Nations Fail to Restrain Surveillance Industry In The Wake Of Pegasus Revelations

One year after the Pegasus Project exposures, There has been a failure to introduce a global moratorium on spyware sales. Which is enabling the surveillance industry to grow unchecked.

The international scandal over Pegasus spyware, used by the Israeli authorities to spy on terrorists, broke in July 2021 after a joint media investigation unveiled that the spyware had also been used by private company NSO Group to conduct unlawful surveillance on politicians, businessmen, activists, journalists and opposition figures around the world.

Commenting upon the fairly unregulated growth of global surveillance industries , Amnesty international noted: “The Pegasus Project offered a wake-up call that action was urgently needed to regulate an industry that is out of control. Shamefully, governments worldwide are yet to step up and fully deal with this digital surveillance crisis,”

Currently, there are open investigations against NSO Group in France, India, Mexico, Poland and Spain. Nonetheless, most states have failed to mount a robust response to unlawful surveillance, Amnesty International noted.

“One year after the Pegasus spyware revelations shocked the world, it is alarming that surveillance companies are still profiting from human rights violations on a global scale… We continue to call for a global moratorium on the sale, transfer and use of spyware until human rights regulatory safeguards that govern its use are in place,” 

Under international law, states are not only obliged to uphold human rights, but also to protect them from abuse by third parties, including private companies.  unlawful surveillance infringes on the right to privacy as well as the rights to freedom of expression, belief, association, and peaceful assembly.

Via Sputnik

Ring Cameras Amassing Info On Users…And Their Neighbors

About 18% of Americans now own a video doorbell. That means a significant and growing slice of American neighborhoods are under a form of intermittent surveillance. If the surveillance video and associated data were the exclusive property of individual homeowners, it might not be of much concern. 

However, that’s not the case. For example, Ring, the company behind the top-selling brand, maintains a vast database on its users and their cameras. Ring is an Amazon subsidiary, thanks to the tech giant’s 2018 purchase of the company for over $1 billion.

Ring says it doesn’t sell its customers data, but sometimes it gives it away for free — to the police. In the first half of 2022 alone, Ring fielded more than 3,500 requests from law enforcement agencies. 

Ring keeps plenty of info that you’d expect them to have. According to Wired magazine:

“Ring gets your name, phone number, email and postal address, and any other information you provide to it—such as payment information or your social media handles if you link your Ring account to Facebook, for instance. The company also gets information about your Wi-Fi network and its signal strength, and it knows what you ‘ve named your camera “

Maybe you’ve opted against buying a Ring doorbell out of privacy concerns. That’s fine, but don’t forget that your neighbor’s Ring camera may be watching you — or even listening to you. Tests have found Ring cameras can record audio from 20 feet away.

If you’re strolling by a Ring-equipped house and talking to someone, you and your conversation could be in Ring’s database. The same is true if you’re on your own property and you’re close enough to a neighbor’s camera and microphone.

This isn’t just a question of whether you trust Amazon and Ring not to misuse your video, audio and associated data. There’s always the chance that your info could be hacked by common criminals — or the ones who work for the government.

Speaking of the latter, earlier this year, Amazon was awarded a $10 billion renewal of a secret NSA contract.

Via :Zerohedge

Declassified :CIA collecting data on American citizens, No accountability As usual.

The Central Intelligence Agency has been collecting American’s private data without any oversight or even the minimal legal safeguards that apply to the NSA and FBI, an unconstitutional affront to our civil liberties.

According to a declassified report released by the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board (PCLOB), the CIA’s surveillance program is reminiscent of the mass surveillance programs conducted by the NSA, though the details released thus far paint a disturbing picture of potential wide-scale violations of people’s privacy.

The CIA program has apparently been conducted outside the statutory reforms and oversight of the intelligence community instituted after revelations by Edward Snowden in 2013. The newly declassified CIA data collection program is carried out in conjunction with Executive Order 12333 and is therefore subject to even less oversight than the woefully under-supervised NSA surveillance programs subject to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act.

The agency said the programs involved “counterterrorism intelligence-related activities” that operated under Executive Order 12333. It also announced that portions of reports on the programs were being declassified.

As per senators, Ron Wyden of Oregon and Martin Heinrich of New Mexico,members of the Senate Intelligence Committee. The agency has conducted its own “bulk program” and “has done so outside the statutory framework that Congress and the public believe govern this collection.”

The report which was heavily redacted, did not indicate how long, exactly, the surveillance had unfolded, how widespread it had been, or what sort of information was collected and from whom. 

From that letter and a PCLOB “Staff Recommendations” document, we know that the CIA collects a vast amount of data, often on U.S. persons, without any clear guidelines about data retention and without substantial oversight of analysts querying information about U.S. citizens. The program seems to exist outside the jurisdiction of either courts or Congress–given that even the Senate Intelligence Committee was left in the dark about this program.

In their letter, Wyden and Heinrich inquire as to the nature of the CIA’s relationship to its “sources,” perhaps a reference to whether the CIA might be getting some of its data from the same place as the NSA—through secretive agreements with private companies. In 2013, it was reported that the CIA paid $10 million a year in order to gain access to AT&T’s call data. 

While the CIA is largely prohibited by law from “engaging in domestic spying,” which makes the revelations troubling. As the Wall Street Journal reports, at times intelligence agencies have found ways to circumvent these prohibitions, noting that “some U.S. intelligence programs collect broad streams of internet or telephone data in a way that can scoop up information on Americans.

The nature of the surveillance isn’t fully clear. Yet the language in the redacted letter suggests the program involves nontraditional surveillance, noting data collection is done in “bulk” and uses “backdoor searches of Americans. This implies the spy agency may be “vacuuming up” vast amounts of information “to spy on Americans” and storing it indefinitely.

Via MSN & Zerohedge

I.C.E. officials created a network that can spy on a majority of Americans.

Although it’s supposed to be restricted by surveillance rules at local, state and federal levels, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has built up a mass surveillance system that includes details on almost all US residents, according to a report from a major think tank. 

 ICE “now operates as a domestic surveillance agency” and it is able to bypass regulations in part by purchasing databases from private companies. 

“Since its founding in 2003, ICE has not only been building its own capacity to use surveillance to carry out deportations but has also played a key role in the federal government’s larger push to amass as much information as possible about all of our lives,” the report’s authors state. 

“By reaching into the digital records of state and local governments and buying databases with billions of data points from private companies, ICE has created a surveillance infrastructure that enables it to pull detailed dossiers on nearly anyone, seemingly at any time.”

The researchers spent two years looking into ICE to put together the extensive report, which is called “American Dragnet: Data-Driven Deportation in the 21st Century.” They obtained information by filing hundreds of freedom of information requests and scouring more than 100,000 contracts and procurement records.

Over the years, privacy law experts and civil rights activists and attorneys have accused ICE of overreach in its surveillance tactics directed at immigrants and Americans alike, but the Georgetown report paints a picture of an agency that has gone well beyond its immigration enforcement mandate, instead evolving into something of a broader domestic surveillance agency.

The agency is said to be using data from the Department of Motor Vehicles and utility companies, along with the likes of call records, child welfare records, phone location data, healthcare records and social media posts. ICE is now said to hold driver’s license data for 74 percent of adults and can track the movement of cars in cities that are home to 70 percent of the adult population in the US.

ICE spent an estimated $2.8 billion between 2008 and 2021 on surveillance, data collection and data-sharing initiatives, according to the Georgetown report. The scale of ICE surveillance came as a shock to the report’s authors.

The authors wrote that ICE is able to carry out these actions in secret and without warrants. Along with the data it acquired from other government departments, utilities, private companies and third-party data brokers, “the power of algorithmic tools for sorting, matching, searching and analysis has dramatically expanded the scope and regularity of ICE surveillance,” .  ICE has been able to sidestep congressional oversight and bypass attempts at state level to curtain its surveillance capabilities

“ICE has been able to build massive surveillance capabilities without needing authorization and without congressional oversight,” said Allison McDonald, a research fellow and co-author of the report. “That they have been able to build such an expansive infrastructure in relative secrecy is setting an alarming example for how federal agencies can evade scrutiny.”

Sources:

Yahoo News

Engadget.com

EU creating massive facial recognition based surveillance system

For the past 15 years, police forces searching for criminals in Europe have been able to share fingerprints, DNA data, and details of vehicle owners with each other. Now European lawmakers are set to include millions of photos of people’s faces in this system—and allow facial recognition to be used on an unprecedented scale.

The expansion of facial recognition across Europe is included in wider plans to “modernize” policing across the continent, and it comes under the Prüm II data-sharing proposals. The original Prüm Convention was signed in 2005 by Austria, Belgium, France, Germany, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, and Spain, outside of the EU’s framework – but “open” to the bloc’s other member countries, 14 out of 27 of which have since joined.

The treaty is meant to increase cross-border cooperation in tackling crime and terrorism. What this has meant so far is that the parties to the treaty have been collecting, processing, and sharing data like fingerprints, DNA, information about owners of vehicles, and the like.

What you are creating is the most extensive biometric surveillance infrastructure that I think we will ever have seen in the world,” says Ella Jakubowska, a policy adviser at the civil rights NGO European Digital Rights (EDRi).

Prüm II plans to significantly expand the amount of information that can be shared, potentially including photos and information from driving licenses. The proposals from the European Commission also say police will have greater “automated” access to information that’s shared. The massive database would then be available to police in various countries across Europe to match against photos of suspects using facial recognition algorithms, in an automated process.

Facial recognition technology has faced significant pushback in recent years as police forces have increasingly adopted it, and it has misidentified people and derailed lives. Dozens of cities in the US have gone as far as banning police forces from using the technology. The EU is debating a ban on the police use of facial recognition in public places as part of its AI Act.

The European proposals allow a nation to compare a photo against the databases of other countries and find out if there are matches—essentially creating one of the largest facial recognition systems in existence

The European data protection superviser (EDPS), who oversees how EU bodies use data under GDPR, has criticized the planned expansion of Prüm, which could take several years. “Automated searching of facial images is not limited only to serious crimes but could be carried out for the prevention, detection, and investigation of any criminal offenses, even a petty one,”

EU spokespeople claim that “a human will review potential matches,” said the report.

Sources : Reclaim the Net

Wired.com

FBI Spying On Americans Nearly Triples In 1 Year

The FBI made queries into almost 3.4 million Americans between December 2020 and November 2021, the US intelligence community admitted in an official report on Friday. The FBI said it was looking for foreign hackers, but civil libertarian groups called it an “enormous” invasion of privacy.

The FBI alone made “fewer than 3,394,053” queries of US citizens in that time period, related to information collected under the controversial authority to spy on foreigners. The findings were made public in the Annual Intelligence Community Transparency Report.

The electronic data was collected legally under Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, the report claims. According to the ODNI, the number is due to “a number of large batch queries related to attempts to compromise U.S. critical infrastructure by foreign cyber actors” in the first half of 2021, which “included approximately 1.9 million query terms related to potential victims – including US persons.” 

This accounts for the “vast majority of the increase in US person queries conducted by FBI over the prior year,” There were fewer than 1.3 million such queries in the December 2019 to November 2020 period, according to the same findings.

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) has reacted, calling the FBI’s behavior an invasion of privacy “on an enormous scale.” “Today’s report sheds light on the extent of these unconstitutional ‘backdoor searches,’ and underscores the urgency of the problem,” ACLU Senior Staff Attorney Ashley Gorski said in a statement. “It’s past time for Congress to step in to protect Americans’ Fourth Amendment rights.”

Section 702 of the FISA act allows the DNI and the US attorney general to target non-US persons located outside of the US in order to acquire foreign intelligence. 

Original story: Here

F.B.I. looks to (further) expand it’s Social media surveillance network

Data mining AI company Panamerica Computers is partnering up with the FBI to give a boost to their online surveillance capabilities. The contract is worth up to $27 million, and will provide the FBI with 5,000 licenses for one of its tools.

The licenses,give the FBI – specifically its Strategic Technology Unit of Directorate of Intelligence – the right to use a data analytics tool called Babel X, which harvests user data, including location, from the internet.

When the FBI issued a procurement call for a tool, whose purpose, boiled down, is to track a massive number of social media posts, the agency said that it must provide capability of searching multiple social media sites, in multiple languages.

As per FBI’s procurement documents, the tool had to be able to scrape data from Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, LinkedIn, Deep/Dark Web, VK, and Telegram, while being able to do the same with Snapchat, TikTok. Reddit, 8Kun, Gab, Parler, ask.fm, Weibo, and Discord would be considered a plus.

In addition, the FBI said it would prefer more “fringe” as well as encrypted messaging platforms to be included in the winning bid. Another requirement was for the tool to carry out surveillance of these sites continuously, while the data collected would be held by the vendor and then pushed to the FBI.

Original Story via: Reclaim the Net

CDC Tracked Millions Of Americans During Lockdowns To Monitor Movement, Compliance

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) spied on millions of Americans using cell phone location data in order to track movements and monitor whether people were complying with lockdown curfews during the pandemic.

According to CDC documents from 2021 obtained by Motherboard via a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request, the program tracked patterns of people visiting K-12 schools – and in one case, monitored “the effectiveness of policy in the Navajo Nation.” The documents reveal that while the CDC used the pandemic to justify purchasing the data more quickly, it actually intended to use it for general agency purposes.

The documents reveal the expansive plan the CDC had last year to use location data from a highly controversial data broker. SafeGraph, the company the CDC paid $420,000 for access to one year of data.

The data which was purchased comes from cell phones – meaning SafeGraph can track where a person lives, works, and where they’ve been, and then sell that data to various entities.

The data which the CDC bought was aggregated – which is designed to follow broad trends in how people are moving around, however researchers have raised concerns over how location data can be deanonymized to track specific individuals.

The CDC seems to have purposefully created an open-ended list of use cases, which included monitoring curfews, neighbor to neighbor visits, visits to churches, schools and pharmacies, and also a variety of analysis with this data specifically focused on ‘violence,'” said Zach Edwards, a cybersecurity researcher who closely follows the data marketplace.

As far as unmasking individuals, Edwards noted how SafeGraph’s data can be used to pinpoint certain people.

In my opinion the SafeGraph data is way beyond any safe thresholds [around anonymity],” he said, pointing to one result in SafeGraph’s user interface that showed individual movements to a specific doctor’s office – indicating how finely tuned the ‘aggregated’ data actually is.

Cell phone location data has been used throughout the pandemic for various purposes – including by media organizations reporting on how people were traveling once lockdowns began to lift.

That said, the CDC wanted the data for more than just tracking Covid-19 policy response. While the procurement documents say the data is for “an URGENT COVID-19 PR [procurement request],” one of the included use cases reads “Research points of interest for physical activity and chronic disease prevention such as visits to parks, gyms, or weight management businesses.”

The data purchased by the CDC was SafeGraph’s “U.S. Core Place Data,” “Weekly Patterns Data,” and “Neighborhood Patterns Data,” the latter of which includes information such as ‘home dwelling time’ which is aggregated by state and census block, per Motherboard.

Both SafeGraph and the CDC have previously touched on their partnership, but not in the detail that is revealed in the documents. The CDC published a study in September 2020 which looked at whether people around the country were following stay-at-home orders, which appeared to use SafeGraph data. 

Via Zerohedge

Original Story: Motherboard

Digital Surveillance — the Real Motive Behind The Push to Vaccinate Kids.

Original Article by Michael Nevradakis, Ph.D.

COVID-19 may have caught much of the planet by surprise in late 2019 and early 2020, but much of the groundwork for the technology now widely used as a “response” to the pandemic was conceptualized and developed years prior.

In the U.S. and throughout the world, there has been a recent push to implement a variety of “vaccine passport” regimes, many of which rely on digital technologies such as mobile applications to carry a record of — so far, at least — one’s Covid-19 vaccination records.

These “tools” are presented by public officials and significant sections of the media in recent weeks and months as an inevitability of sorts, a technological progression as natural as breathing.They are also presented as a “new” response to an unprecedented crisis.

These technological applications are touted as a means of keeping businesses open and ensuring “peace of mind” for members of the public who remain wary about entering public spaces.But just how new is this “new” technology? And will the use of technology be limited to COVID vaccinations, or for purposes of “health?”

International ‘alliances’ backing the melding of ‘Big Tech’ and ‘Big Health’

t was the beginning of the preceding decade, January 2010, when Bill Gates, via the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, proclaimed “we must make this the decade of vaccines,” adding that “innovation will make it possible to save more children than ever before.”

In launching this so-called “Decade of Vaccines,” the Gates Foundation pledged $10 billion in funding. But Gates wasn’t the only actor behind this initiative.

For instance, the “Decade of Vaccines” program used a model originating from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health to project the potential impact of vaccines on childhood deaths throughout the decade to come. And the announcement for the “Decade of Vaccines” initiative was made at that year’s annual meeting of the World Economic Forum (WEF).

These same actors — the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and the WEF — organized the now-notorious Event 201 pandemic simulation exercise, in October 2019, just before COVID entered our lives.

Prepping Future Generations for Mass Surveillance

As reported by investigative journalist Leo Hohmann:

“The Bill Gates’ Gavi Vaccine Alliance in 2018 published a paper on its INFUSE program that ought to be required reading for every parent of young children. Published more than a year before anyone had heard of Covid-19, the document explains why Fauci, Gates and the corrupt U.S. government are so intent on getting these “vaccines” into the bodies of younger and younger people.

The Gavi alliance, flush with $1.16 billion in taxpayer dollars is partnering with the World Economic Forum, the United Nations, the Gates Foundation and other globalist organizations to advocate for creating a registered, verifiable, digital ID for every child on the planet. This ID will be tied to each child’s vaccination status.

“Don’t be confused by the bit about ‘building a healthier and more prosperous future.’ That’s just window dressing. This is all about data collection and has nothing to do with health.

“The real purpose behind the historic, unprecedented push to vaccinate the very young, even against diseases like COVID that do not pose a threat to them, is to fold the current generation of children into the blossoming global digital identity system.”

Taking ‘health passports’ a step (or more) further: digital wallet regimes take shape

The U.S. House of Representatives on Nov. 30 passed H.R. 550, the Immunization Infrastructure Modernization Act of 2021.

If passed by Congress, this law would provide $400 million in funding to expand vaccine-tracking systems at the state and local level, enabling state health officials to monitor the vaccination status of American citizens and to provide this information to the federal government.

Meanwhile, several states, including New York (via its “Excelsior Pass”) and Connecticut introduced their own digital COVID vaccination certificate. New York went so far as to make a “blueprint” of its vaccine pass platform available, “as a guide to assist other states, territories, and entities in the expansion of compatible COVID-19 vaccine credential systems to advance economic development efforts nationwide.”

The rollout of digital platforms gives rise to questions about the safety of individuals’ data on these digital platforms, despite government reassurances to the contrary regarding privacy.

Moreover, it remains unclear how long “COVID passports,” whether in digital or paper form, will remain enforced, or if governments plan to make such a regime permanent.

Read the original article :Here

Canada’s Mass surveillance tracked 33 million citizens during Covid lockdown’s

Original Article via : The National Post

The Public Health Agency of Canada(PHAC) accessed location data from 33 million mobile devices to monitor people’s movement during lockdown, the agency revealed this week. (That’s 3/4’s of Canada’s total population Btw)

“Due to the urgency of the pandemic, (PHAC) collected and used mobility data, such as cell-tower location data, throughout the COVID-19 response,” a spokesperson stated.

PHAC used the location data to evaluate the effectiveness of public lockdown measures and allow the Agency to “understand possible links between movement of populations within Canada and spread of COVID-19,” the spokesperson said. The Agency is planning to track population movement for roughly the next five years, including to address other public health issues, such as “other infectious diseases, chronic disease prevention and mental health,” the spokesperson added.

Privacy advocates raised concerns to the National Post about the long-term implications of the program. “I think that the Canadian public will find out about many other such unauthorized surveillance initiatives before the pandemic is over—and afterwards,” David Lyon, author of Pandemic Surveillance and former director of the Surveillance Studies Centre at Queen’s University, said in an email.

Lyon warned that PHAC “uses the same kinds of ‘reassuring’ language as national security agencies use, for instance not mentioning possibilities for re-identifying data that has been ‘de-identified.’”

“In principle, of course, cell data can be used for tracking.”Increased use of surveillance technology during the COVID-19 pandemic has created a new normal in the name of security, Lyon said.

The pandemic has created opportunities for a massive surveillance surge on many levels—not only for public health, but also for monitoring those working, shopping and learning from home.”

“Evidence is coming in from many sources, from countries around the world, that what was seen as a huge surveillance surge—post 9/11—is now completely upstaged by pandemic surveillance,”

The pandemic has created opportunities for a massive surveillance surge on many levels—not only for public health, but also for monitoring those working, shopping and learning from home.”

PHAC’s privacy management division conducted an assessment and “determined that since no personal information is being acquired through this contract, there are no concerns under the Privacy Act,” the PHAC spokesperson said.

US Blacklists Chinese Biotech Groups For DNA Collection Technology & Mass Surveillance

Original article via: Zerohedge

The Biden administration announced it has placed China’s Academy of Military Medical Sciences along with 11 other institutes involved in biotechnology on an export blacklist for their involvement in assisting the Communist government’s oppression and surveillance of its Muslim Uighur population.

Among other things the companies’ advanced technology is used for DNA collection as a key social control measure in the Xinjiang region, as part of efforts to use genetic technology to further mass surveillance capabilities. Further the Treasury Department was cited as saying the “action highlights how private firms in China’s defense and surveillance technology sectors are actively cooperating with the government’s efforts to persecute ethnic minorities.”

Included in the blacklist of entities that US firms can no longer invest in are commercial drone-making giant DJI Technology Co. and government linked facial-recognition technology development companies. It follows on the heels of prior sanctions days ago, most notably against the large facial recognition company SenseTime.

Additionally making the list are the facial recognition software start-up company Megvii, as well as Dawning Information Industry, which provides supercomputer-based cloud-computing services in Xinjiang. Commerce and Treasury’s growing list of banned Chinese military-industrial complex companies will by the end of this week reach almost 70.

Years ago, The Wall Street Journal and others began investigating Beijing’s attempts to build the world’s largest ever DNA security database, which could ensnare the “innocent and guilty alike”

Nationwide, police have a goal of almost doubling China’s current DNA trove to 100 million records by 2020, according to a Wall Street Journal examination of documents from police departments across China. “To get there, they need to gather almost as many records each year as are in the entire national database the U.S. has built over two decades.”

China Does not stand alone in DNA surveillance

In the U.S. DNA collection and profiling are quickly becoming cheaper, faster, easier, and more prevalent in society. Federal laws and regulations and an increasing number of state laws now require law enforcement to collect DNA from all people arrested for a crime—whether or not they are ever convicted. Federal and state DNA databanks have expanded exponentially over the last several years. The FBI’s federal CODIS DNA database now contains over 11.4 million DNA profiles.

The U.S. Justice Department recently amended the DNA Fingerprint Act of 2005 that cleared the way for DNA collection from detained immigrants, including asylum seekers whose status hasn’t yet been resolved. DNA collections from detained immigrants were ostensibly in the interest of “national security”, with results being stored in the federal DNA database for criminals (CODIS),while CODIS has strict regulations, it has expanded dramatically since its inception in 1990.

Via EFF.Org / Federal Dna collection

Further Reading- Global DNA databases

DNA Data storage

Worldwide DNA Surveillance