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Tag Archive: Surveillance state


Prof: ‘Elf On The Shelf’ Conditions Kids To Accept Surveillance State

 

 

 

 

Could there be something more sinister behind the little elf sitting on the shelf who returns to the North Pole each night?

  Yes, says Laura Pinto, a digital technology professor at the University of Ontario Institute of Technology.

  She recently published a paper titled “Who’s the Boss” on the doll, saying the idea of it reporting back to Santa each night on the child’s behavior “sets up children for dangerous, uncritical acceptance of power structures,” according to insideHalton.com.

  From her paper:

  When children enter the play world of The Elf on the Shelf, they accept a series of practices and rules associated with the larger story. This, of course, is not unique to The Elf on the Shelf. Many children’s games, including board games and video games, require children to participate while following a prescribed set of rules. The difference, however, is that in other games, the child role-plays a character, or the child imagines herself within a play-world of the game, but the role play does not enter the child’s real world as part of the game. As well, in most games, the time of play is delineated (while the game goes on), and the play to which the rules apply typically does not overlap with the child’s real world.

“  You’re teaching (kids) a bigger lesson, which is that it’s OK for other people to spy on you and you’re not entitled to privacy,” she tells the Toronto Star. “

 

Read the rest

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Left To Obama: Check Spy Agencies

 

 

 

” Activists on the left are demanding President Obama flex his muscle over the country’s spy agencies.

  The CIA’s admission that a handful of officials spied on Senate staffers is proof that the White House has lost control of the intelligence agencies, critics say. They are also discomforted by the continued support Obama has offered for agency Director John Brennan. 

“ This is not an isolated incident,” said Becky Bond, political director with the progressive group Credo.

“ The fact that these intelligence officials are able to keep their job when major breaches or major assaults on the Constitution are made public — let alone all the things that are happening that we don’t know about — it sets a very dangerous precedent,” she added.

  In recent days, more than 42,000 people have signed Credo’s petition calling for Obama to “fire” Brennan, along with agency officials who knew about the snooping on Congress. The petition also calls for the Justice Department to file criminal charges against people involved in the congressional snooping.

  The spying is just “the latest evidence that America’s shadowy intelligence agencies are out of control,” the group said in its petition. “Yet disturbingly, President Obama is still defending Brennan.”

  The administration’s positions have inflamed civil libertarians on both sides of the aisle. But for liberals who supported Obama based in part on his opposition to the powerful security apparatus of the administration of President George W. Bush, the shift is especially painful. 

“ It looks incredibly hypocritical relative to the promises he made over the campaign, and that’s completely been made transparent,” said Demand Progress executive director David Segal. “

 

The Hill

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Commentary From John Whitehead At The Rutherford Institute

 

 

 

 

 

” By John W. Whitehead 
June 16, 2014

A standing military force, with an overgrown Executive will not long be safe companions to liberty.”—James Madison

“ Here [in New Mexico], we are moving more toward a national police force. Homeland Security is involved with a lot of little things around town. Somebody in Washington needs to call a timeout.”—Dan Klein, retired Albuquerque Police Department sergeant.

  If the United States is a police state, then the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is its national police force, with all the brutality, ineptitude and corruption such a role implies. In fact, although the DHS’ governmental bureaucracy may at times appear to be inept and bungling, it is ruthlessly efficient when it comes to building what the Founders feared most—a standing army on American soil.

The third largest federal agency behind the Departments of Veterans Affairs and Defense, the DHS—with its 240,000 full-time workers, $61 billion budget and sub-agencies that include the Coast Guard, Customs and Border Protection, Secret Service, Transportation Security Administration (TSA) and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA)—has been aptly dubbed a “runaway train.”

  In the 12 years since it was established to “prevent terrorist attacks within the United States,” the DHS has grown from a post-9/11 knee-jerk reaction to a leviathan with tentacles in every aspect of American life. With good reason, a bipartisan bill to provide greater oversight and accountability into the DHS’ purchasing process has been making its way through Congress.

  A better plan would be to abolish the DHS altogether. In making the case for shutting down the de facto national police agency, analyst Charles Kenny offers the following six reasons: one, the agency lacks leadership; two, terrorism is far less of a threat than it is made out to be; three, the FBI has actually stopped more alleged terrorist attacks than DHS; four, the agency wastes exorbitant amounts of money with little to show for it; five, “An overweight DHS gets a free pass to infringe civil liberties without a shred of economic justification”; and six, the agency is just plain bloated.

  To Kenny’s list, I will add the following: The menace of a national police force, a.k.a. a standing army, vested with so much power cannot be overstated, nor can its danger be ignored. Indeed, as the following list shows, just about every nefarious deed, tactic or thuggish policy advanced by the government today can be traced back to the DHS, its police state mindset, and the billions of dollars it distributes to police agencies in the form of grants.

  Militarizing police and SWAT teams. The DHS routinely hands out six-figure grants to enable local municipalities to purchase military-style vehicles, as well as a veritable war chest of weaponry, ranging from tactical vests, bomb-disarming robots, assault weapons and combat uniforms. This rise in military equipment purchases funded by the DHS has, according to analysts Andrew Becker and G.W. Schulz, “paralleled an apparent increase in local SWAT teams.” The end result? An explosive growth in the use of SWAT teams for otherwise routine police matters, an increased tendency on the part of police to shoot first and ask questions later, and an overall mindset within police forces that they are at war—and the citizenry are the enemy combatants.”

     Below are a list of other ways in which the State is busy eroding our Constitutional rights , all explored in greater depth at the Rutherford Institute .

” Spying on activists, dissidents and veterans. 

Stockpiling ammunition. 

Distributing license plate readers. 

Contracting to build detention camps. 

Tracking cell-phones with Stingray devices. 

Carrying out military drills and lockdowns in American cities. 

Using the TSA as an advance guard. 

Conducting virtual strip searches with full-body scanners. 

Carrying out soft target checkpoints. 

Directing government workers to spy on Americans.  

Conducting widespread spying networks using fusion centers. 

Carrying out Constitution-free border control searches. 

Funding city-wide surveillance cameras. 

Utilizing drones and other spybots. 

  It’s not difficult to see why the DHS has been described as a “wasteful, growing, fear-mongering beast.” If it is a beast, however, it is a beast that is accelerating our nation’s transformation into a police state through its establishment of a standing army, a.k.a. national police force.

  This, too, is nothing new. Historically, as I show in my book A Government of Wolves: The Emerging American Police State, the establishment of a national police force has served as a fundamental and final building block for every totalitarian regime that has ever wreaked havoc on humanity, from Hitler’s all-too-real Nazi Germany to George Orwell’s fictional Oceania. Whether fictional or historical, however, the calling cards of these national police agencies remain the same: brutality, inhumanity, corruption, intolerance, rigidity, and bureaucracy—in other words, evil. “

Read more here

From Young Americans For Liberty

 

 

 

State Of Our Union

 

 

 

 

Old Glory Surveillance

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tea Party, Taxes And Why The Original Patriots Would’ve Revolted Against The Surveillance State

 

We Rebelled Against Much Less

 

 

” Let’s just imagine we could transport an Internet-connected laptop back to the 1790s, when the United States was in its infancy. The technology would no doubt knock the founders out of their buckle-top boots, but once the original patriots got over the initial shock and novelty (and clearing up Wikipedia controversies, hosting an AMA and boggling over Dogecoin), the sense of marvel would give way to alarm as they realized how electronic communications could be exploited by a tyrant, such as the one from which they just freed themselves.

 As America’s first unofficial chief technologist, Benjamin Franklin would be the first to recognize the danger and take to trolling the message boards with his famous sentiment: Those who would trade liberty for safety deserve neither. (And he’d probably troll under a fake handle, using Tor, since the patriots understood that some truths are best told with anonymity.)

  Mass surveillance was not part of the original social contract—the terms of service, if you will—between Americans and their government. Untargeted surveillance is one reason we have an independent country today.

  Under the Crown’s rule, English officials used writs of assistance to indiscriminately “enter and go into any house, shop cellar, warehouse, or room or other place and, in case of resistance, to break open doors, chests, trunks, and other package there” in order to find tax evaders. Early patriot writers, such as James Otis Jr. and John Dickinson, railed against these general warrants, and it was this issue, among other oppressive conditions, that inspired the Declaration of Independence and the Fourth Amendment.

James Madison drafted clear language guaranteeing the rights of Americans, and it bears reading again in full:

 The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.”

EFF has the story

Snowden Speaks: A Vanity Fair Exclusive

 

 

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” “Every person remembers some moment in their life where they witnessed some injustice, big or small, and looked away, because the consequences of intervening seemed too intimidating,” former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden tells Vanity Fair about his motivation for leaking tens of thousands of secret documents. “But there’s a limit to the amount of incivility and inequality and inhumanity that each individual can tolerate. I crossed that line. And I’m no longer alone.”

  Snowden’s extensive response is part of a 20,000-word narrative in Vanity Fair’s May issue, by special correspondent Bryan Burrough and contributing editors Suzanna Andrews and Sarah Ellison. The article is the first comprehensive account—bolstered by interviews with dozens of key players—providing an inside look at how a geeky dropout from the Maryland suburbs found himself alone in a Hong Kong hotel room, releasing some of America’s most carefully guarded secrets to the world.

  Snowden writes to Vanity Fair about the N.S.A.’s allegations that he never filed a formal complaint (and directly challenges it to deny he contacted internal oversight); about why he’s not a spy; about what he calls the “post-terror generation”’s views on defending the Constitution; about the crucial ways in which he differs from WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange; about his amusement at being labeled a right-winger; and more.

  Among the highlights of Snowden’s response: “

Read the interview at Vanity Fair

Tech Companies And Activists Unite To Protest The NSA

 

 

 

 

” Get ready for another day of internet-wide activism. This is billed as “The Day We Fight Back,” with sites across the web joining a campaign to end mass surveillance programs from the National Security Agency.

  The campaign was organized by public advocacy groups such as Demand Progress, the Electronic Frontier Foundation, the American Civil Liberties Union, and Fight for the Future, working alongside tech companies such as Reddit, Namecheap, and Tumblr. With the protest, activists hope to not only push public opinion even further against the NSA, but also defeat the FISA Improvements Act, a bill sponsored by California Democratic Senator Dianne Feinstein. Demand Progress executive director David Segal says that although the bill is touted as reform legislation, it would actually codify many of the surveillance practices that activists oppose — practices that have received added attention in recent months after ex-government contractor Edward Snowden began sharing NSA secrets with the press.

  At least in spirit, today’s protest resembles a successful 2012 campaign to stop the SOPA and PIPA anti-piracy bills, which critics argued were over-broad and would have allowed the government to censor the web. But it also honors the memory of Aaron Schwartz, the political activist and co-founder of both Demand Progress and Reddit, who took his life last year.”

 

Wired has more

 

 

 

 

 

 

2013 Is The Year That Proved Your ‘Paranoid’ Friend Right

 

 

” Most people involved in the tech scene have at least one friend who has been warning everyone they know about protecting their digital trail for years — and have watched that friend get accused of being being a tinfoil-hat-wearing conspiracy theorist. But 2013 is the year that proved your “paranoid” friend right.

  It’s now a matter of public record that the NSA collects and stores the calling records of domestic phone calls, tracks the location of millions of mobile devices worldwide,infiltrates the data links between the data centers of tech companies used by millions of Americans, piggybacks onto commercial tracking mechanisms, collected potentially sensitive online metadata for years and actively worked to undermine the privacy and security measures that underpin the Internet. And considering the purported size of the Snowden cache, that could be the tip of the metaphorical iceberg.”

 

Source: Washington Post

 

 

 

 

 

 

How License-Plate Scanners Are Eroding Our Privacy

 

 

 

 

” Here’s a thought experiment: imagine that activists, concerned with official misconduct, install license-plate readers on private property to track the location of every car belonging to the police department or a politician and upload the locations to a public database. The result: a map of where the police go, and where they don’t—along, perhaps, with politicians’ visits to motels or strip clubs. 

  Given that police often respond with hostility to simply being videotaped, I expect that a venture like this would prompt an outcry, and probably some efforts to shut it down. But this is precisely what officialdom is doing to citizens. 

  We now know that federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies are using automated license-plate scanners, mounted on everything from telephone poles to police cars, to build a huge database of where people are driving. This might seem like a small intrusion compared with the electronic spying carried out by the NSA. But not all threats to privacy involve the tracking of emails and other communications. 

  Right now, the law suggests that license-plate scanners don’t invade your privacy because they record only events that occur in public. After all, anyone could see you driving down the road or parked in front of a motel. But if officials add up enough bits of information like that, they gradually can construct what the ACLU has termed a “single, high-resolution image of our lives.” ”

 

Read this related article from the ACLU . As it notes plainly , it’s not the reading of the plate that is inherently troubling , it’s the storage of the data that is cause for concern . 

 

 

” It is important to note that the most effective uses of ALPR technology (and the ones most frequently touted by law enforcement proponents of the technology) – finding missing children, recovering stolen vehicles, locating fleeing assailants – require virtually no retention of the data. License plates are scanned, instantly run through an array of law enforcement databases, and the officer or monitor is notified of any matches. 

  The privacy issues arise with the retention of the information. A police officer will not forever remember the exact location and time of an innocent motorist’s travels. With ALPR technology, those details can be stored indefinitely, creating an ever-growing historical record of the daily comings and goings of every Marylander. As ALPRs become more ubiquitous and that record becomes longer and more detailed, it will become possible for the government to determine a person’s exact movements during any given time period. “

 

 

    We have the fight of our lives on our hands as the State is intent on taking over our lives in every way , shape and form . The time has come to get involved . Get off your couch , write , call , start a blog , photograph , videotape … do something or we shall soon see the truth in Edmund Burke’s famous admonition  “All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.”

 

 

 

 

 








3 Reasons The ‘Nothing To Hide’ Crowd Should Be Worried About Government Surveillance

 

” Responding to a popular reaction to news of the National Security Agency’s massive data collection program, blogger Daniel Sieradski started a Twitter feed called “Nothing to Hide.” He has retweeted hundreds of people who have declared in one form or another that they are not concerned that the federal government may spy on them. They say they have done nothing wrong, so they have nothing to hide. If it helps the government fight terrorists, go ahead, take their civil liberties away.

In his blog, a frustrated Sieradski listed many of the abuses of power our federal government is known for; he is not happy with the “nothing to hide” crowd.

There are many, many reasons to be concerned about the rise of the surveillance state, even if you have nothing to hide. Or rather, even if you think you have nothing to hide. For those confronted by such simplistic arguments, here are a three counterarguments that perhaps might get these people thinking about what they’re actually giving up.

1. Every American Is Probably a Criminal, Really

That Americans think they have nothing to hide in the first place is a sign of how little attention they’re paying to the behavior of our Department of Justice. Many Americans have run afoul of federal laws without even knowing it. Tim Carney noted at the Washington Examiner:

Copy a song to your laptop from a friend’s Beyonce CD? You just violated the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. Did you buy some clothes in Delaware because they were tax free? You’re probably evading taxes. Did you give your 20-year-old nephew a glass of wine at dinner? Illegal in many states.”

 

 

 

 

 

‘Nineteen Eighty-Four’ Sales Spike Amid Surveillance Disclosures

 

 

 

 

” One of the hottest beach reads this summer is “Nineteen Eighty-Four.”

The spate of disclosures about America’s surveillance apparatus appears to have spurred not only allusions to Orwell’s dystopian classic, but also a surge of book sales.

According to Amazon.com Inc. sales data posted earlier Tuesday, one edition of the 64-year-old book jumped more than 7,000% in its overall sale rankings since the beginning of the week. Ranked 13,074 on Monday, the title is now in the top 200.

Editions of  “Nineteen Eighty-Four” now occupy at least four out of the top 50 spots in Amazon’s “movers & shakers” list of big gainers over the last 24 hours.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

For The Record Exposes The Terrifying Surveillance State

 

 

Surveillance State

 

Video at the link

 

” Who is listening? Who is reading your emails? Who is watching you?

We all have a basic idea of how much access the government has to our personal information. But what are they using it for and, more importantly, what are they capable of? Since September 11, 2001, the National Security Agency (NSA) has turned America into a surveillance state, and tonight’s premiere of For The Record, TheBlaze’s new news magazine series, takes a deeper look into just what the government is doing with all that information.

“There is little information today the NSA cannot acquire if it wants to,” said American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) attorney Alexander Abdo. Using the firsthand accounts of four NSA whistleblowers, For The Record exposes the truth behind the government agency that is invading American’s privacy under the guise of national security.”

 

 

 

 

The real Petraeus scandal is why the bureau was rummaging around in his private communications in the first place.

 

 

 

 

” For the past week, Washington has been embroiled in an ever-escalating sex scandal involving Gen. David Petraeus, his biographer Paula Broadwell, and a third woman named Jill Kelley, and now, tangentially it seems, Gen. John Allen. The affair between Petraeus and Broadwell was discovered by the FBI and revealed late last week when Petraeus resigned as director of the CIA. But while the salacious details have kept Washington’s press corps busy, the details about how the bureau ever got this information should concern us far more.

Every turn in the investigation that led to Petraeus’s resignation perfectly illustrates the incredible and dangerous reach of the massive United States surveillance apparatus, which, through hundreds of billions of dollars in post-9/11 programs — coupled with weakened privacy laws and lack of oversight — has affected the civil liberties of every American for years. The only difference here is the victim of the surveillance state’s reach was not a faceless American, but the head one of the agencies tasked to carry it out.

The spark that set events in motion was a handful of allegedly harassing emails sent anonymously to Kelley, a friend of Petraeus’s, which she brought to a friend at the FBI. Yet it’s unclear why an investigation was ever opened, given that everything publicly known about the emails suggests they weren’t illegal.

As the Daily Beast reported, they said things like “Who do you think you are? … You parade around the base … You need to take it down a notch.” The story noted, “when the FBI friend showed the emails to the cyber squad in the Tampa field office, her fellow agents noted that the absence of any overt threats.” ”

 

 

Illustration By Patrick Chappette