Is the NSA Grabbing All Americans’ Phone Call Content?

The New American
by Thomas R. Eddlem

nsa snooping

The NSA and the National Director of Intelligence have consistently denied that they listen to the content of Americans’ telephone calls, but the history of intelligence agency claims about the scope of its spying on Americans is one of lies and more lies. So the question must be asked: Are they lying again with respect to recording the content of Americans’ phone calls?

The answer to that question may be “yes,” and it may be “no.” But there’s also a possible “technically, no” response to that question that’s even more frightening, for which there is a substantial amount of circumstantial evidence. First, here are a few of the blatant lies the U.S. intelligence apparatus has publicly told to the American people:

Lie #1: We are not keeping Americans’ phone data.
During a March 12, 2013 Senate hearing, Senator Ron Wyden asked U.S. Intelligence Director James Clapper: “Does the NSA collect any type of data at all on millions or hundreds of millions of Americans?” Admiral James Clapper replied: “No, sir.”

Several months later, NSA contractor Edward Snowden revealed to the American people that Clapper’s statement was a bold-faced lie. The NSA had, in fact, been collecting data on hundreds of millions of Americans under a program named PRISM, a program NSA documents revealed that also collected Internet traffic “directly from the servers of these U.S. Service Providers: Microsoft, Yahoo, Google, Facebook, PalTalk, AOL, Skype, YouTube, Apple.” And copies of that database, it was later learned, are sent to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency. James Bamford over at The Intercept likewise revealed on October 2, 2014 a 40-year history of the NSA releasing documented lies to both the American people and to Congress. 

Lie #2: We can’t grab Americans’ e-mails.
NSA Director General Keith Alexander told U.S. House investigators on March 20, 2012, that the NSA didn’t have the “ability” to wiretap Americans’ telephone calls:

Representative Hank Johnson (D-Ga.): General Alexander, if Dick Cheney were elected president and wanted to detain and incessantly waterboard every American who sent an email making fun of his well-known hunting mishaps, what I’d like to know is, does the NSA have the technological capacity to identify those Cheney bashers based upon the content of their emails? Yes or no.
General Alexander: No. Can I explain that?
Representative Johnson: Yes.
General Alexander: The question is where are the emails and where is NSA’s coverage. I assume by your question that those emails are in the United States.
Representative Johnson: Correct.
General Alexander: NSA does not have the ability to do that in the United States.

The reality is that the NSA does possess the technical ability to record Americans, and former NSA contractor Edward Snowden’s revelations proved that hundreds of thousands of Americans’ telephone conversations have been “legitimately” recorded by the NSA because one party of the call was abroad. Moreover, thousands of innocent Americans’ e-mails have been monitored by the NSA, according to information provided by whistleblower Edward Snowden. Indeed, the capacity to wiretap American’s phone lines and record the full audio from them is present on a widespread basis, as the NSA program SOMALGET wiretaps the full audio from every call in and out of the nation of the Bahamas (and the NSA grabs metadata from the same program from all calls in Mexico, Kenya, and the Philippines).

Lie #3: CIA wouldn’t hack into U.S. Senate computers.
As the U.S. Senate conducted its oversight of the Bush-era detention policies under the CIA, Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) charged the CIA with spying on Senate computers and deleting material on those U.S. Senate computers. “As far as the allegations of the CIA hacking into Senate computers, nothing could be further from the truth,” CIA Director John Brennan told Andrea Mitchell at a Council on Foreign Relations forum March 11, 2014. It later came out that Feinstein’s charges were the precise truth, and Brennan had told a bold-faced lie.

Lie #4: NSA wiretapping authority has never been abused.
“There is no abuse,” former NSA Director Michael Hayden told NBC’s Meet the Press on December 15, 2013. President Obama himself denied the NSA had abused its surveillance capabilities in an address to the nation on August 9, 2013: “If you look at the reports — even the disclosures that Mr. Snowden has put forward — all the stories that have been written, what you’re not reading about is the government actually abusing these programs and listening in on people’s phone calls or inappropriately reading people’s emails. What you’re hearing about is the prospect that these could be abused. Now, part of the reason they’re not abused is because these checks are in place, and those abuses would be against the law and would be against the orders of the FISC.”

But it soon came out that there have been thousands of cases of abuse of that intelligence on American citizens from internal NSA reviews of the information. In some cases, this involved taking audio from telephone calls of Americans by suspicious lovers in the employ of the NSA, according to a summary provided to Senator Charles Grassley (R-Iowa): “In 2004, upon her return from a foreign site, the subject reported to NSA Security that, in 2004, she tasked a foreign telephone number she had discovered in her husband’s cellular telephone because she suspected that her husband had been unfaithful. The tasking resulted in voice collection of her husband.”

So in light of the many lies of our intelligence officials and the politicians overseeing them, it’s quite possible that the NSA could be lying — again — with respect to its gathering, retention and search of Americans’ conversations as it did with phone records “metadata.” 

Tag-team Approach to Surveilling Americans
But there’s another possible explanation for the NSA following legal protocol, as claimed in public, where it nevertheless has indirect access to Americans’ phone calls: It’s possible the NSA has an agreement with foreign intelligence agencies to spy on Americans in exchange for U.S. surveillance of their populations, with an agreement to exchange the information. Consider the possibility that the NSA — which like the all-seeing eye of Sauron in the Lord of the Rings trilogy — is faced outward surveilling the world while the other two pairs of the “Five Eyes” partners (the U.K., Canada, Australia, and New Zealand) are focused inward on the NSA’s one blind spot: the United States. This may sound like a far-out conspiracy theory, but statements of partnership between the United States and it allies — especially its Anglo “Five Eyes” allies — make such an arrangement plausible in light of existing legal restrictions against surveilling American citizens.

The NSA has paid hundreds of millions of dollars to “Five Eyes” partner GCHQ in Britain because GCHQ is “less constrained by NSA’s concerns about compliance,” according to intelligence officials who talked off the record with London’s The Guardian for August 1, 2013. Of course, there are no restrictions whatsoever on NSA surveillance of foreigners; the only surveillance restrictions on the NSA are those against recording the audio of Americans’ phone calls. According to The Guardian, the federal funding of British intelligence “exploited to the full our unique selling points of geography, partnerships [and] the UK’s legal regime.” The chief benefit of geography is that Britain is not constrained by legal restrictions on spying on Americans. A British Cabinet official told The Guardian after the Edward Snowden revelations that “joint projects in which resources and expertise are pooled, but the benefits flow in both directions.”

GCHQ has already acknowledged collecting massive Internet information on British citizens under its blanket authority under U.K. law to collect “external communications.” What’s to stop them from also collecting the Facebook and Google traffic of Americans? Clearly, Americans’ phone calls and e-mails are “external” to the U.K. But without American assistance, the British government likely lacked the technical capability for such massive surveillance, or perhaps lacked the will to invest this level of funds to surveil the people of an ally. In this light, the massive NSA aid to GCHQ and the close partnership with the Five Eyes countries could be explained. Two pair of the Five Eyes are quite possibly charged with surveilling Americans, and then coordinating with their American counterparts in order to skate around what little is left of the Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution prohibiting warrantless searches. In exchange, the NSA shares information on their people, as well as information on other nations where the United States surveils and our allies don’t have surveillance capabilities.

Similar relationships have been reported among America’s other allies. The Washington Post reported on October 30, 2013, “In France, the daily Le Monde reported Wednesday that France’s external intelligence agency collaborated with the United States starting at the end 2011 or beginning of 2012 to provide a window into Internet traffic flowing via underwater cables that surface in France…. The cables carry much of the Internet traffic that flows to Africa and Afghanistan, the newspaper said. In exchange for allowing access to the traffic, the NSA provided information about areas of the world where France has no intelligence presence, the newspaper reported.” What areas that involved, the article didn’t specify. Clearly there are many areas the massive resources of the NSA could help the French intelligence agencies. But if the French intelligence agencies are willing to sell out the privacy of their people in exchange for more intelligence sharing, why should American intelligence agencies be immune from such a deal?

Indeed, American intelligence officials have publicly expressed a rather blasé attitude toward foreign intelligence agencies spying on Americans. In an October 29, 2013, hearing before the House Select Committee on Intelligence, Director of Intelligence James Clapper responded to this question from Chairman Mike Rogers (R-Mich.):

Mike Rogers: Do you believe that the allies have conducted or at any time any type of espionage activity against the United States of America — our intelligence services, our leaders, otherwise?
Clapper: Absolutely…. And I have to say, Chairman Rogers, that some of this reminds me a lot of the movie Casablanca. “My God, there’s gambling going on here!” You know, it’s the same kind of thing.
The statement above proves that Clapper is aware of allied intelligence agencies spying on Americans, an activity the agencies he controls are prohibited from doing. But it also leaves open the question of how much of that spying (and sharing of that intelligence) is done on a formalized partnership basis, and how much is done on an ad hoc basis. If the NSA is lying about its restraint from collecting the audio of Americans’ phone calls, a vigorous partnership of “we’ll spy on you, if you’ll spy on us” would be unnecessary, as would hundreds of millions of dollars in aid to GCHQ. But if the NSA wants to surveil Americans while at the same time formally complying with their public pronouncements, focusing two pair of the “Five Eyes” back on Americans becomes a real possibility.

The extent of foreign surveillance of American phone calls is not known, and won’t be known without an Edward Snowden-like whistleblower from GCHQ or one of the other Five Eyes partners. But it’s clear that Congress should not take the NSA’s public pronouncements at face value, but should investigate the level of foreign surveillance of Americans.

The New American

Apple, Google Encryption Moves Enrage FBI Director Comey

The New American
by Bob Adelmann

A week after smartphone makers Apple and Google announced software that now makes their phones impervious to government snooping, FBI Director James Comey expressed outrage, claiming that he could simply not understand why these two companies would “market something expressly to allow people to place themselves above the law.” He added: “There will come a day when it will matter of great deal to the lives of people … that we be able to gain access [to that private information].”  

Of course, such information is, or should be, protected under the Fourth Amendment to the Constitution.

What the new software means is that law enforcement officials will have to go back to the old way of investigating crime and turning up incriminating evidence. They will still be able to seek records of calls or texts from cellular carriers, eavesdrop on conversations and, based on the cell towers used, determine the general locations of suspects. They also will be able to access private data deliberately or unintentionally backed up on remote cloud services. And law enforcement agencies continue to have the capability of installing malicious software onto smart phones, turning them into virtual spies on the behavior of their owners.

On its website Apple noted: “Unlike our competitors, Apple cannot bypass your passcode and therefore cannot access this data. So it’s not technically feasible for us to respond to government [search] warrants for the extraction of this data from devices in their possession running [operating system] iOS 8.”

But both companies will still have the ability, and the legal responsibility, to turn over any user data stored elsewhere, such as on cloud services, which typically include backups of photos, videos, e-mail communications, and music collections. Users wishing to prevent law enforcement from going after that data will have to adjust their personal settings that block that data from flowing to the cloud.

Christopher Soghoian, a software technology expert for the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), was delighted about the new software:

This is a great move. Particularly after the Snowden disclosures, Apple seems to understand that consumers want companies to put their privacy first.

However, I suspect there are going to be a lot of unhappy law enforcement officials.

Another of those unhappy law enforcement officials is Ronald Hosko, a former investigator for the FBI, who labeled the encryptions by Apple and Google “problematic,” adding that it will make life more difficult for law enforcement to collect key evidence. He declared that “our ability to act on data [stored in these devices] is critical to our success” in preventing and solving crimes.

For more than three years, Google’s Android device has had encryption capability, although it was difficult to engage. In Android’s latest iteration, that encryption will now be enabled automatically right out of the box so that, as Android spokeswoman Nikki Christoff said, “You won’t even have to think about turning it on.”

These moves reflect a seismic groundswell of outrage against the federal government’s invasions of privacy which were first exposed by Edward Snowden, a computer professional who leaked classified information from the National Security Agency (NSA). Craig Timberg, writing in the Washington Post, called it “a part of a broad shift by American technology companies to make their products more resistant to government snooping” in the aftermath of the Snowden revelations.

It also makes largely redundant the Supreme Court’s unanimous decision in June, in Riley v. California, which concluded that “police generally may not, without a warrant, search digital information on a cell phone seized from an individual who has been arrested.” Writing for the unanimous court, Chief Justice John Roberts noted:

Modern cell phones are not just another technological convenience. With all they contain and in all they may reveal, they hold for many Americans “the privacies of life.” The fact that technology now allows an individual to carry such information in his hand does not make the information any less worthy of the protection for which the Founders fought.

He added:

The term “cell phone” is itself misleading shorthand; many of these devices are in fact minicomputers that also happen to have the capacity to be used as a telephone. They could just as easily be called cameras, video players, Rolodexes, calendars, tape recorders, libraries, diaries, albums, televisions, maps or newspapers.

Prior to that decision, law enforcement officials were able to use the doctrine of SITA — Search Incident To Arrest — a broad exception carved out of the Fourth Amendment allowing police to seize and download information from smart phones obtained during an arrest without the need for getting a search warrant in advance.

As this unbreakable encryption technology spreads across the vast array of Apple products and, more slowly, into Google’s previous iterations of its Android products, it will continue to reflect a groundswell of pushback against the surveillance state.

The National Security Agency, unfortunately, will be only slightly inconvenienced by either the Riley decision or the new technology announced by Apple and Google. NSA agents will continue to hoover citizens’ personal data and store it in vast digital warehouses for future use at their convenience. It’s going to take far more than encryption technology to protect Americans from the NSA.

Nevertheless, this decision is an important victory for privacy, even if it is not an all-important one.

The New American

FBI Forces Police Departments Across the US to Keep Quiet about Cellphone Spying Gear

RT

stingray

Not only are local police departments across the United States increasingly relying on so-called StingRay devices to conduct surveillance on cell phone users, but cops are being forced to keep quiet about the operations, new documents reveal.

Recent reports have indicated that law enforcement agencies from coast to coast have been turning to IMSI-catcher devices, like the StingRay sold by Florida’s Harris Corporation, to trick ordinary mobile phones into communicating device-specific International Mobile Subscriber Identity information to phony cell towers — a tactic that takes the approximate geolocation data of all the devices within range and records it for investigators. Recently, the Tallahassee Police Department in the state of Florida was found to have used their own “cell site simulator” at least 200 times to collect phone data without once asking for a warrant during a three-year span, and details about the use of StingRays by other law enforcement groups continue to emerge on the regular.

But while the merits of whether or not law enforcement officers should legally be able to collect sensitive cell information by masquerading as telecommunication towers remains ripe for debate — and continues for certain to be an issue of contention among civil liberties advocates — newly released documents raise even further questions about how cops use StingRays and other IMSI-catchers to gather great chunks of data concerning the whereabouts of not just criminal suspects, but seemingly anyone in a given vicinity that happens to have a phone in their hand or pocket.

Relentless pleas for details about use of IMSI-catchers by the Tacoma Police Department in Washington state paid off recently when the investigative news site Muckrock obtained a six-page document after following up for several months on a Freedom of Information Act request placed with the TPD.

According to the document, police in Tacoma were forced to sign a non-disclosure agreement, or NDA, with the Federal Bureau of Investigation before they could begin conducting surveillance on cell users with a Harris-sold StingRay.

Although the majority of the December 2012 document is redacted, a paragraph from FBI special agent Laura Laughlin to Police of Chief Donald Ramsdell reveals that Tacoma officers were told they couldn’t discuss their use of IMSI-catchers with anyone.

“We have been advised by Harris Corporation of the Tacoma Police Department’s request for acquisition of certain wireless collection equipment/technology manufactured by Harris Corporation,” the FBI letter reads in part. “Consistent with the conditions on the equipment authorization granted to Harris Corporation by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), state and local law enforcement agencies must coordinate with the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) to complete this non-disclosure agreement prior to the acquisition and use of the equipment/technology authorized by the FCC authorization.”

Muckrock first obtained documents in August referring to the NDA between the Tacoma PD and the US Department of Justice, but Shawn Musgrave wrote for the site this week that the agreement itself — albeit a highly redacted one — were only provided last Friday. (PDF)

“The Tacoma document provides key insight into the close cooperation among the FBI, Harris Corporation and the Federal Communications Commission to bar StingRay details from public release,” Musgrave wrote.

“The fact that the FBI received notification from Harris that TPD was interested in a StingRay reveals a surprising level of coordination between a private corporation and a federal law enforcement agency,”Musgrave continued. “The agreement also makes clear that completing the NDA is compulsory by order of the FCC.”

Alan Butler, an appellate advocacy counsel for the Washington, DC-based Electronic Privacy Information Center, or EPIC, was quick to comment to Muckrock about the information revealed by the FOIA request.

“What is so fascinating about the beginning paragraph of the NDA you received,” Butler said, “is that it makes clear that Harris, the FCC and the FBI are working together to facilitate the proliferation of these devices among state and local law enforcement agencies.”

“It’s not clear to me why the FCC would have an interest in requiring law enforcement agencies to sign NDA’s with the FBI, unless they were concerned that the spread of this technology could harm users of American communications networks,” added Butler, whose group has previously filed multiple FOIA requests and legal complaints on its own with the FBI over the use of IMSI-catchers.

And Matt Cagle, an attorney who specialized in surveillance an serves as a police fellow for the American Civil Liberties Union’s Northern California office, tweeted that it’s “alarming” to see that the FCC — a public agency — “is conditioning certification of cell spy tech” without informing the public.

As RT reported recently, the US Marshals Service recently intervened in a dispute between the police department in Sarasota, FL and the ACLU by seizing cell phone records collected by an cop-owned StingRay before the civil libertarians could review them.

This is consistent with what we’ve seen around the country with federal agencies trying to meddle with public requests for Stingray information,” ACLU staff attorney Nathan Freed told Wired back in June. “The feds are working very hard to block any release of this information to the public.”

At the time, Wired reported that the ACLU believes that “dozens” of US police department have used StingRays under the caveat that they sign an NDA.

RT

Cameras to Detect ‘Abnormal’ Behavior

ConsortiumNews.com
By Sander Venema

watching eye camera

A few days ago I read an article about how TNO (the Dutch Organization for Applied Scientific Research, the largest research institute in the Netherlands) developed technology for smart cameras for use at Amsterdam Schiphol Airport. These cameras — installed at Schiphol airport by the Qubit Visual Intelligence, a company from The Hague — are designed to recognize certain “suspicious behavior,” such as running, waving your arms, or sweating.

Curiously enough, these are all things that are commonly found in the stressful environment that an international airport is to many people. People need to get to the gate on time, which may require running (especially if you arrived at Schiphol by train, which in the Netherlands is notoriously unreliable); they may be afraid of flying and trying to get their nerves under control; and airports are also places where friends and family meet after long times abroad, which (if you want to hug each other) requires arm waving.

I suspect that a lot of false positives are going to occur with this technology due to this. It’s the wrong technology at the wrong place. I fully understand the need for airport security, and we all want a safe environment for both passengers and crew. Flights need to operate under safe conditions. What I don’t understand is the mentality that every single risk in life needs to be minimized away by government agencies and combated with technology. More technology does not equal safer airports.

Security Theatre

A lot of the measures taken at airports constitute security theatre. This means that the measures are mostly ineffective against real threats, and serve mostly for show. The problem with automatic profiling, which is what this program tries to do as well, is that it doesn’t work.Security expert Bruce Schneier has written extensively about this, and I encourage you to read his 2010 essay “Profiling Makes Us Less Safe” about the specific case of air travel security.

The first problem is that terrorists don’t fit a specific profile or they can carefully avoid “suspicious” actions. Thus, these profiling systems can be circumvented once people figure out how, and because of the over-reliance on technology instead of common sense this can actually cause more insecurity.

In the novel Little Brother, Cory Doctorow wrote about how Marcus Yallow put gravel in his shoes to fool the gait-recognizing cameras at his high school so he and his friends could sneak out to play a game outside. Similar things will be done to try and fool these “smart” cameras, but the consequences can be much greater.

We are actually more secure when we randomly select people instead of relying on a specific threat profile or behavioral profile to select who to screen and who gets through security without secondary screening. The whole point of random screening is that it’s random. Therefore, a potential terrorist cannot in advance know what the criteria are that will make the system pick him out. If a system does use specific criteria, and the security of the system depends on the criteria themselves being secret, that would mean that someone would just have to observe the system for long enough to find out what the criteria are.

Technology may fail, which is something people don’t always realize. Another TNO report entitled: “Afwijkend Gedrag” (Abnormal Behavior) states under the (admittedly tiny) section that deals with privacy concerns that collecting data about abnormal behavior of people is ethically just because the society as a whole can be made safer with this data and associated technology. It also states (and this is an argument I’ve read elsewhere as well), that “society has chosen that safety and security trumps privacy.”

Now, let’s say for the sake of the argument that this might be true in a general sense (although it can be debated whether this is always the case, personally I don’t think so, as sometimes the costs are just too high and we need to keep a free and democratic society after all). The problem here is that the way technology and security systems are implemented is usually not something we as a society get to first have a vote on before the (no doubt highly lucrative) contracts get signed.

In the Dutch airport case, Qubit probably saw a way to make a quick buck by talking the Schiphol leadership and/or the government (as the Dutch state holds 69.77 percent of the Schiphol shares) into buying their technology. It’s not something the people had a conscious debate on, and then subsequently made a well-informed decision.

Major Privacy Issues

We have established that these systems are ineffective and can be circumvented (like any system can), and won’t improve overall security. But much more importantly, there are major privacy issues with this technology. What Schiphol and Qubit are doing here is analyzing and storing data on millions of passengers, the overwhelmingly vast majority of whom are completely innocent. This is like shooting a mosquito with a bazooka.

What happens with this data? We don’t know, and we have to believe Qubit and Schiphol on their word that data about non-suspect members of the public gets deleted. However, in light of recent events where it seems convenient to collect and store as much data about people as possible, I highly doubt any deletions will actually happen.

And the sad thing is: in the Netherlands the Ministry of Security and Justice is now talking about implementing the above-mentioned behavioral analysis system at another (secret) location in the Netherlands. Are we all human guinea pigs ready to be tested and played around with?

What Is Abnormal?

There are also problems with the definitions. This is something I see again and again with privacy-infringing projects like this. What constitutes “abnormal behavior”? Who gets to decide on that and who controls what is abnormal behavior and what isn’t?

Maybe, in the not-too-distant future, the meaning of the word “abnormal” begins to shift, and begins to mean “not like us,” for some definition of “us.” George Orwell mentioned this effect in his book Nineteen-Eighty-Four, where ubiquitous telescreens watch and analyze your every move and one can never be sure what are criminal thoughts and what aren’t.

In 2009, when the European research project INDECT got funded by the European Union, there were critical questions asked to the European Commission by the European Parliament. More precisely, this was asked:

Question from EP: How does the Commission define the term abnormal behavior used in the program?

Answer from EC: As to the precise questions, the Commission would like to clarify that the term behavior or abnormal behavior is not defined by the Commission. It is up to applying consortia to do so when submitting a proposal, where each of the different projects aims at improving the operational efficiency of law enforcement services, by providing novel technical assistance. [Source: Europarl (Written questions by Alexander Alvaro (ALDE) to the Commission)]

In other words: according to the European Commission it depends on the individual projects, which all happen to be vague about their exact definitions. And when you don’t pin down definitions like this (and anchor them in law so that powerful governments and corporations that oversee these systems can be held to account!), these can be changed over time when a new leadership comes to power, either within the corporation in control over the technology, or within government.

This is a danger that is often overlooked. There is no guarantee that we will always live in a democratic and free society, and the best defense against abuse of power is to make sure that those in power have as little data about you as possible.

Keeping these definitions vague is a major tactic in scaring people into submission. This has the inherent danger of legislative mission creep. A measure that once was implemented for one specific purpose soon gets used for another if the opportunity presents itself.

Once it is observed that people are getting arrested for seemingly innocent things, many people (sub)consciously adjust their own behavior. It works similarly with free speech: once certain opinions and utterances are deemed against the law, and are acted upon by law enforcement, many people start thinking twice about what they say and write. They start to self-censor, and this erodes people’s freedom to the point where we slowly shift into a technocratic Orwellian nightmare. And when we wake up it will already be too late to turn the tide.

ConsortiumNews.com

Tech Firm: More Than 15 Stingray Phone Trackers Operating In D.C.

InfoWars
by MIKAEL THALEN

“I think there’s even more here. That was just us driving around for a day and a half”

stingray

Mobile security experts discovered what appears to be more than 15 IMSI catchers, commonly referred to as Stingrays, throughout the Washington D.C. area this week.

Les Goldsmith and Buzz Burner of ESD America joined IntegriCell President Aaron Turner Tuesday to travel around the nation’s capitol in an attempt to find evidence of “rogue cell towers” with a CryptoPhone, a mobile device which measures three indicators associated with active IMSI catchers.

These surveillance devices, which are often the size of a suitcase, can trick thousands of user’s phones into divulging private information by mimicking a cell tower. During their test, the group detected more than 40 alerts from 15 seperate interceptors around several of D.C.’s most historic landmarks including the White House, the Capitol and multiple foreign embassies.

“I think there’s even more here,” Goldsmith told the Washington Post. “That was just us driving around for a day and a half.”

Most often used by law enforcement, cell phone interceptors have received increased attention as of late, causing the federal government to distance themselves from the illegal practice of mass surveillance.

Speaking with CBS Chicago earlier this month, former FBI agent and security analyst Ross Rice attempted to deny law enforcement’s active involvement.

“I doubt that they are installed by law enforcement as they require a warrant to intercept conversations or data and since the cell providers are ordered by the court to cooperate with the intercept, there really would be no need for this,” Rice said. “Most likely, they are installed and operated by hackers, trying to steal personal identification and passwords.”

While Rice very well may be uninformed on the subject, countless investigations have found law enforcement to be regularly deceiving the public regarding the use of IMSI catchers.

Documents uncovered by Seattle Privacy Coalition’s Phil Mocek last month revealed that the Tacoma, Wash. police department has been secretly using a Stringray for more than 6 years.

“These devices are often used to spy on innocent people’s words, locations and associations,” Mocek told Infowars.

Later reports indicated that the department used a nondisclosure agreement with the FBI to keep the transaction secret. Police in turn told Tacoma City Council members, who approved the purchase, that the device was designed to locate “IEDs.”

A report last March from Wired Magazine revealed how one Florida police department used a Stingray more than 200 times without ever acquiring a warrant. Similarly, the department pointed to a non-disclosure agreement with the device’s manufacturer as reasoning for their unconstitutional activity.

Emails uncovered earlier this year even showed how the U.S. Marshals Service secretly taught police how to lie to judges when trying to obtain a Stingray. U.S. Marshals even went as far as raiding a Florida police department in order to keep Stingray documents from reaching the public.

The barrage of news has even prompted people across the country to begin their own investigations, with one resident of Charlotte, North Carolina recently finding a mysterious tower not operated by one of the major telecommunications companies.

Late last year, Infowars received exclusive documents revealing a seperate cell phone interception system blanketing the city of Seattle. The DHS-funded “mesh network” allows law enforcement groups to communicate through “mesh network nodes,” which also have the ability to track cell users throughout the city.

InfoWars

New Device In The Works To Catch Texting Drivers

PilotOnline.com
By Dave Forster

A Virginia company is developing a radar-gunlike device that would help police catch drivers as they text. (video)

The technology works by detecting the telltale radio frequencies that emit from a vehicle when someone inside is using a cellphone, said Malcolm McIntyre of ComSonics. Cable repairmen use similar means to find where a cable is damaged – from a rodent, for instance – by looking for frequencies leaking in a transmission, McIntyre said.

A text message, phone call and data transfer emit different frequencies that can be distinguished by the device ComSonics is working on, according to McIntyre. That would prove particularly useful for law enforcement in states such as Virginia, where texting behind the wheel is banned but talking on the phone is legal for adult drivers.

ComSonics, based in Harrisonburg, got its start in the cable TV industry and provides calibration services for speed enforcement equipment. McIntyre discussed the company’s move into texting detection Monday at the second annual Virginia Distracted Driving Summit.

He said the device is “close to production” but still has several hurdles to clear, including legislative approval and adoption by law enforcement. There are also privacy concerns, though McIntyre said the equipment could not decrypt the information that is transmitted by drivers.

PilotOnline.com

Nowhere To Hide As Minority Report-Style Facial Recognition Technology Spreads Across America

The Economic Collapse
by Michael Snyder

Eye Black And White - Public DomainWhat is our society going to look like when our faces are being tracked literally everywhere that we go?  As part of the FBI’s new Next Generation Identification System, a facial recognition database known as the Interstate Photo System will have collected 52 million of our faces by the end of 2015.  But that is only a small part of the story.  According to Edward Snowden, the NSA has been using advanced facial recognition technology for years.  In addition, as you will see below, advertising companies are starting to use Minority Report-style face scanners in their billboards and many large corporations see facial recognition technology as a tool that they can use to serve their customers better.  Someday soon it may become virtually impossible to go out in public in a major U.S. city without having your face recorded.  Is that the kind of society that we want?

To the FBI, this technology does not represent an invasion of privacy.  Rather, they are very proud of the fact that they are not going to be so dependent on fingerprinting any longer.  The FBI has been developing the Next Generation Identification System for years, and this month it was announced that it is finally fully operational

The federal government’s Next Generation Identification System — a biometric database that relies largely on facial-recognition technology — is now fully operational, the FBI announced Monday.

“This effort is a significant step forward for the criminal justice community in utilizing biometrics as an investigative enabler,” the FBI said in a statement.

The latest advance in the technology gives users the ability to receive “ongoing status notifications” about individuals’ criminal histories, the FBI said. That means if, for instance, a teacher commits an offense, law enforcement can be immediately informed — and then pass that information on to administrators.

It’s to monitor criminal histories of those “in positions of trust,” the FBI said.

As part of this new system, every American will eventually be assigned a “Universal Control Number”.

Does that sound creepy to you?

Even mainstream news reports are admitting that it sounds like something out of a science fiction movie

It aims to eventually replace fingerprinting with a complex array of biometrics, assigning everyone with a “Universal Control Number”, in what sounds like a plotline from a sci-fi movie.

And it won’t just be the FBI using this database.

According to Fox News, more than 18,000 law enforcement agencies will have access to this information…

More than 18,000 law enforcement agencies and other authorized criminal justice partners across the country will have access to the system 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

So if your face is scanned somewhere or you do something noteworthy that is registered by the system, virtually every law enforcement agency in the country will instantly know about it.

Pretty scary stuff, eh?

But the FBI is actually lagging far behind the NSA.

According to Edward Snowden, the NSA has been using “sophisticated facial recognition programs” for many years

The National Security Agency is harvesting huge numbers of images of people from communications that it intercepts through its global surveillance operations for use in sophisticated facial recognition programs, according to top-secret documents.

The spy agency’s reliance on facial recognition technology has grown significantly over the last four years as the agency has turned to new software to exploit the flood of images included in emails, text messages, social media, videoconferences and other communications, the N.S.A. documents reveal. Agency officials believe that technological advances could revolutionize the way that the N.S.A. finds intelligence targets around the world, the documents show.

Do you remember that stuff you saw in the Jason Bourne movies about how the NSA can track people?

Well, most of that stuff is real.

If you don’t like it, that is just too bad.  At this point not even Congress has much control over what the NSA does.

And there are police departments around the nation that are also way ahead of the FBI.

For example, just check out what has been going on in southern California

In a single second, law enforcement agents can match a suspect against millions upon millions of profiles in vast detailed databases stored on the cloud. It’s all done using facial recognition, and in Southern California it’s already occurring.

Imagine the police taking a picture: any picture of a person, anywhere, and matching it on the spot in less than a second to a personalized profile, scanning millions upon millions of entries from within vast, intricate databases stored on the cloud.

It’s done with state of the art facial recognition technology, and in Southern California it’s already happening.

At least one law enforcement agency in San Diego is currently using software developed by FaceFirst, a division of nearby Camarillo, California’s Airborne Biometrics Group. It can positively identify anyone, as long as physical data about a person’s facial features is stored somewhere the police can access. Though that pool of potential matches could include millions, the company says that by using the “best available facial recognition algorithms” they can scour that data set in a fraction of a second in order to send authorities all known intelligence about anyone who enters a camera’s field of vision.

Widespread use of facial recognition technology by our law enforcement authorities is becoming a way of life.

If the American people don’t like this, they need to stand up and say something.

But instead, in an era of widespread Internet hacking and identity theft, many Americans are actually clamoring for the implementation of more biometric identification.

For instance, the following is a brief excerpt from a Fox News article entitled “Biometric security can’t come soon enough for some people“…

In a world where nearly every ATM now uses an operating system without any technical support, where a bug can force every user of the Internet to change the password to every account they’ve ever owned overnight, where cyber-attacks and identity theft grow more menacing every day, the ability to use your voice, your finger, your face or some combination of the three to log into your e-mail, your social media feed or your checking account allows you to ensure it’s very difficult for someone else to pretend they’re you.

As financial institutions adopt this kind of technology, a day may come when virtually all of us are required to have our faces scanned at the checkout counter.

That may sound crazy to you, but according to the Daily Mail a company in Finland has already launched this technology…

Bank cards are already being replaced by phones and wristbands that have payment technology built-in but the latest threat to the lowly plastic in your pocket could be your face.

A Finnish startup called Uniqul has launched what it calls the first ever payment platform based on facial recognition.

The system doesn’t require a wallet, bank card or phone – instead a camera is positioned at the checkout and takes a photo of a shopper’s face when they are ready to pay.

It then scans a database for the face and matches it to stored payment details in order to complete the transaction.

And advertisers are even more eager to adopt facial recognition technology.  In fact, the kind of face scanning billboards that we saw in “Minority Report” are already a reality.  For example, a company called Amscreen says that it already has more than 6,000 face scanning digital screens that are being viewed by approximately 50 million people each week…

Advertising network Amscreen recently launched a unique face-detection technology, originally developed by automated audience measurement firm Quividi.

Cameras have been installed in Amscreen’s digital advertising displays that can scan a person’s face and determine their gender, age, date, time and volume of the viewers.

This is so adverts are served to the most appropriate audience.

Amscreen already has over 6,000 digital screens seen by a weekly audience of over 50 million people.

Even dating websites are starting to use facial recognition technology at this point.

Just check out what Match.com has been doing…

Popular dating site Match.com will use photos of users’ exes to determine which type of look they’re attracted to in order to find them a dating match.

The dating site has partnered with Three Day Rule, a Los Angeles-based matchmaking service, which has dating experts that act as personal dating concierges who hand-select and personally meet every potential match before making a formal introduction to clients, Mashable reports.

Members of Match.com will be able to upgrade to Three Day Rule’s premium service which will ask users to send pictures of exes to determine the type of look they’re attracted to. Three Day Rule will then use facial-recognition technology in an effort to help users find dates.

Our world is changing at a faster pace than ever before.

Powerful new technologies are literally being introduced every single day now, and the future is probably going to look far different than any of us are imagining.

But with all of this new technology, will we end up losing what little personal privacy that we have left?

Please feel free to share what you think by posting a comment below…

The Economic Collapse

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