Tag Archives: profit

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

Do Red Light Cameras Make Green (Money) Or Red (Blood)?

March 17,2011

Article by Phil Berg of AOL Autos

Television images of cars being T-boned at intersections are impossible for viewers to ignore. That’s great news for shows such as ABC’s Good Morning America, which aired such video a few weeks ago in a story about the auto insurance industry’s study claiming automated “red light cameras” saved lives. These devices activate if a vehicle enters an intersection when the traffic light turns red, record the license plate, and mail the vehicle owner a citation with a substantial fine. A percentage of the proceeds from each ticket goes to private companies who sell the devices to local governments and then operate the devices. This percentage is typically one-third of the ticket revenue, which can annually total $1 million even in small municipalities.

In reality, however, the incidences of cars speeding through intersections when the light is red is rare; just two percent of all highway fatalities occur during red lights in intersections, according to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration. Fewer are caused by cars intentionally running red lights.

This small slice of traffic enforcement, though, is creating big headlines. There is a fervor in many state legislatures and in regional referendums to ban “red light cameras”. The reason is that in some cases the devices seem to cause an increase in accidents at intersections.
How’s that? Most of the cars ticketed by the “red light cameras” are those that entered the intersection when the light was yellow and on the verge of turning red, many state legislators from Washington state to Florida have discovered. When motorists fear a photo ticket in these intersections, they tend to slam on their brakes, increasing the number of rear-end collisions, and possibly deaths.

The state of California suggests that yellow light duration be no shorter than 4.2 seconds, while the national highway constructors industry says 3.8 seconds should be the shortest duration. Texas requires 4.7-second yellow lights on roads with speeds of 50 mph and higher. However, yellow lights in intersections equipped with “red light cameras” are often set to last only 3 seconds, according to data from court cases. In one recent case in Glassboro, New Jersey, a motorist who had been issued a ticket discovered that the yellow light duration was only 3 seconds, while New Jersey law says that the minimum yellow light time must be 4 seconds. As a result, a reported 12,000 tickets worth $1 million were thrown out.

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Big Brother is ALL Business

Is Lockheed Martin Shadowing You?

William D. Hartung

How a Giant Weapons Maker Became the New Big Brother

Have you noticed that Lockheed Martin, the giant weapons corporation, is shadowing you?  No?  Then you haven’t been paying much attention.  Let me put it this way: If you have a life, Lockheed Martin is likely a part of it.

True, Lockheed Martin doesn’t actually run the U.S. government, but sometimes it seems as if it might as well.  After all, it received $36 billion in government contracts in 2008 alone, more than any company in history.  It now does work for more than two dozen government agencies from the Department of Defense and the Department of Energy to the Department of Agriculture and the Environmental Protection Agency.  It’s involved in surveillance and information processing for the CIA, the FBI, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), the National Security Agency (NSA), the Pentagon, the Census Bureau, and the Postal Service.

. . .A For-Profit Government-in-the-Making

If you want to feel a tad more intimidated, consider Lockheed Martin’s sheer size for a moment. After all, the company receives one of every 14 dollars doled out by the Pentagon. In fact, its government contracts, thought about another way, amount to a “Lockheed Martin tax” of $260 per taxpaying household in the United States, and no weapons contractor has more power or money to wield to defend its turf. It spent $12 million on congressional lobbying and campaign contributions in 2009 alone.

Not surprisingly, it’s the top contributor to the incoming House Armed Services Committee chairman, Republican Howard P. “Buck” McKeon of California, giving more than $50,000 in the most recent election cycle. It also tops the list of donors to Sen. Daniel Inouye (D-HI), the powerful chair of the Senate Appropriations Committee, and the self-described “#1 earmarks guy in the U.S. Congress.”

Add to all that its 140,000 employees and its claim to have facilities in 46 states, and the scale of its clout starts to become clearer.  While the bulk of its influence-peddling activities may be perfectly legal, the company also has quite a track record when it comes to law-breaking: it ranks number one on the “contractor misconduct” database maintained by the Project on Government Oversight, a Washington-DC-based watchdog group.

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Dec 9, 2010

Lockheed Martin Gives Gift of Support to International Association of Chiefs of Police Foundation

“Lockheed Martin has been a driving force on our board and a leader in our fundraising efforts,” said Chief Michael Carroll, Chief of the West Goshen Township, Pennsylvania Police Department and Chairman of the IACP Foundation. “Their tremendous philanthropic dedication to Foundation programs and initiatives is an outstanding example of truly committed corporate citizenship”

Hera’s an oldie but a goodie!

2008

Lockheed wins $1 billion FBI biometric contract

FBI awards Lockheed Martin a 10-year contract to design, develop, test, and deploy a next-generation biometrics-based identification system

Policing for Profit

Civil forfeiture laws represent one of the most serious assaults on private property rights in the nation today.  Under civil forfeiture, police and prosecutors can seize your car or other property, sell it and use the proceeds to fund agency budgets—all without so much as charging you with a crime.  Unlike criminal forfeiture, where property is taken after its owner has been found guilty in a court of law, with civil forfeiture, owners need not be charged with or convicted of a crime to lose homes, cars, cash or other property.

Americans are supposed to be innocent until proven guilty, but civil forfeiture turns that principle on its head.  With civil forfeiture, your property is guilty until you prove it innocent.

 

Read Policing for Profit

RICO, The War on Drugs and Asset Forfeiture

Civil asset forfeiture is based upon the medieval doctrine that when property is involved in a crime, the property becomes “guilty,” and can be “arrested” and forfeited, regardless of the guilt or innocence of the property’s owners. Under civil asset forfeiture, property—not an individual—is charged with an offense. The modern power of civil asset forfeiture in the United States dates back to the Civil War, when the Supreme Court affirmed the civil seizure of rebel property. In 1921 civil forfeiture was extended to violations of alcohol prohibition. During the 1980s, forfeiture was extended to drug trafficking and possession, and a host of other crimes, through the Comprehensive Crime Control Act of 1984, the Drug Abuse Act of 1986, and other laws. The power of civil asset forfeiture is being extended to virtually all misdemeanors and felonies.

This article was written by Jarret B Wollstein back in 1993.  It is a good history refresher and a good reminder for why we should be cautious about allowing our emotions or the appeal of a “good cause” to override good judgment when it comes to lawmaking.  The foot in the door to asset forfeiture was the fight against organized crime (RICO) and  War on Drugs.

Another good article on the subject written in 1991;

Government Seizures Victimize Innocent
Part One: The Overview
February 27, 1991.

An d a recent report fro the National Institute of Justice “Policing for Profit” with state by state law analysis 2010

The Governments War on Property

Jarret B. Wollstein

“A police dog scratched at your luggage, so we’re confiscating your life savings and you’ll never get it back.” In 1989, police stopped 49-year-old Ethel Hylton at Houston’s Hobby Airport and told her she was under arrest because a drug dog had scratched at her luggage. Agents searched her bags and strip-searched her, but they found no drugs. They did find $39,110 in cash, money she had received from an insurance settlement and her life savings, accumulated by working as a hotel housekeeper and hospital janitor for more than 20 years. Ethel Hylton completely documented where she got the money and was never charged with a crime. The police kept her money anyway. Nearly four years later, she is still trying to get her money back.

Ethel Hylton is just one of a large and growing list of Americans now numbering in the hundreds of thousands—who have been victimized by civil asset forfeiture. Under civil forfeiture, everything you own can be legally taken away from you without indictment, trial, or conviction. Suspicion of offenses which, if proven, might result in a $200 fine or probation, are being used to justify seizure of tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars’ worth of property. Thousands of innocent Americans are losing their cars, homes, bank accounts, and businesses, based upon the claims of unidentified “informants” that illegal transactions took place on their property. Here are a few examples:

Thirty-year-old Ken Brown owned and operated Chemco, a small pool and gardening chemical supply company in Albuquerque, New Mexico. A few months after he opened his doors in 1986, agents of the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) stopped by and told him to “get out of the chemical business.” A year later Ken found out why: His chief competitor in Albuquerque had an arrangement with the DEA, and neither the DEA nor the competitor wanted any competition. When Ken refused to close his doors in 1987, harassment from the DEA began and got steadily worse. First his UPS packages were opened and inspected. Then his deliveries were seized, his drivers were searched, and his suppliers were threatened. Next his house was searched by armed DEA agents. They found nothing. On November 19, 1991, the DEA arrested his manager and padlocked the doors to Chemco. The IRS was also brought in to investigate the company. The DEA charged Chemco with selling chemicals that could be used to manufacture drugs. On May 8, 1992, the DEA seized Ken Brown’s house and cars, and told him to sign an agreement to pay rent to the U.S. Marshals or “hit the street with my wife and eight-year-old son.” In May 1992 the DEA made Ken Brown an offer: “give us Chemco and we will give you all your personal belongings back.” Ken Brown refused and is still fighting.

Dr. Jonathan Wright operated the Takoma Medical Clinic in Kent, Washington. On May 6, 1992, nearly two dozen armed police and Food and Drug Administration (FDA) agents broke down his clinic’s door and pointed their weapons at him and his 15-person staff, mostly women. For the next 14 hours, the staff was held at gunpoint while the FDA ransacked the clinic. Neither Dr. Wright nor any of his employees was ever charged with a crime. That didn’t stop the police and FDA from seizing Dr. Wright’s books, laboratory equipment, supplies, patient records, reference books, and computers. The raid was part of a national FDA crackdown on nutritional therapists.

Willie Jones owned a small landscaping service in Nashville, Tennessee. When he paid cash for an airline ticket at Nashville Metro Airport on February 27, 1991, the ticket agent acted strangely, and said she would have to check in back what to do with the cash. The ticket agent returned and gave Mr. Jones his ticket. Ten minutes later, drug agents stopped and searched him. They found $9,600 in cash, which Jones was going to use to buy plants for his business. Jones explained he pays in cash “because that’s the way the growers want it.” That didn’t stop the DEA from taking his money. Jones was not charged with any crime. But the government took all of his operating cash, and nearly put him out of business.

Legal rights and protections that Americans have cherished for hundreds of years have been increasingly violated during the last two decades. Most of what you learned in school about your legal rights and protections is no longer true. A combination of rising crime, the growing power of government, and increasing concern about drugs has done tremendous damage to the Bill of Rights and our heritage of liberty. Few Americans realize how grave and how ominous that damage has been. Today the government has the power legally to seize your bank account, your house, or your business, without trial, hearing, or indictment. Everything you have worked for and accumulated over a lifetime can now be taken away from you at the whim of authorities. Black or white, rich or poor, we are all potential victims. And unless the laws are changed, there is very little you can legally do to protect your property.

Civil Asset Forfeiture

The seeds of social disaster were planted in 1970 when Congress enacted the federal Racketeering and Corrupt Influence (RICO) statutes (greatly expanded in 1984). Although the rhetoric supporting RICO focused upon defeating “organized crime,” the actual “crimes” targeted by RICO were rather vague. To be cited under RICO, all a person or firm need be suspected of are two instances of mail, wire, or securities fraud. “Fraud” is so broadly defined by RICO that the law covers virtually any offense involving mail, telephone, or stocks. Far from being limited to going after organized crime, RICO is now invoked in minor business cases, landlord-tenant disputes, anti-abortion protests, and even divorce cases.

Two aspects of RICO make it a particularly grave threat to civil liberties and justice: First, RICO effectively extended the jurisdiction of the federal government to nearly every conceivable property offense committed by anyone, anywhere in the United States. Second, RICO undermined our entire system of justice by giving the government the power to freeze or seize all of an individual’s or company’s assets based upon mere suspicion that an offense had occurred. No business can survive if its assets are frozen. A business that can’t pay its bills and operating expenses is a bankrupt business. Because RICO sanctions are so potentially devastating, the guilt or innocence of a business under investigation by government agents becomes immaterial. The mere threat of RICO sanctions is sufficient to force even the largest company to plead guilty and make a deal.

RICO was only the first of many statutes passed in the last 20 years enabling government agencies to seize property without indictment, trial, or conviction for any offense. The war on drugs and fear over growing crime have given us hundreds of new state, federal, and local laws, vastly expanding the government’s power to seize and forfeit property. Because most new seizure laws are civil rather than criminal, the government does not even have to charge the owners of property with a crime before making seizures. Even if you are charged with a crime and acquitted, everything you own can still be seized and forfeited. When your property is civilly forfeited, you have no right to a court-appointed attorney, no right to confront your accusers, no presumption of innocence, and no protection from double jeopardy. Even the Constitutional right to trial by jury is frequently denied in civil forfeiture cases.

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