Anti-war protesters banned from demonstrating against Bush

London police have announced a ban on anti-war campaigners hoping to protest against President George Bush’s visit to Downing Street this Sunday. The Whitehall ban has been immediately condemned as a “totalitarian act” by the playwright Harold Pinter, while Stop the War organisers are urging people to defy it and to demonstrate nearby in Parliament Square.

In what is supposed to be a free country the Stop the War Coalition has every right to express its views peacefully and openly. This ban is outrageous and makes the term ‘democracy’ laughable,” Pinter said today.

Lindsey German, a leader of the Stop the War Coalition, said: “It seems that when George W Bush visits this country traditional rights of assembly are to be removed from the people.
We are calling on those who care for our democratic rights to come to Parliament Square at 5pm on Sunday 15 June. Some of those who signed statements accusing Bush of war crimes will be leading this protest.

“George Bush has been dictating British foreign policy for many years. Now it appears his security services are determining our rights of protest. This is a disgrace and we will challenge the ban.”

Read moreAnti-war protesters banned from demonstrating against Bush

German government backs enhanced surveillance


Wolfgang Schauble, Minister of the Interior for Germany, at the First International Security Forum of Ministers of Interior and Public Security in Jerusalem on May 29. (Menahem Kahana/Agence France-Presse)

BERLIN: Despite strong criticism from the opposition and even its own coalition partners, Chancellor Angela Merkel’s government agreed Wednesday to give Germany’s police forces greater powers to monitor homes, telephones and private computers, maintaining that an enhanced reach would protect citizens from terrorist attacks.

But opposition parties and some Social Democrats who share power with Merkel’s conservative bloc criticized the measures in the draft legislation, saying they would further erode privacy rights that they contend have already been undermined, after revelations of recent snooping operations conducted by Deutsche Telekom, one of the country’s biggest companies.

Deutsche Telekom had for some time been monitoring calls of its employers, despite federal regulations on strict data protection.

The proposed legislation would for the first time give federal police officers the right to take preventive measures in cases of suspected terrorism.

The bill, for example, calls for video surveillance of private apartments, online computer searches and phone monitoring.

But the nature of the surveillance, which would require the approval of the Bundestag, the lower house of Parliament, has worried many Germans, with some commentators recalling the Nazi past and its vast machinery of spying. They also point to the more recent role of the Stasi, the hated secret police in the once Communist-ruled East Germany, which established a pervasive system of keeping tabs on almost everyone in the country.

The draft law was fashioned after months of intense debate led by Wolfgang Schäuble, the conservative interior minister, who has long wanted the security forces to be given more leeway for surveillance.

Read moreGerman government backs enhanced surveillance

Why are the police using surveillance on journalists?

Police should stop routine surveillance of reporters and photographers covering demonstrations in London, the National Union of Journalists has told Home Secretary Jacqui Smith.

NUJ general secretary Jeremy Dear made the call in a letter to Smith after receiving complaints that journalists, particularly photographers, were facing what amounted to harassment by members of the Metropolitan Police Forward Intelligence Team (FIT).

Dear said the NUJ had serious concerns about the FIT’s activities in monitoring and recording the activities of bona fide journalists, especially photographers.

“A number of members have alleged that the police’s surveillance action amounts to virtual harassment and is a serious threat to their right to carry out their lawful employment,” he said.

Read moreWhy are the police using surveillance on journalists?

Study secretly tracks cell phone users outside US

Researchers secretly tracked the locations of 100,000 people outside the United States through their cell phone use and concluded that most people rarely stray more than a few miles from home.

The first-of-its-kind study by Northeastern University raises privacy and ethical questions for its monitoring methods, which would be illegal in the United States.

It also yielded somewhat surprising results that reveal how little people move around in their daily lives. Nearly three-quarters of those studied mainly stayed within a 20-mile-wide circle for half a year.

The scientists would not disclose where the study was done, only describing the location as an industrialized nation.

Researchers used cell phone towers to track individuals’ locations whenever they made or received phone calls and text messages over six months. In a second set of records, researchers took another 206 cell phones that had tracking devices in them and got records for their locations every two hours over a week’s time period.

The study was based on cell phone records from a private company, whose name also was not disclosed.

Study co-author Cesar Hidalgo, a physics researcher at Northeastern, said he and his colleagues didn’t know the individual phone numbers because they were disguised into “ugly” 26-digit-and-letter codes.

That type of nonconsensual tracking would be illegal in the United States, according to Rob Kenny, a spokesman for the Federal Communications Commission. Consensual tracking, however, is legal and even marketed as a special feature by some U.S. cell phone providers.

Read moreStudy secretly tracks cell phone users outside US

Study: Surveillance software revenue to quadruple by 2013

Wi-Fi and other technological advances boosting video surveillance adoption

In a new study that has potentially Orwellian implications, ABI Research projects that revenue for video surveillance software will quadruple over the next five years.

According to ABI Vice President and Research Director Stan Schatt, revenue generated from surveillance software will increase to more than US$900 million in 2013, up from current revenues of US$245 million. Schatt says there are several big drivers for this increase, including increased spending on security systems by the government, on theft prevention systems by retail outlets and on surveillance by market researchers. Additionally, he says that the advent of Wi-Fi has made it possible to place wireless cameras just about anywhere while still sending footage back to a central location.

Looking at the broader picture, Schatt says that technological advances are also increasing the scope and the potential uses of video surveillance. He says that one of the more disturbing uses is the ability of store marketing departments to actually monitor the eyeball movements of customers to figure out what products or displays draw their attention.

“When stores have the ability to observe you as you walk through a store, what I can imagine is that more and more stores will try to basically have a pretty in-depth knowledge of their customers,” he says. “So let’s say for instance the store issues you a discount card that also has a radio frequency ID that identifies who you are. And then let’s say they observe you looking at, but not actually purchasing, movies in the adult video section. Well, the next thing you know you’re getting all these promotional materials for racy movies you’re not even interested in.”

Read moreStudy: Surveillance software revenue to quadruple by 2013

Terror law turns thousands of council officials into spies

Relatively junior council officials are giving permission for operations to spy on people
Relatively junior council officials are giving permission for operations to spy on people

Thousands of middle managers in local councils are being authorised to spy on people suspected of petty offences using powers designed to prevent crime and terrorism.Even junior council officials are being allowed to initiate surveillance operations in what privacy campaigners likened to Eastern bloc police tactics.

The Home Office is expected to be urged by the Commons Home Affairs select committee to issue guidelines to councils on the type of operations in which surveillance can be used.

Amid increasing concern in Parliament that the UK is slowly becoming a surveillance society, the committee has looked at the operation of the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act (Ripa), which some MPs say is being misused to focus on petty crime rather than serious offending.

Keith Vaz, chairman of the Commons Home Affairs select committee, told The Times: “I am personally shocked by the numbers involved in surveillance by the local authorities. It is important we make sure there is proper accountability and transparency in the way this operates.” The committee, which has concluded an investigation into the surveillance society and is to publish its report in eight days’ time, is understood to have been concerned at the lack of guidance from central government to local authorities on how powers under the Act should be used.

Councils are increasingly allowing anyone of a “service manager” grade rather than high-ranking officials with a legal background to authorise surveillance operations. Relatively junior council officials are giving permission for operations to spy on people, their homes, obtain their telephone records and discover who they are e-mailing.

“A lot of councils are making the proactive decision to use these powers more,” a spokesman for Lacors, the central body that oversees local authorities, said.

“They think it’s a fantastic tool. Inevitably, more middle-management staff will be called on to authorise surveillance.”

Read moreTerror law turns thousands of council officials into spies

Bob Barr A Poor Representative Of Liberty

The Libertarian Party recently nominated former Republican Congressman Bob Barr as their presidential nominee. This nomination represents a compromise of the principles that the Libertarian Party used to stand for. Party members decided that they were going to sell out the principles of their party in exchange for some coverage in the corporate controlled media. Is some coverage in the establishment media worth having a man at the front of the party with an incredibly dubious past pertaining to freedom and liberty? Although it is possible that Barr might have changed his ways and realized his mistakes for not abiding by the Constitution, his record speaks for itself. Barr voted in favor of the Patriot Act, worked for the CIA throughout the 1970s and supported the phony war on drugs for several years. The Patriot Act is one of the most tyrannical pieces of legislation ever passed in the history of the United States. The war on drugs is entirely against the principles of the Libertarian Party. Considering Barr’s record of supporting anti-freedom policies and legislation, he is not a suitable choice to vote for in the general election. If you want to vote for a candidate that believes in liberty and the Constitution, write in Ron Paul.

Barr won the nomination over Mary Ruwart who would have been a fine candidate to promote the Libertarian cause. Ruwart is an author who has supported the cause of individual freedom for many years. She is a long time member of the Libertarian party and had none of the baggage that Barr has. By selecting Barr as the presidential nominee, the Libertarian Party has selected a poor representative.

Below is a blurb from a Bloomberg report talking about how Barr has upset many Libertarians with his dubious past.

Barr has angered Libertarians by backing what they view as abuses of government, including efforts to crack down on drugs and his vote for the Patriot Act, which gave the government expanded powers, such as wiretapping, to fight terrorism. Civil libertarians condemn his co-sponsorship of the Defense of Marriage Act, which prohibits federal recognition of same-sex marriages, and his opposition to abortion.

Read moreBob Barr A Poor Representative Of Liberty

Gingrich quips Bush should have allowed some ‘reminder’ attacks

During an appearance at a Long Island bookstore last month, former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich was asked by a member of the audience why the United States has not been hit again since 9/11.

“I honestly don’t know,” Gingrich replied. “I would have expected another attack. I was very, very worried … when we had the sniper attacks, because the sniper attacks were psychologically so frightening. … I was amazed that the bad guys didn’t figure out how to send ten or twelve sniper teams.”

“This is … one of the great tragedies of the Bush administration,” Gingrich continued. “The more successful they’ve been at intercepting and stopping bad guys, the less proof there is that we’re in danger. And therefore, the better they’ve done at making sure there isn’t an attack, the easier it is to say, ‘Well, there never was going to be an attack anyway.’ And it’s almost like they should every once in a while have allowed an attack to get through just to remind us.”

Gingrich then recommended splitting the FBI into a domestic crime unit, which would respect civil liberties, and a “small but very aggressive anti-terrorism agency” with “extraordinary ability to eavesdrop.”

“I think that your liberties in a domestic setting are paramount,” Gingrich explained. “I would rather risk crime than risk losing my civil liberties. But I would not rather risk a nuclear weapon. … I think the greatest danger to our liberty is to actually have the country end up in the kind of attack that would lead us to favor a dictatorship for security.

This video is from C-SPAN 2, broadcast April 29, 2008. The full video can be viewed here.


Download video

David Edwards and Muriel Kane
Published: Thursday May 29, 2008

Source: The Raw Story

Medical Tyranny: Patient Refuses Rectal Exam, Doctor Won’t Butt Out

(NaturalNews) Many people are under the impression that patients in the U.S. have the right to decline treatment if they are mentally competent and aware of the consequences of such a refusal. However, that doesn’t seem to be the case if you visit certain hospitals. A construction worker who was hit in the head while on the job was taken to New York-Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center where he received eight stitches above his left eyebrow. When a doctor informed him that he needed to have a rectal exam in order to ascertain whether or not he sustained a spinal injury, the patient flatly refused the treatment.

What happened next is scary. While hospital personnel tried to hold the patient down in order to administer the exam anyway, very much against the patient’s wishes, the patient accidentally hit a doctor while trying to break loose. Unfortunately, the hospital staff did not wish to take “no” for an answer, and the patient was drugged and later awoke with a tube in his throat and lubricant in his rectum, handcuffed to a bed. It seems doctors have the authority to decide to ignore the wishes of a patient if they feel the patient is incapable of making an informed decision.

While it might be reasonable to give doctors some latitude in these matters, the story doesn’t seem to make sense. If the patient was truly unable to make an informed decision about his medical care, why were misdemeanor assault charges filed against him for hitting the doctor? Surely a patient who was incapable of rational thought should not be held accountable if he were truly not thinking clearly and only acting out due to an injury? Curiously, they all thought he was thinking clearly enough to have him arrested for his actions but not clearly enough to have the right to informed consent concerning his care.

Just how necessary is a rectal exam when someone sustains a head injury, anyway? Clearly, not everyone who sustains a head injury and goes to an emergency room receives a rectal exam, and some medical professionals say that there are less invasive procedures that can be used to determine the neurological status of a patient. The patient in this case was quite responsive. He knew what exam the doctors wanted to do, and he knew why. His lawyer insists that things should’ve come to a halt the moment he said “no.”

What is most disturbing to health freedom advocates is that the patient did not prevail in his lawsuit against the hospital. Hopefully, his lawyers will file an appeal. If any neurological testing needs to be done, perhaps it would best be done on the jury members who apparently have butts where their brains should be.

References:

(http://ap.google.com/article/ALeqM5gn7nIqTvF7zSx6NAjqcHp5xD5AUAD906RT180)

(http://cityroom.blogs.nytimes.com/2008/04/21/lawsuit/)

About the author

Joanne Waldron is a computer scientist with a passion for writing and sharing health-related news and information with others. She runs the Naked Wellness: The Gentle Health Revolution forum, which is devoted to achieving radiant health, well-being, and longevity.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Source: Natural News

German Telecom Rocked By Spy Scandal

Former telecoms monopoly Deutsche Telekom over the weekend became the latest German firm to be rocked by revelations of spying on its employees.

Deutsche Telekom, Europe’s biggest phone company, confirmed on Saturday allegations in Spiegel magazine that it hired an outside firm to track hundreds of thousands of phone calls by senior executives and journalists in 2005-6.

It denied that the Berlin consultancy firm listened to the conversations, instead merely logging details on who phoned whom as well as the time and duration of the calls.

Spiegel said that “Operation Clipper” and “Operation Rheingold” were set up in order to identify the source of leaks of sensitive financial information to financial journalists.

Chief executive Rene Obermann, who was not in charge when the spying took place, said that state prosecutors and a law firm in Cologne were investigating the affair.

Less than 20 years after the fall of the Berlin Wall and the demise of the Stasi secret police in communist East Germany, Germans are particularly sensitive about infringements into their privacy.

Other firms have also been accused of spying on their own workers.

The biggest such scandal involved Lidl, one of German’s biggest budget supermarket chains, which reportedly violated labour laws by by installing hidden cameras in its stores to systematically keep tabs on staff.

Lidl even recorded employees when they used the toilet, their conversations while on break, and kept track on who their friends outside work were, reports said in March.

Anti-terrorism surveillance measures introduced by the government such as installing secret cameras in terror suspects’ homes and including biometric data on passports have also riled civil liberties groups.

May 25 08:04 PM US/Eastern

Source: AFP

Libertarian Party picks Barr as presidential candidate

The Libertarian Party on Sunday picked former Republican Rep. Bob Barr to be its presidential candidate after six rounds of balloting.

Barr beat research scientist Mary Ruwart, who also sought the party’s presidential nomination unsuccessfully in 1983, on the final ballot. The vote was 324-276.

Barr endorsed Wayne Allyn Root, who was eliminated in the fifth round, to be his vice-presidential nominee.

Barr left the GOP in 2006 over what he called bloated spending and civil liberties intrusions by the Bush administration.

The former Georgia congressman said he’s not in the race to be a spoiler.

“I’m a competitor and I’m in this to win. I do not view the role of the Libertarian Party to be a spoiler and I certainly have no intention of being a spoiler,” Barr said.

Barr said he expects the party to be on the ballot in at least 48 states and perhaps all 50 if the party can qualify in West Virginia and Oklahoma. Barr said he also expects to be invited to the national political debates by qualifying with poll support of 15 percent or more of registered voters.

Sunday’s election also marked the end of the latest chapter in the political career of Mike Gravel, a former senator from Alaska who recently dropped out of the Democratic presidential race.

“I just ended my political career,” he said. “From 15 years old to now, my political career is over, and it’s no big deal. I’m a writer, I’m a lecturer, I’m going to push the issues of freedom and liberty. I’m going to push those issues until the day I die.”

Gravel left the Democratic Party after he was excluded from some Democratic debates because he failed to meet fundraising or polling thresholds. He said the Democratic Party no longer represented his values because it continues to sustain Iraq war, the military-industrial complex and imperialism.

(This version CORRECTS that Ruwart was not party’s presidential nominee in 1983 or vice presidential nominee in 1992.)

By STEVEN K. PAULSON,
Associated Press Writer
Sun May 25, 7:33 PM ET

Source: AP

Teachers given right to screen pupils’ computers and mobile phones in crackdown on school gangs

Schools are being told today to monitor possible gang members by examining pupils’ computer accounts and taking photographs of graffiti “tags”.

New guidelines say teachers must intervene to stop pupils – including primary children – from joining gangs.

They emerged as the Government also announced sweeping new measures to combat gang violence in a bid to halt the wave of stabbings and shootings on Britain’s streets.
Gang kids


Threat: The new guidelines are released amid fears that gang members are getting younger. (Picture posed by models)

Teachers are being told to gather proof about gang membership from computers and evidence such as photographs, it is claimed.

The guidelines advise them to look out for tell-tale signs of gang membership such as the wearing of certain colours, jewellery or clothing – including weapon-proof clothes – or the drawing of graffiti “tags” in books and on walls, according to a report in The Guardian newspaper.

The guidelines – which supplement previous advice on searching pupils for weapons and dealing with bullying and drug-taking – also provide emergency advice on what to do if gang violence breaks out.

Read moreTeachers given right to screen pupils’ computers and mobile phones in crackdown on school gangs

China: Police State 2.0 is Ready for Export

Excerpts from the long but excellent article:

“Over the past two years, some 200,000 surveillance cameras have been installed throughout the city. Many are in public spaces, disguised as lampposts.”

“The security cameras are just one part of a much broader high-tech surveillance and censorship program known in China as “Golden Shield.” The end goal is to use the latest people-tracking technology — thoughtfully supplied by American giants like IBM, Honeywell and General Electric — to create an airtight consumer cocoon:”

“Like everything else assembled in China with American parts, Police State 2.0 is ready for export to a neighborhood near you.”

“This is how this Golden Shield will work: Chinese citizens will be watched around the clock through networked CCTV cameras and remote monitoring of computers. They will be listened to on their phone calls, monitored by digital voice-recognition technologies. Their Internet access will be aggressively limited through the country’s notorious system of online controls known as the “Great Firewall.” Their movements will be tracked through national ID cards with scannable computer chips and photos that are instantly uploaded to police databases and linked to their holder’s personal data. This is the most important element of all: linking all these tools together in a massive, searchable database of names, photos, residency information, work history and biometric data. When Golden Shield is finished, there will be a photo in those databases for every person in China: 1.3 billion faces.”

“Here is a small sample of what the company (L-1) does: produces passports and passport cards for American citizens; takes finger scans of visitors to the U.S. under the Department of Homeland Security’s massive U.S.-Visit program; equips U.S. soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan with “mobile iris and multimodal devices” so they can collect biometric data in the field; maintains the State Department’s “largest facial-recognition database system”; and produces driver’s licenses in Illinois, Montana and North Carolina. In addition, L-1 has an even more secretive intelligence unit called SpecTal. Asked by a Wall Street analyst to discuss, in “extremely general” terms, what the division was doing with contracts worth roughly $100 million, the company’s CEO would only say, “Stay tuned.””

“It is L-1’s deep integration with multiple U.S. government agencies that makes its dealings in China so interesting: It isn’t just L-1 that is potentially helping the Chinese police to nab political dissidents, it’s U.S. taxpayers. The technology that Yao purchased for just a few thousand dollars is the result of Defense Department research grants and contracts going as far back as 1994, when a young academic named Joseph Atick (the research director Fordyce consulted on L-1’s China dealings) taught a computer at Rockefeller University to recognize his face.”
________________________________________________________________________________________

Thirty years ago, the city of Shenzhen didn’t exist. Back in those days, it was a string of small fishing villages and collectively run rice paddies, a place of rutted dirt roads and traditional temples. That was before the Communist Party chose it – thanks to its location close to Hong Kong’s port – to be China’s first “special economic zone,” one of only four areas where capitalism would be permitted on a trial basis.

The theory behind the experiment was that the “real” China would keep its socialist soul intact while profiting from the private-sector jobs and industrial development created in Shenzhen. The result was a city of pure commerce, undiluted by history or rooted culture – the crack cocaine of capitalism. It was a force so addictive to investors that the Shenzhen experiment quickly expanded, swallowing not just the surrounding Pearl River Delta, which now houses roughly 100,000 factories, but much of the rest of the country as well.

Read moreChina: Police State 2.0 is Ready for Export

Why the police now have to ask teenage muggers: ‘Do you eat chips?’

Imagine a country where strangers have the right to ask intrusive questions and store the answers on a database.

Where everyone from police officers to leisure-centre staff can demand: “Tell me who you feel close to?”

They will also have been trained to ask questions about sexual behaviour, family life, religion, secret fears, weight and “sleeping arrangements” at home.

Incredibly, thousands of Government and council apparatchiks in Britain became entitled on April 1 to ask such questions of anyone under 19.

This horrifying invasion of privacy has begun, almost unnoticed, because the Government has cleverly presented it as being in the interests of “child protection”.


Far too PC: Police officers say having to question youngsters about their diet is ‘insane’

The new questionnaire, known as the Common Assessment Framework (CAF), is part of a £20million programme called Every Child Matters (ECM), ostensibly set up to ensure youngsters are safe and leading positive lives.

Professionals – such as police officers, teachers and doctors – and volunteers are now under orders to subject children to a questionnaire if they consider them “at risk”: a definition so broad that many decent parents could find themselves labelled as potential abusers.

The questions don’t need a parent’s consent since any child over 12 is deemed responsible enough to grant permission for an interview.

Any child not achieving the Government’s five “outcomes” – being healthy, staying safe, enjoying life, “making a positive contribution”, and achieving ” economic well-being” – is now defined as having “additional needs”.

Read moreWhy the police now have to ask teenage muggers: ‘Do you eat chips?’

Unanswered 9/11 questions

The collapse of New York’s World Trade Centre on September 11, 2001 is arguably one of the most well documented events in human history. Less well documented is the controversy over why the buildings fell as they did.

At the time of writing, 357 architectural and engineering professionals have signed a petition which directly challenges the National Institute of Standards & Training’s official finding that the destruction of these massive buildings was caused solely by structural damage from the impact of jet airliners and the resulting fires.

The petition, demanding of Congress a truly independent investigation, states, in part:

“…the 9/11 investigation must include a full inquiry into the possible use of explosives that may have been the actual cause behind the destruction of the World Trade Center Towers and WTC Building 7.”

This alarming statement is based on evidence from many sources, including observations of the structural behaviour of the towers as they collapsed, the known characteristics of steel framed buildings, eyewitness testimony of explosions, and research into the chemical composition of dust recovered from the collapse zone.

Current research indicates that an incendiary (thermite) may have been used to sever the massive box columns of the towers, causing the buildings to plummet to the ground at close to free-fall speed.

Chemical analysis has been conducted by a multi-disciplinary team led by
Professor Steven E. Jones
and the results published in the Journal of 9/11 Studies.

The membership of Architects and Engineers For 9/11 Truth is worldwide, and qualified Australians have made contributions. Dr. Frank Legge, a chemist, has co-authored a peer reviewed paper, and Dr. David Leifer of the Faculty of Architecture at the University of Sydney is a registered member of the group.

A major focus of research is the mysterious collapse of the
47 storey WTC 7 (Salomon Brothers) Building, which was not hit by any plane, yet suddenly collapsed into its own footprint late in the afternoon of September 11, 2001.

Building 7 came down in six and a half seconds, generating a massive dust-cloud similar to the one that had enveloped Manhattan when the Twin Towers collapsed earlier the same day.

Researchers contend that only explosives could have provided enough energy to cause the pulverisation of thousands of tons of concrete into dust, and they highlight the symmetrical, free-fall collapse of the building through the path of greatest resistance, indicating that the supporting columns offered no resistance to the falling mass above.

Historically, the only way a modern office building has ever been made to collapse vertically in free-fall, as observed in WTC Building 7, is through the use of shaped cutter charges detonated in a timed sequence.

This procedure is known as
controlled demolition
, and requires a precise placement of explosives which are designed to cut through supports successively, usually from the bottom up, pulling buildings down under their own weight.

The collapse of Building 7 is visually identical to a controlled demolition, as illustrated in a side by side comparison on Youtube. Demolition expert Danny Jowenko has gone on record confirming this observation.
“A team of experts did this”, he said.

The essence of why we need a new investigation into the World Trade Center collapses is summed up in a recent paper by Dr. Frank Legge:

Read moreUnanswered 9/11 questions

FBI Targets Internet Archive With Secret ‘National Security Letter’, Loses

The Internet Archive, a project to create a digital library of the web for posterity, successfully fought a secret government Patriot Act order for records about one of its patrons and won the right to make the order public, civil liberties groups announced Wednesday morning.

On November 26, 2007, the FBI served a controversial National Security Letter (.pdf) on the Internet Archive‘s founder Brewster Kahle, asking for records about one of the library’s registered users, asking for the user’s name, address and activity on the site.

The Electronic Frontier Foundation, the Internet Archive’s lawyers, fought the NSL, challenging its constitutionality in a December 14 complaint (.pdf) to a federal court in San Francisco. The FBI agreed on April 21 to withdraw the letter and unseal the court case, making some of the documents available to the public.

The Patriot Act greatly expanded the reach of NSLs, which are subpoenas for documents such as billing records and telephone records that the FBI can issue in terrorism investigations without a judge’s approval. Nearly all NSLs come with gag orders forbidding the recipient from ever speaking of the subpoena, except to a lawyer.

Brewster Kahle called the gag order “horrendous,” saying he couldn’t talk about the case with his board members, wife or staff, but said that his stand was part of a time-honored tradition of librarians protecting the rights of their patrons.

“This is an unqualified success that will help other recipients understand that you can push back on these,” Kahle said in a conference call with reporters Wednesday morning.

Though FBI guidelines on using NSLs warned of overusing them, two Congressionally ordered audits revealed that the FBI had issued hundreds of illegal requests for student health records, telephone records and credit reports. The reports also found that the FBI had issued hundreds of thousands of NSLs since 2001, but failed to track their use. In a letter to Congress last week, the FBI admitted it can only estimate how many NSLs it has issued.

The Internet Archive’s case is only the third known court challenge to an NSL, all of which ended with the FBI rescinding the NSL, according to the ACLU’s Melissa Goodman.

That makes you wonder about the the hundreds of thousands of NSLs that haven’t been challenged,” Goodman said, suggesting that the FBI had collected sensitive information on innocent Americans.

Read moreFBI Targets Internet Archive With Secret ‘National Security Letter’, Loses

What’s Up with the Secret Cybersecurity Plans, Senators Ask DHS

The government’s new cyber-security “Manhattan Project” is so secretive that a key Senate oversight panel has been reduced to writing a letter to beg for answers to the most basic questions, such as what’s going on, what’s the point and what about privacy laws.

The Senate Homeland Security committee wants to know, for example, what is the goal of Homeland Security’s new National Cyber Security Center. They also want to know why it is that in March, DHS announced that Silicon Valley evangelist and security novice Rod Beckstrom would direct the center, when up to that point DHS said the mere existence of the center was classified.

Those are just two sub-questions out of a list of 17 multi-part questions centrist Sens. Joe Lieberman (I-Connecticut) and Susan Collins (R-Maine) sent to DHS in a letter Friday.

In fact, although the two say they asked for a briefing five months ago on what the center does, DHS has yet to explain its latest acronym.

The panel, noted it was pleased with the new focus on cyber security, but questioned Homeland Security’s request to triple the center’s cyber-security budget to about $200 million.
They cited concerns about the secrecy around the project, its reliance on contractors for the operation of the center and lack of dialogue with private companies that specialize in internet security.

That center is just one small part of the government’s new found interest in computer security, a project dubbed the Comprehensive National Cybersecurity Initiative, which has been rumored to eventually get some $30 billion in funding.

Little is known about the initiative since it was created via a secret presidential order in January, though the Washington Post reports that portions of it may be made public soon.

Read moreWhat’s Up with the Secret Cybersecurity Plans, Senators Ask DHS

Your personal data just got permanently cached at the US border

Now that US customs agents have unfettered access to laptops and other electronic devices at borders, a coalition of travel groups, civil liberties advocates and technologists is calling on Congress to rein in the Department of Homeland Security’s search and seizure practices. They’re also providing practical advice on how to prevent trade secrets and other sensitive data from being breached.

In a letter dated Thursday, the group, which includes the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), the American Civil Liberties Union and the Business Travel Coalition, called on the House Committee on Homeland Security to ensure searches aren’t arbitrary or overly invasive. They also urged the passage of legislation outlawing abusive searches.

The letter comes 10 days after a US appeals court ruled Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agents have the right to rummage through electronic devices even if they have no reason to suspect the hardware holds illegal contents. Not only are they free to view the files during passage; they are also permitted to copy the entire contents of a device. There are no stated policies about what can and can’t be done with the data.

Over the past few months, several news reports have raised eyebrows after detailing border searches that involved electronic devices. The best known of them is this story from The Washington Post, which recounted the experiences of individuals who were forced to reveal data on cell phones and laptop devices when passing through US borders. One individual even reported some of the call history on her cell phone had been deleted.

“The Fourth Amendment protects us all against unreasonable government intrusions,” the letter, which was also signed by the Center for Democracy and Technology and security expert Bruce Schneier, states. “But this guarantee means nothing if CBP can arbitrarily search and seize our digital information at the border and indefinitely store and reuse it.”

Several of the groups are also providing advice to US-bound travelers carrying electronic devices. The Association of Corporate Travel Executives is encouraging members to remove photos, financial information and other personal data before leaving home. This is good advice even if you’re not traveling to the US. There is no reason to store five years worth of email on a portable machine.

In this posting, the EFF agrees that laptops, cell phones, digital cameras and other gizmos should be cleaned of any sensitive information. Then, after passing through customs, travelers can download the data they need, work on it, transmit it back and then digitally destroy the files before returning.

The post also urges the use of strong encryption to scramble sensitive data, although it warns this approach is by no means perfect. For one thing, CBP agents are free to deny entry to travelers who refuse to divulge their passwords. They may also be able to seize the laptop.

If it sounds like a lot of work, consider this: so far, the federal government has refused to reveal any information about border searches, including what it does with the electronic data it seizes. Under the circumstances, there’s no way of knowing what will happen to, say, source code or company memos that may get confiscated. Or the email sent to your lawyer.

By Dan Goodin in San Francisco
Published Thursday 1st May 2008 21:11 GMT

Source: The Register

New anti-terrorism rules allow US to spy on British motorists

Routine journeys carried out by millions of British motorists can be monitored by authorities in the United States and other enforcement agencies across the world under anti-terrorism rules introduced discreetly by Jacqui Smith.

The discovery that images of cars captured on road-side cameras, and “personal data” derived from them, including number plates, can be sent overseas, has angered MPs and civil liberties groups concerned by the increasing use of “Big Brother” surveillance tactics.


Images captured by road-side cameras will be made available to foreign authorities
Images of private cars, as well as registration numbers, could be sent outside to countries such as the USA

Yesterday, politicians and civil liberties groups accused the Home Secretary of keeping the plans to export pictures secret from Parliament when she announced last year that British anti-terrorism police could access “real time” images from cameras used in the running of London’s congestion charge.

A statement by Miss Smith to Parliament on July 17, 2007, detailing the exemptions for police from the 1998 Data Protection Act, did not mention other changes that would permit material to be sent outside the European Economic Area (EEA) to the authorities in the US and elsewhere.

Her permission to do so was hidden away in an earlier “special certificate” signed by the Home Secretary on July 4.

The certificate specifically sets out the level of data that can be sent to enforcement authorities outside the European Economic Area (the EU plus Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway) by anti-terrorist officers from the Metropolitan Police. It says:

“The certificate relates to the processing of the images taken by the camera, personal data derived from the images, including vehicle registration mark, date, time and camera location.”
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A spokesman for Richard Thomas, the information commissioner, confirmed that the certificate had been worded so that the images of private cars, as well as registration numbers, could be sent outside to countries such as the USA.

Officers from the Metropolitan Police have been given the right to view in “real time” any CCTV images from cameras that are meant to be enforcing the congestion charge.

Sources said that officers would access the cameras on behalf of overseas authorities if they were informed about a terrorism threat in the UK or elsewhere. They would then share the images, which can be held for five years before being destroyed, if necessary.

Last night, Nick Clegg, the Liberal Democrat leader, said: “This confirms that this Government is happy to hand over potentially huge amounts of information on British citizens under the catch-all pretext of ‘national security’.”

Civil liberties campaigners said they were appalled that images of innocent people’s journeys could end up in the hands of the British police, let alone foreign investigators.

They feared that it was a move towards the US-style system of “data mining” – in which powerful computers sifted millions of pieces of information as they tried to build patterns of behaviour and match them to material about suspects.

Gus Hosein, who runs Privacy International, said he was making a complaint to the information commissioner having obtained a copy of the certificate.

However, the Home Office defended the powers in the certificate, which was signed specifically for the purposes of counter terrorism and national security.

A spokesman declined to say how many times images had been sent from London to other countries.

However, he added: “We would like to reassure the public that robust controls have been put in place to control and safeguard access to, and use of, the information.”

By Toby Helm and Christopher Hope
Last Updated: 3:06am BST 21/04/2008

Source: Telegraph

Vancouver transit riders tasered for not paying fares

VANCOUVER — The country’s only armed transit police have been tasering passengers who try to avoid paying fares.

According to documents provided in response to a Freedom of Information request, police patrolling public transit in the Metro Vancouver area have used tasers 10 times in the past 18 months, including five occasions when victims had been accosted for riding free.

In one incident, a non-paying passenger was tasered after he held onto a railing on the SkyTrain platform and refused to let go.

“After several warnings to the subject to stop resisting arrest and the subject failing to comply with the officers’ commands, the taser was deployed and the subject was taken into control,” said the report provided by TransLink, the region’s transit authority.

An internal review of the incident concluded that the action taken by transit police officers complied with the force’s policy and was within guidelines “set out in the National Use of Force Model,” the report said.

On another occasion, a passenger was tasered when he fled from police who found him without a payment receipt during a “fare blitz.” This time, however, the passenger got away because, as recounted in the report, “the Taser was ineffective due to the subject’s clothing and [he] escaped the custody of the officers.”

Politicians and civil-liberties activists alike decried the use of tasers on individuals who were attempting merely to avoid paying a fine for not buying a ticket to ride.

“I think it’s absolutely uncalled for, absolutely reprehensible, and the police should not be doing that,” federal Liberal public safety critic Ujjal Dosanjh said in Ottawa yesterday.

On the face of it, the use of tasers by transit police here is far outside guidelines that say they should be used only if someone is suicidal, violent or about to injure himself or someone else, Mr. Dosanjh said.

Read moreVancouver transit riders tasered for not paying fares

Administration Set to Use New Spy Program in U.S.

The Bush administration said yesterday that it plans to start using the nation’s most advanced spy technology for domestic purposes soon, rebuffing challenges by House Democrats over the idea’s legal authority.

Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff said his department will activate his department’s new domestic satellite surveillance office in stages, starting as soon as possible with traditional scientific and homeland security activities — such as tracking hurricane damage, monitoring climate change and creating terrain maps.

Sophisticated overhead sensor data will be used for law enforcement once privacy and civil rights concerns are resolved, he said. The department has previously said the program will not intercept communications.

Read moreAdministration Set to Use New Spy Program in U.S.

The Government Is Trying to Wrap Its Mind Around Yours

Imagine a world of streets lined with video cameras that alert authorities to any suspicious activity. A world where police officers can read the minds of potential criminals and arrest them before they commit any crimes. A world in which a suspect who lies under questioning gets nabbed immediately because his brain has given him away.

Though that may sound a lot like the plot of the 2002 movie “Minority Report,” starring Tom Cruise and based on a Philip K. Dick novel, I’m not talking about science fiction here; it turns out we’re not so far away from that world. But does it sound like a very safe place, or a very scary one?

It’s a question I think we should be asking as the federal government invests millions of dollars in emerging technology aimed at detecting and decoding brain activity. And though government funding focuses on military uses for these new gizmos, they can and do end up in the hands of civilian law enforcement and in commercial applications. As spending continues and neurotechnology advances, that imagined world is no longer the stuff of science fiction or futuristic movies, and we postpone at our peril confronting the ethical and legal dilemmas it poses for a society that values not just personal safety but civil liberty as well.

Consider Cernium Corp.’s “Perceptrak” video surveillance and monitoring system, recently installed by Johns Hopkins University, among others. This technology grew out of a project funded by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency — the central research and development organization for the Department of Defense — to develop intelligent video analytics systems. Unlike simple video cameras monitored by security guards, Perceptrak integrates video cameras with an intelligent computer video. It uses algorithms to analyze streaming video and detect suspicious activities, such as people loitering in a secure area, a group converging or someone leaving a package unattended. Since installing Perceptrak, Johns Hopkins has reported a 25 percent reduction in crime.

But that’s only the beginning. Police may soon be able to monitor suspicious brain activity from a distance as well. New neurotechnology soon may be able to detect a person who is particularly nervous, in possession of guilty knowledge or, in the more distant future, to detect a person thinking, “Only one hour until the bomb explodes.” Today, the science of detecting and decoding brain activity is in its infancy. But various government agencies are funding the development of technology to detect brain activity remotely and are hoping to eventually decode what someone is thinking. Scientists, however, wildly disagree about the accuracy of brain imaging technology, what brain activity may mean and especially whether brain activity can be detected from afar.

Yet as the experts argue about the scientific limitations of remote brain detection, this chilling science fiction may already be a reality. In 2002, the Electronic Privacy Information Center reported that NASA was developing brain monitoring devices for airports and was seeking to use noninvasive sensors in passenger gates to collect the electronic signals emitted by passengers’ brains. Scientists scoffed at the reports, arguing that to do what NASA was proposing required that an electroencephalogram (EEG) be physically attached to the scalp.

Read moreThe Government Is Trying to Wrap Its Mind Around Yours

Beyond Treason

Beyond Treason investigates causes of Gulf War Illness and continuing deaths of gulf war veterans. Beyond Treason outlines: – exposure to depleted uranium munitions used on the battlefield. – chemical and biological exposures. – experimental vaccines given.

Statistics show that 250,000 troops are now permanently disabled, 15,000 troops are dead and over 425,000 are ill and slowly dying.

Beyond Treason 100 minute documentary presents comprehensive and compelling documentation from United States Government archives of a massive cover-up lasting over two generations.
Over 70,000 deaths, and over 1 million disabilities among American soldiers attributed to Iraq Wars says U.S. government data

The video has been removed before. Let me know if this happens again.