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The Border Patrol Is Monitoring Millions Of Americans’ Cellphones Inside Their Homes

This article was originally published by Mass Private I at Activist Post. 

The Feds are using the pandemic as an excuse to ID and track millions of innocent Americans’ cellphones inside their homes.

This past August, a Motherboard article revealed the U.S. Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) had signed a $476,000 contract with Venntel, a cellphone data mining corporation.

Motherboard went on to explain why the Feds signing a contract with Venntel is so troubling.

The news highlights how law enforcement agencies continue to buy data that may in some cases require a warrant or court order to obtain.

What Motherboard is saying is that the CBP is using Venntel to monitor Americans’ cellphones without a warrant.

“This new contract raises even more concerns about the cozy and ongoing relationship between the federal government and these data brokers, which operate in the shadows and can amass mountains of sensitive personal data without any restrictions,” Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney, and Chairwoman of the House Committee on Oversight and Reform said.

What makes this even more disconcerting is how law enforcement can use Venntel to monitor every cellphone in a ‘certain house.’

If you search a certain house, you’re only going to get three or four different signals out of there. I think from that standpoint, you could definitely try and identify specific people, the first [Venntel] source said. I think that was part of the goal in using it for government customers and things like that, is that you’re able to identify devices, and then you can do device searches to see where else they might have been, they added. A second person who has worked with the company [Venntel] said the data in a geofenced area is not going to contain 100 percent of devices in that location, and that identifying someone would be laborious.

Five U.S. senators were so horrified about law enforcement secretly monitoring millions of innocent Americans’ cellphones that they sent a letter to the CBP demanding an explanation.

As revealed by public contracts, CBP has paid a government contractor named Venntel nearly half a million dollars for access to a commercial database containing location data mined from applications on millions of Americans’ mobile phones. CBP officials also confirmed the agency’s warrantless tracking of phones in the United States using Venntel’s product in a September 16, 2020 call with Senate staff.

The letter asked what legal analysis did the Feds use to justify creating a national cellphone location tracking program?

.The senators also requested the inspector general investigate any legal analysis CBP’s lawyers performed before the agency started to use this surveillance tool and how CBP was able to begin operational use of Venntel’s location database without the DHS Privacy Office first publishing a Privacy Impact Assessment.

It is hard to imagine a more invasive national public surveillance program than what the CBP is conducting right now under our very noses.

The Feds don’t care if we know that they are secretly spying on our cellphones inside our homes

A recent Vice article revealed that the CBP is refusing to justify to Congress how it is legal to ID and spy on Americans’ cellphones inside their homes without a warrant.

“CBP officials confirmed to Senate staff that the agency is using Venntel’s location database to search for information collected from phones in the United States without any kind of court order,” the letter signed by Wyden and Warren, and addressed to the DHS OIG, reads. “CBP outrageously asserted that its legal analysis is privileged and therefore does not have to be shared with Congress. We disagree.”

As the Vice article pointed out, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) is also using Venntel’s data to ID and monitor Americans’ cellphones without a warrant.

Allegedly, the CBP and the IRS cannot tell what nationality a particular person is based only on the information provided by Venntel, but they can track a particular person’s movements throughout the country.

The CBP’s admission that it is not restricting its personnel to only use Venntel near the border sends an unmistakable message to Americans everywhere: law enforcement treats everyone like a suspected criminal.

There simply is no justification for a so-called democratic country treating millions of its citizens like suspected criminals. Our country is on the precipice of becoming a full-blown surveillance state.

The post The Border Patrol Is Monitoring Millions Of Americans’ Cellphones Inside Their Homes first appeared on SHTF Plan – When It Hits The Fan, Don't Say We Didn't Warn You.

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Robocall Results from a Telephony Honeypot

A group of researchers set up a telephony honeypot and tracked robocall behavior:

NCSU researchers said they ran 66,606 telephone lines between March 2019 and January 2020, during which time they said to have received 1,481,201 unsolicited calls — even if they never made their phone numbers public via any source.

The research team said they usually received an unsolicited call every 8.42 days, but most of the robocall traffic came in sudden surges they called “storms” that happened at regular intervals, suggesting that robocallers operated using a tactic of short-burst and well-organized campaigns.

In total, the NCSU team said it tracked 650 storms over 11 months, with most storms being of the same size.

Research paper. USENIX talk. Slashdot thread.

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Collecting and Selling Mobile Phone Location Data

The Wall Street Journal has an article about a company called Anomaly Six LLC that has an SDK that’s used by “more than 500 mobile applications.” Through that SDK, the company collects location data from users, which it then sells.

Anomaly Six is a federal contractor that provides global-location-data products to branches of the U.S. government and private-sector clients. The company told The Wall Street Journal it restricts the sale of U.S. mobile phone movement data only to nongovernmental, private-sector clients.

[…]

Anomaly Six was founded by defense-contracting veterans who worked closely with government agencies for most of their careers and built a company to cater in part to national-security agencies, according to court records and interviews.

Just one of the many Internet companies spying on our every move for profit. And I’m sure they sell to the US government; it’s legal and why would they forgo those sales?

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Your Phone Is Spying On You, And Companies Are Generating Secret “Surveillance Scores” Based On That Information

Nothing that you do on your phone is private.  In this day and age, most of us have become extremely dependent on our phones, and most Americans never even realize that these extremely sophisticated little devices are gathering mountains of information on each one of us.  Your phone knows what you look like, it knows the sound of your voice, it knows where you have been, it knows where you have shopped, it knows your Internet searches and it knows what you like to do in your free time.  In fact, your phone literally knows thousands of things about you, and all of that information is bought and sold every single day without you knowing.  And as you will see below, there are lots of companies out there that use information collected from our phones to create secret “surveillance scores” that are used for a whole host of alarming purposes.

It is really important to understand that your phone is a surveillance device.  The reason why the advertisements on your phone seem so perfectly tailored for you is because of all the information that your phone has gathered on you previously.

To this day, many people are still amazed when they see an ad pop up for something that they were just talking with a friend about, but that doesn’t happen by accident.  The following comes from Fox News

Perhaps you’ve been talking to a friend about an island vacation, when suddenly deals for the Maldives or Hawaii pop up on your Facebook feed. Or you are talking to your co-worker about yard renovations when advertisements for lawnmowers litter your Twitter, or maybe you were talking about why you stopped drinking and a random sponsored article about the growing trend of “elective sobriety” is suddenly in front of your eyes.

Industry experts insist that our phones are not actively “eavesdropping” on us, but they do admit that our phones are “actually spying on us” in other ways…

“It’s easy to feel like our phone is spying on us. It is actually spying on us, but it is not eavesdropping,” Alex Hamerstone, Government, Risk and Compliance practice lead at information technology security firm, TrustedSec, told Fox News via email. “The reason why we see ads pop up that seem to be correlated to the exact thing we were just talking about is because technology and marketing companies gather extensive amounts of personal and behavioral data on us, but it’s not from eavesdropping — it’s from surfing the web, shopping, posting on social media, and other things people do online.”

Most Americans have come to accept targeted ads as a part of life, but what most people don’t realize is that the information our phones gather is being used for far more intrusive purposes.

“Surveillance scores” are being created, and these “surveillance scores” seem quite similar to the “social credit scores” that China has been compiling since 2014.

In China, if you do good things like paying your taxes or taking a parent to the doctor, your social credit score will go up.

But there are also lots of things that will cause your social credit score to go down…

It aims to punish for transgressions that can include membership in or support for the Falun Gong or Tibetan Buddhism, failure to pay debts, excessive video gaming, criticizing the government, late payments, failing to sweep the sidewalk in front of your store or house, smoking or playing loud music on trains, jaywalking, and other actions deemed illegal or unacceptable by the Chinese government.

And if your social credit score gets too low, the consequences can be quite dramatic

Punishments can be harsh, including bans on leaving the country, using public transportation, checking into hotels, hiring for high-visibility jobs, or acceptance of children to private schools. It can also result in slower internet connections and social stigmatization in the form of registration on a public blacklist.

Here in the United States, private companies are doing something very similar.  Information collected from our phones is being used to create secret “surveillance scores”, and selling those scores has become very big business.  The following comes from the Houston Chronicle

Operating in the shadows of the online marketplace, specialized tech companies you’ve likely never heard of are tapping vast troves of our personal data to generate secret “surveillance scores” – digital mug shots of millions of Americans – that supposedly predict our future behavior. The firms sell their scoring services to major businesses across the U.S. economy.

And just like China’s system, high scores come with rewards and low scores come with punishments.

For example, your scores can determine whether or not someone will rent a property to you, whether or not you will be hired for a job, and even how long you will have to wait for customer service

CoreLogic and TransUnion say that scores they peddle to landlords can predict whether a potential tenant will pay the rent on time, be able to “absorb rent increases,” or break a lease. Large employers use HireVue, a firm that generates an “employability” score about candidates by analyzing “tens of thousands of factors,” including a person’s facial expressions and voice intonations. Other employers use Cornerstone’s score, which considers where a job prospect lives and which web browser they use to judge how successful they will be at a job.

Brand-name retailers purchase “risk scores” from Retail Equation to help make judgments about whether consumers commit fraud when they return goods for refunds. Players in the gig economy use outside firms such as Sift to score consumers’ “overall trustworthiness.” Wireless customers predicted to be less profitable are sometimes forced to endure longer customer service hold times.

To me, all of this is extremely creepy.

Eventually, it may get to a point where you are basically a societal outcast if you are not willing to conform to a particular set of politically-correct standards, values and behaviors.

You may not get thrown in jail the moment you do something “unacceptable”, but your phone will be watching you every step of the way.

Each mistake that you make will be recorded by your phone, and that information will be stored and used against you for the rest of your life.

I know that all of this sounds very strange, but without a doubt we are living in very strange times.

My advice would be to only use your phone when necessary, but of course the vast majority of the population will never listen to such advice.

Most of us have become highly addicted to these marvelous little devices, and in the process we are helping the elite construct a system of surveillance and control that is unlike anything ever seen before in all of human history.

***It is finally here! Michael’s new book entitled “Lost Prophecies Of The Future Of America” is now available in paperback and for the Kindle on Amazon.com.***

About the Author: My name is Michael Snyder and my brand new book entitled “Lost Prophecies Of The Future Of America” is now available on Amazon.com.  By purchasing the book you help to support the work that my wife and I are doing, and by giving it to others you help to multiply the impact that we are having on people all over the globe.  I have published thousands of articles on The Economic Collapse BlogEnd Of The American Dream and The Most Important News, and the articles that I publish on those sites are republished on dozens of other prominent websites all over the globe.  I always freely and happily allow others to republish my articles on their own websites, but I also ask that they include this “About the Author” section with each article.  In addition to my new book, I have written four others that are available on Amazon.com including The Beginning Of The EndGet Prepared Now, and Living A Life That Really Matters. (#CommissionsEarned)  The material contained in this article is for general information purposes only, and readers should consult licensed professionals before making any legal, business, financial or health decisions.  I encourage you to follow me on social media on Facebook and Twitter, and any way that you can share these articles with others is a great help.  During these very challenging times, people will need hope more than ever before, and it is our goal to share the gospel of Jesus Christ with as many people as we possibly can.

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BlackBerry Phone Cracked

Australia is reporting that a BlackBerry device has been cracked after five years:

An encrypted BlackBerry device that was cracked five years after it was first seized by police is poised to be the key piece of evidence in one of the state’s longest-running drug importation investigations.

In April, new technology “capabilities” allowed authorities to probe the encrypted device….

No details about those capabilities.

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Hacking a Power Supply

This hack targets the firmware on modern power supplies. (Yes, power supplies are also computers.)

Normally, when a phone is connected to a power brick with support for fast charging, the phone and the power adapter communicate with each other to determine the proper amount of electricity that can be sent to the phone without damaging the device­ — the more juice the power adapter can send, the faster it can charge the phone.

However, by hacking the fast charging firmware built into a power adapter, Xuanwu Labs demonstrated that bad actors could potentially manipulate the power brick into sending more electricity than a phone can handle, thereby overheating the phone, melting internal components, or as Xuanwu Labs discovered, setting the device on fire.

Research paper, in Chinese.

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Hacked by Police

French police hacked EncroChat secure phones, which are widely used by criminals:

Encrochat’s phones are essentially modified Android devices, with some models using the “BQ Aquaris X2,” an Android handset released in 2018 by a Spanish electronics company, according to the leaked documents. Encrochat took the base unit, installed its own encrypted messaging programs which route messages through the firm’s own servers, and even physically removed the GPS, camera, and microphone functionality from the phone. Encrochat’s phones also had a feature that would quickly wipe the device if the user entered a PIN, and ran two operating systems side-by-side. If a user wanted the device to appear innocuous, they booted into normal Android. If they wanted to return to their sensitive chats, they switched over to the Encrochat system. The company sold the phones on a subscription based model, costing thousands of dollars a year per device.

This allowed them and others to investigate and arrest many:

Unbeknownst to Mark, or the tens of thousands of other alleged Encrochat users, their messages weren’t really secure. French authorities had penetrated the Encrochat network, leveraged that access to install a technical tool in what appears to be a mass hacking operation, and had been quietly reading the users’ communications for months. Investigators then shared those messages with agencies around Europe.

Only now is the astonishing scale of the operation coming into focus: It represents one of the largest law enforcement infiltrations of a communications network predominantly used by criminals ever, with Encrochat users spreading beyond Europe to the Middle East and elsewhere. French, Dutch, and other European agencies monitored and investigated “more than a hundred million encrypted messages” sent between Encrochat users in real time, leading to arrests in the UK, Norway, Sweden, France, and the Netherlands, a team of international law enforcement agencies announced Thursday.

EncroChat learned about the hack, but didn’t know who was behind it.

Going into full-on emergency mode, Encrochat sent a message to its users informing them of the ongoing attack. The company also informed its SIM provider, Dutch telecommunications firm KPN, which then blocked connections to the malicious servers, the associate claimed. Encrochat cut its own SIM service; it had an update scheduled to push to the phones, but it couldn’t guarantee whether that update itself wouldn’t be carrying malware too. That, and maybe KPN was working with the authorities, Encrochat’s statement suggested (KPN declined to comment). Shortly after Encrochat restored SIM service, KPN removed the firewall, allowing the hackers’ servers to communicate with the phones once again. Encrochat was trapped.

Encrochat decided to shut itself down entirely.

Lots of details about the hack in the article. Well worth reading in full.

The UK National Crime Agency called it Operation Venetic: “46 arrests, and £54m criminal cash, 77 firearms and over two tonnes of drugs seized so far.”

Many more news articles. EncroChat website. Slashdot thread. Hacker News threads.

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Wallpaper that Crashes Android Phones

This is interesting:

The image, a seemingly innocuous sunset (or dawn) sky above placid waters, may be viewed without harm. But if loaded as wallpaper, the phone will crash.

The fault does not appear to have been maliciously created. Rather, according to developers following Ice Universe’s Twitter thread, the problem lies in the way color space is handled by the Android OS.

The image was created using the RGB color space to display image hues, while Android 10 uses the sRGB color space protocol, according to 9to5Google contributor Dylan Roussel. When the Android phone cannot properly convert the Adobe RGB image, it crashes.

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Newly Declassified Study Demonstrates Uselessness of NSA’s Phone Metadata Program

The New York Times is reporting on the NSA’s phone metadata program, which the NSA shut down last year:

A National Security Agency system that analyzed logs of Americans’ domestic phone calls and text messages cost $100 million from 2015 to 2019, but yielded only a single significant investigation, according to a newly declassified study.

Moreover, only twice during that four-year period did the program generate unique information that the F.B.I. did not already possess, said the study, which was produced by the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board and briefed to Congress on Tuesday.

[…]

The privacy board, working with the intelligence community, got several additional salient facts declassified as part of the rollout of its report. Among them, it officially disclosed that the system has gained access to Americans’ cellphone records, not just logs of landline phone calls.

It also disclosed that in the four years the Freedom Act system was operational, the National Security Agency produced 15 intelligence reports derived from it. The other 13, however, contained information the F.B.I. had already collected through other means, like ordinary subpoenas to telephone companies.

The report cited two investigations in which the National Security Agency produced reports derived from the program: its analysis of the Pulse nightclub mass shooting in Orlando, Fla., in June 2016 and of the November 2016 attack at Ohio State University by a man who drove his car into people and slashed at them with a machete. But it did not say whether the investigations into either of those attacks were connected to the two intelligence reports that provided unique information not already in the possession of the F.B.I.

This program is legal due to the USA FREEDOM Act, which expires on March 15. Congress is currently debating whether to extend the authority, even though the NSA says it’s not using it now.

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