The DHS has illegally stuffed America's airports full of $1B worth shitty, malfing facial-recognition tech

More than a dozen major US airports are now covered in facial-recognition cameras, installed by the DHS to scan people departing on international flights without the legally mandated federal review process. Read the rest

Behold! The astonishing mental gymnastics of TSA apologists explaining why rich people don't need to be screened

The project of making planes secure from terrorist attacks is an inescapable nonsense: nonsense because there's no way to screen millions of people to prevent a few dedicated ones from bringing down a plane (no, really); inescapable because no lawmaker or policymaker will ever have the courage to remove a measure that has previously been described as "essential for fighting terrorism" even if it was only ever security theater intended to assuage low-information voters. Read the rest

Coalition of 100+ tech groups and leaders warn the DHS that "extreme vetting" software will be a worse-than-useless, discriminatory nightmare

In a pair of open letters to Letter to The Honorable Elaine C. Duke, Acting Secretary of Homeland, a coalition of more than 100 tech liberties groups and leading technology experts urged the DHS to abandon its plan to develop a black-box algorithmic system for predicting whether foreigners coming to the USA to visit or live are likely to be positive contributors or risks to the nation. Read the rest

The DHS is buying a new database to store biometrics for 500 million people

The DHS's old "IDENT" database is full, with 240,000,000 records in a system designed to hold 200,000,000; so they're paying arms-dealers and erstwhile comic-book superheroes Northrop Grumman $93,000,000 to develop a new system called Homeland Advanced Recognition Technology (HART), which will grow to encompass biometrics for 500,000,000 people, including hundreds of millions of Americans. Read the rest

San Juan mayor barred from speaking on Trump's Puerto Rico relief conference call

Carmen Yulin Cruz is the outspoken mayor of San Juan, the capital of Puerto Rico, who was publicly denounced by Donald Trump for pointing out the federal government's inaction during the worst humanitarian disaster in modern US history. Trump went on to characterize Puerto Ricans -- chest deep in sewage raw sewage with no fresh water, no homes, no power and no gasoline -- as "wanting everything done for them." Read the rest

DHS says it will force everyone who's ever immigrated to the USA to hand over social media

A new DHS policy that will go into effect on Oct 18 will force everyone who's ever been naturalized as a US citizen or who is currently residing in the USA on a Green Card (I currently reside in the USA on a Green Card) to hand over "social media handles and aliases, associated identifiable information and search results" for permanent scrutiny in our government files. Read the rest

EFF and ACLU sue Trump administration over warrantless border device searches

The Electronic Frontier Foundation and American Civil Liberties just filed a lawsuit against the Department of Homeland Security on behalf of 11 travellers whose devices were searched at the US border; they assert that warrantless device searches violate the constitutional restriction on searches without probable cause. Read the rest

DHS will protect Americans from foreign marijuana

In an abrupt aboutface the Department of Homeland Security, which is not the Drug Enforcement Agency, has made some interesting statements about the evils of marijuana.

Sounds more like a customs and import tariff problem than immigration law enforcement.

Via Talking Points Memo:

In an interview with NBC’s Chuck Todd Sunday, DHS Secretary John Kelly said that marijuana was “not a factor” in the drug war (methamphetamines, cocaine and heroin were, he said). He seemed to change his tone Tuesday in a speech at George Washington University, according to a copy of prepared remarks provided by DHS.

“And let me be clear about marijuana. It is a potentially dangerous gateway drug that frequently leads to the use of harder drugs,” Kelly said, adding: “Its use and possession is against federal law and until the law is changed by the U.S. Congress we in DHS are sworn to uphold all the laws on the books.”

“DHS personnel will continue to investigate marijuana’s illegal pathways along the network into the U.S., its distribution within the homeland, and will arrest those involved in the drug trade according to federal law,” he continued. “CBP will continue to search for marijuana at sea, air and land ports of entry and when found take similar appropriate action.”

And marijuana possession, distribution and convictions thereof, Kelly said, would be considered “essential elements” for ICE “as they build their deportation / removal apprehension packages for targeted operations against illegal aliens. They have done this in the past, are doing it today, and will do it in the future.”

Read the rest

U.S. Homeland Security staff were unable to access DHS computer network because the security certificates expired

Some employees with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security who work in the Washington, D.C. area and in Philadelphia, PA were unable to access the DHS computer network on Tuesday, reports Reuters, citing “three sources familiar with the matter.” Read the rest

Human rights coalition to DHS: don't demand social media passwords from people entering the USA

A huge coalition of human rights groups, trade groups, civil liberties groups, and individual legal, technical and security experts have signed an open letter to the Department of Homeland Security in reaction to Secretary John Kelly's remarks to House Homeland Security Committee earlier this month, where he said the DHS might force visitors to America to divulge their social media logins as a condition of entry. Read the rest

Internal TSA files reveal that they have no evidence the $1B "behavioral detection" program works

In 2013, the TSA blew $1B on "behavioral detection," which would allegedly train agents to spot potential terrorists by looking for a hilariously stupid list of "tells" including "a bobbing adam's apple," "arriving late," "trembling," "yawning," "excessive throat clearing," "improper attire," "gazing down," and "wide open staring eyes," Also: "being in disguise." Read the rest

Trump's DHS plan leaked by Kris Kobach, who thinks more about Sharia law than folders

Kansas Secretary of State and noted xenophobe Kris Kobach, who is in line to run Trump's DHS, was photographed by the AP yesterday at the Trump National Golf Club Bedminster clubhouse holding the secret 100-day plan for the Trump DHS. By blowing the photo up, we're able to learn an awful lot about what's in the cards. Read the rest

Homeland Security wants to subpoena Techdirt over the identity of a hyperbolic commenter

This week, Techdirt's Tim Cushing published a story about the Hancock County, IN Sheriff's Department officers who stole $240,000 under color of asset forfeiture. Read the rest

Why didn't high-priced/pseudoscientific "behavioral profiling" work in San Bernardino?

San Bernardino is ground zero for the bunkum industry that sells "behavioral detection" courses to law enforcement, the place where the most cops and government employees are taught to spot "lone wolf" "active shooters" before they snap -- but none of Syed Rizwan Farook's expensively trained co-workers noticed that he and his wife Tashfeen Malik were about to go on a shooting spree. Read the rest

LEAKED: The secret catalog American law enforcement orders cellphone-spying gear from

The Intercept has obtained a secret government catalog that law enforcement agencies use to source even-more-secret cellular spying devices, mostly variants on the Read the rest

DHS admits it uses Stingrays for VIPs, vows to sometimes get warrants, stop lying to judges

The DHS's newly released policy statement on the use of Stingrays (stationary fake cellphone towers used to track people in a specific location) and Dirt Boxes (airplane-mounted surveillance that tracks whole populations) represents a welcome, if overdue, transparency in the use of cellphone surveillance by federal agencies. Read the rest

FBI investigating ‘teen stoner hack’ of CIA Director John Brennan

A pair of self-described teen stoner hackers say they breached an AOL account used by CIA Director John Brennan, the New York Post reported today. Read the rest

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