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Total surveillance society becoming reality

Total surveillance ‘Big Brother’ society fast becoming reality in America
April 2, 2012 – UTAH
- New pioneers have quietly begun moving into the area, secretive outsiders who keep to themselves. They too are focused on deciphering cryptic messages that only they have the power to understand. Just off Beef Hollow Road, less than 2km from brethren headquarters, thousands of hard-hatted builders are laying the groundwork for the newcomers’ own temple and archive, a complex so large that it necessitated expanding the town’s boundaries. Once built, it will be more than five times the size of the U.S. Capitol building. Rather than Bibles and worshippers, this temple will be filled with servers, computer intelligence experts and armed guards. These newcomers will be capturing, storing and analyzing vast quantities of words and images hurtling through the world’s telecommunications networks. In the town of Bluffdale, Big Love and Big Brother have become uneasy neighbors. The blandly named Utah Data Center is being built for the U.S. National Security Agency (NSA). A project of immense secrecy, it is the final piece in a complex puzzle assembled over the past decade. Its purpose: to intercept, decipher, analyze and store vast amounts of the world’s communications from satellites and underground and undersea cables of international, foreign and domestic networks. The heavily fortified $2 billion (£1.25 billion) centre should be operational in September 2013. Stored in near-bottomless databases will be all forms of communication, including private emails, mobile phone calls and Google searches, as well as personal data trails — travel itineraries, purchases and other digital “pocket litter.” It is the realization of the “total information awareness’ program created by the Bush administration — which was killed by Congress in 2003 after an outcry over its potential for invading privacy. But “this is more than just a data centre,” says one senior intelligence official who until recently was involved with the program. The mammoth Bluffdale centre will have another important and far more secret role. It is also critical, he says, for breaking codes, which is crucial because much of the data that the centre will handle — financial information, business deals, foreign military and diplomatic secrets, legal documents, confidential personal communications — will be heavily encrypted. According to another top official also involved, the NSA made a breakthrough several years ago in cryptanalysis, or breaking complex encryption systems used not only by governments around the world but also average computer users. The upshot, says this official, is that “everybody’s a target; everybody with communication is a target.” –Wired

NSA Whistleblower: NSA Spying On – And Blackmailing – Top Government Officials And Military Officers

Tice: Okay. They went after–and I know this because I had my hands literally on the paperwork for these sort of things–they went after high-ranking military officers; they went after members of Congress, both Senate and the House, especially on the intelligence committees and on the armed services committees and some of the–and judicial. But they went after other ones, too. They went after lawyers and law firms. All kinds of–heaps of lawyers and law firms. They went after judges. One of the judges is now sitting on the Supreme Court that I had his wiretap information in my hand. Two are former FISA court judges. They went after State Department officials. They went after people in the executive service that were part of the White House–their own people. They went after...

Obama Views "Leaks" As Aiding Enemies Of U.S.

President Barack Obama’s unprecedented initiative, known as the Insider Threat Program, is sweeping in its reach. It has received scant public attention even though it extends beyond the U.S. national security bureaucracies to most federal departments and agencies nationwide, including the Peace Corps, the Social Security Administration and the Education and Agriculture departments. It emphasizes leaks of classified material, but catchall definitions of “insider threat” give agencies latitude to pursue and penalize a range of other conduct. Government documents reviewed by McClatchy illustrate how some agencies are using that latitude to pursue unauthorized disclosures of any information, not just classified material.

Mysterious Privacy Board Touted By Obama Has Deep Government Ties

The body charged by President Obama with protecting the civil liberties and privacy of the American people exists in shadows almost as dark as the intelligence agencies it is designed to oversee. The Privacy & Civil Liberties Board (PCLOB) was due to meet Obama at the White House on Friday afternoon at 3pm in the situation room to discuss growing concerns over US surveillance of phone and internet records – or, at least, that's what unnamed "senior administration officials" said would happen. The meeting did not appear on the president's official diary issued to journalists, nor has the PCLOB issued much public confirmation beyond saying "further questions were warranted".

PRISM And The Rise Of A New Fascism

In his book Propaganda, published in 1928, Edward Bernays wrote: “The conscious and intelligent manipulation of the organised habits and opinions of the masses is an important element in democratic society. “Those who manipulate this unseen mechanism of society constitute an invisible government which is the true ruling power of our country.” The American nephew of Sigmund Freud, Bernays invented the term “public relations” as a euphemism for state propaganda. He warned that an enduring threat to the invisible government was the truth-teller and an enlightened public. In 1971, the whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg leaked US government files known as the Pentagon Papers, which showed that the invasion of Vietnam was based on systematic lying. Four years later, Frank Church conducted sensational hearings in the Senate: one of the last flickers of American democracy. These laid bare the extent of...

Government Using Metadata To Map Your Every Move

If you tweet a picture from your living room using your smartphone, you’re sharing far more than your new hairdo or the color of the wallpaper. You’re potentially revealing the exact coordinates of your house to anyone on the Internet. The GPS location information embedded in a digital photo is an example of so-called metadata, a once-obscure technical term that’s become one of Washington’s hottest new buzzwords. The word first sprang from the lips of pundits and politicians earlier this month, after reports disclosed that the government has been secretly accessing the telephone metadata of Verizon customers, as well as online videos, emails, photos and other data collected by nine Internet companies. President Barack Obama hastened to reassure Americans that “nobody is listening to your phone calls,” while other government officials likened the collection of metadata to reading information on the outside of an envelope, which doesn’t require a warrant.

Edward Snowden and Hastings, run for your life

10 Ways That The Iron Grip Of The Big Brother Prison Grid Is Tightening On All Of Our Lives

Do you ever feel trapped in an invisible control grid that is slowly but surely closing in all around you?  Do you ever feel like virtually everything that you do is being watched, tracked, monitored and recorded?  If so, unfortunately it is not just your imagination.  Our society is rapidly being transformed into a Big Brother prison grid by a government that is seemingly obsessed with knowing everything that we do.  They want a record of all of our phone calls, all of our Internet activity and all of our financial transactions.  They even want our DNA.  They put chips in our passports, they are starting to scan the eyes of our children in our schools, and they have declared our border areas to be “Constitution-free zones” where they can do just about anything to us that they want.  The Bill of Rights has already been eroded so badly that many would argue that it is already dead.  The assault against our most basic freedoms and liberties never seems to end.  The following are 10 ways that the iron grip of the Big Brother prison grid is tightening on all of our lives…

#1 Automated License Plate Scanners

All over the United States automated license plate scanners are being installed.  Sometimes they are mounted on police vehicles, and other times they are put on stationary locations like bridges and road signs.  These automated license plate scanners are collecting a staggering amount of information about the travel patterns of millions of innocent American citizens every single day…

   Police are recording and storing information on millions of license plates that aren’t related to suspected violation of the law or any known activity of interest to law enforcement, according to data collected by the American Civil Liberties Union through Freedom of Information requests in 38 states.

According to the Washington Post, automated license plate scanners recorded the locations of vehicle plates 85 million times in the state of Maryland in 2012.

And as more of these scanners get installed around the nation, the amount of information that the government collects about the movements of our vehicles will continue to increase.

#2 Government Workers Ordered To Spy On The “Lifestyles, Attitudes And Behaviors” Of Their Fellow Workers

Did you know that the Obama administration has ordered federal workers to spy on one another?…

   Federal employees and contractors are asked to pay particular attention to the lifestyles, attitudes and behaviors – like financial troubles, odd working hours or unexplained travel – of co-workers as a way to predict whether they might do “harm to the United States.” Managers of special insider threat offices will have “regular, timely, and, if possible, electronic, access” to employees’ personnel, payroll, disciplinary and “personal contact” files, as well as records of their use of classified and unclassified computer networks, polygraph results, travel reports and financial disclosure forms.

If you do not spy on your fellow workers and something goes wrong, you could lose your job or potentially even be prosecuted yourself.

#3 Eye Scanners In Our Schools

According to CNN, iris scanners are already going into schools all over the country, and soon they will be used in banks, at airports and at ATM machines…

   In the next year, industry insiders say the technology will be available all over– from banks to airports. That means instead of entering your pin number, you can gain access to an ATM in a blink. Used in an airport, the system will analyze your iris as you pass through security, identifying and welcoming you by name.

Will we soon live in a world where we no longer use passwords and instead use our eyeballs?…

   “Imagine a world where you’re no longer reliant on user names and passwords,” Eyelock CMO Anthony Antolino told CNNMoney. “If we’re going through a turnstile and you have authorization to go beyond that, it’ll open the turnstile for you, if you embed it into a tablet or PC, it will unlock your phone or your tablet or it will log you into your email account.”

#4 Biometric Chips In Our Passports

Did you know that all U.S. passports contain biometric identity chips?  The following is from a recent article…

   According to the website, the Enhanced Border Security and Visa Entry Reform Act of 2002 required foreigners participating in the Visa Waiver Program–which permits entry into the United States without a VISA for a limited period of time–to have these integrated circuits or chips on their passport.

   “As a security measure, Congress has legislated that all countries participating in the Visa Waiver Program with the United States must issue passports with integrated circuits (chips), to permit storage of at least a digital image of the passport photograph for use with face recognition technology,” the website states.

   The website also says that since 2007 the State Department has been issuing U.S. passports bearing the chips. The department did this on its own authority, and not in response to any statutory mandate enacted by Congress.

#5 All Your Financial Transactions Tracked By The Government?

Most Americans have never even heard of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, but one U.S. Senator is warning that this agency wants to keep a record of all of your financial transactions…

   The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) is looking to create a “Google Earth” of every financial transaction of every American, Sen. Mike Enzi (R-WY) warned today in a Senate speech opposing confirmation of Richard Cordray as CFPB director.

   “This bill (creating the CFPB) was supposed to be about regulating Wall Street. Instead, it’s creating a Google Earth on every financial transaction. That’s right: the government will be able to see every detail of your finances. Your permission – not needed,” Sen. Enzi said.

#6 Complaining About The Tap Water Makes You A Terrorist?

Have you ever complained about the water?

If so, you might be a terrorist.

The following is a brief excerpt from a recent article by Anthony Gucciardi…

   Concerned about the high levels of arsenic in your water, or perhaps the known levels of radioactive contamination? Well you must be a terrorist, according to the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation (TDEC) and Homeland Security, who consider issuing such complaints to be classified under terrorist activity.

   It all started when Tennessee residents in Maury County recorded an exchange with the deputy director from the state’s environmental entity TDEC, who issued a warning that complaining about low quality tap water could put you in Guantanamo.

#7 DNA Databases

The United States already has a database that contains the DNA of approximately 11 million criminals…

   The biggest database is in the United States — the FBI’s Combined DNA Index System, or CODIS, which holds information on more than 11 million people suspected of or convicted of crimes.

   It is set to grow following a May Supreme Court ruling that upheld the right of police forces to take DNA swabs without a warrant from people who are arrested, not just those who are convicted. (Policies on DNA collection vary by state; more than half of the states and the federal government currently take DNA swabs after arrests.)

But of course authorities will never be satisfied until they have all of our DNA.  And we are definitely moving in that direction.  The following comes from my recent article entitled “The Coming National DNA Database“…

   A national DNA database is coming.  Barack Obama has already said that he wants one.  A major Supreme Court decision last month paved the way for one.  The DNA of those that commit “serious crimes” is already being routinely collected all over the nation.  Some states (such as New Jersey) are now passing laws that will require DNA collection from those charged with committing “low level crimes”.  And a law that was passed under George W. Bush allows the federal government to screen the DNA of all newborn babies in the United States.  So how long will it be before we are all required to give DNA samples to the authorities?

#8 Copying Your Hard Drive At The Border

How would you feel if you went to cross the U.S. border and officials grabbed your computer and made a copy of the hard drive?

As incredible as that sounds, it is happening all the time.  As I wrote about recently, if they do take your computer, you might not get it back for an extended period of time…

   Two years ago The Constitution Project issued a report on the issue, “Suspicionless Border Searches of Electronic Devices: Legal and Privacy Concerns with the Department of Homeland Security’s Policy.”

   The group explained: Customs and Border Protection and Immigration and Customs Enforcement “officers may detain electronic devices for significant periods of time. For CBP, detentions can be extended well beyond the minimum five-day guideline with supervisory approval. If the device is detained by ICE, the detention can last for ‘a reasonable time,’ which according to its Directive can last 30 days or more.” Neither agency sets any firm time limit.

#9 NSA Snooping

Thanks to Edward Snowden, we now know much more about NSA snooping.  Sadly, the NSA seems to want to collect every piece of data about everyone in the world that they possibly can.

And right now the NSA is building a place to store all of that data.  It is being constructed out in Utah, and it will be the largest data center in the history of the world.  It is going to have approximately a million square feet of storage space, it is going to cost nearly 2 billion dollars to build, and it is going to take about 40 million dollars a year just to pay for the energy needed to run it.  For much more on this, please see my previous article entitled “21 Facts About NSA Snooping That Every American Should Know“.

#10 Obama Now Has The Power To Seize Control Of The Internet?

Why does Barack Obama keep releasing very important executive orders very late on Friday afternoons?

Is he trying to sneak things through that nobody will notice?

For example, it is being reported that Barack Obama has just signed an executive order that will allow him to seize control of the Internet during a national emergency…

   Another late-Friday afternoon release from the White House — this one on how agencies should communicate with the public in emergencies — has Internet privacy advocates crying foul over a possible power grab.

   The executive order — “Assignment of National Security and Emergency Preparedness Communications Functions” — was released last Friday in the late afternoon.

This executive order is apparently worded so vaguely that it would allow Obama to do just about anything he wanted to as far as the Internet is concerned…

   Essentially, it says the government can take control of private telecommunications technology, presumably including those used for the Internet, for government communications in an emergency.

   “Under the Executive Order the White House has … granted the Department [of Homeland Security] the authority to seize private facilities when necessary, effectively shutting down or limiting civilian communications,” wrote the Electronic Privacy Information Center in a blog post.

Are you alarmed by all of this?

You should be.

Sadly, most Americans don’t even realize what is going on.  Most Americans are just working really hard to make it in this very difficult economic environment, and when they turn on their televisions the mainstream media doesn’t warn them that they are rapidly losing their freedoms and liberties.

Please share this article with as many people as you can.  We need people to get educated about what is happening.  What we are experiencing right now is kind of like “death by a thousand paper cuts”.  The Big Brother control grid is closing in on us in hundreds of different ways, but it is often happening so gradually that people don’t really feel it.

License plate data not just for cops: Private companies are tracking your car

License plate recognition technology developed for law enforcement and embraced by the auto repossession industry is being opened to wider use through a Florida company that lets its clients track the travels of millions of private vehicles – adding to privacy advocates’ concerns that such data could be used improperly.

TLO, an investigative technology company in Boca Raton, Fla., began offering the search service to its private industry clients in late June, saying it taps into a database of more than 1 billion records collected by automatic license plate readers.

A report earlier this week by the ACLU found that U.S. law enforcement agencies are scooping up droves of data using license plate readers, creating massive databases where more than 99 percent of the entries represent innocent people.

But private industry also has put the technology to work, most prominently in recovering vehicles from deadbeat borrowers. As the new TLO service demonstrates, private use of LPR data for other purposes is expanding rapidly.

It’s unclear who runs the database that TLO taps into, but the two leading companies in the field say that each month their databases collect tens of millions of pieces of geo-located information from thousands of license plate readers, mounted on tow trucks, mall security vehicles, police cars, at the entrances to store parking lots, on toll booths or along city streets and highways.


House votes to continue NSA surveillance program

WASHINGTON - The U.S. House of Representatives has voted to continue the collection of hundreds of millions of Americans' phone records in the fight against terrorism.

The chamber rejected a measure to end the program's authority. The vote was 217-205 on Wednesday.

Republican Rep. Justin Amash had challenged the program as an indiscriminate collection of phone records. His measure, if approved by the full House and Senate and signed by the president, would have ended the program's statutory authority.

The White House, national security experts in Congress and the Republican establishment had lobbied hard against Amash's effort.

Libertarian-leaning conservatives and some liberal Democrats had supported Amash's effort.

The vote was unlikely to settle the debate over privacy rights and government efforts to thwart terrorism.
Feds Demand User Passwords As Congress Sells Us Out

It’s been a rough couple of days for any freedom loving American. Two big stories broke in relation to the NSA scandal and neither bodes well for the future of privacy in this country. Yesterday’s big story came from CNET. That is significant in and of itself because CNET is not exactly what you would call a site for political news junkies. CNET is more for the computer savvy techies.

They are reporting that the feds are applying intense pressure to gather passwords. CNET reports:

The U.S. government has demanded that major Internet companies divulge users’ stored passwords, according to two industry sources familiar with these orders, which represent an escalation in surveillance techniques that has not previously been disclosed.

If the government is able to determine a person’s password, which is typically stored in encrypted form, the credential could be used to log in to an account to peruse confidential correspondence or even impersonate the user. Obtaining it also would aid in deciphering encrypted devices in situations where passwords are reused.

“I’ve certainly seen them ask for passwords,” said one Internet industry source who spoke on condition of anonymity. “We push back.”

A second person who has worked at a large Silicon Valley company confirmed that it received legal requests from the federal government for stored passwords. Companies “really heavily scrutinize” these requests, the person said. “There’s a lot of ‘over my dead body.’”

Some of the government orders demand not only a user’s password but also the encryption algorithm and the so-called salt, according to a person familiar with the requests. A salt is a random string of letters or numbers used to make it more difficult to reverse the encryption process and determine the original password. Other orders demand the secret question codes often associated with user accounts.

A Microsoft spokesperson would not say whether the company has received such requests from the government. But when asked whether Microsoft would divulge passwords, salts, or algorithms, the spokesperson replied: “No, we don’t, and we can’t see a circumstance in which we would provide it.”

Of course no one is going to admit to providing such info. It’s bad for business. The CNET article is enough to raise serious questions. And even if some of the big providers are saying “no way,” you can bet that they aren’t all saying that. There is no such thing as internet privacy. Keep that in mind going forward.

This story was not shocking but it certainly shows how serious our government is about obtaining data when they want it. They can say what they want about Snowden but it appears he was onto something much bigger than what we already know.

As if this was not bad enough, on Wednesday the Republican House members sold us out.  As if you don’t already have enough proof that we no longer have two distinct political parties, try to make any conservative swallow this pill. As reported by Freedom Outpost:

On Wednesday, The House of Representatives voted down an amendment by Rep. Justin Amash (R-MI) that would have slashed funding for the National Security Agency’s counterterrorism efforts, which have recently come under attack due to NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden’s exposing what the agency is doing in spying on American citizens’ records without a warrant. The amendment, which would have been useful to rein in NSA’s spying program on innocent Americans, was narrowly defeated 217-205.

It is not the fact that the amendment was defeated that was as alarming as to how it was defeated. Check out the final vote totals.
Democrats 111 for and 83 against.
Republicans 94 for and 134 against.

Translation… The Republicans squashed this, not the Democrats. The Democrats wanted it. I immediately checked my own group of All Stars to see how they voted. Gowdy and Stockman are still good in my book but Issa voted against it. What? Come on Darrell.

Yes, we all heard the passionate plea from Michele Bachman, who seemed to be the only one with the guts to explain a “Nay” vote, but do those arguments wash?

Do we need to defeat Al Qaeda and keep our citizens safe? Absolutely.

Do I think that this budget is being used for that? Not really.

A slash in the budget might keep them from worrying about who Weiner is sexting and keep them more focused on finding idiots like the Tsarnaev Brothers who want us all dead.  That is just my opinion but I think it is shared by many.

One thing is for certain. Americans have few allies on the other side and Big Brother is watching.

I don’t think it’s quite fair that the federal government should have my passwords when I can’t even remember some of them. Maybe I can send the NSA a Freedom of Information Act request to obtain my lost passwords.

I don’t think it’s consistent to vote against budget cuts for a government agency that has a strangle hold on our freedom. Certainly not when our country is in such dire economic straits. It doesn’t make sense. They found a place to curb government waste and they ignored it.

What do you think?

Moscow Subway To Use Devices To Read Data On Phones

The head of police for Moscow's subway system has said stations will soon be equipped with devices that can read the data on the mobile telephones of passengers.

In the July 29 edition of "Izvestia," Moscow Metro police chief Andrei Mokhov said the device would be used to help locate stolen mobile phones.

Mokhov said the devices have a range of about 5 meters and can read the SIM card.

If the card is on the list of stolen phones, the system automatically sends information to the police.

The time and place of the alert can be matched to closed-circuit TV in stations.

"Izvestia" reported that "according to experts, the devices can be used more widely to follow all passengers without exception."

Mokhov said it was illegal to track a person without permission from the authorities, but that there was no law against tracking the property of a company, such as a SIM card.
XKeyscore: NSA tool collects 'nearly everything a user does on the internet'

• XKeyscore gives 'widest-reaching' collection of online data
• NSA analysts require no prior authorization for searches
• Sweeps up emails, social media activity and browsing history
• NSA's XKeyscore program – read one of the presentations

Government can grab cell phone location records without warrant, appeals court says

In a major victory for the Justice Department over privacy advocates, a federal appeals court ruled Tuesday that government agencies can collect records showing the location of an individual's cell phone without obtaining a warrant.

The 2-1 ruling by the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans upheld the Justice Department's argument that "historical" records showing the location of cell phones, gleaned from cell site location towers, are not protected by the Fourth Amendment.

A key basis for the ruling: The use of cell phones is "entirely voluntarily" and therefore individuals who use them have forfeited the right to constitutional protection for records showing where they have been used, the court held.

"The Government does not require a member of the public to own or carry a phone," wrote U.S. Judge Edith Brown Clement in an opinion joined by U.S. Judge Dennis Reavley. The opinion continued: "Because a cell phone user makes a choice to get a phone, to select a particular service provider, and to make a call, and because he knows that call conveys cell site information ... he voluntarily conveys his cell site data each time he makes a call."


Type The Wrong Thing Into A Search Engine And The Secret Police Will Come Knocking On Your Door

The control freaks are out of control.  Once upon a time America was “the land of the free”, but now it has become “the land of the bureaucrats”, and these bureaucrats are absolutely obsessed with watching, tracking, monitoring and controlling virtually everything that you do.  Last month, I wrote about how the Obama administration forced a small-time magician out in Missouri to submit a 32 page disaster plan for the little rabbit that he uses in his magic shows for kids.  A lot of people thought that story was quite humorous, but the examples in this article are not so funny.  In recent days we have learned that the government is monitoring just about everything that we do on the Internet, and we have also learned that a couple of innocent Google searches can result in armed government agents pounding on your front door.  If you do not believe this, read on…

Thanks to Glenn Greenwald of the Guardian, we now know about XKeyscore, an NSA program that collects “nearly everything that a user does on the Internet“…

A top secret National Security Agency program allows analysts to search with no prior authorization through vast databases containing emails, online chats and the browsing histories of millions of individuals, according to documents provided by whistleblower Edward Snowden.

According to the documents that Greenwald has been given, NSA agents can use XKeyscore to continually intercept and analyze “an individual’s internet activity”…

XKeyscore, the documents boast, is the NSA’s “widest reaching” system developing intelligence from computer networks – what the agency calls Digital Network Intelligence (DNI). One presentation claims the program covers “nearly everything a typical user does on the internet”, including the content of emails, websites visited and searches, as well as their metadata.

Analysts can also use XKeyscore and other NSA systems to obtain ongoing “real-time” interception of an individual’s internet activity.

So if you type “the wrong thing” into a search engine, the feds could literally show up on your doorstep.  One married couple up in New York recently found this out the hard way…

Michele Catalano was looking for information online about pressure cookers. Her husband, in the same time frame, was Googling backpacks. Wednesday morning, six men from a joint terrorism task force showed up at their house to see if they were terrorists. Which begs the question: How’d the government know what they were Googling?

Yes, exactly how did the government know what they were putting into Google?

Sadly, I think that we all know the answer to that question.

And when the agents got to their home, they didn’t realize their mistake and leave.  Instead, they peppered the couple with questions.  The following is how Michele Catalano described the experience…

[T]hey were peppering my husband with questions. Where is he from? Where are his parents from? They asked about me, where was I, where do I work, where do my parents live. Do you have any bombs, they asked. Do you own a pressure cooker? My husband said no, but we have a rice cooker. Can you make a bomb with that? My husband said no, my wife uses it to make quinoa. What the hell is quinoa, they asked. …

Have you ever looked up how to make a pressure cooker bomb? My husband, ever the oppositional kind, asked them if they themselves weren’t curious as to how a pressure cooker bomb works, if they ever looked it up. Two of them admitted they did.

Is this really what America is going to be like from now on?

We type the wrong thing into Google and the secret police come knocking on our doors?

Where will all of this end?

In Saudi Arabia, one man that set up a website that the authorities did not like was recently sentenced to seven years in prison and 600 lashes…

The editor of a Saudi Arabian social website has been sentenced to seven years in prison and 600 lashes for founding an Internet forum that violates Islamic values and propagates liberal thought, Saudi media reported on Tuesday.

Raif Badawi, who started the ‘Free Saudi Liberals’ website to discuss the role of religion in Saudi Arabia, has been held since June 2012 on charges of cyber crime and disobeying his father – a crime in the conservative kingdom and top U.S. ally.

That may sound extreme, but we are heading down a similar path.  People are going to start becoming afraid to express themselves on the Internet out of fear that they will get a visit from armed goons just like the Catalanos did.

This is not what America is supposed to be like.  We are supposed to be a nation that respects privacy, liberty and freedom.  Instead, our nation is rapidly being transformed into a heavily armed police state surveillance grid that is a paradise for control freaks.

And it is not just the Internet that we all need to be worried about.  An article by Lee Bellinger described some more ways that “the police state” is expanding…

Grants to local governments for “FBI Mobile,” a portable biometric data collection system first deployed by the military to create IDs for urban-war-zone residents.

Covert naked-body scanners for checking out the general public on U.S. streets, a product being developed by Rapiscan Systems.

A fleet of roving backscatter scanning vans for expansion to all forms of ground travel.

Military-developed, next-generation Taser systems capable of stunning and incapacitating large numbers of protesters.

Active Denial System (ADS) “Pain Ray” for use here at home.

Shockwave Area Denial System, which can taser citizens within 100-meter ranges.

Laser Blinding Dazzler system, which causes temporary blindness in protestors.

Mass-deployed sedatives to incapacitate crowds.

Screaming Microwave system and ear-splitting noise machines for crowd control throughout the U.S.

For even more on this, please see my previous article entitled “10 Ways That The Iron Grip Of The Big Brother Prison Grid Is Tightening On All Of Our Lives“.

In this type of an environment, even a helpless baby deer becomes a national security threat…

“It was like a SWAT team. Nine DNR agents and four deputy sheriffs, and they were all armed to the teeth,” animal shelter employee Ray Schulze told WISN-TV.

Two weeks ago, Schulze was working in the barn at the Society of St. Francis in Kenosha, Wis., when a swarm of squad cars screeched up and officers scrambled onto the property with a search warrant.

Were they hunting down an armed robber or escaped prisoner? Conducting a drug raid?

Incredibly, they were gunning for a 2-week-old baby fawn.

Can you guess what happened to the 2-week-old baby deer?

They killed it – just like they are killing our liberties and our freedoms.

What in the world is happening to America?

FBI can remotely activate microphones in Android smartphones, source says
Published August 02, 2013

The Wall Street Journal

Law-enforcement officials in the U.S. are expanding the use of tools routinely used by computer hackers to gather information on suspects, bringing the criminal wiretap into the cyber age.

Federal agencies have largely kept quiet about these capabilities, but court documents and interviews with people involved in the programs provide new details about the hacking tools, including spyware delivered to computers and phones through email or Web links—techniques more commonly associated with attacks by criminals.

   '[The FBI] hires people who have hacking skill, and they purchase tools that are capable of doing these things.'

- a former official in the agency's cyber division

People familiar with the Federal Bureau of Investigation's programs say that the use of hacking tools under court orders has grown as agents seek to keep up with suspects who use new communications technology, including some types of online chat and encryption tools. The use of such communications, which can't be wiretapped like a phone, is called "going dark" among law enforcement.

A spokeswoman for the FBI declined to comment.


How you're tracked digitally all day (and what you can do about it)

Our daily habits — when we wake up, how we get to work, what we like to watch when we get home — are being tracked by dozens of interconnected systems, from cell carriers to traffic cameras. Together, they could form a picture of your day in disturbingly high fidelity.

It's not just high-priority targets and would-be terrorists that leave a digital trail as they go about their business — millions of Americans each produce gigabytes of data associated with themselves just by walking down the street, browsing the Internet, and using their mobile phone. PRISM and XKeyscore may be in the news, but we've been tracked by other means for a long time.

As a demonstration, TODAY followed NBC News producer Robin Oelkers during a normal weekday, noting the many times when his ordinary actions placed him on the grid.

It began as soon as he woke up, checking emails and Facebook on his phone or laptop while getting ready for work — any number of servers took note that his account began a session between 7:30 and 8 a.m.

By logging in with his home Internet connection, Robin's IP address and its location are also automatically recorded at any site he uses.

Meanwhile, in order to have a signal, his phone must be in contact with at least one cell tower, but may be monitored by several in case as he begins to move. These towers can be used to calculate his position to within a city block or two.

"Your mobile phone is basically a tracking device," said Nick Thompson, editor of, in an interview that aired Thursday. "(It's) taking information about where you are, and sending it to lots and lots of companies."

When it comes to tracking, you don't have to log in via a Web browser or set up your phone a certain way to tell the world to start following your trail. Recently, Apple was caught keeping records of every wireless network iPhones encountered. And several phone makers were found in 2012 to be including a secret back door on their phones capable of reporting every touch, every byte, and every conversation to anyone with the right software.

Leaving the house, Robin enters the view of the public, and therefore the view of any number of traffic and security cameras. Many of these cameras will passively record his license plate, using special software to convert the image into numbers and letters. The make, model, and color of his car is also recorded in some situations.

Other cameras capture his face and appearance, associating him with locations and routes. Such tools are invaluable to police tracking down a fugitive, but in the meantime Robin's face and license may be stored for days, years, or even indefinitely, depending on local laws or business practices.

Of course, all this indirect surveillance is redundant when Robin's car has been tracking his position constantly with its GPS system. Depending on how new the car is, that route information might be backed up to the cloud for easy retrieval, or even collated (anonymously) with other cars' paths to help analyze traffic patterns.

After parking (in view of several cameras), Robin may stop by Starbucks to grab a coffee. Swiping his rewards card, he adds this purchase to a long list of data points describing his preferences and shopping habits. Such data may be kept internal at Starbucks for inventory and promotional purposes.

At work, he mixes his daily duties on the computer with a bit of personal browsing. Even though they may be inconsequential to his work, the traffic logs are saved, and a lawsuit or internal complaint could make them relevant in a heartbeat.

"The company can not only see it, but they probably store that," said Thompson. "They probably store it for legal reasons for a long period of time."

Back at home, Robin relaxes on the couch to watch a movie with the kids. Somewhere, whether he's using a cable box or a TiVo or an Apple TV, some server takes note that he has selected another episode of a certain show, while others sit in his queue unwatched. His personal profile is updated and recommended shows changed. And his viewing habits, while tracked separately, are added to those of others for the streaming service's reports and feedback.

What can you do about all this tracking?
For cellphone stuff, information must be sent if you want your phone and apps to work. But you can learn about your local laws regarding how long such data is kept and under what circumstances it can be requested.

When using the Web, you can use your browser's Do Not Track option (also called "privacy" or "incognito" mode) and opt to use secure HTTPS versions of sites such as Facebook and Gmail. You can even install some basic privacy software like HTTPS Everywhere and Ghostery, to further minimize your trail's inevitable breadcrumbs.  

When you're on the move, make sure GPS and Wi-Fi are only on when you need them to be. (As an added bonus, this saves cellphone battery life.) And check the options screens of your most-used apps to see if there's anything fishy you should be opting out of.

Out on the road, avoiding traffic cams is pretty much impossible (though it doesn't hurt to know what they look like and where they are.) When shopping, using cash and avoiding rewards cards and other incentive programs will keep you off of the marketer's grids (but often at a cost of a few bucks per shopping trip).

As for enjoying the online on-demand movies and music that have become so convenient, you will have to submit to some form of tracking, though be reasonable and avoid, say, the Facebook sharing options on your Spotify or Netflix streams. Also, using a service like MaskMe would let you hide your real name, email and credit card from prying eyes, but not without some mild inconvenience.

The best thing to do is to be vigilant, and recognize all the ways increasingly shadowy marketers and government agencies are keeping their eye on you — you know, just in case. More information, such as congress members to contact or resources to tap can be found at, among other places, the Electronic Frontier Foundation or ACLU's DotRights.

WARNING!!!! If you take photos with your cell phone

“Warning” If you, your kids or grand kids take pics from your phone—WATCH THIS!

This is truly alarming – please take the time to watch. At the end they’ll tell you how to set your phone so you don’t run this risk!


I want everyone of you to watch this and then be sure to share with all your family and friends.

It’s REALLY important info, about what your posting things on your cell phones can do TO YOU!!!

Too much technology out there these days so beware………..


If you have children or grandchildren you NEED to watch this. I had no idea this could happen from taking pictures on the blackberry or cell phone. It’s scary.

Terrifying Voice on the Other End of Hacked Baby Monitor: ‘Wake Up Allyson, You Little S**t’

Baby monitors — many now equipped with video cameras — are considered a handy parenting tool, but what a Texas couple heard coming from their monitor was nothing short of terrifying.

Marc Gilbert of Houston told KTRK-TV the baby monitor for their 2-year-old daughter was hacked. As if that wasn’t disturbing enough, what the voice said as their daughter slept is enough to chill the blood of any parent.

“He said, ‘Wake up Allyson, you little s**t,’” Gilbert told KTRK, explaining that it “felt like somebody broke into our house.”

KTRK reported that the hacker said sexual things to the toddler as well.

“As a father, I’m supposed to protect her against people like this. So it’s a little embarrassing to say the least but it’s not going to happen again,” Gilbert said.
Fortunately, the little girl was not able to hear the hacker because she is deaf. Her father said they thankfully had her cochlear implants turned off so she “slept right through it.”

After witnessing what was going on through the camera-enabled monitor, which runs through the family’s Internet, Gilbert said he pulled the plug. Researching what might have happened, he told KTRK he believes the router and camera were both hacked.

Watch the report about the disturbing incident:
Secret court scolded NSA over surveillance in 2011, declassified documents reveal

WASHINGTON -- The Obama administration has given up more of its surveillance secrets, acknowledging that it was ordered to stop scooping up thousands of Internet communications from Americans with no connection to terrorism — a practice it says was an unintended consequence when it gathered bundles of Internet traffic connected to terror suspects.

One of the documents that intelligence officials released Wednesday came because a court ordered the National Security Agency to do so. But it's also part of the administration's response to the leaks by analyst-turned-fugitive Edward Snowden, who revealed that the NSA's spying programs went further and gathered millions more communications than most Americans realized.

The NSA declassified three secret court opinions showing how it revealed to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court that one of its surveillance programs may have collected and stored as many as 56,000 emails and other communications by ordinary Americans annually over three years. The court ruled the NSA actions unconstitutional and ordered the agency to fix the problem, which it did by creating new technology to filter out buckets of data most likely to contain U.S. emails, and then limit the access to that data.

The director of national intelligence, James Clapper, released the information Wednesday "in the interest of increased transparency," and as directed by President Barack Obama in June, according to a statement accompanying the online documents.

But it wasn't until the Electronic Freedom Foundation, an Internet civil liberties group that sued for the release of one of the documents, disclosed the court order that Obama administration officials also acknowledged that the release was prodded by the group's 2012 lawsuit.

Germany Govt WARNS: Windows 8 NEVER USE! Microsoft can control computer - gather ALL Data and a Never Get Rid of Backdoor for NSA

How I can continually being shocked over revelations and Truth of the amount of spying the U.S. government does on it's citizens and other countries?

The German government released a WARNING yesterday about Microsoft's Windows 8.

They are Warning all people and companies NOT to use it.  They have revealed that Microsoft can completely control and take over a computer with Windows 8 and it has a backdoor for the NSA that can never be gotten rid of!

They have also made it possible to delete or not accept software on that is not controlled by them on the computer.

This is so Outrageous!

Portions From translated article:

Government warns of Windows 8

Windows 8 is an unacceptable security risk for companies and authorities, experts warn the government. The so-called Trusted Computing is a back door for the NSA.

How trustworthy is Microsoft? For the federal and all of the German authorities, businesses and private users who want to continue to work with the Windows operating system, this question is now more than ever. Because sooner or later they would have to use Windows 8 or its successor. From internal documents TIME ONLINE exist, but it is clear that the IT professionals of the federal Windows 8 deem downright dangerous. The operating system contains a back door in their view, can not be closed. This backdoor is called Trusted Computing and could have the effect that Microsoft can control any computer remotely and control. And thus the NSA.

The current TPM specification is soon replaced by a new one, it is just 2.0 TPM. What is common already in smartphones, tablets, and game consoles, is the combination of TPM 2.0 and Windows 8 on PCs and laptops becoming the norm: hardware and operating system are matched, and the manufacturer of the operating system determines installed the applications on a device may be and which are not. In other words, trusted computing is a way, a digital rights management (DRM) to enforce.

Microsoft could thus theoretically determine that no word processing program other than Microsoft Word works on Windows 8th The competition may be legally problematic. But it also has security implications, precisely because the user has no influence on what Microsoft is allowed and what is not. Three points are decisive: First, the TPM in contrast to the current standard in the future is already activated when you first turn on the computer. Who takes care of the computer is in use, so can not decide whether he wants to use the trusted computing functions (opt-in).Second, no subsequent future, complete disabling the TPM longer possible (opt-out). Third, the operating system takes over sovereignty over the TPM, in the case of a Windows computer that is ultimately Microsoft.

In summary, the user of a trusted computing system lose control of their computer. While this is to some extent the basic idea of trusted computing,explains how the Federal Office for Information Security (BSI) here in great detail. The BIS recommends that governments, businesses and private users even if they use this technique to certain conditions met. These conditions include the options but the opt-in and opt-out - and the drop off in the future.

Instead, Microsoft could decide which programs can be installed on the computer, make already established programs unusable and subsequently help intelligence to control other computers. The competent professionals in the Federal Ministry of Economics, in the federal and the BSI as well as unequivocally warn against the use of trusted computing the new generation of German authorities.

Thus, according to an internal document from the Ministry of Economic Affairs of the beginning of 2012: "The loss of full sovereignty over information technology" are "the security objectives 'confidentiality' and 'integrity' is no longer guaranteed." Elsewhere are phrases like: "Significant impact on the federal IT security can go with it." The conclusion is therefore: "The use of 'trusted Computing' technique in this form ... is unacceptable for the federal administration and the operators of critical infrastructure."
A New Virus Is Using Facebook To Steal Passwords: It's Already Affected 800,000 People

Facebook has been the target of a malware attack that poses as a video from one of your Facebook friends.
The New York Times reports that this new threat hijacks your Facebook accounts and Web browsers, according to Italian security researchers who have been investigating the issue.

The virus appears as a link in an email or Facebook message that tells you someone has tagged you in a Facebook post. When you go to Facebook and click the link you're sent to a different website and told to download a browser extension or plug in, in order to watch the video.

After the plug-in is downloaded the attack can gain access to everything you have stored in your browser, including accounts with saved passwords.

This is a threat because many people store their passwords to various social networks within their browsers.

The researchers say that the virus has been spreading at a rate of about 40,000 attacks an hour and has infected more than 800,000 people via Google's Chrome browser.

Google is aware of the attack and has already disabled the extensions that allowed it. Facebook also detected the virus and is working to clear the links.

A Facebook spokesperson says it is currently blocking people from clicking through the links.

Google argues for right to continue scanning Gmail

Google's attorneys say their long-running practice of electronically scanning the contents of people's Gmail accounts to help sell ads is legal, and are asking a federal judge to dismiss a lawsuit that seeks to stop the practice.

In court records filed in advance of a federal hearing scheduled for Thursday in San Jose, Google argues that "all users of email must necessarily expect that their emails will be subject to automated processing."

The class action lawsuit, filed in May, says Google "unlawfully opens up, reads, and acquires the content of people's private email messages" in violation of California's privacy laws and federal wiretapping statutes. The lawsuit notes that the company even scans messages sent to any of the 425 million active Gmail users from non-Gmail users who never agreed to the company's terms.

Google has repeatedly described how it targets its advertising based on words that show up in Gmail messages. For example, the company says if someone has received a lot of messages about photography or cameras then it might display an advertisement from a local camera store. Google says the process is fully automated, "and no humans read your email..."

"This case involves Plaintiffs' effort to criminalize ordinary business practices that have been part of Google's free Gmail service since it was introduced nearly a decade ago," argue company attorneys in their motion to dismiss the case.

Privacy advocates have long questioned the practice.

"People believe, for better or worse, that their email is private correspondence, not subject to the eyes of a $180 billion corporation and its whims," said Consumer Watchdog president Jamie Court.

'Environmental Crimes': EPA sends SWAT team to Alaskan mine to check water quality...

'Wearing body armor and jackets emblazoned with POLICE'...

Gold miners near Chicken cry foul over 'heavy-handed' EPA raids


When agents with the Alaska Environmental Crimes Task Force surged out of the wilderness around the remote community of Chicken wearing body armor and jackets emblazoned with POLICE in big, bold letters, local placer miners didn’t quite know what to think.

Did it really take eight armed men and a squad-size display of paramilitary force to check for dirty water? Some of the miners, who run small businesses, say they felt intimidated.

Others wonder if the actions of the agents put everyone at risk. When your family business involves collecting gold far from nowhere, unusual behavior can be taken as a sign someone might be trying to stage a robbery. How is a remote placer miner to know the people in the jackets saying POLICE really are police?

Miners suggest it might have been better all around if officials had just shown up at the door -- as they used to do -- and said they wanted to check the water.


Google security exec: 'Passwords are dead'

Speaking at TechCrunch Disrupt, Google's Heather Adkins says startups should look beyond passwords to secure users and their data.


New startups looking for ways to keep their users secure should know one thing, a top Google security executive said Tuesday: "Passwords are dead."

Speaking on a TechCrunch Disrupt panel called "Spies Like Us," Heather Adkins, Google's manager of information security, told moderator Greg Ferenstein that in the future, the "game is over for" any startup that relies on passwords as its chief method to secure users and their data.

Google manager of information security Heather Adkins.

Adkins, speaking alongside Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers managing partner Ted Schlein and author James Bamford, said that looking ahead, "our relationship with passwords are done," and that "passwords are done at Google."

She talked briefly about Google's use of two-step authentication and the fact that the search giant has been working to innovate in the area of non-standard password security. As a result, she said, any startup that still relies on standard passwords needs to ensure that it has an abuse team set up to deal "with customers getting compromised."

Although Adkins didn't offer any real specifics on how Google will innovate beyond today's security, she did say the company is experimenting with hardware-based tokens as well as a Motorola-created system that authenticates users by having them touch a device to something embedded, or held, in their own clothing. "A hacker can't steal that from you," she said.

Later in the conversation, which also touched on the NSA scandal, cybersecurity, and the weaponization of offensive cyber technologies, Adkins pointed out that hackers intent on making money from their bad acts had consistently found ways to exploit Google users who had yet to turn on two-factor authentication. Essentially, she explained, hackers were able to get into such users' accounts, turn on two-factor authentication themselves, and lock the users out before utilizing those accounts to send spam. "They are finding new ways to make money off it," she said. "Ways we hadn't anticipated."

Finally, Adkins argued, technology companies need to step up and build products that protect users so "they don't rely on not getting fooled." Ultimately, she said, anyone starting a new technology company should be sure that one person is designated to focus on security and privacy, and that one of the first 25 employees should work full time on security and privacy.

New iPhone Touch ID Makes Fingerprint Scans Easy

"The latest iPhone has arrived, and along with it what may be the slickest integration of biometric security yet: A fingerprint scanner built seamlessly into the phone’s home button. But privacy-conscious users would be wise to think twice. Better to use your fingerprint as another layer of protection than as a replacement for old-fashioned passwords and passcodes.

In Apple’s iPhone 5S launch event Tuesday, the company’s vice president of marketing Phil Schiller introduced its first-ever fingerprint scanner, which it’s calling Touch ID, a feature that appears only as a thin ring of metal around the iPhone’s single front-facing button. According to Apple’s descriptions, the 170-micron thin scanning sensor sits under a laser-cut sapphire crystal and is surrounded by the steel detection ring, which can capture 550 pixels per inch of resolution in a user’s fingerprint.

“We have so much of our personal life on these devices…and they’re with us everywhere we have to go,” Schiller told the keynote’s audience, noting that only half of iPhone users set up lockscreen passcodes on their devices. “We have to protect them.” And Touch ID’s authentication, it seems, can be used to replace more than just the initial passcode lock on an iPhone. In his talk, Schiller also mentioned that it can be used to buy items in Apple’s App Store, implying that it can also replace full passwords.

But if Apple intends to offer Touch ID as an alternative to the traditional password, those of us with sensitive personal, corporate or government data at stake may want to wait, given the security industry’s less-than-perfect record when it comes to preventing spoofed fingerprints from **** its biometric protections, argues Brent Kennedy, a vulnerability analyst with the government-run U.S. Computer Emergency and Readiness Team who researched biometrics as a graduate student.

“If the fingerprint reader tests well, it may be more secure than a four-digit pin. But I’d caution right away, let’s see how it tests and what people come up with to break it,” says Kennedy. “I wouldn’t rely on it solely, just as I wouldn’t with any new technology right off the bat.”

A stolen phone, after all, is usually covered with its owner’s fingerprints, making the job of any would-be cracker much easier. Researchers have found plenty of methods for using lifted fingerprints to defeat commercial fingerprint readers before. One group at the University of West Virginia used sculpted Play-Doh and, in another experiment, cadaver fingerprints in 2002 to trick a variety of optical and conductivity-based sensors. A Japanese researcher copied fingers in gummy-worm like gelatin to fool the sensors of more than ten commercial products. And one episode of the Mythbusters television show demonstrated that fingerprint readers could be bypassed by licking a piece of latex with a copied print, or even just showing a print-out of the swirl to the scanner on paper.

Fingerprint reader technology has improved since many of those tests to incorporate anti-spoofing technologies that test for heat and even the patterns of sweat from a user’s pores, according to Reza Derakshani, a professor of computer science at the University of Missouri who built some of the first so-called “liveness” tests to disqualify spoofed fingers. “If you look at a finger’s active pores to see how the perspiration oozes and spreads along ridges, you can see patterns,” he says. “You can still spoof biometrics, but only naive ones. A good liveness check thwarts some if not all spoof attacks.”

In Tuesday’s presentation, Schiller boasted that Touch ID’s test includes somehow sensing “sub-epidermal skin layers.” But whether Apple’s detection ring includes enough of Derakshani’s “liveness” tests to rule out advanced spoofing won’t be clear until the product hits the market and is subjected to public security research’s experimentation.

One bright note for the privacy-conscious is that Touch ID doesn’t seem to transmit a user’s fingerprint to the cloud, but rather keeps that data restricted to the device itself. That measure may allay fears that Apple is somehow collecting a database of biometric data that could be accessed by the government or rogue hackers.

If it’s possible–and popular–for iPhone users to institute both a passcode and a fingerprint as security measures for their phone, Touch ID may be a good thing for overall user security, says US-CERT’s Kennedy. So-called two-factor authentication, after all, has become a popular method used by Google, Twitter, and others to bolster typical passwords protections, usually by sending a one-time code to a user’s phone so that only a hacker who has also stolen their phone can break into an online account. But a biometric factor may work just as well as a second device for that second safeguard.

“Two factor authentication usually uses something you know and something you have–in this case, it’s something you are,” says Kennedy. “If [Apple] allows you to use both, that’s the best of both worlds.”
Say goodbye to the password

Technology companies are developing alternatives, including built-in fingerprint readers, voice recognition and authentication tokens.

Here's the fundamental problem with passwords: They are most effective in protecting a company when they are long, complicated and changed frequently. In other words, when employees are least likely to remember them.

As a result, technology companies are rushing to provide solutions that are both more secure and more convenient. Many laptops now come with built-in fingerprint readers. Smartphones and other devices, too, are opening up biometric options such as facial and voice recognition.

Apple (AAPL -3.18%) last year acquired AuthenTec, a developer of fingerprint-sensor technology, and on Sept. 10 it said its new iPhone will come with a fingerprint sensor. Microsoft (MSFT -0.69%) says its Windows 8.1 operating system, due out next month, is "optimized for fingerprint-based biometrics." Biometric authentication will be usable more extensively within the system, the company says.  (Microsoft owns MSN Money.)

Google (GOOG -0.15%), PayPal, Lenovo Group (LNVGF +1.94%) and others, meanwhile, have come together in an organization known as the FIDO (Fast Identity Online) Alliance, which is aimed at creating industry standards for biometric and other forms of so-called strong authentication.

A new kind of hardware token

Google is also experimenting with a new kind of hardware token, created by Palo Alto, Calif.-based Yubico. Like the traditional hardware tokens that generate random numeric passwords and which companies have used for years, the Yubico devices generate temporary passwords to be used as a second form of authentication.

But instead of having to read the password off the token and retype it, employees can simply plug the token into a USB port or touch it on a mobile device using near-field communication, a technology through which electronic devices communicate by making physical contact.

Google is testing the tokens with employees this year, and plans to offer them to consumers next year as a way of logging into Gmail and other Google accounts more securely.

Mayank Upadhyay, a director of security engineering at Google, says the tokens are easy to use and have strong encryption.

"We believe that by using this token we've raised the standard of security for our employees beyond what was commercially available," he says. The token works with Google's Web browser Chrome, and "works very seamlessly for people in their day-to-day workflow here at Google," he says.

Bringing smartphones to work

Another new option, from RSA, the security division of EMC (EMC +0.15%) and creator of the widely used SecurID hardware tokens, is risk-based authentication.

This technology sifts through masses of user data from various groups at a company to establish "normal" behavior, then assigns risk scores to each user. If an employee does something unusual, like log in from a new location, use a different computer, or try to access a system other than his or her usual, the risk score will increase, and the employee may be asked to provide additional authentication, for example by verifying his or her identity over the phone.

Many people expect the security landscape to change rapidly as more and more employees bring their own smartphones and other devices to work. While the proliferation of individual devices is often seen as a security threat, some analysts suggest that mobile devices can improve security by making it easier to use biometric authentication. Most mobile devices feature a microphone and camera, and can pinpoint an employee's location as well.

Use  your brainwaves

Other developers of groundbreaking security tools include Agnitio of Madrid, which makes voice-recognition software used in law enforcement. The company has developed a system that allows workers to log in by speaking a simple phrase.

"We think that biometric authentication is going to be significantly more popular, and the driver and enabler of this is mobile computing," says Ant Allan, research vice president at Gartner.

He explains that for large enterprises, installing new hardware for each employee can be very expensive, thus a system that draws on commonly owned personal devices has clear economic advantages. Moreover, employees with mobile devices are likely to find a fingerprint reader much easier to use than remembering and typing passwords.

London-based PixelPin, meanwhile, wants to replace passwords with pictures. Choose a picture of your spouse, for example, and log in by clicking on four parts of her face in a sequence you've memorized. A photo is easier for people to remember than a text password, and harder for others to replicate, says company co-founder Geoff Anderson.

And, looking further into the future, researchers at the University of California, Berkeley, are studying the use of brain waves as authentication. Test subjects in the research wore a headset that measured their brain-wave signals as they imagined performing a particular task, and the researchers were able to distinguish between different people with 99% accuracy. In theory, an imagined task like this could become a worker's "passthought."

Most experts expect companies to use a variety of different measures. Saratoga Hospital, in Saratoga Springs, N.Y., for example, uses fingerprint readers as a more secure alternative to passwords. But while they've solved many of the hospital's security problems, the print readers don't work for everyone. A few elderly volunteer workers struggle to hold their hand still, and the readers don't work when people are wearing gloves, or when their hands are too dry, says Gary Moon, security analyst at the hospital. Some employees also have refused to hand over their prints.

As a result, Moon says, the hospital is still using passwords as a backup security system.

"There really isn't any 'one size fits all' in authentication," says Vance Bjorn, founder of DigitalPersona. in Redwood City, Calif., which supplied the fingerprint readers to Saratoga Hospital. Companies need access to a combination of different technologies, Bjorn says.

"One technology solves certain problems, but it might not be the right mix of security, convenience, cost and ease of deployment for everyone."

N.S.A. Examines Social Networks of U.S. Citizens

Since 2010, the National Security Agency has been exploiting its huge collections of data to create sophisticated graphs of some Americans’ social connections that can identify their associates, their locations at certain times, their traveling companions and other personal information, according to newly disclosed documents and interviews with officials.

The spy agency began allowing the analysis of phone call and e-mail logs in November 2010 to examine Americans’ networks of associations for foreign intelligence purposes after N.S.A. officials lifted restrictions on the practice, according to documents provided by Edward J. Snowden, the former N.S.A. contractor.

The policy shift was intended to help the agency “discover and track” connections between intelligence targets overseas and people in the United States, according to an N.S.A. memorandum from January 2011. The agency was authorized to conduct “large-scale graph analysis on very large sets of communications metadata without having to check foreignness” of every e-mail address, phone number or other identifier, the document said. Because of concerns about infringing on the privacy of American citizens, the computer analysis of such data had previously been permitted only for foreigners.

The agency can augment the communications data with material from public, commercial and other sources, including bank codes, insurance information, Facebook profiles, passenger manifests, voter registration rolls and GPS location information, as well as property records and unspecified tax data, according to the documents. They do not indicate any restrictions on the use of such “enrichment” data, and several former senior Obama administration officials said the agency drew on it for both Americans and foreigners.

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Millennials Are Ditching Their Television Sets, Shifting To Mobile To Watch TV Shows

A new report suggests bigger isn’t better, when it comes to watching television programming. Deloitte found that Millennials rather watch movies and television shows on computers, smartphones, and tablets. These details were recently published in the firm’s annual Digital Democracy Survey.

Those between the ages of 14 and 24 only watch TV shows on an actual television set 44 percent of the time. Thirty-two percent of the time, TV shows are consumed on a desktop or laptop. Smartphones and tablets make up another 16 percent, while gaming devices are used 8 percent.

This is the first time computers, smartphones, and tablets have eclipsed televisions for any segment of the population, according to Gerald Belson, vice chairman of the firm’s U.S. media and entertainment practice, who spoke to Re/Code.

Not surprisingly, television use increases, the older the age group.

Those aged 25-30, for example, watch TV shows on a television set 53 percent of the time. This compares to 70 percent for Generation Xers (aged 31-47), 88 percent for Baby Boomers (aged 48-66), and 92 percent for those aged 67 and older.

Belson notes “The fact that we have some demographics watching television, but not on TV, is significant.”

As Re/Code concludes:

This shift has profound implications for networks, and Nielsen, which are working find ways to measure TV viewing across multiple screens. Nielsen announced plans to begin incorporating mobile into its traditional ratings with the 2014-15 season.

Personally, I’m not surprised by these findings. People are more mobile than ever before, and this survey reflects this reality.

Which devices do you use to watch TV shows and movies?
NFL to Use Tracking Chips on Players

As a hardcore baseball guy, I often wonder why people needlessly waste their time on all those other, lesser sports. But I suppose everyone has a right to their insane opinions.

In any case, football fans may want to keep an eye on this development: The NFL announced this week that it will be using RFID tracking chips on players during select games in the 2014 season. The high-tech chips — RFID stands for radio-frequency identification — will generate precise positioning data on each player on every play.

Football Uniforms Throughout History

For the initial rollout, the RFID system will be used in 17 of the NFL’s 31 stadiums. (Astute sports fans will note that the NFL has 32 teams, but the Giants and the Jets share the MetLife Stadium in New Jersey.) When squaring off in these stadiums, players will actually be tracked by two RFID chips — one in each shoulder pad. Data is broadcast in real-time to provide information on positioning, velocity, direction, distance run and even force-of-impact.

All of that data is instantly analyzed by the NFL’s MotionWorks system, which then generates statistics for every play. The data can also be instantly incorporated into the visual elements of the TV broadcast. In fact, the MotionWorks system crunches the numbers so quickly that graphics can be added within the broadcast’s standard two-second delay.

Should Kids Play Football?

The upshot of all this is that viewers — not to mention coaches and team executives — will be able to track every players’ movement in the often chaotic scrum of the typical NFL football game. When a blocking assignment is missed or a receiver is suddenly wide open in the end zone, fans will know precisely which player screwed up, and when and where.

The system will also generate an entire new field of statistics for fans to obsess over. In fact, the MotionWorks system is part of a larger initiative the NFL is calling “Next Generation Statistics.” The stadiums participating in the 2014 program: Atlanta, Baltimore, Carolina, Chicago, Cincinnati, Denver, Detroit, Green Bay, Houston, Jacksonville, Miami, New England, New Orleans, Oakland, San Francisco, St. Louis and Washington.
How the FBI nabbed a 14-year fugitive and juggling star almost by accident

Even the best show-biz acts eventually come to an end.

Neil Stammer, a star in the juggling world and a suspected child molester, has been captured by the FBI in Nepal after 14 years on the run.

Authorities in Albuquerque, New Mexico, say Stammer, who owned Rob’s Magic and Juggling Shop, skipped town in 2000 after police charged him with the kidnap and rape of a 12-year-old boy.

The FBI tried to find Stammer, now 47, but feared that the fugitive — who had traveled extensively and spoke dozens of languages — had fled the country.

In his teens and 20s, Stammer, who was born Andrew J. Allen but later changed his name, performed at nightclubs and on cruises ships, juggling for money in more than 30 countries.

“Given his overseas travel experience and his language skills, the juggler could have been hiding anywhere in the world,” the FBI acknowledged this week in a press release.

Without many leads, the case went cold.

Fast-forward to 2014, and the FBI got their guy — pretty much by accident.

In January, Special Agent Russ Wilson, recently assigned to the Albuquerque FBI division, decided to crack open Stammer's case again, because he was intrigued by the unique suspect. A new "wanted" poster was issued and distributed.

Then, in June, a special agent with the State Department was testing new facial recognition software for passport fraud investigations. The agent needed samples and used photos from FBI "wanted" posters.

Voilà — Stammer’s face matched a person whose passport photo carried a different name.

The agent contacted the bureau, and the tip soon led investigators to Nepal, where Stammer was living under the name Kevin Hodges "and regularly visiting the U.S. Embassy there to renew his tourist visa," the FBI said.

“He was very comfortable in Nepal,” FBI special agent Russ Wilson said in the release. “My impression was that he never thought he would be discovered.” Stammer had been living in Nepal for years, teaching English and other languages to students hoping to gain entrance into U.S. universities."

The fugitive juggler — who once performed at the esteemed Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C. — was extradited from Nepal to New Mexico.

In July, Stammer pleaded not guilty to charges of rape, kidnapping, witness intimidation, and criminal sexual contact of a minor stemming from an incident in which Stammer allegedly took the 12-year-old boy to his apartment and raped him. Bernalillo County District Attorney Kari Brandenburg told the Albuquerque Journal that at least "three alleged victims have come forward" with allegations against Stammer. He's being held without bail in Bernalillo County Jail.

“The Albuquerque Police Department is grateful for the hard work and perseverance of our federal law enforcement partners and the government of Nepal in locating this extremely dangerous fugitive,” Police Chief Gorden Eden Jr. said in announcing Stammer's capture last month. “We can only hope that during his time as a fugitive that he did not commit similar terrible crimes on others.”

Feds Creating Database to Track ‘Hate Speech’ on Twitter
$1 Million study focuses on internet memes, ‘misinformation’ in political campaigns


The federal government is spending nearly $1 million to create an online database that will track “misinformation” and hate speech on Twitter.

The National Science Foundation is financing the creation of a web service that will monitor “suspicious memes” and what it considers “false and misleading ideas,” with a major focus on political activity online.

The “Truthy” database, created by researchers at Indiana University, is designed to “detect political smears, astroturfing, misinformation, and other social pollution.”

The university has received $919,917 so far for the project.

“The project stands to benefit both the research community and the public significantly,” the grant states. “Our data will be made available via [application programming interfaces] APIs and include information on meme propagation networks, statistical data, and relevant user and content features.”


More Federal Agencies Are Using Undercover Operations

The federal government has significantly expanded undercover operations in recent years, with officers from at least 40 agencies posing as business people, welfare recipients, political protesters and even doctors or ministers to ferret out wrongdoing, records and interviews show.

At the Supreme Court, small teams of undercover officers dress as students at large demonstrations outside the courthouse and join the protests to look for suspicious activity, according to officials familiar with the practice.

At the Internal Revenue Service, dozens of undercover agents chase suspected tax evaders worldwide, by posing as tax preparers or accountants or drug dealers or yacht buyers, court records show.

At the Agriculture Department, more than 100 undercover agents pose as food stamp recipients at thousands of neighborhood stores to spot suspicious vendors and fraud, officials said.

Undercover work, inherently invasive and sometimes dangerous, was once largely the domain of the F.B.I. and a few other law enforcement agencies at the federal level. But outside public view, changes in policies and tactics over the last decade have resulted in undercover teams run by agencies in virtually every corner of the federal government, according to officials, former agents and documents.

Some agency officials say such operations give them a powerful new tool to gather evidence in ways that standard law enforcement methods do not offer, leading to more prosecutions. But the broadened scope of undercover work, which can target specific individuals or categories of possible suspects, also raises concerns about civil liberties abuses and entrapment of unwitting targets. It has also resulted in hidden problems, with money gone missing, investigations compromised and agents sometimes left largely on their own for months or even years.

“Done right, undercover work can be a very effective law enforcement method, but it carries serious risks and should only be undertaken with proper training, supervision and oversight,” said Michael German, a former F.B.I. undercover agent who is a fellow at New York University’s law school. “Ultimately it is government deceitfulness and participation in criminal activity, which is only justifiable when it is used to resolve the most serious crimes.”

Some of the expanded undercover operations have resulted from heightened concern about domestic terrorism since the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.

But many operations are not linked to terrorism. Instead, they reflect a more aggressive approach to growing criminal activities like identity theft, online solicitation and human trafficking, or a push from Congress to crack down on more traditional crimes.

At convenience stores, for example, undercover agents, sometimes using actual minors as decoys, look for illegal alcohol and cigarette sales, records show. At the Education Department, undercover agents of the Office of Inspector General infiltrate federally funded education programs looking for financial fraud. Medicare investigators sometimes pose as patients to gather evidence against health care providers. Officers at the Small Business Administration, NASA and the Smithsonian do undercover work as well, records show.
Continue reading the main story

Part of the appeal of undercover operations, some officials say, is that they can be an efficient way to make a case.

“We’re getting the information directly from the bad guys — what more could you want?” said Thomas Hunker, a former police chief in Bal Harbour, Fla., whose department worked with federal customs and drug agents on hundreds of undercover money-laundering investigations in recent years.

Mr. Hunker said sending federal and local agents undercover to meet with suspected money launderers “is a more direct approach than getting a tip and going out and doing all the legwork and going into a court mode.”

“We don’t have to go back and interview witnesses and do search warrants and surveillance and all that,” he added.

But the undercover work also led federal auditors to criticize his department for loose record-keeping and financial lapses, and Mr. Hunker was fired last year amid concerns about the operations.

DEA Agents Surprise NFL Teams With Drug Checks After Sunday Games

Federal drug enforcement agents showed up unannounced Sunday to check at least three visiting NFL teams' medical staffs as part of an investigation into former players' claims that teams mishandled prescription drugs.

There were no arrests, Drug Enforcement Administration spokesman Rusty Payne said Sunday. The San Francisco 49ers' staff was checked at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey, after they played the New York Giants. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers' staff was checked at Baltimore-Washington International airport after playing the Redskins. The Seattle Seahawks, who played at Kansas City, confirmed via the team's Twitter account that they were spot-checked as well.

The operation was still ongoing, and other teams may be checked later Sunday, Payne said.

"DEA agents are currently interviewing NFL team doctors in several locations as part of an ongoing investigation into potential violations of the (Controlled Substances Act)," Payne said.

The spot checks were done by investigators from the federal DEA. They did not target specific teams, but were done to measure whether visiting NFL clubs were generally in compliance with federal law. Agents requested documentation from visiting teams' medical staffs for any controlled substances in their possession, and for proof that doctors could practice medicine in the home team's state.

"Our teams cooperated with the DEA today and we have no information to indicate that irregularities were found," NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy said in an email.

The nationwide probe is being directed by the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Southern District of New York — where the NFL is headquartered — but involves several U.S. attorney's offices.

The investigation was sparked by a lawsuit filed in May on behalf of former NFL players going back to 1968. The number of plaintiffs has grown to more than 1,200, including dozens who played as recently as 2012. Any violations of federal drug laws from 2009 forward could also become the subject of a criminal investigation because they would not be subject to the five-year statute of limitations.

"This is an unprecedented raid on a professional sports league," said Steve Silverman, one of the attorneys for the former players. "I trust the evidence reviewed and validated leading up to this action was substantial and compelling."

Federal prosecutors have conducted interviews in at least three cities over the past three weeks, spending two days in Los Angeles in late October meeting with a half-dozen former players — including at least two who were named plaintiffs in the painkillers lawsuit, according to multiple people with direct knowledge of the meetings who spoke on the condition of anonymity because prosecutors told them not to comment on the meetings.

The lawsuit alleges the NFL and its teams, physicians and trainers acted without regard for players' health, withholding information about injuries while at the same time handing out prescription painkillers such as Vicodin and Percocet, and anti-inflammatories such as Toradol, to mask pain and minimize lost playing time. The players contend some teams filled out prescriptions in players' names without their knowledge or consent, then dispensed those drugs — according to one plaintiff's lawyer — "like candy at Halloween," along with combining them in "cocktails."

Several former players interviewed by The Associated Press described the line of teammates waiting to get injections on game day often spilling out from the training room. Others recounted flights home from games where trainers walked down the aisle and players held up a number of fingers to indicate how many pills they wanted.

The controlled substance act says only doctors and nurse practitioners can dispense prescription drugs, and only in states where they are licensed. The act also lays out stringent requirements for acquiring, labeling, storing and transporting drugs. Trainers who are not licensed would be in violation of the law simply by carrying a controlled substance.

The former players have reported a range of debilitating effects, from chronic muscle and bone ailments to permanent nerve and organ damage to addiction. They contend those health problems came from drug use, but many of the conditions haven't been definitively linked to painkillers.

The lawsuit is currently being heard in the northern district of California, where presiding judge William Alsup said he wants to hear the NFL Players Association's position on the case before deciding on the league's motion to dismiss. The NFL maintained that it's not responsible for the medical decisions of its 32 teams. League attorneys also argued the issue should be addressed by the union, which negotiated a collective bargaining agreement that covers player health.

The DEA investigation comes during a turbulent time for the NFL.

The league is still weathering criticism over its treatment of several players accused of domestic violence and just wrapped up an arbitration hearing

I do not disapprove of random drug tests.
Senate blocks NSA phone records measure

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Senate on Tuesday blocked a bill to end bulk collection of American phone records by the National Security Agency, dealing a blow to President Barack Obama's primary proposal to rein in domestic surveillance.

The 58-42 vote was two short of the 60 needed to proceed with debate. Voting was largely along party lines, with most Democrats supporting the bill and most Republicans voting against it. The Republican-controlled House had previously passed its own NSA bill.

**And they say this past midterm elections "fixed" things?

The legislation would have ended the NSA's collection of domestic calling records, instead requiring the agency to obtain a court order each time it wanted to analyze the records in terrorism cases, and query records held by the telephone companies. In many cases the companies store the records for 18 months.

The revelation that the spying agency had been collecting and storing domestic phone records since shortly after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, was among the most significant by Edward Snowden, a former agency network administrator who turned over secret NSA documents to journalists. The agency collects only so-called metadata — numbers called, not names — and not the content of conversations. But the specter of the intelligence agency holding domestic calling records was deeply disquieting to many Americans.

The bill had drawn support from technology companies and civil liberties activists. Its failure means there has been little in the way of policy changes as a result of Snowden's disclosures.


Next-generation tracking technology could be in your gadgets soon

Sophisticated tracking technology, the likes of which you might associate with governments or big companies, may soon be in consumers' hands, homes, cars and local stores.

If it works as described - a big "if," of course, - the technology developed by a small-but-established U.K. company called Apical could detect not only people, but determine what they are doing, where they are going and even what they may be thinking. The technology, dubbed Spirit and part of the growing and fast-developing field of computer vision, could be used for everything from helping consumers shoot better videos to helping the local coffee shop improve its sales.

"What (the Spirit technology) is doing solves a lot of problems," said Mike Krell, an analyst at industry research firm Moor Insights & Strategy. "It could open up a lot of applications."

Scientists and companies have been making huge strides in computer vision and tracking technologies. Just last month, researchers at Google and Stanford separately announced they had developed software that allows computers to identify and even write a caption for what's happening in a scene. And for years now, consumers have been able to configure smartphones running Google's Android software to unlock their screens when they recognize particular faces.

Meanwhile, companies are becoming ever more sophisticated at tracking consumers' movements and gleaning data from them. A company called Affectiva, for example, has developed a way of determining consumers' emotional states by monitoring their facial expressions with a simple webcam. Meanwhile, San Jose-based RetailNext has developed a system that combines data from video cameras, Wi-Fi antennas, Bluetooth beacons, cash registers and more to track consumers in retail stores.

Spirit represents another advance in the field, one that offers similar practical and consumer uses. According to Apical, the technology is powerful enough to track up to 120 people or moving objects at a time and glean their directions and intentions in real time. Unlike similar technologies, though, Spirit doesn't rely on powerful computers and doesn't need to transmit video to servers in the cloud. Instead, it can be built into the camera chips inside a smartphone or even a relatively simple webcam.

Generally, tracking systems try to glean information from video files, which means they have to process the video after it's recorded. By contrast, Spirit works independently of video. It takes a snapshot of a scene, but instead of recording pixel-by-pixel information such as color and brightness, it only records so-called metadata, such as the location, shape, trajectory and pose - how someone is standing or gesturing - of a particular person or object.

Because the system is recording much less information, the data can be used immediately. It also means that applications don't have to worry about storing or processing large video files or about how much bandwidth is available to transmit them up to the cloud.

"That's the essential difference," said Paul Strzelecki, a consultant who works with the company. "You've got to deal with the data at the edge and not create data" - like video - "that you don't need."

You may not have heard of Apical, but there's a decent chance that you've used its technology. The company designs specialized processing "cores" for imaging chips that have been shipped in about a billion products, mostly smartphones, and have been licensed by Qualcomm and Samsung, two of the major manufacturers of smartphone processors.

The company was one of the pioneers of the high-dynamic range, or HDR, feature found in many smartphone cameras that helps them take pictures of scenes with a high contrast between light and dark areas. It also has developed a sophisticated screen-dimming technology found in Microsoft's Lumia phones that helps make them more legible outdoors.

One of the first places that Spirit is likely to show up is in smartphone cameras. Apical has developed a way of using Spirit to help consumers take better videos. The technology would maintain focus on a subject in a busy scene - say, of a child riding a bike in a park - and even automatically zoom in on the subject. At the same time, Spirit could be used to make it easier for consumers to find their videos later, by automatically tagging the video with pertinent information - not only the time it was taken and the location, but also what's happening and who's in the video.

That system could be in smartphones as soon as the end of next year. But Spirit may find its way into other products as well. The company is also exploring using Spirit in home-automation devices, in which the light might turn on or the TV volume might be automatically turned down when a particular person enters the room. Apical is also marketing Spirit to retailers, suggesting that it could allow them to present consumers with offers in real time on particular products based on what they happened to be looking at in the store.

And the system could have plenty of other applications. It could potentially be used in cars, to warn drivers about pedestrians near the road, or in security cameras to help identify actual threats.

"As with a lot of these things, the actual killer app will turn out to be something that's completely different, something that we weren't expecting," said Jeremy Green, principal analyst at Machina Research.
Big Brother Moves Into The Passenger Seat

January 20, 2015 | WASHINGTON EXAMINER
In 2008, the Washington legislature passed a law mandating a 50 percent reduction in per capita driving by 2050. California and Oregon laws or regulations have similar but somewhat less draconian targets.

The Obama administration wants to mandate that all new cars come equipped with vehicle-to-infrastructure communications, so the car can send signals to and receive messages from street lights and other infrastructure.

Now the California Air Resources Board is considering regulations requiring that all cars monitor their owners’ driving habits, including but not limited to how many miles they drive, how much fuel they use, and how much pollution or greenhouse gases they emit.

Put these all together and you have a system in which the government will not only know where your vehicle is at all times, but can turn off your vehicle if it decides you are driving too much or driving in a way that emits too many grams of carbon dioxide or is otherwise offensive to some bureaucratic imperative.

I sometimes think privacy advocates are a paranoid bunch, seeing men in black around every corner and surveillance helicopters or drones in the air at all times. On the other hand, if a technology is available — such as the ability to record cell phone calls — the government has proven it will use it

Rolling Eyes
Two Irish guys sneaked into Super Bowl, sat in $25,000 seats

Upper-deck tickets for Super Bowl XLIX rose to more than $10,000 by gameday. But two Seattle Seahawks fans from Ireland sneaked into the game and sat in lower-bowl seats valued at $25,000 for free.

The Irish fans, Paul McEvoy and Richard Whelan, couldn't afford tickets to the game at University of Phoenix Stadium between their beloved Seahawks and the New England Patriots. So they decided to walk through the front door.

First, they tried to grovel for tickets while being interviewed on NFL Network, but to no avail. They they found their way in illegally.

"Our game plan was to be super confident," Whelan told RTE Radio One Morning Ireland, via The Independent. "We just thought if we pretend we belong there, nobody will question us. Between one layer of security and another we just walked in behind these 20 first aid workers, straight up to the front door and hid in behind them.

"Paul was looking at his phone, pretending to text me, as if we had just popped out to look at an email we got or something. We walked past another security guard that just wasn't paying attention. We could see the field then, the stadium and the atmosphere was insane."

Once inside, Richard sent out this tweet.

They walked around the stadium, careful not to look back in case they were followed.

"I remember looking at Paul's face, we just couldn't believe we got in," Whelan said.

They seat-hopped for a while, taking people's places while they went to the bathroom or for concessions, before settling in lower-bowl seats of two girls who were part of the halftime show, they learned. Those seats were worth $25K apiece.

In a hilarious coincidence, they ended up sitting next to former Patriots and Seahawks safety Lawyer Milloy, who gave them a play-by-play of the action.

"It was pretty cool to have the Super Bowl champion sharing all the details," Whelan said.

Yes, Irish eyes were smiling.

Until, of course, the final sequence of plays. You know what happened.

It will be a long trip back to Dublin, but Whelan said the experience was well worth it.

"It was a good day of hustling," Whelan said. "What seemed like impossible came true."
Data Collection at Schools: Is Big Brother Watching Your Kids?

Most people need at least a shred of privacy in their lives — and are even more fiercely protective of it when it comes to their kids. It’s why an increasing number of moms and dads are feeling betrayed by their children’s schools, who often collect and use sensitive data on students like a valuable form of currency.

"It’s crazy. It’s creepy. Why are they collecting all this data on our children, and what are they doing with it?" says Colorado mother of three Traci Burnett in speaking with the Gazette, a Colorado news outlet, for a story this week about kids and privacy in that state. But many parents across the country believe that schools gather too much personal information about their children and families — typically in the name of bettering student achievement — and now national legislators are considering various new laws on data privacy.

According to EPIC’s student privacy project director Khaliah Barnes, who wrote on the topic for the New York Times in December, “The collection of student data is out of control. No longer do schools simply record attendance and grades. Now every test score and every interaction with a digital learning tool is recorded. Data gathering includes health, fitness and sleeping habits, sexual activity, prescription drug use, alcohol use and disciplinary matters. Students’ attitudes, sociability and even ‘enthusiasm’ are quantified, analyzed, recorded and dropped into giant data systems.” The rampant data collection, she added, “is not only destroying student privacy, it also threatens students’ intellectual freedom. When schools record and analyze students’ every move and recorded thought, they chill expression and speech, stifling innovation and creativity.” Some cafeteria software, according to Marketplace, tracks eligibility for free and reduced-price lunches, including sensitive financial data about a student’s family such as weekly income and alimony payments.

The Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC), a non-partisan research organization, reports that students’ personal information is often collected through in-school surveys, sometimes for commercial use. Congress most recently addressed such surveys in the No Child Left Behind Act, providing parents and students the right to be notified of, and consent to, the collection of student information, though it allows for many exceptions.

And while federal laws protect children’s privacy, most have loopholes. The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), for example, doesn’t cover online educational data or third-party vendors, and is up for Congressional revision. A hearing in Washington earlier this month addressed how emerging technology affects student privacy, and what additional protections are needed. “Think George Orwell and take it to the nth degree,” explained Fordham University Professor Joel Reidenberg, when asked what information would be available in one findable place on any particular preschool through college student.  

The concerns have prompted President Obama to propose the Student Digital Privacy Act, to ensure that data collected in the educational context is used only for educational purposes. The bill would prevent companies from selling student data to third parties for purposes unrelated to the educational mission, and from engaging in targeted advertising to students based on data collected in school – though it would still allow for research initiatives to improve student learning outcomes, as well as efforts by companies to improve their learning technology products.

“The Education Department and the Federal Trade Commission could and should do more to protect student privacy,” wrote EPIC president Marc Rotenberg in a statement submitted to the recent Congressional hearing. “But because they have not, meaningful legislation will provide a private right of action for students and their parents against private companies that unlawfully disclose student information.” Recently, as just one example, the statement explained, EPIC filed an extensive complaint with the FTC concerning the business practices of “The company encouraged students to divulge sensitive medical, sexual, and religious information to obtain financial aid information,” Rotenberg explained. “The company claimed that it used this information to locate scholarships and financial aid., however, transferred the data to a business affiliate that in turn sold the data for general marketing purposes.”

Jules Polonetskys, the executive director of the Future of Privacy Forum, wrote in the New York Times that he believes transparency is key. Most important, to build trust in the new technology, parents need to be kept in the know. The paramount concern of schools and tech and data companies should be making sure parents and students understand why and how technology and data are being used to advance learning, how the information collected is protected in the process and what the schools are doing to safeguard protected information.”

It’s an idea that Colorado mom, Traci Burnett, can get behind. “I think people have forgotten these are my kids, not the school’s,” she told the Gazette. “When you start linking all this data — my kid’s biometrics, with an address, a juvenile record, voter registration, you get a profile, and there’s so much wrong with that. The danger is that the information doesn’t need to be in the hands of the state or federal government. It reminds me of China — we’re going to flow you to the correct job so you can be productive in our society.”

Put CCTV in EVERY home: Householders should help us trap burglars, says Scotland Yard chief

   Bernard Hogan Howe said people installed their CCTV cameras too high
   This meant only the tops of the criminals' heads were caught on film
   Families should install their own cameras to help catch burglars, he said
   The Met chief said Britain needed more cameras to help fight crime

Read more:

NSA Doesn’t Need to Spy on Your Calls to Learn Your Secrets

Governments and corporations gather, store, and analyze the tremendous amount of data we chuff out as we move through our digitized lives. Often this is without our knowledge, and typically without our consent. Based on this data, they draw conclusions about us that we might disagree with or object to, and that can impact our lives in profound ways. We may not like to admit it, but we are under mass surveillance.

Much of what we know about the NSA’s surveillance comes from Edward Snowden, although people both before and after him also leaked agency secrets. As an NSA contractor, Snowden collected tens of thousands of documents describing many of the NSA’s surveillance activities. Then in 2013 he fled to Hong Kong and gave them to select reporters.

U.S. tracked phone calls for two decades in anti-drug program: USA Today

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. government started keeping secret records of international phone calls made by Americans in 1992 in a program intended to combat drug trafficking, USA Today reported on Tuesday, citing current and former intelligence and law enforcement officials.

The program, run by the Justice Department and the Drug Enforcement Administration, was halted by Attorney General Eric Holder in 2013 amid the fallout from revelations by former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden about NSA data collection, the paper reported.

The DEA program was the government's first known effort to gather data on Americans in bulk, sweeping up records of telephone calls made by millions of U.S. citizens regardless of whether they were suspected of a crime, USA Today said.

The program amassed logs of virtually all telephone calls made from the United States to as many as 116 countries linked to drug trafficking.

Federal investigators used the call records to track drug cartels' distribution networks in the United States, allowing agents to detect previously unknown trafficking rings and money handlers, the paper said.

The program did not intercept the content of calls but it did record the phone numbers and when they were dialed.

When the data collection began, agents sought to limit its use mainly to drug investigations and turned away requests for access from the FBI and the NSA, the paper reported.

Agents allowed searches of the data in terrorism cases, including the bombing of a federal building in Oklahoma City that killed 168 people in 1995, helping to rule out theories linking the attack to foreign terrorists, the paper reported. They allowed even broader use after Sept. 11, 2001, it said.

Justice Department spokesman Patrick Rodenbush told USA Today the DEA "is no longer collecting bulk telephony metadata from U.S. service providers."

Instead, the DEA assembles a list of the telephone numbers it suspects may be tied to drug trafficking and sends electronic subpoenas to telephone companies seeking logs of international telephone calls linked to those numbers, the paper said.

Pre-Crime: People Will Soon Be Arrested For Thinking About Committing A Crime

A pre-crime system called Beware, for example, is capable of rating citizens of Fresno, California, as posing a high, medium or low level of threat. Press accounts say the system amasses data not only on past crimes but on web searches, property records and social networking posts.


Being Arrested For The Crime You Have Not Yet Committed

Computers are getting pretty good at predicting the future. In many cases they do it better than people. That’s why Amazon uses them to figure out what you’re likely to buy, how Netflix knows what you might want to watch, the way meteorologists come up with accurate 10-day forecasts.

Now a team of scientists has demonstrated that a computer can outperform human judges in predicting who will commit a violent crime. In a paper published last month, they described how they built a system that started with people already arrested for domestic violence, then figured out which of them would be most likely to commit the same crime again.

The technology could potentially spare victims from being injured, or even killed. It could also keep the least dangerous offenders from going to jail unnecessarily. And yet, there’s something unnerving about using machines to decide what should happen to people. If targeted advertising misfires, nobody’s liberty is at stake.

For two decades, police departments have used computers to identify times and places where crimes are more likely to occur, guiding the deployment of officers and detectives. Now they’re going another step: using vast data sets to identify individuals who are criminally inclined. They’re doing this with varying levels of transparency and scientific testing. A pre-crime system called Beware, for example, is capable of rating citizens of Fresno, California, as posing a high, medium or low level of threat. Press accounts say the system amasses data not only on past crimes but on web searches, property records and social networking posts.

Critics are warning that the new technology had been rushed into use without enough public discussion. One question is precisely how the software works — it’s the manufacturer’s trade secret. Another is whether there’s scientific evidence that such technology works as advertised.

By contrast, the recent paper on the system that forecasts domestic violence lays out what it can do and how well it can do it.

One of the creators of that system, University of Pennsylvania statistician Richard Berk, said he only works with publicly available data on people who have already been arrested. The system isn’t scooping up and crunching data on ordinary citizens, he said, but is making the same forecasts that judges or police officers previously had to make when it came time to decide whether to detain or release a suspect.

The Technology Shown Us In Minority Report Has Already Come True:

He started working on crime forecasting more than a decade ago, and by 2008 had created a computerized system that beat the experts in picking which parolees were most likely to reoffend. He used a machine learning system – feeding a computer lots of different kinds of data until it discovered patterns that it could use to make predictions, which then can be tested against known data.

Machine learning doesn’t necessarily yield an algorithm that people can understand. Users know which parameters get considered but not how the machine uses them to get its answers.

In the domestic violence paper, published in February in the Journal of Empirical Legal Studies, Berk and Penn psychologist Susan Sorenson looked at data from about 100,000 cases, all occurring between 2009 and 2013. Here, too, they used a machine learning system, feeding a computer data on age, sex, zip code, age at first arrest, and a long list of possible previous charges for such things as drunk driving, animal mistreatment, and firearms crimes. They did not use race, though Berk said the system isn’t completely race blind because some inferences about race can be drawn from a person’s zip code.

The researchers used about two-thirds of the data to “train” the system, giving the machine access to the input data as well as the outcome – whether or not these people were arrested a second time for domestic violence. The other third of the data they used to test the system, giving the computer only the information that a judge could know at arraignment, and seeing how well the system predicted who would be arrested for domestic violence again.

It would be easy to reduce the number of repeat offenses to zero by simply locking up everyone accused of domestic violence, but there’s a cost to jailing people who aren’t going to be dangerous, said Berk. Currently, about half of those arrested for domestic violence are released, he said. The challenge he and Sorenson faced was to continue to release half but pick a less dangerous half. The result: About 20 percent of those released by judges were later arrested for the same crime. Of the computer’s choices, it was only 10 percent.

Berk and Sorensen are currently working with the Philadelphia police, he said, to adapt the machine learning system to predict which households are most at risk of domestic violence. Those, he said, can be targeted with extra supervision.

The parole system has already been implemented in Philadelphia. Parolees in the city are assigned to high-, medium- and low-risk groups by a machine-learning system, allowing parole officers to focus most of their attention on the high-risk cases.

One downside might be a more one-dimensional decision-making process. Several years ago, when I wrote an article on the parole system for the Philadelphia Inquirer, I learned that some parole officers found the system constraining. They said that they could have a bigger impact by spending more time with low-risk offenders who were open to accepting help in getting their lives together – getting off drugs, applying for jobs, or getting a high school degree.

Their concern was that their bosses would put too much faith in the system and too little in them. This echoes the problem Berk says worries him: That people will put too much trust the technology. If a system hasn’t been through scientific testing, then skepticism is in order. And even those that have been shown to beat human judgment are far from perfect. Machine learning could give crime fighters a source of information in making decisions, but at this stage it would be a mistake for them to let it make the decisions for them. source
Oliver Stone says every studio turned down 'Snowden'

Despite a good cast, a good budget, and a good script, veteran filmmaker Oliver Stone says every studio turned down the opportunity to make Snowden, the story of Edward Snowden, the famed CIA contract employee who famously leaked classified information about secret global surveillance programs being run by the NSA.

Stone, who made his first-ever appearance at Comic-Con on Thursday, ultimately found his financing from France and Germany, where he shot the majority of the movie (which Open Road Films will debut on Sept. 16). Joining Stone on the first official day of Comic-Con were his film's stars Joseph Gordon-Levitt, who plays the titular character, Shailene Woodley, who plays Snowden's girlfriend Lindsay Mills, and Zachary Quinto, who portrays Guardian reporter Glenn Greenwald.

Despite the rousing applause for the filmmaker behind such iconic films as Platoon, Wall Street, and The Doors, among many others, the panel conversation turned pretty serious pretty fast with Stone lamenting the fact that today's society is "feeling the 1984 Big Brother vibe" and all the cast members urging the primarily young audience to educate themselves on the level of surveillance currently in their lives.

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