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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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