Posts Tagged ‘Mass Surveillance’

A new facial recognition system being used by the FBI has managed to track down and capture a convicted paedophile on the Most Wanted List who disappeared 19 years ago.

Lynn Cozart, 63, from Beaver County, Pennsylvania was convicted for sexually assaulting his three children in February 1996, and he went missing just before his sentencing hearing two months later.

He managed to leave the state and stay under the radar for almost two decades, until the FBI used the $1bn (£650m, €900m) Next Generation Identification (NGI) system built by Lockheed Martin to track him down.

The FBI submitted Cozart’s mug shot to the NGI system, which used facial recognition to capture biometric data of his face.

The system then sought matches from other databases belonging to state agencies across the US, from government-issued licence databases to any form of government-collected data of scanned facial images taken from video or photos.

The system spotted a match amongst driving licence photos held by Arkansas’ motor vehicle department, and from there, the fugitive was tracked down to yet another state – Muskogee in Arkansas, more than 1,160 miles away from Pennsylvania.

Cozart was found working in Walmart under an assumed name, David Stone, and was apprehended by the town’s police officers.

Source: [ibtimes]

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Thomas Drake, a former senior executive at the NSA turned whistleblower, sat down with the Real News to talk about the USA Freedom Act as ersatz reform and how the public can take matters into their own hands by encrypting their phones and computers.

The very network nodes that relay anonymous Tor traffic for you, free of charge, may be sniffing or reading your data as it passes through. That’s the conclusion of an investigation by a security researcher known as Chloe.

The test involved setting up a dummy website with an admin sub-domain and a login page. Chloe then logged into the site through the Tor network many times – in fact, 137,319 times. Due to timeouts and other issues, only 99,271 attempts resulted in a successful connection to the dummy admin account.

Chloe was looking for instances where the unique password chosen for each login attempt was used a second time, which would indicate that the exit node, in that instance, had sniffed the credentials and someone had then decided to have a go at using the credentials to log into Chloe’s dummy site.

Chloe found 16 instances of multiple uses of a unique password. While it may appear a small number, this number should be zero. In addition, there were 650 unique page visits which points to additional sniffing activity.

Chloe estimates that the number of exit nodes tested was 1400, with each used around 95 times.

The conclusion: “We can see that there’s passive MITM [man in the middle spying] going on in the Tor network. This is done by setting up a fully functional and trustworthy exit node and start sniffing.”

Source: [scmagazineuk]

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DFW AIRPORT, TX – Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport has been selected by the TSA Office of Intelligence and Analysis Program Management division for a “proof of concept” pilot of the FBI RapBack service. The program will enable real time criminal history monitoring of the aviation worker population.

In its selection process, TSA’s OIA Program Management Office considered factors such as risk profile, volume of biometric submissions, Boston Logan International Airport was also selected to participate in the pilot program. The pilot is expected to begin by the end of 2015.

RapBack is part of the FBI’s Next Generation Identification Program, introduced in September 2014.

The Rap Back Service provides authorized agencies with notification of criminal, and, in limited cases, civil activity (NGO – non governmental organization) of individuals that occurs after the initial processing and retention of criminal or civil transactions. Rap Back does not provide new authority to agencies, including the FBI, for collection of biometric and biographical information. It does, however, implement new response services to notify agencies of subsequent activity for individuals enrolled in the service. Including a more timely process of confirming suitability of those individuals placed in positions of trust and notification to users of criminal activity for those individuals placed on probation or parole.

Here’s how it will work: the boss at a company or organization signs an agreement with the FBI to implement the “rap back” program. You’d like to work there, and submit to a background check to do so. Your fingerprints are taken before you get your job, a routine part of the criminal background check, your almost-boss tells you. The fingerprints are then sent to the FBI, whereupon the agency makes a determination about your criminal history, and informs your almost-boss about whether or not you are likely to be a good hire.

Source: [Yahoo News]

Although the government admits it has absolutely no credible evidence that ISIS or anybody else plans to attack the United States over the 4th of July holiday, the FBI has moved to establish command centers around the United States.

The command centers will integrate local, state and federal law enforcement agencies “so officials can gauge the threat level and respond quickly,” according to Fox News.

Additionally, the move appears to be an effort to engage in precrime tactics:

Another law enforcement source told Fox the FBI’s strategy has shifted toward getting ISIS supporters off the streets as soon as possible, given that it’s hard to predict when one might go operational. This could include arresting individuals on lesser charges and then building a broader case once that person is in custody.

The FBI is known for grooming patsies through criminal informants and then arresting them and working with the establishment media to create sensationalistic headlines that give the impression the United States is under attack by terrorists.

Moreover, command centers and so-called fusion centers around the country are routinely used to monitor political activists, not supposed terrorists. The centers often work hand-in-hand with the private sector to undermine the Fist Amendment rights of American citizens.

“The anti-terrorist apparatus that the U.S. government established after 9/11 has now been turned against law-abiding citizens exercising their First Amendment rights. This apparatus consists not only of advanced surveillance technologies but also of ‘fusion centers’ in state after state that coordinate the efforts of law enforcement up and down the line and collaborate with leading members of the private sector,” writes Matthew Rothschild.

Hyperbolic terror threats issued by the likes of CBS News senior security contributor and former CIA deputy director Michael Morell (see below video) and the Washington establishment are designed to keep a largely bogus and evolving domestic terror threat scheme and the war on terror business model on track despite the fact most Americans are sick and tired of endless terror warnings that are blown out of proportion and do not pan out.

The terror threats will continue to be used as a pretext to build and expand the surveillance grid in the United States. The target of this apparatus is not ISIS and foreign jihadist terrorists, but the American people.

Source: [InfoWars]

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Earlier this month the House of Representatives passed the Massie-Lofgren Amendment to the Defense Appropriation bill that would prohibit the National Security Agency (NSA) from (1) rifling through the stored communications of Americans without a warrant, and (2) trying to sabotage Internet security by forcing private companies to weaken the privacy protections of their customers by installing “backdoors” into their software with the goal of enabling domestic surveillance. Under the pretext of monitoring foreign communications, the NSA has amassed a huge database that includes the communications of Americans that its minions claim it has the authority to search without seeking a warrant. The amendment would prohibit the spending of any funds by the NSA for either activity.

Importantly, the amendment which passed by a vote of 255 to 174 would simply require that federal officials who want to look at the communications of an American citizen go get a warrant as provided for by the Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

Now the chief Congressional stooge for the surveillance state, chairman of the House Intelligence Committee Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) has sent out a letter urging all of those members of Congress who voted for the Massie-Lofgren Amendment to reconsider and rescind their votes.

Nunes includes a letter from confessed perjuror Director of Central Intelligence James Clapper who claims that the requirement to obtain a warrant would unduly interfere with the identification of terrorist plots in the U.S. As examples, Clapper then mentions such plots as the 9/11 atrocities, Fort Hood, the Underwear Bomber, the Navy Yard shootings, and Boston Marathon bombing. For his part Nunes notes that “in recent weeks, law enforcement agencies have disrupted homegrown terrorist attacks in Garland, Texas and Boston, Massachusetts.” So far as I can tell from news reports, not one of the attacks and plots mentioned by either Clapper or Nunes was identified in advance by NSA surveillance. (And even had they been, tolerating such surveillance is still not worth the damage caused to our civil liberties.)

Full Story @ [reason]

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Joint Terrorism Task Forces (JTTFs), of which there are currently 104 located in cities and towns across the United States, were created in the 1980s and greatly expanded in the aftermath of 9/11. They were set up to coordinate between diverse federal agencies and local law enforcement, and often work in tandem with “Fusion Centers” that are supposed to collect and analyze data related to potential terrorism.

To see how these task forces can overstep their bounds, take the case of Eric Linsker, who police tried to arrest for allegedly trying to throw a trash can over the side of a walkway on the Brooklyn Bridge during the large, mostly peaceful protests that erupted in New York City following the failure to indict the officer whose choke-hold led to the death of Eric Garner. Other protesters intervened to stop the arrest but Linkser left his bag behind which, according to authorities, contained “his passport, three hammers, and a small amount of marijuana.”

While police may have been well within their rights to track down Linsker and charge him if the vandalism allegations were true, it’s who did the arresting that is problematic: rather than the NYPD, it was the New York JTTF that brought Linkser in, perhaps believing that the hammers were potential instruments of terror. This should be a cause for worry, since it means either law enforcement’s definition of terrorism has become far too broad, or they are targeting more than just terrorism.

Another bizarre case comes out of Minneapolis in the lead up to the Republican national convention in 2008. According to the City Pages, a Univ. of Minnesota police officer who was the department’s only officer on the local Joint Counter Terrorism Task Force worked with an FBI Special Agent to recruit college students who acted as paid informants at “vegan potlucks” hoping they’d discover activist plans to disrupt the city’s upcoming convention.

Full Story @ [truth-out]

Now that a US federal court has ruled that the NSA’s mass wiretapping program exceeded its legal authority, leaders of the US Republican party are pushing to make it legal.

Section 215 is due to expire on June 1 unless Congress acts to reauthorize it. McConnell already has legislation in the pipeline to do just that. But other lawmakers want to use the opportunity to reform the rules and rein in some of the NSA’s activities, with many supporting the USA Freedom Act.

McConnell said the USA Freedom Act would put American lives at risk by putting a wall between the NSA and the data it needs. If it became law, telecommunications companies would only hand over their customers’ data when the NSA explicitly asks for it – a policy McConnell decried as allowing “untrained corporate employees” to handle the information.

Richard Burr (R-NC), the current head of the Senate Intelligence Committee, concurred. Burr argues that Section 215 is vital to stopping another 9/11-style attack and that its surveillance provisions are less intrusive than a supermarket membership card.

Full Story @ [The Register]