U.S. Military bans GPS-enabled fitness trackers

We’ve known for a while that military personnel using GPS-enabled health tracking apps and accessories in sensitive operational areas was kind of a problem, from an intelligence standpoint. Such appliances make it wicked easy for someone to check in on the wearer’s daily routine, whereabouts or, should enough people in an operational area use the same service like Strava, figure out where personnel congregate at certain times of the day, no satellite surveillance or human intelligence assets required. Well, it looks like the Department of Defense has finally decided to do something about it: As of right now, DoD employees are no longer allowed to wear or use a wide variety of health tracking hardware.

From Gizmodo:

The ban was first announced in an August 3 memo from Deputy Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan. It follows a months-long investigation into the use of location-tracking apps after the fitness app Strava published a global heat map that accidentally revealed the locations of several United States military bases. The Pentagon’s response also comes after a Government Accountability Office (GAO) report to Congress calling for “enhanced assessments and guidance … to address security risks in DoD” posed by internet of things devices.

How the United States military will enforce this ban is anyone’s guess, at this point. According to Stars & Stripes, it’s not immediately clear what the punishment for accidentally tracking your run with your smartphone might be, or what consequences a solider might face for intentionally wearing their Fitbit into a war zone (what time was it and what was your heart rate when you were being shot at? Read the rest

Canada increases biometric monitoring of foreign nationals

If you’re from just about anywhere in the world, with the exception of the United States, beginning this week you'll find that visiting Canada will feel a whole lot more invasive. Moving forward, it will be necessary for all foreign nationals to provide Canadian Immigration officials with their fingerprints and photographs, if they're applying for a visitor's visa, work permit, want to attend a Canadian university, or if they wish to apply for a work permit or status as a permanent resident.

From The Daily Hive:

A spokesperson for Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) told Daily Hive that “new regulations will support the expansion of biometric collection to all applicants from Europe, the Middle East and Africa who are applying abroad for a temporary resident visa, work permit, study permit, or permanent residence.”

The spokesperson noted that IRCC currently collects biometrics from “in-Canada refugee claimants, overseas refugee resettlement applicants, individuals ordered removed from Canada, and individuals from 30 foreign nationalities applying for a temporary resident visa, work permit, or study permit.”

Now, here’s the creepy part. Canada will be sharing the data they collect on each person entering the country with the Migration Five/Five Country Conference: The United States, Australia, the United Kingdom and New Zealand. For those keeping track at home, these same nations also comprise the Five Eyes intelligence sharing alliance, which, as Edward Snowden was kind enough to warn us about back in 2013, has been spying on one another’s citizens as a way of circumventing laws that keep Five Eyes member countries from spying on their own people. Read the rest

Australia says cash about to become illegal for purchases over $7,500

One great thing about cash is its anonymity – nobody, including the government, can easily stick their nose in your beeswax when you're using physical banknotes and coins. But anonymity is about to become more scarce in Australia, which is about to make it illegal to purchase anything over $10,000 AU ($7,500 US) with cash.

The Australian government, who announced the new cash ban on Tuesday, says it wants to discourage money laundering and tax evasion by “encouraging the transition to a digital society.” And to enforce the new law, the government will depend on the "Black Economy Standing Taskforce," which will be focusing on Australia's black market tobacco trade.

According to Gizmodo:

As The Guardian points out, one of the biggest targets for the new task force will be the illicit tobacco trade. Australia has the highest tax on cigarettes in the world, with an average pack costing about $40 AU ($30 US). But there’s a huge black market for cigarettes, which comes from both stolen goods and smuggling from outside the country. Taxes aren’t paid on cigarettes until the point of sale, so theft from tobacco warehouses is unusually common in Australia.

But ordinary small business owners aren't happy about the ban.

“It’s going to screw me—95 percent of my business is cash collections,” Paul Thomas, owner of Commander Security Services in Sydney, told News Corp this week. “On a monthly basis, we could process and move up to $4-5 million—either picking up cash, processing and EFT-ing it to customers’ accounts, or recarrying it from customers to their bank branch.”

Today it’s any sum over $10,000 in Australia, but anyone with their eyes open can see where this is going.

Read the rest