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J. Edgar Hoover’s Legacy: Spying On Democracy

J. Edgar Hoover’s Legacy: Spying On Democracy

Photograph Source: United States Library of Congress – Public Domain

The surveillance activities of the Federal Bureau of Investigation in Portland and other American cities earlier this year is reminiscent of FBI-CIA-NSA efforts to disrupt anti-Vietnam protest groups in the 1960s and 1970s.  In 2021, FBI agents, dressed in plainclothes,  were embedded in Portland’s racial justice protests.  Agents alerted local police to potential arrests. The Department of Justice and its Office of the Inspector General must investigate these activities closely because they replicate the illegal activities of the FBI’s counterintelligence program during the Cold War.

The FBI has been conducting domestic surveillance operations since its inception in the 1920s, marking nearly a hundred years of violating the First Amendment of the Constitution.  Very few of these operations involved the investigation and gathering of evidence of a serious crime, the only justification for FBI surveillance.  J. Edgar Hoover, appointed director of the Bureau of Investigation in1924, amassed illegal powers of surveillance that enabled him to conduct extra-legal tracking of activists, collect compromising information, and even to threaten and intimidate sitting presidents.

Hoover created the Counterintelligence Program (COINTELPRO) in the 1950s to counter the activities of the Communist Party in the United States, but it morphed into a program of covert and illegal activities to disrupt numerous political organizations, particularly the anti-Vietnam war and civil rights organizations of the 1960s and 1970s.  He exaggerated the threat of communism to ensure financial and public support for the FBI.  (The Pentagon similarly exaggerates the Russian and Chinese threats to elicit greater defense spending, such as the record-setting budget that President Biden signed on Monday.)  When Supreme Court decisions made it more difficult to prosecute individuals for their political opinions, Hoover formalized a covert “dirty tricks” program that included illegal wiretaps, forged documents, and burglaries.

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

Gov’t Can’t Be Trusted With Cellphone Tracking Amid Pandemic: Former Ontario Privacy Commissioner

Gov’t Can’t Be Trusted With Cellphone Tracking Amid Pandemic: Former Ontario Privacy Commissioner

Ontario’s former privacy commissioner is sounding the alarm about the government’s tracking of cellphone data to inform policy, after it was revealed recently that a federal agency has been analyzing the movements of Canadians since the onset of the pandemic.

“It concerns me enormously that this would enable the government to collect more and more information,” Ann Cavoukian told The Epoch Times.

“I do not want to [see] a trend where the government is consistently doing this and starting now. You can’t trust the government.”

Cavoukian, who served as Ontario’s privacy commissioner from 1997 to 2014, is founder of the advocacy group Global Privacy & Security by Design and heads the Privacy by Design Centre of Excellence at Ryerson University.

“In March 2020, [Prime Minister Justin] Trudeau said that tracking cellphone users was not being considered. Well, they did it, PHAC’s been doing it, and they want to do it even more,” Cavoukian said.

First reported by Blacklock’s Reporter on Dec. 21, the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) has since confirmed that it has been using cellphone data to conduct analysis of Canadians’ anonymized movements in the context of the pandemic, and that it plans on expanding the program to other health issues and continuing it until 2026.

“[Officials] say ‘as soon as the emergency is over, we’re going to return to privacy.’ They don’t. The privacy invasive measures that are introduced during emergencies, pandemics, etc., often continue well after the emergency is over,” said Cavoukian.

She believes PHAC wanted to “keep this under wraps … because they know people do not want to have their mobile devices tracked.”

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

Government Surveillance with COVID Microchips

A microchip implanted under the skin that relays your private information to the government seems like a dystopian nightmare. The South China Morning Post announced that a company in Sweden has created the technology and is ready to distribute it to governments worldwide. Around 6,000 people in Sweden have already willing had the “wearable technology” inserted in their hands. It is alleged that “those with microchip implants have stopped carrying vaccine passports, keys, ID cards, and even train tickets with them, thanks to radio frequency identification technology, a wireless system comprising tags and readers.”

I prefer my privacy and autonomy from the government over the convenience of leaving my car keys at home. Once power is handed (no pun intended) over to the government, they will never relinquish it without revolution.

What to Do About a Government That’s Always Watching Us

What to Do About a Government That’s Always Watching Us

Two University of Maryland professors recently announced they developed a software program called “Geneva” that can protect people from the pervasive surveillance of their online activities by repressive governments like the People’s Republic of China. This will help Chinese citizens, but it is no solution for them. China has created unprecedented surveillance networks in which cameras, facial recognition and artificial intelligence overseeing every communication and commercial transaction work together to create a startlingly clear portrait of more than 1 billion individuals in real time.

More than one writer refers to China as a “panopticon” – a technological update on the blueprint of a prison in which the guards always have line of sight on the prisoners, but the prisoners can never be sure when they are being watched. How far are we from a panopticon of our own in the United States?

Our federal government has a limitless appetite for ever more access to our information. A proposal bandied about on Capitol Hill earlier this year would report transactions in Americans’ bank accounts that cumulatively exceed $10,000. This plan would give the government warrantless and ready access regarding whomever we do business, befriend, which causes we support and aspects of our personal lives we’d rather keep to ourselves. If Congress should approve this financial snooping proposal, however, it would merely be one more step in taking away whatever privacy Americans still enjoy.

Consider: When you walk down the street, cell-site simulators, known as “stingrays,” permit the police to “spoof” your cellphone to scoop up your most personal data. At the federal level, at least 16 agencies are reported to be involved in such collections..

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

Canada Admits To Secretly Tracking 33 Million Phones During Covid-19 Lockdown

Canada Admits To Secretly Tracking 33 Million Phones During Covid-19 Lockdown

Canada – which has a population of 38 million – has admitted to secretly tracking 33 million phones during the Covid-19 lockownaccording to the National Post, citing Blacklock’s Reporter which first noted the disclosure.

The country’s Public Health Agency (PHAC) did so to assess “the public’s responsiveness during lockdown measures,” according to the report.

In March, the Agency awarded a contract to the Telus Data For Good program to provide “de-identified and aggregated data” of movement trends in Canada. The contract expired in October, and PHAC no longer has access to the location data, the spokesperson said. -National Post

Evidence is coming in from many sources, from countries around the world, that what was seen as a huge surveillance surge — post 9/11 — is now completely upstaged by pandemic surveillance,” according to “Pandemic Surveillance” author David Lyon, the former director of the Surveillance Studies Centre and Queen’s University in Ontario. “I think that the Canadian public will find out about many other such unauthorized surveillance initiatives before the pandemic is over—and afterwards.”

Location and movement data was purchased from Canadian telecom giant Telus in order to “understand possible links between the movement of populations within Canada and the spread of COVID-19,” according to an agency spokesperson, who said that the mobility data analysis “helps to advance public health objectives.”

Privacy advocates say public health monitoring jeopradizes user privacy. (via National Post)

Meanwhile, PHAC intends to continue tracking population movement for at least the next five years to monitor behavior concerning “other infectious diseases, chronic disease prevention and mental health,” the spokesperson added.

In a notice posted earlier this week, the agency called for contractors with access to “cell-tower/operator location data in the response to the COVID-19 pandemic and for other public health applications.”…

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

Here’s what data the FBI can get from WhatsApp, iMessage, Signal, Telegram, and more

Here’s what data the FBI can get from WhatsApp, iMessage, Signal, Telegram, and more

Here’s what data the FBI can get from WhatsApp, iMessage, Signal, Telegram, and more

Not every secure messaging app is as safe as it would like us to think. And some are safer than others.

A recently disclosed FBI training document shows how much access to the content of encrypted messages from secure messaging services US law enforcement can gain and what they can learn about your usage of the apps.

The infographic shows details about iMessage, Line, Signal, Telegram, Threema, Viber, WeChat, WhatsApp, and Wickr. All of them are messaging apps that promise end-to-end encryption for their users. And while the FBI document does not say this isn’t true, it reveals what type of information law enforcement will be able to unearth from each of the listed services.

Note: A pen register is an electronic tool that can be used to capture data regarding all telephone numbers that are dialed from a specific phone line. So if you see that mentioned below it refers to the FBI’s ability to find out who you have been communicating with.

iMessage

iMessage is Apple’s instant messaging service. It works across Macs, iPhones, and iPads. Using it on Android is hard because Apple uses a special end-to-end encryption system in iMessage that secures the messages from the device they’re sent on, through Apple’s servers, to the device receiving them. Because the messages are encrypted, the iMessage network is only usable by devices that know how to decrypt the messages. Here’s what the document says it can access for iMessage:

  • Message content limited.
  • Subpoena: Can render basic subscriber information.
  • 18 USC §2703(d): Can render 25 days of iMessage lookups and from a target number.
  • Pen Register: No capability.

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

The FBI Can Access Your Personal Data in 15 Minutes

(Click on image for higher resolution)

The Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) can legally access your “secure messaging app content,” according to a new report by The Epoch Times.  In fact, it would only take officers about 15 minutes to access the contents of iMessages to collect metadata from WhatsApp. Our phones and personal electronic devices can provide agents with our location, contacts, pictures, search history, and more. Numerous people believe that encryption is one-dimensional and their messages are secure.

There are different forms of encryption and ways to bypass poorly encrypted software. People believed iMessage was secure due to Apple’s encryption, but automatic cloud backups are not encrypted and can be accessed. WhatsApp only began offering encryption backup in September, and the feature is not the default setting. The FBI document noted that search warrants could provide them with backup encryption keys as well.

Signal, Telegram, and WeChat are a bit more secure, but the FBI can still determine data logs or when the user logged into the service. Some may shrug and say they have nothing to hide and, therefore, nothing to fear. The problem is that the government can and will twist any information provided to them in order to win or develop a court case. Also, the FBI is not a beacon of ethics, and no one wants to have their personal information publicized. Since the majority of the world is not a threat to national security or a predator, sharing this much information with the government without a subpoena is asinine. All it would take is 15 minutes for someone’s private life to become public government information.

The All-Seeing “i”: Apple Just Declared War on Your Privacy

The All-Seeing “i”: Apple Just Declared War on Your Privacy

“Under His Eye,” she says. The right farewell.
“Under His Eye,” I reply, and she gives a little nod.

By now you’ve probably heard that Apple plans to push a new and uniquely intrusive surveillance system out to many of the more than one billion iPhones it has sold, which all run the behemoth’s proprietary, take-it-or-leave-it software. This new offensive is tentatively slated to begin with the launch of iOS 15⁠—almost certainly in mid-September⁠—with the devices of its US user-base designated as the initial targets. We’re told that other countries will be spared, but not for long.

You might have noticed that I haven’t mentioned which problem it is that Apple is purporting to solve. Why? Because it doesn’t matter.

Having read thousands upon thousands of remarks on this growing scandal, it has become clear to me that many understand it doesn’t matter, but few if any have been willing to actually say it. Speaking candidly, if that’s still allowed, that’s the way it always goes when someone of institutional significance launches a campaign to defend an indefensible intrusion into our private spaces. They make a mad dash to the supposed high ground, from which they speak in low, solemn tones about their moral mission before fervently invoking the dread spectre of the Four Horsemen of the Infopocalypse, warning that only a dubious amulet—or suspicious software update—can save us from the most threatening members of our species.

Suddenly, everybody with a principled objection is forced to preface their concern with apologetic throat-clearing and the establishment of bonafides: I lost a friend when the towers came down, however… As a parent, I understand this is a real problem, but

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

Ending Anonymity: Why The WEF’s Partnership Against Cybercrime Threatens The Future Of Privacy

Cyber Polygon

Ending Anonymity: Why The WEF’s Partnership Against Cybercrime Threatens The Future Of Privacy

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….

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

Democrat Groups Plan to ‘Fact Check’ Private SMS Messages

Democrat Groups Plan to ‘Fact Check’ Private SMS Messages

To counter “misinformation about vaccines.”

Tom Werner via Getty Images

Groups allied with the Biden administration are planning on working directly with cellphone network providers to ‘fact check’ private SMS messages if they contain “misinformation about vaccines.”

The revelation is made in a Politico article which explains how the White House is preparing to characterize “conservative opponents of its Covid-19 vaccine campaign as dangerous and extreme.”

The decision to ramp up the information war against vaccine skeptics was made after conservatives showed resistance to the Biden administration’s plan to go “door-to-door” to increase vaccination rates.

“Biden allied groups, including the Democratic National Committee, are also planning to engage fact-checkers more aggressively and work with SMS carriers to dispel misinformation about vaccines that is sent over social media and text messages,” states the report. “The goal is to ensure that people who may have difficulty getting a vaccination because of issues like transportation see those barriers lessened or removed entirely.”

The prospect of the DNC and other government-affiliated groups having access to Americans’ private text messages represents a chilling surveillance dystopia.

Interfering with and trying to ‘fact check’ people’s personal conversations is also utterly demented.

Recall that ‘fact-checkers’ infamously declared the Wuhan lab leak hypothesis to be a “debunked conspiracy theory” at the start of the pandemic, only to be forced into a humiliating reversal later on.

In doing so, they may have helped facilitate one of the biggest cover-ups in modern history, so what business such groups have in snooping on people’s private SMS messages is anyone’s guess.

Make Way for the Snitch State: The All-Seeing Fourth Branch of Government

Make Way for the Snitch State: The All-Seeing Fourth Branch of Government

“It is just when people are all engaged in snooping on themselves and one another that they become anesthetized to the whole process. As information itself becomes the largest business in the world, data banks know more about individual people than the people do themselves. The more the data banks record about each one of us, the less we exist.”—Marshall McLuhan, From Cliche To Archetype

We’re being spied on by a domestic army of government snitches, spies and techno-warriors.

This government of Peeping Toms is watching everything we do, reading everything we write, listening to everything we say, and monitoring everything we spend.

Beware of what you say, what you read, what you write, where you go, and with whom you communicate, because it is all being recorded, stored, and catalogued, and will be used against you eventually, at a time and place of the government’s choosing.

This far-reaching surveillance has paved the way for an omnipresent, militarized fourth branch of government—the Surveillance State—that came into being without any electoral mandate or constitutional referendum.

Indeed, long before the National Security Agency (NSA) became the agency we loved to hate, the Justice Department, the FBI, and the Drug Enforcement Administration were carrying out their own secret mass surveillance on an unsuspecting populace.

Even agencies not traditionally associated with the intelligence community are part of the government’s growing network of snitches and spies.

Just about every branch of the government—from the Postal Service to the Treasury Department and every agency in between—now has its own surveillance sector, authorized to spy on the American people…

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

 

RCMP Secret Facial Recognition Tool Looked for Matches with 700,000 ‘Terrorists’

RCMP Secret Facial Recognition Tool Looked for Matches with 700,000 ‘Terrorists’

Emails expose the BC force’s previously unknown purchase, which broke rules. Critics worry about privacy, racial profiling and false positives.

RCMP units in British Columbia broke the force’s own rules when they secretly subscribed to a facial recognition service that claims to help identify terrorists, documents newly obtained by The Tyee show.

Internal emails reveal that in 2016 the RCMP became a client of U.S.-based IntelCenter, whose website boasts of a massive cache of images acquired from various sources online, including social media.

IntelCenter offers enforcement agencies the ability to match against more than 700,000 faces the company says are tied to terrorism.

Until now, military, intelligence and law enforcement customers of the firm’s facial recognition service have remained secret. The BC RCMP units are IntelCenter’s first publicly revealed clients.

To create its software, IntelCenter partnered with a facial recognition tech company named Morpho, later bought and renamed Idemia, which provided biometric services for clients including the FBI, Interpol and the Chinese government.

In documents acquired by The Tyee through access to information requests, the RCMP blanked out its total volume of searches, but the US$20,000 price paid on contracts indicates the force likely purchased thousands of searches annually.

The B.C.-based E Division told The Tyee it bought the software to test its feasibility, and only did so in B.C. The contracts came to an end in 2019, said the BC RCMP. The force’s national headquarters said that it currently has no national contracts.

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

My New Book on Journalism, Exposing Corruption, and the Resulting Risks, Dangers and Societal Changes

My New Book on Journalism, Exposing Corruption, and the Resulting Risks, Dangers and Societal Changes

On Mother’s Day in 2019, I obtained a massive archive of materials from Brazil’s most powerful officials. The reporting we did changed the country, and our lives.

In 2015, I travelled to Sweden for an event with former Washington Post reporter Carl Bernstein. It was billed as a conversation about modern journalism between the reporter who had broken the biggest story of the prior generation (Watergate) and the one responsible for the biggest story of the current one (NSA/Snowden revelations).

A couple of years earlier, at the height of the Snowden reporting, Bernstein and I had traded some barbed insults through the media. So before traveling to Sweden, he generously reached out to invite me to dinner in order, essentially, to clear the air so that we could have a civil conversation. The night before the event, we met for dinner at the hotel restaurant. We quickly laughed off the acrimony — it had been a couple of years prior, and both of us have had much worse said about us — and proceeded to have a perfectly enjoyable conversation.

Truth be told, I was excited to meet and talk to Bernstein. Though his Trump-era persona became conventionally fixated on melodramatizing Trump’s evils for CNN, at the time Bernstein for me was most associated with the high investigative drama of Watergate. As a kid, it was that journalistic triumph, along with the Pentagon Papers, that captured my obsessive attention and shaped my views of what journalism is: reporters and whistleblowers who risk everything and face various multi-level dangers to confront and expose corruption by the most powerful actors in society…

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

‘That’s Not Orwellian, THIS Is Orwellian’: Aussies Mulling ID For Access To Facebook, Twitter, Tinder

‘That’s Not Orwellian, THIS Is Orwellian’: Aussies Mulling ID For Access To Facebook, Twitter, Tinder

The Australian government is mulling a proposal which would require citizens to provide at least two forms of identification if they want to use social media, under the guise of ‘battling online bullying and more easily report users to authorities.

Under the guise of preventing online bullying, the Morrison government’s plan would require ‘100 points of identification’ in order to use Twitter, Facebook, Instagram – and online dating platforms such as Tinder, according to news.com.au. To satisfy the ‘100 points’ requirement, citizens would need to combine ‘Category 1’ methods of identification (birth certificate, passport, citizenship papers) with ‘Category 2’ ID (Valid government-issued license, public employee photo ID, doctor’s note).

More via news.com.au:

The recommendation, which has been raised before, is one of 88 recommendations from a parliamentary committee report looking at family, domestic and sexual violence.

“In order to open or maintain an existing social media account, customers should be required by law to identify themselves to a platform using 100 points of identification, in the same way as a person must provide identification for a mobile phone account, or to buy a mobile SIM card,” the report suggests.

It goes on to say that social media platforms “must provide those identifying details when requested by the eSafety Commissioner, law enforcement or as directed by the court”.

In other news, Australia has an eSafety Commissioner.

As the report notes, the ID requirement would mean social media giants have even more information on their users.

Normal people, as expected, are expressing disbelief over the new proposal:

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

Five ways to loosen Big Tech’s grip on your life

I imagine there are countless people right now who feel a wide range of emotions when it comes to Big Tech companies. Anger. Disgust. Confusion. Fear.

We’ve watched with exasperation as Google, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, etc. have systematically squashed intellectual dissent; their actions have been so commonplace that there’s even a name for it: “De-platforming”.

We all know there’s a ton of garbage on the Internet, including from mainstream sources.

But de-platforming has proven to be wholeheartedly biased, totally arbitrary, and often comically ridiculous.

This isn’t just about the election or the Capitol. For example, if you dare utter a word on social media that goes against the infinite and infallible wisdom of the Chinese-controlled World Health Organization, then you might find yourself banned.

YouTube even suspended a renowned epidemiologist– a bona fide pandemic expert– because he opposed lockdowns and was hence ‘dangerous’.

Facebook censored more than 22 million posts in Q2 of 2020 for ‘hate speech’. Naturally, its entirely up to Facebook to define hate speech and judge whether or not you’re using it.

#killallmen, for example, is NOT considered hate speech. And even by the company’s own admission, hate speech against men, or white people, is a low priority.

It’s clear these companies have an enormous amount of unchecked power. They have the ability to erase you from the Internet, destroy your reputation, and, if you’re someone who makes money online, terminate your livelihood.

But the only reason they have this power is because we’ve given it to them. Hundreds of millions of people have intertwined their entire lives into the Big Tech ecosystem, to the point that they know absolutely everything about us.

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

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Olduvai II: Exodus
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