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.
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.