Category "Patriot Act & The Surveillance State"

Mass Surveillance, The Dark Web and Defending Anonymity on the Internet

March 8th, 2015 by Andy in Patriot Act & The Surveillance State, Video

This is an extremely important piece of television documentary work on a vital
communication rights (i.e. human rights) issue - that of mass suspicion-less surveillance and its sweeping ramifications on the future of the internet and all that entails for the future of society and all of us living in it.

This film touches on a host of issues, including the role data collection holds over political and economic power, its use in advertising, and its impact upon our ability to live our lives in freedom.

As Bruce Schneier, a leading internet security expert points out, “As you are being surveilled 24/7, you are more under control. You are less free. You are less autonomous.”

It delves into the vital effects that encryption can have on these issues, for good and bad, and the history and purpose of these technologies, especially that of the Tor system.

David Chaum explains, whose groundbreaking work was the foundation for the Tor project, its use was designed to provide protection against a world in which our communications could be analyzed and potentially used against us.

In this accompanying piece, film director Mike Radford writes for the BBC about the Defenders of Anonymity on the Internet, providing more context to this issue.

You may not realise it, but every time you open up your laptop or switch on your phone, you are at the heart of one of the greatest battles now taking place in our midst - what shape will the internet take in the future, and what role will anonymity play in deciding it?


“The power of that data to predict and analyse what we’re going to do is very, very high,” says Dr Joss Wright of the Oxford Internet Institute. “And giving that power to somebody else, regardless of the original or stated intentions, is very worrying.”

What Dr Wright is talking about is “traffic analysis”, which allows the prediction of the behaviours of individuals, not by looking at the contents of their emails, but by looking at the patterns of communication.

It’s become ever more possible as we spend more of our lives online. However, what few may realise is that scientists at the dawn of the information age predicted such issues would eventually become matters of public concern and interest.

Read the full article Here

How To Use a Cellphone Without Being Spied On

February 21st, 2015 by Andy in Patriot Act & The Surveillance State, Video

A highly insightful and useful report produced by Democracy Now! featuring Christopher Soghoian, a security researcher and technologist with the American Civil Liberties Union, as well as a visiting fellow at Yale Law School’s Information Society Project. Well worth the watch and read, and especially so in light of the recent Snowden-enabled revelations reported by The Intercept on The Great SIM Heist: How Spies Stole the Keys to the Encryption Kingdom.

And when you’re done watching this, you can Sign The Petition promoted by Fight For The Future as part of an organizing effort to pressure U.S. legislators to drop key portions of the so-called PATRIOT ACT which are set to expire this Spring. If enough effort can be mobilized via the web to make sure they do, it will strike a blow to the government’s implementation of some of the most abusive of these programs. Success here will help promote online privacy and beat back the NSA’s attacks upon the fundamental freedoms and rights we should all be provided within the digital realm.

Hello, NSA

May 29th, 2014 by Andy in Patriot Act & The Surveillance State, Video

Hello NSA,

Thank you for being there and for really listening.

How Covert Agents Infiltrate the Internet to Manipulate, Deceive, and Destroy Reputations

April 17th, 2014 by Andy in Patriot Act & The Surveillance State

Here’s a good way to destroy our capacity for discerning truth.

It’s the COINTELPRO of the internet.

All for your “security” and protection, of course.

Today, we at the Intercept are publishing another new JTRIG document , in full, entitled “The Art of Deception: Training for Online Covert Operations.”

By publishing these stories one by one, our NBC reporting highlighted some of the key, discrete revelations: the monitoring of YouTube and Blogger, the targeting of Anonymous with the very same DDoS attacks they accuse “hacktivists” of using, the use of “honey traps” (luring people into compromising situations using sex) and destructive viruses. But, here, I want to focus and elaborate on the overarching point revealed by all of these documents: namely, that these agencies are attempting to control, infiltrate, manipulate, and warp online discourse, and in doing so, are compromising the integrity of the internet itself.


The title page of one of these documents reflects the agency’s own awareness that it is “pushing the boundaries” by using “cyber offensive” techniques against people who have nothing to do with terrorism or national security threats, and indeed, centrally involves law enforcement agents who investigate ordinary crimes:

No matter your views on Anonymous, “hacktivists” or garden-variety criminals, it is not difficult to see how dangerous it is to have secret government agencies being able to target any individuals they want – who have never been charged with, let alone convicted of, any crimes – with these sorts of online, deception-based tactics of reputation destruction and disruption…

The broader point is that, far beyond hacktivists, these surveillance agencies have vested themselves with the power to deliberately ruin people’s reputations and disrupt their online political activity even though they’ve been charged with no crimes, and even though their actions have no conceivable connection to terrorism or even national security threats.

Your tax money at work. Investing in lies. So much for the “truth” part of the “Truth, Justice, and the American Way.” Clearly, those have devolved into three very distinct, disparate concepts.

Read The Full Report (with documents)

The Information Counter-Revolution: Turning Open Access Into Secret Surveillance

January 31st, 2014 by Andy in Patriot Act & The Surveillance State

Here’s something which very much relates to a presentation I delivered at a conference some time ago at the University of Dayton on the Social Practices of Human Rghts. Today, the modern, ground breaking platform for enabling that most fundamental of human processes and needs - communication - is being quickly turned into a tool for the most thorough form of social and political control ever known. It is what astute writers and political thinkers have warned us about for years now; the corrosive effects of mass surveillance, and the very real threat it poses to not simply our individual political liberties, but to our very humanity.

A dystopian counter-revolution is indeed underway in cyberspace. I argue that this goes to heart of the systemic problems we face today. For if our information systems and capacity to communicate are compromised, polluted, even eliminated, our ability to respond to, and solve any of the other problems we think need to be addressed, simply become impossible to do so.

This situation needs to be addressed, stopped, and reversed. And now.

Many people in Kiev awoke Tuesday morning to a frightening text message on their phones. “Dear subscriber, you are registered as a participant in a mass disturbance”, it read…

The incident is just one in a growing number of attacks on Internet users. It’s a troubling sign that the information age has entered a new era, one where our rights to connect and communicate are under constant siege.

It wasn’t supposed to be this way. Openness, user access and empowerment defined the first 30 years of popular Internet use. By design the network embraced decentralization; it spurned gatekeepers and amplified the voices of the many over the dictates of the few.


The once democratic online world is giving way to a model where governments and powerful communications companies call the shots. In this new reality, Internet users have turned into data profiles and bargaining chips…

A whole new surveillance industry has cropped up to provide governments with the tools to filter online content, break privacy-protecting encryption codes and aggregate and sort data on Internet users.


Whatever the term, it’s a scenario where power over information is tilting away from rank-and-file Internet users toward the corporate and ruling elite.

In Verizon vs. FCC, Verizon argued that it has the First Amendment right to block and censor Internet users. (In case you missed that:

Verizon is claiming that, as a corporation, it has the free speech right to silence the online expression of everybody else.) The court decision enables Verizon and any other ISP to be the arbiters of speech on the Web.

Both AT&T and Verizon had invested hundreds of millions of dollars in Beltway lobbyists, lawyers and public relations firms to win supporters of this idea on Capitol Hill. The court’s decision means Verizon has prevailed over yet another branch of government.

As advocates of online rights, we used to say that you have to “use the Internet to save the Internet.” This was an effective call to action when the network helped Internet users become better informed and more empowered in making demands of their governments.

But the Internet counter-revolution is about empowering those who are already in power. It’s about turning our ability to connect and communicate against us, a dynamic that’s become all too real to those protesting today on the streets of Kiev…

To return to an open, people-centric network, we need a broader and more sustained Internet freedom movement, one that fights to protect our data as much as it does to restore Net Neutrality. Staying silent, even when speaking out involves risk, is no longer an option. Loud public pressure, both online and off, is the only way we can save the Internet.

This is why the fight for communication rights needs to be at the center of the global human rights movement. It is at that nexus point where we will have identified the hole in the Death Star of global corporatism. It is from there in which can be asserted a truly effective and meaningful civic movement for a civically-based notion of globalism, and for the advancement of universal norms in support of human rights and the dignity of the human person (and I might add, for all of nature and the health of its ecosystems).

Read the Full Article by Timothy Karr of Free Press

The disturbing development in the Ukraine, and its implications for all of us, was elaborated on in this pointed piece, as well…

It’s downright Orwellian (and I hate that adjective, and only use it when absolutely necessary, I swear).

But that’s what this is: it’s technology employed to detect noncompliance, to hone in on dissent. The NY Times reports that the “Ukrainian government used telephone technology to pinpoint the locations of cell phones in use near clashes between riot police officers and protesters early on Tuesday.” Near. Using a cell phone near a clash lands you on the regime’s hit list.

See, Kiev is tearing itself to shreds right now, but since we’re kind of burned out on protests, riots, and revolutions at the moment, it’s being treated as below-the-fold news. Somehow, the fact that over a million people are marching, camping out, and battling with Ukraine’s increasingly authoritarian government is barely making a ripple behind such blockbuster news bits as bridge closures and polar vortexes. Yes, even though protesters are literally building catapaults and wearing medieval armor and manning flaming dump trucks.

Hopefully news of the nascent techno-security state will turn some heads‚ as its right out of 1984, or, more recently, Elysium: technology deployed to “detect” dissent.

Read more in Maybe the Most Orwellian Text Message Ever Sent

NSA Surveillance: How The Government Tracks You

October 20th, 2013 by Andy in Patriot Act & The Surveillance State, Video

The U.S. Government has turned the Internet into something it was never intended to be: a system for spying on us in our most private moments. Out of control government surveillance is a dangerous form of censorship. It is also a direct affront to our most basic constitutional and rights. It is also an affront to some pretty core standards inherent within human rights, particularly as they pertain to communication and information rights.

Don’t be intimidated. Share this video. You are also invited to sign the petition to telling Congress and the President to end support of these NSA programs.

For more information, go to

Homeland Security (Die Abteilung der Heimat-Sicherheit): ‘A Cold Civil War Against It’s Own People’

September 19th, 2013 by Andy in Patriot Act & The Surveillance State, Video

Wake up, folks. It’s all been done before.

And it’s not about “national security” and “your safety,” but about the controllers of state power defending themselves from “insider threats” - i.e. a democratically aware and engaged citizenry, one that demands accountability from those whom claim to be serving them.

“Technical eavesdropping was one of the Stasi’s major sources of information.”

“It was of the gravest importance to keep a lid on certain things, never to let serious criminal offenses to become known to the general public. To create the illusion that law and order ruled in this country.”

The basic motive for collaboration “is the subjectively felt pressure to conform to society… But basically, everyone asked to collaborate was aware of the risks of refusal; that the long arm of the political apparatus could reach into their careers and private lives at any time, and sooner or later, cause them personal harm.”

Unaccountable surveillance institutions will inevitably end up waging “a cold civil war against it’s own people.”

And to think that the even the former head of “one of the more infamous departments in the infamous Stasi” is “appalled” what the NSA is doing today.

[Wolfgang Schmidt] pondered the magnitude of domestic spying in the United States under the Obama administration…

The dark side to gathering such a broad, seemingly untargeted, amount of information is obvious, he said.

“It is the height of naivete to think that once collected this information won’t be used,” he said. “This is the nature of secret government organizations. The only way to protect the people’s privacy is not to allow the government to collect their information in the first place.”

Read more in McClatchy’s Memories of Stasi color Germans’ view of U.S. surveillance programs.

‘Spy on Me, I’m Innocent!’: The Corrupting Effects of Surveillance

September 1st, 2013 by Andy in Patriot Act & The Surveillance State

If there is something one can unfortunately count on in the realm of public discourse, it is the citizen who will dismiss mass surveillance as unimportant, that “if you’re not doing anything wrong, there’s nothing to worry about.” It is premised on what is a fundamentally un-American trust in the benevolence of power, and an historically unwarranted faith in those who wield it, particularly out of the purview of the public eye.

David Swanson does a very good job Here in confronting that mindset, and in explaining the foolishness that underlies it.

On top of that, the over-investigation leads to all sorts of harm to innocent people that was completely avoidable: wrongful prosecutions and imprisonments, deaths and injuries during unnecessary confrontations, and disastrous cultural and legal changes.  Once everyone has become a suspect, the burden of proof shifts to the defendant.  Once activists are targeted for surveillance and suspicion, many become reluctant to engage in activism — which, believe it or not, leads to corruption and tyranny.

It’s also possible to be wrong about one’s innocence.  There are over 5,000 federal crimes on the books, plus 300,000 regulatory crimes, plus regulations, plus state crimes.  Almost everyone is certainly guilty of something or easily made to appear guilty of something.

All of these points become clearer, I think, when one learns, not just what could happen in the near future, but what is happening right now in the nature of abuses often considered futuristic or dystopian.  A great place — maybe the best place — to start is John Whitehead’s new book, A Government of Wolves: The Emerging American Police State.

This book captures the stories of slowly growing abuse and suppression, and collects them in sufficient mass to shock readers out of their complacency.  Have police pulled you over and done cavity searches yet?  They have to others.  Have they forcibly drawn your blood to check for alcohol?  Have they stopped you on a sidewalk and patted you down?  Some  things you simply don’t know whether they’ve done: have they scanned your pockets, bags, and clothing as you passed?  Have they filmed you with a drone and stored the information, allowing a retroactive search of where you were when, should the need arise?  Have they tracked you via your cell phone or your license plate?  Do they know your web browsing history and the content of your emails?  Have they entered your home and searched it while you were out?  These actions are all “legal,” even if unconstitutional.


Drones, in Whitehead’s view, open up a whole new level of militarization.  As tear gas, tasers, sound cannons, assault vehicles, and other military weapons were passed on to police, so too are drones being domesticated.  The reckless killing and blanket spying that will follow pale in relation to some of the suicidal stupidities the military has planned, such as nuclear-powered drones and drones carrying nuclear weapons.

Privacy SOS has also provided this excellent and thorough rundown in response to that all-too-easily believed canard about about “I don’t have anything to hide. Why should I care?”

Here’s why…

Creating a Stasi State in 10 Easy Steps

August 25th, 2013 by Andy in Patriot Act & The Surveillance State

This is an excellent synopsis from Professor Juan Cole, a noted public intellectual and academic at the University of Michigan, on the flagrant and increasingly naked abuses of state power in our society today.

To dismiss these actions as “business as usual,” or concern about them as “paranoia,” is evidence of a dangerous level of naivety. It reveals an unwarranted and fundamentally un-American trust in the benevolence of power, and those who wield it beyond the scrutiny of the public eye of accountability.

Greenwald Partner falsely detained as Terrorist: How to Create a Dictatorship

Juan Cole
Informed Comment
August 19, 2013

How to turn a democracy into a STASI authoritarian state in 10 easy steps:

1. Misuse the concept of a Top Secret government document (say, the date of D-Day) and extend classification to trillions of mundane documents a year.

2. Classify all government crimes and violations of the Constitution as secret

3. Create a class of 4.5 million privileged individuals, many of them corporate employees, with access to classified documents but allege it is illegal for public to see leaked classified documents

4. Spy on the public in violation of the Constitution

5. Classify environmental activists as terrorists while allowing Big Coal and Big Oil to pollute and destroy the planet

6. Share info gained from NSA spying on public with DEA, FBI, local law enforcement to protect pharmaceuticals & liquor industry from competition from pot, or to protect polluters from activists

7. Falsify to judges and defense attorneys how allegedly incriminating info was discovered

8. Lie and deny to Congress you are spying on the public.

9. Criminalize the revelation of government crimes and spying as Espionage.

10. Further criminalize whistleblowing as “Terrorism”, have compradors arrest innocent people, detain them, and confiscate personal effects with no cause or warrant (i.e. David Miranda, partner of Glenn Greenwald)

Presto, what looks like a democracy is really an authoritarian state ruling on its own behalf and that of 2000 corporations, databasing the activities of 312 million innocent citizens and actively helping destroy the planet while forestalling climate activism.

Though I do take issue with Cole’s factual mischaracterization regarding David Miranda’s status (point 10) as a completely uninvolved, “innocent” person in the matter, since he was acting as a paid courier in the work of Poitras and Greenwald. That status does make him an understandable target for the police. However, it still doesn’t excuse what he was forced to go through, or legitimize the legal rationale that the state used for doing what it did. Even if he was serving as a participant in this journalistic endeavor, there is no excuse for the state to be allowed to do engage in that kind of surveillance shake down in the name of “fighting terrorism.”

Read the original post at Professor Cole’s blog Informed Comment
(includes reader commentary)

Surveillance Teach-In: How To Understand and Respond To The Surveillance State

August 21st, 2013 by Andy in Patriot Act & The Surveillance State, Video

With all of the discussion that has been pursued recently regarding the nature of surveillance in our modern technological state, it is worth revisiting this Surveillance Teach-In presentation at the Whitney Biennial in 2012.

There are some who think that concern about the nature and extent of the surveillance technologies, and the virtual unaccountability of those with access to them, is verging into paranoia. According to people like William Binney, who worked for the NSA for over three decades and was actually one of the key engineers who created these systems, we are not nearly wary enough, and awareness needs to be heightened in order to avoid descent into a total dystopia.

This video was created by award-winning filmmaker Laura Poitras, as she documents computer security expert and privacy advocate Jacob Appelbaum and National Security Agency whistle-blower Bill Binney as they present an artistic and practical commentary on living in our contemporary Panopticon.

Read more about Laura Poitras and her amazing life journey of a career, including her ongoing battles with the national surveillance state (effectively America’s political police), in this fascinating and thorough piece by Peter Maass in The New York Times.

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