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Make Way for the Snitch State: The All-Seeing Fourth Branch of Government

This article was originally published by John W. Whitehead & Nisha Whitehead at the Rutherford Institute. 

“It is just when people are all engaged in snooping on themselves and one another that they become anesthetized to the whole process. As information itself becomes the largest business in the world, data banks know more about individual people than the people do themselves. The more the data banks record about each one of us, the less we exist.”—Marshall McLuhan, From Cliche To Archetype

We’re being spied on by a domestic army of government snitches, spies, and techno-warriors.

This government of Peeping Toms is watching everything we do, reading everything we write, listening to everything we say, and monitoring everything we spend.

Beware of what you say, what you read, what you write, where you go, and with whom you communicate, because it is all being recorded, stored, and cataloged, and will be used against you eventually, at a time and place of the government’s choosing.

This far-reaching surveillance has paved the way for an omnipresent, militarized fourth branch of government—the Surveillance State—that came into being without any electoral mandate or constitutional referendum.

Indeed, long before the National Security Agency (NSA) became the agency we loved to hate, the Justice Department, the FBI, and the Drug Enforcement Administration were carrying out their own secret mass surveillance on an unsuspecting populace.

Even agencies not traditionally associated with the intelligence community are part of the government’s growing network of snitches and spies.

Just about every branch of the government—from the Postal Service to the Treasury Department and every agency in between—now has its own surveillance sector, authorized to spy on the American people. For instance, the U.S. Postal Service, which has been photographing the exterior of every piece of paper mail for the past 20 years, is also spying on Americans’ texts, emails, and social media posts. Headed up by the Postal Service’s law enforcement division, the Internet Covert Operations Program (iCOP) is reportedly using facial recognition technology, combined with fake online identities, to ferret out potential troublemakers with “inflammatory” posts. The agency claims the online surveillance, which falls outside its conventional job scope of processing and delivering paper mail, is necessary to help postal workers avoid “potentially volatile situations.”

Then there are the fusion and counterterrorism centers that gather all of the data from the smaller government spies—the police, public health officials, transportation, etc.—and make it accessible for all those in power. And that doesn’t even begin to touch on the complicity of the corporate sector, which buys and sells us from cradle to grave until we have no more data left to mine.

It’s not just what we say, where we go and what we buy that is being tracked.

We’re being surveilled right down to our genes, thanks to a potent combination of hardware, software, and data collection that scans our biometrics—our faces, irises, voices, genetics, even our gait—runs them through computer programs that can break the data down into unique “identifiers,” and then offers them up to the government and its corporate allies for their respective uses.

All of those internet-connected gadgets we just have to have (Forbes refers to them as “(data) pipelines to our intimate bodily processes”)—the smartwatches that can monitor our blood pressure and the smartphones that let us pay for purchases with our fingerprints and iris scans—are setting us up for a brave new world where there is nowhere to run and nowhere to hide.

For instance, imagine what the government could do (and is likely already doing) with voiceprint technology, which has been likened to a fingerprint. Described as “the next frontline in the battle against overweening public surveillance,” the collection of voiceprints is a booming industry for governments and businesses alike. As The Guardian reports, “voice biometrics could be used to pinpoint the location of individuals.”

We are now the unwitting victims of an interconnected, tightly woven, technologically evolving web of real-time, warrantless, wall-to-wall mass surveillance that makes the spy programs spawned by the USA Patriot Act look like child’s play.

Fusion centers. See Something, Say Something. Red flag laws. Behavioral threat assessments. Terror watch lists. Facial recognition. Snitch tip lines. Biometric scanners. Pre-crime. DNA databases. Data mining. Precognitive technology. Contact tracing apps.

These are all part and parcel of the widening surveillance dragnet that the government has used and abused in order to extend its reach and its power.

The COVID-19 pandemic has succeeded in acclimating us even further to being monitored, tracked, and reported for so-called deviant or undesirable behavior.

Consequently, we now live in a society in which a person can be accused of any number of crimes without knowing what exactly he has done. He might be apprehended in the middle of the night by a roving band of SWAT police. He might find himself on a no-fly list, unable to travel for reasons undisclosed. He might have his phones or internet tapped based upon a secret order handed down by a secret court, with no recourse to discover why he was targeted.

This Kafkaesque nightmare has become America’s reality.

Despite the fact that its data snooping has been shown to be ineffective at detecting, let alone stopping, any actual terror attacks, the government continues to operate its domestic spying programs largely in secret, carrying out warrantless mass surveillance on hundreds of millions of Americans’ phone calls, emails, text messages and the like.

The question of how to deal with government agencies and programs that operate outside of the system of checks and balances established by the Constitution forces us to contend with a deeply unsatisfactory and dubious political “solution” to a problem that operates beyond the reach of voters and politicians: how do you hold accountable a government that lies, cheats, steals, sidesteps the law, and then absolves itself of wrongdoing?

Certainly, the history and growth of the NSA tracks with the government’s insatiable hunger for ever-great powers.

Since its official start in 1952, when President Harry S. Truman issued a secret executive order establishing the NSA as the hub of the government’s foreign intelligence activities, the agency—nicknamed “No Such Agency”—has operated covertly, unaccountable to Congress all the while using taxpayer dollars to fund its secret operations. It was only when the agency ballooned to 90,000 employees in 1969, making it the largest intelligence agency in the world with a significant footprint outside Washington, DC, that it became more difficult to deny its existence.

In the aftermath of Watergate in 1975, the Senate held meetings under the Church Committee in order to determine exactly what sorts of illicit activities the American intelligence apparatus was engaged in under the direction of President Nixon, and how future violations of the law could be stopped. It was the first time the NSA was exposed to public scrutiny since its creation.

The investigation revealed a sophisticated operation whose surveillance programs paid little heed to such things as the Constitution. For instance, under Project SHAMROCK, the NSA spied on telegrams to and from the U.S., as well as the correspondence of American citizens. Moreover, as the Saturday Evening Post reports, “Under Project MINARET, the NSA monitored the communications of civil rights leaders and opponents of the Vietnam War, including targets such as Martin Luther King, Jr., Mohammed Ali, Jane Fonda, and two active U.S. Senators. The NSA had launched this program in 1967 to monitor suspected terrorists and drug traffickers, but successive presidents used it to track all manner of political dissidents.”

Senator Frank Church (D-Ida.), who served as the chairman of the Select Committee on Intelligence that investigated the NSA, understood only too well the dangers inherent in allowing the government to overstep its authority in the name of national security. Church recognized that such surveillance powers “at any time could be turned around on the American people, and no American would have any privacy left, such is the capability to monitor everything: telephone conversations, telegrams, it doesn’t matter. There would be no place to hide.”

Noting that the NSA could enable a dictator “to impose total tyranny” upon an utterly defenseless American public, Church declared that he did not “want to see this country ever go across the bridge” of constitutional protection, congressional oversight, and popular demand for privacy. He avowed that “we,” implicating both Congress and its constituency in this duty, “must see to it that this agency and all agencies that possess this technology operate within the law and under proper supervision so that we never cross over that abyss. That is the abyss from which there is no return.

The result was the passage of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA), and the creation of the FISA Court, which was supposed to oversee and correct how intelligence information is collected and collated. The law requires that the NSA get clearance from the FISA Court, a secret surveillance court before it can carry out surveillance on American citizens. Fast forward to the present day, and the so-called solution to the problem of government entities engaging in unjustified and illegal surveillance—the FISA Court—has unwittingly become the enabler of such activities, rubberstamping almost every warrant request submitted to it.

The 9/11 attacks served as a watershed moment in our nation’s history, ushering in an era in which immoral and/or illegal government activities such as surveillance, torture, strip searches, SWAT team raids are sanctioned as part of the quest to keep us “safe.”

In the wake of the 9/11 attacks, George W. Bush secretly authorized the NSA to conduct warrantless surveillance on Americans’ phone calls and emails. That wireless wiretap program was reportedly ended in 2007 after the New York Times reported on it, to mass indignation.

Nothing changed under Barack Obama. In fact, the violations worsened, with the NSA authorized to secretly collect internet and telephone data on millions of Americans, as well as on foreign governments.

It was only after whistleblower Edward Snowden’s revelations in 2013 that the American people fully understood the extent to which they had been betrayed once again.

Even so, nothing really changed.

Since then, presidents, politicians, and court rulings have come and gone, but none of them have done much to put an end to the government’s “techno tyranny.”

At every turn, we have been handicapped in our quest for transparency, accountability, and a representative democracy by an established culture of secrecy: secret agencies, secret experiments, secret military bases, secret surveillance, secret budgets, and secret court rulings, all of which exist beyond our reach, operate outside our knowledge, and do not answer to “we the people.”

Yet the surveillance sector is merely one small part of a shadowy permanent government comprised of unelected bureaucrats who march in lockstep with profit-driven corporations that actually runs Washington, DC, and works to keep us under close watch and, thus, under control. For example, Google openly works with the NSA, Amazon has built a massive $600 million intelligence database for the CIA, and the telecommunications industry is making a fat profit by spying on us for the government.

Most recently, the Biden Administration indicated it may be open to working with non-governmental firms in order to warrantlessly monitor citizens online.

This would be nothing new, however. Vast quantities of the government’s digital surveillance is already being outsourced to private companies, who are far less restrained in how they harvest and share our personal data.

In this way, Corporate America is making a hefty profit by aiding and abetting the government in its militarized domestic surveillance efforts.

Cue the dawning of what The Nation refers to as “the rise of a new class in America: the cyberintelligence ruling class. These are the people—often referred to as ‘intelligence professionals’—who do the actual analytical and targeting work of the NSA and other agencies in America’s secret government. Over the last [20] years, thousands of former high-ranking intelligence officials and operatives have left their government posts and taken up senior positions at military contractors, consultancies, law firms, and private-equity firms. In their new jobs, they replicate what they did in government—often for the same agencies they left. But this time, their mission is strictly for-profit.”

The snitch culture has further empowered the Surveillance State.

As Ezra Marcus writes for the New York Times, “Throughout the past year, American society responded to political upheaval and biological peril by turning to an age-old tactic for keeping rule breakers in check: tattling.”

This new era of snitch surveillance is the lovechild of the government’s post-9/11 “See Something, Say Something” programs combined with the self-righteousness of a politically correct, technologically-wired age.

Marcus continues:

“Technology, and our abiding love of it, is crucial to our current moment of social surveillance. Snitching isn’t just a byproduct of nosiness or fear; it’s a technological feature built into the digital architecture of the pandemic era — specifically when it comes to software designed for remote work and Covid-tracing… Contact tracing apps … have started to be adapted for other uses, including criminal probes by the Singaporean government. If that seems distinctly worrying, it might be useful to remember that the world’s most powerful technology companies, whose products you are likely using to read this story, already use a business model of mass surveillance, collecting and selling user information to advertisers at an unfathomable scale. Our cellphones track us everywhere, and our locations are bought and sold by data brokers at incredible, intimate detail. Facial recognition software used by law enforcement trawls Instagram selfies. Facebook harvests the biometric data of its users. The whole ecosystem, more or less, runs on snitching.”

As I make clear in my book Battlefield America: The War on the American People, what we are dealing with today is not just a beast that has outgrown its chains but a beast that will not be restrained.

The post Make Way for the Snitch State: The All-Seeing Fourth Branch of Government first appeared on SHTF Plan – When It Hits The Fan, Don’t Say We Didn’t Warn You.

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“So Sue Us”: Amazon Responds To 75,000 Customers Who Say Alexa Spied On Them

This article was originally published by Tyler Durden at ZeroHedge. 

After receiving more than 75,000 individual complaints that its Alex-powered Echo devices were spying on them, Amazon has abandoned its policy that such complaints must be resolved outside the court system via secretive arbitration proceedings, and will instead allow customers to file lawsuits, according to the Wall Street Journal.

In other words, “so sue us.”

The company quietly changed its terms of service to file lawsuits, as the company already faces at least three class-action suits – including one brought May 18 alleging that the company’s Echo devices were recording people without permission.

The retail giant made the change after plaintiffs’ lawyers flooded Amazon with more than 75,000 individual arbitration demands on behalf of Echo users. That move triggered a bill for tens of millions of dollars in filing fees, according to lawyers involved, payable by Amazon under its own policies.

Amazon’s decision to drop its arbitration requirement is the starkest example yet of how companies are responding to plaintiffs’ lawyers pushing the arbitration system to its limits. -WSJ

Arbitration agreements are typically buried in the fine print in order to avoid costly litigation, while many employers use them for adjudicating issues such as discrimination complaints or pay disputes. The right to require arbitration has been repeatedly upheld by the US Supreme Court.

During private arbitration, less evidence is presented and there are no appeals – with companies typically agreeing to pay for initial filing fees ranging between $100 and $2,000. The proceedings are managed by companies that charge an additional fee, while the arbitrators themselves will of course bill for their time.

According to consumer advocates and plaintiffs’ lawyers, arbitration usually makes it financially worthwhile for individuals to pursue claims, while companies say it’s a fair process.

Companies thought they were getting out of liability altogether,” with arbitration clauses, says Chicago lawyer Travis Lenkner, whose firm filed the majority of the Amazon claims. “Now they’re seeing exactly what they bargained for, and they don’t like it.”

The mass-arbitration filings have forced companies to scrambleUber Technologies Inc., Lyft Inc., and TurboTax maker Intuit Inc. have all tried to avoid paying filing fees or direct claims back into court after being hit in recent years with thousands of arbitration claims.

Few companies so far seem ready to scrap arbitration outright like Amazon.

Instead, some are requiring employees to speak to a lawyer at the company before filing an arbitration claim. One arbitration provider created a mass-claim protocol that calls for handling a few test cases before the full filing fees come due. -WSJ

Claims against Amazon began pouring in after it was revealed in 2019 that Alexa devices were storing recordings of users without their consent. When consumers filed for class-action lawsuits claiming that the recordings violated consent laws, Amazon was able to successfully argue that the claims belonged in arbitration. In early 2020, Keller Lenkner and other firms filed tens of thousands of individual arbitration demands.

One year later, Amazon’s attorneys notified plaintiffs’ attorneys of their recent change in terms of service – eliminating a 350-word arbitration requirement and replacing it with two sentences that say disputes can be brought in a state or federal court near Amazon’s Washington state headquarters.

Local attorneys are surely buzzing with excitement.

The post “So Sue Us”: Amazon Responds To 75,000 Customers Who Say Alexa Spied On Them first appeared on SHTF Plan – When It Hits The Fan, Don’t Say We Didn’t Warn You.

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Pentagon conducting warrantless surveillance of Americans, senator says

The Pentagon is conducting warrantless surveillance of Americans, according to a U.S. senator. A letter written by Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) demands the Department of Defense release information about any government agencies buying location data from “shady” app companies to spy on U.S. citizens.

“I write to urge you to release to the public information about the Department of Defense’s (DoD) warrantless surveillance of Americans,” stated the letter addressed to Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III.

The letter refers to media reports from February 2020 asserting that “U.S. government agencies are buying location data obtained from apps on Americans’ phones and are doing so without any kind of legal process, such as a court order.” Wyden writes that he has “spent the last year investigating the shady, unregulated data brokers that are selling this data and the government agencies that are buying it.”

Last year, the Wall Street Journal reported that law enforcement agencies were using cellphone GPS data taken from mobile apps without obtaining a warrant first. The article referenced a Treasury Department watchdog report claimed that the Internal Revenue Service was utilizing commercial platforms to track cellphones.

A Vox report from the same time said it wasn’t only the IRS that used cellphone data from apps to track Americans, “The military, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) do it, too.”

“The location data is drawn from ordinary cellphone apps, including those for games, weather and e-commerce, for which the user has granted permission to log the phone’s location,” the WSJ reported in February 2020. “U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, a division of DHS, has used the data to help identify immigrants who were later arrested, these people said. U.S. Customs and Border Protection, another agency under DHS, uses the information to look for cellphone activity in unusual places, such as remote stretches of desert that straddle the Mexican border.”

Apps downloaded to a mobile phone send location data to third-party companies that then sell that data to “advertisers, marketers, and data brokers — even other location data providers,” and the information could be passed through “several companies before it reaches its end user,” which could be government agencies willing to pay for the data.

Sean O’Brien, principal researcher of ExpressVPN’s Digital Security Lab, said the practice is akin to “data laundering.” O’Brien told Recode. “There are so many actors sharing and selling data that it’s incredibly difficult to chase the trail.”

One of the companies selling app information to the government was X-Mode Social Inc. Upon the release of the reports of the data broker selling location information of cellphone users to U.S. military contractors, X-Mode’s software development kits and location trackers were banned from the Apple Store and Google Play Store, the two biggest app stores in the world. X-Mode’s software development kit was used in hundreds of apps with millions of users.

It is illegal for the U.S. government to directly surveil Americans without a warrant under the Fourth Amendment. In 2018, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled 5-4 to impose limits on the ability of law enforcement “to obtain cellphone data pinpointing the past location of criminal suspects in a major victory for digital privacy advocates,” according to Reuters.

But government agencies contend they aren’t doing anything illegal since they’re “simply buying commercially available data supplied by users who consented for that data to be collected,” Vox added.

In January, the New York Times reported on an unclassified memo from the Defense Intelligence Agency that allegedly revealed that DIA analysts “have searched for the movements of Americans within a commercial database in five investigations over the past two and a half years.”

“DIA. does not construe the Carpenter decision to require a judicial warrant endorsing purchase or use of commercially available data for intelligence purposes,” the DIA memo purportedly said.

Wyden demands that the Pentagon reveal if any other DoD components besides the DIA are “buying and using without a court order location data collected from phones located in the United States.”

Vice’s Motherboard tech blog reported that one of the answers was classified:

Some of the answers the DoD provided were given in a form that means Wyden’s office cannot legally publish specifics on the surveillance; one answer in particular was classified. In the letter Wyden is pushing the DoD to release the information to the public. A Wyden aide told Motherboard that the Senator is unable to make the information public at this time, but believes it would meaningfully inform the debate around how the DoD is interpreting the law and its purchases of data. Wyden and his staff with appropriate security clearances are able to review classified responses, a Wyden aide told Motherboard. Wyden’s office declined to provide Motherboard with specifics about the classified answer. But a Wyden aide said that the question related to the DoD buying internet metadata.

This allegation of the government spying on people arrives a month after the bombshell report revealing the United States Postal Service has been secretly collecting data regarding social media posts by Americans.

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More Government Spying and Lying

Twice last week, the federal government’s unconstitutional spying on ordinary Americans was exposed. One of these revelations was made by a federal judge in Washington, D.C., who wrote that the FBI is still using warrantless spying in criminal cases, notwithstanding the Constitution and federal laws. The other revelation was a surprise even to those of us who monitor these things — the United States Postal Service acknowledged that it has been spying on Americans.

Here is the backstory.

The modern American security state — the parts of the federal government that spy on Americans and do not change on account of elections — received an enormous shot in the arm in 1978 when Congress enacted the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. That naively misguided and profoundly unconstitutional law was sold to Congress as a way to control the security state’s spying in the aftermath of Watergate. Watergate had revealed that President Richard M. Nixon used the FBI and the CIA to spy on real and imagined domestic political adversaries.

FISA set up a secret court that authorized domestic spying by issuing warrants not based on probable cause of crime, as the Constitution requires, but on probable cause of communicating with foreign agents. Never mind that communications about noncriminal matters are protected speech; the FISA court issued tens of thousands of these warrants.

As the security state’s appetite for spying grew more voracious, its agents and lawyers persuaded the FISA court to lower the bar for issuing a surveillance warrant from communicating with a foreign agent to communicating with a foreign person, and to expand the scope of those warrants to include Americans who have communicated with other Americans who have communicated with foreign people. Under this procedure, if I call my cousins in Florence and then you call me, all of your calls could be surveilled.

Jealous of the ease with which America’s spies can obtain warrants from the FISA court, the FBI persuaded its friends on Capitol Hill to enact legislation that gives the FBI a peek at data the security state gathers — if it meets certain standards — to see if any of it pertains to criminal matters. Each one of these FBI peeks at raw intelligence data is known as a “share.”

All of this was done in utter disregard of the Fourth Amendment requirements that no search warrants shall be issued without showing under oath probable cause of crime and that all warrants shall specifically describe the place to be searched and the person or thing to be seized.

If an FBI agent sees evidence of a nonnational security crime on one of the shares, the agent will try to use it in a criminal prosecution, even though he acquired it in violation of the Fourth Amendment. If federal prosecutors want to introduce evidence from the share at trial, they need to find another source for it, as no judge will admit raw intelligence data obtained without a warrant in a criminal case.

After 9/11, President George W. Bush ordered the National Security Agency — the 60,000-person strong branch of the military that quarterbacks domestic spying — to capture every keystroke on every computer and the contents of every phone call in America. All presidents since Bush — even President Donald Trump, who was personally victimized by this spying — have continued the practice of universal, suspicionless, warrantless spying.

The NSA sharing data with the FBI is deeply troubling because it violates both the Fourth Amendment and federal law. The intentional use of FISA to obtain data about an American for nonnational security-related criminal activity is itself a criminal act as it constitutes a planned and direct violation of the Fourth Amendment by electronic means — otherwise known as hacking.

Last week, the chief judge of the FISA court revealed that for 2019 the FBI reported just one instance of sharing, even though Department of Justice auditors found 91 instances. And that number is far lower than the true number of shares since — inexplicably — the DOJ counts all shares performed by one agent as one share, even though the agent may have accessed the data of more than one American.

In August 2019, one FBI agent accessed the raw intelligence data of 16,000 Americans in order to find criminal evidence about seven of them. The FBI reported that as one share.

Also last week, the USPS revealed that its postal inspectors have been monitoring social media at random, looking for troublemakers. Since social media is publicly posted, you and I can read it at will. But the Fourth Amendment requires that the government have “articulable suspicion” about the person whose social media is being surveilled before it begins its surveillance — even surveillance of publicly available materials. This is to prevent fishing expeditions.

What articulable suspicions did the Postal Service have before its police began their surveillance? What conceivable threat to the postal mails is manifested in texts and emails (other than that the latter are infinitely faster and profoundly more efficient)? None and none.

All this shows just how corrupted America’s security state has become under presidents of both parties. From counting 16,000 as if it were one, to hacking the texts and emails of people without articulable suspicion or probable cause, to orchestrating end runs around the Fourth Amendment, to lying to federal judges about all this — we see the tactics of the East German Stasi and Soviet KGB have been reborn on this side of the Atlantic.

Of what value is the constitutional guarantee of privacy if those we have hired to protect it are themselves undermining it?

The post More Government Spying and Lying first appeared on Tenth Amendment Center.

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Biden Administration To Use The Excuse Of “Third Party Extremism” To Spy On Everyone

As if we aren’t already being spied on. Everything we say and do is tracked and recorded with our cell phones thanks to the Patriot Act. But the Biden administration wants to take things a step further and is using “third party extremism” as the excuse.

Those who no longer wish to submit to the ruling class and be slaves to the government (which is what government is. It is slavery) are now “domestic terrorists.” The audacity of calling the slaves that the masters rule over and command is unbelievable. If you cannot opt-out of the government, you are a slave, making us all one.

 Time to wake up, folks.

As of right now, the Department of Homeland security lacks the authority to spy on dissidents, (those pesky slaves who do not wish to be slaves) but the Biden administration has reportedly found a workaround: using third-party researchers to snoop on so-called “domestic terrorists.” According to a report by RT, in the aftermath of the pro-Trump riot on Capitol Hill in January, the Biden administration, with the support of sympathetic mainstream media outlets and pundits, focused on the intelligence-gathering powers of the state inwards.

Biden added members to a domestic extremism team on the National Security Council, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) declared homegrown “extremists” a “national priority area,” the FBI called for expanded domestic surveillance, and a top Justice Department official last week asked Congress for new powers to prosecute so-called “extremists.” In all cases, the same targets are identified: right-wing dissidents – including militia groups like the Oath Keepers and Proud Boys – who took part in the Capitol riot. –RT

The goal is to make our enslavement permanent with no way out.  There is still a way out right now, but we are running out of time, and many don’t seem to want to face the truth. The left vs. right paradigm lie is just one more way they continue to jack up the control over all of us. Until we realize that having a master, red or blue, it makes no difference, we are slaves.

Continue to use critical thinking and ask the questions no one else is asking. It’s time for us to all face the reality that the government believes not only that they own us, but they have the moral right to own us and treat us as slaves. And the longer we act like slaves and remain beholden in a state of worship to the ruling class on either side (left or right) the longer they’ll treat us like slaves.

The post Biden Administration To Use The Excuse Of “Third Party Extremism” To Spy On Everyone first appeared on SHTF Plan – When It Hits The Fan, Don’t Say We Didn’t Warn You.

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Senior NASA scientist pleads guilty to lying about China ties

A senior NASA scientist pleaded guilty to lying about his participation in a Chinese program that recruits “individuals with access to or knowledge of foreign technology or intellectual property.”

Meyya Meyyappan of Pacifica, California, pleaded guilty to one count of making false statements in a New York federal court on Wednesday. Meyyappan, 66, entered his plea before U.S. District Judge Kevin Castel in Manhattan federal court, the U.S. Department of Justice said Wednesday.

Meyyappan has been employed by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration since 1996, and has been a “chief scientist for Exploration Technology at NASA’s Ames Research Center in California’s Silicon Valley” since 2006, according to Meyyappan’s profile on the NASA website. Previously, Meyyappan served as the director of the Center for Nanotechnology at Ames.

“Dr. Meyyappan is a Fellow of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE), Electrochemical Society (ECS), American Vacuum Society (AVS), Materials Research Society (MRS), Institute of Physics (IOP), American Institute of Chemical Engineers (AIChE), American Institute of Mechanical Engineers (ASME), National Academy of Inventors, and the California Council of Science and Technology,” the space agency said.

In October, Meyyappan was interviewed by the FBI, the NASA Office of Inspector General, and the United States Attorney’s Office.

“During that interview, Meyyappan falsely stated, among other things, that he was not a member of the Thousand Talents Program and that he did not hold a professorship at a Chinese university,” the DOJ press release stated. “In truth and in fact, Meyyappan was a member of the Thousand Talents Program and held a professorship at a Chinese university, funded by the Chinese government.”

The DOJ stated that Meyyappan “participated in China’s Thousand Talents Program, a program established by the Chinese government to recruit individuals with access to or knowledge of foreign technology or intellectual property, and held professorships at universities in China, South Korea, and Japan, and failed to disclose these associations and positions to NASA and the U.S. Office of Government Ethics.”

NASA OIG Special Agent in Charge Mark J. Zielinski stated, “Certain NASA employees are required to disclose affiliations with foreign entities in order to protect NASA’s intellectual property. Failure to do so could allow malicious foreign actors unauthorized access to American taxpayer funded technologies. We thank the FBI and the USAO, SDNY for their assistance throughout this investigation.”

Acting U.S. Attorney Audrey Strauss said, “Meyya Meyyappan held a trusted position at NASA, with access to valuable intellectual property. In violation of the terms of his employment and relevant laws and regulations, Meyyappan failed to disclose participation in a Chinese government recruitment program, and subsequently lied about it to NASA investigators, FBI agents, and our Office. Now, having admitted his crime, Meyyappan awaits sentencing.”

Meyyappan is scheduled to be sentenced on June 16, and faces a maximum sentence of five years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000.

In May, the DOJ announced that a former Cleveland Clinic employee had been arrested. Dr. Qing Wang “lied to receive more than $3.6 million in grants from the National Institutes of Health while also collecting money for the same research from the Chinese government,” NPR reported.

“It is also alleged that Dr. Wang participated in the Thousand Talents Program, a program established by the Chinese government to recruit individuals with access to or knowledge of foreign technology and intellectual property,” the DOJ statement said.

In June, a prominent scientist at Harvard University was indicted by the Justice Department for lying to federal authorities about his participation in China’s Thousand Talents Program.

Dr. Charles Lieber, the former chair of Harvard University’s Chemistry and Chemical Biology Department, lied to the U.S. government about his position as “Strategic Scientist” at the Wuhan University of Technology in China, according to prosecutors. He was allegedly paid a salary of up to $50,000 a month to set up the laboratory for the Wuhan University of Technology, plus was allotted additional living expenses of up to $158,000.

Lieber has pleaded not guilty.

In July, the Department of Justice claimed that a NASA researcher and University of Arkansas professor had ties to the Chinese government. Simon Saw-Teong Ang, was indicted by a federal grand jury on 42 counts of wire fraud and two counts of passport fraud.

Court documents show that Ang had conversations with a researcher in China about his involvement in the Thousand Talents Program.

“Not many people here know I am [a Thousand talents program scholar] but if this leaks out, my job here will be in deep troubles,” Ang reportedly wrote. “I have to be very careful or else I may be out of my job from this university.”

FBI Director Chris Wray gave a speech at the Hudson Institute in July, where he delivered a warning about the Thousand Talents Program.

“Through its talent recruitment programs, like the so-called Thousand Talents Program, the Chinese government tries to entice scientists to secretly bring our knowledge and innovation back to China — even if that means stealing proprietary information or violating our export controls and conflict-of-interest rules,” Wray said.

“The greatest long-term threat to our nation’s information and intellectual property, and to our economic vitality, is the counterintelligence and economic espionage threat from China,” Wray said during the speech. “It’s a threat to our economic security — and by extension, to our national security.”

In November 2019, the U.S. Senate released a report titled, “Threats to the U.S. Research Enterprise: China’s Talent Recruitment Plans,” which outlined dangers presented by Chinese recruitment organizations, including the Thousand Talents Program.

Launched in 2008, the Thousand Talents Plan incentivizes individuals engaged in research and development in the United States to transmit the knowledge and research they gain here to China in exchange for salaries, research funding, lab space, and other incentives. China unfairly uses the American research and expertise it obtains for its own economic and military gain. In recent years, federal agencies have discovered talent recruitment plan members who downloaded sensitive electronic research files before leaving to return to China, submitted false information when applying for grant funds, and willfully failed to disclose receiving money from the Chinese government on U.S. grant applications.

China designed the Thousand Talents Plan to recruit 2,000 high-quality overseas talents, including scientists, engineers, entrepreneurs, and finance experts. The plan provides salaries, research funding, lab space, and other incentives to lure experts into researching for China. According to one report, by 2017, China dramatically exceeded its recruitment goal, having recruited more than 7,000 “high-end professionals,” including several Nobel laureates.

In December, a massive database of nearly 2 million registered Chinese Communist Party members was leaked to the public. The database breach reportedly gave insight into CCP members infiltrating western companies, including businesses in the United States, Australia, and the United Kingdom.

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Big tech Ccp China Espionage Intelwars spying Tech censorship tiananmen square Zoom

Zoom executive exposed as Chinese Communist spy who sabotaged anti-China video conferences with child porn and terrorism: DOJ

A former executive at Zoom, who shut down video conferences that were not flattering to China, was exposed as a spy for the Chinese Communist Party, according to the Department of Justice.

Xinjiang Jin, aka Julien Jin, was an employee of the American video conferencing company. The 39-year-old, who was based in China’s Zhejiang Province, worked as a “security technical leader” for tech company headquartered in San Jose, California. Jin served as a liaison between Zoom and the Chinese government after Beijing blocked the company’s service in China in September 2019.

Jin provided the Chinese Communist Party with information about users and meetings, even supplying the CCP with IP addresses from anyone who held anti-China sentiments, say federal prosecutors in Brooklyn, New York.

According to the complaint filed in United States District Court for the Eastern District of New York, Jin reportedly participated in a plot to disrupt a series of meetings in May and June that commemorated the Tiananmen Square massacre, where at least 280 pro-democracy demonstrators were shot dead.

In the CCP’s bidding, it is reported that at least four video meetings commemorating the 31st anniversary of the Tiananmen Square massacre were infiltrated and terminated. Jin and his co-conspirators reportedly contrived false accusations, including child porn and terrorism, against Zoom users in the United States.

Jin’s co-conspirators created fake email accounts and Company-1 accounts in the names of others, including PRC political dissidents, to fabricate evidence that the hosts of and participants in the meetings to commemorate the Tiananmen Square massacre were supporting terrorist organizations, inciting violence or distributing child pornography. The fabricated evidence falsely asserted that the meetings included discussions of child abuse or exploitation, terrorism, racism or incitements to violence, and sometimes included screenshots of the purported participants’ user profiles featuring, for example, a masked person holding a flag resembling that of the Islamic State terrorist group. Jin used the complaints as evidence to persuade Company-1 executives based in the United States to terminate meetings and suspend or terminate the user accounts of the meeting hosts.

In June, Zoom admitted that they suspended a U.S.-based user who had hosted an event commemorating the anniversary of 1989’s Tiananmen Square Massacre. Republican Sen. Marco Rubio, the chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee, questioned the company’s close ties with China.

“The allegations in the complaint lay bare the Faustian bargain that the PRC government demands of U.S. technology companies doing business within the PRC’s borders, and the insider threat that those companies face from their own employees in the PRC,” acting U.S. Attorney Seth DuCharme said in a statement. “As alleged, Jin worked closely with the PRC government and members of PRC intelligence services to help the PRC government silence the political and religious speech of users of the platform of a U.S. technology company. Jin willingly committed crimes, and sought to mislead others at the company, to help PRC authorities censor and punish U.S. users’ core political speech merely for exercising their rights to free expression.”

Zoom is not directly identified in the DOJ document, but the teleconferencing company released a statement addressing the situation. Zoom said they were “fully cooperating” with the Department of Justice, terminated the “China-based former employee charged in this matter,” and “placed other employees on administrative leave pending the completion of our investigation.”

Last week, there was a massive database leak of nearly 2 million registered Chinese Communist Party members. The breach provided an “unprecedented view” into how China could infiltrate western businesses and companies.

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Barack Obama Donald Trump Intelwars Mainstream media Obama spying reporters spying

Obama compares Trump to dictator, citing treatment of media. But what Obama did to reporters was worse.

Former President Barack Obama compared President Donald Trump to a dictator in a new interview Sunday, bashing Trump’s presidential disposition and, in particular, his treatment of the press.

Obama has become increasingly outspoken against Trump in recent weeks, both while campaigning on behalf of Democrat Joe Biden and to promote his forthcoming post-presidential memoir — “A Promised Land” — the first volume of which is being released Tuesday.

What did Obama say?

Obama’s critique came during an interview with CBS’ “60 Minutes.” He was responding to a question from host Scott Pelley, who asked Obama to respond to Trump’s allegations of voter fraud in the 2020 election.

“I think that there has been this sense over the last several years that literally anything goes and is justified in order to get power,” Obama said.

“And that’s not unique to the United States,” Obama continued. “There are strong men and dictators around the world who think that ‘I can do anything to stay in power. I can kill people. I can throw them in jail. I can run phony elections. I can suppress journalists.’ But that’s not who we’re supposed to be.”

“And one of the signals I think that Joe Biden needs to send to the world is that ‘No, those values that we preached, and we believed in, and subscribed in — we still believe,'” the former president added.

What about Obama’s relationship with the media?

Although Democrats often pretend to have a fuzzy posture toward reporters, Obama’s record of press relations was less than stellar.

In fact, as many Americans may remember, Obama’s administration took significant steps to hide information from the press, going so far as to use controversial laws to spy on reporters.

The Associated Press even called Obama’s actions more detrimental than Trump’s rhetoric against the media.

The Obama administration used the 1917 Espionage Act with unprecedented vigor, prosecuting more people under that law for leaking sensitive information to the public than all previous administrations combined. Obama’s Justice Department dug into confidential communications between news organizations and their sources as part of that effort.

In 2013 the Obama administration obtained the records of 20 Associated Press office phone lines and reporters’ home and cell phones, seizing them without notice, as part of an investigation into the disclosure of information about a foiled al-Qaida terrorist plot. AP was not the target of the investigation. But it called the seizure a “massive and unprecedented intrusion” into its news-gathering activities, betraying information about its operations “that the government has no conceivable right to know.”

Obama’s Justice Department also secretly dogged Fox News journalist James Rosen, getting his phone records, tracking his arrivals and departures at the State Department through his security-badge use, obtaining a search warrant to see his personal emails and naming him as a possible criminal conspirator in the investigation of a news leak.

Anything else?

Obama’s comments Sunday were the second time he’s compared Trump to a dictator just this month alone.

Just before Election Day, Obama blasted Trump over reports that Trump would pre-emptively declare victory on election night.

“He’s been coddling dictators for the last four years, and now apparently he says he might declare victory before all the votes are counted tomorrow,” Obama said. “That’s not something that a leader of a democracy does; that’s something a two-bit dictator does.”

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Big Brother border patrol cellphone data mining Conspiracy Fact and Theory Headline News Homes Intelwars Law Enforcement Phones Police State ruling class spying trace Track Warrant

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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Chinese government Intelwars NYPD Officer Reservist spying

NYPD officer arrested, charged with spying for Chinese government

A New York City police officer and U.S. Army reservist was arrested on Monday, accused of spying on behalf of the Chinese government for the past several years.

What are the details?

The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of New York announced that Officer Baimadajie Angwang, 33, was arrested for “acting as an illegal agent of the People’s Republic of China as well as committing wire fraud, making false statements and obstructing an official proceeding.”

Federal authorities claim that Angwang, a naturalized U.S. citizen and ethnic Tibetan native to China, “allegedly acted at the direction and control of officials at the PRC Consulate in New York City” since “at least 2014,” using his position to spy at the behest of China while serving at the NYPD’s community affairs unit.

CNBC reported that Angwang was born in the autonomous region of Tibet, and used his position as an officer to report back to Chinese officials “on the activities of other ethnic Tibetans in the New York area.”

The New York Post reported that according to court documents, Angwang “stated that his motivation to be promoted in the NYPD was to assist the PRC and bring “glory to China,” and that if he was not able to be promoted within the department, “he stated that ‘he might as well be a government employee in China.'”

Officer accused of lying on military form

Angwang is also accused of lying in order to obtain secret clearance as a member of the military.

The Department of Justice news release noted:

As part of his employment with the U.S. Army Reserve, Angwang maintained a “SECRET”-level security clearance. According to court documents, in 2019, Angwang completed and electronically submitted an SF-86C form for a background investigation. On the form, Angwang lied by denying that he had contacts with a foreign government or its consulate and by denying that he had close and continuing contacts with foreign nationals, including his family members who live in the PRC, some of whom are affiliated with the People’s Liberation Army.

“The defendant allegedly violated the trust of his community and the New York City Police Department on behalf of a foreign power, the People’s Republic of China,” Assistant FBI Director Alan E. Kohler said in a statement. “This type of conduct simply cannot be tolerated. This case serves as yet another reminder that China represents the biggest counterintelligence threat to the United States and that the FBI and our partners will be aggressive in investigating and stopping such activities within our nation.”

If convicted on all charges, Angwang could face 55 years in federal prison.

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Americans' rights Big Brother CDC Coronavirus COVID-19 government access Headline News health surveillance Hospital human rights Intelwars Jared Kushner mass survveillance medical martial law National Crisis Orwellian pandemic Patriot Act Police State privacy violations secret public surveillance network spying Task force WHITE HOUSE

White House Uses COVID-19 As A Reason To Create A Real-Time National Coronavirus Surveillance System

This article was originally published by Mass Private I at Mass Private I Blog. 

When is enough, enough? How many national surveillance systems does America need?

President Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner has created a task force that wants to create a real-time national coronavirus surveillance system.

An article in Politico.com revealed how the national coronavirus surveillance system would allow federal authorities to see why someone is visiting their doctor and why they are in the hospital.

White House senior adviser Jared Kushner’s task force has reached out to a range of health technology companies about creating a national coronavirus surveillance system to give the government a near real-time view of where patients are seeking treatment and for what, and whether hospitals can accommodate them, according to four people with knowledge of the discussions.

Giving government officials unfettered access to a patient’s doctor’s visits and what they are being treated for would destroy the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA).

A national coronavirus surveillance network hospital surveillance network would affect American’s rights on a scale not seen since 9/11.

The prospect of compiling a national database of potentially sensitive health information has prompted concerns about its impact on civil liberties well after the coronavirus threat recedes, with some critics comparing it to the Patriot Act enacted after the 9/11 attacks.

Using COVID-19 as an excuse to monitor hospital emergency rooms is disingenuous at best and misleading at worst.

It would allow federal officials to continuously track elements like hospitals’ bed availability and the flow of patients into specific emergency rooms across the country — thereby enabling the government to rush resources to parts of the country before they’re hit by a surge of coronavirus cases.

It is hard to put into words how disturbing the White House’s plan is. Imagine serving up your entire life’s medical history to a government that only seems interested in knowing everything about all of us.

Most kids are born in hospitals, most kids go to the hospital to receive vaccinations. When someone goes to the hospital for say an injury or a malady they are asked to fill out a medical questionnaire that asks patients to reveal all kinds of personal information that government officials could have access to at their fingertips now because of this proposed  program.

Whether a national coronavirus surveillance system is run by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) only time will tell.

Some public health experts, meanwhile, suggested that the administration might instead built out and reorient an existing surveillance system housed within the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that aided the response to prior epidemics. The system, called the National Syndromic Surveillance Program, is a voluntary collaboration between the CDC and various state and local health departments that draws data from more than 4,000 health care facilities.

Politico’s summarization of the CDC’s the National Syndromic Surveillance Program (NSSP) is slightly misleading.

According to the CDC’s “overview” page, the NSSP is much more than a voluntary collaboration of hospitals sharing patient information and more like a secret public surveillance network.

The NSSP collects, analyzes, and shares electronic patient encounter data received from emergency departments, urgent and ambulatory care centers, inpatient healthcare settings, and laboratories.

The NSSP is the closest thing America has to a secret national patient surveillance network.

Currently, there are “more than 4,000 health care facilities covering 47 states and the District of Columbia that contribute data to the BioSense Platform daily.”

The NSSP’s BioSense Platform is a cloud-based patient surveillance program that hospitals voluntarily hand over to the Feds. The CDC calls it “a secure integrated electronic health information system that allows them to rapidly collect, evaluate, share, and store syndromic surveillance data.”

Creating a national coronavirus surveillance system run by the CDC which has a long history of working with the Department of Homeland Security is a no-brainer for the White House.

Giving DHS the keys to Americans’ health records at the click of a button is a recipe for disaster. Not only will every hacker in the world try and gain access to them, but it will open up a new form of public surveillance.

Imagine getting stopped by a police officer who interrogates you at a state border because you had a fever and cough two weeks ago. If you think that could never happen, I encourage you to read my latest story about police doing just that.

As Politico said, creating a real-time national coronavirus surveillance system “would represent a significant expansion of government use of individual patient data, forcing a new reckoning over privacy limits amid a national crisis.”

Since 9/11 we have seen numerous public surveillance networks created as an excuse to assuage public fears, but creating another patient surveillance system doesn’t make sense and it is not needed.

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Airbnb artificially intelligence Church of Scientology condominiums Headline News Intelwars mass surveillance personality tests renters risk assessments Social Media spying

Airbnb Gives Renters Secret Risk Assessments And Personality Tests

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

What does the Church of Scientology and Airbnb have in common? If you answered secret risk assessments and personality tests, then give yourself a gold star. If you have rented an Airbnb in the past six years, the odds are pretty high that you have been given a secret risk assessment and personality score.

According to an Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC) complaint, Airbnb’s secret renter risk assessments are just as specious as the Church of Scientology’s personality tests.

This complaint concerns Airbnb’s deployment of a risk assessment technique that assigns secret ratings to prospective renters, based on behavior traits using an opaque, proprietary algorithm. Airbnb has failed to show that its technique meets the fairness, transparency, and explainability standards for AI-based decision-making set out in the OECD AI Principles and the Universal Guidelines for AI.

According to EPIC, Airbnb uses a secret algorithm to generate renter “risk scores.”

Airbnb generates a risk assessment score for consumers before their reservations are confirmed.As the company explains on their website: Risk scoring. Every Airbnb reservation is scored for risk before it’s confirmed. We use predictive analytics and machine learning to instantly evaluate hundreds of signals that help us flag and investigate suspicious activity before it happens.

For six years, Airbnb has been using its “determining trustworthiness and compatibility of a person” algorithm to create risk scores of every renter.

Airbnb also uses its secret algorithm to rate renters’ personalities.

Personality comprises the emotional and cognitive characteristic of a person. Behavior is how a person acts or reacts, sometimes toward another person, in a certain situation. A person with positive personality or behavior traits such as conscientiousness and openness, for example, is often perceived as more reliable and trustworthy. A person with negative personality or behavior traits such as neuroticism and involvement in crimes, for example, is often perceived as untrustworthy.

Airbnb does not want people who are “shy, anxious or depressed” to rent their apartments, condominiums or homes because those types of people are likely to leave negative comments.

But Airbnb will rent to people with a “high trustworthiness score” because they are more likely to leave positive comments.

Airbnb uses its secret algorithm to check renters’ social network profiles, email address, telephone number, geographic location, date of birth, social connections, employment history, education history, driver’s license number, financial account information, Internet Protocol (IP) address, and device identifier.

EPIC’s complaint claims Airbnb uses its algorithm to score a renters’ trustworthiness based on their social media profiles.

According to the patent application, machine learning inputs include personal data collected from web pages, information from databases, posts on the person’s social network account, posts on a blog or a microblog account of the person, a comment made by the person on a website, or a directory listing for a company or association.

Airbnb’s algorithm is also used to identify renters with Machiavellianism and negative personalities.

A particular personality trait can be badness, anti-social tendencies, goodness, conscientiousness, openness, extraversion, agreeableness, neuroticism, narcissism, Machiavellianism, or psychopathy or is involved in pornography, has authored online content with negative language, or has interests that indicate negative personality or behavior traits.

By identifying the so-called negative personality or behavior traits of their renters, Airbnb has essentially turned property owners into untrained psychiatric and behavioral therapists.

Airbnb also reviews renters’ emails, phone conversations and in-person encounters with owners and adds them to their secret risk assessment.

The method provides the behavior trait metrics and the personality trait metrics of the first person and corresponding metrics for a second person as input to a scoring system and obtaining as output from the system a compatibility score between the two persons.

Airbnb’s algorithm considers derogatory or angry words an anti-social personality trait. This is horrifying, everything a renter says and does go towards their personal risk assessment.

Airbnb’s risk assessments and personality tests are about as accurate as the Church of Scientology’s E-Meter which purport’s to identify a person’s negative traits using “a box; a needle; one battery; two cans; and a bunch of copper wire.”

Airbnb has one more trick up their sleeve so to speak:  they are also checking renters’ names against secret U.S. government watchlists.

Airbnb has turned a once innocuous thing like renting an apartment, condominium or home into a corporate surveillance nightmare replete with secret risk assessments and anti-social personality scores.

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Bush Administration CIA museum citizens Device dragonfly foia Government Headline News Intelwars mass surveillance Patriot Act spied on spying tracked United States

During The 70’s, The CIA Created A “Robot Dragonfly Spy”

The United States’ Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) is well known for its desire to spy on, track, and contact mass surveillance in order to store information on every single human being possible. And now, thanks to a Freedom of Information Act request, it’s known that they created a robot dragonfly to spy on us.

Newly-released CIA documents show how the espionage agency developed a robot dragonfly spy. The tiny aerial surveillance device – known as the “insectothopter” – was built in the 1970s according to the CIA Museum, where it has been displayed for 16 years. But blueprints for the robotic insect were released this week by the U.S. spy agency to the website The Black Vault. Those blueprints reveal the finely honed microengineering behind the little spy machine.

They show how CIA engineers had built miniature listening devices by 1970, but getting them over obstacles such as an embassy wall remained a major obstacle. Many know that the U.S. government, under the Patriot Act, began to spy relentlessly on our every move and store all of the information that they could on us.

When it was first revealed that the Bush Administration had implemented a secret program of warrantless wiretaps and domestic spying on US citizens, few Americans knew that all of this had happened before. In the early 1970s, it was revealed that US government agencies, including the FBI, CIA, NSA, and IRS, were being used as part of a deliberate plan to infiltrate and disrupt political opponents, and this plan had continued for 20 years under four different Presidents, both Democratic and Republican. This report by the Senate Select Committee (the Church Committee) details the elaborate efforts by the FBI, CIA, and NSA to spy on Americans by tapping their telephones, by intercepting and copying their mail, and even by burglarizing their homes (known as “black bag jobs”). In response to this report, Congress established the FISA courts that Bush bypassed when he directed the NSA to once again spy on Americans without court approval or oversight.

“The ultimate demonstration of controlled powered flight has not yet been achieved,” the CIA chief scientist, who helped develop the robotic dragonfly wrote.

In the end, the robot dragonfly – developed 40 years before unmanned drones – never flew and the spy agency closed the project, but they didn’t stop their quest to find new ways to conduct mass surveillance.

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4th amendment Court Cases CURRENT EVENTS FISA Intelwars NSA Section 702 spying Surveillance United States v. Hasbajrami

Federal Appeals Court: Warrantless Data Collection Is Constitutional

The Second Circuit Court of Appeals issued an opinion that domestic data gobbled up by the National Security Agency (NSA) under Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) and PRISM are are not covered by the Fourth Amendment and their collection by the government is usually constitutional.

The court held that the data gathered via electronic query in pursuance of the case against Agron Hasbajrami did not violate the Fourth Amendment’s prohibition of unwarranted searches and seizures, stating that, “The ‘incidental collection’ of communications (that is, the collection of the communications of individuals in the United States acquired in the course of the surveillance of individuals without ties to the United States and located abroad) is permissible under the Fourth Amendment.”

Furthermore, the court held that “the vast majority of the evidence detailed in the record was lawfully collected.”

In fairness, the court did opine that the federal government’s dragnet collection of the electronic data of Americans raises “novel constitutional questions” that could be addressed by another court.

For its part, the federal government argued that the Fourth Amendment doesn’t extend to private e-mails or phone-call data.

Here’s the background of the facts of the case, as printed in the opinion of the Second Circuit Court of Appeals:

Agron Hasbajrami was arrested at John F. Kennedy International Airport in September 2011 and charged with attempting to provide material support to a terrorist organization. After he pleaded guilty, the government disclosed, for the first time, that certain evidence involved in Hasbajrami’s arrest and prosecution had been derived from information obtained by the government without a warrant pursuant to its warrantless surveillance program under Section 702 of the FISA Amendments Act of 2008. Hasbajrami then withdrew his initial plea and moved to suppress any fruits of the Section 702 surveillance. The district court denied the motion to suppress and Hasbajrami again pleaded guilty, this time pursuant to a conditional guilty plea that allowed him to appeal the district court’s ruling denying his motion to suppress.

Remarkably, Hasbajrami’s lawyers seemed pleased by the decision. “We are gratified by the Court’s remand to resolve a critical factual and constitutional question in this case, as well as its recognition of the important constitutional issues that FISA section 702 raises for everyone. We look forward to the next stage of the litigation,” Hasbajrami’s lawyer Joshua Dratel said in a statement.

While the judges did hold that querying certain intelligence databases “could violate the Fourth Amendment, and thus require the suppression of evidence,” the decision was overall a victory for the surveillance state.

The PRISM program mentioned above was one of the surveillance programs revealed by Edward Snowden.

Under PRISM, the NSA and the FBI are “tapping directly into the central servers of nine leading U.S. Internet companies, extracting audio, video, photographs, e-mails, documents and connection logs that enable analysts to track a person’s movements and contacts over time,” as reported by the Washington Post.

One document in the Snowden revelations indicated that PRISM was “the number one source of raw intelligence used for NSA analytic reports.” Snowden claimed that the program was so invasive that the NSA and the FBI “quite literally can watch your ideas form as you type.”

That’s the sort of thing the Second Circuit Court of Appeals held was permissible under the Fourth Amendment.

The Founders would disagree.

The assault on our rights made by the NSA and other agencies within the federal surveillance apparatus is in every significant way identical to a tactic used by the British Empire in its own attempt to deprive Americans of their liberties some 250 years ago.

King George II (and his son and successor, George III) issued orders known as general writs of assistance. In simple terms, these writs authorized law enforcement and other representatives of the crown to enter buildings to search for contraband without obtaining a warrant. This did not sit well with American Englishmen, and they were determined to boldly declare their determination not to be subjected to searches that exceeded the constitutional authority of the king and Parliament.

Given the role that rebellion against these searches and seizures by government played in igniting the spark that lit the fires of armed resistance in America and the American War for Independence, it is remarkable that there aren’t more Americans advocating for the immediate abolition of all the agencies involved in the issuing and executing of these contemporary Writs of Assistance.

James Otis is a name that is almost completely forgotten by contemporary Americans, but he was once the most famous lawyer in the colonies, and it was his renowned recrimination of unreasonable searches in Boston that earned him fame and influenced his countrymen to resist the tyranny of these deprivations.

At a trial challenging the constitutionality of the General Writs of Assistance, Otis spoke eloquently and persuasively in favor of freedom from the unreasonable searches being carried out by 18th-century government agents:

Now, one of the most essential branches of English liberty is the freedom of one’s house. A man’s house is his castle; and whilst he is quiet, he is as well guarded as a prince in his castle. This writ, if it should be declared legal, would totally annihilate this privilege. Custom-house officers may enter our houses when they please; we are commanded to permit their entry. Their menial servants may enter, may break locks, bars, and everything in their way; and whether they break through malice or revenge, no man, no court can inquire. Bare suspicion without oath is sufficient.

This wanton exercise of this power is not a chimerical suggestion of a heated brain. I will mention some facts. Mr. Pew had one of these writs, and, when Mr. Ware succeeded him, he endorsed this writ over to Mr. Ware; so that these writs are negotiable from one officer to another; and so your Honors have no opportunity of judging the persons to whom this vast power is delegated. Another instance is this: Mr. Justice Walley had called this same Mr. Ware before him, by a constable, to answer for a breach of the Sabbath-day Acts, or that of profane swearing. As soon as he had finished, Mr. Ware asked him if he had done. He replied, “Yes.” “Well then,” said Mr. Ware, “I will show you a little of my power. I command you to permit me to search your house for uncustomed goods” — and went on to search the house from the garret to the cellar; and then served the constable in the same manner.

In the years prior to the ratification of the Constitution, those later involved in that process already had experience drafting documents to protect these precious liberties from the ever-grasping hand of government.

These men abhorred the violence to liberty done by those who were searching their homes and seizing their property without a warrant and on behalf of the Crown and Parliament, believing that “papers are often the dearest property a man can have” and that permitting the government to “sweep away all papers whatsoever,” without any legal justification, “would destroy all the comforts of society.”

In 1776, George Mason, the principal author of the Virginia Declaration of Rights — a document of profound influence on the construction of the federal Bill of Rights — upheld the right to be free from such searches, as well:

That general warrants, whereby any officer or messenger may be commanded to search suspected places without evidence of a fact committed, or to seize any person or persons not named, or whose offence is not particularly described and supported by evidence, are grievous and oppressive, and ought not to be granted.

The federal government relies on state agencies and officers to assist in the collection of data, so the surest way to stop the surveillance and gut the surveillance programs is for states to follow the advice of James Madison and refuse to “cooperate with officers of the union” when their actions exceed the constitutional limits of their authority.

EDITOR’S NOTE: This article was originally published at The New American Magazine and reposted here with permission from the author.

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artificial intelligence Fourth Amendment Intelwars privacy spying Surveillance

A Nightmarish Army of Unblinking Spies

The surveillance state constantly expands. That thing that seems like no big deal today can suddenly become a big deal as technology evolves.

Take the proliferation of surveillance cameras. We’ve come to accept electronic eyes recording our every move like a normal part of life. Most of the time we hardly even notice the cameras. At some level, we may realize we’re being recorded, but we figure nobody will ever actually watch the footage. Even with cameras everywhere, we feel relatively safe in our anonymity.

But how would you feel if you knew somebody was monitoring every camera pointed in your direction 24/7. Scrutinizing your every move. Judging your every action. Noting whom you associate with and scouring your facial expressions for signs of suspicious behavior?

We’re rapidly getting to that place.

Of course, we’re not talking about human “somebodies.” We’re talking about artificial intelligence – “AI agents” capable of scouring video footage every second of every day and flagging “suspicious” behavior.

The ACLU recently released a report on the rapidly growing use of “video analytics” as a surveillance tool. As the ACLU puts it, AI has the potential to turn every-day surveillance cameras into a “nightmarish army of unblinking watchers.”

What we found is that the capabilities that computer scientists are pursuing, if applied to surveillance and marketing, would create a world of frighteningly perceptive and insightful computer watchers monitoring our lives. Cameras that collect and store video just in case it is needed are being transformed into devices that can actively watch us, often in real-time. It is as if a great surveillance machine has been growing up around us, but largely dumb and inert — and is now, in a meaningful sense, “waking up.”

According to the report, police and government intelligence agencies have used AI to develop “anomaly detection” algorithms that can pick up on “unusual,” “abnormal,” “deviant,” or “atypical” and flag such individuals for further scrutiny. As the ACLU reports, this could have far-reaching ramifications and brings with it tremendous potential for abuse.

Think about some of the implications of such techniques, especially when combined with other technologies like face recognition. For example, it’s not hard to imagine some future corrupt mayor saying to an aide, “Here’s a list of enemies of my administration. Have the cameras send us all instances of these people kissing another person, and the IDs of who they’re kissing.” Government and companies could use AI agents to track who is “suspicious” based on such things as clothing, posture, unusual characteristics or behavior, and emotions. People who stand out in some way and attract the attention of such ever-vigilant cameras could find themselves hassled, interrogated, expelled from stores, or worse.

AI also raises concerns about accuracy. We’ve already heard about problems with facial recognition systems misidentifying people – particularly minorities. As the ACLU puts it, “Many or most of these [AI] technologies will be somewhere between unreliable and utterly bogus.”

The interconnectedness of the U.S. surveillance state magnifies danger and the threat to your privacy these systems pose. If a local camera happens to flag you, you will almost certainly end up in national databases accessible by police and government officials across the U.S. Federal, state and local law enforcement agencies can share and tap into vast amounts of information gathered at the state and local level through fusion centers and a system known as the “information sharing environment” or ISE.

George Orwell’s Big Brother would drool over the all-encompassing surveillance system quietly under construction in the United States. Cameras equipped with facial recognition technology. monitored by “AI agents,” and linked to federal, state and local databases can track your every move just by pointing a camera at your face. It effectively turns each of us into a suspect standing in a perpetual lineup.

Police operate these camera systems with little oversight and oftentimes in complete secrecy.

With their rapid proliferation, the potential for abuse and the threat to basic privacy rights posed by camera surveillance, state and local governments need to make oversight and placing limits on law enforcement use of facial recognition a top priority. At the least, law enforcement agencies should be required to get local government approval in a public meeting before obtaining facial recognition technology. The TAC’s Local Ordinance to Limit Surveillance Technology covers this.

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