Category Archives: Surveillance

The Insecurity Industry, by Edward Snowden

Your phone is watching you, hearing you, retransmitting your data, and recording your movements. What a great technology, huh? From Edward Snowden at edwardsnowden.substack.com:

 

1.

The first thing I do when I get a new phone is take it apart. I don’t do this to satisfy a tinkerer’s urge, or out of political principle, but simply because it is unsafe to operate. Fixing the hardware, which is to say surgically removing the two or three tiny microphones hidden inside, is only the first step of an arduous process, and yet even after days of these DIY security improvements, my smartphone will remain the most dangerous item I possess.

The microphones inside my actual phone, prepped for surgery


Prior to this week’s Pegasus Project, a global reporting effort by major newspapers to expose the fatal consequences of the NSO Group—the new private-sector face of an out-of-control Insecurity Industry—most smartphone manufacturers along with much of the world press collectively rolled their eyes at me whenever I publicly identified a fresh-out-of-the-box iPhone as a potentially lethal threat.

Despite years of reporting that implicated the NSO Group’s for-profit hacking of phones in the deaths and detentions of journalists and human rights defenders; despite years of reporting that smartphone operating systems were riddled with catastrophic security flaws (a circumstance aggravated by their code having been written in aging programming languages that have long been regarded as unsafe); and despite years of reporting that even when everything works as intended, the mobile ecosystem is a dystopian hellscape of end-user monitoring and outright end-user manipulation, it is still hard for many people to accept that something that feels good may not in fact be good. Over the last eight years I’ve often felt like someone trying to convince their one friend who refuses to grow up to quit smoking and cut back on the booze—meanwhile, the magazine ads still say “Nine of Ten Doctors Smoke iPhones!” and “Unsecured Mobile Browsing is Refreshing!”

In my infinite optimism, however, I can’t help but regard the arrival of the Pegasus Project as a turning-point—a well-researched, exhaustively-sourced, and frankly crazy-making story about a “winged” “Trojan Horse” infection named “Pegasus” that basically turns the phone in your pocket into an all-powerful tracking device that can be turned on or off, remotely, unbeknownst to you, the pocket’s owner.   

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Watching The Watchmen, by Ken Bensinger and Jessica Garrison

The FBI induces people to conspire to commit crimes and then arrests them for conspiracy to commit crimes, covering itself in glory and targeting politically disfavored groups. It appears it did so in the now infamous Gretchen Whitmer assassination plot. From Ken Bensinger and Jessica Garrison at buzzfeednews.com:

The Michigan kidnapping case is a major test for the Biden administration’s commitment to fighting domestic terrorism — and a crucible for the fierce ideological divisions pulling the country apart.

In the inky darkness of a late summer night last September, three cars filled with armed men began circling Birch Lake in northern Michigan, looking for ways to approach Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s three-bedroom vacation cottage, subdue her — using a stun gun if necessary — and drag her away.

One vehicle stopped to check out a boat launch while a second searched in vain for the right house in the thick woods ringing the lake. The third car ran countersurveillance, using night vision goggles to look out for cops and handheld radios to communicate with the others.

Earlier, they had scoped out a bridge over the Elk River, just a few miles away, scrambling down under the span to figure out where plastic explosives would need to be placed to blow it sky-high. That would slow police response, giving the men time to escape with the governor — who had infuriated them by imposing COVID lockdowns, among other outrages — and either take her to Lake Michigan, where they could abandon her on a boat, or whisk her to Wisconsin, where she would be tried as a “tyrant.”

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Meet Jigsaw: Google’s Intelligence Agency, by Privacy To Go

Google is an arm of the US government. From Privacy To Go at off-guardian.com:

t’s no secret that Google regularly collaborates with intelligence agencies. They are a known NSA subcontractor. They launched Google Earth using a CIA spy satellite network.

Their executive suite’s revolving door with DARPA is well known.

In the wake of the January 6th Capitol event, the FBI used Google location data to pwn attendants with nothing more than a valid Gmail address and smartphone login:

The police were then able to obtain an Instagram registration email, which turned out to be a Gmail address. With that in hand, investigators ordered Google to provide any location data they had on that Gmail user, which the tech giant duly provided after it identified a linked smartphone.

A stark reminder that carrying a tracking device with a Google login, even with the SIM card removed, can mean the difference between freedom and an orange jumpsuit in the Great Reset era.

But Google also operates its own internal intelligence agency – complete with foreign regime-change operations that are now being applied domestically.

And they’ve been doing so without repercussion for over a decade.

From Google Ideas to Google Regime Change

In 2010, Google CEO Eric Schmidt created Google Ideas. In typical Silicon Valley newspeak, Ideas was marketed as a “think/do tank to research issues at the intersection of technology and geopolitics.”

Astute readers know this “think/do” formula well – entities like the Council on Foreign Relations or World Economic Forum draft policy papers (think) and three-letter agencies carry them out (do).

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Meet Toka, the Most Dangerous Israeli Spyware Firm You’ve Never Heard Of, by Whitney Webb

NSO Group isn’t the only Israeli company out their peddling spyware, it just gets all the press. From Whiteney Webb at mintpressnews.com:

LONDON – This past Sunday, an investigation into the global abuse of spyware developed by veterans of Israeli intelligence Unit 8200 gained widespread attention, as it was revealed that the software – sold to democratic and authoritarian governments alike – had been used to illegally spy on an estimated 50,000 individuals. Among those who had their communications and devices spied on by the software, known as Pegasus, were journalists, human rights activists, business executives, academics and prominent political leaders. Among those targeted political leaders, per reports, were the current leaders of France, Pakistan, South Africa, Egypt, Morocco and Iraq.

The abuse of Pegasus software in this very way has been known for several years, though these latest revelations appear to have gained such traction in the mainstream owing to the high number of civilians who have reportedly been surveilled through its use. The continuation of the now-years-long scandal surrounding the abuse of Pegasus has also brought considerable controversy and notoriety to the Israeli company that developed it, the NSO Group.

While the NSO Group has become infamous, other Israeli companies with even deeper ties to Israel’s intelligence apparatus have been selling software that not only provides the exact same services to governments and intelligence agencies but purports to go even farther.

Originally founded by former Israeli Prime Minister and Jeffrey Epstein associate Ehud Barak, one of these companies’ wares are being used by countries around the world, including in developing countries with the direct facilitation of global financial institutions like the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) and the World Bank. In addition, the software is only made available to governments that are “trusted” by Israel’s government, which “works closely” with the company.

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Snowden Grills WaPo for ‘Embarrassingly Weak’ Reaction to NSO Spyware Scandal, Says it’s Untrue Pegasus Can’t Target US Phones, by RT News

The Washington Post demonstrates the mainstream media’s see, hear, and speak no evil approach to Israel. From RT News at rt.com:

Snowden grills WaPo for ‘embarrassingly weak’ reaction to NSO spyware scandal, says it’s untrue Pegasus can’t target US phones

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Global Vaccine Passports Have Arrived Courtesy of Google, EU, by Privacy To Go

Our wise and munificent rulers are determined to give us vaccine passports, whether we want them or not. From Privacy To Go at off-guardian.org:

n June 30th, 2021, the Google Developers blog announced the launch of vaccine passports in Android through its Passes API.

Less than 24 hours later, the European Union, long mired in a sea of national standards for digital jab records, rolled out its EU-wide vaccine passport.

Two completely different vaccine passport schemes unveiled on the same day, encompassing the whole of the Western world? What are the odds!

Exceedingly low, of course. This level of coordination belies yet another blitz in the ongoing rollout of a global, technofeudal control grid. The EU has arguably been at the forefront of this rollout – its standardized digital jab certificate is little more than an aggregator for the draconian technology now operating at the Nation-State level.

Adoption of this unified standard is already approaching 100% of EU Member States. Doublethink rhetoric of restoring the Schengen Area’s “freedom of movement” abounds, even as additional barriers to travel are erected.

In this sense, Google and the US are playing catch-up. While de facto vaccine passports have been implemented sparingly in places like New YorkCalifornia, and Hawaii, an ever-expanding number of States have banned the notion outright.

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Ending Anonymity: Why the WEF’s Partnership Against Cybercrime Threatens the Future of Privacy, by Whitney Webb

If there is no privacy there is no freedom.

This article is the only article I’m posting today (7/13). It is a very important but lengthy article. It’s one of the rare instances where I deem it more worthwhile to spend a half-an-hour reading a single article than browsing through SLL’s daily selection of multiple articles. It details the plans which will culminate in requiring government permission to use the internet, eliminating anonymous posting and commentary, and making central-bank issued digital currencies the only mediums of exchange. Whitney Webb has detailed the stories behind Jeffrey Epstein, Covid-19, and now Cyberpolygon. Her work is always exhaustively researched, with extensive links to her internet-accessible sources. With the permission of Webb and the site where this story is originally published, The Last American Vagabond (thelastamericanvagabond.com), I am posting the entire story and it will be featured for the rest of the week. Her other articles at The Last American Vagabond, some of which I’ve posted on SLL, are also highly recommended. Note well the last paragraph of this article.

All of this should serve as a poignant reminder that, as much as our lives have become interconnected with the internet and online activity, the fight to protect human freedom, dignity and liberty against a predatory, global oligarchy is fundamentally one that must take place in the real world, not only online. May the coming “cyber war”, whatever form it takes, remind many that online activism must be accompanied by real world actions and organizing.

Cyber Polygon

Ending Anonymity: Why the WEF’s Partnership Against Cybercrime Threatens the Future of Privacy, by Whitney Webb

With many focusing on tomorrow’s Cyber Polygon exercise, less attention has been paid to the World Economic Forum’s real ambitions in cybersecurity – to create a global organization aimed at gutting even the possibility of anonymity online. With the governments of the US, UK and Israel on board, along with some of the world’s most powerful corporations, it is important to pay attention to their endgame, not just the simulations.

Amid a series of warnings and simulations in the past year regarding a massive cyber attack that could soon bring down the global financial system, the “information sharing group” of the largest banks and private financial organizations in the United States warned earlier this year that banks “will encounter growing danger” from “converging” nation-state and criminal hackers over the course of 2021 and in the years that follow.

The organization, called the Financial Services Information Sharing and Analysis Center (FS-ISAC), made the claim in its 2021 “Navigating Cyber” report, which assesses the events of 2020 and provides a forecast for the current year. That forecast, which casts a devastating cyber attack on the financial system through third parties as practically inevitable, also makes the case for a “global fincyber [financial-cyber] utility” as the main solution to the catastrophic scenarios it predicts.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, an organization close to top FS-ISAC members has recently been involved in laying the groundwork for that very “global fincyber utility” — the World Economic Forum, which recently produced the model for such a utility through its Partnership against Cybercrime (WEF-PAC) project. Not only are top individuals at FS-ISAC involved in WEF cybersecurity projects like Cyber Polygon, but FS-ISAC’s CEO was also an adviser to the WEF-Carnegie Endowment for International Peace report that warned that the global financial system was increasingly vulnerable to cyber attacks and was the subject of the first article in this 2-part series.

Another article, published earlier this year at Unlimited Hangout, also explored the WEF’s Cyber Polygon 2020 simulation of a cyber attack targeting the global financial system. Another iteration of Cyber Polygon is due to take place tomorrow July 9th and will focus on simulating a supply chain cyber attack.

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Sham Surveillance Safeguards Vs. Tucker Carlson, by James Bovard

When a government says, “Trust us, we won’t overstep Constitutional boundaries and we’ll have internal procedures to make sure that doesn’t happen,” your best course of action is emigration. From James Bovard at consortiumnews:

James Bovard skewers the civil liberties watchdog board, calling it the same kind of lap dog as the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court.

Tucker Carlson in 2020. (Gage Skidmore, CC BY-SA 2.0, Wikimedia Commons)

Fox News host Tucker Carlson was mocked on social media this week for stating that he had been told that the National Security Agency was reading his private emails and spying on him. The usual suspects called Carlson paranoid, because there are so many checks and balances to assure the feds would never illegally target a vexatious critic of President Joe Biden.

However, late last month, a dissent by Travis LeBlanc, a member of the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board, revealed that one of the NSA’s most intrusive surveillance engines, XKeyscore, may be violating federal law and Americans’ rights and privacy.

In 2013, Edward Snowden leaked documents proving that XKeyscore was the surveillance state’s incarnation of paranoia. What did it take for the NSA to justify vacuuming up Americans’ emails and internet data? Merely detecting “someone searching the web for suspicious stuff.”

The peril of that farcical standard was compounded because, as Snowden explained, NSA surveillance tools enabled him to “wiretap anyone, from you or your accountant, to a federal judge or even the president, if I had a personal email.” Thanks to its all-encompassing standard of “suspicious,” NSA has “assembled on the order of 20 trillion [email and phone] transactions about U.S. citizens with other U.S. citizens,” according to former NSA senior analyst William Binney.

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In Defense of Tucker Carlson, by Andrew Napolitano

The NSA monitoring Tucker Carlson and Andrew Napolitano’s texts and emails and listening to their conversations without warrants or probable cause violates the Constitution, which each NSA employee has sworn to uphold. From Andrew Napolitano at lewrockwell.com:

In March 2017, I received a tip from a friend in the intelligence community that the British Government Communications Headquarters, or GCHQ — the United Kingdom’s domestic and foreign spies — had been asked by the CIA to spy on candidate Donald Trump during the 2016 U.S presidential election campaign. He elaborated that Trump’s claim that “someone tapped my wires” was essentially true. The tip was potentially explosive, so I ran it past two other friends in the intelligence community, and they confirmed it.

When I went public with this, all hell broke loose in my professional life. The British spies denied spying on Trump, who by now was the president of the United States. Former Obama administration folks denied asking the Brits to do this and denied that it was done.

I was accused of fabricating this so as to make Trump look good. The prime minister of the U.K. had one of her deputies call my bosses at Fox and demand that I recant what I had said or be fired. Fox asked me to lay low for 10 days, which I did, but Fox backed me when I explained the verifications conducted by my sources.

My source spoke to British agents who confirmed that their colleagues had spied on Trump.

When I went back on air, my colleague Bill Hemmer asked if I stood by my revelations. I told Bill that getting beaten up in the press is the price one occasionally pays for challenging those in power. Two months later, four GCHQ agents told The Guardian newspaper of London that my revelations were true, and my professional life returned to normal.

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Big Sister Has a Name, by Eric Peters

Soon there won’t be a room or car anywhere that doesn’t feature electronic Big Sister. From Eric Peters at ericpetersautos.com:

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Big Brother turns out to be Big Sister – and her name is Alexa.

Her outsized image isn’t plastered to every telephone pole and billboard, all-seeing eyes watching your every move. But her ears are always open – and increasingly, everywhere.

In the kitchens.

In TVs.

In a large and growing number of new cars, including almost all Audis, several Toyota/Lexus models, most new Cadillacs and Chevys, Lincolns, Chryslers and the just-redesigned 2022 Acura MDX I’m test driving this week.

You can’t see her, but she can hear you.

Like so many things electronic, in-car Alexa is marketed as a convenience. You can ask her about the weather, how many feet in a meter – almost anything – and without taking your hands off the wheel.

But she’s also something else.

Just as your smartphone conveniently lets you snap cute pictures and send them to friends – and then sends data about where and when you took that cute picture and quite possibly that cute picture itself to Google or Apple – so also Alexa, the disembodied voice of Amazon –  conveniently answers your questions while taking note of what you asked.

And not just that.

We are assured that what we ask Alexa is anonymized – and that what Alexa hears us say is dependent upon our giving her permission to listen.

Such assurances should be taken with the same confidence a woman might accept a cocktail from Bill Cosby.

In the first place, Alexa is always listening. Ostensibly, for the “wake” word – her name – which is the auditory prompt that starts the conversation with her. But if she is listening for her name at all times then she can certainly hear everything else; it is simply that the saying of her name makes you aware that she is listening.

The microphones are always on.

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