FBI Archives

The Feds Are Watching Social Media

So says an article on Chicagotribune.com in which they point out what should be obvious to anyone.  Now that social media such as facebook, myspace, twitter and dozens more are such a huge part of most people’s lives, the feds are spending more and more time watching them.

Not only that but they’re also creating false profiles and connecting with people, searching out events, reading tweets, status messages, friends lists and so on looking for giveaway clues in careless tweets, status messages and pictures that will give them the proof they need for an arrest.

So that pic of the time you covered yourself in wrinkle cream pretending to be a ghost is up there for federal scrutiny along with the dumb criminal that posts a pic of him with the really expensive car that he bought financed by his drug sales or whatever.

On the one hand I can see this as a necessary step in the growth of law enforcement’s tactics.  On the other, there are entirely too many opportunities for this stuff to be misused and abused.

Then there’s the fact that most social networking sites have strict policies against making false accounts or providing false information to create an account.  When does it reach the point where they need to get a warrant before creating the account?  Will the account be deleted once it has served it’s purpose or will it be maintained and re-used on more cases?

The moral of this story is: Never post something online that you wouldn’t want the entire world to know.

Technorati Tags: fbi, undercover feds, criminal investigation, social networking, feds

Once again I’m catching up on old Slashdot mail and I ran across a headline that declared: “FBI warns of sweeping global threat to U.S. cybersecurity”

Then in the article itself I read:

The FBI’s newly appointed chief of cyber security
warned today that ‘a couple dozen’ countries are eager to hack US
government, corporate, and military networks. While he refused to provide
country-specific details

I got as far as “While he refused to provide country-specific details” and lost interest in the rest of the article.  Why?  Because it’s yet another government entity that’s all too willing to blatt off with all this scary sounding but really quite empty threats to our security in order to justify yet another program that’s going to invade our privacy or give the government more authority that it shouldn’t have.

Saying things that amount to “the bad guys don’t like us and will try to do bad things to us” is right up there with saying a really overweight person might be interested in trying Fenphedra to help them lose weight.  It’s what in our house is called a “DUH Moment”.  Something that really goes without saying, so obvious that anybody with even one pair of working neurons can figure out without any help at all.

I think it’s way past time that these various agencies are required to provide sufficient details so that we can have some idea of WHY they think they need this or that extra special authority (that no righteous agency actually needs in a free society).

The days when vague threats and hollow warnings are good enough reason to get more power need to end.  It’s time to start requiring these agencies to put up or shut up.

Technorati Tags: fbi, too much authority, security, cybersecurity, government agencies, big government

New FBI Rules Could Target Innocent People

The US Attorney General is proposing new guidelines that could, according to Senators Dick Durbin of Illinois, Russ Feingold of Wisconsin, Edward M. Kennedy of Massachusetts and Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island, these new rules would permit the FBI to use “a variety of intrusive investigative techniques with no evidence of possible wrongdoing”.

These proposed rules would let the FBI get away with a LOT more than it is now.  Especially when you factor in how much they usually go beyond their legal limitations.  All of a sudden it means that the folks wearing tinfoil hats saying that there is listening devices planted in their shower faucets might not be sounding to far-fetched after all.

The part about this that is actually kinda disturbing is that apparently there’s no oversight to this kind of thing.  No congressional or judicial approval is required, which means that once again the executive branch is pretty much doing anything it pleases, regardless of little things like the unconstitutionality of a lot of what it wants to do.

It’s time something is done not only to stop things like this but also to repeal a lot of what has already been done.  This issue of the current proposed Attorney General’s guidelines is only the latest in a series of things that need to be stopped or un-done.  Another example is the Patriot Act and the Homeland Security act which I believe are loaded with a whole raft of unconstitutional law and should be repealed or struck down.

Technorati Tags: search and seizure, fbi, government snooping, unconstitutional, attorney general, violation of privacy, violation of rights, domestic spying, bush administration

Is History Repeating Itself?

There’s a saying to the effect that those who ignore the lessons of history are doomed to repeat it.  I saw something today that I have to say is very disturbing.  It was a tagline somebody used on a post:

The state must declare the child to be the most precious treasure of the people. As long as the government is perceived as working for the benefit of the children, the people will happily endure almost any curtailment of liberty and almost any deprivation.
— Adolf Hitler, Mein Kampf

I hate it when things that this maniac has said show up in modern America.  It’s not that somebody quoted it in their tagline, it’s that the thought expressed in it is a prevalent attitude in modern day America.

Don’t get me wrong, Children ARE very important and must be protected and cared for always.  The problem comes when “for the good of the children” becomes a big flag that gets waved to excuse almost any kind of invasive, over-regulatory crap that government and any other entity cares to shove down the collective throats of Americans.

Of course, the reason that they’re able to get away with it is because they’ve allowed themselves to forget history.  If people remembered the lessons of World War II and Hitler’s atrocities, then it’s very likely that things like National ID cards, the Real Id act, the Homeland Security act, The USA Patriot Act and others would never have been allowed to see the light of day.

Another quote, this time from a usenet message shortly after 9-11:

> "An evil exists that threatens every man, woman, and
> child of this great nation. We must take steps to ensure our
> domestic security and protect our homeland."
> - Adolf Hitler, proposing the creation of the Gestapo
> in Nazi Germany.
> Sound familiar?
> America, you better pull yer head out...........

Speeches very much like this were made in the first year or two after 9-11.  Some of them were arguing for the creation of the Patriot Act and the Homeland Security Act.  The fact that they so strongly mirror a monster like Hitler ought to raise the hackles of every thinking American.  Of course, that’s a large part of the problem.  So few people are interested in *thinking* anymore.  So few are even remotely interested in learning from the mistakes and lessons of the past that we’re rushing headlong into a world we’re going to hate.

One final quote that I think is very appropriate:

“Sed quis custodiet ipsos Custodes?”  — “Who will watch the Watchmen?”
— Juvenal, Satires, VI, 347. circa 128 AD

The answer to that question is: People who are willing to *THINK* and avoid the repeating history.  People who are willing to question authority and not blindly accept every invasion of privacy and curtailment of liberty in the name of doing good.

Technorati Tags: freedom, history, hitler, homeland+security+act, lesson+of+history, liberty, national+id, patriot+act, Privacy, real+id+act, repeat+history

FBI Wants Authority To Snoop Internet Backbone Data

I think it’s pretty safe to say that the fact that there are government agencies doing a lot of snooping on all manner of Internet traffic.  It’s also safe to say that since 9-11 this snooping has escalated massively.  Now, the FBI is trying to get access to data that the NSA has been collecting from the Internet backbone (servers through which ALL Internet traffic passes through) so that they can look for criminal activity.

The problem with this is that they’re apparently not just limiting this to justifiable searches and evidence gathering in the course of an ongoing investigation.  This is a lot more “Big Brother” in nature, scanning data looking for things that they can then investigate and prosecute as crimes.  As if they don’t already have enough active cases to work on.

The problems with this kind of thing are many, most of which have to do with the fact that it blows all sorts of holes in people’s right to privacy.  It also means that it becomes more and more necessary to watch what you say online because you never know when “Big Brother” is watching and what he may decide is a sign that you’re on the wrong side of the law.

It means that people need to take active steps to maintain privacy.  The first thing to remember is that the online world has always been subject to people being able to snoop.  While it’s generally a good practice to never write anything online that you wouldn’t want posted on a billboard where everyone in town can read it, it’s also sometimes necessary to communicate privately.

This is why I think that everybody should take a little bit of time to get and learn how to use some basic privacy tools.  Like for example, users of the Thunderbird mail client could get GnuPG and the Enigmail plugin and learn how to send encrypted and / or signed emails.  Maintaining safe browsing practices, never entering important passwords on un-trusted computers. (and untrusted means something that you’re not in control of what’s on it)

As for the FBI’s quest for access to still more information about everybody and their habits.  This needs to be stopped, the problem is that too many people are either ignorant of or foolishly unconcerned about things like this until it’s too late.

Technorati Tags: encryption, security, fbi, nsa, internet+backbone, domestic+spying, gnupg, enigmail, safe+computing, privacy

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