LA Sheriff's bizarre Compton surveillance

Matthew says:
For nine days in 2012, the Los Angeles County Sheriff used a spy plane to record low-resolution images of every corner of Compton. Residents of Compton were not told they were under aerial surveillance. The LASD initially claimed Compton was chosen because the city is flat. Critics pointed out most of Los Angeles County is flat, and asked whether Beverly Hills would also undergo aerial surveillance. Journalists also pointed out the videotaping: 1: Is too low-resoltuion to identify anyone, so... 2: it's worthless as evidence, and... 3: The video wasn't real-time so police wouldn't catch anyone in the act So what, exactly, was the point of this expensive program?

NYPD program to spy on Muslims has been disbanded

NYT: "The New York Police Department has abandoned a secretive program that dispatched plainclothes detectives into Muslim neighborhoods to eavesdrop on conversations and built detailed files on where people ate, prayed and shopped, the department said." Translation: NYPD creates new secret secretive program to spy on Muslims. (Thanks, Matthew!)

Cities won't talk about spying devices disguised as cell phone towers

Stingrays are cell phone tracking and monitoring devices disguised as cell phone towers. Harris, the corporation that sells the majority of stingrays, "profited an average of over $533 million in each of the last five years," according to filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission. Ars Techica reports that "Harris requires its law enforcement clients to sign ... nondisclosure agreements that forbid those agencies from publicly revealing whether they use the stingray."

Look, we got the cyperpunk dystopia of our dreams! Cities won't talk about spying devices disguised as cell phone towers

(Image: Cogdogblog CC share-alike)

Edward Snowden interviewed at TED

Here's Edward Snowden controlling a telepresence robot on the stage of TED, being interviewed by Chris Anderson. Watch the full video, recorded today at TED 2104.

Utah representative proposes shutting off NSA's water suppy

The NSA has a research facility in Bluffdale, Utah. It's loaded with "metadata-gathering computers that currently require 1.7 million gallons of water a day" to keep them cool. Utah representative Marc Roberts (R) has introduced HB161, which would shut off their water supply. If the bill passes, how will the federal government respond?

Bill Moyers interviews Dragnet Nation author

Bill Moyers spoke with investigative reporter Julia Angwin, author of the new book Dragnet Nation: A Quest for Privacy, Security and Freedom in a World of Relentless Surveillance. The full episode is above.

BILL MOYERS: What has happened to the Fourth Amendment? That's supposed to protect “the right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects against unreasonable searches and seizures” such as you have just described?

JULIA ANGWIN: Right. Well, the thing is, the Fourth Amendment protects the actual physical walls of your home. And so in fact, the police still need a search warrant to knock on the door and come in. But the problem is, technology has reached into our homes in other ways and essentially there's an exception to the Fourth Amendment for that.

There's something called the Third Party Doctrine. Which is a Supreme Court precedent that basically says once you give your data to a third party, whether it's a bank, a telephone company, then you have lost your privacy interest in it. And so the police can get it there. Well, nowadays, our papers and effects that we used to store at home, we basically store outside the home at these digital places - Google, even our online banking. And so then there's a much lower standard for the government to get this information.

Moyers' website is a good resource for news about government surveillance, lobbyist interference, the rise of the US plutocracy, and unpunished banking industry crimes. It's like Infowars for sane people.

California school district hires firm to eavesdrop on students' social media activity

Matthew says, "The Glendale [California] Unified School District has hired Geo Listening ["Your students are crying for help. We have heard these cries of despair, and for help and attention, loud and clear from students themselves via their public postings on social networks"]to eavesdrop and monitor students’ public posts on websites like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram."

District-Wide Social Media Eavesdropping Program Begins

Gawker reveals NYPD's "spy taxi"

This, writes Gawker's John Cook, is a taxi used in "NYPD's indiscriminate and probably illegal spying program." According to the two Pulitzer Prize–winning authors of the book, Enemies Within, it's a "real yellow cab, complete with an authentic taxi medallion registered under a fake name used by the department's intelligence division to conduct surveillance operations."

It's mainly used to keep tabs on activities around New York's mosques, say the book's authors, Matt Apuzzo and Adam Goldman.

Cook's advice, "If you hail this cab, don't tip."

This is the NYPD's Secret Spy Cab

Apple patents tech that lets government disable iPhone video, camera and wi-fi

Apple has a patent to disable "one or more functional or operational aspects of a wireless device, such as upon the occurrence of a certain event." For instance, the patent states, "Covert police or government operations may require complete 'blackout' conditions."

Larry Press has posted example photos of police or government operations that would have benefited from a such a kill switch. (Via IP)

Surveillance State: Maryland is Listening to You

Todd Krainin of Reason TV produced this mini-documentary about how "audio-visual recording technologies are fundamentally changing the privacy-versus-security debate in cities all across America." It's called "Surveillance State: Maryland is Listening to You."

NSA’s secret domestic spying program, code named "Ragtime," uncloaked in new book

According to Marc Ambinder and D.B. Grady's new book Deep State: Inside the Government Secrecy Industry, the secretive National Security Agency spying programs have become institutionalized, and have grown, since 9/11.

Shane Harris at the Washingtonian read through the book's account of these sweeping and controversial surveillance programs, conducted under the code name "Ragtime":

Ragtime, which appears in official reports by the abbreviation RT, consists of four parts.

Ragtime-A involves US-based interception of all foreign-to-foreign counterterrorism-related data; Ragtime-B deals with data from foreign governments that transits through the US; Ragtime-C deals with counterproliferation actvities; and then there's Ragtime-P, which will probably be of greatest interest to those who continue to demand more information from the NSA about what it does in the United States.

P stands for Patriot Act. Ragtime-P is the remnant of the original President’s Surveillance Program, the name given to so-called "warrantless wiretapping" activities after 9/11, in which one end of a phone call or an e-mail terminated inside the United States. That collection has since been brought under law, but civil liberties groups, journalists, and legal scholars continue to seek more information about what it entailed, who was targeted, and what authorities exist today for domestic intelligence-gathering.

Harris, who is an experienced national security reporter, analyzes some of those findings in his Washingtonian item. You can buy a copy of the book here (released Feb. 14, 2013).

(HT: Laura Poitras/Freedom of the Press Foundation)