Category Archives: Surveillance

More Police State Surveillance: Courtesy of the Pentagon, by Jeremiah Johnson

The Pentagon has a plan to use biometric verification to track and identify people from their smart phones. From Jeremiah Johnson at shtfplan.com:

There was an article by Joseph Marks of Nextgov published on 5/16/18 that was neither picked up by the larger news networks nor kept in view for long. The article is entitled The Pentagon Has a Big Plan to Solve Identity Verification in Two Years, and here is a portion of it:

The Defense Department is funding a project that officials say could revolutionize the way companies, federal agencies and the military itself verify that people are who they say they are and it could be available in most commercial smartphones within two years. The technology, which will be embedded in smartphones’ hardware, will analyze a variety of identifiers that are unique to an individual, such as the hand pressure and wrist tension when the person holds a smartphone and the person’s peculiar gait while walking, said Steve Wallace, technical director at the Defense Information Systems Agency.  Organizations that use the tool can combine those identifiers to give the phone holder a “risk score,” Wallace said. If the risk score is low enough, the organization can presume the person is who she says she is and grant her access to sensitive files on the phone or on a connected computer or grant her access to a secure facility. If the score’s too high, she’ll be locked out.

Amazing. The Pentagon’s technical director omitted much in his quest to act as if such actions are “government streamlining” and occurring matter-of-factly, in the interests of securing information for the government and its contractors.

The problem: if it’s in the software of all the commercial smartphones (the ones bought in the stores), that biometric data will be transmitted by all the phones, not just the contractors to the federal government.

We also know where this is heading. The government will back-door everyone’s cell phones and make tracking and surveillance even more ubiquitous than it is now, and that’s saying something. Read this portion:

Another identifier that will likely be built into the chips is a GPS tracker that will store encrypted information about a person’s movements, Wallace said. The verification tool would analyze historical information about a person’s locations and major, recent anomalies would raise the person’s risk score.  The tool would be separate from the GPS function used by mapping and exercise apps, he said. The tool does not include biometric information, such as a thumbprint or eye scans at this point, Wallace said, because DISA judged that existing commercial applications of biometric information are too easy to spoof.

To continue reading: More Police State Surveillance: Courtesy of the Pentagon

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China’s ‘Social Credit Score’ Could Blacklist Anyone Inconvenient, by Josh Owens

The world watches as China implements its social credit system. Most of the world fears it, a small psychopathic minority covet it. From Josh Owens at safehaven.com via wolfstreet.com:

The system is based on character and concocted from big data and artificial intelligence algorithms.

China’s ‘Brave New World’ move towards a mandatory ‘social credit’ system for all citizens by 2020 has already blocked people from 11 million flights and 4.25 million high-speed train trips, according to Chinese state-run media.

While it sounds like an economic bust for transportation, state-run media are tossing the figures around as proof of the program’s success, with the Global Times citing a senior official suggesting that the form of punishment meted out by those with poor social credit would incentivize them to become better citizens.

The figures were said to be as of “the end of April,” though no starting point was mentioned.

Speaking at a credit development forum in Beijing on Saturday, Hou Yunchun, former deputy director of the State Council’s development research center—the center responsible for creating “Planning Outline for the Construction of a Social Credit System”—said the system was needed so that “discredited people become bankrupt.”

“If we don’t increase the cost of being discredited, we are encouraging discredited people to keep at it,” the Global Times cited Hou as saying.

The authorities have also used the social credit system to publish the names of 33,000 companies who have violated certain laws and regulations.

But the question is, what determines poor social standing?

China’s social credit system—which Western media have likened to the Netflix series Black Mirror—will “forge a public opinion environment where keeping trust is glorious. It will strengthen sincerity in government affairs, commercial sincerity, social sincerity and the construction of judicial credibility.”

The system is similar to a financial credit score, but based on character and concocted from big data and artificial intelligence algorithms. Upstanding citizens have high scores, while others (public nuisances, dissidents, etc) will be ostracized, marginalized—or kicked off trains and planes, for instance.

To continue reading: China’s ‘Social Credit Score’ Could Blacklist Anyone Inconvenient

A Spy in the House of Trump, by Justin Raimondo

There was a foreign power trying to influence the 2016 election: Great Britain. From Justin Raimondo at antiwar.com:

Stefan Halper, a veteran dirty trickster, outed

The identification of a spy implanted in Donald Trump’s presidential campaign by a murky cabal of spooks, both foreign and domestic, has given us a whole new perspective on the Russia-gate hoax. We know the FBI had a source within Trump’s organization because Fusion-GPS chief executive Glenn Simpson testified before Congress on August 22, 2017 to that effect. We also know due to a New York Times story that tries mightily to justify it.

The outing of Stefan Halper, a veteran of three Republican administrations – and no amateur at spying on presidential campaigns – as a spy in the house of Trump shows that the effort to overthrow a democratically elected President a truly international flavor. Halper is a dual citizen of the US and the United Kingdom who, in 2016, was teaching at Cambridge University, where he and “Sir” Richard Dearlove, the former head of Britain’s MI6 intelligence bureau, were in residence. In alliance with historian Peter Martland, they recently created a ruckus about alleged “Russian influence” over an intelligence seminar, and reportedly worked on other “projects”: the two are close friends.

Recall the various versions of how the Russia-gate hoax got started. At first we were told it was all due to the “dirty dossier” compiled by “former” MI6 Moscow station chief Christopher Steele. When the sensationalistic details in the dossier couldn’t be verified, however, and other details were disproved, the Deep State’s journalistic camarilla concocted a new creation myth: the probe into Trump’s alleged “collusion” with Russia supposedly started when the Australian diplomat Alexander Downer related an alcohol-fueled conversation he’d had with George Papadopoulos, a marginal figure in the Trump campaign, in the course of which Papadopoulos supposedly revealed that the Russians had “thousands” of the Clinton campaign’s emails. The Australians reported this to the FBI, which opened their investigation in July of 2016.

That September, Halper requested a meeting with Papadopoulos on the pretext of having the young Trump supporter write a paper on energy for a $3000 fee and an all-expenses paid trip to London. They met a number of times, and “According to a source with knowledge of the meeting, Halper asked Papadopoulos: ‘George, you know about hacking the emails from Russia, right?’” Papadopoulos said he had no idea what Halper was talking about and the professor dropped the subject.

To continue reading: A Spy in the House of Trump

How A Whistleblower Changed The World, by Value Walk

Edwin Snowden took enormous risks to let Americans know the extent their government is spying on them. He’s a hero. From valuewalk.com:

Speak not because it is safe, but because it is right. So goes the ethos of Edward Snowden, the notorious NSA contractor who in 2013 leaked highly classified information detailing the government’s broad domestic and international surveillance powers.

Where he was once seen as a traitor — or worse, a foreign spy — Snowden has become something of a pseudo-superhero over the years. In fact, since joining Twitter in 2015, Snowden has amassed more than 3.8 million followers. And while he’s a highly active Tweeter, he only follows one account in return: the NSA.

As a purveyor of truth and an advocate for more transparent privacy laws, Snowden has been an integral voice in the fight for freedom from overt and systemic government oppression. He’s chimed in on everything from the 2016 presidential election to the recent internet censorship happening Russia and more. He’s even schooled cable TV news pundits a time or two on the very meaning of surveillance.

In fact, it was Snowden’s work as a whistleblower that lead to both The Guardian and The Washington Post winning the Pulitzer Prize for Public Service.

He’s one of the strongest and most influential voices of reason in an age of countless government leaks and partisan whistleblowers; more than that, he’s one of the few prominent anti-government advocates who’s dedicated his life to working for the public (as stated in his Twitter bio).

So how has Snowden changed the world? Let’s take a look.

Snowden Signaled Sweeping Government Reforms

While the U.S. government (as well as governments abroad) had been spying on their citizens for decades, no one really knew how big or inclusive that system was. And while the Snowden leaks were certainly a tough pill to swallow, they gave the public a reason to force the government to undergo sweeping mass surveillance changes.

In 2015 the White House approved new reforms to limit the size and scope of their phone surveillance methods, and in the same year Congress passed the USA Freedom Act, which drastically reduced the amount of data the NSA was able to collect.

While these were both steps in the right direction, it’s worth pointing out that some of that progress is currently being undone.

To continue reading: How A Whistleblower Changed The World

The Age of Petty Tyrannies, by John W. Whitehead

Add up a bunch of petty tyrannies and you get a full-blown tyranny. From John W. Whitehead at rutherford.org:

“Whether the mask is labeled fascism, democracy, or dictatorship of the proletariat, our great adversary remains the apparatus—the bureaucracy, the police, the military. Not the one facing us across the frontier of the battle lines, which is not so much our enemy as our brothers’ enemy, but the one that calls itself our protector and makes us its slaves. No matter what the circumstances, the worst betrayal will always be to subordinate ourselves to this apparatus and to trample underfoot, in its service, all human values in ourselves and in others.”—Simone Weil, French philosopher and political activist

We labor today under the weight of countless tyrannies, large and small, carried out in the name of the national good by an elite class of government officials who are largely insulated from the ill effects of their actions.

We, the middling classes, are not so fortunate.

We find ourselves badgered, bullied and browbeaten into bearing the brunt of their arrogance, paying the price for their greed, suffering the backlash for their militarism, agonizing as a result of their inaction, feigning ignorance about their backroom dealings, overlooking their incompetence, turning a blind eye to their misdeeds, cowering from their heavy-handed tactics, and blindly hoping for change that never comes.

The overt signs of the despotism exercised by the increasingly authoritarian regime that passes itself off as the United States government are all around us: warrantless surveillance of Americans’ private phone and email conversations by the NSA; SWAT team raids of Americans’ homes; shootings of unarmed citizens by police; harsh punishments meted out to schoolchildren in the name of zero tolerance; drones taking to the skies domestically; endless wars; out-of-control spending; militarized police; roadside strip searches; roving TSA sweeps; privatized prisons with a profit incentive for jailing Americans; fusion centers that collect and disseminate data on Americans’ private transactions; and militarized agencies with stockpiles of ammunition, to name some of the most appalling.

Yet as egregious as these incursions on our rights may be, it’s the endless, petty tyrannies inflicted on an overtaxed, overregulated, and underrepresented populace that occasionally nudge a weary public out of their numb indifference and into a state of outrage.

Consider, for example, that federal and state governments now require on penalty of a fine that individuals apply for permission before they can grow exotic orchids, host elaborate dinner parties, gather friends in one’s home for Bible studies, give coffee to the homeless, let their kids manage a lemonade stand, keep chickens as pets, or braid someone’s hair, as ludicrous as that may seem.

To continue reading: The Age of Petty Tyrannies

‘Forget the Facebook leak’: China is mining data directly from workers’ brains on an industrial scale, by Stephen Chen

If you thought the social credit system was creepy, this is even creepier. Who knows where it might lead? From Stephen Chen from the South China Morning Post at simp.com:

Government-backed surveillance projects are deploying brain-reading technology to detect changes in emotional states in employees on the production line, the military and at the helm of high-speed trains

On the surface, the production lines at Hangzhou Zhongheng Electric look like any other.

Workers outfitted in uniforms staff lines producing sophisticated equipment for telecommunication and other industrial sectors.

But there’s one big difference – the workers wear caps to monitor their brainwaves, data that management then uses to adjust the pace of production and redesign workflows, according to the company.

The company said it could increase the overall efficiency of the workers by manipulating the frequency and length of break times to reduce mental stress.

Hangzhou Zhongheng Electric is just one example of the large-scale application of brain surveillance devices to monitor people’s emotions and other mental activities in the workplace, according to scientists and companies involved in the government-backed projects.

Concealed in regular safety helmets or uniform hats, these lightweight, wireless sensors constantly monitor the wearer’s brainwaves and stream the data to computers that use artificial intelligence algorithms to detect emotional spikes such as depression, anxiety or rage.

The technology is in widespread use around the world but China has applied it on an unprecedented scale in factories, public transport, state-owned companies and the military to increase the competitiveness of its manufacturing industry and to maintain social stability.

It has also raised concerns about the need for regulation to prevent abuses in the workplace.

The technology is also in use at in Hangzhou at State Grid Zhejiang Electric Power, where it has boosted company profits by about 2 billion yuan (US$315 million) since it was rolled out in 2014, according to Cheng Jingzhou, an official overseeing the company’s emotional surveillance programme.

“There is no doubt about its effect,” Cheng said.

To continue reading: ‘Forget the Facebook leak’: China is mining data directly from workers’ brains on an industrial scale

The NSA Continues to Abuse Americans by Intercepting Their Telephone Calls, by Ron Paul

Can a social credit scoring system, like China’s, be far behind? From Ron Paul at ronpaulinstitute.org:

One of the few positive things in the ill-named USA FREEDOM Act, enacted in 2015 after the Snowden revelations on NSA domestic spying, is that it required the Director of National Intelligence to regularly report on its domestic surveillance activities. On Friday, the latest report was released on just how much our own government is spying on us. The news is not good at all if you value freedom over tyranny.

According to the annual report, named the Statistical Transparency Report Regarding Use of National Security Authorities, the US government intercepted and stored information from more than a half-billion of our telephone calls and text messages in 2017. That is a 300 percent increase from 2016. All of these intercepts were “legal” under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA), which is ironic because FISA was enacted to curtail the Nixon-era abuse of surveillance on American citizens.

Has the US government intercepted your phone calls and/or text messages? You don’t know, which is why the surveillance state is so evil. Instead of assuming your privacy is protected by the US Constitution, you must assume that the US government is listening in to your communications. The difference between these is the difference between freedom and tyranny. The ultimate triumph of totalitarian states was not to punish citizens for opposing its tyranny, but to successfully cause them to censor themselves before even expressing “subversive” thoughts.

We cannot celebrate our freedom or call ourselves an exceptional nation as long as we are under control of the kind of surveillance that would have turned the East German Stasi green with envy. We know the East German secret police relied on millions of informants, eager to ingratiate themselves with their totalitarian rulers by reporting on their friends, neighbors, even relatives. It was a messy system but it served the purpose of preventing any “unwelcome” political views from taking hold. No one was allowed to criticize the policies of the government without facing reprisals.

Sadly, that is where we are headed.

To continue reading: The NSA Continues to Abuse Americans by Intercepting Their Telephone Calls