Nowhere To Hide As Minority Report-Style Facial Recognition Technology Spreads Across America

Eye Black And White - Public DomainWhat is our society going to look like when our faces are being tracked literally everywhere that we go?  As part of the FBI’s new Next Generation Identification System, a facial recognition database known as the Interstate Photo System will have collected 52 million of our faces by the end of 2015.  But that is only a small part of the story.  According to Edward Snowden, the NSA has been using advanced facial recognition technology for years.  In addition, as you will see below, advertising companies are starting to use Minority Report-style face scanners in their billboards and many large corporations see facial recognition technology as a tool that they can use to serve their customers better.  Someday soon it may become virtually impossible to go out in public in a major U.S. city without having your face recorded.  Is that the kind of society that we want?

To the FBI, this technology does not represent an invasion of privacy.  Rather, they are very proud of the fact that they are not going to be so dependent on fingerprinting any longer.  The FBI has been developing the Next Generation Identification System for years, and this month it was announced that it is finally fully operational

The federal government’s Next Generation Identification System — a biometric database that relies largely on facial-recognition technology — is now fully operational, the FBI announced Monday.

“This effort is a significant step forward for the criminal justice community in utilizing biometrics as an investigative enabler,” the FBI said in a statement.

The latest advance in the technology gives users the ability to receive “ongoing status notifications” about individuals’ criminal histories, the FBI said. That means if, for instance, a teacher commits an offense, law enforcement can be immediately informed — and then pass that information on to administrators.

It’s to monitor criminal histories of those “in positions of trust,” the FBI said.

As part of this new system, every American will eventually be assigned a “Universal Control Number”.

Does that sound creepy to you?

Even mainstream news reports are admitting that it sounds like something out of a science fiction movie

It aims to eventually replace fingerprinting with a complex array of biometrics, assigning everyone with a “Universal Control Number”, in what sounds like a plotline from a sci-fi movie.

And it won’t just be the FBI using this database.

According to Fox News, more than 18,000 law enforcement agencies will have access to this information…

More than 18,000 law enforcement agencies and other authorized criminal justice partners across the country will have access to the system 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

So if your face is scanned somewhere or you do something noteworthy that is registered by the system, virtually every law enforcement agency in the country will instantly know about it.

Pretty scary stuff, eh?

But the FBI is actually lagging far behind the NSA.

According to Edward Snowden, the NSA has been using “sophisticated facial recognition programs” for many years

The National Security Agency is harvesting huge numbers of images of people from communications that it intercepts through its global surveillance operations for use in sophisticated facial recognition programs, according to top-secret documents.

The spy agency’s reliance on facial recognition technology has grown significantly over the last four years as the agency has turned to new software to exploit the flood of images included in emails, text messages, social media, videoconferences and other communications, the N.S.A. documents reveal. Agency officials believe that technological advances could revolutionize the way that the N.S.A. finds intelligence targets around the world, the documents show.

Do you remember that stuff you saw in the Jason Bourne movies about how the NSA can track people?

Well, most of that stuff is real.

If you don’t like it, that is just too bad.  At this point not even Congress has much control over what the NSA does.

And there are police departments around the nation that are also way ahead of the FBI.

For example, just check out what has been going on in southern California

In a single second, law enforcement agents can match a suspect against millions upon millions of profiles in vast detailed databases stored on the cloud. It’s all done using facial recognition, and in Southern California it’s already occurring.

Imagine the police taking a picture: any picture of a person, anywhere, and matching it on the spot in less than a second to a personalized profile, scanning millions upon millions of entries from within vast, intricate databases stored on the cloud.

It’s done with state of the art facial recognition technology, and in Southern California it’s already happening.

At least one law enforcement agency in San Diego is currently using software developed by FaceFirst, a division of nearby Camarillo, California’s Airborne Biometrics Group. It can positively identify anyone, as long as physical data about a person’s facial features is stored somewhere the police can access. Though that pool of potential matches could include millions, the company says that by using the “best available facial recognition algorithms” they can scour that data set in a fraction of a second in order to send authorities all known intelligence about anyone who enters a camera’s field of vision.

Widespread use of facial recognition technology by our law enforcement authorities is becoming a way of life.

If the American people don’t like this, they need to stand up and say something.

But instead, in an era of widespread Internet hacking and identity theft, many Americans are actually clamoring for the implementation of more biometric identification.

For instance, the following is a brief excerpt from a Fox News article entitled “Biometric security can’t come soon enough for some people“…

In a world where nearly every ATM now uses an operating system without any technical support, where a bug can force every user of the Internet to change the password to every account they’ve ever owned overnight, where cyber-attacks and identity theft grow more menacing every day, the ability to use your voice, your finger, your face or some combination of the three to log into your e-mail, your social media feed or your checking account allows you to ensure it’s very difficult for someone else to pretend they’re you.

As financial institutions adopt this kind of technology, a day may come when virtually all of us are required to have our faces scanned at the checkout counter.

That may sound crazy to you, but according to the Daily Mail a company in Finland has already launched this technology…

Bank cards are already being replaced by phones and wristbands that have payment technology built-in but the latest threat to the lowly plastic in your pocket could be your face.

A Finnish startup called Uniqul has launched what it calls the first ever payment platform based on facial recognition.

The system doesn’t require a wallet, bank card or phone – instead a camera is positioned at the checkout and takes a photo of a shopper’s face when they are ready to pay.

It then scans a database for the face and matches it to stored payment details in order to complete the transaction.

And advertisers are even more eager to adopt facial recognition technology.  In fact, the kind of face scanning billboards that we saw in “Minority Report” are already a reality.  For example, a company called Amscreen says that it already has more than 6,000 face scanning digital screens that are being viewed by approximately 50 million people each week…

Advertising network Amscreen recently launched a unique face-detection technology, originally developed by automated audience measurement firm Quividi.

Cameras have been installed in Amscreen’s digital advertising displays that can scan a person’s face and determine their gender, age, date, time and volume of the viewers.

This is so adverts are served to the most appropriate audience.

Amscreen already has over 6,000 digital screens seen by a weekly audience of over 50 million people.

Even dating websites are starting to use facial recognition technology at this point.

Just check out what Match.com has been doing…

Popular dating site Match.com will use photos of users’ exes to determine which type of look they’re attracted to in order to find them a dating match.

The dating site has partnered with Three Day Rule, a Los Angeles-based matchmaking service, which has dating experts that act as personal dating concierges who hand-select and personally meet every potential match before making a formal introduction to clients, Mashable reports.

Members of Match.com will be able to upgrade to Three Day Rule’s premium service which will ask users to send pictures of exes to determine the type of look they’re attracted to. Three Day Rule will then use facial-recognition technology in an effort to help users find dates.

Our world is changing at a faster pace than ever before.

Powerful new technologies are literally being introduced every single day now, and the future is probably going to look far different than any of us are imagining.

But with all of this new technology, will we end up losing what little personal privacy that we have left?

Please feel free to share what you think by posting a comment below…

New Bill In Congress Would Ban Private Citizens From Owning Body Armor

Banned - Public DomainA new law that has been introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives “would prohibit the sale, transfer or possession of military-level body armor by civilians”.  In other words, private citizens all over the entire nation would be permanently banned from owning body armor if this bill gets passed and signed into law. The bill that I am talking about is H.R. 5344 (The Responsible Body Armor Possession Act), and you can view the proposed legislation for yourself right here.  The driving force behind this new law is Democrat Mike Honda from California.  To Honda, it doesn’t matter that large numbers of very responsible Americans have purchased body armor to protect themselves and their families in a society that is rapidly decaying.  Instead, it makes perfect sense to Honda to ban body armor because “access to military-grade body armor emboldens criminals and mass shooters to act.”  And Honda wants to make possession of body armor a criminal offense with a penalty of up to 10 years in prison.  This is absolutely crazy, and it is yet another example of the “police state mentality” that is so prevalent among our politicians these days.

When I first learned about this new law, I could hardly believe it.  But it is actually true.  The following is an excerpt from a news story about the introduction of this new bill

Rep. Mike Honda, D-San Jose, has announced legislation that would block civilians from accessing military-grade body armor to prevent criminals from using them in gun battles with law enforcement.

Honda, speaking at a news conference in San Jose Wednesday morning with police chiefs and the district attorneys and sheriffs from Santa Clara and Alameda counties, said his proposal would discourage criminals from wearing enhanced body armor to commit mass shootings.

“This bill will keep military body armor out of the wrong hands,” Honda said. “It would ensure that only law enforcement, firefighters and other first responders would be able to access enhanced body armor.”

Fortunately, it is incredibly tough to get just about anything accomplished in Congress these days, so the odds of this bill ever becoming law are probably pretty low.

But without a doubt those that are attempting to systematically disarm the American people will just keep on trying.

And we need to be vigilant, because history has shown what happens when entire populations are disarmed.  All we have to do is look back at the millions that were killed under Nazi Germany or the tens of millions that were killed under the communist Chinese.

Of course one of the greatest examples of this phenomenon was what happened under Joseph Stalin as Simon Black recently explained…

By the late 1920s, Joseph Stalin became the unchallenged leader of the Soviet Union after having eliminated his opposition.

He topped it off in 1929 by serving a decisive blow to anyone that would dare to oppose him by outlawing private gun ownership in the country.

From that year on until 1953 when Stalin died, it’s estimated that more than 20 million Soviet citizens that were seen as a threat to the country’s leadership.

Many Americans are tempted to believe that it is impossible for that kind of tyranny to happen in our day and age, but the truth of the matter is that America is becoming more like Nazi Germany with each passing day.

For example, the “Department of Homeland Security” recently raided dozens of families all over the nation because they “imported unsafe vehicles“…

Jennifer Brinkley of North Carolina says when saw a line of law enforcement vehicles coming up her driveway earlier this month she didn’t know what to think. “I haven’t done anything wrong.”

According to WBTV, the Homeland Security agents were not there to take her away, they were looking for illegally imported Land Rover Defenders.

It was a task government officials were performing in several states in early July. Forums on defendersource.com contain posts from Defender owners claiming their vehicles were seized by the government.

Why?

All vehicles coming into the United States must meet U.S. safety and emissions standards. Many British manufactured Land Rover Defenders do not.

Why in the world are armed Homeland Security agents roaming the countryside hunting down vehicles that don’t conform to federal regulations?

That is absolutely absurd.

But this is the kind of society that we now live in.

In a recent article, John W. Whitehead shared some more examples of how our control freak bureaucrats are ruining our society…

Debra Harrell, a 46-year-old South Carolina working mother, was arrested, charged with abandonment and had her child placed in state custody after allowing the 9-year-old to spend unsupervised time at a neighborhood playground while the mom worked a shift at McDonald’s. Mind you, the child asked to play outside, was given a cell phone in case she needed to reach someone, and the park—a stone’s throw from the mom’s place of work—was overrun with kids enjoying its swings, splash pad, and shade.

A Connecticut mother was charged with leaving her 11-year-old daughter in the car unsupervised while she ran inside a store—despite the fact that the child asked to stay in the car and was not overheated or in distress. A few states away, a New Jersey man was arrested and charged with endangering the welfare of his children after leaving them in a car parked in a police station parking lot, windows rolled down, while he ran inside to pay a ticket.

A Virginia teenager was charged with violating the state’s sexting law after exchanging sexually provocative videos with his girlfriend. Instead of insisting that the matter be dealt with as a matter of parental concern, police charged the boy with manufacturing and distributing child pornography and issued a search warrant to “medically induce an erection” in the 17-year-old boy in order to photograph his erect penis and compare it to the images sent in the sexting exchange.  The police had already taken an initial photograph of the boy’s penis against his will, upon his arrest.

In Georgia, a toddler had his face severely burned when a flash bang grenade, launched by a SWAT team during the course of a no-knock warrant, landed in his portable crib, detonating on his pillow. Also in Georgia, a police officer shot and killed a 17-year-old boy who answered the door, reportedly with a Nintendo Wii controller in his hands. The cop claimed the teenager pointed a gun at her, thereby justifying the use of deadly force. Then there was the incident wherein a police officer, responding to a complaint that some children were “chopping off tree limbs” creating “tripping hazards,” pulled a gun on a group of 11-year-old boys who were playing in a wooded area, attempting to build a tree fort.

For many more examples like this, please see my previous article entitled “30 Signs That America Is Being Transformed Into A ‘Big Brother’ Police State“.

The United States was supposed to be a beacon of liberty and freedom for the entire globe.

Instead, we are going to end up looking just like North Korea eventually if we are not careful.

Our freedoms and liberties are being eroded a little bit more with each passing day.  And if the American people don’t start standing up and objecting to all of this craziness, the control freaks are going to feel empowered to keep on pushing the envelope even further.

So what do you think about all of this?  Please feel free to share your thoughts by posting a comment below…

Are We Really Free When Big Brother Is Systematically Turning America Into A Giant Prison?

Prison - Photo by Sean MunsonEvery year on July 4th we celebrate our “independence”, but is America really free?  How could we possibly be free when “Big Brother” is constantly intruding in our lives in hundreds of different ways?  And I am not just talking about NSA snooping.  Sadly, the truth is that the United States is beginning to fully embrace a “police state” culture.  We have learned that the government monitors and keeps a record of all of our cell phone calls, emails, Internet searches, credit card transactions, and every piece of mail that we send.  But most Americans don’t seem to care.  We are “encouraged” to report the “suspicious activity” of our neighbors to the authorities, we are told that having security thugs touch the private areas of our women and children at our airports is necessary “for our security”, and 80,000 SWAT team raids are conducted each year in the United States.  But the American people don’t seem to care.  America was once a great country, but now it is being turned into a giant prison, and only a small minority of the citizens are raising their voices in objection.

When I was a child, I was taught that totalitarian societies such as North Korea, the Soviet Union and Nazi Germany were the bad guys.

So why in the world would we want to become more like them?

Do we actually believe that these ridiculous security measures are keeping us safer?

At this point, we have already given up so much privacy that we barely have any left.

For example, up until recently I actually believed that our mail was private.  But now we have learned that the government is monitoring every piece of mail that the American people send.  And according to the New York Times, the government has flagged the mail of thousands of problem citizens for special attention…

Leslie James Pickering noticed something odd in his mail last September: a handwritten card, apparently delivered by mistake, with instructions for postal workers to pay special attention to the letters and packages sent to his home.

“Show all mail to supv” — supervisor — “for copying prior to going out on the street,” read the card. It included Mr. Pickering’s name, address and the type of mail that needed to be monitored. The word “confidential” was highlighted in green.

But even if you are not on the list of those that get special attention, your mail is still photographed.  In fact, 160 billion photographs of our mail were sent to the government last year…

Mr. Pickering was targeted by a longtime surveillance system called mail covers, a forerunner of a vastly more expansive effort, the Mail Isolation Control and Tracking program, in which Postal Service computers photograph the exterior of every piece of paper mail that is processed in the United States — about 160 billion pieces last year. It is not known how long the government saves the images.

Together, the two programs show that postal mail is subject to the same kind of scrutiny that the National Security Agency has given to telephone calls and e-mail.

The tyrants of the past never dreamed of having some of the technologies that we have today.  Virtually everything that we do is watched, monitored, tracked or recorded in some way.

And as technology continues to advance, there will be very little that the authorities will not be capable of.

Some of the technologies that are coming out these days are absolutely frightening.  For example, over in Europe one company is now running talking ads that seem like they are coming from inside our own heads

Passengers leaning their head against the window will “hear” adverts “coming from inside the user’s head”, urging them to download the Sky Go app.

The proposal involves using bone conduction technology, which is used in hearing aids, headphones and Google’s Glass headset, to pass sound to the inner ear via vibrations through the skull.

A video for the Talking Window campaign released by Sky Deutschland and ad agency BBDO Germany states: “Tired commuters often rest their heads against windows. Suddenly a voice inside their head is talking to them. No one else can hear this message.”

How would you respond if a “voice inside your head” suddenly started talking to you?

In other instances, “Big Brother” can intrude in our lives in more old-fashioned ways.

For example, just check out the rules for July 4th that were posted at the entrance to one park in Lakewood, Ohio.  This photo comes from a recent article by Paul Joseph Watson

July 4th Park Rules

Why would anyone want to go spend the 4th of July at that park?

But this is what America is turning into.  We are turning into a society that is absolutely obsessed with security and control, and this is manifesting in hundreds upon hundreds of different ways.  If you doubt this, just check out the following articles…

-“21 Facts About NSA Snooping That Every American Should Know

-“29 Signs That The Elite Are Transforming Society Into A Total Domination Control Grid

-“America Is Being Systematically Transformed Into A Totalitarian Society

-“America Is Embracing The Secret Police Culture Of The Nazis

-“America’s Roads Have Been Turned Into A Revenue Generating Surveillance Grid

Fortunately, the recent revelations about the NSA have spurred some Americans into action.  For example, a new non-partisan organization known as “Restore The Fourth” is calling on the U.S. government to restore our Fourth Amendment rights.  The following is from a press release that the organization recently issued…

*****

Restore the Fourth is a grassroots, non-partisan, non-violent movement that seeks to organize and assemble nationwide protests on July 4th, 2013. Protesters in over 100 cities across America will gather to demand that the government of the United States of America adhere to its constitutionally dictated limits and respect the Fourth Amendment. http://www.RestoretheFourth.net provides a detailed list of protest locations.

Restore the Fourth maintains that justification of the Fourth Amendment beyond the original text need not be given; the legitimacy of which is self-evident. “The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.” The Fourth Amendment of the Bill of Rights clearly protects all citizens’ assets, both digital and physical, against searches and seizures without warrant; they aim to assert those rights. They insist that the proper channels of government work to ensure that all policy complies with the supreme laws of the United States of America in their entirety.

Restore the Fourth requests that American citizens’ right to privacy is respected and stands with the Electronic Frontier Foundation and StopWatching.us on their open letter to Congress. As informed members of the American electorate, they endorse and echo the letter’s demands.

1. Enact reform this Congress to Section 215 of the USA PATRIOT Act, the state secrets privilege, and the FISA Amendments Act to make clear that blanket surveillance of the Internet activity and phone records of any person residing in the U.S. is prohibited by law and that violations can be reviewed in adversarial proceedings before a public court;

2. Create a special committee to investigate, report, and reveal to the public the extent of this domestic spying. This committee should create specific recommendations for legal and regulatory reform to end unconstitutional surveillance;

3. Hold accountable those public officials who are found to be responsible for this unconstitutional surveillance.

The July 4th demonstrations seek to demand an end to the unconstitutional surveillance methods employed by the U.S. government and to ensure that all future government surveillance is constitutional, limited, and clearly defined.

Restore the Fourth aims to ensure that the will of the people is reflected in the government of the United States of America. This movement intends to bring an end to twelve years of Fourth Amendment abuses, and demonstrate the need for a return to the Constitution. All Americans should stand with them in this cause to protect the Fourth Amendment of the United States Constitution.

*****

I would encourage you to speak out about these issues however you can.  For some people, that may mean participating in a street protest.  For others, it may mean making a great YouTube video.  Others spread the word on radio shows or by speaking with their friends.  Personally, I have written about these issues extensively on my websites and in my new book.  We all have ways that we can object to the fact that America is being systematically transformed into a giant prison.

So what do you think?

Do you believe that America is really free?

Please feel free to share your opinion by posting a comment below…

Multiple Government Agencies Are Keeping Records Of Your Credit Card Transactions

Credit CardsWere you under the impression that your credit card transactions are private?  If so, I am sorry to burst your bubble.  As you will see below, there are actually multiple government agencies that are gathering and storing records of your credit card transactions.  And in turn, those government agencies share that information with other government agencies that want it.  So if you are making a purchase that you don’t want anyone to know about, don’t use a credit card.  This is one of the reasons why the government hates cash so much.  It is just so hard to track.  In this day and age, the federal government seems to be absolutely obsessed with gathering as much information about all of us as it possibly can.  But there is one big problem.  What they are doing directly violates the U.S. Constitution.  For those that are not familiar with it, the following is what the Fourth Amendment actually says: “The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.”  Unfortunately, the Fourth Amendment is essentially dead at this point.  The federal government is investigating all of us and gathering information on all of us all day, every day without end.

Many Americans have never even heard of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, but Judicial Watch has discovered that they are spending millions of dollars to collect and analyze our financial transactions…

Judicial Watch announced today that it has obtained records from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) revealing that the agency has spent millions of dollars for the warrantless collection and analysis of Americans’ financial transactions. The documents also reveal that CFPB contractors may be required to share the information with “additional government entities.”

Judicial Watch was able to obtain some absolutely shocking documents thanks to a Freedom of Information Act request that it filed in April.  The following is a summary of some of the things those documents show…

  • Overlapping contracts with multiple credit reporting agencies and accounting firms to gather, store, and share credit card data as shown in the task list of a contract with Argus Information & Advisory Services LLC worth $2.9 million
  • A provision stipulating that “The contractor recognizes that, in performing this requirement, the Contractor may obtain access to non-public, confidential information, Personally Identifiable Information (PII), or proprietary information.”
  • A stipulation that “The Contractor may be required to share credit card data collected from the Banks with additional government entities as directed by the Contracting Officer’s Representative (COR).”

How do you feel about the fact that the government has contracts with “multiple credit reporting agencies and accounting firms to gather, store, and share credit card data”?

How do you feel about the fact that your credit card data and other “non-public, confidential information” may be shared with “additional government entities”?

Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton put it very well when he said that this “warrantless collection of the private financial information of millions of Americans is mind-blowing.  Is there anything that this administration thinks it can’t do?”

But of course the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is not the only one keeping records of your credit card transactions.

We have also recently learned that the NSA is doing it too.  The following is from a recent Time Magazine article

Networks are most likely giving the government “metadata.” That is, the credit card issuers could provide the NSA details such as an account or card number, where and when a purchase was made, and for how much. Even though the exact items purchased aren’t revealed, Brian Krebs, who blogs at KrebsOnSecurity.com, says “merchant category codes” in such data give clues about what was bought.

If the NSA is collecting data at the processor level, “at that point the transaction gets cleared and posts to an account, so, yes, you can track it down to a person,” Aufsesser says.

The NSA conceivably could — and probably would — be able get the names of individual account holders from banks issuing credit cards. ”I don’t see how you would anonymize it,” says Al Pascual, senior analyst for security, risk and fraud for Javelin Strategy & Research.

We are rapidly becoming a “Big Brother society” where the government tracks virtually every move that we make.

And don’t think that you can escape this by not using credit cards or by staying off of the Internet.  The truth is that we are being tracked in hundreds of different ways.

For example, have you heard of automated license plate readers?

They are being installed on police vehicles all over the nation, and the amount of information that they are gathering on all of us is frightening.

A computer security consultant named Michael Katz-Lacabe asked the city of San Leandro, California for a record of every time that these license plate readers had scanned his vehicle, and what he discovered absolutely stunned him

The paperback-size device, installed on the outside of police cars, can log thousands of license plates in an eight-hour patrol shift. Katz-Lacabe said it had photographed his two cars on 112 occasions, including one image from 2009 that shows him and his daughters stepping out of his Toyota Prius in their driveway.

That photograph, Katz-Lacabe said, made him “frightened and concerned about the magnitude of police surveillance and data collection.” The single patrol car in San Leandro equipped with a plate reader had logged his car once a week on average, photographing his license plate and documenting the time and location.

At a rapid pace, and mostly hidden from the public, police agencies throughout California have been collecting millions of records on drivers and feeding them to intelligence fusion centers operated by local, state and federal law enforcement.

Most Americans do not even know that these devices exist, but they have been “collecting millions of records” and feeding them into law enforcement databases all over the nation.

In San Diego alone, more than 36 million license plate scans have been fed into a regional database just since 2010

In San Diego, 13 federal and local law enforcement agencies have compiled more than 36 million license-plate scans in a regional database since 2010 with the help of federal homeland security grants. The San Diego Association of Governments maintains the database. Like the Northern California database, the San Diego system retains the data for between one and two years.

“License-plate data is clearly identifiable to specific individuals,” said Lee Tien, a senior staff attorney at the Electronic Frontier Foundation. “This is like having your barcode tracked.”

Is this the kind of society that we want to become?

Do we really want the police to be taking millions of photographs of us?

Do we really want all of our financial transactions to be fed directly into federal databases?

Do we really want the government to track every phone call we make and every email we send?

As I wrote about recently, it has been documented that literally thousands of companies have been handing over customer data to the NSA.

Is this the kind of legacy that we want to leave for our children and our grandchildren?

Fortunately, it appears that at least some Americans are waking up to all of this.

According to a brand new Rasmussen survey, 56 percent of likely voters in the United States now believe that the federal government is a threat to individual rights…

A new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds that 56% of Likely U.S. Voters now consider the federal government a threat to individual rights rather than a protector of those rights. That’s up 10 points from 46% in December.

While 54% of liberal voters consider the feds to be a protector of individual rights, 78% of conservatives and 49% of moderates see the government as a threat.

Overall, only 30% believe the feds today are a protector of individual rights. Fourteen percent (14%) are undecided. (To see survey question wording, click here.)

If the American people do not stand up and demand change, the people that are constantly violating our privacy are going to continue to do so.

Sadly, the vast majority of the politicians in both major political parties seem to think that there is nothing wrong with the status quo.  So I wouldn’t expect any major changes in the short-term.  But hopefully government surveillance will start to become such a major issue with the American people that the politicians will be forced to start addressing it.

The All-Seeing Eye Is Watching You

Member Of Congress: Edward Snowden’s Revelations Are “Just The Tip Of The Iceberg”

Iceberg - Photo by Gerald TappAccording to U.S. Representative Loretta Sanchez, members of Congress learned “significantly more than what is out in the media today” during a closed briefing about the NSA on Tuesday, and that what has been revealed so far about NSA snooping is “just the tip of the iceberg”.  During her interview with C-SPAN on Wednesday, she also stated that NSA spying is “just broader than most people even realize” but due to security restrictions she could not reveal more than that.  So precisely what are the American people not being told?  And do our leaders ever plan to tell us the truth?  Many of our politicians have come down extremely hard on whistleblower Edward Snowden, but if it wasn’t for him most Americans would have no idea what the NSA has been up to.  Is the Obama administration going to come clean on this, or do we have to wait for even more whistleblowers to come forward?  The American people deserve to know that they are being spied on, and it appears that those in charge of doing this spying have been flat out lying to Congress about it.

Today, one of the most powerful men in the U.S. government is Keith Alexander, the Director of the NSA.  According to a Wired article that just came out, Alexander “is regarded with a mixture of respect and fear” by those inside the government…

Inside the government, the general is regarded with a mixture of respect and fear, not unlike J. Edgar Hoover, another security figure whose tenure spanned multiple presidencies. “We jokingly referred to him as Emperor Alexander—with good cause, because whatever Keith wants, Keith gets,” says one former senior CIA official who agreed to speak on condition of anonymity. “We would sit back literally in awe of what he was able to get from Congress, from the White House, and at the expense of everybody else.”

And according to that same article, Alexander foresees a day when the entire Internet will be directly under NSA control…

Alexander runs the nation’s cyberwar efforts, an empire he has built over the past eight years by insisting that the US’s inherent vulnerability to digital attacks requires him to amass more and more authority over the data zipping around the globe. In his telling, the threat is so mind-bogglingly huge that the nation has little option but to eventually put the entire civilian Internet under his protection, requiring tweets and emails to pass through his filters, and putting the kill switch under the government’s forefinger. “What we see is an increasing level of activity on the networks,” he said at a recent security conference in Canada. “I am concerned that this is going to break a threshold where the private sector can no longer handle it and the government is going to have to step in.”

Does that paragraph put a chill up your spine?

It should.

The free and open Internet that we enjoy today may not always exist.  The power of government may eventually transform it into something else entirely.

And as Dr. Jerome Corsi has just written about, Alexander has now publicly confirmed much of what Edward Snowden has been alleging…

The NSA director confirmed to Congress today that leaker Edward Snowden had access to a highly sensitive database containing personal information that could be mined to track a target’s thoughts and actions and possibly predict future acts.

U.S. Army General Keith B. Alexander, commander of U.S. Cyber Command and director of the National Security Agency, told the Senate Appropriations Committee that Snowden “had great skills as an IT (Internet Technology) system administrator.”

Yes, in this day and age every nation needs intelligence agencies.  But they should be used to spy on the enemies of the American people, not on the American people themselves.  The Fourth Amendment is supposed to be our guarantee that the government will not invade our privacy or investigate us unless there is probable cause that we have committed a crime.  That means that if they don’t have probable cause they are supposed to leave us alone.

Unfortunately, those running our government seem to have a tremendous disdain for the U.S. Constitution.  In fact, all over the western world we are seeing freedoms and liberties being destroyed.  The following is what Simon Black recently had to say about all of this…

By now it should be clear to anyone paying attention that most of Western civilization is on a dangerous slide into tyranny.

They’re confiscating funds directly from people’s bank accounts. They’re seizing reporters’ personal records and phone logs. They’re digitally spying on everyone’s emails.

They’ve authorized military detention and drone assassination of their own citizens.

They’re using tax offices to harass political opposition groups.

They tell us what we are allowed to eat and drink, what foods we are allowed to put in our own body.

Think about it. These are Soviet tactics, plain and simple.

What’s more, they don’t even care. They think we’re all idiots who are too stupid to even notice what they’re doing.

Now is the time for the American people to stand up and object to all of this.

If you are waiting for our politicians to save you, then you are going to be waiting for a very, very long time.

And most Americans have already figured this out.  According to a new Gallup survey that was just released, the confidence that the American people have in Congress is at an all-time low.  Only 10 percent of all Americans have confidence in our legislative branch at this point.

If the American people do not demand change now, it will be a signal to those doing the snooping that they can push the envelope even farther.

We need to heed the warnings of the whistleblowers.  Our own government has been listening to our most private conversations and they have been totally getting away with it.  Just check out what NSA whistleblower Adrienne J. Kinne told NSA expert James Bamford

I also wrote about Adrienne J. Kinne, an NSA intercept operator who attempted to blow the whistle on the NSA’s illegal eavesdropping on Americans following the 9/11 attacks. “Basically all rules were thrown out the window,” she said, “and they would use any excuse to justify a waiver to spy on Americans.” Even journalists calling home from overseas were included. “A lot of time you could tell they were calling their families,” she says, “incredibly intimate, personal conversations.” She only told her story to me after attempting, and failing, to end the illegal activity with appeals all the way up the chain of command to Major General Keith Alexander, head of the Army’s Intelligence and Security Command at the time.

Do you want the government to listen to your “intimate, personal conversations”, record them and stash them in a giant data center out in Utah where they will be held forever?

If not, then this is your chance to stand up and demand change.

 

22 Nauseating Quotes From Hypocritical Establishment Politicians About The NSA Spying Scandal

Establishment PoliticiansEstablishment politicians from both major political parties are rushing to defend the NSA and condemn whistleblower Edward Snowden.  They are attempting to portray Edward Snowden as a “traitor” and the spooks over at the NSA that are snooping on all of us as “heroes”.  In fact, many of the exact same politicians that once railed against government spying during the Bush years are now staunchly defending it now that Obama is in the White House.  But it isn’t just Democrats that are acting shamefully.  Large numbers of Republican politicians that love to give speeches about “freedom” and “liberty” are attempting to eviscerate the Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.  The government is not supposed to invade our privacy and investigate us unless there is probable cause to do so.  Apparently many of our politicians misunderstood when they read the novel 1984 by George Orwell.  It wasn’t supposed to be an instruction manual.  We should be thanking Edward Snowden for exposing the deep corruption that is eating away at our own government like cancer.  Now the American people need to pick up the ball and start demanding answers, because without a doubt we are going to see establishment politicians from both major political parties try to shut this scandal down.  Establishment Democrats and establishment Republicans both love the Big Brother surveillance grid that the U.S. government has constructed, and they are both making it abundantly clear that they will defend the NSA to the very end.  The following are 22 nauseating quotes from hypocritical establishment politicians that show exactly how they feel about the NSA spying scandal…

#1 Barack Obama: “I think it’s important to understand that you can’t have 100 percent security and then have 100 percent privacy and zero inconvenience. We’re going to have to make some choices as a society.”

#2 Barack Obama in 2007: “This Administration also puts forward a false choice between the liberties we cherish and the security we demand… That means no more illegal wire-tapping of American citizens. No more national security letters to spy on citizens who are not suspected of a crime. No more tracking citizens who do nothing more than protest a misguided war. No more ignoring the law when it is inconvenient. That is not who we are. And it is not what is necessary to defeat the terrorists… We will again set an example for the world that the law is not subject to the whims of stubborn rulers, and that justice is not arbitrary.”

#3 Speaker Of The House John Boehner on what he thinks about NSA leaker Edward Snowden: “He’s a traitor.”

#4 U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham: “I hope we follow Mr. Snowden to the ends of the Earth to bring him to justice.”

#5 U.S. Senator Al Franken: “I can assure you, this is not about spying on the American people.”

#6 Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid: “For senators to complain that they didn’t know this was happening, we had many, many meetings that have been both classified and unclassified that members have been invited to”

#7 U.S. Senator Mitch McConnell: “Given the scope of these programs, it’s understandable that many would be concerned about issues related to privacy. But what’s difficult to understand is the motivation of somebody who intentionally would seek to warn the nation’s enemies of lawful programs created to protect the American people. And I hope that he is prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.”

#8 U.S. Representative Peter King on why he believes that reporters should be prosecuted for revealing NSA secrets: “There is an obligation both moral, but also legal, I believe, against a reporter disclosing something which would so severely compromise national security.”

#9 Director of National Intelligence James Clapper making a joke during an awards ceremony last Friday night: “Some of you expressed surprise that I showed up—so many emails to read!”

#10 Director Of National Intelligence James Clapper about why he lied about NSA spying in front of Congress: “I responded in what I thought was the most truthful, or least untruthful manner”

#11 National Security Council spokeswoman Caitlin Hayden: “The president has full faith in director Clapper and his leadership of the intelligence community”

#12 White House press secretary Jay Carney: “…Clapper has been straight and direct in the answers that he’s given, and has actively engaged in an effort to provide more information about the programs that have been revealed through the leak of classified information”

#13 Dianne Feinstein, the chairwoman of the Senate intelligence committee: “There is no more direct or honest person than Jim Clapper.”

#14 Gus Hunt, the chief technology officer at the CIA: “We fundamentally try to collect everything and hang onto it forever.”

#15 Barack Obama: “Nobody is listening to your telephone calls.”

#16 Keith Alexander, director of the National Security Agency: “We do not see a tradeoff between security and liberty.”

#17 An exchange between NSA director Keith Alexander and U.S. Representative Hank Johnson in March 2012…

JOHNSON: Does the NSA routinely intercept American citizens’ emails?

ALEXANDER: No.

JOHNSON: Does the NSA intercept Americans’ cell phone conversations?

ALEXANDER: No.

JOHNSON: Google searches?

ALEXANDER: No.

JOHNSON: Text messages?

ALEXANDER: No.

JOHNSON: Amazon.com orders?

ALEXANDER: No.

JOHNSON: Bank records?

ALEXANDER: No.

#18 Deputy White House press secretary Dana Perino: “The intelligence activities undertaken by the United States government are lawful, necessary and required to protect Americans from terrorist attacks”

#19 U.S. Senator Saxby Chambliss: “This is nothing new.  It has proved meritorious because we have gathered significant information on bad guys and only on bad guys over the years.”

#20 Former U.N. Ambassador John Bolton on NSA leaker Edward Snowden: “Let me ask, who died and made him king? Who gave him the authority to endanger 300 million Americans? That’s not the way it works, and if he thinks he can get away with that, he’s got another think coming.”

#21 Senior spokesman for the NSA Don Weber: “Given the nature of the work we do, it would be irresponsible to comment on actual or alleged operational issues; therefore, we have no information to provide”

#22 The White House website: “My administration is committed to creating an unprecedented level of openness in government. We will work together to ensure the public trust and establish a system of transparency, public participation, and collaboration.”

Right now, the NSA is building a data collection center out in Utah that is so massive that it is hard to describe with words.  It is going to cost 40 million dollars a year just to provide the energy needed to run it.  According to a 2012 Wired article entitled “The NSA Is Building the Country’s Biggest Spy Center (Watch What You Say)“, this data center will contain “the complete contents of private emails, cell phone calls, and Google searches” in addition to “parking receipts, travel itineraries, bookstore purchases” and anything else that the NSA decides to collect…

Under construction by contractors with top-secret clearances, the blandly named Utah Data Center is being built for the National Security Agency. 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 swaths of the world’s communications as they zap down from satellites and zip through the underground and undersea cables of international, foreign, and domestic networks. The heavily fortified $2 billion center should be up and running in September 2013. Flowing through its servers and routers and stored in near-bottomless databases will be all forms of communication, including the complete contents of private emails, cell phone calls, and Google searches, as well as all sorts of personal data trails—parking receipts, travel itineraries, bookstore purchases, and other digital “pocket litter.” It is, in some measure, the realization of the “total information awareness” program created during the first term of the Bush administration—an effort that was killed by Congress in 2003 after it caused an outcry over its potential for invading Americans’ privacy.

The goal is to know as much about everyone on the planet as possible.

And the NSA does not keep this information to itself.  As an article in USA Today recently reported, the NSA shares the data that it collects with other government agencies “as a matter of practice”…

As a matter of practice, the NSA regularly shares its information — known as “product” in intelligence circles — with other intelligence groups.

So when the NSA collects information about you, there is a very good chance that the FBI, the CIA, the Department of Homeland Security and the IRS will have access to it as well.

But the U.S. government is not the only one collecting data on American citizens.

Guess who else has been collecting massive amounts of data on the American people?

Barack Obama.

According to those that have seen it, the “Obama database” is unlike anything that any politician has ever put together before.  According to  CNSNews.com, U.S. Representative Maxine Waters says that this database “will have information about everything on every individual”…

“The president has put in place an organization that contains a kind of database that no one has ever seen before in life,” she added. “That’s going to be very, very powerful.”

Martin asked if Waters if she was referring to “Organizing for America.”

“That’s right, that’s right,” Waters said. “And that database will have information about everything on every individual in ways that it’s never been done before.”

Waters said the database would also serve future Democratic candidates seeking the presidency.

Perhaps this helps to explain why so many big donors got slapped with IRS audits immediately after they wrote big checks to the Romney campaign.

We are being told to “trust” Barack Obama and the massive government surveillance grid that is being constructed all around us, but there has been example after example of government power being grossly abused in recent years.

A lot of Americans say that they do not care if the government is watching them because they do not have anything to hide, but is there anyone out there that would really not mind the government watching them and listening to them 24 hours a day?

For example, it has been documented that NSA workers eavesdropped on conversations between U.S. soldiers serving in Iraq and their loved ones back home.  Some of these conversations involved very intimate talk between husbands and wives.  The following is from a 2008 ABC News story

Faulk says he and others in his section of the NSA facility at Fort Gordon routinely shared salacious or tantalizing phone calls that had been intercepted, alerting office mates to certain time codes of “cuts” that were available on each operator’s computer.

 

“Hey, check this out,” Faulk says he would be told, “there’s good phone sex or there’s some pillow talk, pull up this call, it’s really funny, go check it out. It would be some colonel making pillow talk and we would say, ‘Wow, this was crazy’,” Faulk told ABC News.

 

Faulk said he joined in to listen, and talk about it during breaks in Back Hall’s “smoke pit,” but ended up feeling badly about his actions.

Is this really what we want the future of America to look like?

Do we really want the government to watch us and listen to us during our most intimate moments?

Feel free to express what you think about this NSA spying scandal by posting a comment below…

The Rest Of The World Is Absolutely Disgusted With Our Big Brother Spying Methods

The WorldThe rest of the world has found out that the U.S. government has been listening to their phone calls and watching what they do on the Internet and they do not like it one bit.  Outrage has been pouring in from all over the planet, and one member of the European Parliament is even comparing the NSA to the Stasi.  But instead of stepping back and reevaluating our Big Brother spying methods now that they have been revealed, Barack Obama and other leading members of Congress are defiantly declaring that there is nothing wrong with these methods and that no changes will be made.  The U.S. government is going to continue to invade the privacy of the citizens of the rest of the world as much as it possibly can, and our leaders don’t seem to really care what the international response is.  And make no mistake – the goal of the U.S. intelligence community is to literally know everything about everyone.  The chief technology officer of the CIA, Gus Hunt, made the following shocking admission back in March: “We fundamentally try to collect everything and hang onto it forever.”  He followed that statement up with this gem: “It is really very nearly within our grasp to be able to compute on all human-generated information.”  In other words, they want it all, and they nearly have the capacity to gather it all already.  So where does this end?  Will the U.S. intelligence community ever be happy until they have every piece of data on every single person on the entire planet?  Do we really want a government that collects “everything” and hangs on to it “forever”?

Thanks to Edward Snowden, the rest of the globe is starting to understand the extent to which the U.S. government has been spying on them.  Needless to say, a lot of people are extremely upset about this.

In Germany (a country that knows a thing or two about Big Brother tactics), some prominent politicians are publicly denouncing the surveillance that the U.S. government has been doing on their citizens.  In fact, one German politician has accused the U.S. of employing “American-style Stasi methods”

In a guest editorial for Spiegel Online on Tuesday, Justice Minister Sabine Leutheusser-Schnarrenberger said reports that the United States could access and track virtually all forms of Internet communication were “deeply disconcerting” and potentially dangerous.

“The more a society monitors, controls and observes its citizens, the less free it is,” she said.

“The suspicion of excessive surveillance of communication is so alarming that it cannot be ignored. For that reason, openness and clarification by the U.S. administration itself is paramount at this point. All facts must be put on the table.”

Markus Ferber, a member of Merkel’s Bavarian sister party who sits in the European Parliament, went further, accusing Washington of using “American-style Stasi methods”.

In Italy, the government official in charge of data protection, Antonello Soro, said that the surveillance that the NSA is doing “would not be legal in Italy” and would be “contrary to the principles of our legislation and would represent a very serious violation”.

In Russia (another country with a long history of using Big Brother tactics), President Vladimir Putin has expressed significant concern about the NSA spying program and there are even rumors that Russia will be offering asylum to Edward Snowden

Alexey Pushkov, head of the Duma’s international affairs committee and a vocal US critic, said on Twitter: “By promising asylum to Snowden, Moscow has taken upon itself the protection of those persecuted for political reasons. There will be hysterics in the US. They only recognise this right for themselves.”

He continued: “Listening to telephones and tracking the internet, the US special services broke the laws of their country. In this case, Snowden, like Assange, is a human rights activist.”

But even more important than what foreign politicians think about the NSA spying scandal is what average people all over the globe think.  This scandal is causing millions of average people all over the planet to look at the United States with disgust and disdain.  How can we hold ourselves out as the “defenders of freedom” to the rest of the globe when we are openly telling them that we are going to spy on them as much as we possibly can?  How do we expect the rest of the world to look at us as “the good guys” when we are selfishly grabbing and recording all of their emails, phone calls and Internet searches without any concern for their privacy whatsoever?

What makes all of this even worse is that our top intelligence officials are making jokes about this scandal.  For example, just check out the wisecracks that the Director of National Intelligence, James Clapper, was making at an awards ceremony on Friday

With the current and past directors of national intelligence at the Omni Shoreham to honor former CIA and National Security Agency chief Michael Hayden, the result in speeches and interviews with intel professionals was a gumbo of outrage, worry and humor.

Director of National Intelligence James Clapper told the black-tie crowd of more than 700 he would “address the elephant in the room” and proceeded, to applause, to denounce “the unauthorized leaks as reprehensible and egregious.” Clapper characterized the program as completely legal, debated and reauthorized by Congress under strict oversight and by court order “to make our nation safe and secure.”

He then cracked a few jokes. “Some of you expressed surprise that I showed up—so many emails to read!” Clapper said. Greeting fellow banqueter John Pistole, the administrator of the Transportation Security Administration who recently reversed a planned policy to permit air travelers to carry certain knives on planes, Clapper said, “John, can I borrow your pocket knife?”

How in the world can he make a joke about reading our emails at a time like this?

This is how arrogant the U.S. intelligence community has become.  They feel like they can do whatever they want and get away with it.

For example, back in March Clapper flat out lied to the U.S. Congress about the surveillance that the NSA is doing.  When he was asked by Senator Ron Wyden if the NSA was collecting any information on the American people, Clapper completely denied it.

The following is from a transcript of that exchange

“Does the NSA collect any type of data at all on millions or hundreds of millions of Americans?” Oregon Republican Sen. Ron Wyden asked Clapper at the March 12 hearing.

“No, sir,” Clapper responded.

“It does not?” Wyden pressed.

Clapper recanted and said: “Not wittingly. There are cases where they could, inadvertently perhaps, collect — but not wittingly.”

Apparently Clapper must have “forgotten” that the government is forcing all of the big telephone companies to turn over all of their call records to the NSA every single month.

And you know what?  The truth is that the government is not just collecting “metadata” about our phone calls.  The content of our calls is being recorded and stored as well.  Just check out this story from the Blaze

Hollywood actor Shia LaBeouf in 2008 during an appearance on the Tonight Show with Jay Leno detailed how he learned phone calls were allegedly being recorded.

Promoting the film “Eagle Eye,” which according to IMDb shows how “technology of everyday life [is used] to track and control,” LaBeouf told Leno that an FBI consultant for the movie said one in five phone calls made are recorded and logged.

“And I laughed at him,” LaBeouf said.

“And then he played back a phone conversation I’d had two years prior to joining the picture,” LaBouf continued.

Both Leno and LaBeouf concluded it was “extremely creepy.”

The American people, along with the people of the entire planet, deserve the truth about this.

Unfortunately, Barack Obama is certainly not going to tell us the truth, and there will probably only be a half-hearted effort by some members of Congress to get to the bottom of things.

That is why it is going to be important to take this to court, and thankfully a couple of lawsuits are already in the works.

According to U.S. News & World Report, one of these lawsuits is being filed by a former Justice Department prosecutor…

Former Justice Department prosecutor Larry Klayman amended an existing lawsuit against Verizon and a slew of Obama administration officials Monday to make it the first class-action lawsuit in response to the publication of a secret court order instructing Verizon to hand over all phone records of millions of American customers on an “ongoing, daily basis.”

Klayman told U.S. News he will file a second class-action lawsuit Wednesday in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia targeting government officials and each of the nine companies listed in a leaked National Security Agency slideshow as participants in the government’s PRISM program.

And according to USA Today, the ACLU has also filed a lawsuit…

National Security Agency surveillance programs came under more scrutiny Tuesday as the American Civil Liberties Union filed a lawsuit and a prominent senator and Internet giant Google called on the Obama administration to disclose more information.

In its lawsuit, the ACLU said an NSA program that harvests phone calls violates the rights of all Americans.

“The program goes far beyond even the permissive limits set by the Patriot Act and represents a gross infringement of the freedom of association and the right to privacy,” said Jameel Jaffer, the ACLU’s deputy legal director.

Hopefully these lawsuits will reveal more details about the spying that has been taking place.

There is also a “bipartisan coalition” of 86 Internet companies and civil liberties organizations that have sent a letter to Congress demanding action on these issues.  You can read the full letter right here.  Some of the organizations involved include the Electronic Frontier Foundation, Reddit, Mozilla, FreedomWorks, and the Center for Digital Democracy.

Will Congress listen to them?

Probably not.

But at least they are trying to do something about this.

The key will be to get the American people outraged enough about all of this that they won’t forget about it in a week or two.  And that is not an easy thing to do.

There have been a couple of public opinion polls taken over the past few days that show some very curious results.  A Rasmussen survey found that 59 percent of Americans are against the government secretly collecting our phone records and only 26 percent are in favor.  But a Washington Post survey found that 56 percent of Americans consider the collecting of our phone records to be “acceptable” and only 41 percent consider the practice to be “unacceptable”.

How could those two surveys get such wildly different results?

A lot of it is in the way that they ask the questions.

In the end, our politicians don’t really care too much about what the general public thinks anyway.  They are just going to continue to do what they have been doing and the rest of the world will continue to become even more disgusted with us.

We are recklessly destroying our global reputation and our leaders do not even seem to care.  But someday America will need some friends, and when that day arrives we may find that we don’t have too many left.

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