Justice Department Defends US Marshals’ Airborne Cell Tower Spoofers

InfoWars
by TIM CUSHING

Refuses to acknowledge program exists

celltower
Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons

The Justice Department has been summoned to say a few words in defense of the US Marshals’ Cessna-mounted cell tower spoofers. And while it tried to leave a lot unsaid, it actually said quite a bit.

The Justice Department, without formally acknowledging the existence of the program, defended the legality of the operation by the U.S. Marshals Service, saying the agency doesn’t maintain a database of everyday Americans’ cellphones.

Because America’s criminal element is forever only moments away from permanently escaping the grasp of law enforcement, the DOJ has refused to confirm or deny the existence of technology everyone already knows exists — IMSI catchers and single-engine aircraft. The DOJ’s caginess is commendable. I’m sorry, I mean ridiculous. Here’s the same official further protecting and defending The Program That Dare Not Confirm Its Existence, using statements that indicate the program exposed by the Wall Street Journal not only exists, but functions pretty much as described.

A Justice Department official on Friday refused to confirm or deny the existence of such a program, because doing so would allow criminals to better evade law enforcement. But the official said it would be “utterly false’’ to conflate the law-enforcement program with the collection of bulk telephone records by the National Security Agency, a controversial program already being challenged in the courts and by some members of Congress.

No one’s conflating the feds’ airborne ‘Stingray’ with the NSA’s ongoing bulk phone records collections. All people have done is note that surveillance technology of this sort has the ability to collect (and store) millions of unrelated phone records in a very short period of time.

Furthermore, the unnamed official would like us to remember that this program [WHICH MAY NOT EXIST I DON'T EVEN KNOW] is completely legal [PROBABLY TWICE AS LEGAL AS THE NSA'S PHONE THING IF THIS IS HAPPENING WHICH IT MAY NOT BE].

The official didn’t address the issue of how much data, if any, is held on the dirtboxes by law-enforcement officials but said the agency doesn’t maintain any databases of general public cellphone information and said any activity is legal and “subject to court approval.’’

Other officials — also unnamed — have stepped up (sort of… in a spineless, anonymous way) to let critics know that the program that has never been officially acknowledged is pretty good at catching bad guys.

The program’s defenders say it has been an effective way of catching fugitives, including drug suspects and suspected killers…

Like the following notorious criminals:

…but they declined to provide specific examples in which it was used.

Probably because it may or may not exist, etc.

Officials familiar with the program noted that it was “minimally intrusive,” while simultaneously having an effective range that covers “most of the US population.” It may not be the NSA’s bulk records program, but it’s not exactly in any danger of being championed by civil liberties advocates.

Here are a few government officials who aren’t familiar with the implausibly denied program.

“We were not aware of this activity,’’ said Kim Hart, a spokeswoman for the FCC, which licenses and regulates cell-service providers.

Another IMSI catcher and another FCC denial. It appears that staying ahead of criminals also means withholding information (or directly lying to) regulatory agencies — which is probably not that big of a deal when you’ve spent years lying to judges.

And you can add legislators to the long list of those whose first exposure to the US Marshals’ “dirtboxes” came via the Wall Street Journal. Senators Edward Markey and Al Franken have both offered statements expressing their concerns about law enforcement’s willingness to sacrifice the public’s privacy for investigative efficiency.

The DOJ official who claimed this program is “subject to court approval” is being either blithely disingenuous or wholly dishonest. If this investigative technology had ever been approved by our nation’s courts, we would have heard of it long before now. This dearth of information indicates that the Marshals’ use of airborne IMSI catchers has been withheld the same way the use of its earthbound version has been over the past several years.

Via TechDirt

Secret Justice Dept. Interceptor Flights Scoop Up Cell Data From U.S. Cities

The Daily Sheeple

cessna-justice-dept

Remember when President Obama told Jay Leno (and the world) with a smiling face that “there is no spying on Americans”? Not only was that untrue, but it is now clear that it was blatantly false on so very many levels.

The cell phone interceptor scandal has now become scales worse, with revelations that the Justice Dept. has been scooping Americans’ data in major cities across the nation with secret flights by the tens of thousands, continuously. And that’s without them admitting how far this has gone. Yikes.

As if the state of the surveillance society wasn’t bad enough, this has come to light, via Fox News:

The Justice Department is scooping up data from thousands of cellphones through fake communications towers deployed on airplanes, a high-tech hunt for criminal suspects that is snagging large number of innocent Americans, according to people familiar with the operations.

The U.S. Marshals Service program, which became fully functional around 2007, operates Cessna aircraft from at least five metropolitan-area airports, with a flying range covering most of the U.S. population, according to people familiar with the program.

Planes are equipped with devices—some known as “dirtboxes” to law-enforcement officials because of the initials of the Boeing Co. unit that produces them—which mimic cell towers of large telecommunications firms and trick cellphones into reporting their unique registration information.

The technology in the two-foot-square device enables investigators to scoop data from tens of thousands of cellphones in a single flight, collecting their identifying information and general location, these people said.


Click to see full sized image
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That just follows the series of revelations concerning secretive on-the-ground interceptors – known as Sting Ray – that also mimic cell phone towers and force devices to share data with police departments, the FBI and/or various other unknown entities (perhaps foreign governments, the NSA or private firms?).

According to the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC):

A StingRay is a device that can triangulate the source of a cellular signal by acting “like a fake cell phone tower” and measuring the signal strength of an identified device from several locations. With StingRays and other similar “cell site simulator” technologies, Government investigators and private individuals can locate, interfere with, and even intercept communications from cell phones and other wireless devices. The Federal Bureau of Investigation (“FBI”) has used such cell site simulator technology to track and locate phones and users since at least 1995.

As Melissa Melton previously wrote:

According to the Associated Press, the Obama Administration has been actively advising police departments to refuse disclosure about certain cell phone surveillance technologies, including the widely used “StingRay” device, even in routine state records requests.

Instead, police are bypassing company assistance and collecting unique information on suspects, persons of interests, and – as the AP reports – they can even “sweep up basic cellphone data from entire neighborhoods,” all without any court orders or oversight.

The Edward Snowden leaks proved beyond a shadow of a doubt that the NSA has zero regard for the privacy of Americans.

Now, it is also crystal clear that the Justice Department and FBI (and perhaps likely most assuredly other law enforcement agencies) have no regard, either. Not for Americans. Not for privacy. Not for the law. Not for due process. And certainly not for the constitutional republic they were ostensibly created to serve.

In these troubled times, it is at least good to know that former NSA chief Gen. Keith Alexander has found a lucrative gig advising Wall Street on cybersecurity using NSA data and employees who are also simultaneously top NSA officials.

No conflict of interest, no breach of duty to see here. Move along.

Gulp. Sigh.

The Daily Sheeple

Police Departments Petition Feds for Advanced Cell Phone Interceptors

InfoWars
by MIKAEL THALEN

Law enforcement groups throughout Bay Area seek “Hailstorm” device to intercept latest cell phones

Multiple police departments across California’s Bay Area are looking to upgrade their Stingray cell phone interceptors to an even more advanced model.

IMSI catchers, portable devices commonly referred to as Stingrays, trick 2G cell phones into sharing their information by mimicking a cell tower. Limited by their ability to only intercept older model phones, law enforcement groups are petitioning the federal government for half a million dollars in grant money in order to purchase the “Hailstorm,” a device capable of siphoning data from phones utilizing the 4G LTE network.

According to heavily redacted documents obtained by San Francisco’s CBS affiliate, several police departments have not only worked to hide their use of Stingrays, but have attempted to cloak their desire to upgrade their systems as well.

Officers in the San Jose Police Department were found to be labeling their IMSI catcher as “surveillance technology equipment,” while the Alameda County District Attorney’s office and the Fremont Police Department quietly worked to acquire Hailstorms through federal grants.

“The Hailstorm is the latest in the line of mobile phone tracking tools that Harris Corp. is offering authorities,” noted Ars Technica. “However, few details about it have trickled into the public domain.”

Unsurprisingly, Oakland police refused to provide public records regarding their cell phone interceptor altogether, citing an “exemption” given to them by the device’s manufacturer, a common tactic used by departments all across the country.

Replying to questions from CBS, representatives with the Alameda County DA’s office released the following statement:

The electronic surveillance technology we are seeking to acquire is an important tool to use for the safety and protection of the public. This technology can be used to prevent or respond to a terrorist attack. It can be used to track and apprehend serious and violent criminals and fugitives from justice. It can help to locate and recover missing persons and kidnapping victims. It may also be used in search and rescue operations to help locate missing or trapped victims of a natural disaster or terrorist attack. The use of this technology would speed the ability of rescue workers to locate injured victims quickly and to speed up the administration of life-saving medical intervention. The technology allows Law Enforcement and Public Safety Officers to use up-to-date technology to promote public safety and law enforcement well into the future. It is important to remember that this technology would not be used without court authorization.

Despite the DA’s claims, countless law enforcement groups using the exact same talking points have been found to be intercepting thousands of innocent cell users’ data for the most trivial of investigations.

Documents acquired through a public records request in Tacoma, Washington this year revealed that the city’s police department used their Stingray device in one instance to hunt down a missing city laptop. Shortly before the documents went public, Tacoma police asserted that the device was only used for criminal cases regarding homicide, rape, robbery, kidnapping and narcotics trafficking.

Famed NSA whistleblower Kirk Wiebe, who spoke exclusively with Infowars, decried the dangerous and unwarranted use of cell phone interceptors.

“These devices feed the mentality of the Police State, not unlike that experienced under the Nazis (Germany) and Stasi (East Germany),” Wiebe said. “Law enforcement is using this information to investigate and prosecute people without warrants – that is unconstitutional.  At the national level, the same thing is happening.”

Although federal agencies have gone as far as instructing law enforcement groups to deceive judges in order to keep these devices under wraps, more and more information continues to surface with each passing day.

Just this week it was learned that a secret Department of Justice program used planes outfitted with cell phone interceptors to harvest Americans’ cell data from the sky.

Earlier this month multiple departments in Idaho refused to comment after a local civil liberties advocate detected the characteristics of an active IMSI catcher in one of the state’s largest cities.

Mobile security experts traveling through Washington D.C. last month detected signs of at least 17 IMSI catchers as well.

InfoWars

New Amazon Device Uses Voice Recognition to Track Users in Their Homes

InfoWars
by MIKAEL THALEN

Amazon unveiled its new digital assistant the “Echo” this week, a cloud-connected device that is “always on.”

Controlled by a user’s voice, Amazon boasts the device’s ability to answer questions, provide weather updates, and play music.

“Amazon Echo is designed around your voice. It’s always on—just ask for information, music, news, weather, and more,” Amazon states. “Echo begins working as soon as it hears you say the wake word, ‘Alexa.’ It’s also an expertly-tuned speaker that can fill any room with immersive sound.”

Using “far-field voice recognition,” the Echo can detect and analyze voices even when other loud noises are prevalent.

“Tucked under Echo’s light ring is an array of seven microphones. These sensors use beam-forming technology to hear you from any direction. With enhanced noise cancellation, Echo can hear you ask a question even while it’s playing music.”

Echo’s constant connection to the cloud allows it to learn and adapt, slowly gathering the specifics of a user’s characteristics.

“Echo’s brain is in the cloud, running on Amazon Web Services so it continually learns and adds more functionality over time. The more you use Echo, the more it adapts to your speech patterns, vocabulary, and personal preferences.”

While the Echo is always activated, Amazon assures its customers that “Alexa” will only listen when a user asks.

Given Amazon’s history of selling privacy-invading devices, such as the company’s “Fire Phone,” the safety of any collected personal information is in question, especially in light of recent news surrounding cloud security.

Unfortunately, the push towards cloud computing and “smart” tech has long ignored these important social and security implications.

During a 2012 speech, former CIA Director David Petraeus openly applauded the growing implementation of such technology due to its ability to give spy agencies unmitigated access to personal information.

“Transformational is an overused word, but I do believe it properly applies to these technologies, particularly to their effect on clandestine tradecraft,” Petraeus said. “Items of interest will be located, identified, monitored, and remotely controlled through technologies such as radio-frequency identification, sensor networks, tiny embedded servers, and energy harvesters — all connected to the next-generation internet using abundant, low-cost, and high-power computing.”

Earlier this month, Samsung announced the launch of its new line of “Smart TVs,” which will admittedly record a user’s personal conversations before transmitting them to third parties.

“Please be aware that if your spoken words include personal or other sensitive information, that information will be among the data captured and transmitted to a third party through your use of Voice Recognition,” the product’s privacy policy states.

Even the most mundane of home appliances, including dishwashers, ovens , light bulbs and refrigerators, are now being equipped with WiFi and voice recognition capabilities, giving hackers, governments and corporations virtually unfettered access to every detail of a person’s life.

Given Amazon’s close relationship with both the NSA and CIA, the company will be hard pressed to convince civil liberties advocates of Echo’s caring nature, whether programmed or learned.

InfoWars

Police Deny Responsibility After Stingray Cell Phone Tracker Discovered in Idaho

InfoWars
by MIKAEL THALEN

FBI say Stingray is a “sensitive technique,” won’t discuss how it’s used

stingray
Image Credit: Youtube

State and federal law enforcement groups throughout Idaho are remaining tight-lipped after a local mobile security advocate uncovered what appears to be an IMSI catcher, commonly referred to as a Stingray cell phone interceptor, operating in one of the state’s largest cities.

The local advocate, who discovered signs of the interceptor in Idaho Falls, was able to detect its specific indicators while using a CryptoPhone, a mobile device which warns users of possible cell interception.

Attempting to investigate, Idaho’s KTVB 7 News reached out to several law enforcement agencies in the Treasure Valley area in an effort to determine the device’s owner. Although no agency in the area would admit to owning a Stingray, one major police department in the state did.

“A spokesperson with the Boise Police Department says they use something like it when trying to track down suspects,” KTVB 7′s Tami Tremblay wrote. “A regional FBI agent would only tell us the Stingray is a sensitive technique so no one will discuss how it’s used.”

While no current information can tie such a device to any group other than the Boise Police, the refusal of agencies in Idaho Falls to comment could be tied to the Harris Corporation, the largest provider of IMSI catchers in the country. Despite clearly overstepping legal bounds, the Harris Corporation has required publicly run government agencies to sign non-disclosure agreements when obtaining Stingrays, allowing police to hide their activity from the public.

In an incident last June, the Sacramento County Sheriff’s Department claimed it was not obligated to inform the public of their secret Stingray use due to such an agreement after being confronted by a local news group.

Police in Tallahassee also argued that the public had no right to know and even claimed the agreement allowed them to use the device as many as 200 times in three years without a warrant.

The practice has even been picked up by the FBI, who issued a Stingray to police in Tacoma, Washington under the proviso that they never tell the public. Police went as far as telling City Council members who approved the purchase that the device was designed to detect “IEDs.” Documents from public records requests regarding the department’s Stingray use revealed that police were intercepting hundreds of innocent cell phone users’ data for crimes such as a “missing city laptop.”

In an effort to hide their activity, the U.S. Marshals Service even raided a Florida police department earlier this year in order to keep Stingray documents from reaching the public. It was later revealed that U.S. Marshals were actively teaching police how to deceive judges when trying to acquire Stingrays.

InfoWars

Samsung ‘Smart TV’ Records “Personal” Conversations & Sends Them to Third Parties

InfoWars
by PAUL JOSEPH WATSON

Samsung’s new global privacy policy for its line of Smart TVs states that a user’s personal conversations will be recorded by the device’s microphone and transmitted to third parties.

A 46-page privacy policy which is now included in all newly purchased Samsung Smart TVs states that voice recognition technology “may capture voice commands and associated texts” in order to “improve the features” of the system.

The policy, a summary of which is also posted online, ominously advises users to, “Please be aware that if your spoken words include personal or other sensitive information, that information will be among the data captured and transmitted to a third party through your use of Voice Recognition.”

Writing about the privacy policy for Salon.com, Michael Price, counsel in the Liberty and National Security Program at the Brennan Center for Justice at NYU School of Law, said he was now “terrified” of his new TV, noting that voice recognition is just one feature that could be used to spy on users. The television also logs website visits, has a built-in camera for facial recognition and uses tracking cookies to detect “when you have viewed particular content or a particular email message.”

“I do not doubt that this data is important to providing customized content and convenience, but it is also incredibly personal, constitutionally protected information that should not be for sale to advertisers and should require a warrant for law enforcement to access,” writes Price, adding that current privacy laws offer little protection against “third party” data.

Price also draws attention to comments made in 2012 by former CIA director David Petraeus, who hailed the “Internet of things” as a transformational boon for “clandestine tradecraft”. In other words, it will soon be easier than ever before to keep tabs on the population since everything they use will be connected to the web, with total disregard for privacy considerations. The spooks won’t have to plant a bug in your home or your vehicle, you will be doing it for them.

As we have documented, the Internet of things is the process of manufacturing every new product with a system that broadcasts wirelessly via the world wide web, allowing industry and the government to spy ubiquitously on every aspect of your existence.

In recording private conversations for potential third party use, Samsung is merely mimicking what games console makers have done for years.

Since its launch in 2010, Microsoft’s X-Box Kinect games device has a video camera and a microphone that records speech. The company informs its users that they “should not expect any level of privacy concerning your use of the live communication features,” while Microsoft also “may access or disclose information about you, including the content of your communications.”

Last year, Microsoft was forced to deny claims that the Xbox One’s Kinect camera could see gamers’ genitals after video footage emerged which suggested the device’s IR camera was so sophisticated that it could capture the outline of a user’s penis.

Gamers also complained that Kinect was monitoring their Skype conversations for swearing and then punishing them with account bans.

With Christmas fast approaching, millions more people will splash the cash on games consoles and smart TVs completely oblivious to the fact that they are paying to have their private conversations recorded and potentially transmitted to third parties.

InfoWars

Man Who Owns A Smart TV Says He’s ‘Afraid’ Of Using It After Reading Its Privacy Policy

NWO Report
by Qronos 16

Just like with other electronic devices that used to be “dumb,” TVs have become increasingly smart lately, but that doesn’t mean that’s necessarily a good thing, especially when it comes to user privacy. At least that’s what Brennan Center’s Michael Price seems to think after he replaced his older TV that could offer access just to TV programs with a smart TV model that also delivers “streaming multimedia content, games, apps, social media and Internet browsing.”

“The only problem is that I’m now afraid to use it. You would be too — if you read through the 46-page privacy policy,” Price wrote. “The amount of data this thing collects is staggering. It logs where, when, how, and for how long you use the TV. It sets tracking cookies and beacons designed to detect ‘when you have viewed particular content or a particular email message.’ It records ‘the apps you use, the websites you visit, and how you interact with content.’ It ignores ‘do-not-track’ requests as a considered matter of policy.”

On the other hand, this isn’t the first time a smart TV has been found capable of tracking your activities for advertising purposes, so buyers should always try to go through the privacy policies they agree to when using such a device, and try to limit tracking if and when possible.

Furthermore, the device has a built-in camera with facial recognition and a microphone with voice recognition features, both tools that hackers or spy agencies could use to spy on unsuspecting buyers, Price says.

In addition to being used for ad purposes, these smart devices might also be hacked only as long as they’re connected to the Internet. Owners could decide to remove Internet access from their smart TVs to protect themselves against tracking and spying, but they’d lose most of their smart features in the process.

“I do not doubt that this data is important to providing customized content and convenience, but it is also incredibly personal, constitutionally protected information that should not be for sale to advertisers and should require a warrant for law enforcement to access,” Price said, further quoting former CIA chief General David Petraeus who once said the agency will be able to “spy on you through your dishwasher.”

“Indeed, as the ‘Internet of Things’ matures, household appliances and physical objects will become more networked,” Price said. “Your ceiling lights, thermostat, and washing machine — even your socks — may be wired to interact online. The FBI will not have to bug your living room; you will do it yourself.”

RELATED: Agree to share stuff with LG or it’ll make your Smart TV ‘stupid’

NWO Report

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