Loss of Privacy

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

Browsing Posts in Travel

Four men claim they were approached by the FBI to become informants. when they declined, they say they were put on the no-fly list.

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You have a right to privacy. How about when you are driving around Manhattan? Maybe not.

On January 7, 2014, the New York Civil Liberties Union sent the New York State Department of Transportation, the New York City Department of Transportation and the NYPD formal legal requests for information on how they use E-ZPass readers to track and record New Yorkers’ movements. The request was filed after several recent press reports documented the use of E-ZPass readers to collect information on law-abiding New Yorkers far from toll plazas.

“New Yorkers have a right to know if their use of toll-paying technology is secretly being used to track their innocent comings and goings,” said NYCLU Executive Director Donna Lieberman. “No one should have to trade their privacy to pay a $10 toll.

“The NYCLU’s video shows the E-ZPass detector – the device that looks like a cow – going off almost constantly during a drive through Midtown and Lower Manhattan — in areas free of toll collection booths. In the area around 34th Street and Seventh Avenue, the cow lit up continuously for several blocks. It even detected a signal directly in front of the NYCLU’s office in the Wall Street area.

“An E-ZPass is a great convenience, but the technology in it can easily be misused. Given the potential for abuse when the government systematically starts collecting information about the day-to-day activities of law-abiding people, it is essential that there be clear and explicit limitations on how E-ZPass readers are used,” NYCLU Legislative Counsel Nate Vogel said. “The public should know if, how and why we are being tracked.”

The NYCLU’s Freedom of Information requests specifically seek information about the criteria and purpose for installing E-ZPass readers; the location of E-ZPass readers, including, any information distinguishing those used to collect tolls and those used for other purposes; privacy policies and marketing materials describing the types of data that can be collected by E-ZPass readers, when it will be collected and how it will be used; and how the New York City Department of Transportation shares data with other entities, including but not limited to the NYPD, the FBI and the Drug Enforcement Administration.

Find out more at nyclu, or follow us on Facebook and Twitter to find out more as the story develops.

You can also read more about E-ZPass tags from Kashmir Hill.

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Twitter user David McDonough spotted the TSA working at Chicago’s Union Station and took a photo.


There is great irony in the fact that people are being searched for no other reason than “security” on a day when a nation is celebrating its independence from tyranny.

There has been some discussion about the TSA working at the train station on July 4th at Amtrak Unlimited, Travel Underground, and Reddit. Amtrak recently released a propaganda video in which they try to convince the public that this is good for everyone.

The TSA has no business working at any train station. It doesn’t matter if it’s a national holiday or not. They don’t belong there. Amtrak police have done a fine job for decades. We don’t need the bumbling idiots that are the TSA or political machinations screwing things up at train stations.

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You have a 1 in 20 million chance of dying in a terrorist attack, but toilets injure 50,000 people every year.


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Two men were on a flight to Chicago from Boston when federal authorities removed and questioned them, then allowed them back on the plane. One passenger, however, wasn’t happy with that outcome.

The men, aboard early morning United Flight 636, were questioned by authorities and returned to the plane, only to be removed again after at least one passenger complained, passengers said after they arrived at O’Hare International Airport.

Boston Marathon finisher Matt Pomeroy, 34, and his wife Elizabeth, 33, said all seemed calm until a federal agent and a Massachusetts police officer walked onto the plane and removed two male passengers.

“The two men were taken off the plane for about 15 minutes,” said Matt Pomeroy, of Johnson Creek, Wis. “They were then allowed back on but started to act suspicious.”

First, they were questioned and allowed to return to the plane. If they were a threat, they would not have been allowed back on the plane. Second, what does this man consider to be suspicious?

The men, who were rows apart, began talking in a foreign language and using head and hand gestures to communicate, he said.

How is this not normal? You are seated apart from your traveling companion all the time now as airlines have begun charging fees to seat people together. The men had just been pulled off the plane and questioned. Wouldn’t it be more likely that they were cleared by authorities and they were just discussing what happened to them? Using hand gestures is perfectly normal. Hand gestures tend to get larger and more emphatic when a person is agitated. A more likely scenario is that the two were saying something along the lines of, “This is fucking ridiculous,” because of what just happened.

“Everyone was already nervous that they were getting back on because we didn’t know what was going on.”

Because it’s none of your damned business. Whatever happened when the men were off the plane talking to authorities is between the men and the authorities. It’s not your right to know what was discussed. Again, if they were a threat at all, they wouldn’t have been let back onto the plane.

Elizabeth Pomeroy said the two men seemed “jittery and jumpy” and were “acting suspicious.”.

Anyone would be a tad bit jumpy after having an entire plane watch as you disembark with authorities and then come back. What exactly does this woman mean by suspicious? We don’t know and we don’t know if this suspiciousness is a legitimate concern.

“They were talking to each other across the rows — that doesn’t normally happen,” Matt Pomeroy said.
Maybe not on your flights, but it certainly happens on thousands of other flights.

“I told the flight crew, ‘I don’t feel comfortable with this.’ And they felt the same exact way,” Siok said.

So, because you feel uncomfortable with people talking on a plane in another language, you have the authority now to get people kicked off their flight. You don’t even try to understand the situation or know that federal authorities have spoken to the men and allowed them to come back. You trusted the police to do their job after the bombings in town, but not federal law enforcement at the airport. You cannot have it both ways.

At the gate, multiple FBI agents and police officers boarded the plane and escorted the two men off, Matt Pomeroy said. The passengers deplaned for another check.

Pomeroy said he and others felt safer after the additional security sweep of the plane.
Yes, he “felt” safer. He wasn’t actually any safer than before. He just let his unjustified fear and bigotry rule the day.

“I’m glad he hit the call button — absolutely,” Matt Pomeroy said. “There wasn’t much communication, but I think everyone understood what was going on.”

There wasn’t much communication, most likely, because Pomeroy was probably the only one who really felt threatened by people speaking on a plane. If anyone else truly felt this way as well, the flight attendant’s call buttons would have been lit up across the plane.

“Many of the marathon runners on the plane didn’t have places to be today,” Siok said. “You know, it’s better safe than sorry.”

If Siok actually felt this way, then why did he not accept that the federal authorities cleared these men of whatever they were questioned about? Again, if the federal authorities thought these men were even remotely a threat, they would never have allowed the two men to return to the plane.

Yes, Boston was just bombed, but, seriously, people speaking a foreign language doesn’t mean that you’re magically some kind of terrorist. Given the fact that 63% of Arab-Americans are Christian, these bigoted idiots are bashing people who believe just as they do solely because they look and talk funny. While the bombings are over, the racism, hatred, and bigotry from this event will go on for years to come, destroying trust amongst Americans in the process.


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