NSA Archives

GPS To Become More Problem Than Benefit

I’ve always thought that GPS systems in vehicles was a very two sided thing.  On the one hand you have the convenience of having reliable navigational aids available on demand.  There’s no need for futzing around with often difficult to manage paper maps, they can locate your position to within a very close margin of error and most units these days can also provide some very sophisticated route planning along with step by step directions to make finding an unfamiliar location almost painless.

On the other hand the obvious downside is that they can also easily be made to keep records of your travels, routes, destinations, stops along with date and time stamps for everything.  All it takes is a system such as OnStar to either misuse or allow that data to leak and you lose any hope of privacy concerning when and where you travel. In fact, OnStar type systems also have the ability to remotely monitor audio from withing your car and even disable the vehicle so that it won’t start.

Now enter the government.  It seems that federal fuel taxes are expected to be phased out by 2020, leaving an obvious gap in revenue.  According to one article that I read, one option that is now under consideration is the idea of using a “by the mile” road tax to replace the current fuel tax system.

I can’t help thinking that the government, who can’t even seem to dredge up the sensibility to use discount faucets or cheap coffeepots and bathroom fixtures instead of spending two and three times (or LOTS more!) as retail value (can you say $14,000 toilet seat?) and has shown a growing tendency to track and monitor citizens (remember warrantless wiretaps and NSA email snooping?) will almost certainly use the GPS records that it ostensibly will use for calculating road tax bills and add it to it’s growing thirst for “Total Information Awareness”.

If you think that this sounds a bit extreme just think about the rate at which our privacy is slowly but surely being etched away and it won’t sound so extreme.  Big Brother is indeed watching you and not only that but he’s becoming more of a voyeur by the second.  It wouldn’t be surprising at all to find out someday that new electronics (computers, TV’s, cellphones, basically anything involving communications) are required to come equipped to permit government snooping and tracking of your activities with said device.

“Just because I’m paranoid doesn’t mean they’re not out to kill me.”  –Anonymous

Technorati Tags: privacy, gps tracking, warrantless wiretapping, onstar, federal fuel tax, email snoopng, government snooping, domestic spying, nsa, gasoline tax, illegal wiretapping, travel records, road use tax, gps, travel habits, surveillance, illegal surveillance

The Growing British Police State

I think it’s pretty much recognized by a lot of people that over the last several years Britain has been becoming more and more of a police state.  From closed circuit tv cameras all over the place not only in the cities but also watching the highways to passing laws that allow them to demand your encryption keys and passwords anytime they *think* they might have a cause (and throwing you in jail for two years if you don’t snap to and hand ’em over).

I honestly can’t tell you how many news items I’ve seen that very clearly show the progression of Britain towards a full blown Orwellian nightmare of a police state in which everybody and anybody is subject to being watched.  I wouldn’t be at all surprised to find out that government security types write their diaries with George Orwell’s 1984 promotional pens, not one bit.

Recently they’ve taken yet another step on this path, The British Home Office has, quietly put in place a plan that will allow police all over Britain to hack into people’s personal computers without a warrant any time they decide to, never mind anything like privacy laws and whatnot.

This means that if the police or Mi5 decide that they can benefit by tapping your communications the could simply break into your home and / or office and install a hardware keylogger or perhaps keylogging software on your computer.  This would then record every single keystroke you typed.  The device or software could either store the information until it was retrieved or it could well use your internet connection to call home and send the information it’s collected.

If the suspect isn’t one to practice “safe hex”, they could send you an email with an attachment.  Once you you opened it, it would then install remotely controlled spyware.  If you’ve got a Wi-Fi setup at home and haven’t taken steps to make it and your computer secure, they could just sit somewhere nearby in a van and hack into the system through the insecure Wi-Fi and then have access to everything on your system.

And the list of possibilities goes on and on.  Another thing, this isn’t just restricted to Britain, it’s all over the EU as well with police and intelligence agencies expanding their use of “warrantless intrusive surveillance of private property”.

One last note.

Before you think to yourself, “I’m glad I live in America where we’ve got rights and they can’t do stuff like that.”, think again.

The Homeland Security Act, The Patriot Act, The Bush administration giving the NSA the green light to do all of that illegal, unconstitutional, warrantless wiretapping.

And while you’re saying, “Ah, but now we’ve got Obama in office and he’s gonna fix all that.”, think again.  Obama has already taken Bush’s side of the warrantless wiretapping mess and will no doubt continue it.  In fact, I think that if privacy, freedom and civil rights took a beating under Bush, Obama’s going to do more and worse.

I think it would be great to have a president that wouldn’t shit on freedom and the constitution but I really don’t know how you could get an Honest, honorable person elected.  I’ll admit that when he was first elected I thought Bush was the right man for the job.  I started seeing the truth shortly after 911 when the Homeland security act was passed by a Congress that never even bothered to READ the thing.  I saw more of it when the Patriot Act was passed. and so on and on.

I’ll close this with some quotes.  This first one I’ve quoted before but It’s worth reading again:

“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.
– George Bush, Talking about the Homeland Security Act and the Patriot Act.

And some more food for thought:

“The means of defense against foreign danger historically have become
the instruments of tyranny at home.”

James Madison, fourth president of
the United States

And finally this one:

“There are four boxes to use in the defense of liberty: soap, ballot, jury, ammo. Use in that order.” -Ed Howdershelt

(by the way, I think it’s pretty clear that the first two haven’t done much good lately.  Anyone for the third?)

Privacy At Risk Under Obama?

On Jan 14, Eric Holder, the new attorney general, testified in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee.  Holder said the Obama administration is going to defend the 2008 amendments to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act that immunizes telecommunications companies from lawsuits over their involvement in the Bush administration’s illegal surveillance of the telephone and Internet communications of ordinary Americans.

This is in spite of the fact that While still a Senator, Obama pledged that he would oppose that bill and intended to filibuster it.  In actuality, he ended up voting for it.  Strange how nobody seems to remember that now.  Then again, it’s not like the Forth Amendment is covered a whole lot in schools these days now is it?  When *I* went to school, the textbooks for American history and Civics classes actually contained not only a lot of study material about he Constitution and the Bill of Rights, they also contained verbatim copies of those documents!  (for that matter, in one high school American history class I heard about, instead of actually teaching American history, this “educator” has the class watching movies all semester!)

Now that he’s President, AT&T, Verizon and the other major telcos can rest assured that they are free to continue providing a steady stream of our communications to the NSA, which will then share that data with whatever other agencies as it sees fit.

Under this legislation the NSA’s reach is very wide and touches almost everything.  Basically it means that the government can conduct intrusive surveillance and never have to tell a court who it’s going to spy on, never have to reveal what phone lines or what email addresses it’s going to monitor, never say where it’s targets are, why it’s doing surveillance on the target in the first place or even if they suspect them of any wrongdoing.

This isn’t the America I grew up in!

I realize that intelligence agencies need to be able to monitor Internet communications and email but they should have to show probable cause, some legitimate justification that the particular American(s) have some link to terrorism.  Then matters need to proceed on the basis of innocent until proven guilty.  Unfortunately, this notion of presumed innocence, something that used to be one of the founding principles of our Constitution, is apparently too old fashioned for President Obama.

The Obama administration’s intent to support the 2008 FISA amendments is going to end up being the ultimate cause of the dismissing of a lot of lawsuits by individual Americans who are understandably eager to know whether they’ve been spied on.

Meanwhile, Obama’s decision to discard the Fourth Amendment is unfortunately supported by the August 2008 ruling by the secret Foreign Intelligence Court of Review which was revealed recently saying in effect that yes, telecommunications companies have to play ball with NSA (and other government intelligence agencies) and continue intercept our phone calls and e-mails.

Of course, this secret court’s isn’t even remotely likely to be revised to give it power to review the government’s now pretty much limitless, warrantless wholesale spying on our communications made possible by the 2008 FISA Amendments Act.  The government can and will continue all this domestic spying without even so much as a single bit of evidence that the American target in question is doing anything to act or plan against national security.

Technorati Tags: forth amendment, obama administration, fisa amendment 2008, obama, nsa, fisa, fisa amendment, illegal domestic spying, right to privacy, president obama, constitution, fisa court, domestic spying, intelligence agencies, national security, warrantless wiretapping, privacy, secret fisa court, without evidence

Warrantless Wiretaps By NSA Targeted Non-Terrorists, Journalists

If anybody ever had any doubt that the NSA, under orders from President Bush, were engaged in a massive illegal warrantless wiretapping scheme they can put those doubts to rest.

On NBC’s “Countdown” with Kieth Olberman Russel Tice, a former analyst for the NSA reveals that the Bush administration’s illegal spying campaign had a lot more going on than most people suspected or wanted to believe.

He reveals that the Bush administration specifically targeted “non-terrorist” groups for special surveillance and that journalists were specifically targeted.  Being targeted like this means more than just “they’re watching you”, it means that they are monitoring, recording, digitizing and archiving ALL of your communications.  Every phone call, every email, All of it.

All of this being done without benefit of probable cause, warrant, or even some kind of judicial order.  Every bit of it clearly in violation of the fourth amendment.  Also, when you watch this video, don’t forget that journalists were just one of many groups that were targeted by Bush administration’s illegal domestic spying program run by the NSA.

There are still LOADS of questions to consider about this.  To name just a very few: How many other groups were targeted?  What are those groups?  Will the Obama administration do anything to put a stop to this?  Will anything be done to prosecute those responsible for this?  Will “W” ever have to answer in court or before a Congressional or Senate committee for this?

I certainly would like to see at least some of the people directly responsible on the inside of a prison cell for a very long time.  (being a realistic person however, I’m not gonna hold my breath waiting.)

Technorati Tags: probable cause, fourth amendment, russel tice, police state, terrorist groups, 1984, whistleblower, big brother, warrant, journalists, countdown, kieth olberman, warrantless wiretaps, president bush, bush administration, phony terrorist threat, exaggerated terrorist threat, nsa, nbc, senate committee, email, digitizing, orwell, surveillance, domestic spying program, terrorists

The Secret Room

EFF Desinger Hugh D’Andrade was recently asked to create mural-sized political cartoon at a show of experimental drawings and cartoons at the Mission Cultural Center in San Francisco.

For his subject, he chose to depict the “secret room” at AT&T’s Folsom Street facility.  This is one of the places where the Bush Administrations illegal domestic spying program was carried out as all of the internet traffic (websites people visited, searches performed, emails sent or received… EVERYTHING!) passing through the facility was copied and sent to the NSA.

While I think it was great that this cartoon got shown at such a high visibility venue, I think it might have more impact if it were to be printed on t-shirts, car covers, billboards and perhaps the front of houses and businesses all over America.  Heck, It ought to be copied by skywriters on a regular basis as well as appear on the front page of every newspaper in the country.

Anyway… Give this a watch and think about it.

Technorati Tags: domestic spying, nsa, eff, political cartoon, illegal spying, bush administration

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