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Google Is Constantly Tracking, Even If You Turn Off Device ‘Location History’

Perhaps it should come as no surprise that Google is actually tracking you even when you switch your device settings to Location History “off”.

As journalist Mark Ames comments in response to a new Associated Press story exposing Google’s ability to track people at all times even when they explicitly tell Google not to via iPhone and Android settings, “The Pentagon invented the internet to be the perfect global surveillance/counterinsurgency machine. Surveillance is baked into the internet’s DNA.”

In but the latest in a continuing saga of big tech tracking and surveillance stories which should serve to convince us all we are living in the beginning phases of a Minority Report style tracking and pansophical “pre-crime” system, it’s now confirmed that the world’s most powerful tech company and search tool will always find a way to keep your location data.

The Associated Press sought the help of Princeton researchers to prove that while Google is clear and upfront about giving App users the ability to turn off or “pause” Location History on their devices, there are other hidden means through which it retains the data.

According to the AP report:

Google says that will prevent the company from remembering where you’ve been. Google’s support page on the subject states: “You can turn off Location History at any time. With Location History off, the places you go are no longer stored.”

That isn’t true. Even with Location History paused, some Google apps automatically store time-stamped location data without asking.

For example, Google stores a snapshot of where you are when you merely open its Maps app. Automatic daily weather updates on Android phones pinpoint roughly where you are.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

A New Broadband Network is Pitching Surveillance Enhancements to Cops Across the Country

A Chicago police officer speaks on his radio at the scene where three people were shot, one fatally, in the 2500 block of West Lithuanian Plaza Court on Friday, July 28, 2017, in the Marquette Park neighborhood of Chicago, Ill. An 18-year-old man was shot in the head and pronounced dead at Advocate Christ Medical Center. A 34-year-old man and a 33-year-old woman were wounded. (Erin Hooley/Chicago Tribune/TNS via Getty Images)
Photo: Erin Hooley

A NEW BROADBAND NETWORK IS PITCHING SURVEILLANCE ENHANCEMENTS TO COPS ACROSS THE COUNTRY

THE LATEST TECHNOLOGIES promise cops the ability to whip out a smartphone, take a snapshot of a passerby, and instantly learn if that person is in an immigration or gang database.

A federal broadband program, designed after 9/11 to improve first responder communication during emergencies, will enhance this sort of capability and integrate it into an internet “super highway” built specifically for police and public safety. The program, called FirstNet, is already expanding the surveillance options available to law enforcement agencies across the country.

According to publicly available documents, as well as interviews with program participants, stakeholders, and government researchers, FirstNet will help agencies like U.S. Customs and Border Protection communicate with local police, deliver more information to officers’ hands, accelerate the nascent law enforcement app industry, and provide public safety agencies with new privileges and powers over AT&T’s commercial broadband network.

The program will also hasten these agencies’ migration from public radio frequencies to encrypted broadband networks, potentially eliminating one resource that local newsrooms and citizens have historically relied upon to monitor police and first responders.

FirstNet is a public-private partnership that creates a dedicated lane for public safety agencies within AT&T’s existing broadband network. As of January, all U.S. states had opted in to FirstNet, meaning that they agreed not to build their own competing broadband lanes for law enforcement and public safety. Then, in March, AT&T announced that FirstNet’s core — the infrastructure that isolates police traffic from the commercial network — had become operational at last.

“It’s like having a super highway that only public safety can use,” the company wrote in a press release.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Living in a World Bereft of Privacy

Living in a World Bereft of Privacy

As Edward Snowden confirmed beyond doubt, we live in a world where our most intimate moments can be seen by would-be extortioners and, more alarmingly, by our governments, says Annie Machon.


A few days ago I first received a menacing email from someone calling herself Susana Peritz. She told me “she” had hacked my email, planted malware on my computer, and had then filmed me getting my jollies while watching “interesting” porn online. Her email had caught my attention because it mentioned in the subject line a very old password, attached to a very old email address I had not used for over a decade. The malware must have been planted on a defunct computer.

Putting aside the fact that I am far more concerned about GCHQ or the NSA hacking my computer (as should we all be), this did rather amuse me.

Apparently, I must pay this “Susana” $1000 via Bitcoin or, shock, have my alleged pleasures shared with my acquaintances. And just last night I received another courteous request for cash from someone calling themselves Jillie Abdulrazak, but the price has now been inflated to $3000.

Why am I not concerned? Well, I can safely say – hand on heart – that I have never watched online porn. But this got me thinking about how or why I could have been singled out for this mark of a blackmailer’s esteem, and that brings me on to some rather dark thoughts.

It is perfectly possible that a rare, unguarded moment of long-distance online love might have been captured (but by whom?). That would probably be over a decade ago and would certainly have been using the old email account which was attached to the particular password at the time.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Big Brother Surveillance Begins: Cuomo Unveils Facial Scanning At New York Toll Plazas

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo revealed on Friday that facial recognition cameras installed at bridge and tunnel toll plazas across New York City are scanning every driver’s face and feeding them into a massive database designed to catch suspected criminals.

“When it reads that license plate, it reads it for scofflaws . . . [but] the toll is almost the least significant contribution that this electronic equipment can actually perform,” Cuomo said at a press conference outside the Queens Midtown Tunnel.

We are now moving to facial-recognition technology, which takes it to a whole new level, where it can see the face of the person in the car and run that technology against databases… Because many times a person will turn their head when they see a security camera, so they are now experimenting with technology that just identifies a person by their ear, believe it or not,” he continued.

The technology is currently in use at the RFK/Triborough Bridge, and was switched on at the Queens Midtown and Brooklyn-Battery tunnels on Friday, according to the Governor’s office.

It will also eventually come to at least two of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s six other spans — the Throgs Neck and Whitestone bridges — and down the road will be added at all area airports, Cuomo’s office confirmed.

A request for proposals from contractors previously published by the online news outlet Vocativ says the tech is slated for all seven of the city’s toll bridges in addition to the two tunnels. –NY Post

The Governor’s office wouldn’t say when forthcoming cameras will be activated, which databases will be used to compare photos, or who will have access to the data, however Cuomo said that license plates which are already scanned at the plazas are currently checked “for warrants, suspected felons, parole violators, terrorist suspects.”

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Silicon Valley Will Not Save You from the Surveillance State

Silicon Valley Will Not Save You from the Surveillance State

There was something quite odd about the very welcome news that some Google employees were objecting to a military contract, namely all the other Google military contracts. My sense of the oddness of this was heightened by reading Yasha Levine’s new book, Surveillance Valley: The Secret Military History of the Internet.

I invited Levine on my radio show (it will air in the coming weeks) and asked him what he thought was motivating the revolt over at Google. Were they objecting to a particular kind of weapon, in the manner that some people rather bizarrely object to drones only if they are automated but not if a human pushes the murder button? Were they actually clueless about their own company?

Levine’s answer requires investigation but certainly makes an interesting hypothesis. He said that all during the Obama years, the tech press and community aired no concerns whatsoever about militarism, whereas since the arrival of Trump such talk is to be heard and read. Levine maintains that Google employees do not object to militarism, they object to Trumpian militarism.

I had hoped for and wrongly predicted this phenomenon in the general public the moment Trump gained the throne. Is it possible that it’s finally begun, but begun in Silicon Valley?

Levine’s book describes Google and other internet corporations as major military and spy contractors from the beginning. Google partnered with Lockheed Martin on parts of the war on Iraq and is a major partner of the military, the CIA, the NSA, etc. Surveillance Valley goes back to the post-WWII origins of today’s military madness. Military experiments as preparation for war, “field tested” in Vietnam, and supported by President Kennedy as appropriately hi-tech and modern, were actually war and developed into one of the worst wars ever seen. Vietnam was mass-surveilled — or the attempt was made and foiled with bags of urine and other low-tech tricks.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

First of Its Kind University Study Proves Without a Doubt that Your Phone is Spying On You

First of Its Kind University Study Proves Without a Doubt that Your Phone is Spying On You

For years, conspiracy theories about smart phones listening to users without their permission to show them advertisements have abounded. While some researchers have shown this could happen, a first of its kind study just found something far more insidious. Academics at Northeastern University have just proven that your phone is recording your screen—as in taking video—and uploading it to third parties.

For the last year, Elleen Pan, Jingjing Ren, Martina Lindorfer, Christo Wilson, and David Choffnes ran an experiment involving more than 17,000 of the most popular Android apps using ten different phones. Their findings were alarming, to say the least.

As Gizmodo points out, during the study, the researchers started to see that screenshots and video recordings of what people were doing in apps were being sent to third-party domains. For example, when one of the phones used an app from GoPuff, a delivery start-up for people who have sudden cravings for junk food, the interaction with the app was recorded and sent to a domain affiliated with Appsee, a mobile analytics company. The video included a screen where you could enter personal information—in this case, their zip code.

GoPuff did not disclose in its terms of use that its app was recording users screens and uploading this data to a third party. What’s more, when they were contacted by the researchers GoPuff merely added a disclosure to their policy acknowledging that “ApSee” might receive users PII.

The fact that these apps can record your screen without you knowing and use this data is chilling. It illustrates how easy it would be for a malicious actor to be able to look at your private messages, personal information, passwords, photos, and videos.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

China Using Bird Drones To Spy On Border Muslims

Over 30 Chinese military and government agencies have been using robotic bird drones to spy on the population – particularly in the Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region which borders several countries and has a large Muslim population, reports the South China Morning Post.

One part of the country that has seen the new technology used extensively is the Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region in China’s far west. The vast area, which borders Mongolia, Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Afghanistan, Pakistan and India, is home to a large Muslim population and has long been viewed by Beijing as a hotbed for separatism. As a result, the region and its people have been subjected to heavy surveillance from the central government. –SCMP

Unlike traditional unmanned aerial vehicles with rotor blades or fixed wings, the bird drones actually mimic the flapping action of a bird’s wings in order to climb, dive and steer.

The machines in China’s current robot flock replicate about 90 per cent of the movements of a real dove, the person said, adding that they also produce very little noise, making them very hard to detect from the ground, and are so lifelike that actual birds often fly alongside them. –SCMP

Each “bird” is fitted with a HD camera, GPS antenna, flight control system and data link with the capability to communicate with satellites. The flapping mechanism consists of a pair of crank rockers connected to an electric motor, while the wings are able to slightly deform when moving up and down – providing both lift and thrust.

The “spy bird” program, code-named project “Dove” is led by Northwestern Polytechnic University professor Song Bifeng – a former scientist on China’s J-20 stealth jet program decorated for his service to the People’s Liberation Army, according to information on the university’s website.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

The Police State Takes A Giant Leap Towards Pre-Crime

The Police State Takes A Giant Leap Towards Pre-Crime

If you think we still have privacy rights or a 4th Amendment you are living in the past. Technology has moved past our individual rights and technology is now determining what day and time a crime will be committed in your neighborhood and produce a list of suspects that need to “questioned” prior to a crime being committed. Technological profiling.

Wearing a head cover that’s new to you? Well, it could mean you’re about to commit a crime. Show up in an area for the first time? Well, why are you there and what are you doing? Sounds like criminal activity to me.

You’re guilty for being human and simply living your life according to your beliefs. The police state will not allow you to be, nor it will it allow you to explore new areas, dress differently and if you do, you will categorized, profiled and a note added to your file for future reference.

Technology has been transforming every aspect of society, including revolutionary new capabilities for police departments from tattoo-recognition technology to the growing use of drones. The June edition of Wired magazine explores this topic. Wired editor-in-chief Nicholas Thompson joins “CBS This Morning: Saturday” to discuss the kind of devices officers are using and why they are prompting concerns about racial profiling and privacy. Source – CBS This Morning

I always knew tattoo’s were a bad idea for me and now I know why. My guess is the technology is currently, or will be soon enough, that will be able to determine the ink type, profile of the ink in the tattoo and be able to pin-point where the tattoo was created.

Nicholas Thompson, while not exactly gleeful over the situation, he is not expressing a level of concern this situation warrants. What is being described is straight out of the movie Minority Report and George Orwell’s 1984.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

How To Almost Completely Erase Your Digital Footprint

How To Almost Completely Erase Your Digital Footprint

Although its almost impossible to completely wipe out your entire digital footprint as if you’ve never had access to the internet, but you can get close. If you’d like to make an attempt to completely remove yourself from the internet, we’ve got a few tips and tricks that could help you along the way. 

To go the full off-the-grid route, “it’s cash, barters,” Bradley Shear, a lawyer specializing in social media told The Washington Post. “Do not use any electronic device that can lead back to your whereabouts.”  Which leads us to the first item to consider.

The first thing you want to do is the hardest for some, but its the most obvious. You need to quit appearing online.  Stop posting on Facebook or Twitter and no longer use search engines.  All of those will track your location and Internet usage leaving behind your digital footprint. Of course, just not using the internet isn’t quite enough if you’d like yourself completely gone in full-off-the-grid fashion.

The next step would be deleting your online accounts. Every single one of them. Having a social media account is, more or less, ensuring your active participation in letting the Internet learn more about you. Facebook, in particular, knows a lot about you and is very good at tracking what you do across the rest of the Web, even when you’re not actively using it. If you need help deleting your accounts, consider JustDelete.Me, which provides tips and links to remove accounts.  But you can’t just remove your accounts and expect that it’s done and over with. You will also need to remove any and all information and content that is posted about you by others.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Congressional Democrats Demand Answers About Amazon’s Facial Recognition Technology

DIGITIZED FACIAL RECOGNITION USING GRID WITH SPECIFIC FEMALE POINTS. (M)
Photo illustration: Getty Images

CONGRESSIONAL DEMOCRATS DEMAND ANSWERS ABOUT AMAZON’S FACIAL RECOGNITION TECHNOLOGY

REPS. KEITH ELLISON, D-Minn., and Emanuel Cleaver, D-Mo., sent a letter to Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos on Friday morning, demanding answers about how the tech giant’s facial recognition technology is being used by law enforcement agencies around the country.

The letter, provided to The Intercept ahead of its public release, lists a total of 12 requests for information regarding Amazon’s facial recognition service, branded as “Rekognition,” including the names of any law enforcement or government agencies that use the system and data on how the service could enable, or itself engage in, discrimination, including racial and gender bias.

“The disproportionally high arrest rates for members of the black community make the use of facial recognition technology by law enforcement problematic,” the letter reads, “because it could serve to reinforce this trend.”

According to an Ellison aide, the letter is an attempt to enact at least a baseline level of congressional oversight for the tech giant — an attempt that comes less than two months after congressional hearings that tried to do the same for Facebook.

Ellison Cleaver Letter to Jeff Bezos 3 pages

Amazon came under fire earlier this week after the American Civil Liberties Union and its affiliates, as well as 35 other civil liberties organizations, released a public letter expressing concerns about how Amazon markets its technology to law enforcement agencies. The ACLU letter coincided with the release of a trove of documents, which the organization obtained through public records requests and after a six-month investigation, that shed light on the company’s relationship and correspondence with law enforcement agencies in Oregon and Florida.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

The Untold Story of Japan’s Secret Spy Agency

Photo: NHK

THE UNTOLD STORY OF JAPAN’S SECRET SPY AGENCY

EVERY WEEK IN Tokyo’s Ichigaya district, about two miles east of the bright neon lights and swarming crowds in the heart of Shibuya, a driver quietly parks a black sedan-style car outside a gray office building. Before setting off on a short 10-minute drive south, he picks up a passenger who is carrying an important package: top-secret intelligence reports, destined for the desks of the prime minister’s closest advisors.

Known only as “C1,” the office building is located inside a high-security compound that houses Japan’s Ministry of Defense. But it is not an ordinary military facility – it is a secret spy agency headquarters for the Directorate for Signals Intelligence, Japan’s version of the National Security Agency.

The directorate has a history that dates back to the 1950s; its role is to eavesdrop on communications. But its operations remain so highly classified that the Japanese government has disclosed little about its work – even the location of its headquarters. Most Japanese officials, except for a select few of the prime minister’s inner circle, are kept in the dark about the directorate’s activities, which are regulated by a limited legal framework and not subject to any independent oversight.

Now, a new investigation by the Japanese broadcaster NHK — produced in collaboration with The Intercept — reveals for the first time details about the inner workings of Japan’s opaque spy community. Based on classified documents and interviews with current and former officials familiar with the agency’s intelligence work, the investigation shines light on a previously undisclosed internet surveillance program and a spy hub in the south of Japan that is used to monitor phone calls and emails passing across communications satellites.

C1-2-1526654625

Night view of the C1 building, inside Japan’s Ministry of Defense compound in Ichigaya.
Photo: NHK

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Rulers, ‘Foolers,’ and Shooters: They’re Closing the Cage in Plain Sight

Rulers, ‘Foolers,’ and Shooters: They’re Closing the Cage in Plain Sight

A picture that has been around awhile depicts Homo sapiens society at its finest…as it truly is. There are four “tiers,” so to speak, with the politicians, royalty, and rulers occupying the uppermost level, followed by the clergymen and religious swamis on tier two, and then the gendarmes/police/soldiers on tier three. The bottom tier is occupied by the people, supporting the other three tiers upon their back. The caption is “We rule you [Leaders], we fool you [Religious Heads], we shoot you [the “Enforcer” class].

These “tiers” are to be found in every nation, among every people and tongue. It is not a new concept: these three levels of nabobs have existed ever since man formed social communities that encompassed more than the nuclear family.

The difference between the past and now: for the first time, these tiers will soon be interconnected regardless of location and mutually supportive of one another to obtain global totalitarian rule.

They already have so much in place, as outlined in previous articles: cell phones for most of the populations that transmit user location along with biometrics (in the latest models), interconnected CCTV (Closed Circuit Television) cameras that coordinate and fix your position with the phones, and a record of all that you buy or sell at a POS (Point of Sale) in the happy big-box stores. They have laws to make you pay taxes on income, property, and they will come to seize your property and/or you if you don’t pay it…with force.

The laws are increasing in number, tightening the corral around you in your daily life…controlling where you can live, what type of home you can build, how you can communicate on the Internet, how you conduct business. Every business has a corresponding government inspector or regulator.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Kafka’s Nightmare Emerges: China’s “Social Credit Score”

Kafka’s Nightmare Emerges: China’s “Social Credit Score”

China is creating Kafka’s nightmare world as the perfection of centralized control of its citizenry.

China is rapidly building out a Total Surveillance State on a scale that far surpasses any government surveillance program in the West. The scope of this surveillance is so broad and pervasive that it borders on science fiction:

Life Inside China’s Total Surveillance State (8 min video)

China Aims For Near-Total Surveillance, Including in People’s Homes (“Sharp Eyes” nationwide surveillance network)

“You’re Being Controlled All The Time” – An Inside Look At China’s “Social Credit Score”

China Assigns Every Citizen A ‘Social Credit Score To Identify Who Is And Isn’t Trustworthy

It’s well known that the intelligence agencies in America seek what’s known as Total Information Awareness, the goal being to identify and disrupt terrorists before they can strike.

This level of surveillance has run partly aground on civil liberties concerns, which still have a fragile hold on the American psyche and culture.

The implicit goal of China’s Total Surveillance State is to control the citizenry and root out any dissent before it threatens The Communist Party’s hold on power, but the explicit goal is a behavioral psychologist’s dream: to reward “positive social behaviors” and punish “negative social behaviors” via a “Social Credit Score.”

There is something breathtakingly appealing to anyone in a position of power about this goal: imagine being able to catch miscreants who smoke in no-smoking zones, who jaywalk, who cheat people online, and of course, who say something negative about those in power.

But let’s ask a simple question of China’s vast surveillance system: what happens when it’s wrong? What if one of those thousands of cameras mis-identifies a citizen breaking some minor social code, and over time, does so enough times to trigger negative consequences for the innocent citizen?

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Tripling Its Collection, NSA Sucked Up Over 530 Million US Phone Records in 2017

Tripling Its Collection, NSA Sucked Up Over 530 Million US Phone Records in 2017

“Overall, the numbers show that the scale of warrantless surveillance is growing at a significant rate,” says POGO’s Jake Laperruque.

In 2017, the NSA tripled the amount of data it collected from U.S. phones. (Image EFF Photos/flickr/cc)

In 2017, the NSA tripled the amount of data it collected from U.S. phones. (Image EFF Photos/flickr/cc)

The National Security Agency (NSA) collected over 530 million phone records of Americans in 2017—that’s three times the amount the spy agency sucked up in 2016.

The figures were released Friday in an annual report from the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI).

It shows that the number of “call detail records” the agency collected from telecommunications providers during Trump’s first year in office was 534 million, compared to 151 million the year prior.

“The intelligence community’s transparency has yet to extend to explaining dramatic increases in their collection,” said Robyn Greene, policy counsel at the Open Technology Institute.

The content of the calls itself is not collected but so-called “metadata,” which, as Gizmodo notes, “is supposedly anonymous, but it can easily be used to identify an individual. The information can also be paired with other publicly available information from social media and other sources to paint a surprisingly detailed picture of a person’s life.”

The report also revealed that the agency, using its controversial Section 702 authority, increased the number of foreign targets of warrantless surveillance. It was 129,080 in 2017 compared to 106,469 in 2016.

As digital rights group EFF noted earlier this year,

Under Section 702, the NSA collects billions of communications, including those belonging to innocent Americans who are not actually targeted. These communications are then placed in databases that other intelligence and law enforcement agencies can access—for purposes unrelated to national security—without a warrant or any judicial review.

“Overall,” Jake Laperruque, senior counsel at the Project On Government Oversight, said to ZDNet, “the numbers show that the scale of warrantless surveillance is growing at a significant rate, but ODNI still won’t tell Americans how much it affects them.”

Why We Have a Surveillance State

Why We Have a Surveillance State

It is the inevitable consequence of our prevailing governing philosophy.

“Gentlemen do not read each other’s mail.” Henry Stimson, Secretary of State, 1929

I was upbraided recently by a dear friend for my frequent praise of outcast investor Peter Thiel over Thiel’s involvement with big data company Palantir. He forwarded me a Bloomberg article titled “Peter Thiel’s data-mining company is using War on Terror tools to track American citizens” adding: “Really scary. Not good for democracy; a better version of the Stasi’s filing system and way cheaper and more efficient.”

Increasingly, we live under the kind of comprehensive surveillance predicted by science fiction writers. But Palantir is just an arms merchant, not the architect of our brave new world. Like gun manufacturers, its products can be used for good or evil.  I have always believed that moral responsibility lies with the wielder of weapons, not the manufacturers. (This is often expressed as “Guns don’t kill people, people kill people.”)

Peter Thiel’s choice to become an arms merchant rather than invest his considerable talents and fortune elsewhere is a fair question given his libertarian leanings. I have no insight into the answer. I would guess that he founded Palantir as an act of patriotism after 9/11, and it metastasized following the money, cash being the mother’s milk of the state, something the celebrated Alexander Hamilton deeply understood.

Surveillance Is Not the Problem, but It Is a Symptom

The real threat to the republic, however, lies not in the weapons available but in the unlimited and unaccountable bureaucracy in Washington that deploys them, both at home and abroad. Having broken free of constitutional constraints, America’s political class now directs an all-powerful state that naturally adopts every tool technology has to offer.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

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