Privacy News ArticlesExcerpts of Key Privacy News Articles in Media
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.
Undercover police officers routinely adopted a tactic of "promiscuity" with the blessing of senior commanders, according to a former agent who worked in a secretive unit of the Metropolitan police for four years. The former undercover policeman claims that sexual relationships with activists were sanctioned for both men and women officers infiltrating anarchist, leftwing and environmental groups. Sex was a tool to help officers blend in, the officer claimed, and was widely used as a technique to glean intelligence. He said undercover officers, particularly those infiltrating environmental and leftwing groups, viewed having sex with a large number of partners "as part of the job". His comments contradict claims last week from the Association of Chief Police Officers that operatives were absolutely forbidden to sleep with activists. The claims follow the unmasking of undercover PC Mark Kennedy, who had sexual relationships with several women during the seven years he spent infiltrating a ring of environmental activists. Another two covert officers have been named in the past fortnight who also had sex with the protesters they were sent to spy on, fuelling allegations that senior officers had authorised sleeping around as a legitimate means of gathering intelligence.
Note: For a comprehensive overview of the still-ongoing revelations about police provocateur Mark Kennedy and his cohorts in the UK police infiltration of environmental and related activist groups, click here.
Law enforcement is tracking Americans' cell phones in real time—without the benefit of a warrant. Amid all the furor over the Bush administration's warrantless wiretapping program a few years ago, a mini-revolt was brewing over another type of federal snooping that was getting no public attention at all. Federal prosecutors were seeking what seemed to be unusually sensitive records: internal data from telecommunications companies that showed the locations of their customers' cell phones—sometimes in real time, sometimes after the fact. Prosecutors "were using the cell phone as a surreptitious tracking device," said Stephen W. Smith, a federal magistrate in Houston. "And I started asking the U.S. Attorney's Office, 'What is the legal authority for this? What is the legal standard for getting this information?'" Those questions are now at the core of a constitutional clash between President Obama's Justice Department and civil libertarians alarmed by what they see as the government's relentless intrusion into the private lives of citizens. There are numerous other fronts in the privacy wars—about the content of e-mails, for instance, and access to bank records and credit-card transactions. The Feds now can quietly get all that information. But cell-phone tracking is among the more unsettling forms of government surveillance, conjuring up Orwellian images of Big Brother secretly following your movements through the small device in your pocket.
Note: For many key reports from major media sources on the disturbing trend toward increasing government and corporate surveillance, click here.
The Transportation Security Administration ... has on its web site a “mythbuster” that tries to reassure the public. Myth: The No-Fly list includes an 8-year-old boy. Buster: No 8-year-old is on a T.S.A. watch list. “Meet Mikey Hicks,” said Najlah Feanny Hicks, introducing her 8-year-old son, a New Jersey Cub Scout and frequent traveler who has seldom boarded a plane without a hassle because he shares the name of a suspicious person. “It’s not a myth.” Hicks’s mother initially sensed trouble when he was a baby and she could not get a seat for him on their flight to Florida at an airport kiosk; airline officials explained that his name “was on the list,” she recalled. The first time he was patted down, at Newark Liberty International Airport, Mikey was 2. He cried. After years of long delays and waits for supervisors at every airport ticket counter, this year’s vacation to the Bahamas badly shook up the family. Mikey was frisked on the way there, then more aggressively on the way home. “Up your arms, down your arms, up your crotch — someone is patting your 8-year-old down like he’s a criminal,” Mrs. Hicks recounted. It is true that Mikey is not on the federal government’s “no-fly” list, which includes about 2,500 people, less than 10 percent of them from the United States. But his name appears to be among some 13,500 on the larger “selectee” list, which sets off a high level of security screening.
Note: For many reports from major media sources on the extreme loss of liberties brought about by the highly touted "war on terrorism," click here.
Every phone call, text message, email and website visit made by private citizens is to be stored for a year and will be available for monitoring by government bodies. All telecoms companies and internet service providers will be required by law to keep a record of every customerâ€™s personal communications, showing who they have contacted, when and where, as well as the websites they have visited. Despite widespread opposition to the increasing amount of surveillance in Britain, 653 public bodies will be given access to the information, including police, local councils, the Financial Services Authority, the ambulance service, fire authorities and even prison governors. They will not require the permission of a judge or a magistrate to obtain the information, but simply the authorisation of a senior police officer or the equivalent of a deputy head of department at a local authority. The Government announced yesterday it was pressing ahead with privately held â€śBig Brotherâ€ť databases that opposition leaders said amounted to â€śstate-spyingâ€ť and a form of â€ścovert surveillanceâ€ť on the public. It is doing so despite its own consultation showing that it has little public support. The new rules ... will not only force communications companies to keep their records for longer, but to expand the type of data they keep to include details of every website their customers visit.
Note: For many more reports from major media sources on the disturbing trend toward increasing government and corporate surveillance and loss of privacy, click here.
OLBERMANN: It has taken less than 24 hours after the Bush presidency ended for a former analyst at the National Security Agency to come forward to reveal new allegations about how this nation was spied on by its own government. Russell Tice [reveals] that under the collar of fighting terrorism, the Bush administration was also targeting specific groups of Americans for surveillance. TICE: The National Security Agency had access to all Americans‘ communications, faxes, phone calls, and their computer communications. They monitored all communications. What was done was a sort of an ability to look at the meta data, the signaling data for communications, and ferret that information to determine what communications would ultimately be collected. Basically, filtering out sort of like sweeping everything with that meta data, and then cutting down ultimately what you are going to look at and what is going to be collected, and in the long run have an analyst look at, you know, needles in a haystack for what might be of interest. OLBERMANN: I mention that you say specific groups were targeted. What group or groups can you tell us about? TICE: [Some of the groups they] collected on were U.S. news organizations and reporters and journalists. The collection ... was 24/7, and you know, 365 days a year, and it made no sense.
[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 you’ve 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. I’ve 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 you’ve 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.
Sitting in a hotel bar, Alexander Nix, who runs the political data firm Cambridge Analytica, had a few ideas for a prospective client looking for help in a foreign election. The firm could send an attractive woman to seduce a rival candidate and secretly videotape the encounter, Mr. Nix said, or send someone posing as a wealthy land developer to pass a bribe. “We have a long history of working behind the scenes,” Mr. Nix said. The prospective client, though, was actually a reporter. The encounter was secretly filmed as part of a monthslong investigation into Cambridge Analytica, the data firm with ties to President Trump’s 2016 campaign. The results of Channel 4’s work were broadcast ... days after reports ... that the firm had harvested the data from more than 50 million Facebook profiles in its bid to develop techniques for predicting the behavior of individual American voters. Less noticed has been the work that Cambridge Analytica and its parent company, the SCL Group, have done outside the United States. “Many of our clients don’t want to be seen to be working with a foreign company,” he told the Channel 4 reporter. “We can set up fake IDs and websites.” Mr. Nix ... boasted that Cambridge Analytica employs front companies and former spies on behalf of political clients. The information that is uncovered ... is then put “into the bloodstream to the internet,” said Mark Turnbull, another Cambridge executive. “Then watch it grow,” he added. “It has to happen without anyone thinking, ‘That’s propaganda.’”
Note: Watch an astounding video revealing how Cambridge Analytica has successfully manipulated national elections around the world using sleazy tactics like pretty women to entrap candidates and offering major bribes while recording the exchange. And here is a video featuring the whistleblower who exposed this.
Regulators have approved the first drug with a sensor that alerts doctors when the medication has been taken. The digital pill combines two existing products: the former blockbuster psychiatric medication Abilify - long used to treat schizophrenia and bipolar disorder - with a sensor tracking system first approved in 2012. Experts say the technology could be a useful tool, but it will also change how doctors relate to their patients as they’re able to see whether they are following instructions. The pill has not yet been shown to actually improve patients’ medication compliance, a feature insurers are likely to insist on before paying for the pill. Additionally, patients must be willing to allow their doctors and caregivers to access the digital information. The technology carries risks for patient privacy, too, if there are breaches of medical data or unauthorized use as a surveillance tool, said James Giordano, a professor of neurology at Georgetown University Medical Center. “Could this type of device be used for real-time surveillance? The answer is of course it could,” said Giordano. The new pill, Abilify MyCite, is embedded with a digital sensor that is activated by stomach fluids, sending a signal to a patch worn by the patient and notifying a digital smartphone app that the medication has been taken.
Note: In 2010, it was quietly reported that Novartis AG would be seeking regulatory approval for such "chip-in-a-pill technology". For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on microchip implants and the disappearance of privacy.
WikiLeaks has alleged that the CIA looked into vehicle interference methods that could potentially enable it to assassinate people without detection. According to the whistle-blowing organisation, the CIA explored the tactic in October 2014. It hasn’t included any more details about the alleged practice. WikiLeaks included the claim in its release announcing ‘Vault 7’, a huge batch of documents, which Julian Assange claims to account for the CIA’s “entire hacking capacity”. “As of October 2014 the CIA was also looking at infecting the vehicle control systems used by modern cars and trucks,” reads a passage in the release. “The purpose of such control is not specified, but it would permit the CIA to engage in nearly undetectable assassinations.” The CIA has also been accused of using malware and hacking tools to turn TVs into covert microphones and remotely break into smartphones. The latter, according to WikiLeaks, allowed it to bypass encryption on a number of popular messaging apps, including WhatsApp. WikiLeaks describes Vault 7 as “the largest intelligence publication in history” and says that the initial batch of 8,761 files is just the first in a series of releases.
Note: See the wikileaks webpage summarizing this most important leak. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles about intelligence agency corruption and the disappearance of privacy.
AT&T runs a secret program called Project Hemisphere that that searches millions and millions of call records and analyzes cellular data to help law enforcement spy on Americans, according to documents obtained by The Daily Beast. Police use the data to solve crimes by monitoring if specific cellular towers in the vicinity of wrongdoings picked up a known suspect’s cell phone. The surveillance project comes to light as the company is on the verge of acquiring Time Warner in one of the biggest media mergers in memory. Law enforcement agencies pay from $100,000 to over $1 million a year for Hemisphere access. Back in 2013, The New York Times called Hemisphere a partnership between AT&T and the government, but Daily Beast says it’s actually “a product AT&T developed, marketed, and sold at a cost of millions of dollars per year to taxpayers.” No warrant is required to access Hemisphere, but it does require a promise not to publicly disclose Hemisphere. AT&T owns significant shares in both the landline and cell phone space, which allows the company to possess information that is used by at least 28 intelligence centers. Documents show that AT&T wants to keep Hemisphere a secret, but suspects and anyone charged with a crime have the right to know the evidence against them. “The Government agency agrees not to use the data as evidence in any judicial or administrative proceedings unless there is no other available and admissible probative evidence,” documents obtained by the Beast said.
For more than a decade, professional snoops have been able to search troves of ... addresses, DMV records, photographs of a person’s car - and condense them into comprehensive reports costing as little as $10. Now they can combine that information with the kinds of things marketers know about you, such as which politicians you donate to, what you spend on groceries, and whether it’s weird that you ate in last night, to create a portrait of your life and predict your behavior. IDI, a year-old company in the so-called data-fusion business, is the first to centralize and weaponize all that information for its customers. Chief Executive Officer Derek Dubner says the system isn’t waiting for requests from clients - it’s already built a profile on every American adult, including young people who wouldn’t be swept up in conventional databases, which only index transactions. These personal profiles include all known addresses, phone numbers, and e-mail addresses; every piece of property ever bought or sold, plus related mortgages; past and present vehicles owned; criminal citations, from speeding tickets on up; voter registration; hunting permits; and names and phone numbers of neighbors. The reports also include photos of cars taken by private companies using automated license plate readers - billions of snapshots tagged with GPS coordinates and time stamps to help PIs surveil people or bust alibis. IDI also runs two coupon websites ... that collect purchasing and behavioral data.
The secretive British spy agency GCHQ has developed covert tools to seed the internet with false information, including the ability to manipulate the results of online polls, artificially inflate pageview counts on web sites, “amplif[y]” sanctioned messages on YouTube, and censor video content judged to be “extremist.” The capabilities, detailed in documents provided by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden, even include an old standby for pre-adolescent prank callers everywhere: A way to connect two unsuspecting phone users together in a call. The tools were created by GCHQ’s Joint Threat Research Intelligence Group (JTRIG), and constitute some of the most startling methods of propaganda and internet deception contained within the Snowden archive. Previously disclosed documents have detailed JTRIG’s use of “fake victim blog posts,” “false flag operations,” “honey traps” and psychological manipulation to target online activists, monitor visitors to WikiLeaks, and spy on YouTube and Facebook users. A newly released top-secret GCHQ document called “JTRIG Tools and Techniques” provides a comprehensive, birds-eye view of just how underhanded and invasive this unit’s operations are. The document—available in full here—is designed to notify other GCHQ units of JTRIG’s “weaponised capability” when it comes to the dark internet arts, and serves as a sort of hacker’s buffet for wreaking online havoc.
Note: For more on this, see concise summaries of deeply revealing intelligence agency operations news articles from reliable major media sources.
Ordinary Internet users, American and non-American alike, far outnumber legally targeted foreigners in the communications intercepted by the National Security Agency from U.S. digital networks, according to a four-month investigation by The Washington Post. [90% of] account holders found in a large cache of intercepted conversations, which former NSA contractor Edward Snowden provided in full to The Post, were not the intended surveillance targets but were caught in a net the agency had cast for somebody else. Many of them were Americans. [Many] files, described as useless by the analysts but nonetheless retained, have a startlingly intimate, even voyeuristic quality. They tell stories of love and heartbreak, illicit sexual liaisons, mental-health crises, political and religious conversions, financial anxieties and disappointed hopes. The daily lives of more than 10,000 account holders who were not targeted are catalogued and recorded nevertheless. The cache Snowden provided came from domestic NSA operations under the broad authority granted by Congress in 2008 with amendments to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. FISA content is generally stored in closely controlled data repositories, and for more than a year. The files offer an unprecedented vantage point on the changes wrought by Section 702 of the FISA amendments, which enabled the NSA to make freer use of methods that for 30 years had required probable cause and a warrant from a judge.
Note: For more on this, see concise summaries of deeply revealing government surveillance news articles from reliable major media sources.
Britain's surveillance agency GCHQ, with aid from the US National Security Agency, intercepted and stored the webcam images of millions of internet users not suspected of wrongdoing, secret documents reveal. GCHQ files dating between 2008 and 2010 explicitly state that a surveillance program codenamed Optic Nerve collected still images of Yahoo webcam chats in bulk and saved them to agency databases, regardless of whether individual users were an intelligence target or not. In one six-month period in 2008 alone, the agency collected webcam imagery – including substantial quantities of sexually explicit communications – from more than 1.8 million Yahoo user accounts globally. Yahoo ... denied any prior knowledge of the program, accusing the agencies of "a whole new level of violation of our users' privacy". Optic Nerve, the documents provided by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden show, began as a prototype in 2008 and was still active in 2012. The system, eerily reminiscent of the telescreens evoked in George Orwell's Nineteen Eighty-Four, was used for experiments in automated facial recognition, to monitor GCHQ's existing targets, and to discover new targets of interest. Such searches could be used to try to find terror suspects or criminals making use of multiple, anonymous user IDs. Rather than collecting webcam chats in their entirety, the program saved one image every five minutes from the users' feeds ... to avoid overloading GCHQ's servers. The documents describe these users as "unselected" – intelligence agency parlance for bulk rather than targeted collection.
Note: For more on government surveillance, see the deeply revealing reports from reliable major media sources available here.
The U.S. National Security Agency is involved in industrial espionage and will grab any intelligence it can get its hands on regardless of its value to national security, former NSA contractor Edward Snowden told a German TV network. ARD TV quoted Snowden saying the NSA does not limit its espionage to issues of national security and he cited German engineering firm, Siemens as one target. "If there's information at Siemens that's beneficial to U.S. national interests - even if it doesn't have anything to do with national security - then they'll take that information nevertheless," Snowden said. Snowden's claim the NSA is engaged in industrial espionage follows a New York Times report earlier this month that the NSA put software in almost 100,000 computers around the world, allowing it to carry out surveillance on those devices and could provide a digital highway for cyberattacks. The NSA planted most of the software after gaining access to computer networks, but has also used a secret technology that allows it entry even to computers not connected to the Internet, the newspaper said, citing U.S. officials, computer experts and documents leaked by Snowden. Frequent targets of the programme, code-named Quantum, included units of the Chinese military and industrial targets.
Note: For more on the realities of intelligence agency operations, see the deeply revealing reports from reliable major media sources available here.
The White House's expert NSA panel may have made headlines ... for telling President Barack Obama to knock off the collection of Americans' meta-data, but surveillance experts said they were surprised that the panel also took to task some controversial non-NSA-related spy tactics as well. One recommendation was to impose much stricter oversight on the FBI's ability to issue National Security Letters (NSLs), which have been used to obtain telephone call records and credit reports in terrorism and espionage cases. Another even more peculiar recommendation by the five national security experts ... was their advice that "governments" shouldn't hack into bank accounts and drain funds. "Governments should not use their offensive cyber capabilities to change the amounts held in financial accounts or otherwise manipulate the financial systems," the unanimous Review Group on Intelligence and Communications Technologies report warned Obama. "That was a strangely specific recommendation for something nobody was talking about," Kel McClanahan, executive director of government transparency group National Security Counselors, told ABC News. Michelle Richardson, the American Civil Liberties Union's legislative council in Washington, also said the findings on "NSLs" and government hacking were unexpected -- but welcomed.
Note: The fact that this expert panel would even mention governments manipulating financial accounts suggests that if it hasn't already happened, some were seriously considering this. For lots more on this strange news, click here. For more on the realities of intelligence agency activities, see the deeply revealing reports from reliable major media sources available here.
British and American intelligence agencies had a comprehensive list of surveillance targets that included the EU's competition commissioner, German government buildings in Berlin and overseas, and the heads of institutions that provide humanitarian and financial help to Africa, top-secret documents reveal. The papers show GCHQ [and the NSA were] targeting organisations such as the United Nations development programme, the UN's children's charity Unicef and Médecins du Monde, a French organisation that provides doctors and medical volunteers to conflict zones. The head of the Economic Community of West African States (Ecowas) also appears in the documents, along with text messages he sent to colleagues. One GCHQ document, drafted in January 2009, makes clear that the agencies were targeting an email address listed as belonging to another important American ally – the "Israeli prime minister". Ehud Olmert was in office at the time. Three further Israeli targets appeared on GCHQ documents, including another email address understood to have been used to send messages between the then Israeli defence minister, Ehud Barak, and his chief of staff, Yoni Koren. The names and details are the latest revelations to come from documents leaked by the whistleblower Edward Snowden. They provoked a furious reaction. The disclosures reflect the breadth of targets sought by the agencies, which goes far beyond the desire to intercept the communications of potential terrorists and criminals, or diplomats and officials from hostile countries.
Note: Later reports revealed that GHCQ also targeted the global human rights organization Amnesty International. For more on the realities of intelligence agency activities, see the deeply revealing reports from reliable major media sources available here.
It’s not just the NSA that has been caught spying on Americans. Some of our nation’s largest corporations have been conducting espionage as well, against civic groups. That’s the lesson of a new report on corporate espionage against nonprofit organizations by ... Essential Information. The title of the report is Spooky Business, and it is apt. Spooky Business is like a Canterbury Tales of corporate snoopery: Hiring investigators to pose as volunteers and journalists. Hacking. Wiretapping. Information warfare. Physical intrusion. Investigating the private lives of nonprofit leaders. Dumpster diving using an active duty police officer to gain access to trash receptacles. Electronic surveillance. Many different types of nonprofit civic organizations have been targeted by corporate spies: environmental, public interest, consumer, food safety, animal rights, pesticide reform, nursing home reform, gun control and social justice. A diverse constellation of corporations has planned or executed corporate espionage against these nonprofit civic organizations. Food companies like Kraft, Coca-Cola, Burger King, McDonald’s and Monsanto. Oil companies like Shell, BP and Chevron. Chemical companies like Dow and Sasol. Also involved are the retailers (Wal-Mart), banks (Bank of America), and, of course, the nation’s most powerful trade association: the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. Plenty of mercenary spooks have joined up to abet them, including former officials at the FBI, CIA, NSA, Secret Service and U.S. military. Sometimes even government contractors are part of the snooping.
Note: For more on corporate corruption, see the deeply revealing reports from reliable major media sources available here.
When Ban Ki-moon, the United Nations secretary general, sat down with President Obama at the White House in April to discuss Syrian chemical weapons, Israeli-Palestinian peace talks and climate change, it was a cordial, routine exchange. The National Security Agency nonetheless went to work in advance and intercepted Mr. Ban’s talking points for the meeting, a feat the agency later reported as an “operational highlight” in a weekly internal brag sheet. It was emblematic of an agency that for decades has operated on the principle that any eavesdropping that can be done on a foreign target of any conceivable interest — now or in the future — should be done. After all, American intelligence officials reasoned, who’s going to find out? From thousands of classified documents, the National Security Agency emerges as an electronic omnivore of staggering capabilities, eavesdropping and hacking its way around the world to strip governments and other targets of their secrets, all the while enforcing the utmost secrecy about its own operations. It spies routinely on friends as well as foes, as has become obvious in recent weeks; the agency’s official mission list includes using its surveillance powers to achieve “diplomatic advantage” over such allies as France and Germany and “economic advantage” over Japan and Brazil, among other countries. The scale of eavesdropping by the N.S.A., with 35,000 workers and $10.8 billion a year, sets it apart.
Note: For more on the realities of intelligence agency operations, see the deeply revealing reports from reliable major media sources available here.
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