Category Archives: Privacy

Detect, Deter and Annihilate: How the Police State Will Deal with a Coronavirus Outbreak, by John W. Whitehead

When the zombie apocalypse comes, in the eyes of the government, you’ll be one of the zombies. From John W. Whitehead at rutherford.org:

“Fear is a primitive impulse, brainless as hunger, and because the aim of horror fiction is the production of the deepest kinds of fears, the genre tends to reinforce some remarkably uncivilized ideas about self-protection. In the current crop of zombie stories, the prevailing value for the beleaguered survivors is a sort of siege mentality, a vigilance so constant and unremitting that it’s indistinguishable from the purest paranoia.”— Terrence Rafferty, New York Times

What do zombies have to do with the U.S. government’s plans for dealing with a coronavirus outbreak?

Read on, and I’ll tell you.

The zombie narrative was popularized by the hit television series The Walking Dead, in which a small group of Americans attempt to survive in a zombie-ridden, post-apocalyptic world where they’re not only fighting off flesh-eating ghouls but cannibalistic humans.

For a while there, zombies could be found lurking around every corner: wreaking havoc at gun shows, battling corsets in movies such as Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, and running for their lives in 5K charity races.

Understandably, zombie fiction plays to our fears and paranoia, while allowing us to “envision how we and our own would thrive if everything went to hell and we lost all our societal supports.” Yet as journalist Syreeta McFadden points out, while dystopian stories used to reflect our anxieties, now they reflect our reality, mirroring how we as a nation view the world around us, how we as citizens view each other, and most of all how our government views us.

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How national security surveillance nabs more than spies, by Eric Tucker

The FBI can get a secret FISA warrant to investigate you as a foreign intelligence threat and uncover information that has nothing to do with foreign intelligence, but rather a domestic crime, and go after you for that. From Eric Tucker at apnews.com:

WASHINGTON (AP) — The case against Nassif Sami Daher and Kamel Mohammad Rammal, two Michigan men accused of food stamp fraud, hardly seemed exceptional. But the tool that agents used to investigate them was extraordinary: a secretive surveillance process intended to identify potential spies and terrorists.

It meant that the men, unlike most criminal defendants, were never shown the evidence authorities used to begin investigating them or the information that the Justice Department presented to obtain the original warrant.

The case is among recent Justice Department prosecutions that relied on the same surveillance powers, known by the acronym FISA, that law enforcement officials acknowledge were misused in the Russia investigation. Those errors have prompted a reckoning inside the FBI and debate in Congress about new privacy safeguards. The attention given to FISA has also cast a spotlight on cases such as the Michigan one, where surveillance tools used to investigate foreign intelligence threats end up leading to prosecutions for commonplace, domestic crimes.

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If You’re Close to the Scene of a Crime, Police Can Demand Google Hand Over Your Data, by Aaron Kesel

Now proximity to a crime gives the police “probable cause” to obtain your data from Google. From Aaron Kesel at themindunleashed.com:

Google reverse location search warrants have privacy and civil liberties advocates concerned.

(TMU) — The Gainesville Police Department suspected an innocent man was involved in a burglary so naturally they requested that Google give them all of his location data.

Google’s legal investigations support team wrote to Zachary McCoy telling him that local police were demanding information related to his Google account. Google replied and said it would release the data unless McCoy went to court and tried to block the request, NBC reported.

The man then searched his case number on the Gainesville Police Department website where he found a one-page report on the burglary of an elderly woman’s home ten months earlier on March 29, 2009. Unfortunately for McCoy, the crime occurred less than a mile from the home that he shared with his two roommates.

Caleb Kenyon, McCoy’s lawyer, said he was subject of a “geofence warrant.” A geofence warrant is essentially a virtual dragnet over crime scenes where police request to sweep up Google location data drawn from users’ GPS, Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, and cellular connections from everyone who is near a crime scene.

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The Narc in Your Next New Car, by Eric Peters

You car will watch you, and report everything you do to those who have an “interest”—like insurance companies, and maybe the government—in the way you drive. From Eric Peters at ericpetersautos.com:

For years, the insurance mafia has been trying to get people to voluntarily plug a driving monitor into their car, using the prospect of a “discount” as an inducement. Most people don’t fall for this because they understand that the “discount” is of a piece with advertising that promises you’ll save “up to 20 percent” but actually save you nothing or very little – while always paying more.

Well, your next new car may come standard with the driver monitor already plugged in. Embedded, actually – which means you can’t remove it. Or say no thanks to it. If you buy the car, you buy the embedded narc.

Allstate and Nationwide just announced they’ve “partnered” with Ford to pre-wire most 2020 (and likely all 2021) model Ford and Lincoln vehicles with the embedded tech to “participate” in what is styled the Milewise program, which uses the vehicle’s in-car WiFi to transmit to the mafia data about your driving habits.

Elena Ford, chief customer experience officer at Ford Motor Company says: “This is the latest way we’re improving the customer experience . . . (it) makes getting insurance easier for connected-vehicle customers to cover one of their biggest investments – their vehicle – while saving money.”

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“Intelligence Coup Of The Century”: CIA Ran Global Spy Op Using Well-Known Swiss Encryption Company, by Tyler Durden

What better way to infiltrate a government’s computer systems than by selling them their encryption software. From Tyler Durden at zerohedge.com:

In a new bombshell report, The Washington Post reveals a massive covert operation which was ‘hidden in plain sight’ that seems straight out of Confessions of an Economic Hitman — it’s yet more ‘conspiracy theory’ of the past now definitively proven conspiracy fact.

For the past decades, the CIA owned and operated a front company based in Switzerland for the purpose of spying on secret government communications across the globe, whether they were allies or adversaries. This according to newly unearthed 280-pages of an internal CIA history of the operation obtained by the Post along with Swiss public broadcaster SRF and German broadcaster ZDF.

Crypto AG, a Switzerland-based communications encryption firm, was secretly purchased by the CIA and West German intelligence services in 1971. The company not only made millions by selling encryption equipment to over 120 countries into the 21st century, but used the very same equipment to infiltrate each host country’s communications in a ‘Trojan Horse’ style operation.

Crypto is headquareted in Steinhausen, Switzerland. Image source: Reuters.

Through apps, not warrants, ‘Locate X’ allows federal law enforcement to track phones, by Charles Levison

High tech companies keep dreaming of better and better ways for the government to know everything about you. From Charles Levison at protocol.com:

Federal agencies have big contracts with Virginia-based Babel Street. Depending on where you’ve traveled, your movements may be in the company’s data.

U.S. law enforcement agencies signed millions of dollars worth of contracts with a Virginia company after it rolled out a powerful tool that uses data from popular mobile apps to track the movement of people’s cell phones, according to federal contracting records and six people familiar with the software.

The product, called Locate X and sold by Babel Street, allows investigators to draw a digital fence around an address or area, pinpoint mobile devices that were within that area, and see where else those devices have traveled, going back months, the sources told Protocol.

They said the tool tracks the location of devices anonymously, using data that popular cell phone apps collect to enable features like mapping or targeted ads, or simply to sell it on to data brokers.

Babel Street has kept Locate X a secret, not mentioning it in public-facing marketing materials and stipulating in federal contracts that even the existence of the data is “confidential information.” Locate X must be “used for internal research purposes only,” according to terms of use distributed to agencies, and law enforcement authorities are forbidden from using the technology as evidence — or mentioning it at all — in legal proceedings.

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Irrelevant Details, by Robert Gore

You’ll be on your own during the Age of Chaos.

Once upon a time there was a village right next to a volcano. The villagers spent much of their time watching the volcano, which perpetually sputtered, smoked, and fumed. When they first awakened, they’d look up to it. At night they’d watch its lava glow against the dark sky. A special class of villagers instructed them on how to interpret the volcano and how they must live their lives to propitiate it.

Much of what the village produced was gathered by the special class, an offering tax that was supposedly left in a secret spot at the foot of the volcano (somehow the special class always lived better than everyone else). Unusually intense rumblings of the volcano terrified the villagers. The special class would tell them what village security demanded—usually higher offering taxes and more power for the special class—to prevent an eruption. One day there was an earthquake. A fissure opened and swallowed the entire village and its special class. The volcano never erupted.

Turn on the news and chances are the story concerns the special class. History books are mostly chronicles of the special class—their wars, machinations, depredations, follies, all-too-rare wisdom, monuments to themselves, and the invasions and revolutions that occasionally upend them. It goes far beyond propaganda or brainwashing, it is simply an ingrained fixation, accepted by virtually everyone, that attention must always be on the special class and its volcano—government.

We look up to the special class and their governments and ignore that which will render them irrelevant details—the tectonic shifts below. They perpetuate the illusion of control and many of the subjugated want to believe, but the illusion has always given way to failure and irrelevancy and always will.

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