American Partisan: Surveillance Detection Routes

NC Scout at American Partisan has a post on Surveillance Detection Routes, with his comments on a video from The Kilo 23 Group. Kilo 23 interviews people from the intelligence community, the defense industry and also does gear reviews and some espionage related tradecraft. NC Scout is a former infantry scout in a US Army reconnaissance unit.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Hl6HwYAaKFE

Surveillance Detection Routes (the OTHER SDR) is a critical personal protection skill and a good practice to make a habit of- whether you’re politically active, involved in a covert group or just an average joe looking to enhance your own security, its a good idea to take some notes. A few of my own rules:

  1. Never, ever be in a hurry. When we’re in a hurry, we turn the blinders on to the rest of the world and we make mistakes.
  2. Always be early and back into parking spots. Observation of an area is critical and often enough this begins in the parking lot of a place. Backing in allows us to do two things: observe and make a hasty exit.
  3. Make random stops in open, highly trafficked places while traveling and take mental notes of who’s around. Who belongs and who doesn’t?

Tenth Amendment Center: Gov’t Worried that Mask Use Thwarts Gov’t Facial Recognition

From the Tenth Amendment Center, DHS Worried Widespread Mask Use Will Thwart Government Facial Recognition.

There has been a lot of controversy over masks, but no matter what you think about the efficacy of face coverings in preventing the spread of COVID-19, there is one advantage to masking up. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has expressed concern that widespread use of masks will thwart facial recognition.

A DHS “intelligence note” dated May 22 came to light in the BlueLeaks trove of law enforcement documents. The DHS Intelligence Enterprise Counterterrorism Mission Center in conjunction with a variety of other agencies, including Customs and Border Protection and Immigration and Customs Enforcement drafted the note. It “examines the potential impacts that widespread use of protective masks could have on security operations that incorporate face recognition systems — such as video cameras, image processing hardware and software, and image recognition algorithms — to monitor public spaces during the ongoing Covid-19 public health emergency and in the months after the pandemic subsides.”

According to The Intercept, the Minnesota Fusion Center distributed the notice on May 26, as protests over the killing of George Floyd were ramping up. “Email logs included in the BlueLeaks archive show that the note was also sent to city and state government officials and private security officers in Colorado and, inexplicably, to a hospital and a community college.”

The note warned, “We assess violent extremists and other criminals who have historically maintained an interest in avoiding face recognition are likely to opportunistically seize upon public safety measures recommending the wearing of face masks to hinder the effectiveness of face recognition systems in public spaces by security partners.”

The note also expresses more general concern about mask-wearing. One header reads, “Face Recognition Systems Likely to be Less Effective as Widespread Wear of Face Coverings for Public Safety Purposes Continue,”

“We assess face recognition systems used to support security operations in public spaces will be less effective while widespread public use of facemasks, including partial and full face covering, is practiced by the public to limit the spread of Covid-19.”

The debate on masking aside, thwarting facial recognition is a good thing because the federal government is aggressively pushing the expansion of its vast and increasingly intrusive facial recognition network.

THE GROWING FEDERAL PROGRAM

recent report revealed that the federal government has turned state drivers’ license photos into a giant facial recognition database, putting virtually every driver in America in a perpetual electronic police lineup. The revelations generated widespread outrage, but this story isn’t new. The federal government has been developing a massive, nationwide facial recognition system for years.

The FBI rolled out a nationwide facial-recognition program in the fall of 2014, with the goal of building a giant biometric database with pictures provided by the states and corporate friends.

In 2016, the Center on Privacy and Technology at Georgetown Law released “The Perpetual Lineup,” a massive report on law enforcement use of facial recognition technology in the U.S. You can read the complete report at perpetuallineup.org. The organization conducted a year-long investigation and collected more than 15,000 pages of documents through more than 100 public records requests. The report paints a disturbing picture of intense cooperation between the federal government, and state and local law enforcement to develop a massive facial recognition database.

“Face recognition is a powerful technology that requires strict oversight. But those controls, by and large, don’t exist today,” report co-author Clare Garvie said. “With only a few exceptions, there are no laws governing police use of the technology, no standards ensuring its accuracy, and no systems checking for bias. It’s a wild west.”

There are many technical and legal problems with facial recognition, including significant concerns about the accuracy of the technology, particularly when reading the facial features of minority populations. During a test run by the ACLU of Northern California, facial recognition misidentified 26 members of the California legislature as people in a database of arrest photos.

With facial recognition technology, police and other government officials have the capability to track individuals in real-time. These systems allow law enforcement agents to use video cameras and continually scan everybody who walks by. According to the report, several major police departments have expressed an interest in this type of real-time tracking. Documents revealed agencies in at least five major cities, including Los Angeles, either claimed to run real-time face recognition off of street cameras, bought technology with the capability, or expressed written interest in buying it.

In all likelihood, the federal government heavily involves itself in helping state and local agencies obtain this technology. The feds provide grant money to local law enforcement agencies for a vast array of surveillance gear, including ALPRs, stingray devices and drones. The federal government essentially encourages and funds a giant nationwide surveillance net and then taps into the information via fusion centers and the Information Sharing Environment (ISE).

Fusion centers were sold as a tool to combat terrorism, but that is not how they are being used. The ACLU pointed to a bipartisan congressional report to demonstrate the true nature of government fusion centers: “They haven’t contributed anything meaningful to counterterrorism efforts. Instead, they have largely served as police surveillance and information sharing nodes for law enforcement efforts targeting the frequent subjects of police attention: Black and brown people, immigrants, dissidents, and the poor.”

Fusion centers operate within the broader ISE. According to its website, the ISE “provides analysts, operators, and investigators with information needed to enhance national security. These analysts, operators, and investigators…have mission needs to collaborate and share information with each other and with private sector partners and our foreign allies.” In other words, ISE serves as a conduit for the sharing of information gathered without a warrant. Known ISE partners include the Office of Director of National Intelligence which oversees 17 federal agencies and organizations, including the NSA. ISE utilizes these partnerships to collect and share data on the millions of unwitting people they track.

Reports that the Berkeley Police Department in cooperation with a federal fusion center deployed cameras equipped to surveil a “free speech” rally and Antifa counterprotests provided the first solid link between the federal government and local authorities in facial recognition surveillance.

See also EFF’s San Francisco Police Accessed Business District Camera Network to Spy on Protestors

 

EFF: Searchable Database of Police Tech Tools Used to Spy on Communities

The Electronic Frontier Foundation reports that is has launched an online map overlay of police tools being used for surveillance across the US in EFF Launches Searchable Database of Police Agencies and the Tech Tools They Use to Spy on Communities.

The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), in partnership with the Reynolds School of Journalism at the University of Nevada, Reno, today launched the largest-ever collection of searchable data on police use of surveillance technologies, created as a tool for the public to learn about facial recognition, drones, license plate readers, and other devices law enforcement agencies are acquiring to spy on our communities.

The Atlas of Surveillance database, containing several thousand data points on over 3,000 city and local police departments and sheriffs’ offices nationwide, allows citizens, journalists, and academics to review details about the technologies police are deploying, and provides a resource to check what devices and systems have been purchased locally.

Users can search for information by clicking on regions, towns, and cities, such as Minneapolis, Tampa, or Tucson, on a U.S. map. They can also easily perform text searches by typing the names of cities, counties, or states on a search page that displays text results. The Atlas also allows people to search by specific technologies, which can show how surveillance tools are spreading across the country.

Built using crowdsourcing and data journalism over the last 18 months, the Atlas of Surveillance documents the alarming increase in the use of unchecked high-tech tools that collect biometric records, photos, and videos of people in their communities, locate and track them via their cell phones, and purport to predict where crimes will be committed.

While the use of surveillance apps and face recognition technologies are under scrutiny amid the COVID-19 pandemic and street protests, EFF and students at University of Nevada, Reno, have been studying and collecting information for more than a year in an effort to, for the first time, aggregate data collected from news articles, government meeting agendas, company press releases, and social media posts.

“There are two questions we get all the time: What surveillance is in my hometown, and how are technologies like drones and automated license plate readers spreading across the  country?” said Dave Maass, a senior investigative researcher in EFF’s Threat Lab and a visiting professor at the Reynolds School of Journalism. “A year a half ago, EFF and the Reynolds School partnered to answer these questions through a massive newsgathering effort, involving hundreds of journalism students and volunteers. What we found is a sprawling spy state that reaches from face recognition in the Hawaiian Islands to predictive policing in Maine, from body-worn cameras in remote Alaska to real-time crime centers along Florida’s Gold Coast.”

Information was collected on the most pervasive surveillance technologies in use, including drones, body-worn cameras, face recognition, cell-site simulators, automated license plate readers, predictive policing, camera registries, police partnerships with Amazon’s Ring camera network, and gunshot detection sensors. It also maps out more than 130 law enforcement tech hubs that process real-time surveillance data. While the Atlas contains a massive amount of data, its content is only the tip of the iceberg and underlines the need for journalists and members of the public to continue demanding transparency from criminal justice agencies. Reporters, students, volunteers, and watchdog groups can submit data or share data sets for inclusion in the Atlas.

“The prevalence of surveillance technologies in our society provides many challenges related to privacy and freedom of expression, but it’s one thing to know that in theory, and another to see hard data laid out on a map,” Reynolds School Professor and Director of the Center for Advanced Media Studies Gi Yun said. “Over a year and a half, Reynolds School of Journalism students at the University of Nevada, Reno have reviewed thousands of news articles and public records. This project not only informs the public debate but helps these students improve their understanding of surveillance as they advance in their reporting careers.”

For the Atlas:
https://atlasofsurveillance.org

For more on street-level surveillance:
https://www.eff.org/issues/street-level-surveillance

Liberty Blitzkrieg: You’re Being Conditioned to Live in a “Smart City” – Resist It

Michael Krieger of Liberty Blitzkrieg writes this article to warn of the dangers of so-called “smart cities” which are really high tech surveillance states, tracking your every movement and tracing every human contact you make- You’re Being Conditioned to Live in a “Smart City” – Resist It.

And at the dead center of it all is Eric Schmidt. Well before Americans understood the threat of Covid-19, Schmidt had been on an aggressive lobbying and public relations campaign pushing precisely the “Black Mirror” vision of society that Cuomo has just empowered him to build. At the heart of this vision is seamless integration of government with a handful of Silicon Valley giants — with public schools, hospitals, doctor’s offices, police, and military all outsourcing (at a high cost) many of their core functions to private tech companies.

The Intercept: Screen New Deal

Each crisis in the 21st century has been aggressively and ruthlessly wielded into a massive wealth and power grab by the American oligarchy and national security state. The big power grab following 9/11 centered around whittling away constitutional rights via mass surveillance in the name of “keeping us safe”, while the money grab after last decade’s financial crisis concentrated wealth and assets into fewer hands while entrenching financial feudalism and making the Federal Reserve and mega banks even more powerful.

Despite the success of this diabolical and intentional concentration of money and power, there’s still too much privacy, freedom and independent wealth around for the imperial oligarchy to feel comfortable. As such, the current pandemic is being used to put the finishing touches on whatever little political and economic freedom remains in these United States.

The lessons learned from prior crises are being rolled out simultaneously this time around while people remain incapacitated at home due to Covid-19. The 2008/09 financial collapse taught those in power they can get away with unprecedented, unaccountable theft during an economic and stock market crash. Similarly, 9/11 demonstrated people will relinquish civil liberties without much protest when immersed in a state of fear.

As such, a new round of society-wide economic pillaging has occurred and is ongoing, while at the same time an equally nefarious agenda to sell you on a completely new way of living — conveniently brought to you by technocratic big tech oligarchs — is in the works.

During moments of heightened confusion and fear, the public is sold and conditioned in subtle ways to accept some new reality they never asked for or wanted. The “smart city” appears to be a key oligarch bucket list item this time around, and I’ve started focusing more attention on it after watching the following exceptionally creepy clip from Reuters.

There’s a desperate and deliberate attempt to emphasize how “smart cities” will benefit humanity and solve a plethora of problems, but the video’s creep factor simply cannot be ignored. Significantly, the plan here seems to be to just go ahead and create smart cities without asking permission from the residents who live there. Thanks to governor Andrew Cuomo, it appears New Yorkers will be big tech oligarchs’ first guinea pigs.

Health care and education represent very big areas of human civilization. Who voted for Eric Schmidt to mold and micromanage New York as if it’s his own personal startup?

As reported by The Intercept:

Former Google CEO Eric Schmidt, who joined the governor’s briefing to announce that he will be heading up a blue-ribbon commission to reimagine New York state’s post-Covid reality, with an emphasis on permanently integrating technology into every aspect of civic life.

“The first priorities of what we’re trying to do,” Schmidt said, “are focused on telehealth, remote learning, and broadband. … We need to look for solutions that can be presented now, and accelerated, and use technology to make things better.” Lest there be any doubt that the former Google chair’s goals were purely benevolent, his video background featured a framed pair of golden angel wings.

Just one day earlier, Cuomo had announced a similar partnership with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to develop “a smarter education system.” Calling Gates a “visionary,” Cuomo said the pandemic has created “a moment in history when we can actually incorporate and advance [Gates’s] ideas … all these buildings, all these physical classrooms — why with all the technology you have?” he asked, apparently rhetorically.

It has taken some time to gel, but something resembling a coherent Pandemic Shock Doctrine is beginning to emerge. Call it the “Screen New Deal.” Far more high-tech than anything we have seen during previous disasters, the future that is being rushed into being as the bodies still pile up treats our past weeks of physical isolation not as a painful necessity to save lives, but as a living laboratory for a permanent — and highly profitable — no-touch future.

So we get a pandemic and suddenly the governor of New York is like yeah let’s just let a couple billionaires and their organizations decide what society needs to look like. It’s as brazen as it is dangerous.

In my last piece, I warned that the imperial oligarchy would try to sell the public on the ludicrous idea we need to become China to defeat China. Meanwhile, Eric Schmidt hasn’t been particularly shy about his apparent desire to recreate China’s surveillance state in the U.S…(continues)

Click here to read the entire article at Liberty Blitzkrieg.

 

EFF: COVID-19 and Digital Rights

The Electronic Frontier Foundation is the leading nonprofit organization defending civil liberties in the digital world. Here are their thoughts on threats and opportunities arising from COVID-19 response, COVID-19 and Digital Rights.

Surveillance. Governments around the world are demanding extraordinary new surveillance powers that many hope will contain the virus’ spread. But many of these powers would invade our privacy, inhibit our free speech, and disparately burden vulnerable groups of people. Mindful of the stakes, we ask three questions when analyzing proposals that would provide greater surveillance powers to the government: Would the proposal work? Would it excessively intrude on our freedoms? Are there sufficient safeguards? Different proposals raise different issues. For example:

  • Government has not shown that some intrusive technologies would work, such as phone location surveillance, which is insufficiently granular to identify when two people were close enough together to transmit the virus.
  • Some surveillance proposals are too dangerous to a democratic society, such as dragnet surveillance cameras in public places that use face recognition or thermal imaging, mounting such technologies on drones, or giving police officers access to public health data about where people who have tested positive live.
  • Some technologies, such as aggregate location data used to inform public health decisions, need strict safeguards.
  • No COVID tracking app will work absent widespread testing and interview-based contact tracing. Bluetooth proximity is the most promising approach so far, but needs rigorous security testing and data minimization. No one should be forced to use it.

Many new government surveillance programs are being built in partnership with corporations that hold vast stores of consumers’ personal data. We need new laws to protect our data privacy.

Free speech. The free flow of ideas about COVID-19 is vital. This includes anonymous whistle-blowing about containment efforts, online criticisms of government responses to the crisis, and prisoner access to social media to tell the world about outbreaks behind bars. Governments will inevitably abuse any new powers to censor what they deems false information about the virus. When online platforms increase their reliance on automated content moderation, in part because human moderators cannot safely come to work, those moderation “decisions” must be temporary, transparent, and easily appealable

Government transparency. Government decision-making about the virus must be transparent. When governments temporarily close the physical spaces where they make decisions, for purposes of social distancing, they must adopt new transparency accommodations, such as broadcasting their proceedings. While government responses to public records requests may be slower during this public health crisis, the outbreak is no excuse to shut them down altogether…(continues)

How “Nothing to Hide” Leads to “Nowhere to Hide”

From The Daily BellHow “Nothing to Hide” Leads to “Nowhere to Hide” – Why Privacy Matters in an Age of Tech Totalitarianism

Would you allow a government official into your bedroom on your honeymoon? Or let your mother-in-law hear and record every conversation that takes place in your home or car – especially disagreements with your husband or wife? Would you let a stranger sit in on your children’s playdates so that he could better understand how to entice them with candy or a doll?

Guess what? If you bring your phone with you everywhere, or engage with a whole-house robo helper such as Alexa or Echo or Siri or Google, you’re opening up every aspect of your life to government officials, snooping (possibly criminal) hackers, and advertisers targeting you, your spouse and your children…

When you ask Siri or Echo or Alexa or Google (and others of their ilk) something, it’s great to get an immediate answer… but the corollary is that Siri and Echo and Alexa and Google are listening to every conversation you’re having with your spouse, every fight you’re having with your kids, and every bit of heavy breathing that might be taking place in the dark.

That response inherently grants legitimacy to the search in the first place. The implication is that if you have nothing to “hide,” then the tech companies, the advertisers, the government, etc. should indeed have full access to every aspect of your life…

Technology can lead to convenience, but it can also lead to abuses of power. In its extreme, that is called totalitarianism.

In the end, we must take precautions if we’re to have anything close to liberty. Some of you have, no doubt, read Jonah Goldberg’s excellent book from 2007, Liberal Fascism, the hardcover of which features a smiley face graphic with a Hitler mustache. In the introduction, Mr. Goldberg quotes a segment from a Bill Maher show in which George Carlin says, in essence, (and I’m paraphrasing) that “when fascism comes to America it will be wearing a smiley face.”

I’d go a step further — it will be cloaked in an emoji seemingly innocuous, friendly, and ubiquitous.

We must stop giving away our privacy. We must start thinking about personal “data” as the commodity that it already is, and even as a weapon that can be used against us.

If we don’t stop and reconsider what we’re giving away, not only will there be nothing to hide, but nowhere to hide.

Read the entire article here