Loss of Privacy

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

Browsing Posts tagged Utah

Authorities are investigating a data breach at a Utah DMV where an employee allegedly gave personal information about private citizens and then used that information to commit crimes.

The investigation began last year with Salt Lake City firefighters, who were looking into a suspicious car fire in a Rose Park neighborhood. Lexie Atencio said she accidentally cut off a woman driving a pickup down her street, which quickly escalated into a road rage incident.

Atencio said she awoke in the middle of the night to find her car had been burned outside her home. A neighbor provided a description of a car seen nearby, matching the one involved in the road rage incident earlier, she said.

Salt Lake City Fire Marshal Martha Ellis said investigators got a tip that a woman involved in the fire worked at the DMV, and they brought her in for questioning.

A search warrant recently unsealed and obtained by FOX 13 News states that after being given her Miranda rights, the woman “admitted to using her computer access, as an employee of the Utah State Division of Motor Vehicles to illegally acquire personal information about private citizens.”

“She admitted to then disseminating that information to specific individuals for the sole purpose and with the understanding the information would be used to commit crimes against the unsuspecting private citizen,” a fire investigator wrote in an affidavit filed with the warrant.

“I believe she stated she’s been doing it for 14 years,” Ellis said.

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In his first television interview since he resigned from the National Security Agency over its domestic surveillance program, William Binney discusses the NSA’s massive power to spy on Americans and why the FBI raided his home after he became a whistleblower. Binney was a key source for investigative journalist James Bamford’s recent exposé in Wired Magazine about how the NSA is quietly building the largest spy center in the country in Bluffdale, Utah. The Utah spy center will contain near-bottomless databases to store all forms of communication collected by the agency, including private emails, cell phone calls, Google searches and other personal data.

Binney served in the NSA for over 30 years, including a time as technical director of the NSA’s World Geopolitical and Military Analysis Reporting Group. Since retiring from the NSA in 2001, he has warned that the NSA’s data-mining program has become so vast that it could “create an Orwellian state.” Today marks the first time Binney has spoken on national television about NSA surveillance.

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Last week, Texas attempted to ban the TSA’s ability to grope passengers in its airports. After threats from the TSA, Texas backed down. The TSA may have won this battle, but the war is far from over. New Hampshire has looked into banning the TSA’s security practices. New Jersey state Senator Mike Doherty has also vowed to bring legislation against TSA procedures. Now, Utah is joining the fight.

Rep. Carl Wimmer, R-Herriman, has opened a bill file that states Transportation Security Administration agents would not be exempt from the same requirements that a law enforcement official has when trying to perform a search on a person.

“It is a work in progress,” Wimmer said. “What it would do right now is simply say TSA agents are not exempt from the requirement of reasonable suspicion or probable cause to pat down a citizen.”

The fact remains that such searches already violate the 4th Amendment, but the government continues to press on with its searches at the airports with intentions of expanding further into American communities.

“The absolute overbearing audacity of the federal government in threatening Texas while Texas is trying to protect their citizens should really offend any red-blooded American,” he said.

Wimmer says the issue has morphed from being a 4th Amendment issue — the amendment protecting citizens from unreasonable searches and seizures — and has become a 10th Amendment issue in protecting states’ rights.

Since Wimmer’s bill is still being drafted, it won’t be up for a vote until the January 2012 legislative session begins.

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Ogden, Utah is about to launch its Crime Blimp, which will be linked with thousands of private and government CCTVs around the city.

Officials are shooting for an April launch date for the blimp, under construction by Weber State University’s Utah Center for Aeronautical Innovation and Design, which will feed video to a fledgling version of the RTCC. They hope the center is fully operational by July.

The idea is to give officers information about a crime scene while they are still rolling up on an event in progress, officials say. Operators in the real-time crime center linking with any camera systems in the area can immediately relay information on what they see to responding officers.

At the moment, the city is only concerned with linking external cameras together.

Planned at 52 feet long and 4 feet in diameter to hold a 20-pound payload of cameras, GPS gear, and telemetry, the blimp will likely be the first to patrol the skies of an American city, according to Greiner and UCAID.

The blimp causes more heartburn to local civil libertarians like Bernie Allen, a defense attorney for more than 30 years, than do the integrated real-time cameras.

“If police can’t go into your backyard without probable cause, then why would they be allowed to fly over your backyard with a blimp?” he asks.

This will cause numerous privacy and legal issues. The response from the city has been a bit snarky.

“We’re not interested in filming the city’s 80,000-plus population,” Weloth said. “Just the ones causing trouble.”

Eventually, everyone will be filmed because they might, someday, cause trouble. The truth is, you will never be able to stop all crime. A crime blimp is there mainly to spy on all the people, not just the ones who might be causing problems. It’s designed to make everyone afraid at all times so as to better control the citizenry.

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Last Friday, the Utah legislature passed a resolution stating that there is no climate change and that carbon dioxide is, essentially, harmless to humans and good for plants. Then, over the weekend, they claim that the best way for schools to save money is to get rid of the 12th grade.

Officially the most Republican state in America, its political masters have adopted a resolution condemning “climate alarmists”, and disputing any scientific basis for global warming.

The measure, which passed by 56-17, has no legal force, though it was predictably claimed by climate change sceptics as a great victory in the wake of the controversy caused by a mistake over Himalayan glaciers in the UN’s landmark report on global warming.

It should also be noted that the resolution is not legally binding. It merely expresses someone’s sentiment. In all likelihood, state politicians voted for this as they were “playing politics” to get something more meaningful that they wanted passed and this may have been their only viable option. If you read the resolution, it is very much financially driven.

The fact is, life changes. We are not the same as we were 10,000 years ago, nor 100 years ago. We have weathered ice ages and will again. The major disputes arise from how much man is helping along climate change. Given that an ultra-conservative politician has suggested getting rid of 12th grade, many Utahans would then lack the ability to reason scientific facts and believe whatever it told to them.

Utah is trying to save money on a $700 million budget shortfall. The problem with suggesting eliminating 12th grade or making it an option to graduate early is that it was suggested as a way to save money, forgetting the fact that Utah already has the option for students to graduate early if they’ve finished their requirements.

“We’ve always had an option in place for early graduation,” said Debra Roberts, chairwoman of the Utah Board of Education, adding that it was OK to give students the choice to graduate early, but that they shouldn’t be pushed to leave.

State Senator Chris Buttars is known to be out of touch with what actually happens in the real world. Not only has he suggested eliminating the 12th grade, he has spouted racist epithets and gay bashing. Some statements he has said:

Homosexuality will always be a sexual perversion. And you say that around here now and everybody goes nuts. But I don’t care.”

“Brown v. Board of Education is wrong to begin with.”

Senator Buttars also believes that evolution is a farce and that creationism is factual. Utahans would be best to vote this man out of office so he stops embarrassing the good people of Utah.

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