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Saturday, November 15, 2014

Americans’ Cellphones Targeted In Secret U.S. Spy Program

Slow, creeping, insidious, malevolent:  If Americans do not put an end once and for all to this illegal, unconstitutional intrusion into our lives it will expand exponentially until it becomes unstoppable - Citizens may use State deadly force laws to shoot down drones as they are unidentified and a potential threat to their lives; drone creators, manufacturers must be identified, targeted for public reprisal         

THE WALL STREET JOURNAL
By Devlin Barrett
11/14/2014

Devices on Planes that Mimic Cellphone Towers Used to Target Criminals, but Also Sift Through Thousands of Other Phones

WASHINGTON—

The Justice Department is scooping up data from thousands of mobile phones through devices deployed on airplanes that mimic cellphone towers, a high-tech hunt for criminal suspects that is snagging a large number of innocent Americans, according to people familiar with the operations.


The U.S. Marshals Service program, which became fully functional around 2007, operates Cessna aircraft from at least five metropolitan-area airports, with a flying range covering most of the U.S. population, according to people familiar with the program.

Planes are equipped with devices—some known as “dirtboxes” to law-enforcement officials because of the initials of the Boeing Co. unit that produces them—which mimic cell towers of large telecommunications firms and trick cellphones into reporting their unique registration information.


The technology in the two-foot-square device enables investigators to scoop data from tens of thousands of cellphones in a single flight, collecting their identifying information and general location, these people said.

People with knowledge of the program wouldn’t discuss the frequency or duration of such flights, but said they take place on a regular basis.


WARRANTLESS SPYING IS ILLEGAL IN THE U.S.
A Justice Department official would neither confirm nor deny the existence of such a program. 

The official said discussion of such matters would allow criminal suspects or foreign powers to determine U.S. surveillance capabilities. 



Justice Department agencies comply with federal law, including by seeking court approval, the official said.

The program is the latest example of the extent to which the U.S. is training its surveillance lens inside the U.S. It is similar in approach to the National Security Agency’s program to collect millions of Americans phone records, in that it scoops up large volumes of data in order to find a single person or a handful of people. The U.S. government justified the phone-records collection by arguing it is a minimally invasive way of searching for terrorists.

Christopher Soghoian, chief technologist at the American Civil Liberties Union, called it “a dragnet surveillance program. It’s inexcusable and it’s likely—to the extent judges are authorizing it—[that] they have no idea of the scale of it.”




Cellphones are programmed to connect automatically to the strongest cell tower signal. The device being used by the U.S. Marshals Service identifies itself as having the closest, strongest signal, even though it doesn’t, and forces all the phones that can detect its signal to send in their unique registration information.

Even having encryption on a phone, such as the kind included on Apple Inc.’s iPhone 6, doesn’t prevent this process.

The technology is aimed at locating cellphones linked to individuals under investigation by the government, including fugitives and drug dealers, but it collects information on cellphones belonging to people who aren’t criminal suspects, these people said. They said the device determines which phones belong to suspects and “lets go” of the non-suspect phones.




The device can briefly interrupt calls on certain phones. Authorities have tried to minimize the potential for harm, including modifying the software to ensure the fake tower doesn’t interrupt anyone calling 911 for emergency help, one person familiar with the matter said.

The program cuts out phone companies as an intermediary in searching for suspects. Rather than asking a company for cell-tower information to help locate a suspect, which law enforcement has criticized as slow and inaccurate, the government can now get that information itself. People familiar with the program say they do get court orders to search for phones, but it isn’t clear if those orders describe the methods used because the orders are sealed.


Also unknown are the steps taken to ensure data collected on innocent people isn’t kept for future examination by investigators. A federal appeals court ruled earlier this year that over-collection of data by investigators, and stockpiling of such data, was a violation of the Constitution. The program is more sophisticated than anything previously understood about government use of such technology. 


Until now, the hunting of digital trails created by cellphones had been thought limited to devices carried in cars that scan the immediate area for signals. Civil-liberties groups are suing for information about use of such lower-grade devices, some of them called Stingrays, by the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

By taking the program airborne, the government can sift through a greater volume of information and with greater precision, these people said. If a suspect’s cellphone is identified, the technology can pinpoint its location within about 10 feet, down to a specific room in a building. Newer versions of the technology can be programmed to do more than suck in data: They can also jam signals and retrieve data from a target phone such as texts or photos. It isn’t clear if this domestic program has ever used those features.




Similar devices are used by U.S. military and intelligence officials operating in other countries, including in war zones, where they are sometimes used to locate terrorist suspects, according to people familiar with the work. In the U.S., these people said, the technology has been effective in catching suspected drug dealers and killers. They wouldn’t say which suspects were caught through this method.

The scanning is done by the Technical Operations Group of the U.S. Marshals Service, which tracks fugitives, among other things. Sometimes it deploys the technology on targets requested by other parts of the Justice Department.

Within the Marshals Service, some have questioned the legality of such operations and the internal safeguards, these people said. They say scooping up of large volumes of information, even for a short period, may not be properly understood by judges who approve requests for the government to locate a suspect’s phone.


A shotgun silencer for shooting down drones on the market
Some within the agency also question whether people scanning cellphone signals are doing enough to minimize intrusions into the phones of other citizens, and if there are effective procedures in place to safeguard the handling of that data. It is unclear how closely the Justice Department oversees the program. 



“What is done on U.S. soil is completely legal,” said one person familiar with the program. “Whether it should be done is a separate question.”

Referring to the more limited range of Stingray devices, Mr. Soghoian of the ACLU said: “Maybe it’s worth violating privacy of hundreds of people to catch a suspect, but is it worth thousands or tens of thousands or hundreds of thousands of peoples’ privacy?”

The existence of the cellphone program could escalate tensions between Washington and technology companies, including the telecom firms whose devices are being redirected by the program.




If a suspect is believed to have a cellphone from Communications Inc., for example, the device would emit a signal fooling Verizon phones and those roaming on Verizon’s network into thinking the plane is the nearest available Verizon cell tower. Phones that are turned on, even if not in use, would “ping’’ the flying device and send their registration information. In a densely populated area, the dirtbox could pick up data of tens of thousands of cellphones.

The approach is similar to what computer hackers refer to as a “man in the middle’’ attack, in which a person’s electronic device is tricked into thinking it is relaying data to a legitimate or intended part of the communications system.

A Verizon spokesman said the company was unaware of the program. “The security of Verizon’s network and our customers’ privacy are top priorities,’’ the spokesman said. “However, to be clear, the equipment referenced in the article is not Verizon’s and is not part of our network.”

An AT&T Inc. spokeswoman declined to comment, as did a spokeswoman for Sprint Corp.

For cost reasons, the flights usually target a number of suspects at a time, rather than just a single fugitive. But they can be used for a single suspect if the need is great enough to merit the resources, these people said.


The eventual fate of all illegal drones and spy planes flying in U.S. skies

The dirtbox and Stingray are both types of what tech experts call “IMSI catchers,’’ named for the identification system used by networks to identify individual cellphones.

The name “dirtbox’’ came from the acronym of the company making the device, DRT, for Digital Receiver Technology Inc., people said. DRT is now a subsidiary of Boeing. A Boeing spokeswoman declined to comment.

“DRT has developed a device that emulates a cellular base station to attract cellphones for a registration process even when they are not in use,’’ according to a 2010 regulatory filing Boeing made with the U.S. Commerce Department, which touted the device’s success in finding contraband cellphones smuggled in to prison inmates.



This news bureau contains copyrighted material the use of which has not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. We are making such material available in our efforts to advance understanding of environmental, political, human rights, economic, democracy, scientific, and social justice issues, etc.  We believe this constitutes a 'fair use' of any such copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the US Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes.

California Cops Spent $45 MILLION On Spy Gear With Little Oversight

Given the current public atmosphere in California towards the out of control cops, they would be far better off performing community outreach, returning to basic police work and remembering WHO PAYS THEIR SALARIES  

NEW YORK STATESMAN
11/14/2014

Police departments across California spent more than $45 million on surveillance equipment over the course of a decade with little to no legislative or public oversight – and without the public's knowledge, according to the American Civil Liberties Union.


The ACLU report, titled 'Making Smart Decisions about Surveillance: A Guide for Communities,' reveals how California law enforcement took advantage of millions of dollars’ worth of federal surveillance gear to sidestep city council oversight and boards of supervisors. 

Police also avoided consideration of costs and benefits and left the public in the dark as to how law enforcement was using the equipment to track their lives.




“After revelations of mass surveillance by the NSA, the public isn’t buying the ‘just trust us’ approach anymore. The public expects to know why surveillance is being considered, how it is going to be used and what safeguards are in place to guard against misuse before any decisions are made,” Nicole Ozer, technology and civil liberties policy director for the ACLU of California, said in a statement.


The report surveyed 118 California cities and towns and found that 90 were using surveillance technology. Only five had carried out public debate before acquisition, and four had public policies concerning use and limits. In total, the 118 cities and towns had spent over $45 million on equipping their police departments.


Newsflash CA cops:  You have a serious problem on your hands
The majority of police units were using license plate readers (57) and video surveillance (62), but many were using a multitude of devices to track and survey people. For example, the automatic license plate readers (ALPR) is a camera system mounted to a police car or light that scans license plates that come into view. 


They are often used to look for stolen vehicles, but they can record the time and place of every single vehicle that drives by.

Facial recognition software, meanwhile, identifies a person in photos or video based on various characteristics of the person’s face. The accuracy of facial recognition, however, can vary widely.




Automated social media monitoring consists of software tools that collect posts and other information on sites such as Twitter and Facebook. These tools may also analyze the collected data in order to learn information such as the social connections or political views of individuals.

Another device – the International Mobile Subscriber Identity catcher (IMSI) – emulates the functionality of a cell phone tower in order to interact with a nearby mobile phone. Commonly known as Stingrays, a popular brand name, they can be used to capture and intercept the contents of communications, including calls, text messages, or internet activity. Many IMSI are used in dragnet fashion, scooping up information about every phone in range.


In one instance, the report said the San Jose Police Department obtained a drone with federal funding with no public debate and no policy safeguards in place. 

After protests, the police department apologized, grounded the drone, and initiated public outreach.


ACLU California is proposing a measure called the Surveillance and Community Ordinance to provide transparency, accountability, and oversight. The ordinance is being drafted and will be introduced in the coming weeks.


The Council on American-Islamic Relations, as well as the Asian Americans Advancing Justice-Asian Law Caucus, have also both joined the ACLU to endorse the need for oversight ordinances. They are quite familiar with how unchecked surveillance often has a disproportionate impact on communities of color and religious minorities.



“Communities are increasingly concerned about making sure that time, energy and resources are not spent on expensive, ineffective and overly intrusive surveillance systems that create more problems than they solve,” San Francisco supervisor John Avalos told the ACLU. “That’s why public transparency and engagement are key to any decision about whether to use surveillance technology. If surveillance technology is to be used, clear rules must be in place to ensure transparency, oversight and accountability.”



This news bureau contains copyrighted material the use of which has not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. We are making such material available in our efforts to advance understanding of environmental, political, human rights, economic, democracy, scientific, and social justice issues, etc.  We believe this constitutes a 'fair use' of any such copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the US Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes.

Insane NASA "Scientists" Invent Self - Destructing Biodegradable Drone Made Of Fungus And Bacteria

More taxpayer-financed insanity from the freakish mad-scientists at NASA; now instead of shooting down these evil, illegal, malevolent creations from a Hollywood horror movie with solid projectiles Americans can mount giant squirt guns filled with battery acid on GMC "technicals" to put a quick, decisive end to this madness    

RT
11/14/2014

A biodegradable drone made out of fungus, bacteria and wasp spit built by NASA-affiliated scientists may pave the way for future spyware, which would simply self-destruct if it crashes, leaving behind only minute remnants.


Satanic NASA "scientists" should be burned at the stake
The biological drone would simply melt away, according to its designers. “No one would know if you'd spilled some sugar water or if there'd been an airplane there,” Lynn Rothschild of NASA's Ames Research Center in California told New Scientist. 

The model was conceived by a group of scientists from across Stanford, Brown and Spelman College.


The bio drone completed its first flight earlier this month at the International Genetically Engineered Machine competition in Boston. It is primarily made of a fungal material called mycelium – the vegetative part – and looks a little bit like a cardboard drinks holder.

After the main body was produced, the outer skin had to be made out of bacterial cellulose sheets, which were grown in a laboratory and take on a sticky, leathery type consistency. It was then waterproofed, but this still had to allow for its immediate biodegradability.

The solution was to coat the device in proteins, which had been cloned from paper wasps’ saliva – what they use to gel their nests together and waterproof them.


And just what kind of "bacteria" will NASA be unleashing on Americans?  What effect will it have on humans and wildlife?  Will it contaminate land and marine environments resulting in the destruction of ecosystems and species similar to that of the melting starfish in the Pacific Northwest from Fukushima radiation?

However, the problem is that key components of the machine could not be made biodegradable for obvious reasons – propellers, batteries and controls had to be separately sourced.

“There are definitely parts that can't be replaced by biology,” team member Raman Nelakanti of Stanford University told New Scientist.

Nevertheless, it will not stop further attempts by the team to develop sustainable bio-material replacements for as many parts as possible. The team has expressed a desire to develop sensors made out of E.coli bacteria.

The biological drone was an entry for the International Genetically Engineered Machine (iGEM 2014) competition. The team has shared the drone designs on their website so that people can try 3D-printing their own models.



This news bureau contains copyrighted material the use of which has not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. We are making such material available in our efforts to advance understanding of environmental, political, human rights, economic, democracy, scientific, and social justice issues, etc.  We believe this constitutes a 'fair use' of any such copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the US Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes.

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