Tag Archives: GPS

Tonight on AxXiom For Liberty Live!-Narconon Arrowhead Update with Colin Henderson, David Love Also Indy Journalist Dan Feidt, DRE, MN Vehicle Tax and Track plan

a4l 55Kaye Beach

Nov. 30, 2012

Tonight on AxXiom For Liberty Live!-Colin Henderson, David Love Narconon Arrowhead Update, Dan Feidt on DRE and MN Vehicle Tax and Track plan

**Listen to the show archive A4L_2012-11-30_64k.mp3

 6-8 PM Central

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Narconon Arrowhead Update

Colin Henderson and David Love give us an update on the actions being taken by state officials and families stemming from the recent deaths of students seeking drug rehabilitation at the Narconon Arrowhead facility located in Canadian Oklahoma.

Colin Henderson sought help for his addiction at Narconon Arrowhead, a drug rehabilitation facility located in Canadian Oklahoma, in 2007.  He quickly became a critic of Narconon for their practices which he says are both deceptive and dangerous.

David Love, originally from British Columbia, was both a client and a staffer at the Narconon rehabilitation facility in Trois-Rivieres, half way between Montreal and Quebec City. He left in disgust taking with him masses of documentation on fraud and abuse in Narconon (NN) Trois-Rivieres (TR) facility in 2009. On April 17, 2012, Quebec health officials ordered the Narconon in Trois-Rivières to close saying that Narconon’s methods were dangerous for patients and violated Quebec’s health and safety criteria governing rehabilitation centers.

Next, we will speak to Dan Feidt, indy journalist and activist about a couple of very interesting items.

DRE officer: “I don’t know what the big deal is I just gave them marijuana”

This spring, Dan was instrumental in breaking the story about police officers apparently giving drugs to protesters in Minneapolis, MN.   He shot much of the video first detailing this unbelievable situation.  Dan is going to give us an update on the outcome of that investigation and also fill us in on the Minnesota Dept. of Transportation GPS-based vehicle tracking system that is intended to introduce a vehicle tax which would entail a great deal of data constantly collected by the government on the whereabouts and everyday patterns of the taxed vehicles.

EXCLUSIVE MnDOT info cake: 2.97gb emails/docs on the Mileage Based User Fee (MBUF)- Minnesota’s GPS vehicle taxing regime in the works

For more, check out Dan’s website at http://www.hongpong.com/

As always, your questions and comments are welcome!

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Schools-Social Laboratories for Human Surveillance

Kaye Beach

Oct. 10, 2012

The latest story about Texas school children being tagged and tracked with active RFID tracking devices  (the passive variety is considered “a little less Big Brotherish.”) has caused some controversy.  We are told that this is no big deal, that the RFID tracking simply allows the school to more efficiently do what it already does-take attendance and keep track of students whose safety and well-being is entrusted to the school by parents. But there is much more going on here and the issue deserves to be examined in a broader context.

Here is an excellent article by David Rosen of AlterNet that pulls together a variety of news relating to the tracking and surveillance of students.  If you are even slightly uncomfortable about the implementation of these high tech schemes being unleashed on our children, you should read every word of this article which provides some much needed context to the individual stories that trickle down to us from time to time.

These children are the leaders of tomorrow and their experiences at school help serve to fix the values that they will carry with them into adulthood and they are being immersed in an environment saturated with sensors designed to supervise, control and correct them.  (Here are some other objections to student RFID tracking)

Rosen’s article covers RFID and GPS tracking, electronic monitoring devices being used on kids to combat obesity in New York, electronic monitoring of calories consumed in school cafeterias,  networked CCTV systems that are directly  accessible to police and disturbing abuse of student privacy through CCTV cameras,  school computers that use cameras to remotely spy on students in their own homes, federal funding of school surveillance and more.

I would like to add one thing to  Rosen’s litany; biometric identification such as finger scanning to make lunch lines more efficient 

Rosen writes;

Few parents or children are fully aware of the scope of the tracking and surveillance now going on in American schools. Three simple questions need to be addressed: What is happening to all the personal data captured about the students? How long it is being retained? And are school administrators providing it to law enforcement authorities or commercial vendors?

Here is the AlterNet article.

Kids Tagged With RFID Chips? The Creepy New Technology Schools Use to Track Everything Kids Do — And the Profit Motive Behind It

THE FEDS WANT TO TAKE YOUR CAR! Randal O’Toole’s Transportation Newsletter

Kaye Beach

May 21, 2012

I don’t necessarily agree with O’Toole on everything here.  For example,He urges the creation of ” quasi-governmental toll road authorities” such as the ones in assistance today in Florida and Texas.  O’Toole notes that these entities are politically well insulated.  O’Toole see this as a plus but customer complaints like this one make me a little skeptical.

Lots of good info here though!

 

THE FEDS WANT TO TAKE YOUR CAR!              May 20, 2012

Randal O’Toole’s transportation newsletter

TRANSPORTATION REAUTHORIZATION IN CONFERENCE COMMITTEE

On May 8, members of the House and Senate conference committee started meeting to debate the surface transportation reauthorization bills. Normally, conference committees meet when the two houses of Congress pass different bills, but the 884-page House bill (H.R. 7) never made it to the House floor due to objections from fiscal conservatives who claimed it had too much pork in it (as well as objections from Republicans in transit-heavy cities such as New York and Chicago). But the real pork can be found in the 1,674-page Senate bill, known as MAP-21 (S. 1813).

Among other things, the Senate bill includes:
* A continuation of payments to national forest counties to make up for lost revenues due to reduced timber sales;
* A seven-year extension of the Land & Water Conservation Fund to buy more lands for the Forest Service and Department of the Interior;
* A brand-new National Endowment for the Oceans, Coasts and Great Lakes.

Of course, these have nothing to do with transportation and everything to do with politicians trying to tack their favorite projects onto a bill that Congress has to eventually pass.

In the area of transportation, the House bill is actually the most fiscally conservative transportation reauthorization bill passed out of any committee in 35 years. The bill includes no earmarks (a feature of transportation bills since 1982) and minimal deficit spending. While it does spend about $5 billion more per year than gas tax revenues, this is a huge reduction from the existing law, which as of 2009 was spending $10 billion to $15 billion more than revenues. The Senate bill continues spending at 2009 levels, which means about $15 billion in annual deficits.

From a transportation view, there are many differences between the two. The House bill continues the Small Starts program (transit capital grants of up to $75 million) that the administration wants to use to fund streetcars all over the place (see below). The Senate bill never mentions Small Starts. The Senate bill also allows “New Starts” money (which the bill calls “fixed guideway capital investment grants”) to be used to maintain existing rail lines as well as build new ones. Since the nation’s rail transit systems suffer from about a $60 billion maintenance backlog, it is better to spend on maintenance than build new lines we can’t afford to maintain.

The Senate bill also includes three amendments raised by New Mexico Senator Jeff Bingaman designed to kill public-private partnerships. One would prevent private road partners from using the same depreciation schedules used by all other industries; a second would prevent the from using tax-exempt private activity bonds that other infrastructure companies can use; the third excludes public-private roads from a state’s total road mileage when calculating a state’s share of federal highway funds. All of these demonstrate the hostility of Senate Democrats to market-based transportation.

The good news is that the conferees have said they will treat the House bill equal with the Senate one even though the House bill never actually passed the House. The bad news is that many if not most of the conferees are more attracted to pork than to fiscal conservatism. On the House side, Republicans include House Transportation Committee chair John Mica (who often said he would have passed a more fiscally liberal bill were it not for the tea party members of Congress), former chair Don Young (who wrote the 2005 bill that included more than 7,000 earmarks), and likely future chair Bill Shuster (whose father was one of the biggest pork barrelers in Congress). Democrats include Oregon representatives Earl Blumenauer (who wrote the Small Starts law) and Peter DeFazio (who objects to any new roads, especially if they are privately funded).

Even if the Senate bill passes, it will expire in less than 18 months, so the next session of Congress can begin the debate all over again. But it would be better if it did not pass because it will start several new programs and expand other programs that will be harder to kill in the next bill. It seems like the best fiscal conservatives can hope for is more gridlock.

Links:
List of Senate conferees: http://tinyurl.com/6mobbqz
List of House conferees: http://ti.org/antiplanner/?p=6466
House bill: http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/BILLS-112hr7rh/pdf/BILLS-112hr7rh.pdf
Senate bill: http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/BILLS-112s1813es/pdf/BILLS-112s1813es.pdf
Bill Shuster likely next chair: http://tinyurl.com/7ow32ku

COMING SOON TO A CITY NEAR YOU: STREETCARS

Streetcars are a completely obsolete technology that do nothing to enhance urban mobility. Advocates want to build them because, they claim, streetcars lead to economic development. If that were true, they should be funded out of economic development funds, not out of transportation dollars.

Yet the Obama administration is eager to hand out transportation grants for streetcars in cities all over the country. It has already given transportation stimulus funds for streetcars to Atlanta, Cincinnati, Dallas, Salt Lake City, and Tucson. It gave $75 million in Small Starts transit funds to Portland. But Small Starts rules written during the Bush administration require that cities prove that streetcars are more cost-effective than buses at saving people time, something that is impossible to do. (Portland got around the rules by using the political muscle of Oregon’s Congressional delegation.)

The Obama administration wants to change the rules, and cities are lining up to hand in their grant proposals as soon as the final rules go into effect: Albuquerque, Austin, Detroit, Kansas City, Milwaukee, and San Antonio are just a few of the cities that have completed or are currently doing the required environmental analyses to build federally funded streetcars.

These cities have been scammed by consulting firms that claim huge economic development benefits from streetcars. In fact, no city that has built streetcars have generated any economic development unless the city accompanied that streetcar with hundreds of millions of dollars worth of other subsidies and the neighborhood in which the streetcar was located was already growing.

For example, Portland’s streetcar, which opened in 2001, went through two neighborhoods in Northwest Portland, and city officials brag that after it was built, developers invested nearly $1.4 billion into these neighborhoods. Developers in one of the neighborhoods, known as the Pearl District, received about $450 million in subsidies, and here they invested more than $1.3 billion in more than 50 projects. A similarly sized neighborhood in Northwest Portland received no subsidies, and developers invested only $17.6 million in seven projects. Clearly, developers followed the subsidies, not the streetcar.

On or about June 14, the Cato Institute will publish my detailed analysis of the streetcar fad. In the meantime, this is one good reason why Congress should take all competitive grant programs out of the transportation bill and allocate funds exclusively using formulas.

Links:
My comments on proposed rules: http://tinyurl.com/7zkon9t
Pro-streetcar group: http://www.modernstreetcar.org/

VEHICLE-MILE PRICING: AN IDEA WHOSE TIME HAS COME; BUT HOW?

Everyone knows the gas tax is on its way out. Due to inflation and more fuel-efficient cars, we only pay one-third as much for every mile we drive as people paid in 1956, when Congress created the Interstate Highway System. Cars are getting more fuel-efficient all the time and electric cars, if they ever become significant, will only make the problem worse.

Raising the gas tax could solve part of this problem, but not all of it. For one thing, gas taxes are collected by the federal and state governments, but few local governments collect gas taxes. Though most states share their gas tax revenues with cities and counties, it isn’t enough, so local governments must find about $30 billion a year in general funds to support roads.

A second, even bigger, problem is that gas taxes don’t properly price roads, and the $100-billion-plus annual congestion cost is the result. While economists have long advocated congestion pricing of roads, people don’t like to “pay twice” for roads. So many fiscal conservatives have promoted the idea of building new HOT (high-occupancy/toll) lanes parallel to existing congested roads, both to give people a congestion-free option and to demonstrate the benefits of congestion pricing.

The problem with HOT lanes is they only solve part of the problem with congestion. Congestion begins when too many vehicles try to drive on a road, exceeding the road’s maximum capacity. But congestion continues long after the number of vehicles fall below the maximum capacity because, at slow speeds, the capacity of the road actually declines. Preventing the decline in capacity through congestion pricing of all lanes would save Americans billions of hours and billions of gallons of fuel a year.

In a new paper published by the Cato Institute last week, I propose to solve all of these problems at once by replacing gas taxes with vehicle-mile fees. Since the gas taxes are eliminated, no one will be paying twice. Eliminating the congestion will save drivers and businesses tens or hundreds of billions of dollars. Replacing gas taxes with vehicle-mile fees will also effectively devolve transportation decisions to the state and local level. This can be done on a state-by-state basis, though the states should coordinate with one another so they use compatible technologies.

The paper also urges that states and counties create quasi-governmental toll road authorities that collect the fees and spend them exclusively on roads. Such toll road authorities in Texas, Florida, and other states have proven to be well-insulated from politics, and they act almost as efficiently as private road providers. Replacing gas taxes with mileage fees would effectively devolve transportation to the local level.

Oregon has demonstrated that vehicle-mile fees can be collected without invading traveler’s privacy. The system tested by Oregon had people pay fees when they purchased gas. A GPS unit on their car told the gas pump how much drivers owed for the roads they used, but not exactly when or what roads they used. Minnesota is doing a similar test, and similar systems could be designed using cell phones or other wireless devices.

Congestion is a terrible burden on society, while local subsidies to highways politicize transportation and lend support to inane projects such as streetcars. Replacing gas taxes with vehicle-mile fees in a way that will protect traveler privacy should be the top priority for those who want to improve our transportation systems and devolve decisions to the local level.

Links:
My Cato paper: http://www.cato.org/pubs/pas/PA695.pdf
Mileage Based User Fee Alliance: http://mbufa.org/
Oregon’s experiment: http://www.oregon.gov/ODOT/HWY/RUFPP/mileage.shtml
Minnesota’s experiment: http://www.dot.state.mn.us/mileagebaseduserfee/studies.html

HOUSEKEEPING

You can view previous issues of this newsletter at http://ti.org/pipermail/thefedswantyourcar_ti.org/

.

Best,

Randal
The Antiplanner
P. O. Box 76
Camp Sherman, Oregon 97730
541-595-1460
541-588-0518 cell
http://ti.org/antiplanner

A Closer Look at the Eyes in the Sky Unleashed by Congress-Drones

Kaye Beach

Feb 23, 2012

Great analysis by Privacy Revolt! Posted on Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Domestic Spy Drones Approved by Congress

 

. . .Congress has APPROVED two of these threats for widespread use: domestic spy drones, and what are called “super drones”. As we are now becoming aware, these drones do more than just kill innocent women and children around the world, but in fact, are perfect domestic spying devices too.

The “super drones” take it a step further, by actually knowing who you are, because, as reported by Wired magazine, the military has given out research grants to several companies to spruce up these drones with technology that lets them identify and track people on the move, or “tagging, tracking, and locating” (TTL).

But don’t take my word for it, there were three major stories on the topic last week, “Congress OKs FAA Bill allowing drones in US, GPS air traffic control“, “Bill authorizes Use of Unmanned Drones in US Airspace“, and “Drones over US get OK by Congress“.

Let’s go to the piece by the New American:

Big Brother is set to adopt a new form of surveillance after a bill passed by Congress will require the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to open U.S. airspace to drone flights under a new four-year plan. The bill, which passed the House last week and received bipartisan approval in the Senate on Monday, will convert radar to an air traffic control system based on GPS technology, shifting the country to an age where satellites are central to air traffic control and unmanned drones glide freely throughout U.S. airspace.

By using GPS technology, congressional leaders argued, planes will land and take off more efficiently, as pilots will be able to pinpoint the locations of ground obstacles and nearby aircraft. The modernization procedures play into the FAA’s ambitious plan to achieve 50-percent growth in air traffic over the next 10 years. This legislation is “the best news that the airline industry ever had,” applauded Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.). “It will take us into a new era.”

Furthermore, privacy advocates worry that the bill will open the door to widespread use of drones for surveillance by law enforcement and, eventually, by the private sector. Some analysts predict that the commercial drone market in the U.S. could be worth hundreds of millions of dollars once the FAA authorizes their use, and that 30,000 drones could be flying domestically by 2020. “There are serious policy questions on the horizon about privacy and surveillance, by both government agencies and commercial entities,” said Steven Aftergood, director of the Project on Government Secrecy at the Federation of American Scientists.

The Electronic Frontier Foundation, a digital rights advocacy and legal group, also is “concerned about the implications for surveillance by government agencies,” affirmed attorney Jennifer Lynch, and it is “a huge push by lawmakers and the defense sector to expand the use of drones” in U.S. airspace.

“Congress – and to the extent possible, the FAA – need to impose some rules to protect Americans’ privacy from the inevitable invasions that this technology will otherwise lead to,” wrote American Civil Liberties Union policy analyst Jay Stanley. “We don’t want to wonder, every time we step out our front door, whether some eye in the sky is watching our every move.”

They also say that if they can get a close enough look, they can tell twins apart and reveal not only individuals’ identity but their social networks. But it gets even more spooky:

The Army also wants to identify potentially hostile behavior and intent, in order to uncover clandestine foes. Charles River Analytics is using its Army cash to build a so-called “Adversary Behavior Acquisition, Collection, Understanding, and Summarization (ABACUS)” tool. The system would integrate data from informants’ tips, drone footage, and captured phone calls. Then it would apply “a human behavior modeling and simulation engine” that would spit out “intent-based threat assessments of individuals and groups.” In other words: This software could potentially find out which people are most likely to harbor ill will toward the U.S. military or its objectives. Feeling nervous yet?

Read more

Supreme Court rules warrant needed for GPS tracking

Jan. 23, 2012

By Joan Biskupic, USA TODAY

WASHINGTON – In its first ever review of GPS tracking, the Supreme Court ruled Monday that police need a warrant before attaching a GPS device to a person’s car.

The opinion was unanimous, although the justices split in their views of how the Fourth Amendment protection against unreasonable searches and seizures applies to such high-tech tracking.

The case, which during November oral arguments had prompted justices’ references to George Orwell‘s futuristic novel 1984 and to “Big Brother” government, ensures that police cannot use GPS to continuously track a suspect before presenting grounds and obtaining a warrant from a judge.

Read more

Supreme Court to Decide Fate of Anonymity in the USA

Protect Our Right to Anonymity

By JEFFREY ROSEN
Published: September 12, 2011

IN November, the Supreme Court will hear arguments in a case that could redefine the scope of privacy in an age of increasingly ubiquitous surveillance technologies like GPS devices and face-recognition software.

The case, United States v. Jones, concerns a GPS device that the police, without a valid warrant, placed on the car of a suspected drug dealer in Washington, D.C. The police then tracked his movements for a month and used the information to convict him of conspiracy to sell cocaine. The question before the court is whether this violated the Fourth Amendment to the Constitution, which prohibits unreasonable searches and seizures of our “persons, houses, papers, and effects.”

Read more

Maryland Gov. Bets that His Citizens Will Make Great Pets!

Kaye Beach

Aug. 7, 2010

Maybe “pets” is the wrong word.

Since most citizens will be permitted to roam freely (within certain, specified limits) aside from the occasional interruptions required by their minders to relieve them of a quantity of useful product, I guess “herd” or “livestock” might be a more accurate way of characterizing how Mr. O’Malley views the taxpayers that he plans to tend.

Editorial

With great fanfare, Gov. Martin O’Malley on Wednesday announced his use of your tax dollars to track every move made by Maryland motorists. The Democratic chief executive will spend $2 million in federal grants to double the number of roadside and mobile spy cameras, with the data centrally collected at a “fusion center” accessible to government bureaucrats.

Like speed cameras and red-light cameras, Mr. O’Malley‘s license-plate recognition cameras photograph the plates of passing motorists. Within a matter of seconds, a computer system looks up the vehicle owner’s identity and cross-references it against a “wanted” list after recording the time, date and GPS coordinates of the vehicle. All of this information will be stored at the Maryland Coordination and Analysis Center located in Woodlawn, just outside Baltimore. Mr. O’Malley‘s plan is unique insofar as it allows tracking of persons of interest using cameras located in dozens of local jurisdictions. “We believe it’s the first,” Maryland State Police spokesman Gregory M. Shipley told The Washington Times. “It’s certainly one of the first to network police [agencies] together like this.”

http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2010/aug/6/omalleys-spy-cameras/

If you have somehow managed to miss this video,  I highly recommend it.

The Battle at Kruger

Surveillance Shocker: Sprint Received 8 MILLION Law Enforcement Requests for GPS Location Data in the Past Year

December 1st, 2009

News Update by Kevin Bankston

This October, Chris Soghoian — computer security researcher, oft-times journalist, and current technical consultant for the FTC’s privacy protection office — attended a closed-door conference called “ISS World”. ISS World — the “ISS” is for “Intelligence Support Systems for Lawful Interception, Criminal Investigations and Intelligence Gathering” — is where law enforcement and intelligence agencies consult with telco representatives and surveillance equipment manufacturers about the state of electronic surveillance technology and practice. Armed with a tape recorder, Soghoian went to the conference looking for information about the scope of the government’s surveillance practices in the US. What Soghoian uncovered, as he reported on his blog this morning, is more shocking and frightening than anyone could have ever expected

At the ISS conference, Soghoian taped astonishing comments by Paul Taylor, Sprint/Nextel’s Manager of Electronic Surveillance. In complaining about the volume of requests that Sprint receives from law enforcement, Taylor noted a shocking number of requests that Sprint had received in the past year for precise GPS (Global Positioning System) location data revealing the location and movements of Sprint’s customers. That number?

EIGHT MILLION.

Sprint received over 8 million requests for its customers’ information in the past 13 months. That doesn’t count requests for basic identification and billing information, or wiretapping requests, or requests to monitor who is calling who, or even requests for less-precise location data based on which cell phone towers a cell phone was in contact with. That’s just GPS. And, that’s not including legal requests from civil litigants, or from foreign intelligence investigators. That’s just law enforcement. And, that’s not counting the few other major cell phone carriers like AT&T, Verizon and T-Mobile. That’s just Sprint.

Here’s what Taylor had to say; the audio clip is here and we are also mirroring a zip file from Soghoian containing other related mp3 recordings and documents.

[M]y major concern is the volume of requests. We have a lot of things that are automated but that’s just scratching the surface. One of the things, like with our GPS tool. We turned it on the web interface for law enforcement about one year ago last month, and we just passed 8 million requests. So there is no way on earth my team could have handled 8 million requests from law enforcement, just for GPS alone. So the tool has just really caught on fire with law enforcement. They also love that it is extremely inexpensive to operate and easy, so, just the sheer volume of requests they anticipate us automating other features, and I just don’t know how we’ll handle the millions and millions of requests that are going to come in.

Eight million would have been a shocking number even if it had included every single legal request to every single carrier for every single type of customer information; that Sprint alone received eight million requests just from law enforcement only for GPS data is absolutely mind-boggling. We have long warned that cell phone tracking poses a threat to locational privacy, and EFF has been fighting in the courts for years to ensure that the government only tracks a cell phone’s location when it has a search warrant based on probable cause. EFF has also complained before that a dangerous level of secrecy surrounds law enforcement’s communications surveillance practices like a dense fog, and that without stronger laws requiring detailed reporting about how the government is using its surveillance powers, the lack of accountability when it comes to the government’s access to information through third-party phone and Internet service providers will necessarily breed abuse. But we never expected such huge numbers to be lurking in that fog.

Now that the fact is out that law enforcement is rooting through such vast amounts of location data, it raises profoundly important questions that law enforcement and the telcos must answer:

  • How many innocent Americans have had their cell phone data handed over to law enforcement?
  • How can the government justify obtaining so much information on so many people, and how can the telcos justify handing it over?
  • How did the number get so large? Is the government doing massive dragnet sweeps to identify every single cell phone that was in a particular area at a particular time? Is the government getting location information for entire “communities of interest” by asking not only for their target’s location, but also for the location of every person who talked to the target, and every person who talked to them?
  • Does the number only include requests to track phones in real-time, or does it include requests for historical GPS data, and if so, why did the telcos have that incredibly sensitive data sitting around in the first place? Exactly when and how are they logging their users’ GPS data, and how long are they keeping that data?
  • What legal process was used to obtain this information? Search warrants? Other court orders? Mere subpoenas issued by prosecutors without any court involvement? How many times was this information handed over without any legal process at all, based on government claims of an urgent emergency situation?
  • Looking beyond Sprint and GPS, how many Americans have had their private communications data handed over to law enforcement by their phone and Internet service providers?
  • What exactly has the government done with all of that information? Is it all sitting in an FBI database somewhere?
  • Do you really think that this Orwellian level of surveillance is consistent with a free society and American values? Really?

These questions urgently need to be asked — by journalists, and civil liberties groups like EFF, and by every cell phone user and citizen concerned about privacy. Most importantly, though, they must be asked by Congress, which has failed in its duty to provide oversight and accountability when it comes to law enforcement surveillance. Congress should hold hearings as soon as possible to demand answers from the government and the telcos under oath, and clear the fog so that the American people will finally have an accurate picture of just how far the government has reached into the private particulars of their digital lives.

Even without hearings, though, the need for Congress to update the law is clear. At the very least, Congress absolutely must stem the government’s abuse of its power by:

  • Requiring detailed reporting about law enforcement’s access to communications data using the Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA), just as it already requires for law enforcement wiretapping under the Wiretap Act, and make sure that the government actually fulfills its obligations rather than ignore the law for years on end.
  • Requiring that the government “minimize” the communications data it collects under ECPA rather than keep it all forever, just like it is supposed to do with wiretaps.
  • Prohibiting the government from using in a criminal trial any electronic communications content or data that it obtains in violation of ECPA, just as the government is prohibited by the Wiretap Act from using illegally acquired telephone intercepts.
  • Clarifying that ECPA can only be used to get specific data about particular individuals and cannot be used for broad sweeps, whether to identify everyone in a particular geographic area or to identify every person that visits a particular web site.

It’s time for Congress to pull the curtain back on the vast, shadowy world of law enforcement surveillance and shine a light on these abuses. In the meantime, we give our thanks to those like Chris Soghoian who are doing important work to uncover the truth about government spying in America.

UPDATE: Sprint has responded to Soghoian’s report:

The comments made by a Sprint corporate security officer during a recent conference have been taken out of context by this blogger. Specifically, the “8 million” figure, which the blogger highlights in his email and blog post, has been grossly misrepresented. The figure does not represent the number of customers whose location information was provided to law enforcement, as this blogger suggests.

Instead, the figure represents the number of individual “pings” for specific location information, made to the Sprint network as part of a series of law enforcement investigations and public safety assistance requests during the past year. It’s critical to note that a single case or investigation may generate thousands of individual pings to the network as the law enforcement or public safety agency attempts to track or locate an individual.

Instances where law enforcement agencies seek customer location information include exigent or emergency circumstances such as Amber Alert events, criminal investigations, or cases where a Sprint customer consents to sharing location information.

Sprint takes our customers’ privacy extremely seriously and all law enforcement and public safety requests for customer location information are processed in accordance with applicable state and federal laws.

This response provides some important answers, while raising even more questions. First off, Sprint has confirmed that it received 8 million requests, while denying a charge that no one has made: that 8 million individual customers’ data was handed over. Sprint’s denial also begs the question: how many individual customers have been affected?

As for Sprint’s claim that in some instances a single case or investigation may generate thousands of location “pings”, that is certainly possible, but that doesn’t make the 8 million number any less of a concern, or moot any of the important questions raised by Soghoian in his report or by EFF in its post regarding the lack of effective oversight and transparency in this area.

Even assuming that Sprint’s statement about “pings” is true, 8 million — or, in other words, 8,000 thousands — is still an astronomical number and more than enough to raise serious concerns that Congress should investigate and address. Moreover, the statement raises additional questions: exactly what legal process is being used to authorize the multiple-ping surveillance over time that Sprint is cooperating in? Is Sprint demanding search warrants in those cases? How secure is this automated interface that law enforcement is using to “ping” for GPS data? How does Sprint insure that only law enforcement has access to that data, and only when they have appropriate legal process? How many times has Sprint disclosed information in “exigent or emergency circumstances” without any legal process at all? And most worrisome and intriguing: what customers does Sprint think have “consent[ed] to the sharing [of] location data” with the government? Does Sprint think it is free to hand over the information of anyone who has turned on their GPS functionality and shared information with Sprint for location-based services? Or even the data of anyone who has agreed to their terms of service? What exactly are they talking about?

These questions are only the beginning, and Sprint’s statement doesn’t come close to answering all of them. Of course, we appreciate that Sprint has begun a public dialogue about this issue. But this should be only the beginning of that discussion, not the end. Ultimately, the need for Congress to investigate the true scope of law enforcement’s communications surveillance practices remains. Congress can and should dig deeper to get the hard facts for the American people, rather than forcing us to rely solely on Sprint’s public relations office for information on these critical privacy issues.

Related Issues: Cell TrackingLocational Privacy

http://www.eff.org/deeplinks/2009/12/surveillance-shocker-sprint-received-8-million-law

Welcome to the Panopticon

This Podcast is from a 2008 episode of the Corbett Report. Technology goes stale very fast, but for those who have not been paying very close attention to the development of surveillance technologies, it will serve nicely as a primer on the transformation of society taking place worldwide.  in the US we are undergoing a “paradigm shift” of which if allowed to continue will conclude with the destruction of the ideals of our forefathers.

Since 9-11 our government has decided that information is the key to preventing future terrorist attacks.  So they are gather and collect it-lot’s of it, on everyone.

Look at the assumptions that underlie this new policy of pervasive surveillance of the American public.  Fusion centers, Intelligence Led Policing, Biometrics. . .The stated goal is to monitor our day to day activities, associations, and transactions and from this information predict and who among us is likely to be a threat to the US Government long before any illegal act is committed and to preempt such an act well before it takes place.

Our former Peace Officers are being forced to adopt a the role of nanny-cop.  the new premise is a preemptive one.

This paradigm shift represents an ominous development that turns due process on its head.  We are now presumed guilty until proven otherwise.  If this new paradigm is accepted we invite our government to treat us as criminals or at the very least, like children that require constant monitoring by our betters.  Our government, under the US Constitution is elected to represent us, not to rule us.  They are more properly viewed as peers that require close scrutiny by us and not the other way around.  Are we prepared to abandon the central premise that this country was founded upon which is a government By, For and Of The People?

In the March 2008 episode of the Corbett Report,  the concept of the Panopticon is used as a metaphor to anchor the individual technologies of surveillance to the larger concept and reveal the construct as a pervasive system of human control.

Surveillance is a destroyer of the free will that makes us human.

It stunts us spiritually.

It is in the sphere of our free will we commune with our maker. surveillance shrinks this space and constrains our souls.

I believe that surveillance disrupts exactly what our founders sought to enable-the liberty to be, the freedom to become

Think about it.

Click hereTo see the origins of the creepy poster above (no. it’s not a clever anti- Orwellian campaign)

Do you know what a Panopticon is?

The Panopticon was a model prison designed in 1785 by
the English social theorist Jeremy Bentham. Also known as
the ‘Inspection House’, the design allowed the prison guards
to observe all the prisoners (from the Greek: pan-opticon)
without the prisoners themselves being able to tell when
they were being watched. As a prison design, the success of
the Panopticon was short-lived,5 but several centuries later,
the term was adopted by the French philosopher Michel
Foucault as a metaphor for techniques of surveillance and
social control in modern society.6 His central argument was
that ‘panopticism’, the principle of omnipresent surveillance,
had created a “whole new type of society… transported from
the penal institution to the entire social body”.7 From secure
accommodation to hospitals, schools, work and domestic
life, the act of being watched – what Foucault called the
disciplinary power of the gaze – was shown to be every bit
as important as the coercive power of the state in regulating
individual behaviour.

From the Neoconopticon Report

James Corbett has impressed me with the accuracy of his reporting and the measured manner in which he delivers his reports is a welcome change from the usual fare of the many panicked pundits who leave me feeling like there is simply no hope.

Corbett says;

The panopticon stands as a metaphor for what is happening in our own day and age. Except in our time, the panopticon is not an architectural structure like a prison; it is the very planet itself. We are increasingly being watched, tracked, traced, our data stored and logged in national databases to which citizens do not have access. The cumulative effect of this technology is that citizens end up like the prisoners in Bentham’s panopticon: afraid to do anything out of line for fear it may be seen someday, somewhere, by someone. This is amplified by the fostering of terror paranoia by various government programs to make the prisoners of the panoptic system into citizen informants in a type of Snitch State.

Visit this link to the Corbett Report and listen online to this excellent report;

Welcome to the Panopticon

Sprint fed customer GPS data to cops over 8 million times

Christopher Soghoian, a graduate student at Indiana University’s School of Informatics and Computing, has made public an audio recording of Sprint/Nextel’s Electronic Surveillance Manager describing how his company has provided GPS location data about its wireless customers to law enforcement over 8 million times. That’s potentially millions of Sprint/Nextel customers who not only were probably unaware that their wireless provider even had an Electronic Surveillance Department, but who certainly did not know that law enforcement offers could log into a special Sprint Web portal and, without ever having to demonstrate probable cause to a judge, gain access to geolocation logs detailing where they’ve been and where they are.

Through a mix of documents unearthed by Freedom of Information Act requests and the aforementioned recording, Soghoian describes how “the government routinely obtains customer records from ISPs detailing the telephone numbers dialed, text messages, emails and instant messages sent, web pages browsed, the queries submitted to search engines, and geolocation data, detailing exactly where an individual was located at a particular date and time.”

Read More;

http://arstechnica.com/telecom/news/2009/12/sprint-fed-customer-gps-data-to-leos-over-8-million-times.ars