Check Out the Creepy Picture Google Paints of Your Daily Habits

Occupy Corporatism
by Susanne Posel

Orig.src.Susanne.Posel.Daily.News- google.watching.facebook_occupycorporatismSusanne Posel

Google has been quietly painting a picture of your daily whereabouts and travel habits with the use of your Android or Apple smartphones.

With the use of tracking map apps such as Google Maps, Facebook and Foursquare, Google knows users must log into their Google account and immediately has a reference point to begin recording the adventures of millions of citizens all across the world.

Orig.src.Susanne.Posel.Daily.News- google.tracking.users.facebook_occupycorporatism

 

Google has created Sounds of Street View (SSV) with a UK based hearing-aid corporation that will utilize “Google’s Street View programming interface, people and businesses will be able to place a sound as well as a location marker on the online map.”

Stephen Griffin, developer for SSV explained: “The concept seems to have sparked people’s imaginations, so hopefully we can start getting some great projects entered soon. “Our hope is that we get some great ‘everyday’ soundscapes but also a few really out-there concepts too, such as the internal atmosphere from one of the many Street View stadiums around the world, or perhaps the underwater expeditions!”

One purpose for implementing this “immersive technology” is to lay the foundation for future corporations to have a new “promotional opportunity” and possibly create the next wave in deceptive marketing practices.

Griffin commented: “There’s also potential for businesses, tour operators and such to think about how they communicate their brand/service when they get their own Street View internal tours. Sound adds a whole new atmospheric element to somewhere like, say, a restaurant, where you could have a welcoming message at the door, an ambient atmosphere to get potential clientele to gain a more thorough vibe.”

 

Facebook uses Nearby Friends (NF) to allow users to track their friend’s movements in real time and in real life.

NF will provide a ping to the user when one of their Facebook friends is in the vicinity.

While friends can opt out of being tracked with NF, as long as Facebook users continue to share their location, this app will have plenty of information in real time to assist in monitoring movements of people through Facebook.

And this includes Facebook friends overseas and across the globe. In fact, if anyone on a friends list is within half a mile from the user, they are being tracked with NF.

 

Through mapping apps anyone can decipher the exact location, detailed movements and intended destination of those they are tracking.

Google’s Latitude and Foursquare are similar tracking apps.

Another tracking tool that helps Google better understand its users is Project Tango (PT), a scheme to build devices that can map the space surrounding them in 3D.

Tango was first introduced as a smartphone; however Google changed their mind and will utilize Nvidia Tegra K1 7 inch Android as hardware complete with motion-tracking cameras and depth sensors.

Google has collaborated with Nvidia, Movidius and George Washington University to manufacture computer chips and perfect the software running the system.

Developers can purchase the experimental kit for $1,024.

This project was provided by Motorola Advanced Technology and Project (ATAP) which was behind the Project Ara modular smartphone.

Project Tango is a smartphone that is equipped with sensors that collect large amounts of data to create 3D images of the user’s home.

The idea is that the customer would rely more on sensors and cameras in order to monitor their world.

 
Occupy Corporatism

In U.S. and Canada, “Smart Meter” Fires Spark Alarm

smart meter

The New American
by Alex Newman

All across the United States, Canada, and beyond, deeply controversial “smart meters” for electricity have been catching on fire and even exploding, sparking a major scandal that in at least one Canadian province has forced authorities to start removing all of the more than 100,000 devices. In Oregon, utility officials also announced that tens of thousands of smart meters were being replaced following numerous reports of fires. With the manufacturer saying the problems are systemic in the industry, experts predict more disasters to come as governments continue foisting the “smart grid” on the world in the face of growing opposition. 

With the latest news of fires and explosions, it now seems to critics and politicians that in the frantic rush to impose the “smart” electric meters in defiance of public resistance, serious safety concerns were pushed aside — along with growing fears about the health and privacy implications surrounding the technology. With the latest news about the potentially deadly consequences, officials across the continent are scrambling for answers, and taxpayers are likely to be stuck with a massive bill.

A series of at least 10 fires in the Canadian province of Saskatchewan attributed to the digital electric meters, which have stirred fierce resistance in some areas due to health and privacy concerns, prompted utility provider SaskPower to announce that it would be removing all of them. The recalled meters will be replaced with the older, lower-tech analog meters that cannot be monitored or controlled remotely. After initially dismissing the widespread safety concerns raised by critics, politicians responsible for the mess, under heavy fire from activists, are now claiming to be concerned as well.    

“I think the concerns about safety are paramount here, the concerns are significant enough, anytime families are at risk in Saskatchewan, actions have to be taken and that’s why we’ve directed SaskPower accordingly,” explained Bill Boyd, the provincial minister of Energy and Resources, who ordered the utility to remove the smart meters after the fires. “I don’t know whether there was enough testing done. We’ll certainly be conducting, along with SaskPower, an internal review of the procurement procedures around this, around the safety concerns people had.”

Boyd continued, officials intend to get to the bottom of the fiasco to identify the culprits as well. “We want to determine when these were originally ordered, if there were safety concerns known at that point in time, so we have a lot of questions we’re going to be discussing with SaskPower about how this came to be,” Boyd was quoted as saying in Canadian media reports. “We view it as similar to a recall situation and the people of Saskatchewan shouldn’t be responsible for the costs of this and we’ll do everything we can to recover those costs.”

Estimates suggest the removals will cost around $15 million and should take six to nine months to complete, according to news reports. Other figures suggest the price tag for the entire fiasco could be as high as $50 million. So far, nobody has taken the blame, including the manufacturer of the fire-producing meters, North Carolina-based Sensus. The company blamed “external factors,” such as “water intrusion,” “hot socket conditions,” “over voltage in the distribution system,” and “holes in meter boxes” for the fires. It also said investigations were underway.

“Our experience has shown that these issues are systemic in the industry and we are committed to delivering solutions that help our customers to overcome these challenges,” said Sensus President Randy Bays in a statement, giving even more credence to the widespread concerns expressed by critics of the smart-meter scheme. (Emphasis added.) “I have complete confidence in the employees and technology that carry the Sensus name. We are committed to providing safe products through engineering excellence and testing to industry standards.”

Despite the firm’s efforts to distance itself from the fires and point out that they are an industry-wide problem, Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall said officials would be going after the manufacturer to recoup at least some of the costs. “We’re going to be pursuing redress from the company in whatever way we can,” Wall said. “We can start with negotiations and, if that doesn’t work, we’ll take the next step.” No matter what happens, taxpayers will almost certainly end up footing some of the cost at the very least — probably most of it.    

Canadian taxpayers and energy consumers, though, are hardly alone in their fiery problems with smart meters. In Oregon, for example, Portland General Electric (PGE) announced in late July that it would be replacing some 70,000 of the devices. The reason: At least three have caught fire so far. “This is our decision based on our assessment and our tests,” said Bill Nicholson, PGE senior vice president of customer service, emphasizing that the manufacturer had not recalled them. “We believe this risk is small, but it’s totally unacceptable to us.”

Before the more recent fiascos in Canada and Oregon, dozens of smart-meter fires in and around Pennsylvania also resulted in the devices being replaced. At least two of those blazes ended up setting the houses on fire, too, though, fortunately, nobody was injured in the resulting infernos. Consumers and taxpayers, of course, ended up footing the giant bill to replace the meters, despite a $200 million federal “grant” to “encourage” utilities to impose the meters on unwitting or even hostile consumers.

But it is not just fires and explosions that are causing concern. In Quebec, for instance, news reports this week following an investigation by the state-funded CBC suggest that the controversial smart meters have been gouging customers — in some cases charging consumers double or even triple what they were paying before the device was installed. In Ontario, some 8,000 people have already filed formal complaints about overbilling attributed to the new meters. 

Beyond fires, explosions, and price gouging, critics of smart meters have a wide range of other concerns as well. At the top of the list are safety and privacy. Many experts have also linked the installation scheme to global efforts aimed at coercively reducing people’s consumption levels in pursuit of nebulous and deeply controversial United Nations goals such as “sustainability.” 

“Smart Meters are designed to provide government with detailed information on your energy use, your movements in your home, the way you use your personal private time, and even how many people are in your home at any given time,” explained Tom DeWeese, chief of the American Policy Center. “It is an unconstitutional invasion of your home by government, as set down in the Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.” 

Among the biggest health concerns (other than being burned alive) is the emission of pulsed radio-frequency (RF) radiation by the devices. More than a few critics of the meters, for example, say they have suffered adverse health effects when the devices were installed at their home. Experts say the “electromagnetic smog” released by the meters can cause a wide range of health problems, too — especially in the elderly, children, and among vulnerable populations with existing health issues.   

Despite the complaints largely being dismissed by proponents of the new system and the crony special interests profiting from it, even the American Academy of Environmental Medicine has called for caution in rolling out smart meters while further studies and investigations are conducted on the potentially harmful effects. “Multiple studies correlate RF exposure with diseases such as cancer, neurological disease, reproductive disorders, immune dysfunction, and electromagnetic hypersensitivity,” the academy said on its website about the radiation emitted by smart meters and other devices with similar technology. “Genotoxic effects from RF exposure, including studies of non-thermal levels of exposure, consistently and specifically show chromosomal instability, altered gene expression, gene mutations, DNA fragmentation and DNA structural breaks.” 

Also deeply troubling to critics are the vast new surveillance opportunities available to authorities and criminals under the smart-grid regime. Among other problems, the meters offer unprecedented tools for hackers and governments to spy on citizens and run roughshod over the U.S. Constitution’s Fourth Amendment on a previously unimaginable scale. Most of the meters, for example, can supply detailed hour-by-hour data, in some cases even more detailed than that.  

Even government bodies have acknowledged the threat. “If law enforcement officers obtained near-real time data on a consumer’s electricity usage from the utility company, their ability to monitor household activities would be amplified significantly,” the Congressional Research Service said in a 2012 report. “For example, by observing when occupants use the most electricity, it may be possible to discern their daily schedules.” If a criminal accessed that information — a relatively simple matter for somebody with hacking skills — they would know, for instance, what time would be best for a robbery or murder.

On the other side of the Atlantic, meanwhile, the European Data Protection Supervisor (EDPS), an official European Union body, also sounded the alarm. “The Europe-wide rollout of ‘smart metering systems’ enables massive collection of personal information from European households, thus far unprecedented in the energy sector,” the EDPS said in a 2012 report, calling the new system “a radical change” compared to past information gathering. “The potential intrusiveness of collection is increased by the fact that data are collected, which may infer information about domestic activities: data may track what members of a household do within the privacy of their own homes.”

According to the report, smart meters will allow the collection of detailed data regarding energy consumption “down to the hour, quarter of an hour, and more.” The mass amount of detailed information, it said, means that anyone with access to the data will be able to “know when each individual appliance in a household is turned on and off, and can often also identify what specific appliances are used.” The system could be a potential goldmine for non-governmental criminals, too — letting them determine, for example, exactly when a house is unoccupied. “This raises concerns with regard to security, the rights to privacy and the protection of personal data,” the report said. “The risks to data protection, however, go further than these most immediate concerns.”

Even more alarming for privacy advocates, the report continues, is the fact that “deployment of smart metering may lead to tracking the everyday lives of people in their own homes and building detailed profiles of all individuals based on their domestic activities.” On top of that, the EDPS explained, smart meters can even collect data from RFID tags, the electronic chips that are becoming increasingly ubiquitous worldwide.

“Further, law enforcement agencies, tax authorities, insurance companies, landlords, employers, and other third parties may also be interested in personal energy usage information,” the EU report continued. In its concluding remarks, the EDPS noted that the mass adoption of the smart meters entails “considerable risks” and enables “massive collection of personal data from European households and may lead to tracking what members of a household do within the privacy of their own homes.”

Some Americans, horrified by the prospect of such intrusive surveillance, have reacted forcefully to the imposition of the “smart” technology. In Texas, for example, concerns over the meters reached a boiling point two years ago when a woman pulled a gun on the installation man for trespassing on her property after being warned to leave. “My main concern originally was the privacy — as far as I’m concerned this is a surveillance device,” Houston-area activist leader Thelma Taormina told The New American after the incident.

Of course, the rollout of the smart meters in the United States, like countless other ongoing controversies, was funded in large part by billions of American taxpayers dollars through the 2009 “stimulus” scheme passed by Democrats in Congress and demanded by Obama. “It will make our grid more secure and more reliable,” Obama claimed at the time in announcing the stimulus-funded “Smart Grid” plot. Apparently, that was not the case. 

Authorities are urging people whose smart meters catch on fire to immediately exit the premises and call emergency services. Critics of the scheme, meanwhile, are urging all Americans — most of whom still do not have the potentially dangerous surveillance devices installed on their homes yet — to resist.

The New American

UK Stores To Implement ‘Tracking Mannequins’

InfoWars
by MIKAEL THALEN

“When the customer walks past visual merchandising equipment… an alert is triggered”

mannequins
Image Credits: Youtube

Several large retailers in the United Kingdom have begun testing a new type of mannequin that sends digital alerts to shoppers’ cell phones as they walk past.

Created by tech developer Iconeme, the mannequins deliver detailed messages about a store’s merchandise to customers who download the accompanying app.

“Mannequins in the shop window or within the store environment communicate with a customers smartphones via an app,” Iconeme says. “When the customer walks past visual merchandising equipment that incorporates a VMBeacon, an alert is triggered.”

Iconeme, who plans to bring the technology into the US market, says that the mannequins can alert users as far as 50 meters away, even when a store is closed.

“The store window becomes a portal for interactive selling, 24 hours a day, making greater use of the retail space on offer,” says Iconeme.

While shoppers currently have to choose to participate by downloading the app, Wired Magazine notes that most users will be unaware of the vast amount of analytical data collected by the technology.

“Iconeme is now taking a punt at making the digital shopping world truly profitable for shops, not just an experience for its customers. That’s because it will be able to grab analytics on customer behaviour, location and even age and gender,” Wired writes. “They can track how long a shopper dwells on an item and how they purchased it — if at all — to tailor their marketing strategy.”

Given the inability of most companies to protect their customers’ data from government agencies determined to “collect it all,” the app may very well become yet another avenue for everyday citizens to be tracked, traced and databased.

While the mannequins may raise the eyebrows of those interested in cyber security, other systems have gone far beyond the realm of technological convenience.

Italian firm Almax made headlines in 2012 after developing the “EyeSee”, a mannequin equipped with a hidden camera inside the head.

“The company refused to divulge which retailers were using the mannequins, but acknowledged that they were already being used in three European countries and in the United States,” said Infowars’ Paul Joseph Watson. “CEO Max Catanese added that five major luxury fashion retailers had deployed ‘a few dozen’ of the mannequins, with orders for many more.”

Redpepper, a marketing firm based in Nashville, announced the creation of a Facebook app in 2012 that uses facial recognition cameras to reward people with discounts upon entering an assortment of shops and bars.

Walmart has utilized hidden cameras to track their customers as well. Shopperception, a network of motion-sensor cameras, is used to track how shoppers’ habits, including how long they spend staring at each item before it is purchased.

InfoWars

Smart Homes Reveal User Behavior, Prone to Hacks: Study

Activist Post
by Kevin Samson

Our Internet-driven world filled with interconnected smart gadgets and computing applications is making us vulnerable to potentially life-changing hacks and tracking. Not only are modern cars open to being hacked, but also boats, planes, and GPS-driven weapons. (Source)

smarthome
The modern smart home (image source)

So, perhaps you think you’ll ditch the modern car, get rid of the smartphone, limit travel and hunker down safe and cozy in your home? Well, unfortunately, if your house is filled with modern appliances and electronics, it could potentially open you up for a nightmare experience. This is the subject of a new European study that will be presented at the ACM Conference on Security and Privacy in Wireless and Mobile Networks in Oxford.

The smart home market is exploding even as news about pervasive surveillance and concerns over Agenda 21 continue to mount.

According to a report from Market Watch, the global numbers are staggering; the report also notes how government regulations will promote future growth.

The following points are taken from a full report that you can read here. Emphasis mine:

  • APAC smart homes market is expected to have a stable growth in coming years, with the revenue growth estimated to reach $9.23 billion by 2020, at an estimated CAGR of 16.73% from 2013 to 2020.
  •  

  • The total European smart homes market is expected to reach $13.81 billion by 2020 at a double digit CAGR from 2013 to 2020.
  •  

  • The major drivers for the European smart homes market are the regulatory initiatives and the mandatory measures taken by European Union (EU), and the comfort and the security ensured by the smart homes systems.
  •  

  • The major restraints for the European smart homes market are the lack of standardization and high costs of the smart homes systems.
  •  

  • The growth of the Americas smart homes market in the coming years is expected to be remarkable, with the revenue growth estimated to reach $22.4 billion by 2020, at an estimated CAGR of 17.62% from 2013 to 2020.
  •  

  • China, currently, leads the market share for APAC smart homes as this region has the maximum adoption. South East Asia countries from Others market are the emerging market for smart homes and are poised for the highest growth rate amongst all the countries followed by China growing at a CAGR of 17.50% from 2013-2020. It is estimated that the Others market will increase at a CAGR of 19.13% from 2013 to 2020.

As you can see from the third bullet point, security is one of the main selling points of this massive rollout. However, vulnerabilities are being exposed which could undermine this aspect of the initiative.

IT security expert Christop Sorge and a team of researchers at Saarland University in Germany believe in the benefits of smart homes, so they have undertaken an examination of how to provide better protection against the negative consequences of the massive amount of data that is gathered by these systems.

Here is how they describe the current reality:

“Many of the systems do not provide adequate security against unwanted third-party access and therefore threaten the privacy of the inhabitants,” says Sorge.

For the purposes of their study, the researchers took on the role of a malicious attacker. “Using a simple mini-PC no bigger in size than a packet of cigarettes we eavesdropped on the wireless home automation systems (HASs) of two volunteers and were thus able to determine just how much information a conventional wireless HAS reveals about its user,” explains Sorge. No other information about the users was available to the research group. The result: “Non-encrypted systems provide large quantities of data to anyone determined enough to access the data, and the attacker requires no prior knowledge about the system, nor about the user being spied on,” says Professor Sorge.

“The data acquired by the attacker can be analysed to extract system commands and status messages, items which reveal a lot about the inhabitants’ behavior and habits. We were able to determine absence times and to identify home ventilation and heating patterns,” explains the expert in legal informatics. The analysis enabled the research group to build up profiles of the inhabitants. Even systems that use encryption technology can supply information to third parties: “The results indicate that even when encrypted communication is used, the number of messages exchanged is enough to provide information on absence times,” says Sorge. Potential attacks can be directed against the functionality of the system or the privacy of the inhabitants. “An attacker with malicious intent could use this sort of information to plan a burglary,” says Sorge. (emphasis added) [Source]

If we have learned anything, we have learned that there are gaping security holes in nearly every modern computing application. As a matter of personal privacy and data protection it is concerning enough, but as the Internet of Things expands to include everything - even our own bodies as form of identification and access – the potential dangers are becoming as exponential as the advancement of the technology itself.

Until the proper protections are proven in real-world conditions, we should be doing all we can not to buy into these gadgets and conveniences. We must also refuse any mandatory measures to impose this smart world upon us.

Activist Post

What Are the Spy Agencies Actually DOING with their Dirty Tricks?

mass-surveillance

Washington’s Blog

SPIES ARE MANIPULATING THE WEB

Newly-released documents from Edward Snowden show that the British spy agency GCHQ has developed numerous offensive digital tools.

In part one, we quote verbatim in black the names and descriptions of some of these tools – some of which Glenn Greenwald didn’t highlight in his report – and provide descriptions in blue of potential misuses of such tools.

In part two, we discuss how likely such misuses really are.

TOOLS AND POTENTIAL MISUSES

CHANGELING: Ability to spoof any email address and send email under that identity

Fake an email from a privacy advocate to make it look like he’s proposing terrorism.

SCRAPHEAP CHALLENGE: Perfect spoofing of emails from Blackberry targets

Fake an email from an opponent of unregulated fracking to make it look like she’s proposing blowing up a well.

BURLESQUE: The capacity to send spoofed SMS messages

Fake a message from an environmental activist to make it look like he’s advocating sabotage.

IMPERIAL BARGE : For connecting two target phone together in a call

Fake a telephone connection to make it look like an anti-war campaigner spoke with a bigwig in Al Qaeda.

BADGER : Mass delivery of email messaging to support an Information Operations campaign

Send out a fake, mass email pretending to be from a whistleblower “admitting” that he’s mentally unstable and vindictive.

WARPATH: Mass delivery of SMS messages to support an Information Operations campaign.

Send out a fake, mass message pretending to be from a whistleblower “admitting” he’s a Russian spy.

SPACE ROCKET: A programme covering insertion of media into target networks.

Insert a fake video calling for jihad on a peaceful Muslim lawyer’s website .

CLEAN SWEEP Masquerade Facebook Wall Posts for individuals or entire countries.

Put up a bunch of fake Wall Posts praising Al Qaeda on the Facebook page of a reporter giving first-hand reports of what’s really happening in a country that the U.S. is trying to demonize.

HAVOK Real-time website cloning technique allowing on-the-fly alterations

Hack the website of a state politician critical of those who trash the Constitution.

SILVERLORD: Disruption of video-based websites hosting extremist content through concerted target discovery and content removal.

Disrupt websites hosting alternative energy videos.

SUNBLOCK: Ability to deny functionality to send/receive email or view material online

Block the emails and web functionality of a government insider who is about to go public on wrongdoing.

ANGRY PIRATE: A tool that will permanently disable a target’s account on their computer

Disable the accounts of an anti-nuclear activist.

PREDATORS FACE: Targeted Denial Of Service against Web Servers

Take down a website which is disclosing hard-hitting information on illegal government actions.

UNDERPASS: Change outcome of online polls

Change the results of an online poll from one showing that the American people overwhelmingly oppose a new war to showing that they support it.

GATEWAY: Ability to artificially increase traffic to a website

Make a website spreading pro-NSA propanda appear hugely popular.

BOMB BAY: The capacity to increase website hits, rankings

Make it look like a hate site is popular among a targeted local population which actually despises its views.

SLIPSTREAM: Ability to inflate page views on websites

Make it appear that a pro-war article is widely popular.

GESTATOR: Amplification of a given message, normally video, on popular multimedia websites (Youtube)

Make a propaganda video go viral.

WHAT IS THE LIKELIHOOD OF MISUSE?

We don’t know which of the above hypothetically forms of misuse are actually occurring.  However, as we wrote in February:

We’ve warned since 2009 (and see this) that the government could be launching cyber “false flag attacks” in order to justify a crackdown on the Internet and discredit web activists.

A new report from NBC News – based on documents leaked by Edward Snowden – appear to confirm our fears, documenting that Britain’s GCHQ spy agency has carried out cyber false flag attacks:

In another document taken from the NSA by Snowden and obtained by NBC News, a JTRIG official said the unit’s mission included computer network attacks, disruption, “Active Covert Internet Operations,” and “Covert Technical Operations.” Among the methods listed in the document were jamming phones, computers and email accounts and masquerading as an enemy in a “false flag” operation. The same document said GCHQ was increasing its emphasis on using cyber tools to attack adversaries.

Later that month, we noted:

A new report from NBC News shows that the British spy agency used “false flag attacks” and other dirty tricks:

British spies have developed “dirty tricks” for use against nations, hackers, terror groups, suspected criminals and arms dealers that include releasing computer viruses, spying on journalists and diplomats, jamming phones and computers, and using sex to lure targets into “honey traps.”

***

The agency’s goal was to “destroy, deny, degrade [and] disrupt” enemies by “discrediting” them, planting misinformation and shutting down their communications.

Sound familiar? It should:

Between 1956 and 1971, the FBI operated a program known as COINTELPRO, for Counter Intelligence Program. Its purpose was to interfere with the activities of the organizations and individuals who were its targets or, in the words of long-time FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover, to “expose, disrupt, misdirect, discredit or otherwise neutralize” them.

NBC continues:

[The agency] also uses “false flag” operations, in which British agents carry out online actions that are designed to look like they were performed by one of Britain’s adversaries.

***

JTRIG used negative information to attack private companies, sour business relationships and ruin deals.

***

Changing photos on social media sites and emailing and texting colleagues and neighbors unsavory information.

And reporter Glenn Greenwald noted that Snowden documents showed:

Western intelligence agencies are attempting to manipulate and control online discourse with extreme tactics of deception and reputation-destruction.

***

These agencies are attempting to control, infiltrate, manipulate, and warp online discourse …. Among the core self-identified purposes … are two tactics: (1) to inject all sorts of false material onto the internet in order to destroy the reputation of its targets; and (2) to use social sciences and other techniques to manipulate online discourse and activism to generate outcomes it considers desirable. To see how extremist these programs are, just consider the tactics they boast of using to achieve those ends: “false flag operations” (posting material to the internet and falsely attributing it to someone else), fake victim blog posts (pretending to be a victim of the individual whose reputation they want to destroy), and posting “negative information” on various forums.

***

The discussion of many of these techniques occurs in the context of using them in lieu of “traditional law enforcement” against people suspected (but not charged or convicted) of ordinary crimes or, more broadly still, “hacktivism”, meaning those who use online protest activity for political ends.

The title page of one of these documents reflects the agency’s own awareness that it is “pushing the boundaries” by using “cyber offensive” techniques against people who have nothing to do with terrorism or national security threats, and indeed, centrally involves law enforcement agents who investigate ordinary crimes….

***

***

… no conceivable connection to terrorism or even national security threats.

***

Then there is the use of psychology and other social sciences to not only understand, but shape and control, how online activism and discourse unfolds. Today’s newly published document touts the work of GCHQ’s “Human Science Operations Cell”, devoted to “online human intelligence” and “strategic influence and disruption”….***

Under the title “Online Covert Action”, the document details a variety of means to engage in “influence and info ops” as well as “disruption and computer net attack”, while dissecting how human beings can be manipulated using “leaders”, “trust, “obedience” and “compliance”:

The U.S. government is also spending millions to figure out how to manipulate social media to promote propaganda and stifle dissenting opinions.

And top NSA whistleblowers say that the NSA is blackmailing and harassing opponents with information that it has gathered – potentially even high-level politicians – just like FBI head J. Edgar Hoover blackmailed presidents and Congressmen.

You may think you have “nothing to hide”, but you’re breaking the law numerous times every day … without even knowing it (update).

Any criticism of government policies is considered “extremist” and potential terrorism.  For 5,000 years straight, mass surveillance has always been used to crush dissent.    For example, the CIA director in 1972.   The NSA is now collecting and retaining the most intimate personal details of Americans, including nude and suggestive pictures and medical and financial records … even though it is admitted that they have no conceivable security purpose

Moreover, if the NSA takes a dislike to someone, it can frame them.  This has been CONFIRMED by top NSA whistleblowers.

And the following facts make it likely that British and U.S. spy agencies are misusing their powers:

Washington’s Blog

NSA Whistleblower Speaks: “The Ultimate Goal is Total Population Control”

mass-surveillance

Liberty Blitzkrieg
by Michael Krieger

At least 80% of fibre-optic cables globally go via the U.S. This is no accident and allows the US to view all communication coming in. At least 80% of all audio calls, not just metadata, are recorded and stored in the US. The NSA lies about what it stores.

 

- NSA Whistleblower Bill Binney

Long-time readers of Liberty Blitzkrieg will be no strangers to Bill Binney, one of the earliest NSA whistleblowers. Well before anyone had ever heard of Edward Snowden, in July 2012, I posted the following: NSA Whistleblower: U.S. Government Creating Dossiers on Millions of Citizens. In it, I noted:

Bill Binney is no joke. He worked for the NSA for 30 years before resigning because of concerns he had regarding illegal spying on U.S. citizens in 2001. It seems that the claim I and many others have made for years, that the “War on Terror” is a gigantic fraud used to instill fear and further the creation of an unconstitutional surveillance state in America is absolutely true. The “terrorists” they have declared war on are the American people themselves. 

Mr. Binney thankfully has never stopped fighting for The Constitution that he swore to defend, unlike most other government officials who happily stomp all over the basic civil liberties enshrined in our founding document. He had some very choice words recently and it would be wise for all of us on planet earth to pay very close attention. We learn from the Guardian that:

William Binney is one of the highest-level whistleblowers to ever emerge from the NSA. He was a leading code-breaker against the Soviet Union during the Cold War but resigned soon after September 11, disgusted by Washington’s move towards mass surveillance.

 

“At least 80% of fibre-optic cables globally go via the US”, Binney said. “This is no accident and allows the US to view all communication coming in. At least 80% of all audio calls, not just metadata, are recorded and stored in the US. The NSA lies about what it stores.”

 

The NSA will soon be able to collect 966 exabytes a year, the total of internet traffic annually. Former Google head Eric Schmidt once argued that the entire amount of knowledge from the beginning of humankind until 2003 amount to only five exabytes.

 

He praised the revelations and bravery of former NSA contractor Edward Snowden and told me that he had indirect contact with a number of other NSA employees who felt disgusted with the agency’s work. They’re keen to speak out but fear retribution and exile, not unlike Snowden himself, who is likely to remain there for some time.

 

It shows that the NSA is not just pursuing terrorism, as it claims, but ordinary citizens going about their daily communications. “The NSA is mass-collecting on everyone”, Binney said, “and it’s said to be about terrorism but inside the US it has stopped zero attacks.”

Yep, as noted in the post: NSA Chief Admits “Only One or Perhaps Two” Terror Plots Stopped by Spy Program. Now back to the Guardian article.

“The Fisa court has only the government’s point of view”, he argued. “There are no other views for the judges to consider. There have been at least 15-20 trillion constitutional violations for US domestic audiences and you can double that globally.”

 

Binney recently told the German NSA inquiry committee that his former employer had a “totalitarian mentality” that was the “greatest threat” to US society since that country’s US Civil War in the 19th century. Despite this remarkable power, Binney still mocked the NSA’s failures, including missing this year’s Russian intervention in Ukraine and the Islamic State’s take-over of Iraq.

Well, I question the entire ISIS story and personally wonder if the U.S. is not perfectly fine with what is happening over there as a justification to future crackdown on civil liberties in the name of “fighting ISIS.”
With evidence that there could be a second NSA leaker, the time for more aggressive reporting is now. As Binney said: “I call people who are covering up NSA crimes traitors”.
Now watch this interview of Bill Binney from 2012:
 

Full article here.

Liberty Blitzkrieg

Big Banks Want Power to Declare Cyber War

elitebankers

Washington’s Blog

Merger of Big Banks and National Security Power … What Could Possibly Go Wrong?

Bloomberg reports:

Wall Street’s biggest trade group has proposed a government-industry cyber war council to stave off terrorist attacks that could trigger financial panic by temporarily wiping out account balances, according to an internal document.

The proposal by the Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association, known as Sifma, calls for a committee of executives and deputy-level representatives from at least eight U.S. agencies including the Treasury Department, the National Security Agency and the Department of Homeland Security, all led by a senior White House official.

The trade association also reveals in the document that Sifma has retained former NSA director Keith Alexander to “facilitate” the joint effort with the government. Alexander, in turn, has brought in Michael Chertoff, the former U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security, and his firm, Chertoff Group.

***

Caitlin Hayden, spokeswoman for the White House National Security Council, declined to comment.

***

[Just-retired NSA Boss General Keith] Alexander had been pitching Sifma and other bank trade associations to purchase his services through his new consulting firm, IronNet Cybersecurity Inc., for as much as $1 million per month, according to two people briefed on the talks.

***

Representative Alan Grayson, a Florida Democrat, said today he was concerned that industry members in such a joint group could improperly get involved in pre-emptive strikes against a person or state planning an assault on the U.S.

“This could in effect make the banks part of what would begin to look like a war council,” Grayson said in an e-mail. “Congress needs to keep an eye on what something like this could mean.”

Congressman Grayson tweets:

Ex-NSA chief Keith Alexander wants to form a joint WH-bank war council. So now Wall Street gets to declare war?

There is cause for concern, given the following context:

  • Cyber war may lead to a shooting war. For example, Scientific American notes:

Department of Defense announcements that they intend to view cyber attacks as “acts of war” suggest a military force nearly itching to flex its muscle in response to a serious computer network–based disruption, if only as a means of deterrence.

***

Concerns about overreaction and the use of military force in response to digital intrusions often lead to discussions about the difficulty surrounding definitive attribution of these types of attack. If you want to retaliate, how do you know whom to hit? In our exercise intelligence pointed to Russia, but the evidence wasn’t clear-cut.

Washington’s Blog

What Your “Startlingly Intimate, Voyeristic” NSA File Looks Like

Zero Hedge

A few days ago, we asked a simple rhetorical question: “Are you targeted by the NSA?

The answer, sadly for those reading this, is very likely yes, as it was revealed that as part of the NSA’s XKeyscore program “a computer network exploitation system, as described in an NSA presentation, devoted to gathering nearly everything a user does on the internet” all it takes for a user to be flagged by America’s superspooks is to go to a website the NSA finds less than “patriotic” and that user becomes a fixture for the NSA’s tracking algos.

So assuming one is being tracked by the NSA – or as it is also known for politically correct reasons “intercepted” – as a “person of interest” or worse, just what kind of data does the NSA collect? The latest report by the WaPo titled “In NSA-intercepted data, those not targeted far outnumber the foreigners who are” sheds much needed light on just how extensive the NSA’s data collection effort is.

According to WaPo, the files on intercepted Americans “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 Post reviewed roughly 160,000 intercepted e-mail and instant-message conversations, some of them hundreds of pages long, and 7,900 documents taken from more than 11,000 online accounts.

Remember when the NSA said they only target foreigners, and only those who are of particular actionable interest? They lied.

Nine of 10 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. Nearly half of the surveillance files, a strikingly high proportion, contained names, e-mail addresses or other details that the NSA marked as belonging to U.S. citizens or residents. NSA analysts masked, or “minimized,” more than 65,000 such references to protect Americans’ privacy, but The Post found nearly 900 additional e-mail addresses, unmasked in the files, that could be strongly linked to U.S. citizens or U.S.residents.

Going back to “your” file:

Taken together, 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. One program, code-named PRISM, extracts content stored in user accounts at Yahoo, Microsoft, Facebook, Google and five other leading Internet companies. Another, known inside the NSA as Upstream, intercepts data on the move as it crosses the U.S. junctions of global voice and data networks.

It gets worse, because that bed-wetting habit you kicked in the 2nd grade? The NSA knows all about it.

Among the latter are medical records sent from one family member to another, résumés from job hunters and academic transcripts of schoolchildren. In one photo, a young girl in religious dress beams at a camera outside a mosque.

 

Scores of pictures show infants and toddlers in bathtubs, on swings, sprawled on their backs and kissed by their mothers. In some photos, men show off their physiques. In others, women model lingerie, leaning suggestively into a webcam or striking risque poses in shorts and bikini tops.

How many Americans may be tracked by the NSA at any one time? Turns out ther answer is lots:

The Obama administration declines to discuss the scale of incidental collection. The NSA, backed by Director of National Intelligence James R. Clapper Jr., has asserted that it is unable to make any estimate, even in classified form, of the number of Americans swept in. It is not obvious why the NSA could not offer at least a partial count, given that its analysts routinely pick out “U.S. persons” and mask their identities, in most cases, before distributing intelligence reports.

 

If Snowden’s sample is representative, the population under scrutiny in the PRISM and Upstream programs is far larger than the government has suggested. In a June 26 “transparency report,” the Office of the Director of National Intelligence disclosed that 89,138 people were targets of last year’s collection under FISA Section 702. At the 9-to-1 ratio of incidental collection in Snowden’s sample, the office’s figure would correspond to nearly 900,000 accounts, targeted or not, under surveillance.

And tangentially, for those who are urging the NSA to release Lois Lerner’s emails, all it would take are a few keystrokes:

If I had wanted to pull a copy of a judge’s or a senator’s e-mail, all I had to do was enter that selector into XKEYSCORE,” one of the NSA’s main query systems, [Edward Snowden] said.

What the file would likely reveal is all the dirt the US intelligence apparatus had on said (Supreme Court) judge or senator, or IRS employee. After all, what better way to keep the system of “checks and balances” in check than to have dirt on all the key places of leverage.

The WaPo has released a sterilized example of what a “target package” looks like for any given individual.

All of the above would be stunning… if it wasn’t for a culture in which FaceBook has made the exhibitionist stripping of one’s privacy and disclosure of every last piece of “intimate” personal information a daily chore. It is in this world, sadly, where the most recent confirmation of just how expansive Big Brother is, will merely be granted with a yawn by the vast majority of the population.

Finally, here’s a thought for the cash-strapped US government: when the Fed is no longer able to monetize the US deficit, the NSA can just hire Goldman to IPO the NSA “social network.” It should raise at least a few hundred billion in cash.

Zero Hedge

NSA Targets As “Extremists” Americans Who Simply Wish to Protect Themselves from Oppression

watching-eye-400

Washington’s Blog

Like a Cancer that Treats Any Immune System Response as a Threat to Be Challenged

In the wake of revelations about the extent of mass surveillance by the NSA and other agencies, people are trying to protect themselves by adopting encryption and other privacy tools.

The Guardian reported in January:

The gathering crisis of trust around consumer web services and the fallout from Edward Snowden’s revelations is fuelling a significant uptake in anonymity tools, new research shows, as internet users battle censorship and assert their right to privacy online.

Globally, 56% of those surveyed by GlobalWebIndex reported that they felt the internet is eroding their personal privacy, with an estimated 415 million people or 28% of the online population using tools to disguise their identity or location.

Aggregating market research data from 170,000 internet users worldwide, GWI found that 11% of all users claim to use Tor, the most high profile for anonymising internet access.

Tor was created – largely with funding from the U.S. government – in order to allow people who live in repressive authoritarian regimes to communicate anonymously on the Internet.

So it is ironic that the NSA targets as “extremists” (the word the U.S. government uses for “probable terrorists”) anyone who uses Tor or any other privacy tool … or even searches for information on privacy tools on the Internet.

Jacob Appelbaum and other privacy experts explain at Das Erste:

  • Merely searching the web for the privacy-enhancing software tools outlined in the XKeyscore rules causes the NSA to mark and track the IP address of the person doing the search. Not only are German privacy software users tracked, but the source code shows that privacy software users worldwide are tracked by the NSA.
  • Among the NSA’s targets is the Tor network funded primarily by the US government to aid democracy advocates in authoritarian states.

***

The NSA program XKeyscore is a collection and analysis tool and “a computer network exploitation system”, as described in an NSA presentation. It is one of the agency’s most ambitious programs devoted to gathering “nearly everything a user does on the internet.” The source code contains several rules that enable agents using XKeyscore to surveil privacy-conscious internet users around the world. The rules published here are specifically directed at the infrastructure and the users of the Tor Network, the Tails operating system, and other privacy-related software.

***

The former NSA director General Keith Alexander stated that all those communicating with encryption will be regarded as terror suspects and will be monitored and stored as a method of prevention, as quoted by the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung in August last year. The top secret source code published here indicates that the NSA is making a concerted effort to combat any and all anonymous spaces that remain on the internet. Merely visiting privacy-related websites is enough for a user’s IP address to be logged into an NSA database.

***

The comment in the  source code above describes Tails as “a comsec mechanism advocated by extremists on extremist forums”. In actuality, the software is used by journalists, human rights activists, and hundreds of thousands of ordinary people who merely wish to protect their privacy.

***

Tor Project’s Roger Dingledine stated the following: “We’ve been thinking of state surveillance for years because of our work in places where journalists are threatened. Tor’s anonymity is based on distributed trust, so observing traffic at one place in the Tor network, even a directory authority, isn’t enough to break it. Tor has gone mainstream in the past few years, and its wide diversity of users – from civic-minded individuals and ordinary consumers to activists, law enforcement, and companies – is part of its security. Just learning that somebody visited the Tor or Tails website doesn’t tell you whether that person is a journalist source, someone concerned that her Internet Service Provider will learn about her health conditions, or just someone irked that cat videos are blocked in her location. Trying to make a list of Tor’s millions of daily users certainly counts as wide scale collection. Their attack on the bridge address distribution service shows their “collect all the things” mentality – it’s worth emphasizing that we designed bridges for users in countries like China and Iran, and here we are finding out about attacks by our own country.

If you read Linux Journal – or even read extremely popular sites like Boing Boing – the NSA will target you.

Reddit and other popular websites have promoted privacy tools. 6% of all American adults – and 15% of males aged 18-29 – use Reddit. Are they targeted as well?

If you think we’re exaggerating the threat to privacy from the NSA, remember that the Department of Homeland Security called DHS’ own privacy office “terrorists”.

And the Department of Justice blacked out words in a document saying their disclosure would pose a “grave threat” to national security. The words? The Fourth Amendment.

This flies in the face of American values.  After all:

  • The Founding Fathers valued privacy over safety. Indeed, the Revolutionary War was largely started to stop the use of spying by the British. Background here. In other words, the Founding Fathers gave up their safe life with little freedom to strive for real freedom.

And it shows an authoritarian mindset of treating any attempt to resist their power as terrorism.

Indeed, it is like a cancer that treats any immune system response as a threat to be taken out.

Examples are – sadly – widespread in modern America:

  • Protesting against the government’s claimed power to indefinitely detain anyone without charge … could result in your getting detained

Charles J. Kelly, a former Baltimore Police Department lieutenant who wrote the department’s use of force guidelines, said … After reviewing the video [of the pepper spraying of UC Davis students] he observed at least two cases of “active resistance” from protesters. In one instance, a woman pulls her arm back from an officer. In the second instance, a protester curls into a ball. Each of those actions could have warranted more force, including baton strikes and pressure-point techniques.

“What I’m looking at is fairly standard police procedure,” Kelly said.

Of course, NSA apologists will pretend that targeting privacy tool users is necessary to stop the bad guys.  This argument is demolished by the fact that for 5,000 years straight, mass surveillance has always been used by tyrants to crush dissent.

Washington’s Blog

Is Your Android Device Telling the World Where You’ve Been?

big-brother-poster

EFF
BY PETER ECKERSLEY AND JEREMY GILLULA

Do you own an Android device? Is it less than three years old? If so, then when your phone’s screen is off and it’s not connected to a Wi-Fi network, there’s a high risk that it is broadcasting your location history to anyone within Wi-Fi range that wants to listen.

This location history comes in the form of the names of wireless networks your phone has previously connected to. These frequently identify places you’ve been, including homes (“Tom’s Wi-Fi”), workplaces (“Company XYZ office net”), churches and political offices (“County Party HQ”), small businesses (“Toulouse Lautrec’s house of ill-repute”), and travel destinations (“Tehran Airport wifi”). This data is arguably more dangerous than that leaked in previous location data scandals because it clearly denotes in human language places that you’ve spent enough time to use the Wi-Fi. Normally eavesdroppers would need to spend some effort extracting this sort of information from the latititude/longitude history typically discussed in location privacy analysis. But even when networks seem less identifiable, there are ways to look them up.

We briefly mentioned this problem during our recent post about Apple deciding to randomize MAC addresses in iOS 8. As we pointed out there, Wi-Fi devices that are not actively connected to a network can send out messages that contain the names of networks they’ve joined in the past in an effort to speed up the connection process.1 But after writing that post we became curious just how many phones actually exhibited that behavior, and if so, how much information they leaked. To our dismay we discovered that many of the modern Android phones we tested leaked the names of the networks stored in their settings (up to a limit of fifteen).  And when we looked at these network lists, we realized that they were in fact dangerously precise location histories.

Aside from Android, some other platforms also suffer from this problem and will need to be fixed, although for various reasons, Android devices appear to pose the greatest privacy risk at the moment. 2

In Android we traced this behavior to a feature introduced in Honeycomb (Android 3.1) called Preferred Network Offload (PNO). 3 PNO is supposed to allow phones and tablets to establish and maintain Wi-Fi connections even when they’re in low-power mode (i.e. when the screen is turned off). The goal is to extend battery life and reduce mobile data usage, since Wi-Fi uses less power than cellular data. But for some reason, even though none of the Android phones we tested broadcast the names of networks they knew about when their screens were on, many of the phones running Honeycomb or later (and even one running Gingerbread) broadcast the names of networks they knew about when their screens were turned off.4

Response from Google

When we brought this issue to Google’s attention, they responded that:

“We take the security of our users’ location data very seriously and we’re always happy to be made aware of potential issues ahead of time. Since changes to this behavior would potentially affect user connectivity to hidden access points, we are still investigating what changes are appropriate for a future release.”

Additionally, yesterday a Google employee submitted a patch to wpa_supplicant which fixes this issue. While we are glad this problem is being addressed so quickly, it will still be some time before that fix gets integrated into the downstream Android code. And even then, Android fragmentation and the broken update process for non-Google Android devices could delay or even prevent many users from receiving the fix. (We hope Google can make progress on this problem, too.)

Protective Steps You Can Take Today

With that said, a workaround is available (for most devices) for users who want to protect their privacy right now: go into your phone’s “Advanced Wi-Fi” settings and set the “Keep Wi-Fi on during sleep” option to “Never”. Unfortunately this will cause a moderate increase in data usage and power consumption—something users shouldn’t have to do in order to keep their phone from telling everyone everywhere they’ve been.

Unfortunately, on at least one device we tested–a Motorola Droid 4 running Android 4.1.2–even this wasn’t sufficient. On the Droid 4, and perhaps on other phones, the only practical way to prevent the phone from leaking location is to manually forget the networks you don’t want broadcast, or disable Wi-Fi entirely whenever you aren’t actively connecting to a known Wi-Fi network.5 You can also find apps that will do this automatically for you.

Location history is extremely sensitive information. We urge Google to ship their fix as soon as possible, and other Android distributors to offer prompt updates containing it.

  • 1. This capability is also necessary in order to connect to “hidden” networks, because those networks don’t broadcast their existence like normal Wi-Fi networks. Instead, the phone or other device has to send out a message essentially asking “Are you there?” and if the hidden network is nearby, it will respond.
  • 2. In our testing no iOS 6 or 7 devices were affected, though we observed the same problem on one of several tested iOS 5 devices (an iPad), and earlier versions of iOS might or might not be affected. Many laptops are affected, including all OS X laptops and many Windows 7 laptops. Desktop OSes will need to be fixed, but because our laptops are not usually awake and scanning for networks as we walk around, locational history extraction from them requires considerably more luck or targeting.
  • 3. The offending code is actually in an open source project called wpa_supplicant, which many Linux distributions, including Android, use to manage Wi-Fi. We want to give credit to Android developer Chainfire as well as several others on the XDA forums whose posts on this behavior were very informative. A couple of other researchers have previously critiqued this behavior.
  • 4. The list of phones we tested is available as a CSV file or a Google Doc.
  • 5. Note that this method isn’t foolproof, since an attacker might still be able to get your phone to transmit its known network list when it is connected by transmitting a packet that temporarily disconnects you. Then, depending on the timing, your phone may send the list of networks before it reconnects.

EFF