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surveillance | Activist News | Page 2
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The Road to World War 3

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Edward Snowden

Open Letter To Obama

July 26, 2013 President Barack Obama The White House 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W. Washington, D.C. 20500 Re: Civil Disobedience, Edward J. Snowden, and the Constitution Dear Mr. President: You are acutely aware More »

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U.S. Companies Pay Just One-Third Of The Legal Tax Rate: GAO Study

Huffington Post July 1, 2013 By Mark Gongloff Big, profitable U.S. companies paid an average federal tax rate of less than 13 percent in 2010, according to a new study — or More »

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Man Tried for Chalk Drawings Found Not Guilty

NBC San Diego July 1, 2013 By Christina London The man accused of vandalism for drawing with chalk outside banks has been found not guilty on all charges. A jury returned its More »

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The Bigger Story Behind the AP Spying Scandal

Washington’s Blog/Global Research May 20, 2012 By George Washington Attack on the Press You know that the Department of Justice tapped scores of phone lines at the Associated Press. You might have More »

Category Archives: surveillance

US Supreme Court lets wiretapping immunity stand

Cell-Phone-Monitoring-Application

AFP
Oct. 09, 2012

WASHINGTON — The US Supreme Court let stand Tuesday an immunity law on wiretapping viewed by government as a useful anti-terror tool but criticized by rights activists as a flagrant abuse of executive power.

The top US court declined to review a December 2011 appeals court decision that rejected a lawsuit against AT&T for helping the National Security Agency monitor its customers’ phone calls and Internet traffic.

Plaintiffs argue that the law allows the executive branch to conduct “warrantless and suspicionless domestic surveillance” without fear of review by the courts and at the sole discretion of the attorney general.

But President Barack Obama’s administration has argued to keep the immunity law in place, saying it would imperil national security to end such cooperation between the intelligence agencies and telecom companies.

Activists warned to watch what they say as social media monitoring becomes ‘next big thing in law enforcement’

social-networking-sites2

The Independent
Oct. 1, 2012
By Kevin Rawlinson

Political activists must watch what they say on the likes of Facebook and Twitter, sites which will become the “next big thing in law enforcement”, a leading human rights lawyer has warned.

John Cooper QC said that police are monitoring key activists online and that officers and the courts are becoming increasingly savvy when it comes to social media. But, speaking to The Independent, he added that he also expected that to drive an increase in the number of criminals being brought to justice in the coming months.

“People involved in public protest should use social media to their strengths, like getting their message across. But they should not use them for things like discussing tactics. They might as well be having a tactical meeting with their opponents sitting in and listening.

“For example, if antifascist organisers were discussing their plans on social media, they can assume that a fascist organisation will be watching. Social media sites are the last place you want to post something like that,” he said.

Exclusive: Lawsuit says phone companies gouged FBI on wiretaps

wiretapping

Gigaom
Sept. 11, 2012
By Jeff John Roberts

A former New York prosecutor, John Prather, claims AT&T, Verizon, Qwest and Sprint regularly charged law enforcement agencies 10 times what they should have for routine wiretaps. He’s now suing on behalf of the FBI and state and city police departments to recover many millions of dollars for overcharging that allegedly took place for almost 20 years.

The case provides a window on the evolving world of wiretaps during an era of increasing surveillance. But the case is complicated because Prather stands to get a big chunk of money if the case succeeds and, as the phone companies argue, he may not be a real whistle-blower in the first place.

TrapWire investigation links transit systems and Anonymizer in global surveillance network

Aug. 13, 2012

The facts behind TrapWire continue to surface in the days since WikiLeaks exposed the state-of-the-art surveillance system, but minute-by-minute more is being revealed about not just the scary intelligence infrastructure but its questionable ties.

Last week, WikiLeaks published their latest addition to trove of the so-called Global Intelligence Files — emails uncovered from Texas-based Strategic Forecasting (Stratfor) by Anonymous late last year — in turn revealing a widespread surveillance system blanketing much of the United States and abroad. The project, TrapWire, is the brainchild of Abraxas, a Northern Virginia corporation that has cut countless deals with the federal government and is staffed by former agents out of not just the Pentagon but practically every leading intelligence agency in the country. As those connections are examined under a magnifying glass by researchers and hacktivists alike, though, more and more is being brought to light about the correlations that exist between the biggest of brothers and an entire industry that profits from pulverizing what is left of privacy.

In addition to Abraxas overseeing perhaps the most-secret and advanced surveillance system in the world, other entities directly connected to the company have a monopoly in America’s mass-transit system and have also advertised themselves as the purveyors behind a tool designed to protect the privacy of US citizens.

Much remains unknown about the actual technology behind TrapWire, but Abraxas founder Richard Helms explained it in a 2005 interview as being “more accurate than facial recognition.” A system of surveillance cameras in select locales across the world are connected to analysis centers that aggregate other data, which can be combined to examine suspicious activity reports and routinely monitor every move across vast areas of public space. Publically available information links the TrapWire system to projects in New York, Washington, DC, Los Angeles and Las Vegas, among others, but the ties beyond just that one Abraxas endeavor open the operation up to an infinite number of possibilities.

San Diego-based Cubic Corporation acquired Abraxas in 2010 for only $124 million in cash, close to the same amount that the US Department of Homeland Security and Department of Defense awarded the contractor during just the last 11 months. Within the vast Cubic empire exist other facets, though, ones that could very well be working hand-in-hand with what is quickly unfolding as one of the best-kept law enforcement operation secrets ever.

Included in the sale of Abraxas to Cubic in 2010 was Anonymizer, described by its publicists as “the leader in consumer online anonymity solutions.” Anonymizer exists under the alleged platform of providing identity masking while making communiqué and clandestine transactions over the Web, and its then-newly-hired vice president for consumer products, Chaminda Wijetilleke, said in 2010, “As the online privacy space continues to mature, Anonymizer is in a great position to increase its lead in the industry and to be at the forefront of bringing innovative products to market.”

“Consumers need state-of-the-art solutions to protect themselves from relentless threats to their online privacy,” added Wijetilleke, who went on to add, “I’m excited to join the Anonymizer team and to help drive this evolving business forward.” In Cubic’s acquisition of Abraxas and Anonymizer, though, real life privacy may have been put under immense risk thanks to TrapWire.

TrapWire was first unraveled in the wake of the September 11 terrorist attacks by Abraxas back in 2004, and a decade down the road their connections within the private sector have surpassed more than just counterterrorism companies. In addition to being now under the same umbrella is Anonymizer, its parent company, Cubic, manages a massive transportation division that is reported to be the world’s leader in terms of automated fare collection cards and its related infrastructure in mass-transit systems across the globe.

Full Article Here - http://rt.com/usa/news/trapwire-anonymizer-surveillance-system-588/

New York police launch high-tech surveillance

AFP
Aug. 9, 2012

NEW YORK — New York police on Wednesday launched what officials say is a revolutionary camera surveillance system that will simultaneously scan the streets and call up data on suspects.

The Domain Awareness System, developed with Microsoft, “is an innovative tool that has the potential to revolutionize law enforcement, intelligence and public safety operations,” the mayor’s office said.

Unlike simpler camera surveillance networks, the new system instantly gives officers massive amounts of information about what they are monitoring.

It “aggregates and analyzes existing public safety data streams in real time, providing NYPD investigators and analysts with a comprehensive view of potential threats and criminal activity,” the office said.


For example, officers watching crime suspects via a live video feed will also immediately see arrest records, related crimes in the area and other data that could build a portrait of the individual under scrutiny.

Cars linked to a suspect can be analyzed so that investigators know where it has been for months, while officers will also be able to rewind footage tracing who left any suspicious package.

“The system is a transformative tool because it was created by police officers for police officers,” Police Commissioner Ray Kelly said.

Full Article Here – http://www.google.com/hostednews/afp/article/ALeqM5j2qwVj1gH6AIYBxqZ3HMAANSVbpg?docId=CNG.c7ce7e507078b5b80bad0712b772ec9b.1f1 

Spying on Occupy?

ACLU
July 19, 2012
By Linda Lye

Why is the FBI spying on Occupy protesters? The ACLU-NC is determined to find out.

The ACLU of Northern California and San Francisco Bay Guardian today filed a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit against the FBI to find out whether and to what extent the feds have been spying on members of the Occupy movement. Although the right to protest goes to the heart of our democracy, and the FBI exists to keep us safe, the FBI has a perverse history of interpreting its mission to mean that it can spy on political activists, including Martin Luther King, Jr.

Last fall, the grassroots protest movement Occupy Wall Street – or simply “Occupy” – swept the nation. Originating in New York, prominent Occupy movements sprung up all over Northern California. But the law enforcement response was swift and brutal, as police showered protesters with exploding projectiles, batons, and pepper spray. (The ACLU-NC is currently suing UC Davis over its pepper spraying of peaceful student protesters, and is also partnering with the National Lawyers Guild in suing the City of Oakland over the violent crackdown on Occupy Oakland.)


Last fall’s law enforcement response was also coordinated, with simultaneous crackdowns across the country in November 2011. As the San Francisco Bay Guardian and other media outlets reported that month, a non-governmental law enforcement group called “PERF,” or the Police Executive Research Forum, coordinated conference calls with big city mayors and police chiefs to advise them on policing matters and the response to Occupy. More recently, documents obtained by the Partnership for Civil Justice Fund show that the Department of Homeland Security was engaged in nationwide monitoring and surveillance of the Occupy movement.

But we also have reason to believe that the FBI has been involved. Just days before the inaugural Occupy Wall Street protest on September 17, 2011, the FBI issued this Intelligence Bulletin, labeling the now-iconic OWS image as a “Propaganda poster.” Why is the federal government spying on protesters? And just what arms of the federal government are involved? These are just some of the questions our lawsuit hopes to answer.

Learn more about government surveillance: Sign up for breaking news alerts, follow us on Twitter, and like us on Facebook.

Full Article Here – http://www.aclu.org/blog/free-speech-national-security/spying-occupy 

Three NSA Whistleblowers Back EFF’s Lawsuit Over Government’s Massive Spying Program

eff
July 2, 2012

EFF Asks Court to Reject Stale State Secret Arguments So Case Can Proceed

San Francisco – Three whistleblowers – all former employees of the National Security Agency (NSA) – have come forward to give evidence in the Electronic Frontier Foundation’s (EFF’s) lawsuit against the government’s illegal mass surveillance program, Jewel v. NSA.

In a motion filed today, the three former intelligence analysts confirm that the NSA has, or is in the process of obtaining, the capability to seize and store most electronic communications passing through its U.S. intercept centers, such as the “secret room” at the AT&T facility in San Francisco first disclosed by retired AT&T technician Mark Klein in early 2006.


“For years, government lawyers have been arguing that our case is too secret for the courts to consider, despite the mounting confirmation of widespread mass illegal surveillance of ordinary people,” said EFF Legal Director Cindy Cohn. “Now we have three former NSA officials confirming the basic facts. Neither the Constitution nor federal law allow the government to collect massive amounts of communications and data of innocent Americans and fish around in it in case it might find something interesting. This kind of power is too easily abused. We’re extremely pleased that more whistleblowers have come forward to help end this massive spying program.”

The three former NSA employees with declarations in EFF’s brief are William E. Binney, Thomas A. Drake, and J. Kirk Wiebe. All were targets of a federal investigation into leaks to the New York Times that sparked the initial news coverage about the warrantless wiretapping program. Binney and Wiebe were formally cleared of charges and Drake had those charges against him dropped.

Full Article Here – https://www.eff.org/press/releases/three-nsa-whistleblowers-back-effs-lawsuit-over-governments-massive-spying-program

The US Government Is Running A Massive Spy Campaign On Occupy Wall Street

Business Insider
May 24, 2012

Remember the Occupy Movement? Since last November, when the NYPD closed the Zuccotti Park encampment in downtown Manhattan –the Movement’s birthplace and symbolic nexus—Occupy’s relevance has seriously dwindled, at least as measured by coverage in the mainstream media. We’re told that this erosion is due to Occupy’s own shortcomings—an inevitable outcome of its disjointed message and decentralized leadership.

While that may be the media’s take, the U.S. Government seems to have a different view.
If recent documents obtained by the Partnership for Civil Justice Fund (PCJF) are any indication, the Occupy Movement continues to be monitored and curtailed in a nationwide, federally-orchestrated campaign, spearheaded by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).


In response to repeated Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests by the Fund, made on behalf of filmmaker Michael Moore and the National Lawyers Guild, the DHS released a revealing set of documents in April.  But the latest batch, made public on May 3rd, exposes the scale of the government’s “attention” to Occupy as never before.

The documents, many of which are partially blacked-out emails, demonstrate a surprising degree of coordination between the DHS’s National Operations Center (NOC) and local authorities in the monitoring of the Occupy movement. Cities implicated in this wide-scale snooping operation include New York, Oakland, Atlanta, Washington, D.C., Denver, Boston, Portland, Detroit, El Paso, Houston, Dallas, Seattle, San Diego, and Los Angeles.

Interest in the Occupy protesters was not limited to DHS and local law enforcement authorities.  The most recently released correspondence contains Occupy-related missives between the DHS and agencies at all levels of government, including the Mayor of Portland, regional NOC “fusion centers,” the General Services Administration (GSA), the Pentagon’s USNORTHCOM (Northern Command), and the White House. Mara Verheyden-Hilliard, Executive Director of the PCJF, contends that the variety and reach of the organizations involved point to the existence of a larger, more pervasive domestic surveillance network than previously suspected.

These documents show not only intense government monitoring and coordination in response to the Occupy Movement, but reveal a glimpse into the interior of a vast, tentacled, national intelligence and domestic spying network that the U.S. government operates against its own people. These heavily redacted documents don’t tell the full story. They are likely only a subset of responsive materials and the PCJF continues to fight for a complete release. They scratch the surface of a mass intelligence network including Fusion Centers, saturated with ‘anti-terrorism’ funding, that mobilizes thousands of local and federal officers and agents to investigate and monitor the social justice movement. (justiceonline.org)

As alarmist as Verheyden-Hilliard’s charge may sound, especially given the limited, bowdlerized nature of the source material, the texts made available contain disturbing evidence of insistent federal surveillance. In particular, the role of the “Fusion Centers,” a series of 72 federally-funded information hubs run by the NOC, raises questions about the government’s expansive definition of “Homeland Security.”

Created in the wake of 9/11, the Fusion Centers were founded to expedite the sharing of information among state and local law enforcement and the federal government, to monitor localized terrorist threats, and to sidestep the regulations and legislation preventing the CIA and the military from carrying out domestic surveillance (namely, the CIA ban on domestic spying and the Posse Comitatus Act).

Is nonviolent, albeit obstructive, citizen dissent truly an issue of national security? The DHS, for its part, is aware of the contentiousness of civilian monitoring. That’s why, in a White House-approved statement to CBS News included in the dossier, DHS Press Secretary Matthew Chandler asserts that:

“Any decisions on how to handle specifics (sic) situations are dealt with by local authorities in that location. . . DHS is not actively coordinating with local law enforcement agencies and/or city governments concerning the evictions of Occupy encampments writ large.”

Internet surveillance bill not dead, Toews says

CBC News
May 16, 2012

Public Safety Minister Vic Toews is denying reports that the Harper government intends to quietly shelve its controversial online surveillance bill, C-30.

Speaking to reporters on Wednesday morning, Toews insisted the legislation was moving ahead.

“Our government has been very clear, that matter will be referred to a parliamentary committee. In fact we made it clear that legislation would proceed to committee prior to second reading,” Toews said.

Toews can move to send the legislation to committee for review before any House debate on the bill, but he has not done that yet in the Commons.

C-30 is similar to earlier legislation that had died on the order paper, but goes further in its enforcement measures.


But the Conservatives faced criticism not only from the opposition benches but also inside their own caucus about privacy concerns with the bill.

In February, shortly after the bill was introduced, Toews told CBC News that he was surprised to hear criticism that a section of C-30 provides for “exceptional circumstances” under which “any police officer” can request customer information from a telecommunications service provider. Toews said in his opinion, it shouldn’t extend police powers in that way.

Full Article Here – http://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/story/2012/05/16/pol-toews-c-30-internet-surveillance-not-dead.html

FBI: We need wiretap-ready Web sites – now

CNET
May 4, 2012
By

The FBI is asking Internet companies not to oppose a controversial proposal that would require firms, including Microsoft, Facebook, Yahoo, and Google, to build in backdoors for government surveillance.

In meetings with industry representatives, the White House, and U.S. senators, senior FBI officials argue the dramatic shift in communication from the telephone system to the Internet has made it far more difficult for agents to wiretap Americans suspected of illegal activities, CNET has learned.

The FBI general counsel’s office has drafted a proposed law that the bureau claims is the best solution: requiring that social-networking Web sites and providers of VoIP, instant messaging, and Web e-mail alter their code to ensure their products are wiretap-friendly.


“If you create a service, product, or app that allows a user to communicate, you get the privilege of adding that extra coding,” an industry representative who has reviewed the FBI’s draft legislation told CNET. The requirements apply only if a threshold of a certain number of users is exceeded, according to a second industry representative briefed on it.

The FBI’s proposal would amend a 1994 law, called the Communications Assistance for Law Enforcement Act, or CALEA, that currently applies only to telecommunications providers, not Web companies. The Federal Communications Commission extended CALEA in 2004 to apply to broadband networks.

FBI Director Robert Mueller is not asking companies to support the bureau’s CALEA expansion, but instead is “asking what can go in it to minimize impacts,” one participant in the discussions says.
That included a scheduled trip this month to the West Coast — which was subsequently postponed — to meet with Internet companies’ CEOs and top lawyers.

A further expansion of CALEA is unlikely to be applauded by tech companies, their customers, or privacy groups. Apple (which distributes iChat and FaceTime) is currently lobbying on the topic, according to disclosure documents filed with Congress two weeks ago. Microsoft (which owns Skype and Hotmail) says its lobbyists are following the topic because it’s “an area of ongoing interest to us.” Google, Yahoo, and Facebook declined to comment.

In February 2011, CNET was the first to report that then-FBI general counsel Valerie Caproni was planning to warn Congress of what the bureau calls its “Going Dark” problem, meaning that its surveillance capabilities may diminish as technology advances. Caproni singled out “Web-based e-mail, social-networking sites, and peer-to-peer communications” as problems that have left the FBI “increasingly unable” to conduct the same kind of wiretapping it could in the past.

In addition to the FBI’s legislative proposal, there are indications that the Federal Communications Commission is considering reinterpreting CALEA to demand that products that allow video or voice chat over the Internet — from Skype to Google Hangouts to Xbox Live — include surveillance backdoors to help the FBI with its “Going Dark” program. CALEA applies to technologies that are a “substantial replacement” for the telephone system.

“We have noticed a massive uptick in the amount of FCC CALEA inquiries and enforcement proceedings within the last year, most of which are intended to address ‘Going Dark’ issues,” says Christopher Canter, lead compliance counsel at the Marashlian and Donahue law firm, which specializes in CALEA. “This generally means that the FCC is laying the groundwork for regulatory action.”

Full Article Here – http://news.cnet.com/8301-1009_3-57428067-83/fbi-we-need-wiretap-ready-web-sites-now/