Loss of Privacy

Keeping you informed on recent losses to privacy and civil rights worldwide.

Browsing Posts in USA Privacy


Florida has activated its 13-county system in which they say regular citizens will be able to report suspicious activity related to terrorism. The new systems stresses the “see something, say something” mantra to Floridians. The iWATCH system, individuals have the convenience of making the report online.

The site provides examples of red flags to watch for, such as people with an unusual interest in building plans or who are purchasing materials useful in bomb making. Important places to watch include hobby stores and dive shops.

The list also includes malls, hotels and motels, financial institutions, and rental properties. We all know that if you rent something, you’re probably a terrorist.

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Unfortunately, most individuals don’t have the expertise to know if their neighbor is simply buying the something because it is a part of their hobby or because they have nefarious intentions. Law enforcement encourages you to report them anyway. This way, their name is in a database and can be watched in the future.

Reports entered in the iWATCH system are sent to the individual counties through a central clearing house. It is also passed to other counties, in case the information can be connected to something similar or related. The program was set up using a $150,000 state grant and piggybacks on an existing information-sharing system law enforcement uses now.

The sites combine iWATCH with the county name, or in Jacksonville’s case the city, to direct the report. The site for Jacksonville is www.iwatchjax.com.

Other counties in the program are: Alachua, Baker, Bradford, Clay, Flagler, Gilchrist, Levy, Marion, Nassau, Putnam, St. Johns and Union.

While the police must show that the are doing something to prevent terrorism, this system has the potential to cause more problems than it solves.

Individual citizens do not pick out terrorists as their neighbors. Those that have been caught were either set up by the FBI or caught after they committed their crimes. Although not considered terrorism, neighbors in Cleveland had no idea their neighbor had three girls in his home for years. How would they pick out a careful, methodical terrorist?

Those making reports must provide their name and contact information.

For iWATCH, people are less likely to be targeted by rumors or malicious accusations. Also, it gives investigators the opportunity to further interview the person reporting the activity.

This is a good thing. If law enforcement pays attention, they may be able to catch a person who is abusing the system. Hopefully, that will happen before some innocent person’s life is ruined.

In the long run, this program is about the government continuing its pressure upon the people of the United States to live in a constant state of fear. Ordinary citizens will believe that there are numerous terrorists in the United States simply because this program exists. They will then begin to second guess every single purchase they make and begin looking upon their neighbors as suspicious because they purchased something that could be used for terrorism (Hint: Most things you purchase could be used for crimes. It doesn’t mean it will be.). As an American, I would still rather be a victim of terrorism than live in a society where everyone lives in fear, reports on their friends, family, and neighbors, and is generally not allowed to do anything without the government saying it’s suspicious.

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From 60 minutes:

You can read more here and watch the broadcast of the episode 19 May 2013 on CBS.

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Who could have seen this coming? (/sarcasm)

Have you seen the Capitol Hill drone pilot? You’ve read concerns about Seattle Police using drones for surveillance but a resident of the Miller Park area around 19th and Thomas tells CHS she is concerned about a fellow citizen employing a drone near her home:

This afternoon, a stranger set an aerial drone into flight over my yard and beside my house near Miller Playfield.  I initially mistook its noisy buzzing for a weed-whacker on this warm spring day.  After several minutes, I looked out my third-story window to see a drone hovering a few feet away.  My husband went to talk to the man on the sidewalk outside our home who was operating the drone with a remote control, to ask him to not fly his drone near our home.  The man insisted that it is legal for him to fly an aerial drone over our yard and adjacent to our windows.  He noted that the drone has a camera, which transmits images he viewed through a set of glasses.  He purported to be doing “research”.  We are extremely concerned, as he could very easily be a criminal who plans to break into our house or a peeping-tom.

The woman tells us she called police but they decided not to show up when the man left. She wonders if anybody else has encountered this Capitol Hill drone pilot.

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From Democracy Now:

The American Civil Liberties Union has obtained documents revealing that the FBI and IRS may be reading emails and other electronic communications of U.S. citizens without obtaining a warrant. This comes just as reports have emerged that the Obama administration is considering approving an overhaul of government surveillance of the Internet. The New York Times reported the new rules would make it easier to wiretap users of web services such as instant messaging. “The FBI wants to be able to intercept every kind of possible communication,” says attorney Ben Wizner, director of the ACLU’s Speech, Privacy, and Technology Project. “The FBI basically wants to require all of these companies to rewrite their code in order to enable more government surveillance. … And in order to accomplish that, they would make the whole Internet less secure.”

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The NSA says the Utah Data Center is a facility for the intelligence community that will have a major focus on cyber security. The agency will neither confirm nor deny specifics. Some published reports suggest it could hold 5 zettabytes of data. (Just one zettabyte is the equivalent of about 62 billion stacked iPhones 5’s– that stretches past the moon.


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