Loss of Privacy

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

Browsing Posts tagged terrorism

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Chicago police have announced they plan to stop rush hour public transit riders before they pass through turnstiles and screen their bags for explosives. There is no threat. The police see this as a proactive approach to terrorism that doesn’t exist.

There is “no known terrorist threat” that prompted the new procedure slated to begin the week of Nov. 3, Nancy Lipman, Chicago police commander for public transportation, said Friday at a news conference announcing the initiative.

So, there is no threat, yet the city of Chicago is going to toss out civil liberties just because they can.

Chicago police spokesman Marty Maloney says the security measure is a “proactive, protective measure.”

Proactive and protective of whom? There is no threat.

“We know that surface transportation has been targeted in other places in the past [Madrid, New York, London, Russia] and want to take whatever precautions possible,” Maloney told RedEye.

So, surface transportation has been targeted in one other American city, but three others in Europe are being tossed in to add a fear factor and justification for the city of Chicago.

Amtrak and the New York City and Washington transit stations employ a similar screening measure, Lipman said.

This is akin to, “if all your other friends are doing it, you might as well do it, too.”

Chicago police say they will randomly select one rail station each day to set up the screening table outside the rail turnstiles during rush hour. Lipman said most of the stations will be downtown but other stops will be included as well.

Soon after the tables are put up, thousands of people will find out about it via the Internet and newly created apps and most people will avoid this stop.

A team of four to five officers will man the table, which will have two explosives testing machines.

Police will approach riders, whom they have randomly selected by picking a random number that morning, Lipman said.

For example, if police pick the number 10, they will ask the 10th person who enters the station, then the 20th and so on, Lipman said.

Police say they will swab the outside of the bags but will not open them during the test.

They won’t open them, for now. As soon as everyone complies with this “randomness” the test will require searches of bags.

Riders who pass the test are free to enter the turnstiles. Officers will ask to inspect the bags of riders who fail the test. Police say the machines are testing the presence of explosives, not drugs.

Again, for now. This has been done before.

The whole process should take “less than a minute,” Lipman said during the Friday press conference at the Clinton stop on the Green and Pink lines. “We expect it to have no impact on a customer’s commute time.”

Riders who refuse to have their bag swabbed won’t be allowed to get on the train—in fact they’ll be ordered to leave the station. But they can head to another station to board the train, police said.

Because this is being done during rush hour, it will probably be just as easy to leave the train station and return a few moments later and the police won’t notice simply because there’s too many people.

Or, if police suspect the rider is involved in “further suspicious activity, and if we determine that probable cause exists to stop him/her for questioning, we might do so,” Maloney said.

“Further suspicious activity” is conveniently not described and intentionally vague. All for your safety of course. This won’t be abused.

Riders who say no to the swabbing but try to enter that station’s turnstiles face arrest, police say.

And your free movement within the United States is restricted in the name of a non-existent threat to your safety.

The screenings at stations will occur “several times a week,” police said.

Good luck, Chicago. Please fight against this ridiculousness.

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Julian Sanchez joins Trevor Burrus and Matthew Feeney for a discussion on the surveillance state. If the government’s been spying on us for decades, what’s new now? Why is bulk data collection so particularly nefarious? What is metadata anyway, and what does the government do with it? Does the government actually catch terrorists through mass surveillance? Why do people treat terrorism differently from other violent crimes? The defenders of surveillance always say “if you haven’t done anything wrong, you have nothing to be afraid of” —does this justification hold water?

Julian Sanchez is a senior fellow at the Cato Institute, where he studies issues at the busy intersection of technology, privacy, and civil liberties, with a particular focus on national security and intelligence surveillance.

Source.

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The San Jose and Davis police departments are returning their military equipment obtained from the government.

Citing fears after seeing images of Ferguson, the city of Davis, California is set to return its armored vehicle.

The police wanted to keep the vehicle. The city said no.

The Davis Police Department now has 60 days to get rid of a $689,000 Mine Resistant Ambush Protected armored vehicle, which police acquired through a U.S. Defense Department program, and must consider other rescue vehicle options.

The Davis Police Department took possession of the free vehicle two weeks ago through the Defense Department’s 1033 program — administered by the California Office of Emergency Services — which is aimed at repurposing federal and military equipment for local law enforcement.

Through the program, the police department has obtained a number of free surplus military hardware, including body armor, binoculars, riot helmets and training rifles.

San Jose police will be returning its mine-resistant armored truck.

San Jose police spokeswoman Sgt. Heather Randol told KCBS the decision was made based on concerns for potential damage to the department’s image and community relationships.

“We want to keep their trust. We don’t want them to feel we are going off on another path with our police department,” she said. “We want them to feel comfortable about the tools that we use.”

Used by U.S. forces in Iraq and Afghanistan, the mine-resistant, ambush-protected troop transport, or MRAP, became a focus for debate after a military surplus vehicle and equipment were used at protests in Ferguson, Missouri earlier this month when local law enforcement responded to civil unrest over the police killing unarmed teenager Michael Brown.

According the San Jose Mercury News, Redwood City, South San Francisco, and Antioch, have decided to keep their armored transports.

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Tor-Anonymity-Tor-path

In a shocking story on the German site Tagesschau (Google translate), Lena Kampf, Jacob Appelbaum and John Goetz report on the rules used by the NSA to decide who is a “target” for surveillance.

You can read more at Boing Boing.

From Panorama:

The investigation discloses the following:

Two servers in Germany – in Berlin and Nuremberg – are under surveillance by the NSA.
Merely searching the web for the privacy-enhancing software tools outlined in the XKeyscore rules causes the NSA to mark and track the IP address of the person doing the search. Not only are German privacy software users tracked, but the source code shows that privacy software users worldwide are tracked by the NSA.
Among the NSA’s targets is the Tor network funded primarily by the US government to aid democracy advocates in authoritarian states.
The XKeyscore rules reveal that the NSA tracks all connections to a server that hosts part of an anonymous email service at the MIT Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL) in Cambridge, Massachusetts. It also records details about visits to a popular internet journal for Linux operating system users called “the Linux Journal – the Original Magazine of the Linux Community”, and calls it an “extremist forum”.

The authors of the Tagesschau story have seen the “deep packet inspection” rules used to determine who is considered to be a legitimate target for deep surveillance, and the results are bizarre.

According to the story, the NSA targets anyone who searches for online articles about Tails — like this one that we published in April, or this article for teens that I wrote in May — or Tor (The Onion Router, which we’ve been posted about since 2004). Anyone who is determined to be using Tor is also targeted for long-term surveillance and retention.

Bruce Schneier thinks there may be a second leaker.

I do not believe that this came from the Snowden documents. I also don’t believe the TAO catalog came from the Snowden documents. I think there’s a second leaker out there.

EDITED TO ADD (7/3): More news stories. Thread on Reddit. I don’t expect this to get much coverage in the US mainstream media.

Hacker News and Slashdot threads. ArsTechnica and Wired articles.

There is also the live blog [in German] of William Binney in front of the German Parliament.

There is also another post on reddit. After reading all of these links the last few days, I’m probably on the NSA’s list now too.

The facts also bear out that all this surveillance to protect us is useless. You are eight times more likely to be killed by a police officer and 6 times more likely to die from hot weather than a terrorist attack.

Feel free to download Tor.

Read/download the XKeyscore rules.

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