Civil Freedoms Under Threat

  • New Homeland Security Laser Scanner Reads People At Molecular Level

    Source: CBS DC. The Department of Homeland Security will soon be using a laser at airports that can detect everything about you from over 160-feet away. Gizmodo reports a scanner that could read people at the molecular level has been invented. This laser-based scanner – which can be used 164-feet away — could read everything from a person’s adrenaline levels, to traces of gun powder on a person’s clothes, to illegal substances — and it can all be done without a physical search. It also could be used on multiple people at a time, eliminating random searches at airports.

     
  • NSA Analysts Confirm AT&T Snoop Rooms

    Source: Broadband DSL Reports: The Electronic Freedom Foundation (EFF) recently announced that they’ve gained new support for their legal campaign against the government’s warrantless domestic surveillance program: three former NSA analysts. According to the EFF, the three analysts are going on the record to confirm the agency, with the help of phone companies like AT&T and Verizon, are intercepting nearly all United States communications in real time in violation of the law. The claims support earlier claims by an AT&T whistleblower that the telco was giving the NSA wholesale access to Internet and voice traffic via specially designed monitoring rooms.

     
  • More Demands on Cell Carriers in Surveillance

    Source: Washington Post. In the first public accounting of its kind, cellphone carriers reported that they responded to a startling 1.3 million demands for subscriber information last year from law enforcement agencies seeking text messages, caller locations and other information in the course of investigations. The cellphone carriers’ reports, which come in response to a Congressional inquiry, document an explosion in cellphone surveillance in the last five years, with the companies turning over records thousands of times a day in response to police emergencies, court orders, law enforcement subpoenas and other requests.

     
  • The Drone Zone

    Source: New York Times Magazine. When I visited the base earlier this year with a small group of reporters, we were taken into a command post where a large flat-screen television was broadcasting a video feed from a drone flying overhead. It took a few seconds to figure out exactly what we were looking at. A white S.U.V. traveling along a highway adjacent to the base came into the cross hairs in the center of the screen and was tracked as it headed south along the desert road. When the S.U.V. drove out of the picture, the drone began following another car.

     
  • ‘DNSChanger’ Malware Could Strand Thousands When Domains Go Dark on Monday

    Source: Wired. Tens of thousands of U.S. internet users could be left in the digital dark on Monday when the FBI pulls the plug on domains related to the DNSChanger malware. Computers belonging to an estimated 64,000 users in the United States, and an additional 200,000 users outside the United States, are still infected with the malware, despite repeated warnings in the news, e-mail messages sent by ISPs and alerts posted by Google and Facebook.

     
  • Wiretap Stats Decrease, But Don’t Go Celebrating Yet

    Source: Wired. The number of criminal wiretaps authorized by federal and state judges in 2011 decreased 14 percent from the year prior to 2,732, according to the latest figures available. The vast majority of the wiretaps covered in the government report are for drug investigations and nearly all of them target mobile phones. Don’t go thinking, however, that the government’s love for electronic snooping has faded. The data, which the government is required to publish annually, covers just a small part of the nation’s ever-growing surveillance society. The government has at its disposal a variety of methods to capture Americans’ communications and data without warrants or with super-secret national security wiretap warrants that aren’t covered in this report.

     
  • Next-Gen Terror Watchers Go Deep Into Al-Qaida, Tweet a Lot

    Source: Wired. here is a competing school of thought, one with more purchase in official Washington. It holds that the problem of terrorism is actually the problem of Islam. As a Danger Room series has explored, adherents of that viewpoint have instructed counterterrorism professionals within the FBI, the Justice Departmentand the military. Last week, a military college run by the Joint Chiefs of Staff removed an Army lieutenant colonel who taught senior officers that the United States ought to attack Muslim civilians. That approach is the polar opposite of the perspective taken by this rising crowd of scholars.

     
  • FOIA request forces DoJ to reveal National Security Letter templates

    Source: ArsTechnica. As the result of a Freedom of Information Act request filed by the American Civil Liberties Union, the Department of Justice has revealed, for the first time, the types of secret letters that the government can send out to ISPs and other tech companies being asked to reveal personal data about their users and customers who are being investigated for national security reasons. In 2009, over 6,000 Americans received such National Security Letters (NSLs).

     
  • The FBI’s Secret Surveillance Letters to Tech Companies

    Source: Wall Street Journal. In response to a Freedom of Information Act request by the American Civil Liberties Union, the Justice Department has revealed for the first time templates for each of the types of national security letters it sends – nine in all. Among other things, the letters show that the FBI is now informing people who receive the letters how they can challenge the documents in court. But some key elements of the letters remain blocked from view – including lists of material the FBI says companies can send in response to the letter.

     
  • Why Is the Government Collecting Your Biometric Data?

    Source: Truth Out. In a recent EFF (Electronic Frontier Foundation) report, Jennifer Lynch chronicles the growth of biometric databases that contain everything from fingerprints to DNA to iris scans and face recognition images. Unsurprisingly, immigrants are one of the likeliest targets; Lynch talks about the LAPD’s habit of cruising streets where day laborers gather and picking up their fingerprints with mobile scanners. The Secure Communities program, a more large-scale and catastrophic example, lets police send fingerprints to the FBI, which can share the information with DHS, which then deploys ICE to detain and deport undocumented immigrants.