Tag Archives: surveillance society

Like, Dude!

Jebus H Ke-rist on a Fucking Pogo Stick.

In June, the Fourth Circuit ruled in favor of an employee who objected to having his hand scanned because he said it would brand him with the Mark of the Beast.

The EEOC sued on the employee’s behalf, saying he was entitled to a reasonable accommodation for his belief that the scanning would mark him as a follower of the Antichrist. The employer refused to let him just enter his ID number on a keypad (which apparently doesn’t present the same concern), and actually gave him a letter saying that under its interpretation of Scripture, it would be okay if he scanned his left hand and not his right.

He quit instead. The Fourth Circuit said there was no dispute the employee’s belief was sincere, and no reason not to accommodate it.

What is it with the fucking religious zealots? You don’t ever see any of us Dudeists throwing a tizzy over superstitious bullshit.

Like, dude, the Mark of the Beast is not the issue here!

Like, Dude!

Surveillance Society: Aadhaar

In 2009, with little attention from abroad, the government of India launched a new identification program that has gone on to become the largest biometric database in the world. The program, known as Aadhaar, has collected the names, addresses, phone numbers—and perhaps more significantly, fingerprints, photographs, and iris scans—of more than 1 billion people. In the process, Aadhaar has taken on a role in virtually all parts of day-to-day life in India, from schools to hospitals to banks, and has opened up pathways to a kind of large-scale data collection that has never existed before.

The Indian government views Aadhaar as a key solution for a myriad number of societal challenges, but critics see it as a step toward a surveillance state. Now, the Aadhaar experiment faces a significant threat from the Indian Supreme Court—one that may prove to be existential.

In late August, the Supreme Court issued a unanimous decision that found, for the first time, a fundamental right to privacy in the Indian Constitution. The decision has been widely celebrated by Aadhaar’s opponents, who believe that the program is in conflict with the newly enshrined right. Soon, the Supreme Court will direct its attention to this very issue, and if they find that Aadhaar violates privacy rights, it will be up to lawmakers to rethink the entire program. But if the Supreme Court rules that the program is constitutional, then Aadhaar, already staggering in scope and ambition, will continue to grow.

Surveillance Society: Aadhaar

The PWNIE Awards

The annual Pwnie Awards for serious security screw-ups saw hardly anyone collecting their prize at this year’s ceremony in Las Vegas.

That’s not surprising: government officials, US spy agencies, and software makers aren’t usually in the mood to acknowledge their failures.

The Pwnies give spray-painted pony statues to those who have either pulled off a great hack or failed epically. This year it was nation states that got a significant proportion of the prizes. The gongs are divided into categories, and nominations in each section are voted on by the hacker community. The ponies are then dished out every year at the Black Hat USA security conference in Sin City.

The award for best server-side bug went to the NSA’s Equation Group, whose Windows SMB exploits were stolen and leaked online this year by the Shadow Brokers. The tools attack three stunning vulnerabilities (CVE-2017-0143, 0144, 0145), and were later used by malware including WannaCrypt to wreck systems across the globe, forcing Microsoft to issue patches for out-of-date operating systems to fight the outbreak

While Uncle Sam’s snoops didn’t pick up their award, neither did other governments. The epic 0wnage award was split between North Korea and Russia for launching the WannaCry ransomware contagion and masterminding the Shadow Brokers, respectively.

Meanwhile, Australian prime minister Malcom Turnbull earned an award for the most epic fail for insisting the laws of Australia trump the laws of mathematics. The Aussie leader was told it’s not possible to backdoor encryption for counterterrorism snoops without ruining the crypto for everyone else, and was having none of it.

…All of this year’s nominations are here, and the results will be published on the awards website a little later.

The PWNIE Awards

No Masks

The AP reports that Jeremy Putnam, 31, was arrested in Winchester, Virginia, and charged with “wearing a mask in public,” a felony in that state.

He was armed with a “sword” 1  in public, which apparently alarmed residents. But they haven’t charged him with that; they’ve charged him with this, a fascinatingly terrible law:

§ 18.2-422. Prohibition of wearing of masks in certain places; exceptions.

It shall be unlawful for any person over 16 years of age to, with the intent to conceal his identity, wear any mask, hood or other device whereby a substantial portion of the face is hidden or covered so as to conceal the identity of the wearer…

…with specific exceptions for “traditional holiday costumes,” protective or medical masks, or ones for a “bona fide theatrical production or masquerade ball.”

The Joker

Funny how laws intended to do one thing end up doing something else entirely. Virginia’s law, like others passed in the South,  was originally aimed at unmasking the KKK. And now it’s being used against (putatively) innocent people who make poor choices in face painting. 2

The best interpretation of events is that the local gendarmerie recognized a mental health issue when that Glasgow smile was leering in their faces, and detained the individual, if only to refer him to the local nuthatch on a 48-hour observational hold.

On the other hand, given the Federal enactment of the Real ID Act 3 , combined with the FBI’s mandate that there be no smiling (much less Glasgow grins) on any state driver’s license (it fuck’s with the Feeb’s facial reconignition software), and the omniscient air surveillance engendered by Obama’s Drones Over Amerika program, it starting to look like Orwell’s 1984 arrived without anyone noticing.

No worries, though; we can trust the government 4 to do the right thing. And, failing that, there’s always the courts, n’est-ce pas?

No Masks

Show 4 footnotes

  1. WNBTv spoke with the reporter (Christopher Early) who covered the story for  The Winchester Star. He said “…the initial report came in as Mr. Putman having a sword, however, officers at the scene said he had a cane and also a small pocket-type knife.”
  2. Though, seriously  – what the hell, dude? Stop creeping everyone out. Go get a girlfriend and a life. You’ll feel better. I promise.
  3. You can see the debate on the Real ID Act right now in action in the Missouri legislature; we’re one of the few wayward states
  4. We trust OMP; don’t you?

Got to Feed the Monster

So it’s come to this; the DEA practices illegal theft to fund their agency.

We highly recommend you click through to peruse the entirety of the USA Today article.

As you read you will come to the realization that we have long since become Orwell’s Oceania: We are daily monitored and guided by an oppressive state apparatus, irrespective of ruling party. There can only be one solution to reclaim our freedom. It will not be pleasant, but it is necessary.

Federal drug agents regularly mine Americans’ travel information to profile people who might be ferrying money for narcotics traffickers — though they almost never use what they learn to make arrests or build criminal cases.

Instead, that targeting has helped the Drug Enforcement Administration seize a small fortune in cash.

DEA agents have profiled passengers on Amtrak trains and nearly every major U.S. airline, drawing on reports from a network of travel-industry informants that extends from ticket counters to back offices, a USA TODAY investigation has found. Agents assigned to airports and train stations singled out passengers for questioning or searches for reasons as seemingly benign as traveling one-way to California or having paid for a ticket in cash.

The DEA surveillance is separate from the vast and widely-known anti-terrorism apparatus that now surrounds air travel, which is rarely used for routine law enforcement. It has been carried out largely without the airlines’ knowledge.

It is a lucrative endeavor, and one that remains largely unknown outside the drug agency. DEA units assigned to patrol 15 of the nation’s busiest airports seized more than $209 million in cash from at least 5,200 people over the past decade after concluding the money was linked to drug trafficking, according to Justice Department records. Most of the money was passed on to local police departments that lend officers to assist the drug agency.

“They count on this as part of the budget,” said Louis Weiss, a former supervisor of the DEA group assigned to Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport. “Basically, you’ve got to feed the monster.”

Got to Feed the Monster

Surveillance Society

WASHINGTON — Republican senators moved Thursday to dismantle landmark internet privacy protections for consumers in the first decisive strike against telecommunications and technology regulations created during the Obama administration, and a harbinger of further deregulation.

The measure passed in a 50-to-48 vote largely along party lines. The House is expected to mirror the Senate’s action next week, followed by a signature from President Trump.

The move means Verizon, Comcast or AT&T can continue tracking and sharing people’s browsing and app activity without permission, and it alarmed consumer advocates and Democratic lawmakers. They warned that broadband providers have the widest look into Americans’ online habits, and that without the rules, the companies would have more power to collect data on people and sell sensitive information.

“These were the strongest online privacy rules to date, and this vote is a huge step backwards in consumer protection writ large,” said Dallas Harris, a policy fellow for the consumer group Public Knowledge. “The rules asked that when things were sensitive, an internet service provider asked permission first before collecting. That’s not a lot to ask.”

Fucking ReThugs…

We have mentioned TAILS, have we not? At the very least, go and download the TOR browser.

That way, at the very worst, only the NSA will be able to see what you’re up to. 1

Surveillance Society

Show 1 footnote

  1. And as yet the Federal government has not stooped to monetizing your personal data. But, hey! Don’t let OMP know – he’d stoop to anything.

See Something, Leak Something

Anonymous speech is firmly protected by the First Amendment and the Supreme Court, and its history in the U.S. dates to the Federalist Papers, written in 1787 and 1788 under the pseudonym Publius by three of the founding fathers.

But the technical ability for people to remain anonymous on today’s internet, where every scrap of data is meticulously tracked, is an entirely different issue. The FBI, a domestic intelligence agency that claims the power to spy on anyone based on suspicions that don’t come close to probable cause, has a long, dark history of violating the rights of Americans. And now it reports directly to President Trump, who is a petty, revenge-obsessed authoritarian with utter disrespect for the courts and the rule of law.

In this environment, how easy is it to create and maintain a Twitter account while preserving your anonymity — even from Twitter and any law enforcement agency that may request its records? I tried to find out, and documented all my steps. There are different ways to accomplish this…

See Something, Leak Something

Surveillance Society

JEFFERSON CITY – With crowds gathering for public protests, in Missouri and across the country, seemingly becoming the new normal, a state representative in Jefferson City aims to set down some new ground rules.

Republican Don Phillips from Kimberling City in southwest Missouri wants to make it illegal to wear a mask during a protest while crimes are being committed. Those crimes could range from looting to disorderly conduct.

“If there’s illegal activity going on, that’s when this kicks in,” said Representative Phillips.

HB179 will get its first public hearing in the Crime Prevention and Public Safety Committee, a committee chaired by Phillips, next week.

If it’s signed into law by Governor Eric Greitens, wearing a mask during a protest when crimes are being committed would be a Class B (sic 1) Misdemeanor.

“Public safety and law enforcement are two of the governor’s priorities,” Phillips told Five on Your Side. “I think it’s something he would be OK with, should it make it to his desk.”

Anyone who covers their face for religious or cultural reasons would be exempt from the proposed law.

Oh, shades of Kansas City’s infamous red light camera program!

Rep. Don Phillips (apparent moron and obvious ¡pendejo!) seems hell-bent on having his (putative) law end up before the Missouri Supreme Court. Much like Sly and the Council Stoned’s red light program, Phillips’ proposed ordinance is all kinds of stupid. Not to mention illegal:

This bill creates the crime of concealing a person’s identity if he or she is committing the crime of unlawful assembly or rioting and intentionally conceals his or her identity by the means of a robe, mask, or other disguise. If the defendant is wearing a robe, mask, or other disguise required by his or her religious beliefs, for safety, or for medical purposes, then the defendant will have an affirmative defense.

The crime of concealing a person’s identity is a Class A misdemeanor.

Hmmm; a few questions:

  • How does the Norsefire Party prove “intention”? 2
  • How does the Norsefire Party define religion? 3
  • As there is no way authorities can in advance be aware of an “unlawful assembly” 4, how can this bullhit excuse for a (putative) law ever be enforced?

Folks, there is a reason why soon it will be illegal in all 50 states to smile for your driver’s license photo – it fucks with the omnipresent facial recognition system.

Wake up, people. 5

Surveillance Society

Show 5 footnotes

  1. The actual text {see below} designates the offence as a Class A misdemeanor.
  2. It’s hard to keep those strainers atop one’s head; they often inadvertently slide down, covering one’s face.
  3. The CFSM is a legally recognized religion. As is our own denomination – Dudeism: In keeping with its tenents, we may well appear in public sporting a lovely sleeping mask, motherfuckers.
  4. Defined in Misosuri as “six or more people assemble and agree to violate criminal laws with force or violence”.
  5. A proven way to beat facial recognition is the use of colorful, wildly patterned oversize glass frames. Or get your funk on with Adam Harvey’s cammo wear.

CIA Executive Order 12333

Last Wednesday the CIA released information on the updated rules and regulations concerning collection of data and investigation of U.S. citizens. The site can be found at: “Office of Privacy and Civil Liberties”.

The justification for releasing this information –to our knowledge, for the very first time– is as follows:  “All of the CIA’s intelligence activities must be properly authorized, and the collection, retention, or dissemination of information concerning United States persons may only be conducted pursuant to specific procedures approved by the Director of the CIA and the Attorney General.

Site links are available below:

Should you desire to not leave IP traces 1  on the CIA website 2, the important files can be safely downloaded here and here.

Here is the definitive history of 12333.

CIA Executive Order 12333

Show 2 footnotes

  1. Because you stupidly are not using TAILS, or at least a TOR browser.
  2. Duh!

Becoming a Whistleblower

The most intriguing thing about the below article from The Intercept is their need to publish it at all. It argues that the other powerful western democracy, Great Britain, does not trust American journalists to do their job, n’est-ce pas? 1

If you’re a public servant in Washington, you may be worried about what your job will look like after January 20 — who you’ll be working for, what you’ll be asked to do. You might be concerned that the programs you’ve developed will be killed or misused. Or that you’ll be ordered to do things that are illegal or immoral.

You may be thinking you have no choice — or that your only alternative is to quit.

But there is another option. If you become aware of behavior that you believe is unethical, illegal, or damaging to the public interest, consider sharing your information securely with us. History shows the enormous value of government workers who discover abuses of power collaborating with journalists to expose them…

…More recently, the public only learned that President-elect Donald Trump avoided paying federal income tax for years because someone anonymously sent his tax returns to the New York Times. And the public heard a 2005 recording of Trump bragging about grabbing women “by the pussy” because someone leaked it to the Washington Post…

…In presidencies full of secrets and lies, truth-tellers are the strongest check against the abuse of power. The era of access journalism — where reporters treat government officials as arbiters of truth — is reaching its nadir. Whistleblower journalism is far better suited to the challenges facing the press and the citizenry today…

…If you choose to share your information with us, there are key steps you can take to increase your safety.

The best option is to use our SecureDrop server, which has the advantage of allowing us to send messages back to you, while allowing you to remain totally anonymous — even to us, if that is what you prefer.

  • •Begin by bringing your personal computer to a Wi-Fi network that isn’t associated with you or your employer, like one at a coffee shop. Download the Tor Browser. (Tor allows you to go online while concealing your IP address from the websites you visit.) 2
  • You can access our SecureDrop server by going to http://y6xjgkgwj47us5ca.onion/ in the Tor Browser. This is a special kind of URL that only works in Tor. Do NOT type this URL into a non-Tor Browser. It won’t work — and it will leave a record.
  • If that is too complicated, or you don’t wish to engage in back-and-forth communication with us, a perfectly good alternative is to simply send mail to P.O. Box 65679, Washington, D.C., 20035, or to The Intercept, 114 Fifth Avenue, 18th Floor, New York, New York, 10011. Drop it in a mailbox (do not send it from home, work or a post office) with no return address.

Here is what not to do:

  • Don’t contact us from work. Most corporate and government networks log traffic. Even if you’re using Tor, being the only Tor user at work could make you stand out.
  • Don’t email us, call us, or contact us on social media. From the standpoint of someone investigating a leak, who you communicate with and when is all it takes to make you a prime suspect.
  • Don’t tell anyone that you’re a source.

There are even more safety precautions you can take described here

Becoming a whistleblower is not an easy decision, but sometimes it is the right thing to do.

Becoming a Whistleblower

Show 2 footnotes

  1. Much as they started to under the Obama White House; the cult of personality blinded them to his excesses.
  2. Or use Tails instead; this is the BEST way of becoming anonymous…