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Privacy News Articles

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Congress Has A Chance To Rein In Police Use Of Surveillance Tech
2024-04-02, The Intercept
https://theintercept.com/2024/04/02/surveillance-tech-new-york-state-police/

Hardware that breaks into your phone; software that monitors you on the internet; systems that can recognize your face and track your car: The New York State Police are drowning in surveillance tech. Last year alone, the Troopers signed at least $15 million in contracts for powerful new surveillance tools. Surveillance technology has far outpaced traditional privacy laws. In New York, lawmakers launched a years-in-the-making legislative campaign last year to rein in police intrusion. None of their bills have made it out of committee. A report from the U.S. Office of the Director of National Intelligence, put it succinctly: “The government would never have been permitted to compel billions of people to carry location tracking devices on their persons at all times, to log and track most of their social interactions, or to keep flawless records of all their reading habits.” That report called specific attention to the “data broker loophole”: law enforcement’s practice of obtaining data for which they’d otherwise have to obtain a warrant by buying it from brokers. The New York State Police have taken greater and greater advantage of the loophole in recent years. They’ve also spent millions on mobile device forensic tools, or MDFTs, powerful hacking hardware and software that allow users to download full, searchable copies of a cellphone’s data, including social media messages, emails, web and search histories, and minute-by-minute location information.

Note: 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.


FBI Agent Says He Hassles People 'Every Day, All Day Long' Over Facebook Posts
2024-03-29, Reason
https://reason.com/2024/03/29/fbi-agent-says-he-hassles-people-every-day-all-...

The FBI spends "every day, all day long" interrogating people over their Facebook posts. At least, that's what agents told Stillwater, Oklahoma, resident Rolla Abdeljawad when they showed up at her house to ask her about her social media activity. Three FBI agents came to Abdeljawad's house and said that they had been given "screenshots" of her posts by Facebook. Her lawyer Hassan Shibly posted a video of the incident. "Facebook gave us a couple of screenshots of your account," one agent in a gray shirt said in the video. "So we no longer live in a free country and we can't say what we want?" replied Abdeljawad. "No, we totally do. That's why we're not here to arrest you or anything," a second agent in a red shirt added. "We do this every day, all day long. It's just an effort to keep everybody safe and make sure nobody has any ill will." Shibly says that he doesn't know which Facebook post caught the agents' attention, and that it was the first time he had heard of Facebook's parent company, Meta, preemptively reporting posts to law enforcement. [Abdeljawad] made multiple angry posts per day about the war in Gaza, referring to Israel as "Israhell." But none of the posts on her feed call for violence. Ironically, Abdeljawad had also posted a warning about exactly the kind of government monitoring she was later subjected to. "Don't fall for their games. Our community is being watched & they are just waiting for any reason to round us up," Abdeljawad wrote.

Note: For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on government corruption and the erosion of civil liberties from reliable major media sources.


Biometrics Giant Accenture Quietly Took Over LA Residents’ Jail Reform Plan
2024-03-12, The Intercept
https://theintercept.com/2024/03/12/los-angeles-jail-accenture-measure-j/

In November 2020 ... a ballot initiative known as Measure J passed with 57 percent support, amending the LA County charter so that jailing people before trial would be treated as a last resort. In June, LA County signed over the handling of changes to pretrial detention under Measure J to the consulting firm Accenture, a behemoth in the world of biometric databases and predictive policing. Accenture has pushed counterterror and policing strategies around the globe: The company built the world’s biggest biometric identification system in India, which has used similar technologies to surveil protesters and conduct crowd control as part of efforts by Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party to investigate the citizenship of Muslim residents. Accenture ballooned into a giant in federal consulting over the course of the “war on terror,” winning hundreds of millions of dollars in lucrative contracts from federal agencies like the Department of Homeland Security for projects from a “virtual border” to recruiting and hiring Customs and Border Protection and Border Patrol agents. In 2006, Accenture won a $10 million contract for a DHS biometric ID program, the world’s second biggest, to collect and share biometric data on foreign nationals entering or leaving the U.S. Several LA-based advocates told The Intercept that the contract is yet another development that calls into question the county’s commitment to real criminal justice reform.

Note: For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on corporate corruption and the disappearance of privacy from reliable major media sources.


DHS Must Overhaul Its Flawed Automated Systems
2023-10-24, Brennan Center for Justice
https://www.brennancenter.org/our-work/analysis-opinion/dhs-must-overhaul-its...

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is likely the single largest collector and consumer in the U.S. government of detailed, often intimate, information about Americans and foreigners alike. The department stores and analyzes this information using vast data systems to determine who can enter the country and who is subjected to intrusive inspections, including by parsing through travel records, social media data, non-immigrant visa applications, and other information to detect patterns of behavior that the department has determined are worthy of scrutiny. As we explain in a new Brennan Center report, these systems ... are too often deployed in discriminatory ways that violate Americans’ constitutional rights and civil liberties. It is past time for DHS to stop improvising how it designs and implements its automated systems, with inadequate mechanisms for evaluation and oversight, weak standards, and disproportionate impacts on marginalized communities and individuals. DHS must disclose additional information about its systems, including the policies that govern their operations and reports explaining how they are used. An independent body should undertake a rigorous investigation of DHS’s automated systems, evaluating whether they are useful and accurate, assessing how they function, and determining whether they contain sufficient safeguards to protect privacy, civil rights, and civil liberties.

Note: 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.


Schools Are Normalizing Intrusive Surveillance
2023-10-06, Reason
https://reason.com/2023/10/06/schools-are-normalizing-intrusive-surveillance/

Public schools ... are the focus of a new report on surveillance and kids by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU). "Over the last two decades, a segment of the educational technology (EdTech) sector that markets student surveillance products to schools — the EdTech Surveillance industry — has grown into a $3.1 billion a year economic juggernaut," begins Digital Dystopia The Danger in Buying What the EdTech Surveillance Industry is Selling. "The EdTech Surveillance industry accomplished that feat by playing on school districts' fears of school shootings, student self-harm and suicides, and bullying — marketing them as common, ever-present threats." As the authors detail, among the technologies are surveillance cameras. These are often linked to software for facial recognition, access control, behavior analysis, and weapon detection. That is, cameras scan student faces and then algorithms identify them, allow or deny them entry based on that ID, decide if their activities are threatening, and determine if objects they carry may be dangerous or forbidden. "False hits, such as mistaking a broomstick, three-ring binder, or a Google Chromebook laptop for a gun or other type of weapon, could result in an armed police response to a school," cautions the report. Students are aware that they're being observed. Of students aged 14–18 surveyed by the ACLU ... thirty-two percent say, "I always feel like I'm being watched."

Note: 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.


US Spies Are Lobbying Congress to Save a Phone Surveillance 'Loophole'
2023-07-27, Wired
https://www.wired.com/story/nsa-ndaa-lobbying-privacy-loophole/

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.

Note: For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on intelligence agency corruption and the disappearance of privacy from reliable major media sources.


The AI firm that conducted ‘state surveillance’ of your social media posts
2023-06-03, The Telegraph (One of the UK's Leading Newspapers)
https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2023/06/03/logically-ai-firm-social-media-po...

These blank-looking warehouses are home to an artificial intelligence (AI) company used by the Government to monitor people’s posts on social media. Logically has been paid more than £1.2 million of taxpayers’ money to analyse what the Government terms “disinformation” – false information deliberately seeded online – and “misinformation”, which is false information that has been spread inadvertently. It does this by “ingesting” material from more than hundreds of thousands of media sources and “all public posts on major social media platforms”, using AI to identify those that are potentially problematic. It has a £1.2 million deal with the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS), as well as another worth up to £1.4 million with the Department of Health and Social Care to monitor threats to high-profile individuals within the vaccine service. Other blue-chip clients include US federal agencies, the Indian electoral commission, and TikTok. It also has a “partnership” with Facebook, which appears to grant Logically’s fact-checkers huge influence over the content other people see. A joint press release issued in July 2021 suggests that Facebook will limit the reach of certain posts if Logically says they are untrue. “When Logically rates a piece of content as false, Facebook will significantly reduce its distribution so that fewer people see it, apply a warning label to let people know that the content has been rated false, and notify people who try to share it,” states the press release.

Note: 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.


U.S. Intelligence Building System to Track Mass Movement of People Around the World
2023-05-22, Vice
https://www.vice.com/en/article/88xq54/us-intelligence-building-system-to-tra...

The Pentagon’s intelligence branch is developing new tech to help it track the mass movement of people around the globe and flag “anomalies.” The project is called the Hidden Activity Signal and Trajectory Anomaly Characterization (HAYSTAC) program and it “aims to establish ‘normal’ movement models across times, locations, and populations and determine what makes an activity atypical,” according to a press release from the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (DNI). HAYSTAC will be run by the DNI’s Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity (IARPA). It’s kind of like DARPA, the Pentagon’s blue-sky research department, but with a focus on intelligence projects. According to the agency, the project will analyze data from internet-connected devices and “smart city” sensors using AI. “An ever-increasing amount of geospatial data is created every day,” Jack Cooper, HAYSTAC’s program manager, said. Cooper also mentioned privacy, or rather a lack of it. “Today you might think that privacy means going to live off the grid in the middle of nowhere,” he said. “That’s just not realistic in today’s environment. Sensors are cheap. Everybodys got one. There’s no such thing as living off the grid.” In one project, [contractor] AIS simulated a cyber attack. “Devices included traditional desktop systems, laptops, tablets, and mobile platforms,” the firm said. “The technology tracks users through biometric features, including keystroke biometrics, mouse movement behavior, and gait detection.”

Note: For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on intelligence agency corruption and the disappearance of privacy from reliable major media sources.


The FBI’s Most Controversial Surveillance Tool Is Under Threat
2023-02-10, Wired
https://www.wired.com/story/fbi-section-702/

New details about the FBI’s failures to comply with restrictions on the use of foreign intelligence for domestic crimes have emerged. Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) ... grants the government the ability to intercept the electronic communications of overseas targets who are unprotected by the Fourth Amendment. That authority is set to expire at the end of the year. But errors in the FBI’s secondary use of the data—the investigation of crimes on US soil—are likely to inflame an already fierce debate over whether law enforcement agents can be trusted with such an invasive tool. Central to this tension has been a routine audit by the Department of Justice’s (DOJ) national security division and the office of the director of national intelligence (ODNI) ... which unearthed new examples of the FBI failing to comply with rules limiting access to intelligence ostensibly gathered to protect US national security. Such “errors,” they said, have occurred on a “large number” of occasions. A report on the audit, only recently declassified, found that in the first half of 2020, FBI personnel unlawfully searched raw FISA data on numerous occasions. In one incident, agents reportedly sought evidence of foreign influence linked to a US lawmaker. In another, an inappropriate search pertained to a local political party. In what privacy and civil liberties lawyers have termed a “backdoor search,” the FBI regularly searches through unminimized data during investigations, and routinely prior to launching them.

Note: For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on intelligence agency corruption and the disappearance of privacy from reliable major media sources.


TikTok has become a global giant. The US is threatening to rein it in
2022-10-31, The Guardian (One of the UK's Leading Newspapers)
https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2022/oct/30/tiktok-regulation-data-pri...

Since Buzzfeed reported in June that employees of TikTok’s Chinese parent company ByteDance had access to US consumer data, TikTok has been the focus of rare bipartisan calls for regulation and inquiry. Those inquiries became more pressing when in July, the FBI director, Christopher Wray, called Chinese espionage the “greatest long-term threat to our nation’s ... economic vitality”. TikTok is a relatively new player in the arena of massive global social media platforms but it’s already caught the eye of regulators in Europe. New laws around child safety and general internet safety in the UK and the EU have forced the company to become more transparent about the way it operates and the way content spreads on its platform. In the US, moves to rein in the video platform have gained momentum only relatively recently, although there’s little debate that the round of regulatory pressure is warranted. With 1 billion users, the platform, which uses an algorithmic feed to push users short-form videos, has had its fair share of run-ins with misinformation, data privacy and concerns about child safety. Experts the Guardian spoke with did not question the cybersecurity threat China posed. However, some said they worried regulators’ hyper-focus on TikTok’s China connection could distract from other pressing concerns, including TikTok’s algorithm and how much user data the company collects, stores and shares. There are currently no federal regulations that protect such information.

Note: For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on corporate corruption and the disappearance of privacy from reliable major media sources.


TikTok Browser Can Track Users’ Keystrokes, According to New Research
2022-08-19, New York Times
https://www.nytimes.com/2022/08/19/technology/tiktok-browser-tracking.html

The web browser used within the TikTok app can track every keystroke made by its users, according to new research that is surfacing as the Chinese-owned video app grapples with U.S. lawmakers’ concerns over its data practices. The research from Felix Krause, a privacy researcher and former Google engineer, did not show how TikTok used the capability, which is embedded within the in-app browser that pops up when someone clicks an outside link. But Mr. Krause said the development was concerning because it showed TikTok had built in functionality to track users’ online habits if it chose to do so. Collecting information on what people type on their phones while visiting outside websites, which can reveal credit card numbers and passwords, is often a feature of malware and other hacking tools. Apps sometimes use in-app browsers to prevent people from visiting malicious sites or to make online browsing easier with the auto-filling of text. But while Facebook and Instagram can use in-app browsers to track data like what sites a person visited ... TikTok goes further by using code that can track each character entered by users. As with many apps, TikTok offers few chances for people to click away from its service. Instead of redirecting to mobile web browsers like Safari or Chrome, an in-app browser appears when users click on ads or links embedded within the profiles of other users. These are often the moments people enter key information like credit card details or passwords.

Note: For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on corporate corruption and the disappearance of privacy from reliable major media sources.


The Battle for the World’s Most Powerful Cyberweapon
2022-01-28, New York Times
https://www.nytimes.com/2022/01/28/magazine/nso-group-israel-spyware.html

NSO Group [is] the world’s most notorious maker of spyware. The F.B.I. had bought a version of Pegasus, NSO’s premier spying tool. It could ... crack the encrypted communications of any iPhone or Android smartphone. Since NSO had introduced Pegasus to the global market in 2011, it had helped Mexican authorities capture Joaquín Guzmán Loera, the drug lord known as El Chapo. European investigators have quietly used Pegasus to thwart terrorist plots, fight organized crime and, in one case, take down a global child-abuse ring. Mexico deployed the software not just against gangsters but also against journalists and political dissidents. The United Arab Emirates used the software to hack the phone of a civil rights activist. Saudi Arabia used it against women’s rights activists. During a presentation to officials in Washington, the company demonstrated a new system, called Phantom, that could hack any number in the United States that the F.B.I. decided to target. A slick brochure ... says that Phantom allows American law enforcement and spy agencies to get intelligence “by extracting and monitoring crucial data from mobile devices.” It is an “independent solution” that requires no cooperation from AT&T, Verizon, Apple or Google. The system, it says, will “turn your target’s smartphone into an intelligence gold mine.” The Phantom presentation triggered a discussion among government lawyers. Last summer ... the F.B.I. finally decided not to deploy the NSO weapons.

Note: Read more about how NSO Group spyware was used against journalists and activists by the Mexican government. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on intelligence agency corruption and the disappearance of privacy from reliable major media sources.


Everybody Does It: The Messy Truth About Infiltrating Computer Supply Chains
2019-01-24, The Intercept
https://theintercept.com/2019/01/24/computer-supply-chain-attacks/

Bloomberg Businessweek published an alarming story: Operatives working for China’s People’s Liberation Army had secretly implanted microchips into motherboards made in China and sold by U.S.-based Supermicro. This allegedly gave Chinese spies clandestine access to servers belonging to over 30 American companies, including Apple, Amazon, and various government suppliers, in an operation known as a “supply chain attack,” in which malicious hardware or software is inserted into products before they are shipped to surveillance targets. U.S. spy agencies ... assessed that China was adept at corrupting the software bundled closest to a computer’s hardware at the factory, threatening some of the U.S. government’s most sensitive machines, according to documents provided by National Security Agency whistleblower Edward Snowden. The documents also detail how the U.S. and its allies have themselves systematically targeted and subverted tech supply chains, with the NSA conducting its own such operations, including in China, in partnership with the CIA and other intelligence agencies. The documents also disclose supply chain operations by German and French intelligence. Computer hardware can be altered at various points along the supply chain, from design to manufacturing to storage to shipment. The U.S. is among the small number of countries that could, in theory, compromise devices at many different points in this pipeline, thanks to its resources and geographic reach.

Note: For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on intelligence agency corruption and the disappearance of privacy from reliable major media sources.


What 7 Creepy Patents Reveal About Facebook
2018-06-21, New York Times
https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2018/06/21/opinion/sunday/facebook-patent...

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.

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


Employers are monitoring computers, toilet breaks even emotions. Is your boss watching you?
2018-05-14, The Guardian (One of the UK's leading newspapers)
https://www.theguardian.com/world/2018/may/14/is-your-boss-secretly-or-not-so...

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.


Bosses read workers' minds: It's not the future, it's now
2018-04-03, New York Post
https://nypost.com/2018/04/30/chinese-companies-are-monitoring-employees-brains/

Chinese companies are picking their employees brains - literally - with mind-reading devices designed to improve efficiency and performance. Workers are being outfitted with safety helmet-like caps that monitor brain waves and send the information to computers that use artificial intelligence algorithms to detect emotional spikes, like depression, anxiety and rage. The Orwellian technology has been used on factory employees, train conductors and workers at State Grid Zhejian Electric Power. State Grid, which has 40,000 employees ... said the companys profits have increased by about $315 million since it implemented the surveillance caps in 2014. The government-funded brain-monitoring project, called Neuro Cap, has been implemented in more than a dozen factories and businesses. Jin Jia, an associate professor of brain science and cognitive psychology at Ningbo University, which is hosting the project, said the brain caps allow workers to be better managed. Qiao Zhian, professor of management psychology at Beijing Normal University, said the devices could give companies a competitive boost - but warned they could also violate privacy in the worst way. There is no law or regulation to limit the use of this kind of equipment in China. The employer may have a strong incentive to use the technology for higher profit, and the employees are usually in too weak a position to say no, he said. The selling of Facebook data is bad enough. Brain surveillance can take privacy abuse to a whole new level.

Note: While slightly less invasive than microchip implants, the use of devices like these by government and industry threatens to fully eliminate privacy.


I made Steve Bannons psychological warfare tool: meet the data war whistleblower
2018-03-18, The Guardian (One of the UK's leading newspapers)
https://www.theguardian.com/news/2018/mar/17/data-war-whistleblower-christoph...

At 24, [Christopher Wylie] came up with an idea that led to the foundation of a company called Cambridge Analytica, a data analytics firm that went on to claim a major role in the Leave campaign for Britains EU membership referendum, and later became a key figure in digital operations during Donald Trumps election campaign. In 2014, Steve Bannon ... was Wylies boss. And Robert Mercer, the secretive US hedge-fund billionaire and Republican donor, was Cambridge Analyticas investor. The idea they bought into was to bring big data and social media to an established military methodology information operations then turn it on the US electorate. By [2017], Steve Bannon had become Trumps chief strategist. Cambridge Analyticas parent company, SCL, had won contracts with the US State Department and was pitching to the Pentagon, and Wylie was genuinely freaked out. Its insane, he told me one night. The company has created psychological profiles of 230 million Americans. And now they want to work with the Pentagon? Its like Nixon on steroids. He ended up showing me a tranche of documents that laid out the secret workings behind Cambridge Analytica. Wylie ... came up with a plan to harvest the Facebook profiles of millions of people in the US, and to use their private and personal information to create sophisticated psychological and political profiles. And then target them with political ads designed to work on their particular psychological makeup.

Note: Billionaire Robert Mercer used this new new technology to build a corporate empire capable of swinging elections by using military propaganda strategies on civilian populations. The above article further details how mass media is being combined with Big Data to produce powerful new forms of mind control. Watch an astounding video revealing how Cambridge Analytica has successfully manipulated national elections around the world.


Smart meters could leave British homes vulnerable to cyber attacks, experts have warned
2018-02-18, The Telegraph (One of the UK's leading newspapers)
https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2018/02/18/smart-meters-could-leave-british-...

New smart energy meters that the Government wants to be installed in millions of homes will leave householders vulnerable to cyber attacks. The intelligence agency GCHQ ... raised concerns over the security of the meters, which could enable hackers to steal personal details and defraud consumers by tampering with their bills. The Government wants every home in the country to have a smart meter, but only 8 million out of 27 million households have so far signed up to the 11 billion scheme. Cyber security experts say that making the meters universal will make them more attractive to hackers because the potential returns are so much greater if they can hack every meter using the same software. In some foreign countries hackers have already attacked smart meter networks to defraud customers. Criminals are able to artificially inflate meter readings, making bills higher. They then try to intercept payments, and if they simply skim off the difference between the real reading and the false reading, energy companies will think the bill has been paid normally. Another potential problem is the meters being used as a Trojan horse to access other computers and gadgets around the home if the meters are able to talk to the other devices. That would potentially give hackers the ability to steal personal information that could be sold on to other criminals.

Note: This 2015 New York Times article calls 'smart' devices like these meters, "a train wreck in privacy and security." The networked computerization of everyday objects often means that these objects can spy on you, accelerating the disappearance of privacy in the name of convenience. Watch an excellent documentary uncovering the serious dangers of smart meters.


The NSA knows who you are just by the sound of your voiceand their tech predates Apple and Amazon
2018-01-20, CNBC News
https://www.cnbc.com/2018/01/20/the-nsa-can-recognize-you-by-just-your-voice-...

The National Security Agency has apparently been way ahead of Apple or Amazon. The agency has at its disposal voice recognition technology that it employs to identify terrorists, government spies, or anyone they choose with just a phone call, according to a report by The Intercept. By using recorded audio, the NSA is able to create a "voiceprint," or a map of qualities that mark a voice as singular, and identify the person speaking. According to a classified memo ... the agency has employed this technology since at least 2006, with the document referencing technology "that identifies people by the sound of their voices." In fact, the NSA used such technology during Operation Iraqi Freedom, when analysts were able to verify audio thought to be of Saddam Hussein speaking. It suggests that national security operatives had access to high-level voice technology long before Amazon, Apple and Google's solutions became cultural touchstones. A "voiceprint" is "a dynamic computer model of the individual's vocal characteristics," the publication explained, created by an algorithm analyzing features like pitch and mouth shape. Then, using the NSA's formidable bank of recorded audio files, the agency is able to match the speaker to an identity. Identifying people through their voiceprints is a skill at which the "NSA reigns supreme," according to a leaked document from 2008. And, they're only getting better.

Note: As this BBC article from 1999 shows, mass surveillance systems with voice recognition capability have been in use for many years. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on intelligence agency corruption and the disappearance of privacy.


How ex-congresswoman helped squelch reports of secret government surveillance
2018-01-15, San Francisco Chronicle (San Francisco's leading newspaper)
http://www.sfchronicle.com/nation/article/Ex-congresswoman-helped-squelch-sto...

Two New York Times reporters learned in 2004 that the George W. Bush administration was secretly wiretapping Americans, and collecting their phone and email records. The reporters attempt to publish their findings were thwarted by the administrations intense and successful lobbying of their editors. That effort ... had an unlikely ally: Rep. Jane Harman of Los Angeles, the senior Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee. Details of the far-reaching, legally unauthorized surveillance program remained secret until the Times published the article in late 2005. The newspapers interactions with administration officials, and Harmans role, were described by former Times reporter James Risen this month in the Intercept, the investigative publication where he now works. The story on the program known as Stellar Wind was ready for publication before the November 2004 election, when Bush was on the ballot, but NSA Director Michael Hayden and other administration officials told Times editors, in phone calls and face-to-face meetings, that publication would damage national security and endanger lives, Risen said. He said the officials were joined in that effort by Harman, one of a handful of congressional leaders who had been briefed on the program and were enlisted by the White House to contact the Times. Members of Congress learned later that the NSA had not been seeking warrants from a secret court, as required by law, before wiretapping calls.

Note: James Risen is a courageous hero who shared two Pulitzer Prizes for his reporting around 9/11 and massive government surveillance. His recent article in The Intercept describes how a "marketplace of secrets in Washington" supports the US national security apparatus, and is used by corrupt government officials to manipulate the news.


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.