Loss of Privacy

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

Browsing Posts tagged government

Half a century ago people had to be reassured their social security card was not being used for identification. Now there are federally standardized and globally synchronized ID cards, government-sponsored online ID projects, DNA databases, and even secret databases of your newborn baby’s genetic information and nobody bats an eyelid. How did we get here, and how can we break this conditioning?

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Known as Stingrays, the FBI has admitted to using cell phone towers to track you. Their usual response includes they must do this to catch terrorists, pedophiles and missing children.

The press conference actually occurred back in October, but the video didn’t surface until this weekend and hadn’t been reported on until the Charlotte Observer’s excellent investigation into the use of Stingrays by local police was published on Sunday.

Stingrays work by allowing police to track the movement of a suspect, and are often used without a warrant, which was recently declared unconstitutional by the Florida Supreme Court.

Comey also said that the agency has “nothing to hide” from “good people,” but that secrecy is important if Stingrays are going to be effective. Comey doesn’t note, however, that, in trying to track down any one “bad person,” the agency law enforcement necessarily tracks the locations of everyone within a wide geographic radius, thanks to the way the technology works.

The ACLU, meanwhile, has said that every year, millions of good people are getting wrapped up in a surveillance dragnet they didn’t ask to be involved in.

“The devices wrap up innocent people, which looks like a dragnet search that’s not legal under the Fourth Amendment,” Nate Wessler, a staff attorney for the ACLU, recently told me. “Even if they’re tracking a specific suspect, they’re getting info about every bystander. That’s a concern.”

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(Photo: William Petroski/Register photo)

(Photo: William Petroski/Register photo)

The Iowa Department of Transportation would like it if everyone would carry their driver’s license on their cell phone.

The app, which will be provided to drivers at no additional cost, will be available sometime in 2015, DOT Director Paul Trombino told Gov. Terry Branstad during a state agency budget hearing Monday.

“We are really moving forward on this,” Trombino said. “The way things are going, we may be the first in the nation.”

People will still be able to stick a traditional plastic driver’s license in their wallet or purse if they choose, Trombino said. But the new digital license, which he described as “an identity vault app,” will be accepted by Iowa law enforcement officers during traffic stops and by security officers screening travelers at Iowa’s airports, he said.

“It is basically your license on your phone,” he said.

At least for now, it’s possible to stick to the traditional license, but what happens when that becomes mandatory? What if you don’t have a cell phone? Will you be forced to get one in order to have a driver’s license or not be allowed to drive?

There are also privacy concerns. Right now, nearly every state requires some sort of warrant before police can unlock your phone. Once you unlock your phone to show your driver’s license, police are free to search it at will.

The new app should be highly secure, Trombino said. People will use a pin number for verification.

Should be. How long is the PIN? If it’s the traditional 4-digit PIN, it’s not highly secure.

While Iowa may be the first to allow driver’s licenses on phones, it is among 30 states that already allow electronic proof of insurance.

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Politicians in Congress are pushing to declassify 28 pages from the 9/11 reports. Rep. Massie spoke in July about why these particular pages need to be declassified.

the former co-chairman of the panel that produced the heavily-redacted 2002 report will hold a Capitol Hill press conference calling for its complete release. Former Democratic Sen. Bob Graham will join Reps. Walter Jones (R-NC) and Stephen Lynch (D-Mass.), as well as 9/11 families, to demand President Obama shine light on the entire blanked-out Saudi section.

Graham claims the redaction is part of an ongoing “coverup” of the role of Saudi officials in the 9/11 plot. He maintains the Saudi hijackers got financial aid and other help from the Saudi consulate in Los Angeles and the Saudi embassy in Washington, as well as from wealthy Sarasota, Fla., patrons tied to the Saudi royal family.

Jones and Lynch say they will reintroduce their resolution urging Obama to declassify the information in the newly seated Congress. The bipartisan bill has attracted 21 co-sponsors, including 10 Republicans and 11 Democrats, since first introduced 12 months ago.

organizers have launched a letter-writing campaign to encourage senators to sign the resolution, including Sen. Charles Schumer, who in 2003 led a group of 46 senators in penning a letter to Bush.

Schumer (D-NY) at the time said, “The bottom line is that keeping this material classified only strengthens the theory that some in the US government are hellbent on covering up for the Saudis.”

The New Yorker discussed the 28 pages, questioning why they are still kept secret. No one is allowed to see the documents from the Bush, Cheney and Bill Clinton interviews with the commission, if they exist. Those interviews were said to have no recordings, no transcripts and no one was under oath.

The behavior of the government is why people are skeptical about everything the U.S. government says and does. The whole notions appears to be simply conspiracy, but those who have seen the 28 pages say there is nothing in them that threaten national security and no reason to not let the public read them. By keeping them secret, the government is fueling the conspiracy fire.

James Bamford’s documentary, Spy Factory, touches on what the CIA knew and how it works, including the information it had, but refused to share with the FBI.

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