Saturday, April 9, 2011

How Our Government is Tracking and Databasing Your Every Move

Big Brother is Watching

The war on terror and cybersecurity are excuses that have spurred huge investments into the surveillance industry, which has become a war on “liberty and privacy.”


The Obama administration has moved forward with a Bush regime program to screen state computer traffic on private-sector networks, including those connecting people to the Internet, The Washington Post revealed July 3.

That project, code-name "Einstein," is related to the much-larger, ongoing and highly illegal National Security Agency (NSA) communications intercept program known as "Stellar Wind," disclorure way back in 2005 by The New York Times. Einstein will be tied directly into giant NSA data bases fed by information streamed to the agency by the nation's telecommunications providers.

Stellar Wind includes several components, one of which is a massive data-mining project run by the agency.  The National Security Agency has been secretly collecting the phone call records of tens of millions of Americans, using data provided by AT&T, Verizon and BellSouth.

AT&T, in partnership with the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the NSA will spearhead the aggressive new initiative by continuing to monitor the electronic communications of Americans, to detect malicious attacks launched against government web sites. Likely in part as a response to the Wikileaks fiasco which so embarrassed the US government.

This contradicts the President's Pledge, in which Obama said that the government will not continue Bush-era surveillance practices or include "monitoring private sector networks or Internet traffic." 

Named the "flagship of the system" in our surveillance state's cyber defense arsenal, The Wall Street Journal reports that Einstein is "designed to protect the U.S. government's computer networks from cyberspies." According to the Journal, Einstein is being developed in three stages:
Einstein 1: Monitors Internet traffic flowing in and out of federal civilian networks. Detects abnormalities that might be cyber attacks. Is unable to block attacks.

Einstein 2: In addition to looking for abnormalities, detects viruses and other indicators of attacks based on signatures of known incidents, and alerts analysts immediately. Also can't block attacks.

Einstein 3: Still under development, Einstein 3 is based on technology developed for a National Security Agency program called Tutelage. It is supposed to detect and deflect security breaches. Its filtering technology can read the content of your email and other communications.
As readers of Antifascist Calling have already known for some time, telecom grifters like AT&T are private-sector partners of the National Security Agency and continue to be a key players in the agency's driftnet spying on Americans' electronic communications. As long ago as 2006, the AT&T whistleblower Mark Klein revealed that AT&T's Internet traffic that runs through fiber-optic cables was routinely provided to the NSA, including a complete copy of the Internet traffic that AT&T receives such as email, web browsing sessions and other communications sent by AT&T customers.

New Technology makes Wiretapping Obsolete

Given all of the new monitoring technology being implemented, the uproar over warrantless wiretaps now seems pointless. The technology now available for tracking, tracing, and databasing makes wiretapping almost obsolete.


Governments, aided by private companies, are gathering a mountain of information on average citizens who so far seem willing to trade liberty for supposed security. Here are just some of the ways the data is being collected:

GPS

Global positioning chips are now appearing in everything from U.S. passports, cell phones, to cars. More common uses include tracking employees, and for all forms of private investigation. Apple recently announced they are collecting the precise location of iPhone users via GPS for public viewing in addition to spying on users in other ways.

Internet

Internet browsers are recording your every move forming detailed cookies on your activities. The NSA has been exposed as having cookies on their site that don’t expire until 2035. Major search engines know where you surfed last summer, and online purchases are databased, supposedly for advertising and customer service uses. IP addresses are collected and even made public. Controversial websites can be flagged internally by government sites, as well as re-routing all traffic to block sites the government wants to censor. It has now been fully admitted that social networks provide NO privacy to users, while technologies for real-time social network monitoring are already being used. The Cybersecurity Act attempts to legalize the collection and exploitation of your personal information. Apple’s iPhone also has browsing data recorded and stored. All of this despite the overwhelming opposition to cybersurveillance by citizens.

RFID

RFID — Forget your credit cards which are meticulously tracked, or the membership cards for things so insignificant as movie rentals which require your SSN. Everyone has Costco, CVS, grocery-chain cards, and a wallet or purse full of many more. RFID “proximity cards” take tracking to a new level in uses ranging from loyalty cards, student ID, physical access, and computer network access. Latest developments include an RFID powder developed by Hitachi, for which the multitude of uses are endless — perhaps including tracking hard currency so we can’t even keep cash undetected. (Also see microchips below).

Traffic Cameras

License plate recognition has been used to remotely automate duties of the traffic police in the United States, but have been proven to have dual use in England such as to mark activists under the Terrorism Act. Perhaps the most common use will be to raise money and shore up budget deficits via traffic violations, but uses may descend to such “Big Brother” tactics as monitors telling pedestrians not to litter as talking cameras already do in the UK.

Computer Cameras and Microphones

The fact that laptops, contributed by taxpayers, spied on public school children (at home) is outrageous. Years ago Google began officially to use computer “audio fingerprinting” for advertising uses. They have admitted to working with the NSA, the premier surveillance network in the world. Private communications companies already have been exposed routing communications to the NSA. Now, keyword tools — typed and spoken — link to the global security matrix.

Public Sound Surveillance

This technology has come a long way from only being able to detect gunshots in public areas, to now listening in to whispers for dangerous “keywords.” This technology has been launched in Europe to “monitor conversations” to detect “verbal aggression” in public places. Sound Intelligence is the manufacturer of technology to analyze speech, and their website touts how it can easily be integrated into other systems.

Biometrics

The most popular biometric authentication scheme employed for the last few years has been Iris Recognition. The main applications are entry control, ATMs and Government programs. Recently, network companies and governments have utilized biometric authentication including fingerprint analysis, iris recognition, voice recognition, or combinations of these for use in National Identification Cards.

DNA

The DNA in the blood from babies has been taken for all people under the age of 38. In England, DNA was sent to secret databases from routine heel prick tests. Several reports have revealed covert Pentagon databases of DNA for “terrorists” and now DNA from all American citizens is databased. Digital DNA is now being used as well to combat hackers.

Microchips

Microsoft’s HealthVault and VeriMed partnership is to create RFID implantable microchips. Microchips for tracking our precious pets is becoming commonplace and serves to condition us to accept putting them in our children in the future. The FDA has already approved this technology for humans and is marketing it as a medical miracle, again for our safety.

Facial Recognition

Anonymity in public is over. Admittedly used at Obama’s campaign events, sporting events, and most recently at the G8/G20 protests in Canada. This technology is also harvesting data from Facebook images and surely will be tied into the street “traffic” cameras.

Digital Television

Did you know that with digital TV, the technology exists for them to watch you through that same TV? Yes, they could be watching your very living room! They could even watch your bedroom, should you be amongst the majority of Americans who also have a TV in front of their bed. I'm not saying that they are doing this. I'm just making you aware that the technology is already there for them to do so if they wanted to. Who is to say that someday in the future they won't? Or that some rogue agent or sick pervert somewhere in the middle of this info chain isn't already doing so?

All of this is leading to Predictive Behavior Technology — It is not enough to have logged and charted where we have been; the surveillance state wants to know where we are going through psychological profiling. It’s been marketed for such uses as blocking hackers. Things seem to have advanced to a point where a truly scientific Orwellian world is at hand. It is estimated that computers know to a 93% accuracy where you will be, before you make your first move. Nanotech is slated to play a big role in going even further as scientists are using nanoparticles to directly influence behavior and decision making.



What Happens Next?

But what happens next, after the data is processed and catalogued by the agency is little understood. Programs such as Einstein will provide NSA with the ability to read and decipher the content of email messages, any and all messages in real-time.

While DHS claims that "the new program will scrutinize only data going to or from government systems," the Post reports that a debate has been sparked within the agency over "uncertainty about whether private data can be shielded from unauthorized scrutiny, how much of a role NSA should play and whether the agency's involvement in warrantless wiretapping during George W. Bush's presidency would draw controversy."

A "Privacy Impact Assessment (PIA) for EINSTEIN 2" issued by DHS in May 2008, claims the system is interested in "malicious activity" and not personally identifiable information flowing into federal networks.

While DHS claims that "the risk associated with the use of this computer network security intrusion detection system is actually lower than the risk generated by using a commercially available intrusion detection system," this assertion is undercut when the agency states, "Internet users have no expectation of privacy in the to/from address of their messages or the IP addresses of the sites they visit."

When Einstein 3 is eventually rolled-out, Internet users similarly will "have no expectation of privacy" when it comes to the content of their communications.

While the total cost of rolling-out the Einstein 3 system is classified, The Wall Street Journal reports that "the price tag was expected to exceed $2 billion." And it is the American people who are footing the bill for the destruction of our democratic rights during the middle of a budget crisis, even while programs for the welfare of veterans, college students, pregnant mothers and the poor are being cut.

Do you believe we need this type of surveillance and data collection by our government? Do you believe it is more important we fund these types of surveillance programs versus social programs essential for the welfare of our most deserving as well as our most unfortunate citizens?

This is just the beginning. Big Brother has just realized the potential and possibilities open to their surveillance. Governments like those of the US, UK and other modern western societies will not let happen to them what happened to Gaddafi in Libya. They have the technology to spot and stop troublemakers, instigators and revolutionaries before it gets out of their control.

Written By: Tom Retterbush
Updated: 5-9-12
Email: tomretterbush@gmail.com