Wednesday, May 06, 2015

Watch what you say around your toaster: The current state of U.S. surveillance

It is not a conspiracy theory to say that Americans are losing their constitutionally guaranteed freedoms at an alarming rate. “Losing” isn’t quite the right word. They are being taken from us by the U.S. government in the name of security. Whether or not you have ever committed a crime in your life, whether you have everything or nothing to hide, you are probably being monitored by our government in one way or another.

I’m no terrorist. Why me, you ask? Because they can, and here’s how:
  • Police can track you and your car through an automated license plate reader (ALPR), which is now being used by many U.S. law enforcement agencies.
  • Elementary school students might soon be required to wear a garment with a microchip in it to track their movements. It’s happening now in select schools around the country.
  • Secret government documents, published by the media in 2013, confirm the NSA obtains full copies of everything that is carried along major domestic fiber optic cable networks. It is intercepting and storing virtually all digital communications on the Internet.
  • The government takes photos of the envelopes of every piece of “snail mail” that is sent.
  • Nearly two-thirds of the American public – 197.4 million people – live within a “constitution-free zone” within 100 miles of land and coastal borders. The safeguards guaranteed by the Constitution do not apply in these areas.
  • Surveillance cameras, traffic cameras and surveillance drones have become ubiquitous. By 2020, about 30,000 unmanned drones are expected to be deployed in the United States for the purpose of surveillance and law enforcement.
  • The U.S. government is currently running at least 30 separate mass surveillance programs (There are probably many others that are secret).
  • Your cell phone and vehicle location can be monitored by “Stingrays,” false cell phone towers containing sophisticated spyware that can capture your cell phone calls.
  • It was recently revealed that gave Idaho police DNA samples they had received for genealogical searches of family histories. The police had no warrant or court order for the DNA.
  • It goes without saying the government is likely capturing your cell phone conversations, but the FBI now has equipment that can activate your phone’s microphone and listen to your conversations when you think the phone is off.
  • Customs officials can search your computer or other electronic devices for no reason.
  • Government agents have been caught attaching GPS devices to cars of people who have not committed or been charged with any crime.
  • Children at schools around the country are conducting security drills that would simulate a lockdown, bomb threat, active shooter or terrorist attack.
  • Special high-tech streetlamps are being installed in American cities that can be used as surveillance cameras or to record personal conversations.
  • The FBI, the Pentagon, Homeland Security and at least 40 other agencies routinely spy on and infiltrate peace groups like the War Resisters League, Code Pink, and United for Peace and Justice, as well as the Occupy movement.
  • The TSA is moving beyond airport security and is now conducting inspections at subway stations, bus terminals, ports and highway rest stops.
  • Privacy International, a group that monitors the surveillance policies of nations around the world, ranks America as one of the most invasive and abusive surveillance states on the planet.
  • The government has the ability to spy on you through your computer’s webcam or microphone.
  • In 2013, leaked NSA files revealed that tech companies (Google, Microsoft and Yahoo) had cooperated with US authorities to facilitate monitoring of people’s use of their applications, like email and social media platforms.
  • “Black boxes” are currently installed in between 90% and 96% of all new cars. And starting in 2014, all new cars will include black boxes that can track your location.
  • Our government has the ability to spy on you through “smart appliances” connected to the Internet. We now have to watch what we say in front of our toasters.
  • The government is currently testing a surveillance system called FAST that, when installed, measures a variety of physiological indicators, ranging from heart rate to the steadiness of a person’s gaze, to judge a subject’s state of mind. FAST relies on non-contact sensors, so it can measure indicators as someone walks through a corridor at an airport, and it does not depend on active questioning of the subject. It’s called a “Pre-crime” sensing device.

No comments: