Have nothing to do with the [evil] things that people do, things that belong to the darkness. Instead, bring them out to the light... [For] when all things are brought out into the light, then their true nature is clearly revealed...

-Ephesians 5:11-13

Tag Archives: Privacy

Lifting the Curtain on Booz Allen Hamilton and its owner, the Carlyle Group

According to writers Thomas Heath and Marjorie Censer at the Washington Post, The Carlyle Group and its errant child, Booz Allen Hamilton, have a public relations problem, thanks to NSA leaker Edward Snowden. By the time top management at Booz Allen learned that one of their top-level agents had gone rogue, and terminated his employment, it was too late.

For years Carlyle had, according to WaPo,

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The Establishment’s Response to Edward Snowden’s Disclosure of PRISM is Predictable

Now that the source of the leak published last week in the Washington Post has identified himself, the response from defenders of the surveillance state was immediate and predictable. Edward Snowden, a 29-year-old employee of a National Security Agency (NSA) contractor, Booz Allen Hamilton, hoped that with the election of President Obama in 2008 the erection of the surveillance state in American would at least be partially dismantled. When it was clear that the infrastructure of that vast intelligence community and its increasingly threatening capabilities was

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NSA and Verizon and our privacy

By now every sentient being on the planet knows that the National Security Agency ordered Verizon back in April to give it the phone records of its customers.  They also know that it was signed by a phony judge of a phony court under an illegal section of an unconstitutional law passed by congress and then reauthorized by another congress.

I’ve looked into this a little bit and here’s what I’ve found.

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3D Guns are here!

You’ve no doubt been watching this technology unfold, perhaps more rapidly than anyone expected. But the day has arrived: anyone with a 3D printer and some software available on the internet for free can print his own gun. 3D printers are now for sale at just over $1,000. The software is available here.

The developer is a libertarian law student (is that an oxymoron?) from

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What’s all the fuss about CISPA?

Nothing. Just privacy. And the breaching of private contracts. And the rule of law. Aside from that, CISPA is just fine.

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Hypocrisy from the NRA

The NRA has changed its position on background checks, or so it says. Wayne LaPierre, the National Rifle Associations CEO and PR front man, got lots of airtime responding to Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s announcement of his $12 million ad campaign to drum up support for the wave of gun controls washing over the Senate but being resisted by a recalcitrant few, according to Bloomberg. LaPierre said that Bloomberg “can’t

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Another Judge Rules National Security Letters (NSLs) are Unconstitutional

On Friday afternoon a federal district court judge ruled that National Security Letters (NSLs) are unconstitutional under not only the First Amendment but under the “separation of powers” principle as well. As Alex Johnson, a staff writer for NBC News put it, those NSLs are

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US District Judge Susan Illston rules in our favor!

Just when I was beginning to think that 1) all common sense had vanished from the public square and 2) that our privacy was inevitably and eternally to be violated by government snoops, along comes Judge Illston 

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The latest “surveillance-proof” app is here

It was just a matter of time. Someone, somewhere, would see what the government is going, and create an app to keep it from happening.

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The War on Drugs is Ending

d war on drugs birthday

d war on drugs birthday (Photo credit: dmixo6)

And none too soon, either. The War on Drugs has been an epic failure, costing taxpayers billions of dollars and huge invasions of privacy. A Harvard professor has estimated that the war costs US taxpayers $100 billion a year. And The New York Times has tallied up the rest of the cost. It concludes that “the struggle on which [the government has] spent billions of dollars and lost tens of thousands of lives over the last four decades has failed.

Doug Bandow from the Cato Institute is joyful over the victories in Colorado and Washington:

The most important vote on November 6 was not reelecting Barack Obama as president. It was legalizing marijuana in Colorado and Washington. Drug prohibition is the latest addition to the endangered species list. The fight over drug policy will go on for a long-time. But the Drug War is ending.

Surprisingly the battle against the war has been going on for forty years!

Opposition to the Drug War has been steadily rising. The first mini-wave began with Oregon in 1972 and resulted in a dozen states decriminalizing marijuana use. Over the years the process continued to slowly advance; in June Rhode Island joined the club. The measures varied, but in general turned personal use of pot into a criminal misdemeanor or a civil offense and/or made marijuana prosecution a low priority.

The fight has been gaining significant momentum. One could almost call it a

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Where Did the Tea Party Republicans Go?

Wired – House Approves Sweeping, Warrantless Electronic Spy Powers

The House on Wednesday reauthorized for five years broad electronic eavesdropping powers that legalized and expanded the George W. Bush administration’s warrantless wiretapping program.

privacy

privacy (Photo credit: Sean MacEntee)

Where are the Tea Party Republicans on this one? This re-authorization of a law that should never have been passed in the first place (thanks, George, for that) passed the House by 301 to 118. Most of those voting against it were – ready? – Democrats!  Only seven Republicans mustered enough courage to say no to warrantless wire-tapping!

This is from the article in Wired.com:

The government does not have to identify the target or facility to be monitored. It can begin surveillance a week before making the request, and the surveillance can continue during the appeals process if, in a rare case, the secret FISA court rejects the surveillance application. The court’s rulings are not public.

So the whole fishing expedition is wrapped in secrecy.

Rep. Lamar Smith, a Republican from Texas, sponsored the bill, saying that it “is one of the most important votes we cast in this Congress” because “terrorists are committed to the destruction of our country.”

Question: what about the terrorists in Congress who are determined to shred what remains of the Constitution and the Fourth Amendment and turn the country into a dictatorship? As Pastor Chuck Baldwin just wrote in his weekly newsletter:

Think of it: in the name of the 9-11 attacks, the United States is being transformed into the kind of despotic countries that we are told we are being protected from!

There was at least one small voice for common sense, expressed by Rep. Zoe Lofgren – a Democrat from California! – who said: “I think the government needs to comply with the Fourth Amendment to the Constitution all the time [what a concept!]. We can be safe while still complying with the Constitution of the United States.”

Accurate and persuasive. But not enough to persuade the Tea Partiers to vote against it.

Big Brother is Watching Everyone Doing Everything

Judge Andrew Napolitano: Gazillions

Gazillions. That’s the number of times the federal government has spied on Americans since 9/11 through the use of drones, legal search warrants, illegal search warrants, federal agent-written search warrants and just plain government spying.

Drone During Storm

Drone During Storm (Photo credit: Truthout.org)

This is bad enough. And it confirms what we conspiratorialists (yep, that’s me!) have been saying for years. As my good friend Jeff Wright says, if “they” have the technology to spy on us, “they” will use it, regardless.

What’s truly horrifying is the other point Napolitano is making, and that is that Senator Paul isn’t able to tell his citizens what he knows: it’s against the law!

Here’s how the good judge explains it:

The rules for classified briefings of members of Congress on areas of government behavior that the government wants to keep from its employers—the American people—are a real Catch-22. Those rules allow representatives and senators to interrogate government officials about government behavior that they are afraid to reveal, and they require those officials to answer honestly and completely. But the rules keep the interrogations secret, and they expressly prohibit members of Congress from telling anyone what they have learned.

So Paul and his colleagues who joined in the secret briefing now know the terrible truth about the government watching us, but they cannot reveal what they know. Paul—who is the son of Rep. Ron Paul, the greatest congressional defender of limited government in our era—when asked what he learned at these secret briefings and aware that he could be prosecuted for telling the truth, chose a fictitious word to describe the vast number of violations of privacy at the hands of federal agents: gazillions…

The point here is terrifying. If the government derives its powers from the consent of the governed, how can it do things to us to which we have not consented? And when it does these things—like send a drone over your back yard to learn who is coming to your Saturday barbeque or to see what fertilizer you are using in your vegetable garden or to take a peek into your living room or bedroom—and when the laws the government has written prevent our elected representatives from telling us what it is doing, we are at the doorsteps of tyranny.

Indeed we are.

Senate Defeats Cybersecurity Act, No Thanks to Colorado

Electronic Frontier Foundation: Victory Over Cyber Spying

This morning [Thursday, August 2nd], the US Senate defeated the Cybersecurity Act of 2012, a bill that would have given companies new rights to monitor our private communications and pass that data to the government. The bill sponsors were 8 votes short of the 60 votes necessary to end debate on the bill (vote breakdown here). This is a victory for Internet freedom advocates everywhere.

EFF_logo_notype_whiteWe need victories like this.

The Cybersecurity Act failed because debate couldn’t be ended, and that essentially iced the bill. What’s interesting is the gaggle of lefties who decided, some at the last minute, to abandon their support for the bill. Here is a list of some of them, along with their Freedom Index rating (courtesy The New American) which rates each Senator’s voting record based on how closely they hew to the Constitution. A 100 is perfect, a 0 is complete and total disregard for the Constitution and its limitations on the federal government.

Here they are:

Wyden opposed the bill “on privacy grounds,” according to the EFF. Said the liberal Senator:

Today’s vote was one in which Senators were asked to sacrifice Internet users’ privacy and civil liberties for weak proposals to improve cyber security. I voted no.

Here’s a guy who supports legalized abortion, gun control and gay marriage, among other things, and who is considered a “hard core liberal” by the feminist magazine On the Issues. And yet, apparently, the pressure to do something right for a change was just too great. Says the EFF:

Pressure from civil liberties groups and Internet users didn’t just defeat the bill—it changed the conversation around cybersecurity in fundamental ways…

While the bill still had big problems, there were new privacy protections such as limitations that prevented data collected for cybersecurity purposes from being used to prosecute unrelated crimes. Those privacy protections were created as a direct result of pressure from the netroots.

Of course, the two Democrat Senators from Colorado, Bennet and Udall, voted for the bill. Their Freedom Index ratings are 17 and 20, respectively.

Senator Rand Paul’s Bill to Protect Citizens From Drone Surveillance

U.S. Predator drone flies over Kandahar Air Field

U.S. Predator drone flies over Kandahar Air Field (Photo credit: AN HONORABLE GERMAN)

When Senator Rand Paul (R-Ky.) introduced his bill in June, he was responding to growing concerns over privacy by American citizens. The purpose of his bill is elegantly simple: “To protect individual privacy against unwarranted governmental intrusion through the use of unmanned aerial vehicles commonly called drones.” Paul’s bill is very specific:

[A] person or entity acting under the authority [of], or funded in whole or in part by, the Government of the United States shall not use a drone to gather evidence or other information pertaining to criminal conduct or conduct in violation of a statute or regulation except to the extent authorized in a warrant that satisfies the requirements of the Fourth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States.

Paul explained that “Americans going about their everyday lives should not be treated like criminals or terrorists and have their rights infringed upon by military tactics.”

One of those claiming to have had his rights infringed upon is Rodney Brossart of Lakota, North Dakota, who is “the first American citizen to be arrested with the help of a Predator surveillance drone,” according to USNews. Brossart’s troubles began in 2010 when six cows

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Airports Telling TSA to Take a Hike

Infowars: Sacramento International Airport Evicts TSA Screeners

Sacramento International Airport is dropping the TSA and replacing all security screeners with private contractors after it was given approval to opt out of the TSA program.

ORD / Chicago - 20110719 TSA Grope

ORD / Chicago – 20110719 TSA Grope (Photo credit: marklyon)

Could this be the beginning of the end of the TSA—the despised Transportation Security Agency? Sacramento is the third largest airport in the country to tell TSA to take a hike, and replace the federal gropers with private ones.

It’s a small victory against federal intrusion in peoples’ privacy, but a victory nevertheless. Enthusiasm must be balanced against the requirements that the private contractors still must follow TSA guidelines, use TSA body scanners, wear TSA badges, and be watched by TSA supervisors. And current TSA gropers are allowed to apply for the same job as private employees.

But there are some gains, too. Hardy Acree, Sacramento’s airport director, says “I think there is going to be higher level of customer service.” The airport’s deputy director, Linda Beech Cutler, added that the privatization “makes us more flexible for staffing, for peak times and not being so staffed up [over-staffed] for not so busy times.” In other words, scarce resources will probably be used more efficiently.

And a flyer who learned of the change opined that “it might be better, less intrusive…I don’t like how the government runs their business.”

TSA isn’t making a big deal about the desertions, as expected, because if enough airports bail, then their whole raison d’tre disappears.

Infowars writer Watson fails to make any mention, however, of other options to provide passenger security instead of private or federal feelers. For example, not a single terrorist has managed to penetrate security at Israel’s Ben Gurion International Airport since 1972!

How do they do that? They don’t take pictures, for one thing. The agents are mostly female, for another, and what they do is ask questions, looking for “tells” that give away potential threats.

So this escape from the tentacles of the grasping, groping, overreaching federal agency must be considered to be a victory, albeit a small one.

New High-Tech Body Scanners Courtesy of the CIA

English: Millimeter wave technology. Gen 2 sca...

Millimeter wave technology. Gen 2 scanner manufactured by Brijot of Lake Mary, Fla. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The latest piece of terrifying technology, the Picosecond Programmable Laser scanner from Genia Photonics, will be able to identify gunpowder residue on an individual’s shoes, and what he had for breakfast along with his adrenaline levels, according to the anonymous author of Gizmodo.com.

The portable unit, about the size of a breadbox, is described as “robust” and “mobile,” meaning it could not only be used in airports to supplement  the invasions of privacy already being performed by the TSA but also in mobile units, such as police cruisers, roaming the streets, looking for suspicious “wavelength patterns and sequences.” According to anonymous:

The machine is ten million times faster—and one million times more sensitive—than any currently available system. That means that it can be used systematically on everyone passing through airport security, not just suspect or randomly sampled people…

The small, inconspicuous machine is attached to a computer running a program that will show the information in real time, from trace amounts of cocaine on your dollar bills to gunpowder residue on your shoes. Forget trying to sneak a bottle of water past security—they will be able to tell what you had for breakfast in an instant while you’re walking down the hallway.

All of this is being provided through a grant system set up in 1999 by the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) when it was discovered that the agency was falling behind the technology curve and decided to do something about it. According to the CIA:

By the 1990s, however, especially with the advent of the World Wide Web, it is the commercial market that is setting the pace in IT [information technology] innovation. And, as is the nature of a market-based economy, the flow of capital and talent has irresistibly moved to the commercial sector, where the prospect of huge profits from initial public offerings and equity-based compensation has become the norm.

In contrast to the remarkable transformations taking place in Silicon Valley and elsewhere, the Agency, like many large Cold War era private sector corporations, felt itself being left behind. It was not connected to the creative forces that underpin the digital economy and, of equal importance, many in Silicon Valley knew little about the Agency’s IT needs. The opportunities and challenges posed by the information revolution to the Agency’s core mission areas of clandestine collection and all-source analysis were growing daily. Moreover, the challenges are not merely from foreign countries but also transnational threats [such as drug cartels].

And so, in coordination with Congress which provided some start-up funds, a quasi-private venture capital company was set up, called In-Q-Tel, with major intellectual input provided by

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Privacy-Eliminating CISPA Awaits Fate in the Senate

Stop CISPA

Despite an increasingly noisy chorus of resistance to many of its provisions, the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act (CISPA) passed the House, 248-168, on April 26. Passage in the House was assured with more than 70 percent of those supported by the Tea Party voting for it. It moved to an uncertain future in the Senate.

That opposition noted that the bill’s many flaws included precious little “protection” for rights guaranteed in the Bill of Rights, especially those guaranteed by the Fourth Amendment:

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.

In the zeal to “protect” the country against “cybersecurity threats,” Internet providers and other communications companies would be allowed to share their customers’ private information with agencies of the federal government, and vice versa. As Techdirt’s Leigh Breadon explained,

[The] government would be able to search information it collects under CISPA for the purposes of investigating American citizens with complete immunity from all privacy protections as long as they can claim someone committed a “cybersecurity crime.”

Basically it says the 4th Amendment does not apply online, at all.

Republican presidential candidate Ron Paul said virtually the same thing in his opposition to CISPA:

CISPA permits both the federal government and private companies to view your private online communications without judicial oversight [as required by the Fourth Amendment] provided that they do so of course in the name of cybersecurity.

The bill is another heavy-handed effort to expand government’s surveillance of private citizens’ communications without restraint. By using words such as “may” instead of “must” and “cybersecurity” without defining the term, the bill creates just the sort of opening through the Fourth Amendment that has, until now, largely

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The DoJ Wants to Track Your Smartphone Without a Warrant

Artist's impression of a GPS-IIRM satellite in...

In its relentless never-ending quest for more power to track and follow American citizens through their smartphones, the Department of Justice (DoJ) requested last week that Congress give them easier access to location data stored by cellphone service providers.

Jason Weinstein, a deputy assistant attorney general in the Department of Justice’s criminal division, argued that requiring a search warrant to gain such access would “cripple” his department’s efforts to investigate crime and criminals. Said Weinstein,

There is really no fairness and no justice when the law applies differently to different people depending on which courthouse you’re sitting in.

For that reason alone, we think Congress should clarify the legal standard.

In other words, because the laws protecting privacy vary somewhat depending upon where an individual citizen lives, Congress should come along and override them all and provide a federal, looser standard, all in the name of security.

The increasing sophistication of cellphone and communications technology in general allows service providers to track virtually every movement of an individual, day or night, at home or work, in a bar or on a golf course. Malte Spitz, a German politician and privacy advocate, obtained his own

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CISPA Assumes Too Much Trust in Government

iPad tablet

In a surprise move the White House issued a statement on Wednesday threatening to veto CISPA (Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Actbecause of privacy concerns. Parts of the statement sounded as if they had been drafted by Republican presidential candidate Ron Paul:

The sharing of information [between private agencies and the federal government] must be conducted in a manner that preserves American’s privacy, data confidentiality, and civil liberties and recognizes the civilian nature of cyberspace. Cybersecurity and privacy are not mutually exclusive…

[CISPA]…repeal[s] important provisions of electronic surveillance law without instituting corresponding privacy, confidentiality, and civil liberties safeguards…

The bill also lacks sufficient limitation on the sharing of personally identifiable information…and does not contain adequate oversight or accountability measures…to ensure that the data is used only for appropriate purposes…

The bill effectively treats domestic cybersecurity as an intelligence activity and thus, significantly departs from longstanding efforts to treat the Internet and cyberspace as civilian spheres.

This is the first time in recent memory that the White House has expressed any such concerns. When signing into law the controversial National Defense Authorization Act [NDAA] the White House blithely ignored its trampling of those same civil liberties through its “indefinite detention” provisions. Nor did the White House raise any similar concerns when it issued its executive order commandeering all resources from American citizens in the event of an emergency to be declared by the president.

So the following from the White House’s statement on CISPA makes perfect sense: the White House favors government regulation of the internet and invasion of privacy without following the Fourth Amendment. It just doesn’t want

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CISPA is Big Brother’s Friend

CISPA - The solution is the problem

This is “cybersecurity week,” according to Brock Meeks at Wired.com when CISPA (the Orwellian-named Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act) is scheduled to move to the House floor for a vote. Offered originally before SOPA (the Stop Online Piracy Act) and its sister PIPA (Preventing Real Online Threats to Economic Creativity and Theft of Intellectual Property Act) were blown up in January, Reps. Mike Rogers (R-Mich.) and Dutch Ruppersberger (D-Md.) have offered some amendments to the bill (H.R. 3523) to soften some of its critics and to avoid the same result.

The primary problem, according to Meeks, is that it tries to kill a flea with a baseball bat: Any alleged security the bill offers against potential hackers “comes at the expense of unfettered government access to our personal information, which is then likely to be sucked into the secretive black hole of the spying complex known as the National Security Agency.”

Despite some window dressing by Mssrs. Rogers and Ruppersberger, the bill still has major problems. First it has “an overly broad, almost unlimited definition of the information [that] can be shared [by private Internet companies] with government agencies.” It overrides existing federal or state privacy laws with its language that says information between private and public agencies is shared “notwithstanding any other provision of law.”

In addition, the bill would create a “backdoor wiretap program” because the information being shared isn’t limited specifically to issues of cybersecurity but could be used for any other purpose as well. The language is unclear about what would trigger a CISPA investigation: “efforts to degrade, disrupt or destroy” a network. Would that apply to someone innocently downloading a

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Many of the articles on Light from the Right first appeared on either The New American or the McAlvany Intelligence Advisor.
Copyright © 2020 Bob Adelmann