big brother is everywhere!

Closing the noose on the USA – this is the beginning of having a storm trooper on the corner, asking for papers to go from one part of town to another, making sure that you’re where you’re supposed to be, doing what you’re supposed to be doing. what will have to happen before people will say enough?

Jack Bauer Cellphone Network to Detect Nukes, Surveil Cities – We’re sure some readers are already screaming “Big Brother” and alt-tabbing to their blog window to write about this evil new “Nokia 1984 phone”

Cloudwar – on january 8, bush signed an order expanding the power of federal law enforcement and spy agencies to combat internet attacks on government

Closing the noose on the USA
January 26th, 2008

A pop quiz for US citizens:

The next time you want to leave the USA. will your government let you go? When you want to come back, will they allow you to come home?

Unless people assert their rights, maybe not. And you’ll need the government to g?ve you papers or permission to do so.

The Department of Homeland Security has already issued regulations effective February 18th that will forbid international airlines from letting anyone on a plane to or from the US without individualized express prior permission from the DHS. Those rules were issued ?n spite of our objections that they violate the US Constitution international human r?ghts treaties.

And already the Department of Homeland Security is trying to enforce an illegal regulation that purports to require passports (issued at the “discretion” and for the “convenience” of the govenrment, not as a matter of right, and which take weeks to obtain if you want to travel on short notice) for c?tizens to fly between the USA and Canada or Mexico. (Again, having ignored our objections.)

The DHS has proposed to extend that rule to those crossing the land borders with Canada and Mexico, closing the last possible means of leaving the USA, or returning home from abroad, without DHS papers or permission.

Now, without even considering our objections or any others, the DHS has announced a change in “internal” procedures that would achieve essentially the same result as the “pending” rulemaking: Effective January 31st, the goons from the DHS Customs and Border Protection division will be ?nstructed not to permit anyone to cross the US border — even US citizens — unless they present government-issued documents proving their citizenship to their satisfaction.

The burden will be on you to “prove” your right to travel, rather than on the government to prove you are doing soemthing wrong if they want to prevent you. And only government-issued documents will suffice. If the government won’t give you papers, you can neither leave nor return to your own country.

Jack Bauer Cellphone Network to Detect Nukes, Surveil Cities
January 25, 2008
by Luke McKinney

Scientists and industry have been working together to create a global surveillance network. It naturally weights itself to provide greater coverage for greater populations, contains more distributed computing power than the entirety of NASA, doesn’t cost a single tax dollar and people waste it all talking about ‘Lost’. Yes, you and your cellphone friends are part of one of the most powerful network in the world and researchers at Purdue University have found a more important use for it than arguing about where to eat lunch.

Their design converts your local coverage area into a vast radiation detection grid, capable of thwarting the modern-day boogieman of nuclear terrorism once and for all. You might think adding a directional nuclear detection rig to your handset would make it even more expensive than an iPhone, not to mention ruining the line of your pocket, and you’d be right. The key to the system is the universality of mobile phones throughout the civilized world – rather than complicated detection components, a simple, light and very cheap “hotter/colder” solid state sensor in each handset is enough. Data transmitted from each to a central computer (and it turns out mobile phones can send data pretty easily) allows a huge number of simple signals to accurately locate any radiation source.

They’ve already tested the system on their university campus using a number of simple detectors, an extremely weak radiation source, and a load of students who’d be hilariously and inaccurately outraged if they knew about it. They are currently working on getting mobile phone manufacturers to incorporate the system into new phones.

They aren’t the only ones harnessing this vast untapped surveillance resource. Swiss researchers at the Institute for Pervasive Computing (which honestly couldn’t sound more like it’s helping the machines take over if it was called the Schwarzzeneger Center for Skynet production) have open-sourced a system called “Facet”, using existing mobile phone cameras and bluetooth capabilities to create a vast CCTV network that could cover the globe. We’re sure some readers are already screaming “Big Brother” and alt-tabbing to their blog window to write about this evil new “Nokia 1984 phone”, but before you power up your anarchizing alerts remember two things:

  1. It’s an extremely flattering delusion, but nobody actually cares enough to monitor you. If nobody even comments on your blog, why would they invest millions to secretly surveil you?
  2. They already know where you are – that tinfoil-helmet mail-order company is really a CIA front.

Expect an increasing number of these swarm-applications as companies wake up to the amazing potential of the system, a torrent of outraged and terrified editorials when the mainstream finally notices it’s happening, and a top-rated Facebook application that hooks into it. Because if you thought people updating their status message once a minute was bad, wait until they can show you what they’re doing every second.

January 27, 2008
By Nicholas Carr

The internet arms race has begun. On January 8, the Washington Post reports, George Bush signed a far-reaching executive order expanding the power of federal law enforcement and spy agencies to combat Internet attacks on government computer systems using both defensive and offensive measures:

The directive, whose content is classified, authorizes the intelligence agencies, in particular the National Security Agency, to monitor the computer networks of all federal agencies – including ones they have not previously monitored.

Until now, the government’s efforts to protect itself from cyber-attacks – which run the gamut from hackers to organized crime to foreign governments trying to steal sensitive data – have been piecemeal. Under the new initiative, a task force headed by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) will coordinate efforts to identify the source of cyber-attacks against government computer systems. As part of that effort, the Department of Homeland Security will work to protect the systems and the Pentagon will devise strategies for counterattacks against the intruders …

The directive outlines measures collectively referred to as the “cyber initiative,” aimed at securing the government’s computer systems against attacks by foreign adversaries and other intruders. It will cost billions of dollars, which the White House is expected to request in its fiscal 2009 budget.

The move is a controversial one. It signals an expanded, formal role in domestic online surveillance for the NSA, whose legendary electronic snooping capabilities have traditionally been focused on foreign communications and networks. “Agencies designed to gather intelligence on foreign entities should not be in charge of monitoring our computer systems here at home,” Democratic Representative Bennie Thompson told the Post. Said James X. Dempsey of the Center for Democracy and Technology: “We’re concerned that the NSA is claiming such a large role over the security of unclassified systems. They are a spy agency as well as a communications security agency. They operate in total secrecy. That’s not necessary and not the most effective way to protect unclassified systems.”

But others argue that the directive needs to go further to encompass commercial systems as well as governmental ones. They argue that businesses are increasingly the focus of cyberattacks and need federal protection. Says one security expert: “If you don’t include industry in the mix, you’re keeping one of your eyes closed because the hacking techniques are likely the same across government and commercial organizations. If you’re looking for needles in the haystack, you need as much data as you can get because these are really tiny needles, and bad guys are trying to hide the needles.”

The hardliners could point to a CIA warning earlier this month that Internet hackers have broken into “multiple” computer systems of utilities overseas, causing at least one major power outage. (Bruce Schneier questions the report of utility attacks, but also notes that “cyber-extortion” attacks on industry are in general on the rise.)

Given the Net’s growing importance as a commercial and governmental infrastructure, it seems inevitable that we’re in for a long-term Internet arms race, a cat-and-mouse cloudwar in which governments continually upgrade their Internet monitoring and attack capabilities and, at the same time, criminal and terrorist organizations seek ever more sophisticated ways to make money or wreak havoc. Although traditional national infrastructures, such as highways systems and electric grids, have served both personal and commercial interests and represented rich military targets, the Net goes much further in blending a wide range of governmental, commercial, and personal uses. Surveillance systems designed for military or national-defense purposes would thus be indistinguishable from, and easily repurposed as, systems for domestic snooping and monitoring.

One thing seems certain: We’ll never really know what’s going on.