Archive | November, 2012

Are TSA employees stealing your things?

27 Nov

Top 20 airports where TSA thugs are most likely to steal your stuff

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David Gutierrez
Natural News
November 26, 2012

A Freedom of Information Act request by ABC News has revealed the 20 U.S. airports where the most Transportation Security Administration (TSA) employees have been fired for stealing from travelers.

Overall, nearly 400 TSA employees were fired for theft between the years 2002 and 2011. Of the airports ranked among the top 20 in firings, 16 were also among the 20 busiest in the country – although their rank in terms of passenger traffic did not always correspond to their rank in terms of TSA theft. Miami International Airport fired the most employees, even though it is only the 12th busiest airport in the country. And Salt Lake City International, Washington Dulles, Louis Armstrong New Orleans International and San Diego International all ranked among the top 20 in terms of firings, but are not among the country’s 20 busiest airports at all.

The top 20 airports in terms of firings for TSA employee theft were: Miami International Airport with 29, JFK International Airport with 27, Los Angeles International Airport with 24, Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport with 17, Las Vegas-McCarren International Airport with 15, Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport with 14, New York-Laguardia Airport with 14, Newark Liberty Airport with 12, Philadelphia International Airport with 12, Seattle-Tacoma International Airport with 12, Orlando International Airport with 11, Houston-George Bush Intercontinental Airport with 10, Salt Lake City International Airport with 10, Washington Dulles International Airport with nine, Detroit Metro Airport with seven, Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport with seven, Boston-Logan International Airport with six, Denver International Airport with six, San Diego International Airport with six, and Chicago O’Hare International Airport with five.

Between them, these 20 airports accounted for more than 63 percent of TSA theft-related firings nationwide.

 

“Honest” and “hard-working?”

ABC revealed the information on airport firings after conducting a test in which iPads were left behind at the security checkpoints of various major airports. Although the majority of the iPads were eventually returned, the one left behind at Orlando International Airport simply vanished. Two weeks later, ABC News employees used a tracking app to locate the stolen iPad at the home of one of the airport’s TSA employees.

Writing on Infowars.com, Adan Salazar said, “The agency told ABC that a majority of its workers are honest, hard-working individuals, but we are constantly bombarded with unbelievable stories regarding their sub-human treatment of passengers.”

“This month alone, we’ve been subjected to a deluge of TSA horror stories, such as a dying woman being forced to remove her bandages and having her IV bag full of saline solution broken in full public view, a TSA worker caught stealing $500 from travelers as retaliation for complaining, TSA confiscating cameras and deleting footage, an FBI employee coming forward with a TSA molestation claim, a frequent flyer recounting how the TSA smacked his testicles and more.”

Salazar also referenced the practice of TSA personnel at the Columbus, Ohio airport walking around and demanding to test passengers’ drinks that had been purchased beyond the security checkpoint, as well as a case where TSA employees “tested” passengers by spontaneously shouting, “Freeze!” at them.

In the case where a TSA employee was caught after stealing more than $500 in cash from a traveler, he admitted that he had done so to punish the passenger for insisting on a pat-down and objecting to having the procedure performed in a private room.

“While the TSA defends their workers as ‘honest, hard-working individuals,’ the fact remains that screeners often take it upon themselves to steal, lie, and dish out punishment and retribution for passengers who attempt to stand up for their rights,” Salazar wrote.

Sources for this article include:

http://www.infowars.com
http://abcnews.go.com
http://www.infowars.com

TSA Opt-Out Campaign

24 Nov

Anti Flouride campain hits North Carolina

23 Nov

NC Infowarrior Promotes Anti-fluoride Campaign on Local News

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Infowars.com
November 19, 2012

Following a recent victory at the ballot box for Wichita, Kansas voters over the proposed fluoridation of their city’s water supply, an empowered Infowarrior has made waves appearing on a local ABC affiliate to warn his fellow citizens against the dangers of adding the toxic waste product to drinking water.

When Corey Sturmer of Durham, North Carolina learned that his teeth were suffering from fluorosis, an enamel disturbance correlated with high exposure to fluoride, he began questioning the additive’s content in his tap water.

“I asked my dentist … is there fluoride in the drinking water? And he said, yeah … it’s good for your teeth. So then I began to wonder, if it’s so good for your teeth, why am I, at 25 years old, having all these issues with my teeth?” Sturmer told WTVD.

Sturmer next stumbled across an old report from his local ABC affiliate that aired years prior in which a dentist was advocating against fluoridation. It was this report, Sturmer said, that motivated him to reach out to the local news crew and get the word out on fluoridation.

He created a website for residents eager to learn how to get active in the fluoride fight, www.durhamagainstfluoride.com, and so far he’s seen a positive response from the community.

Sturmer’s relentless activism and enthusiasm encouraged ABC11 to conduct an in-depth investigation and air a special presentation exposing the untold dangers of consuming fluoridated water.

The hard-hitting exposé seemed more like an Infowars Nightly News report than something you’d see on regular TV, and presented evidence that fluoride is a powerful poison that can lead to hyperthyroidism, bone disorders and lower IQ’s in children.

“As the I-Team dug into the science behind the fluoride controversy, we found study after study dating back to the 80s from respected academic and scientific institutions that connect fluoride to health dangers. Some of the studies were funded by the government. They suggest fluoride can be linked to brain, blood and bone deficiencies in humans. This past summer, Harvard University released a report after reviewing 27 studies of children in China exposed to fluoride. It concluded the higher the fluoride exposure, the lower the child’s IQ.”

According to the news report, Sturmer’s protest raised enough clamor for the Durham County Public Health Department to look into the issue.

This is just one example of the profound effect one person standing up for what is right can have.

Definite kudos to Corey Sturmer.

Insurance check points comming to your area soon.

23 Nov

Tulsa Police Set Up ‘Insurance Checkpoint,’ Issue $250 Tickets & Tow Cars En Masse

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Information Liberation
November 22, 2012

Oklahoma motorists are guilty until proven innocent. Police in Tulsa set up a checkpoint to catch motorists who were driving without insurance, or even simply driving without proof of insurance. Those caught driving without insurance had their cars towed, while those without proof of insurance got fined a whopping $250 for not having their papers in order. Unfortunately, scams like these are popping up everywhere these days as police are desperate for cash and local governments are reluctant to raise taxes with the economy in the trash (incidentally, the economy is in the trash because of the very same government).

Via Newson6.com:

Oklahoma is cracking down on uninsured drivers by testing a new method in Tulsa.

The Tulsa County Sheriff’s Office set up an insurance checkpoint in west Tulsa overnight Saturday.

Deputies were there until 3 a.m. making sure drivers had proof of insurance.

Violators received $250 ticket, and those with zero insurance had their cars towed.

DHS spying on you.

23 Nov

Homeland Security plots ways to spy on Americans through social media surveillance

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J. D. Heyes
Natural News
November 23, 2012

The Constitution’s once-solid privacy protections are about to take another hit under a new Department of Homeland Security initiative to spy on Americans via social media networks – all in the name of keeping us safe, of course.

Under the ruse of collecting and analyzing “health-related data,” DHS is testing whether scanning sites like Facebook, Twitter and others “could help identify infectious disease outbreaks, bioterrorism or other public health and national security risks,” GovInfo Security reported.

The department has spent $3 million in taxpayer money on a one-year contract with Accenture Federal Services, the firm that is actually providing the online spyware. Calling it a “biosurveillance” pilot project, the department says it will involve automatically monitoring social media sites to collect and analyze “health-related data” in real time, according to John Matchette, the managing director for Accenture’s public safety division (no word on Matchette’s thoughts regarding the constitutionality of the program his firm will help facilitate).

According to the report, the software will be designed to collect health-related keywords and other information, to include medical symptoms, that show up in online postings. Machette says the data mined will be collected and analyzed in aggregate.

“The information won’t be tracked back to the individuals who posted it,” he claimed, mindful of the constitutional issues surrounding such an operation.

Privacy advocates aren’t buying it, however.

“Even when data is in aggregate, we don’t have any clear policies around how data will be used and how it can be traced back, including if and when there are signs of an illness outbreak,” Deven McGraw, director of the health privacy project at the Center for Democracy & Technology. “I think it’s a legitimate question to ask [DHS] what the guidelines are for using this data. I’d prefer they have a plan in advance for dealing with this, rather than waiting.”

As usual, no one from DHS or Accenture responded to requests by GovInfo for comment on McGraw’s concerns.

Machette said the software will be programmed to “watch for trends,” such as whether new or unusual clusters of symptoms in certain geographic regions are reported on social networking sites.

Biosurveillance efforts are expanding

The analysis of social media data is evolving and expanding, he added, noting that both recent presidential campaigns heavily data mined social media sites like Twitter and Facebook to look for trends.

Plans are to expand the surveillance effort far beyond the parameters of this initial test, officials said.

Accenture’s program will focus on analysis of social media data, but “the biosurveillance effort has underlying capabilities that could be expanded to integrate data from other sources, such as hospital emergency departments, drug distribution companies and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention,” the report said.

“This is big data analytics,” Machette told the website.

Building on prior programs

The current project is not the first biosurveillance project undertaken by DHS. The department is already analyzing data that is collected by the Atlanta-based CDC from public health departments nationwide.

Also, DHS paid a federal contractor in 2009 to monitor social media sites, to see how residents of Standish, Mich., were responding to a government proposal to move high-value terrorist prisoners there from Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, The New York Times reported.

From the Times:

While it has long been known that the department monitors the Internet for information about emerging threats to public safety like a natural disaster or a terrorist attack, the documents show that its Social Networking/Media Capability program, at least in an early stage, was also focused on “public reaction to major governmental proposals with homeland security implications.”

Welcome to post-constitutional America, where your rights are what the government says they are.

Sources:

http://www.govinfosecurity.com

http://www.nytimes.com

http://abcnews.go.com

http://www.naturalnews.com/surveillance.html

UN treading in States rights issues.

23 Nov

UN to Obama Administration: Punish Washington and Colorado for Undermining Global Drug War

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William Grigg
Infowars.com
November 23, 2012

Photo of a raid taking place as part of the Drug Enforcement Agency’s Operation Mallorca

The “war on drugs” didn’t begin with Richard Nixon. It is an outgrowth of a 1961 United Nations document called the Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs, which created the framework for a global drug prohibition jihad.

In that same year, the JFK administration published a proposal called “Freedom from War: The United States Program for General and Complete Disarmament in a Peaceful World,” also known as State Department Document 7277. That proposal, which remains the operational framework for U.S. arms control policy, called for the creation of a nationalized, militarized “homeland security force” — in other words, exactly the kind of overtly militarized law enforcement bodies that have been prosecuting the “war on drugs.”

Residents of Washington and Colorado, expressing a winsome and entirely unjustified faith in voting as a means of reining in the state, approved measures decriminalizing recreational use of marijuana. In response, Raymond Yans, head of the UN’s International Narcotics Control Board, has called for Attorney General Eric Holder to ignore the law and continue cracking down on marijuana use and possession. Decriminalizing marijuana use, Yans insists, sends the “wrong message to the rest of the nation and it sends a wrong message abroad.”

Like other prohibitionist Pharisees, Yans is willing to see people killed, kidnapped, and caged in order to send a “message.” Most of the same conservatives who properly abhor the UN and all of its works and pomps also support drug prohibition. Now that a high-ranking UN functionary has offered an official directive to Washington demanding that the Obama administration escalate its war against the American people, will conservatives of that ilk finally come out in opposition to drug prohibition?

This article was first featured on the LRC Blog at LewRockwell.com.

TSA bend to opt-out campain.

23 Nov

Did TSA Mothball Scanners In PR Stunt?

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Metal detectors, x-ray machines out of use in major airports during opt out protest

Paul Joseph Watson
Infowars.com
November 23, 2012

Did the TSA once again mothball its fleet of body scanners and even de-activate metal detectors in an attempt to neutralize the nationwide TSA opt out campaign taking place this week?

Activist Christopher Key traveled to several airports around the country with the intention of deliberately setting off the metal detector and then filming his TSA pat down.

On Friday last week, Key told CBS News of his intention to take part in the Infowars Opt Out and FIlm protest by flying out of Birmingham-Shuttlesworth International Airport in Alabama in order to illustrate how Americans who are willing to give up liberty for security “lose both”.

Before passing through security, Key even took the precaution of filling his pockets with a roll of $10 dollars worth of quarters, a large set of keys, and a camera pen that could have easily been mistaken for a knife.

Intending to film his pat down and then accuse the TSA screener of “sexual assault,” Key passed through the metal detector and was surprised to see that he didn’t set it off. He then returned to security and passed through another metal detector for a second time, also without setting it off despite carrying a large amount of metal on his person.

Either the metal detectors were turned off or they completely failed to detect the metal Key was carrying, a shocking lapse in airport security in either case.

Key also noted that when he began filming TSA screeners they ceased performing full body pat downs.

Key then flew out of Salt Lake City International Airport in Utah and again passed through the metal detector carrying his quarters, keys and pen camera intending to set the device off so he would be asked to undergo a full body scanner or a pat down. For a third time the metal detector failed to go off.

Key then traveled to Dallas where he passed through security at Fort Worth International Airport. As the video below illustrates, when Key asks TSA agents why the full body scanners are not in use, they claim the machines are “broken” but fail to explain why.

With airports already crowded and busy as a result of Thanksgiving travel, in addition to the suggestion that the TSA may have tried to neutralize the national opt out campaign by simply mothballing the main object of the protest – the naked body scanner – as well as deactivating metal detectors to prevent people filming their pat downs – is this another damning illustration of how the TSA is nothing more than security theater?

If the the very device that we are told is vital in stopping terrorists, despite the fact that it hasn’t apprehended one terrorist, can be temporarily dispensed with for political reasons or simply because there are more travelers, then what use is it in the first place?

This wouldn’t be the first time that the TSA has mothballed the naked x-ray scanners for public relations purposes.

During the November 2010 national opt out day protest, reports from travelers at numerous different airports confirmed that the TSA had temporarily mothballed the body scanners in a bid to neutralize the protest. The Gizmodo website was bombarded with Tweets from eyewitnesses about how the machines were roped off or not in use at major airports throughout the country, claims later confirmed by newspaper reports but denied by the TSAitself.

*********************

Paul Joseph Watson is the editor and writer for Infowars.com and Prison Planet.com. He is the author of Order Out Of Chaos. Watson is also a host for Infowars Nightly News.

Does national debt matter?

23 Nov

Economic IQ test: If the national debt doesn’t matter, then why are we still paying federal income taxes?

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Mike Adams
Natural News
Nov 23, 2012

The U.S. federal government is over $16.2 trillion in debt. But that doesn’t really matter, we’re told, because the Federal Reserve — a private banking monopoly — can create an unlimited quantity of dollars to keep buying up the U.S. debt. This is called “QE unlimited,” meaning unlimited quantitative easing (money creation).

On top of that, U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner recently suggested we simply eliminate the debt ceiling altogether and launch America into INFINITE debt.

This program of fiscal suicide is already under way. The Federal Reserve announced a few weeks ago that it would begin buying up to $80 billion a month in U.S. debt, continuing indefinitely.

At the same time all this is going on, the government insists it needs to confiscate an ever-expanding portion of your income in order to increase “government revenue.” Current federal tax “revenues” (which is a warped word to use for taxes in the first place) are at roughly $2.4 trillion a year.

But hold on just a second… and here’s the IQ test, are you ready?

If the Federal Reserve can just create trillions of dollars a year in new money and hand it over to the federal government, then why are tax revenues needed at all?

Answer: They aren’t.

If debt doesn’t matter, then taxes aren’t needed at all

Under the current system of unlimited spending, unlimited money creation and unlimited debt that “doesn’t matter” according to the bureaucrats in Washington, there is absolutely no reason why any so-called “revenue” needs to be collected from the working class population whatsoever. “Revenue” only matters if debt matters, and we’ve been told by everybody in Washington (except Ron Paul) that debt doesn’t matter.

Logically, then, we need no income tax at all. The President could simply announce the elimination of all federal taxes and the closure of the IRS, then have the Fed print up the money it needs. No more income taxes… ever! Imagine the savings in paperwork reduction alone…

This instant creation of money by the feds is not only possible, it has already been done. Remember the “too big to fail” bankster bailouts that began in 2008? Bailout totals have exceeded $2 trillion. Do you know where that money came from? The Fed created it out of thin air. They can do this any time they wish, of course. It takes about sixty seconds and a single computer entry at the Fed, matched by an inverse entry at the U.S. Treasury. In mere seconds, whammo! Another couple of trillion dollars (and debt) is magically created.

The real purpose of the income tax? To oppress the economic mobility of the little people

If the income tax is not mathematically needed to provide revenue to the federal government, what is its real purpose?

As anyone who has deeply studied the social impact of the tax code well knows, the true purpose of the tax code is social engineering. And more specifically, to oppress wage earners and small business owners for the purpose of making sure they can never save enough money to stop working.

The United States of America is, after all, a “tax farm,” meaning the productivity of the working people is harvested by the government to be used for whatever nefarious schemes the corrupt bureaucrats have in mind: Endless wars, creating economic dependence through welfare, giving money to their crony insider crooks, and so on.

Besides, the last thing the elitists want is competition from upwardly mobile citizens who mistakenly think they can rise above their economic class and compete with the global elite. “The power to tax is the power to destroy,” Daniel Webster famously said in an 1819 U.S. Supreme Court case. Chief Justice Marshall agreed: “That the power to tax involves the power to destroy… [is] not to be denied.”

And that’s the point of the income tax: To destroy the ambitions of the working class and keep them enslaved in a system of economic servitude that is mathematically designed to ensure permanent subjugation to the system.

It has absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with creating “revenue” or raising money to build roads and schools. That is a total delusion played off by both Republicans and Democrats to prevent people from realizing the far more powerful truth that federal income taxes aren’t necessary at all.

So the next time you hear someone say we need to pay more taxes to “raise revenue” for the federal government, you can confidently laugh in their face at the absurdity of the statement. The federal government can create all the revenue it wishes through an instant computer entry. The point of the income tax is to make sure you never escape the Matrix of economic enslavement.

You are being watched

17 Nov
Yes, the FBI and CIA can read your email. Here’s how

Summary: “Petraeus-gate,” some U.S. pundits are calling it. How significant is it that even the head of the CIA can have his emails read by an albeit friendly domestic intelligence agency, which can lead to his resignation and global, and very public humiliation? Here’s how.

Zack Whittaker

By for Zero Day | November 13, 2012 — 22:00 GMT (14:00 PST)

The U.S. government — and likely your own government, for that matter — is either watching your online activity every minute of the day through automated methods and non-human eavesdropping techniques, or has the ability to dip in as and when it deems necessary — sometimes with a warrant, sometimes without.

Read more

That tin-foil hat really isn’t going to help. Take it off, you look silly.

Gen. David Petraeus, the former head of the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency, resigned over the weekend after he was found to have engaged in an extra-marital affair. What caught Petraeus out was, of all things, his usage of Google’s online email service, Gmail.

This has not only landed the former CIA chief in hot water but has ignited the debate over how, when, and why governments and law enforcement agencies are able to access ordinary citizens’ email accounts, even if they are the head of the most powerful intelligence agency in the world. 

If it makes you feel any better, the chances are small that your own or a foreign government will snoop on you. The odds are much greater — at least for the ordinary person (terrorists, hijackers et al: take note) — that your email account will be broken into by a stranger exploiting your weak password, or an ex-lover with a grudge (see “Fatal Attraction“).

Forget ECHELON, or signals intelligence, or the interception of communications by black boxes installed covertly in data centers. Intelligence agencies and law enforcement bodies can access — thanks to the shift towards Web-based email services in the cloud — but it’s not as exciting or as Jack Bauer-esque as one may think or hope for. 

The easiest way to access almost anybody’s email nowadays is still through the courts. (Sorry to burst your bubble, but it’s true.)

The ‘save as draft’ trick

Petraeus set up a private account under a pseudonym and composed email messages but never sent them. Instead, they were saved in draft. His lover, Paula Broadwell, would log in under the same account, read the email and reply, all without sending anything. The traffic would not be sent across the networks through Google’s data centers, making it nigh on impossible for the National Security Agency or any other electronic signals eavesdropping agency (such as Britain’s elusive GCHQ) to ‘read’ the traffic while it is in transit.

Saving an email as a draft almost entirely eliminates network traffic, making it nigh on impossible for intelligence agencies to ‘traffic sniff.’

And yes, terrorists and pedophiles have been known to use this ‘trick’, but also sophisticated criminals also use this technique. It eliminates a network trail to a greater or lesser extent, and makes it more difficult to trace. 

But surely IP addresses are logged and noted? When emails are sent and received, yes. But the emails were saved in draft and therefore were not sent. However, Google may still have a record of the IP addresses of those who logged into the account.

However, most Internet or broadband providers offer dynamic IP addresses that change over time, and an IP address does not always point to the same computer, let alone the same region or state every time it is assigned to a user. Even then, recent U.S. court cases have found that IP addresses do not specifically point to a computer, meaning even if the authorities were sure that it was Petraeus, for instance — though IP addresses very rarely give the exact house number and street address — it would not stick in court.

As is often the case, human error can land someone in the legal spotlight. 37-year-old Florida resident Jill Kelley, a family friend to the Petraeus’, allegedly received emails from an anonymous account warning Kelley to stay away from the CIA chief.

But when Broadwell sent these messages, it left behind little fragments of data attached to the email — every email you send has this data attached — which first led the FBI on a path that led up to the very door of Petraeus’ office door in Langley, Virginia. 

Get a warrant, serve it to Google?

There’s no such thing as a truly ‘anonymous’ email account, and no matter how much you try to encrypt the contents of the email you are sending, little fragments of data are attached by email servers and messaging companies. It’s how email works and it’s entirely unavoidable. 

Every email sent and received comes with ‘communications data,’ otherwise known as “metadata” — little fragments of information that carries the recipient and the sender’s address, and routing data such as the IP addresses of the sender and the servers or data center that it’s passed through. Extracting this metadata is not a mystery or difficult, in fact anyone can do it, but if you have the legal tools and law enforcement power to determine where the email was passed through — such as an IP address of one of Google’s data center in the United States.

Email is surprisingly similar to the postal system, especially when it comes to the communication “metadata.”

The system is remarkably similar to the postal system. You can seal the envelope and hide what’s inside, but it contains a postmark of where it came from and where it’s going. It may even have your fingerprints on it. All of this information outside the contents is “metadata.”

That said, even if you use a disposable Gmail account — such as iamananonymousemailsender@gmail.com, for instance — it’s clearly a Gmail account, and Gmail is operated by Google. Sometimes it just takes a smidgen of common knowledge. 

Ultimately, only Google had access to the emails. Because it’s a private company, it does not fall under the scope of the Fourth Amendment. If the U.S. government or one of its law enforcement agencies wanted to access the private Petraeus email account, it would have to serve up a warrant.

In this case, however, the Foreign Intelligence Services Act (FISA) would not apply. Even the Patriot Act would not necessarily apply in this case, even though it does allow the FBI and other authorized agencies to search email. However, in this case, above all else, the Stored Communications Act does apply — part of the Electronic Communications Privacy Act

The act allows for any electronic data to be read if it has been stored for less than 180 days. In this case, the law was specifically designed — albeit quite some time before email became a mainstream communications medium — to allow server- or computer-stored data to be accessed by law enforcement.

However, a court order must be issued before the 180 day limit, and in this case it was. Reporting from London, the BBC News’ Mark Ward summed it up in a single sentence:

Once it knew Ms. Broadwell was the sender of the threatening messages, the FBI got a warrant that gave it covert access to the anonymous email account. 

And that’s how they do it. No matter which way you look at it, no matter how much the government or its law enforcement agencies want the data or the proof of wrongdoing, they must almost always get a court order.

And Petraeus is no different from any other U.S. citizen, U.K. citizen, or European citizen — and further afield for that matter. What it always boils down to is a court order, and it’s as simple as that. It’s not ECHELON or an episode of “24” using hacking or cracking techniques; it’s an afternoon in a fusty courtroom with a semi-switched on (and preferably sober) judge. 

That said, it doesn’t grant unfettered or unrestricted access to a user’s inbox or email account, but when an alleged crime has been committed or law enforcement starts digging around, it allows a fairly wide berth of powers to request access to electronically stored data.

Former assistant secretary to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security Stewart Baker told the Associated Press

The government can’t just wander through your emails just because they’d like to know what you’re thinking or doing. But if the government is investigating a crime, it has a lot of authority to review people’s emails.

So there it is. A court order is all you need to access a person’s inbox, but sufficient evidence is often required in order to do this — particularly through the Stored Communications Act, or the Electronic Communications Privacy Act.

It sounds obvious, of course, that’s because it is.

That said, if there is reasonable suspicion albeit lacking evidence, or a U.S. law enforcement agency is dealing with a foreign national outside of the United States, that normally requires a secret FISA court order to be granted in order to proceed with the interception of data or warranted access to an email account, for example.

Outside the U.S.: Is it still ‘just’ a court order?

A simple court order is all it takes and it can apply to anyone in public office or the man on the street holding a sign warning that “the end is nigh.” 

But it’s OK; you’re in Europe, or Australia, or Asia. The U.S. can’t use their laws against you in a foreign country because, well, you’re outside of its jurisdiction. Again, sorry to burst your privacy bubble but that excuse didn’t wash with the European Parliament, it shouldn’t with you either. 

If you’re a European citizen with a Microsoft, Google, Yahoo or Apple account — or any email offered in the cloud by a U.S. company — which is most consumer email services nowadays — it is accessible to the U.S. courts and other nations through various acts of law, such as the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) or the PATRIOT Act, in which the latter amended much of what the former had implemented in the first place.  

(“Oh great, he’s talking about the Patriot Act again,” says everybody.)

It’s worth noting a common few misconceptions. Since first reporting this some years ago (and subsequently sparking a trans-Atlantic diplomatic row, whoops) analysts and experts alike, some who are under the thumb of the cloud companies themselves, claim that the Patriot Act — to use the umbrella, common term — does not allow the U.S. government or its law enforcement agencies the powers that others (*cough* including me) claim.

It doesn’t give “unrestricted” or “unprecedented” access to date outside the U.S., because for the most part these warrants must go through a special FISA court. The trouble is even though there is some level of accountability via the FISA courts, these sessions are held in secret and there are no public minutes or record to go from, so swings and roundabouts.

Only in exceptional cases where warrants are not issued is when there is an immediate threat to life. But because these courts are secret, there’s no definitive and ultimate way to know for an absolute fact that the U.S. authorities don’t just bypass the FISA courts and skip ahead with their investigations anyway. (You only really have my word — and my sources in the U.S. government, such as legal counsels and spokespeople, to go on.)

Pretty much every country around the world has ‘Patriot Act’-like legislation. It’s just where to look for it.

On the third point, other countries do have similar laws and this should be noted. (I personally thought it was relatively common knowledge, forgive my naivety.) The U.K., for instance, has the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act that can be used to acquire data from a third-country via a U.K.-based firm, just as the Patriot Act can be used on a U.S. firm to access data in a third-country via a local subsidiary.

But in terms of where the major email and cloud providers are based — the United States, notably on the West Coast — it means that U.S. law must apply, in spite of foreign laws that attempt to or successfully counteract the provisions offered in U.S. law. Not many major cloud providers operate solely in the U.K., whereas Microsoft, Google, Apple and Amazon are all U.S. headquartered with a subsidiary in the U.K. and other countries.

The lesson here? We’re all as bad as each other and no legally or financially reasonable place is safe to store data if you’re a massive criminal or looking to stash a bunch of secret or uncouth documents away from the authorities. 

As for Petraeus, he may have been careful but in spite of his counter-terrorism knowledge and clever tricks in going under the radar, ultimately there was a weak link in the security chain — and no matter how far you go to try and cover your tracks, often it always falls down to two things: human error, or sex.

UN hands off internet

17 Nov

UN to Seek Internet Kill Switch Next Month, Documents Show

 

Alex Newman
New American
Nov 16, 2012

As Americans focused on the U.S. presidential election, the United Nations and a wide swath of its autocratic member regimes were drafting a plan to give a little-known UN agency control over the online world. Among the most contentious schemes: a plot to hand the International Telecommunications Union a so-called “kill switch” for the Internet that critics say would be used to smash free speech.

The ITU’s proposals to “reform” the Internet, drafted in secret and quietly published online last week, revealed a broad plan to rein in what, up until now, has been a largely unregulated tool allowing people all over the world to freely express their views at little to no cost financially. Unlike dictatorships such as the communist regime ruling over mainland China and the governments of Muslim-dominated countries, most Western-style governments have been unable or unwilling to regulate the Web apart from minor restrictions on subjects such as child pornography and the like.

However, that could all change soon — at least if the UN and its tyrannical member states get their way, with a broad coalition of Islamist autocrats and communist despots joining forces to quash freedom of expression for everyone. Representatives from almost 200 governments and dictatorships will be meeting behind closed doors next month at the “World Conference on International Telecommunications” (WCIT) in the United Arab Emirates to discuss handing complete control over the internet to the ITU.

Last week, the UN and the dictatorship ruling Azerbaijan hosted the so-called “Internet Governance Forum” (IGF) in Baku under the banner of “Internet Governance for Sustainable Human, Economic, and Social Development.” Critics slammed the forum, the notion of “Internet Governance,” and especially the host regime, known for its barbaric repression of free speech. But while no binding decisions were made there, UN leaders and despots from around the world took the opportunity to prepare for the upcoming ITU summit in Dubai.

The widely condemned ITU plan calls for reforms that would stifle free speech, regulate social media, force Internet users to pay “fees” for services like Skype and e-mail, and much more. Among the chief problems cited by analysts is a plan to allow UN members — mostly dictatorships — to demand that the ITU shut down content they do not approve of. The scheme would also create a global Internet surveillance regime while permitting governments to restrict or block online information. Anonymity on the Web would become a thing of the past, too.

Incredibly, the controversial plan would also purport to allow governments to shut down the Web if they claimed it could “interfere” in the internal affairs of other UN member regimes. On top of that, dictators and increasingly authoritarian governments all over the world would be able to shut down the Internet if there were a risk that “sensitive” information could be shared — essentially a blank check that would allow any despot or government to kill the Web if their criminality were about to be exposed. In other words, the UN, widely blasted and ridiculed as a “dictators club,” would have a “kill switch” over the Internet.

Of course, Internet freedom activists, communications firms, and civil liberties organizations around the world are up in arms about the UN’s latest shadowy effort to impose the heavy hand of government control on the World Wide Web. Earlier this week, a broad coalition that included Google met in London to demand that the UN put a halt to the scheme, calling on the global entity to allow the debate to expand beyond governments and to postpone any decision on the plot until all stakeholders have a chance to weigh in

Google free expression and international relations chief Ross LaJeunesse, a member of the U.S. delegation to the ITU treaty-writing conference next month, said the UN schemes are a “real threat to the future of the net as we know it today.” Warning that the secretive ITU is a terrible vehicle to address Internet issues because only governments are allowed to participate, he also said despotic rulers of nations like Russia, Syria, Iran, and others would abuse any potential new Internet regime to further terrorize and oppress the citizenry.

The Canadian Civil Liberties Association, meanwhile, is calling on the government of Canada to veto the UN scheme outright. “In Canada we have many protections that ensure our freedom of speech is protected. In that regard we are lucky, but in other parts of the world, governments look for more ways to watch public opinion and monitor dissent,” said CCLA public safety programs Director Abby Deshman. “Freedom of expression is a basic human right and we would urge the countries that vote on this proposal to keep that in mind. Any proposal to control the Internet in any way, shape or form beyond the accepted laws of sovereign countries should be opposed outright.”

In the United States, numerous heavyweights have spoken out as well. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) member Robert McDowell, for example, warned delegates to beware of even seemingly small or innocent-sounding changes to the ITU treaties. Former CEO Dr. Paul Twomey of the U.S. body in charge of online domain names and addresses, the International Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), also urged caution and a vigorous defense of a free and open Internet.

Separately, International Trade Union Confederation General Secretary Sharran Burrow called for urgent worldwide resistance to protect the Internet from the UN threat. “Unless we act now, our right to freely communicate and share information could change forever,” she said, noting that big telecommunications companies had teamed up with the regimes ruling China, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and other nations that restrict online freedom.

“So far, the proposal has flown under the radar, but its implications are extremely serious,” Burrow added, referring to the ITU plot to take over the online world. “Governments and big companies the world over may end up with the right not only to restrict the internet and monitor everything you do online but to charge users for services such as email and Skype.”

U.S. Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas), meanwhile, stated in his farewell speech to Congress this week that the free Internet would be essential to spreading truth and the ideas of liberty as America enters into a period fraught with government threats to liberty and prosperity. “The Internet will provide the alternative to the government-media complex that controls the news and most political propaganda,” he said. “This is why it’s essential that the Internet remains free of government regulation.”

Numerous Western governments have suggested they will oppose the growing coalition of totalitarian-minded regimes seeking to “govern” the Internet — an alliance that includes some mega-corporations as well as a motley assortment of African despots, Islamist tyrants, communist autocracies, and even socialistic powers such as the governments ruling Brazil and India. The Obama administration, however, while claiming to support a free Internet despite repeated unconstitutional power grabs aimed at increasing federal power over the Web, has warned Americans not to criticize the deeply controversial global entity.

Speaking at the American Enterprise Institute, U.S. Ambassador Terry Kramer also said it was “important” for the U.S. government to participate in the controversial discussions and that it had to address the supposed concerns of various despotic regimes. “Our messages need to be issues-orientated and fact-orientated — not taking shots at the U.N., not taking shots at leadership,” hesaid.

However, despite the controversial comments, Kramer did say the U.S. government would seek to prevent any UN curbs on free speech or excessive regulation. “We need to avoid suffocating the Internet space through well-meaning but overly prescriptive proposals that would seek to control content or seek to mandate routing and payment practices,” the ambassador claimed. “That would send the Internet back to a circuit switch era that is actually passing in history.”

Experts and analysts said that rather than expanding the ITU regulatory regime, the conference should focus on abolishingexisting international regulations over telecommunications. But with tyrants of all persuasions salivating at the potential opportunity to quash Internet freedom at the global level, the battle, for now at least, will likely surround preserving the online liberty that currently exists — quite possibly, according to activists, one of the keys to ensuring the survival of freedom.

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