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  • UK Roadside cameras suffer from large gaps in coverage, police admit

    posted by Keito
    2012-08-29 21:29:01
    'Police chiefs have admitted there are flaws in a "big brother" surveillance system that enables them to track and store the daily journeys of millions of motorists.

    The police chief who co-ordinates the growing network of more than 5,000 roadside cameras, which records the whereabouts of 16m vehicles, said the network was patchy and left"large gaps in coverage in various parts of the country".

    Police made the admissions as they won a freedom of information tribunal to keep secret the locations of the the cameras, arguing that disclosure would allow criminals to evade detection.

    For the past 10 years, police chiefs have pushed the expansion of the network, saying the cameras have become one of their most valuable tools to catch criminals in investigations ranging from terrorism to low-level crime.

    The cameras, located on motorways and main roads and at airports and town centres, automatically record the number plates and fronts of cars, noting the time, date and location of the images taken.

    Each camera, be it fixed on a pole, gantry or mounted in a police car, can log up to 3,600 images an hour.

    The images are transmitted to a central database in Hendon, north London, which holds more than 7bn records of the movement of stretching back six years. Police hope the database will be able to record up to 50m licence plates a day.

    The home secretary, Theresa May, has ordered that regulation of the Automatic number plate recognition (ANPR) cameras should be tightened up, amid civil liberties concerns. No other democratic country routinely tracks innocent motorists in this way.

    Weaknesses in the system were admitted by John Dean, who co-ordinates the system for the Association of Chief Police Officers, and other officers during a test case brought by the Guardian to find out the locations of 45 cameras in Devon and Cornwall.

    Dean said: "This network of ANPR cameras has been established at local level to reflect the needs of local policing priorities. There has therefore been no national deployment plan, and this has resulted in significant gaps of coverage throughout the country.

    "The disclosure of the locations of existing ANPR cameras could therefore put some areas at greater risk, the criminals becoming aware of these gaps of coverage."

    DS Neil Winterbourne, in charge of the ANPR cameras for Scotland Yard's counter-terrorism command, told the tribunal criminals could evade the cameras by adopting "a particular driving style", which he did not describe.

    "I will not go into the conduct of such tactics herein," he said, "but it is true to say that a properly trained driver can adopt a particular driving style that will greatly reduce the chance of the vehicle being detected by ANPR.

    "These tactics are only effective in the short term, when in close proximity to a camera, and it would be impracticable for anyone to permanently drive around in such a fashion."

    He added: "There are numerous ways in which the appearance of a number plate can be modified to reduce the chances of detection by ANPR, but these are mostly apparent when the vehicle is inspected and run the risk of attracting the attention of police, which may be counter-productive from the terrorist standpoint".

    Police said criminals were steering clear of the cameras when they knew the locations. They cited the case of Danny Speed, who was jailed for a string of robberies on vans carrying cash. A secret bug in his car recorded him saying: "They are the ANPR ones … I am going to [go] round the outside."

    Jeremy Harris, an assistant chief constable in the Police Service of Northern Ireland, said there had been more than 30 incidents in the region "of cameras being moved and pushed out of alignment so they are not reading registration plates and have been rendered inoperative". There had been a "concentrated effort by criminals" to damage or set fire to cameras, he added.

    After a three-year battle by the Guardian, the tribunal ruled in favour of police, who argued that disclosure of the cameras' locations would compromise the effectiveness of a weapon that has contributed to more than 50,000 arrests.'

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2012/aug/27/police-number-plate-cameras-network-patchy
  • FBI Muslim spying lawsuit against U.S. is tossed by judge

    posted by Keito
    2012-08-26 09:35:59
    This line says it all really: "the state secrets privilege may unfortunately mean the sacrifice of individual liberties for the sake of national security."

    Basically, forget any rights you once had, the US Government can now throw out any case against it in the interests of National Security.

    Freedom and liberty are dead... All in the name of keeping 'freedom' and 'liberty' safe from terrorism. Funny that. It's quite obvious the biggest threat to freedom and liberty in democratic countries of the west are our own politicians. Revoking liberties and rights in an ongoing attempt to see and hear everything we do, just in case we happen to be a terrorist.

    I don't know about you, but I'd much rather live in a free country, that holds freedom and liberty in the highest of regards. The threat of terror is minuscule, we've lived through it in the UK for decades (during many years of heated IRA conflict) and not lost our collective minds in order to feel a little safer. Revoking such freedoms in order to feel a little safer will ultimately see us living in a police state.

    As Benjamin Franklin once stated: "Any society that would give up a little liberty to gain a little security will deserve neither and lose both."

    The WTC attacks have proved mighty useful in the US Governments continued and systematic attacks on individual freedoms. Looks like someone's been taking lesson's from history, seeing how they might benefit the current regime.

    ***

    'A federal judge Tuesday threw out a lawsuit filed against the U.S. government and the FBI over the agency’s spying on Orange County Muslims, ruling that allowing the suit to go forward would risk divulging sensitive state secrets.

    Comparing himself to Odysseus navigating the waters between a six-headed monster and a deadly whirlpool, U.S. District Court Judge Cormac Carney wrote that “the state secrets privilege may unfortunately mean the sacrifice of individual liberties for the sake of national security.”

    The judge said that he reached the decision reluctantly after reviewing confidential declarations filed by top FBI officials, and that he was convinced the operation in question involved “intelligence that, if disclosed, would significantly compromise national security.”

    Carney allowed the suit to stand against individual FBI agents and supervisors on Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act-related claims.

    The class-action lawsuit was brought by a group of Orange County Muslims who contended that their constitutional rights were trampled when the FBI sent an undercover informant into their midst to illegally spy on them.

    The controversy revolves around the actions of Craig Monteilh, who alleges that he posed as a Muslim convert at the behest of the FBI to collect information at Orange County mosques. The American Civil Liberties Union and the Council on American-Islamic Relations sued on behalf of community members who alleged that the FBI engaged in a “dragnet” investigation that indiscriminately targeted Muslims based on their religion, planted bugs in offices and homes, and listened in on private religious conversations.

    The U.S. government asserted the state secrets privilege in the case, contending that divulging their targets in counterterrorism investigations, as well as how and why, would endanger national security.

    Monteilh, a convict who the FBI acknowledges worked as an informant on a case dubbed Operation Flex, has since taken his story public and filed lengthy court papers for the ACLU outlining his FBI work.

    “That information could cause harm for years to come,” Department of Justice attorney Anthony Coppolino told Carney in court Tuesday.

    While acknowledging that asserting the state secrets privilege could be seen as “unfair or harsh,” Coppolino said it was necessary for the greater public good.

    ACLU attorney Ahilan Arulanantham argued that the government should not be allowed to “shut the courthouse door” simply by citing national security. “It’s contrary to the basic notion that the judiciary determines what the law is and holds the government to it,” he said. “We’re exempting huge swaths of government activity to judicial oversight.”'

    http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/lanow/2012/08/fbi.html
  • Anonymous releases how-to instructions on fooling facial recognition

    posted by Keito
    2012-08-24 19:50:58
    'Here’s a predicament: you don’t want the government using high-tech face scanning technology to track every inch of your walk to the post office, but you also don’t want to take a sledgehammer to your neighborhood surveillance camera. What do you do?

    Don’t worry, concerned citizen! Big Brother may indeed be watching, but that doesn’t mean you have to make his unwarranted surveillance mission easy to operate.

    Although little news has developed as of late in regards to TrapWire, a global surveillance operation that RT blew the cover off of nearly two weeks ago, opposition waged at the world-wide intelligence network is still rampant. Now in one of the newest videos uploaded to the Web to make people aware of TrapWire, a person claiming to be involved with Anonymous is trying to spread a YouTube clip that offers helpful suggestions on how to rage against the machine, properly and peacefully.

    Last week, hacktivists proposed several campaigns aimed at eliminating TrapWire feeds by rendering the equipment thought to be linked to the intelligence system completely useless. In lieu of smashing camera lenses and spraying surveillance gear in sudsy liquid, though, a new video, “Anonymous – Fighting TrapWire,” offers instructions on how to prevent the acceleration of the surveillance state by means of passive resistant.

    “Many of you have heard the recent stories about TrapWire,” the video begins. “Constant video surveillance is an issue we presently face. However, there are a number of ways that you can combat this surveillance.”

    From there, the clip’s narrator offers a few suggestions and helping the average American avoid getting caught in TrapWire without resorting to the destruction of property.

    “Wearing a mask is a common way to keep your identity hidden,” the voice explains, “However, a mask does not protect against biometric authentication. In addition, this can also cause problems depending where you want to go.”

    “Another way to avoid facial recognition is to tilt your head more than 15 degrees to the side,” the clip continues. “Due to limits in their programming, they will not be able to detect that a face is present, though there are very obvious cons to doing this. Using a similar method, you can distort your face through elaborate makeup. This method also takes advantage of software limits as the computer will not be able to detect a face. But these are tiresome ways that tend to draw attention to yourself. Surely there are better solutions to avoid being added to a database.”

    The narrator also explains that laser pointers have been documented to disrupt the powers of surveillance cameras and that, “With nothing more than a hat, some infrared LEDs, some wiring and a 9 Volt battery,” it’s a piece of cake to render oneself completely invisible. By rigging a DIY system of small lights affixed to a baseball cap, the video claims you can create a device that “guarantees complete anonymity to cameras while appearing perfectly normal to the rest of the world.”

    “While the government may be hell bent on watching us at every moment of every day, we are not helpless. There are always ways of fighting back. Let's remind them that 1984 was not an instruction manual,” the video concludes.'

    https://rt.com/usa/news/video-surveillance-face-trapwire-237/
  • The NSA Domestic Spying Program: The program Binney created for foreign intelligence gathering was turned inward on his own country

    posted by Keito
    2012-08-24 19:42:22
    'It took me a few days to work up the nerve to phone William Binney. As someone already a “target” of the United States government, I found it difficult not to worry about the chain of unintended consequences I might unleash by calling Mr. Binney, a 32-year veteran of the National Security Agency turned whistle-blower. He picked up. I nervously explained I was a documentary filmmaker and wanted to speak to him. To my surprise he replied: “I’m tired of my government harassing me and violating the Constitution. Yes, I’ll talk to you.”

    Two weeks later, driving past the headquarters of the N.S.A. in Maryland, outside Washington, Mr. Binney described details about Stellar Wind, the N.S.A.’s top-secret domestic spying program begun after 9/11, which was so controversial that it nearly caused top Justice Department officials to resign in protest, in 2004.

    “The decision must have been made in September 2001,” Mr. Binney told me and the cinematographer Kirsten Johnson. “That’s when the equipment started coming in.” In this Op-Doc, Mr. Binney explains how the program he created for foreign intelligence gathering was turned inward on this country. He resigned over this in 2001 and began speaking out publicly in the last year. He is among a group of N.S.A. whistle-blowers, including Thomas A. Drake, who have each risked everything — their freedom, livelihoods and personal relationships — to warn Americans about the dangers of N.S.A. domestic spying.

    To those who understand state surveillance as an abstraction, I will try to describe a little about how it has affected me. The United States apparently placed me on a “watch-list” in 2006 after I completed a film about the Iraq war. I have been detained at the border more than 40 times. Once, in 2011, when I was stopped at John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York and asserted my First Amendment right not to answer questions about my work, the border agent replied, “If you don’t answer our questions, we’ll find our answers on your electronics.”’ As a filmmaker and journalist entrusted to protect the people who share information with me, it is becoming increasingly difficult for me to work in the United States. Although I take every effort to secure my material, I know the N.S.A. has technical abilities that are nearly impossible to defend against if you are targeted.

    The 2008 amendments to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, which oversees the N.S.A. activities, are up for renewal in December. Two members of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, Senators Ron Wyden of Oregon and Mark Udall of Colorado, both Democrats, are trying to revise the amendments to insure greater privacy protections. They have been warning about “secret interpretations” of laws and backdoor “loopholes” that allow the government to collect our private communications. Thirteen senators have signed a letter expressing concern about a “loophole” in the law that permits the collection of United States data. The A.C.L.U. and other groups have also challenged the constitutionality of the law, and the Supreme Court will hear arguments in that case on Oct. 29.

    Laura Poitras is a documentary filmmaker who has been nominated for an Academy Award and whose work was exhibited in the 2012 Whitney Biennial. She is working on a trilogy of films about post-9/11 America. This Op-Doc is adapted from a work in progress to be released in 2013.'

    https://www.nytimes.com/2012/08/23/opinion/the-national-security-agencys-domestic-spying-program.html
  • TrapWire: Privacy No More? All-seeing eye tracks your every move

    posted by Keito
    2012-08-20 21:23:02