americans" without a warrant, so long as it pays for the information. It is often trivial "to deanonymize and identify individuals" from data that was packaged ... for commercial use. Such data may be useful, it says, to "identify every person who attended a protest or rally based on their smartphone location or ad-tracking records." Such civil liberties concerns are prime examples of how "large quantities of nominally 'public' information can result in sensitive aggregations." What's more, information collected for one purpose "may be reused for other purposes," which may "raise risks beyond those originally calculated," an effect called "mission creep." "In the wrong hands," [Office of the Director of National Intelligence] advisers warn, the same mountain of data the government is quietly accumulating could be turned against Americans to "facilitate blackmail, stalking, harassment, and public shaming." These are all offenses that have been committed by intelligence agencies and White House administrations in the past.
Google wants to know where you go so badly that it records your movements even when you explicitly tell it not to. An Associated Press investigation found that many Google services on Android devices and iPhones store your location data even if you've used privacy settings that say they will prevent it from doing so. Computer-science researchers at Princeton confirmed these findings at the AP's request. Storing your minute-by-minute travels carries privacy risks. So the company will let you "pause" a setting called Location History. Google's support page on the subject states: "You can turn off Location History at any time. With Location History off, the places you go are no longer stored." That isn't true. Even with Location History paused, some Google apps automatically store time-stamped location data without asking. For example, Google stores a snapshot of where you are when you merely open its Maps app. And some searches that have nothing to do with location, like "chocolate chip cookies," or "kids science kits," pinpoint your precise latitude and longitude - accurate to the square foot - and save it to your Google account. Since 2014, Google has let advertisers track the effectiveness of online ads at driving foot traffic, a feature that Google has said relies on user location histories. The company is pushing further into such location-aware tracking to drive ad revenue, which rose 20 percent last year to $95.4 billion.
Note: This article instructs you how to effectively delete Google's tracking of your movements. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on corporate corruption and the disappearance of privacy.
[Here's] how much of your information ... Facebook and Google store about you. Google stores your location ... every time you turn on your phone. You can see a timeline of where youve been from the very first day you started using Google on your phone. Google stores search history across all your devices. Even if you delete your search history and phone history on one device, it may still have data saved from other devices. Google creates an advertisement profile based on your information, including your location, gender, age, hobbies, career, interests, relationship status, possible weight ... and income. Google offers an option to download all of the data it stores about you. Ive requested to download it and the file is 5.5GB big, which is roughly 3m Word documents. Facebook offers a similar option to download all your information. Mine was roughly 600MB, which is roughly 400,000 Word documents. Facebook also stores what it thinks you might be interested in based off the things youve liked and what you and your friends talk about. The data they collect includes tracking where you are, what applications you have installed, when you use them, what you use them for, access to your webcam and microphone at any time, your contacts, your emails, your calendar, your call history, the messages you send and receive, the files you download, the games you play, your photos and videos, your music, your search history, your browsing history, even what radio stations you listen to.
The U.S. Army failed to properly monitor more than $1 billion worth of arms transfers in Iraq and Kuwait, according to a declassified government audit obtained by Amnesty International. Amnesty obtained the documents through Freedom of Information law requests. The groups research documents lax controls and record-keeping ... which has resulted in arms manufactured in the U.S. and other countries winding up in the hands of armed groups known to be committing war crimes and other atrocities, such as the Islamic State militant group (ISIS). The U.S. Department of Defense audit from September 2016 shows that the DoD did not have accurate, up-to-date records on the quantity and location of ... tens of thousands of assault rifles (worth $28 million), hundreds of mortar rounds and hundreds of Humvee armored vehicles destined for use by the central Iraqi Army. A previous DoD audit, in 2015, pointed to even less rigorous stockpile monitoring procedures being enforced by the Iraqi armed forces. Meanwhile, the Pentagon has overbilled the U.S. military for fuel by almost $6 billion over the past seven years, and then used the money to bolster underfunded or mismanaged defense programs, according to a report in The Washington Post on Saturday. Earlier, the federal Government Accountability Office criticized the U.S. for failing to account for thousands of rifles issued to Afghan security forces. The 2009 report said some weapons were documented to be in the hands of insurgents.
Note: Since 1996, approximately $10 trillion in taxpayer money has gone unaccounted for at the US Dept. of Defense. Read a verifiable and carefully researched report on the covert origins of ISIS. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing military corruption news articles from reliable major media sources.
United States officials fought to conceal details of arrangements between US spy agencies and private companies tracking the whereabouts of Americans. Obtaining location data from US phones normally requires a warrant, but police and intelligence agencies routinely pay companies instead for the data, effectively circumventing the courts. Ron Wyden, the US senator from Oregon, informed the nation’s intelligence chief, Avril Haines, on Thursday that the Pentagon only agreed to release details about the data purchases, which had always been unclassified, after Wyden hindered the Senate's efforts to appoint a new director of the National Security Agency. “The secrecy around data purchases was amplified,” Wyden wrote, “because intelligence agencies have sought to keep the American people in the dark." Pentagon offices known to have purchased location data from these companies include the Defense Intelligence Agency and the NSA, among others. Wyden's letter ... indicates that the NSA is also “buying Americans' domestic internet metadata.” Wyden's disclosure comes amid a fight in the US House of Representatives over efforts to outlaw the purchases. Members of the House Judiciary Committee attached legislation doing so ... to a bill reauthorizing a contentious surveillance program known as Section 702. Biden administration officials and members of the intelligence committee staged a campaign against the privacy-enhancing measures.
Note: Learn more about mission creep in our comprehensive Military-Intelligence Corruption Information Center. For more, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on military corruption and the disappearance of privacy from reliable major media sources.
The United States Federal Bureau of Investigation has acknowledged for the first time that it purchased US location data rather than obtaining a warrant. The disclosure came today during a US Senate hearing. Senator Ron Wyden ... put the question of the bureau’s use of commercial data to its director, Christopher Wray: “Does the FBI purchase US phone-geolocation information?” Wray said his agency was not currently doing so. “To my knowledge, we do not currently purchase commercial database information that includes location data derived from internet advertising,” Wray said. “I understand that we previously—as in the past—purchased some such information for a specific national security pilot project. But that’s not been active for some time.” In its landmark Carpenter v. United States decision, the Supreme Court held that government agencies accessing historical location data without a warrant were violating the Fourth Amendment’s guarantee against unreasonable searches. The decision left open a glaring loophole that allows the government to simply purchase whatever it cannot otherwise legally obtain. US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and the Defense Intelligence Agency are among the list of federal agencies known to have taken advantage of this loophole. The Department of Homeland Security ... purchased the geolocations of millions of Americans from private marketing firms. The data were derived from ... benign sources, such as mobile games and weather apps.
A recent court ruling in Colorado highlighted how Google’s tracking of our locations and web searches helps police find suspects when they have few leads — but it’s also sweeping innocent people into investigations. Google says it has procedures to “protect the privacy of our users while supporting the important work of law enforcement.” But defense attorneys and civil liberties advocates say that Google is a gold mine for novel police methods that they call unconstitutional fishing expeditions. Even if you believe you have nothing to hide from law enforcement, relentless digital tracking of Americans risks our information falling into criminals’ hands, too. Law enforcement officials say that Google’s data on people’s locations and search histories helps solve crimes, including in the 2021 Capitol riot. In initial court-ordered warrants to Google, the company typically gives police information that isn’t connected to people’s identity. Only after they single out potentially suspicious data do the police go back for individually identifiable information. But defense lawyers and privacy advocates say the two types of broad warrants to Google turn normal police work upside down and threaten Americans’ rights. In a typical search warrant, police have a suspect in mind and ask for a judge’s approval to search their home, phone data and other potential evidence. In the large-scale search term and location warrants, police know a crime occurred but don’t know who might have committed it.
Note: Explore news articles we've summarized on the troubling nature of the use of location tracking by governments and corporations. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on police corruption and the disappearance of privacy from reliable major media sources.
An effort by United States lawmakers to prevent government agencies from domestically tracking citizens without a search warrant is facing opposition internally from one of its largest intelligence services. Officials at the National Security Agency (NSA) have approached lawmakers charged with its oversight about opposing an amendment that would prevent it from paying companies for location data instead of obtaining a warrant in court. Introduced by US representatives Warren Davidson and Sara Jacobs, the amendment ... would prohibit US military agencies from "purchasing data that would otherwise require a warrant, court order, or subpoena" to obtain. The ban would cover more than half of the US intelligence community, including the NSA, the Defense Intelligence Agency, and the newly formed National Space Intelligence Center, among others. A government report declassified by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence last month revealed that US intelligence agencies were avoiding judicial review by purchasing a "large amount" of "sensitive and intimate information" about Americans, including data that can be used to trace people's whereabouts over extended periods of time. The sensitivity of the data is such that "in the wrong hands," the report says, it could be used to "facilitate blackmail," among other undesirable outcomes. The report also acknowledges that some of the data being procured is protected under the US Constitution's Fourth Amendment.
Recent reports about the Secret Service and Immigration and Customs Enforcement playing fast and loose with rules regarding cellphone tracking and the FBI purchasing phone location data from commercial sources constitute an important wake-up call. They remind us that those handy mobile devices many people tote around are the most cost-effective surveillance system ever invented. "The United States Secret Service and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Homeland Security Investigations (ICE HSI) did not always adhere to Federal statute and cellsite simulator (CSS) policies when using CSS during criminal investigations," the Department of Homeland Security's Office of the Inspector General reported last month. "Separately, ICE HSI did not adhere to Department privacy policies and the applicable Federal privacy statute when using CSS." The OIG report referred to the use of what is commonly called "stingray" technology—devices that simulate cellphone towers and trick phones within range into connecting and revealing their location. "They also gather information about the phones of countless bystanders who happen to be nearby," the ACLU warns. Even the most precise phone company location data remains available with court approval. The courts are currently mulling multiple cases involving "geofence warrants" whereby law enforcement seeks data not on individuals, but on whoever was carrying a device in a designated area at a specified time.
A review of hundreds of Facebooks patent applications reveals that the company has considered tracking almost every aspect of its users lives: where you are, who you spend time with, whether youre in a romantic relationship, which brands and politicians youre talking about. The company has even attempted to patent a method for predicting when your friends will die. Taken together, Facebooks patents show a commitment to collecting personal information, despite widespread public criticism of the companys privacy policies and a promise from its chief executive to do better. A patent portfolio is a map of how a company thinks about where its technology is going, said Jason M. Schultz, a law professor at New York University. One patent application discusses predicting whether youre in a romantic relationship using information such as how many times you visit another users page [and] the number of people in your profile picture. Another proposes using your posts and messages to infer personality traits ... then using those characteristics to select which news stories or ads to display. Another patent application discusses tracking your weekly routine and sending notifications to other users of deviations from the routine. In addition, it describes using your phones location in the middle of the night to establish where you live. As long as Facebook keeps collecting personal information, we should be wary.
Last year an American company microchipped dozens of its workers. Of the 90 people who work at [Three Square Market] headquarters, 72 are now chipped. Two months ago, the company ... started chipping people with dementia. If someone wanders off and gets lost, police can scan the chip and they will know all their medical information, what drugs they can and cant have, theyll know their identity. So far, Three Square Market has chipped 100 people, but plans to do 10,000. The company has just launched a mobile phone app that pairs the chip with the phones GPS, enabling the implantees location to be tracked. Last week, it started using it with people released from prison on probation. Some Chinese companies are using sensors in helmets and hats to scan workers brainwaves. There are tech companies selling products that can ... monitor keystrokes and web usage, and even photograph [employees] using their computers webcams. All this can be done remotely. Monitoring is built into many of the jobs that form the so-called gig economy. Its not easy to object to the constant surveillance when youre desperate for work. What has surprised [Cass Business School professor Andr Spicer] is how willingly people in better-paid jobs have taken to it. Spicer has watched the shift away from monitoring something like emails to monitoring peoples bodies the rise of bio-tracking basically. The monitoring of your vital signs, emotions, moods.
Note: Author James Bloodworth describes the high tech monitoring of workers at Amazon warehouses in his new book, "Hired: Six Months Undercover in Low-Wage Britain". For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on microchip implants and the disappearance of privacy.
When two senators warned that the Patriot Act is being interpreted in a secret way that would alarm Americans if they knew the details, civil liberties activists could only speculate about what they meant. The activists' fear: that the government is using the anti-terrorism law to collect vast troves of personal information, including cellphone records, on Americans who have no link to terrorism. Sens. Ron Wyden of Oregon and Mark Udall of Colorado, both Democrats, proclaimed that the Patriot Act's surveillance powers are being used far more expansively than most Americans realize. "Today the American people do not know how their government interprets the language of the Patriot Act," Wyden said. "Someday they are going to find out, and a lot of them are going to be stunned. Some of them will undoubtedly ask their senators: 'Did you know what this law actually did? Why didn't you know? Wasn't it your job to know, before you voted on it?'" The warnings by two lawmakers with access to secret information underscore the extent to which government surveillance is shielded from view, in an age when nearly every American leaves a digital trail through the Internet and mobile devices. A clue about Wyden's concerns may be found in a separate bill he is proposing, to forbid the government from tracking, without a court order, the location of Americans through the GPS signals given out by their cellphones.
Security researchers have discovered that Apple's iPhone keeps track of where you go and saves every detail of it to a secret file on the device which is then copied to the owner's computer when the two are synchronised. The file contains the latitude and longitude of the phone's recorded coordinates along with a timestamp, meaning that anyone who stole the phone or the computer could discover details about the owner's movements using a simple program. For some phones, there could be almost a year's worth of data stored, as the recording of data seems to have started with Apple's iOS 4 update to the phone's operating system, released in June 2010. "Apple has made it possible for almost anybody a jealous spouse, a private detective with access to your phone or computer to get detailed information about where you've been," said Pete Warden, one of the researchers. Only the iPhone records the user's location in this way, say Warden and Alasdair Allan, the data scientists who discovered the file and are presenting their findings at the Where 2.0 conference in San Francisco on [April 20]. "Alasdair has looked for similar tracking code in [Google's] Android phones and couldn't find any," said Warden.
Note: For key reports from reliable sources on threats to privacy, click here.
Footprints left on a beach. Air breathed in a busy room. Ocean water. Scientists have been able to collect and analyze detailed genetic data from human DNA from all these places, raising thorny ethical questions about consent, privacy and security when it comes to our biological information. The researchers from the University of Florida, who were using environmental DNA found in sand to study endangered sea turtles, said the DNA was of such high quality that the scientists could ... determine the genetic ancestry of populations living nearby. They could also match genetic information to individual participants who had volunteered to have their DNA recovered. Human DNA that has seeped into the environment through our spit, skin, sweat and blood could be used to help find missing persons, aid in forensic investigations to solve crimes, locate sites of archaeological importance, and for health monitoring. However, the ability to capture human DNA from the environment could have a range of unintended consequences — both inadvertent and malicious. These included privacy breaches, location tracking, data harvesting, and genetic surveillance of individuals or groups. [Researchers] retrieved DNA from footprints made in sand by four volunteers. They were able to sequence part of the participants’ genomes. Next, the researchers took samples of air from a ... room in an animal clinic. The team recovered DNA that matched the staff volunteers [and] animal patients.
Note: This research was published in the journal Nature Ecology & Evolution. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on the disappearance of privacy from reliable major media sources.
The Georgia Army National Guard plans to combine two deeply controversial practices — military recruiting at schools and location-based phone surveillance — to persuade teens to enlist, according to contract documents reviewed by The Intercept. The federal contract materials outline plans by the Georgia Army National Guard to geofence 67 different public high schools throughout the state, targeting phones found within a one-mile boundary of their campuses with recruiting advertisements “with the intent of generating qualified leads of potential applicants for enlistment while also raising awareness of the Georgia Army National Guard.” Geofencing refers generally to the practice of drawing a virtual border around a real-world area. The ad campaign will make use of a variety of surveillance advertising techniques, including capturing the unique device IDs of student phones, tracking pixels, and IP address tracking. It will also plaster recruiting solicitations across Instagram, Snapchat, streaming television, and music apps. The campaign plans not only call for broadcasting recruitment ads to kids at school, but also for pro-Guard ads to follow these students around as they continue using the internet and other apps, a practice known as retargeting. While the state’s plan specifies targeting only high school juniors and seniors ages 17 and above, demographic ad targeting is known to be error prone, and experts told The Intercept it’s possible the recruiting messages could reach the phones of younger children.
Spies for centuries have trained their sights on those who shape destinies of nations: presidents, prime ministers, kings. And in the 21st century, most of them carry smartphones. Such is the underlying logic for some of the most tantalizing discoveries for an international investigation that in recent months scrutinized a list of more than 50,000 phone numbers that included — according to forensic analyses of dozens of iPhones — at least some people targeted by Pegasus spyware licensed to governments worldwide. The list contained the numbers of politicians and government officials by the hundreds. But what of heads of state and governments, arguably the most coveted of targets? Fourteen. Or more specifically: three presidents, 10 prime ministers and a king. Forensic testing that might have revealed infection by NSO’s signature spyware, Pegasus, was not possible. Nor was it possible to determine whether any NSO client attempted to deliver Pegasus to the phones of these country leaders — much less whether any succeeded in turning these highly personal devices into pocket spies capable of tracking a national leader’s nearly every movement, communication and personal relationship. According to NSO marketing materials and security researchers, Pegasus is designed to collect files, photos, call logs, location records, communications and other private data from smartphones, and can activate cameras and microphones as well for real-time surveillance at key moments.
Note: Read how this Pegasus spyware was used to target activists and journalists in Mexico. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on government corruption and the disappearance of privacy from reliable major media sources.
Previous vaccines have taken a decade or more to develop, and more than half of the past 20 years have failed in clinical trials. However, four [COVID-19] vaccine candidates have entered the final phase of clinical trials prior to approval by the Food and Drug Administration. Operation Warp Speed ... organized government agencies and private companies with the goal of developing, manufacturing and distributing hundreds of millions of vaccine doses, with starting doses to be available by early 2021. At the head of the operation is Moncef Slaoui, a Moroccan-born Belgian-American scientist. Operation Warp Speed … has invested in six vaccine candidates (Moderna, Pfizer / BioNTech, Johnson & Johnson, AstraZeneca, Novavax, and Sanofi / GSK) with the hope that at least one ... will prove safe and effective in clinical trials. Four of the six vaccine candidates have already been shown to be safe and effective in the first two test phases, which test whether the vaccinations produce so-called neutralizing antibodies. Serious health problems regularly arise during vaccination attempts. "We know how to distribute vaccines to any location in the US," says Slaoui. "It happens every year for flu and shingles." Tracking systems need to be "incredibly precise" to ensure that patients are each given two doses of the same vaccine and to monitor them for adverse health effects. Operation Warp Speed … has selected medical distributor McKesson and cloud operators Google and Oracle to collect and track vaccine data.
Note: The above article is also available here. Don't miss this excellent article which raises many important questions about this operation. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on the coronavirus and vaccines from reliable major media sources.
Note: For more details, read the entire article at the link above. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing privacy news articles from reliable major media sources.
Last July, Russian billionaire Yuri Milner announced the launch of a bold $100 million project "to reinvigorate the search for life in the universe." The amplified SETI initiative is "the most powerful, comprehensive and intensive scientific search ever undertaken for signs of intelligent life beyond Earth," according to the project's website. Now, for the first time, a new group of scientists and other professionals [has] formed a non-profit ... called UFO Detection and TrAcking (UFODATA for short), which includes an international team of scientists and engineers with an interest in UFOs. The organization has one goal and one goal only: to design, build and deploy a global network of automated surveillance stations that will monitor the skies full time looking for UFOs. UFODATA has no interest in alleged government conspiracies or adding more witness reports or FOIA documents to the thousands already on file. The idea here is that only a complete change of methodology toward a purely scientific approach to the UFO issue will enable us to move forward. The monitoring stations ... will record numerous physical characteristics of any UFOs that appear in their range. They will all send their data back to a central location. Current projections are that the stations will cost about $10-20,000 each, thanks to the unprecedented convergence of high resolution digital camera technologies, off-the shelf scientific instrumentation, powerful low-cost computing platforms and far-reaching high-speed internet access.
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Four years after the death of Al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden at the hands of US Navy Seals in Abottabad, Pakistan, a new report ... by journalist Seymour Hersh questions the Obama administrations account of the killing of Osama bin Laden. The report claims that, among the lies, the biggest was the idea that the raid in May 2011 that killed bin Laden was an all-American event. "The most blatant lie was that Pakistans two most senior military leaders General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, chief of the army staff, and General Ahmed Shuja Pasha, director general of the ISI were never informed of the US mission," the report says. The report also says that Pakistans Inter-Services Intelligence agency had been holding bin Laden as a prisoner since 2006, and that the US learned about the Al Qaeda leaders location through a former senior Pakistani intelligence officer, who gave the information in return for the reward being offered by American officials. The White House has said bin Laden was found through tracking his couriers. Hershs primary US source for his story is "a retired senior intelligence official who was knowledgeable about the initial intelligence about bin Ladens presence in Abbottabad." White House spokesman Josh Earnest ... dismissed the Hersh piece, saying it was "riddled with inaccuracies." Hersh, a longtime contributor to The New Yorker, is an award-winning journalist who has won numerous prizes for his investigative reporting, including the Pulitzer Prize.
Note: There are many big problems with the official story of the killing of bin Laden. For starters, read the review on the London Review of Books website. For more, see this ABC News article, this BBC article and this AP article.