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Posts Tagged ‘Privacy’

The Overlapping Infrastructure of Urban Surveillance, and How to Fix It – Activist Post

Posted by M. C. on June 26, 2021

How do we stop the United States government from tapping into the internet’s main arteries? Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act allows for the collection and use of digital communications of people abroad, but often scoops up communications of U.S. persons when they talk to friends or family in other countries. EFF continues to fight Section 702 in the court in hopes of securing communications that travel through these essential cables.

https://www.activistpost.com/2021/06/the-overlapping-infrastructure-of-urban-surveillance-and-how-to-fix-it.html

By Matthew Guariglia

Between the increasing capabilities of local and state police, the creep of federal law enforcement into domestic policing, the use of aerial surveillance such as spy planes and drones, and mounting cooperation between private technology companies and the government, it can be hard to understand and visualize what all this overlapping surveillance can mean for your daily life. We often think of these problems as siloed issues. Local police deploy automated license plate readers or acoustic gunshot detection. Federal authorities monitor you when you travel internationally.

But if you could take a cross-section of the average city block, you would see the ways that the built environment of surveillance—its physical presence in, over, and under our cities—makes this an entwined problem that must be combated through entwined solutions.

Thus, we decided to create a graphic to show how—from overhead to underground—these technologies and legal authorities overlap, how they disproportionately impact the lives of marginalized communities, and the tools we have at our disposal to halt or mitigate their harms.

A cityscape showing 13 types of common surveillance

Going from Top to Bottom:

1. Satellite Surveillance:

Satellite photography has been a reality since the 1950s, and at any given moment there are over 5,000 satellites in orbit over the Earth—some of which have advanced photographic capabilities. While many are intended for scientific purposes, some satellites are used for reconnaissance by intelligence agencies and militaries. There are certainly some satellites that may identify a building or a car from its roof, but it’s unlikely that we could ever reach the point where pictures taken from a satellite would be clear enough or could even be the correct angle to run through face recognition technology or through an automated license plate reader.

Satellites can also enable surveillance by allowing governments to intercept or listen in on data transmitted internationally.

2. Internet Traffic Surveillance

Government surveillance of internet traffic can happen in many ways. Through programs like PRISM and XKEYSCORE, the U.S. National Security Agency (NSA) can monitor emails as they move across the internet, browser and search history, and even keystrokes as they happen in real time. Much of this information can come directly from the internet and telecommunications companies that consumers use, through agreements between these companies and government agencies (like the one the NSA shares with AT&T) or through warrants or orders granted by a judge, including those that preside over the Foriegn Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC).

Internet surveillance isn’t just the domain of the NSA and international intelligence organizations; local law enforcement are just as likely to approach big companies in an attempt to get information about how some people use the internet. In one 2020 case, police sent a search warrant to Google to see who had searched the address of an arson victim to try to identify a suspect. Using the IP addresses Google furnished of users who conducted that search, police identified a suspect and arrested him for the arson.

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The Only Privacy the Feds Protect is Their Own – LewRockwell

Posted by M. C. on June 17, 2021

Can the DOJ engage in a fishing expedition looking for leaks? Can it obtain personal records of members of Congress? Can it silence those who know about this? In a word: No, no and no.

The feds who did this violated their oaths to uphold the Constitution. But lack of fidelity in government to the Constitution is nothing new.

https://www.lewrockwell.com/2021/06/andrew-p-napolitano/the-only-privacy-the-feds-protect-is-their-own/

By Andrew P. Napolitano

Last week, The New York Times revealed that in late 2017 and early 2018, prosecutors in the Department of Justice persuaded a federal grand jury to subpoena the telephone, email and texting records of about 20 people, including two members of Congress and their families, staffs and investigators, and one of the minor children of a staff member. Also subpoenaed were the records of Donald F. McGahn II, then the White House chief counsel, and his wife.

In all, the government sought data on 73 phone numbers and 36 email addresses. The subpoenas identified the targets only by telephone number and computer identification number.

The subpoenas were served on Apple, the custodian of these records. Also served upon Apple was a gag order signed by a federal judge instructing Apple not to tell anyone it had received the subpoenas. The government sought and obtained three annual extensions of the gag order. Such an order should have been challenged, as it is unconstitutional on its face.

The records sought and obtained were “metadata.” Metadata is not content; yet it is everything but. Thus, the records that Apple surrendered showed who spoke to whom and when, who emailed whom and when, and who texted whom and when, but it did not show what was actually communicated.

Can the DOJ engage in a fishing expedition looking for leaks? Can it obtain personal records of members of Congress? Can it silence those who know about this? In a word: No, no and no.

Here is the backstory.

Governments have been seeking records in criminal cases since the beginning of the American republic. Until 1986, if the government served a subpoena for your records on your telephone provider, financial institution, physician or lawyer, the custodian would normally tell you of the subpoena, thereby giving you an opportunity to challenge it. Some sophisticated custodians — like Apple, though not in this case — have filed the challenge in behalf of their clients.

In the litigation over such a challenge, the owner of the records would become aware of the government’s wish to seize them and would find out why it sought them. There is no threat to the records themselves, as they are in the hands of the custodian, not the target. This was a fair system that worked well for 200 years.

All this changed in 1986 with the congressional enactment of the highly misnamed Electronic Communications Privacy Act. This law permits the feds to obtain metadata — but not content — and to obtain a court order prohibiting the custodian from telling its client.

Stated differently, under the common law, and long-standing, 200-year-old federal practice, the target could challenge the subpoena. But since 1986, that has not been the case. This so-called Privacy Act, in reality, is a pathway to invade privacy. The only privacy this statute protects is the government’s.

Notwithstanding the 1986 law, federal grand juries can only issue subpoenas when they are investigating crimes. And subpoenas can only be issued when federal prosecutors persuade the grand jury both that a crime has been committed and that the subpoenaed materials more likely than not — this is “probable cause” — contain evidence of the crime being investigated.

We know these subpoenas were served at the height of the Robert Mueller investigation of then-President Donald Trump. And we know that much was leaked during that investigation that was politically harmful to the president. We also know that no charges were ever filed against Trump, and he survived the Mueller investigation legally unscathed.

What crime could the feds have been looking for, and what did they tell a federal judge in order to get the gag order, and why didn’t they just ask the judge for an order to seize the content of these communications?

There is no judge present during grand jury proceedings, nor are the target or his lawyers there. Prosecutors can say almost whatever they want to persuade the grand jury to issue a subpoena, but what they say is recorded. Might a review of what they said show that there was no evidence of a crime?

Leaks are not criminal unless the leaker has a legal duty to keep silent. Federal law only imposes that duty on grand jurors and on others if the materials that could be leaked are classified. Short of that, there was no crime for a grand jury to investigate, and no federal judge would have issued a search warrant.

Moreover, the Speech and Debate Clause of the Constitution insulates members of Congress from any governmental acts against them — including surveillance — due to their use of words in furtherance of their congressional work. This is bolstered by the separation of powers — baked into the Constitution — which makes the legislative branch and the executive branch equals.

The First and Fourth Amendments are intentional obstacles to the government. The Supreme Court has ruled that the First lets you say whatever you wish about the government, come what may.

The Fourth provides that all persons shall be secure in their persons, houses, papers and effects. If the government pierced this protection without a demonstrable showing to a grand jury of crime, plus probable cause on each person whose records it sought, then it engaged in the very fishing expeditions that the amendment was written to prevent, and the government itself committed the crime of computer hacking.

It is unlikely that this mass surveillance found evidence of a crime in 2018, as no one has been indicted. My guess? Trump was furious over the leaks and ordered federal prosecutors to shake the trees and see who falls out. This is the tip of an unconstitutional, privacy-invading iceberg.

The feds who did this violated their oaths to uphold the Constitution. But lack of fidelity in government to the Constitution is nothing new.

Andrew P. Napolitano [send him mail], a former judge of the Superior Court of New Jersey, is the senior judicial analyst at Fox News Channel. Judge Napolitano has written nine books on the U.S. Constitution. The most recent is Suicide Pact: The Radical Expansion of Presidential Powers and the Lethal Threat to American Liberty. To find out more about Judge Napolitano and to read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit creators.com.

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Privacy and Psychopaths – LewRockwell

Posted by M. C. on May 31, 2021

They are incredible chameleons, capable of shape-shifting and lying and faking in the extreme. They find human emotions puzzling and alien, since they cannot feel themselves, but they recognize that it drives humans and can be used to manipulate them—they simply must put on a face, read their lines, and with any luck they might convince someone that they have feelings too. “Astute observers,” Dr. Hare notes, “often get the impression that psychopaths are play-acting, mechanically ‘reading their lines.’”

https://www.lewrockwell.com/2021/05/no_author/privacy-and-psychopaths/

By Gabriel Custodiet
The Watchman

Dear privacy-seekers,

Today we talk about psychopaths.

But, why are we talking about a personality disorder? And what does it have to do with privacy?

Years ago when I read my first book on psychopaths (which is the same as a sociopath) I was shocked and terrified and enlightened to discover their existence. At that very moment I was sharing a library with an inter-species predator that wore the face of humans and that saw them as means to an end: as prey. I was shocked to learn that many of the politicians who told me what to do and the CEOs who had ruthlessly etched their way into my life were psychopaths. It was, in short, a wake-up call. And if you want to understand how the world works, and have the faintest possibility of privacy and freedom, you need to know about psychopaths.

A psychopath or sociopath is someone who, for reasons of different brain chemistry, is incapable of experiencing empathy. That’s basically the full definition. But you would be surprised how completely and utterly a lack of empathy changes a creature. Without empathy you do not have a conscience. The author of The Sociopath Next Door Dr. Martha Stout puts it this way:

Conscience is a creator of meaning. As a sense of constraint rooted in our emotional ties to one another, it prevents life from devolving into nothing but a long and essentially boring game of attempted dominance over our fellow human beings, and for every limitation conscience imposes on us, it gives us a moment of connectedness with an other, a bridge to someone or something outside of our often meaningless schemes.

Empathy involves stepping outside of your own subjective experience to imagine what it is like to be someone else and experience their discomfort and pleasure. Think of Christ’s Golden Rule, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you,” and its variants across other religions. Think of the social contract. Think of the non-aggression principle, which says that you should not use force against another except in self-defense. All of these philosophies have in common the fact that you must be able to recognize other people as things in themselves. By contrast, expert Dr. Robert Hare notes, psychopaths have a “callous disregard for the rights of others.” Psychopaths literally cannot consider others as anything but objects. “The feelings of other people,” notes Hare, “are of no concern to psychopaths.”

Nor is this speculation. Ample interviews with psychopaths have evinced these facts, as have empirical measurements. Tests have been performed where people sit awaiting an electrical shock. Regular people have measurable anxiety, but psychopaths have none leading up to that moment. Other studies have found that psychopaths have no difference in neural response to emotional words compared to neutral words. Their brains are fundamentally and physically different from the rest of us by virtue of “altered processing of emotional stimuli at the level of the cerebral cortex.” (Stout) To put it in religious terms, a psychopath is a non-human creature in the guise of a human that is devoid of a soul.

Without the ability to step beyond one’s own experience, a number of things follow for the psychopath. Psychopaths cannot comprehend and plan for the future. They have very little imaginative capability at all. They live entirely in the moment and for pleasure. They are narcissistic and entirely self-absorbed. They have no commitment to others. They are more likely to take up extreme drug use, sexual promiscuity, childhood violence, and adult violence—to violate others. They are drawn to power and enjoy control.

Especially in our pro-“mental health” world you might be shocked by what I’ve just described. You might think that a psychopath is someone who is simply misguided or who does bad things now and then, if not evil—but surely they can be corrected or saved. Others will say that psychopaths must be seriously demented—at least the ones who take to violence. They must be totally disconnected from reality. None of this is true. A psychopath is biologically disposed to prey on others, nor are they psychiotic. They cannot be reasoned with, they cannot be treated, and they have nothing in common with you except a human face. Would you call a wolf evil, misguided, or think it in need of a cure for killing a deer?

Crucially, psychopaths are not psychotic. They’re not schizophrenic. They’re not bipolar. They see the world as it is. In fact, they see the world in some ways more clearly than normal humans because they carefully observe human emotion and behavior dispassionately.

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No Privacy, No Property: The World in 2030 According to the WEF | Mises Wire

Posted by M. C. on December 8, 2020

https://mises.org/wire/no-privacy-no-property-world-2030-according-wef

Antony P. Mueller

The World Economic Forum (WEF) was founded fifty years ago. It has gained more and more prominence over the decades and has become one of the leading platforms of futuristic thinking and planning. As a meeting place of the global elite, the WEF brings together the leaders in business and politics along with a few selected intellectuals. The main thrust of the forum is global control. Free markets and individual choice do not stand as the top values, but state interventionism and collectivism. Individual liberty and private property are to disappear from this planet by 2030 according to the projections and scenarios coming from the World Economic Forum.

Eight Predictions

Individual liberty is at risk again. What may lie ahead was projected in November 2016 when the WEF published “8 Predictions for the World in 2030.” According to the WEF’s scenario, the world will become quite a different place from now because how people work and live will undergo a profound change. The scenario for the world in 2030 is more than just a forecast. It is a plan whose implementation has accelerated drastically since with the announcement of a pandemic and the consequent lockdowns. 

According to the projections of the WEF’s “Global Future Councils,” private property and privacy will be abolished during the next decade. The coming expropriation would go further than even the communist demand to abolish the property of production goods but leave space for private possessions. The WEF projection says that consumer goods, too, would be no longer private property.

If the WEF projection should come true, people would have to rent and borrow their necessities from the state, which would be the sole proprietor of all goods. The supply of goods would be rationed in line with a social credit points system. Shopping in the traditional sense would disappear along with the private purchases of goods. Every personal move would be tracked electronically, and all production would be subject to the requirements of clean energy and a sustainable environment. 

In order to attain “sustainable agriculture,” the food supply will be mainly vegetarian. In the new totalitarian service economy, the government will provide basic accommodation, food, and transport, while the rest must be lent from the state. The use of natural resources will be brought down to its minimum. In cooperation with the few key countries, a global agency would set the price of CO2 emissions at an extremely high level to disincentivize its use.

In a promotional video, the World Economic Forum summarizes the eight predictions in the following statements:

  1. People will own nothing. Goods are either free of charge or must be lent from the state.
  2. The United States will no longer be the leading superpower, but a handful of countries will dominate.
  3. Organs will not be transplanted but printed.
  4. Meat consumption will be minimized.
  5. Massive displacement of people will take place with billions of refugees.
  6. To limit the emission of carbon dioxide, a global price will be set at an exorbitant level.
  7. People can prepare to go to Mars and start a journey to find alien life.
  8. Western values will be tested to the breaking point..

Beyond Privacy and Property

In a publication for the World Economic Forum, the Danish ecoactivist Ida Auken, who had served as her country’s minister of the environment from 2011 to 2014 and still is a member of the Danish Parliament (the Folketing), has elaborated a scenario of a world without privacy or property. In “Welcome to 2030,” she envisions a world where “I own nothing, have no privacy, and life has never been better.” By 2030, so says her scenario, shopping and owning have become obsolete, because everything that once was a product is now a service.

In this idyllic new world of hers, people have free access to transportation, accommodation, food, “and all the things we need in our daily lives.” As these things will become free of charge, “it ended up not making sense for us to own much.” There would be no private ownership in houses nor would anyone pay rent, “because someone else is using our free space whenever we do not need it.” A person’s living room, for example, will be used for business meetings when one is absent. Concerns like “lifestyle diseases, climate change, the refugee crisis, environmental degradation, completely congested cities, water pollution, air pollution, social unrest and unemployment” are things of the past. The author predicts that people will be happy to enjoy such a good life that is so much better “than the path we were on, where it became so clear that we could not continue with the same model of growth.”

Ecological Paradise

In her 2019 contribution to the Annual Meeting of the Global Future Councils of the World Economic Forum, Ida Auken foretells how the world may look in the future “if we win the war on climate change.” By 2030, when CO2 emissions will be greatly reduced, people will live in a world where meat on the dinner plate “will be a rare sight” while water and the air will be much cleaner than today. Because of the shift from buying goods to using services, the need to have money will vanish, because people will spend less and less on goods. Work time will shrink and leisure time will grow.

For the future, Auken envisions a city where electric cars have substituted conventional combustion vehicles. Most of the roads and parking spaces will have become green parks and walking zones for pedestrians. By 2030, agriculture will offer mainly plant-based alternatives to the food supply instead of meat and dairy products. The use of land to produce animal feed will greatly diminish and nature will be spreading across the globe again.

Fabricating Social Consent

How can people be brought to accept such a system? The bait to entice the masses is the assurances of comprehensive healthcare and a guaranteed basic income. The promoters of the Great Reset promise a world without diseases. Due to biotechnologically produced organs and individualized genetics-based medical treatments, a drastically increased life expectancy and even immortality are said to be possible. Artificial intelligence will eradicate death and eliminate disease and mortality. The race is on among biotechnological companies to find the key to eternal life.

Along with the promise of turning any ordinary person into a godlike superman, the promise of a “universal basic income” is highly attractive, particularly to those who will no longer find a job in the new digital economy. Obtaining a basic income without having to go through the treadmill and disgrace of applying for social assistance is used as a bait to get the support of the poor.

To make it economically viable, the guarantee of a basic income would require the leveling of wage differences. The technical procedures of the money transfer from the state will be used to promote the cashless society. With the digitization of all monetary transactions, each individual purchase will be registered. As a consequence, the governmental authorities would have unrestricted access to supervise in detail how individual persons spend their money. A universal basic income in a cashless society would provide the conditions to impose a social credit system and deliver the mechanism to sanction undesirable behavior and identify the superfluous and unwanted.

Who Will Be the Rulers?

The World Economic Forum is silent about the question of who will rule in this new world.

There is no reason to expect that the new power holders would be benevolent. Yet even if the top decision-makers of the new world government were not mean but just technocrats, what reason would an administrative technocracy have to go on with the undesirables? What sense does it make for a technocratic elite to turn the common man into a superman? Why share the benefits of artificial intelligence with the masses and not keep the wealth for the chosen few?

Not being swayed away by the utopian promises, a sober assessment of the plans must come to the conclusion that in this new world, there would be no place for the average person and that they would be put away along with the “unemployable,” “feeble minded,” and “ill bred.” Behind the preaching of the progressive gospel of social justice by the promoters of the Great Reset and the establishment of a new world order lurks the sinister project of eugenics, which as a technique is now called “genetic engineering” and as a movement is named “transhumanism,” a term  coined by Julian Huxley, the first director of the UNESCO.

The promoters of the project keep silent about who will be the rulers in this new world. The dystopian and collectivist nature of these projections and plans is the result of the rejection of free capitalism. Establishing a better world through a dictatorship is a contradiction in terms. Not less but more economic prosperity is the answer to the current problems. Therefore, we need more free markets and less state planning. The world is getting greener and a fall in the growth rate of the world population is already underway. These trends are the natural consequence of wealth creation through free markets.

Conclusion

The World Economic Forum and its related institutions in combination with a handful of governments and a few high-tech companies want to lead the world into a new era without property or privacy. Values like individualism, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness are at stake, to be repudiated in favor of collectivism and the imposition of a “common good” that is defined by the self-proclaimed elite of technocrats. What is sold to the public as the promise of equality and ecological sustainability is in fact a brutal assault on human dignity and liberty. Instead of using the new technologies as an instrument of betterment, the Great Reset seeks to use the technological possibilities as a tool of enslavement. In this new world order, the state is the single owner of everything. It is left to our imagination to figure out who will program the algorithms that manage the distribution of the goods and services. Author:

Antony P. Mueller

Dr. Antony P. Mueller is a German professor of economics who currently teaches in Brazil. Write an email. See his website and blog.

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Do We Still Have a Constitution? – LewRockwell

Posted by M. C. on November 12, 2020

These amendments were ratified to restrain the federal government from infringing upon personal liberties. Since the enactment of the 14th Amendment in 1868, and subsequent litigation, these amendments, for the most part, restrain the states as well. The courts have characterized these protected liberties as fundamental

https://www.lewrockwell.com/2020/11/andrew-p-napolitano/do-we-still-have-a-constitution/

By Andrew P. Napolitano

I have been taking some heat from friends and colleagues for my steadfast defense of personal liberties and my arguments that the Constitution — when interpreted in accordance with the plain meaning of its words, and informed by history — does not permit the government to infringe upon personal freedoms, no matter the emergency or pandemic. For those who agree with me, worry not. We will persevere. For those who trust the government, worry a lot. You are not in good hands.

The purpose of the Constitution is to establish the government and to limit it. Some of the limitations are written in the Constitution itself. Most of the limitations that pertain to personal freedoms are found in the Bill of Rights — the first 10 amendments.

These amendments were ratified to restrain the federal government from infringing upon personal liberties. Since the enactment of the 14th Amendment in 1868, and subsequent litigation, these amendments, for the most part, restrain the states as well. The courts have characterized these protected liberties as fundamental. Natural Law Spooner, Lysander Buy New $4.99 (as of 03:45 EDT – Details)

So, the rights to thought, speech, press, assembly, worship, self-defense, privacy, travel, property ownership, interstate commercial activities and fair treatment from government are plainly articulated or rationally inferred in the first eight amendments. The Ninth is a catchall, which declares that the enumeration of rights in the first eight shall not mean that there are no other rights that are fundamental, and the government shall not disparage those other rights. The Tenth reflects that the states have reserved powers to themselves.

The Ninth was especially important to its author, James Madison, because of his view that natural rights — known today as fundamental rights — are integral to each person, and they are too numerous to list. In the next century, the anti-slavery crusader Lysander Spooner would explain it thusly: “A man’s natural rights are his own, against the whole world; and any infringement of them is equally a crime, whether committed by one man, or by millions; whether committed by one man, calling himself a robber, … or by millions, calling themselves a government.”

Natural rights collectively constitute the moral ability and sovereign authority of every human being to make personal choices — free from government interference or government permission.

Thomas Jefferson wrote in the Declaration of Independence that government derives all its powers from the consent of the governed. And Madison understood the Ninth Amendment to declare that our personal choices are insulated from government interference so long as their exercise does not impair another’s rights.

From this, it follows that if governments interfere with our personal choices — and we have not consented to their power to interfere — the interference is invalid, unlawful and, because our personal choices are essentially protected from governmental interference by the Bill of Rights, unconstitutional.

Now, back to the present-day restraints during this pandemic.

The current interferences with the exercise of rights protected by the Bill of Rights devolve around travel, assembly, interstate commercial activities and the exercise of religious beliefs. These infringements have all come from state governors who claim the power to do so, and they raise three profound constitutional issues.

The first is: Do governors have inherent power in an emergency to craft regulations that carry the force of law? The answer is no. The Guarantee Clause of the Constitution mandates a republican (lowercase “r”) form of government in the states. That means the separation of powers into three branches, each with a distinct function that cannot constitutionally be performed by either of the other two. Since only a representative legislature can write laws that carry criminal penalties and incur the use of force, the governor of a state cannot constitutionally write laws.

The second constitutional issue is: Can state legislatures delegate away to governors their law-making powers? Again, the answer is no because the separation of powers prevents one branch of government from ceding to another branch its core powers. The separation was crafted not to preserve the integrity of each branch but to assure the preservation of personal liberty by preventing the accumulation of too much power in any one branch.

We are not talking about a state legislature delegating to a board of medical examiners in the executive branch the power to license physicians. We are talking about delegating away a core power — the authority to create crimes and craft punishments. Such a delegation would be an egregious violation of the Guarantee Clause. Suicide Pact: The Radi… Napolitano, Andrew P. Best Price: $0.25 Buy New $2.84 (as of 04:15 EST – Details)

The third constitutional issue is: Can a state legislature enact laws that interfere with personal liberties protected by the Bill of Rights, prescribe punishments for violations of those laws and authorize governors to use force to compel compliance? Again, the answer is no because all government in America is subordinate to the natural rights articulated in the Bill of Rights and embraced in the Ninth Amendment.

We should rejoice that there is resistance to gubernatorial ignorance and arrogance that disregards the Bill of Rights. We need resistance to tyranny in order to stay free. Power unresisted continues to grow and to corrupt. History teaches that most people prefer the illusion of safety to the cacophony of liberty. The only reason we have civil liberties today is because generations of determined minorities — starting with the revolutionaries in the 1770s — have fought for them.

Today, we are governed by dangerous men and women. For they have taken away our ability to make personal choices, and they have used force to compel compliance. In doing that, they have not only violated their oaths to uphold the Bill of Rights, they also have committed the criminal acts of nullifying our rights. By using the powers of state governments to do this, they have made themselves candidates for federal criminal prosecutions when saner days return.

Reprinted with the author’s permission.

The Best of Andrew P. Napolitano

Andrew P. Napolitano [send him mail], a former judge of the Superior Court of New Jersey, is the senior judicial analyst at Fox News Channel. Judge Napolitano has written nine books on the U.S. Constitution. The most recent is Suicide Pact: The Radical Expansion of Presidential Powers and the Lethal Threat to American Liberty. To find out more about Judge Napolitano and to read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit creators.com.

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Spying on Journalists – LewRockwell

Posted by M. C. on August 6, 2020

For starters, it is far easier to spy unlawfully than it is to obtain a search warrant. As well, the feds have established a vast network of domestic spies — the 60,000-person strong National Security Agency. It captures all electronic data, voice and text, communicated within the United States — without warrants and with few complaints.

All this directly assaults the right to privacy, but the feds do it anyway. The spying is so normal that a deputy DHS secretary ordered it in Portland without seeking approval up his chain of command.

https://www.lewrockwell.com/2020/08/andrew-p-napolitano/spying-on-journalists/

By

Last week, this column argued that the only constitutional role for armed federal forces in Portland, Oregon, was to assist U.S. marshals in protecting federal property and personnel there — in this case, the federal courthouse and those who come to it. The column also argued that under the U.S. Constitution, the feds have no lawful role in policing streets unless requested to do so by the governor or legislature of any state.

In Portland’s case, the governor of Oregon and the mayor of Portland both asked acting Secretary of Homeland Security Chad Wolf to bring his forces home. He agreed to do so when Oregon’s governor offered to beef up security at the federal courthouse.

Yet, the federal forces were doing more than just protecting federal property. They were agitating the peaceful demonstrators in Portland’s streets by firing an internationally banned variant of tear gas repeatedly and indiscriminately into crowds for hours at a time every night. The feds were also spying on journalists who were in the crowds of protestors reporting on what they observed.

Here is the backstory.

The Supreme Court has held, for many generations, that the Fourth Amendment to the Constitution protects the “right to be let alone.” Today, we call this privacy.

Those who wrote the Constitution were acutely aware of the proclivities of government to monitor the communications and behavior of folks it hates and fears. King George III sent British troops and government agents into the homes of colonists under various pretexts, the most notorious of which was to examine letters, papers and pamphlets to ascertain if the king’s tax on them had been paid.

This Stamp Act tax cost more to enforce than it generated in revenue. Was the king dumb or dumb like a fox? Probably the latter; the true purpose of the tax was not to raise money but to remind the colonists that the king could cross the thresholds of their homes — a right he did not have in Great Britain — through the use of his soldiers and agents. And, while inside the home, his agents could discover who was agitating for secession.

With memories of these royal abuses fresh in their minds, the members of the first Congress — led by James Madison — approved and passed the Fourth Amendment. The states ratified it as part of the Bill of Rights. Madison also drafted the Ninth Amendment, which reflects the existence in all people of natural human rights — knowable by the exercise of reason and insulated from government intrusion. Among those rights is privacy.

May the government lawfully invade the right to privacy? Under the Fourth Amendment, it may do so only pursuant to search warrants issued by a judge, and the judge may only issue a search warrant after taking testimony under oath demonstrating that it is more likely than not that the place to be searched will yield evidence of criminal behavior. Plus, the warrant must specify the place to be searched or the person or thing to be seized.

The language and requirements in the Fourth Amendment are the most specific in the Constitution. Madison insisted upon this so it would be both an obstacle to the new American government doing to its citizens what the king and his agents had done to the colonists, and an inducement to the government to focus law enforcement on probable causes of crime rather than spying on political enemies.

Now, back to the feds in Portland.

We know from their admissions that the feds compiled dossiers on numerous journalists covering their activities in Portland. We also know that some data in those dossiers came from public sources and some did not. The governmental acquisition of data from nonpublic, nongovernment sources without search warrants constitutes spying.

The government spies routinely on Americans today — so much so that the revelation of it ceases to shock.

Why would the feds do this?

For starters, it is far easier to spy unlawfully than it is to obtain a search warrant. As well, the feds have established a vast network of domestic spies — the 60,000-person strong National Security Agency. It captures all electronic data, voice and text, communicated within the United States — without warrants and with few complaints.

All this directly assaults the right to privacy, but the feds do it anyway. The spying is so normal that a deputy DHS secretary ordered it in Portland without seeking approval up his chain of command.

The government also spies to intimidate — and this brings us back to Portland. When the government discovers personal information that it has no right to acquire without a warrant — information devoid of criminal evidence, information that the Fourth Amendment bars the government from obtaining without a warrant — and then tells you it has this information, it chills your freedom.

Chilling can make you pause before exposing or criticizing the government. The Supreme Court has characterized this as a violation of both the Fourth Amendment and the freedom of speech protected by the First Amendment.

To Wolf’s credit, he either fired or transferred (it is unclear which) the deputy secretary who ordered DHS agents to spy on journalists in Portland. Yet, when ordered, they readily complied with the order. That’s how commonplace federal spying has become — and how easy.

The folks who did this should all lose their jobs. Why? Because it is unlawful to obey an unlawful order.

Or have our constitutional rights been so emasculated that the government doesn’t know the difference?

Andrew P. Napolitano [send him mail], a former judge of the Superior Court of New Jersey, is the senior judicial analyst at Fox News Channel. Judge Napolitano has written nine books on the U.S. Constitution. The most recent is Suicide Pact: The Radical Expansion of Presidential Powers and the Lethal Threat to American Liberty. To find out more about Judge Napolitano and to read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit creators.com.

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The Ron Paul Institute for Peace and Prosperity : Fedcoin: A New Scheme for Tyranny and Poverty

Posted by M. C. on July 28, 2020

Fedcoin poses a great threat to privacy. The Federal Reserve could know when fedcoin is used, who is using it, and what they use it for. This information could be shared with government agencies, such as the FBI or IRS.

Is it so hard to believe that the ability to track purchases would be used in the future to “discourage” individuals from buying guns, fatty foods, or tobacco, or from being customers of corporations whose CEOs are not considered “woke” by the thought police? Fedcoin could also be used to “encourage” individuals to patronize “green” business, thus fulfilling Fed Chair Jerome Powell’s goal of involving the Fed in the fight against climate change.

http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2020/july/27/fedcoin-a-new-scheme-for-tyranny-and-poverty/

Written by Ron Paul

If some Congress members get their way, the Federal Reserve may soon be able to track many of your purchases in real time and share that information with government agencies. This is just one of the problems with the proposed “digital dollar” or “fedcoin.”

Fedcoin was initially included in the first coronavirus spending bill. While the proposal was dropped from the final version of the bill, there is still great interest in fedcoin on Capitol Hill. Some progressives have embraced fedcoin as a way to provide Americans with a “universal basic income.”

Both the Senate Banking Committee and the House Financial Services Committee held hearings on fedcoin in June. This is the first step toward making fedcoin a reality.

Fedcoin would not be an actual coin. Instead, it would be a special account created and maintained for each American by the Federal Reserve. Each month, Fed employees could tap a few keys on a computer and — bingo — each American would have dollars added to his Federal Reserve account. This is the 21st century equivalent of throwing money from helicopters.

Fedcoin could effect private cryptocurrencies. Also, it would limit the ability of private citizens to protect themselves from the Federal Reserve-caused decline in the dollar’s value.

Fedcoin would not magically increase the number of available goods and services. What it would do is drive up prices. The damage this would do to middle- and lower-income Americans would dwarf any benefit they receive from their monthly “gift” from the Fed. The rise in prices could lead to Congress regularly increasing fedcoin payments to Americans. These increases would cause prices to keep rising even more until we face hyperinflation and a dollar crisis. Of course, we are already on the path to an economic crisis thanks to the Fed. Fedcoin will hasten and worsen the crisis.

Fedcoin poses a great threat to privacy. The Federal Reserve could know when fedcoin is used, who is using it, and what they use it for. This information could be shared with government agencies, such as the FBI or IRS.

The government could use the ability to know how Americans are spending fedcoin to limit our ability to purchase goods and services disfavored by politicians and bureaucrats. Anyone who doubts this should recall the Obama administration’s Operation Choke Point. Operation Choke Point involved financial regulators “alerting” banks that dealing with certain businesses, such as gun stores, would put the banks at “reputational risk” and could subject them to greater regulation.

Is it so hard to believe that the ability to track purchases would be used in the future to “discourage” individuals from buying guns, fatty foods, or tobacco, or from being customers of corporations whose CEOs are not considered “woke” by the thought police? Fedcoin could also be used to “encourage” individuals to patronize “green” business, thus fulfilling Fed Chair Jerome Powell’s goal of involving the Fed in the fight against climate change.

Fedcoin could threaten private cryptocurrencies, increase inflation, and give government new powers over our financial transactions. Fedcoin will also speed up destruction of the fiat money system. Whatever gain fedcoin may bring to average Americans will come at terrible cost to liberty and prosperity.


Copyright © 2020 by RonPaul Institute. Permission to reprint in whole or in part is gladly granted, provided full credit and a live link are given.
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Coronavirus is Just the Latest Excuse to Expand the Surveillance State | | Tenth Amendment Center

Posted by M. C. on May 20, 2020

In practice, “geofence” warrants authorize police to search Google’s massive location tracking database for all of the phones within a given geographical area during a specific timeframe. According to the New York Times, federal agents first utilized the practice in 2016.

Is your GPS always on?

https://tenthamendmentcenter.com/2020/05/13/coronavirus-is-just-the-latest-excuse-to-expand-the-surveillance-state/

By:

Federal, state and local agencies have teamed up to operate a warrantless cellphone tracking program to monitor compliance with COVID-19 social distancing requirements.

According to a report by the Wall Street Journal, the program provides information on people’s movements in over 500 U.S. cities. According to the report, the CDC spearheads the program known as the COVID-19 Mobility Data Network with assistance from state and local governments. Tech companies and data providers have reportedly been cooperating with the effort.

This information has been fed to law enforcement agencies. For instance, according to a report from the Daily Mail, “one source shared that researchers learned that a huge number of New Yorkers had been visiting Brooklyn’s Prospect Part and handed the information over to authorities.”

Emergencies create the perfect excuse for government power to expand.

The COVID-19 pandemic is no exception. The spread of coronavirus and the fear generated has opened the door to all kinds of government actions that would be intolerable in normal times. Once established, these government powers never go away. In fact, the 9/11 emergency allowed the federal government to create the foundation for the surveillance state that exists today with the passage of the Patriot Act and other post-9/11 “authorities.”

Since then, the federal government has been constructing an integrated national surveillance state with the cooperation of state and local agencies. The COVID-19 “emergency” provides an excuse to put that system to “good use.” it also sets the stage for further expansion and abuse of the system in the future.

Some have pushed back against further expansion of the surveillance state during the pandemic, recognizing the inherent danger of letting that particular cat out of the bag. The New York-based Surveillance Technology Oversight Project (STOP) released a statement opposing the expanded use of location data to track coronavirus.

“Even as we battle this unprecedented public health threat, we still have to uphold the Constitution. Warrantless cellphone location tracking has been ruled unconstitutional by the Supreme Court, and this surveillance program poses dire consequences for Americans’ privacy. We are deeply concerned that this data was not only collected in secret, but that it’s apparently being shared with no protections against being used by police or even ICE. While it’s unclear if this sort of surveillance state helps prevent the spread of COVID-19, it’s quite clear that it undermines our most fundamental rights and risks driving countless Americans into the shadows.”

The COVID-19 tracking program reportedly strips records shared with government agencies of identifying information. But as a report by the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) points out, it’s virtually impossible to truly anonymize location data.

Practically speaking, there is no way to deidentify individual location data. Information about where a person is and has been itself is usually enough to reidentify them. Someone who travels frequently between a given office building and a single-family home is probably unique in those habits and therefore identifiable from other readily identifiable sources. One widely cited study from 2013 even found that researchers could uniquely characterize 50 percent of people using only two randomly chosen time and location data points.

It is possible to aggregate data in a way that protects individual identities, but once the pandora’s box is open, how do you keep everything inside? By its nature, government pushes the boundaries. It’s only a matter of time before police agencies are using this information to identify individuals.

Other countries have already used location data to identify specific people. China was particularly aggressive in using mass surveillance of phones to classify individuals based on their health status and to then restrict their movements. Those who claim “that can’t happen here” are naive. In fact, police have already used mass location tracking to hunt down fugitives.

Judges across the U.S. are issuing search warrants that effectively authorize police to search broad geographical areas to determine who was near a given place at a given time. In practice, these warrants give police permission to use Google location data to engage in massive fishing expeditions and subject hundreds, if not thousands, of innocent people to police location tracking.

In practice, “geofence” warrants authorize police to search Google’s massive location tracking database for all of the phones within a given geographical area during a specific timeframe. According to the New York Times, federal agents first utilized the practice in 2016.

According to the Times, these broadly construed warrants help police pinpoint possible suspects and witnesses in the absence of other clues. Google employees said the company often responds to a single warrant with location information on dozens or hundreds of devices.

North Carolina produced the first public reports of this investigative tactic last year after detectives obtained warrants to obtain location data for all the phones that were in the area of two shootings. According to WRAL, “On a satellite image, they drew shapes around the crime scenes, marking the coordinates on the map. Then they convinced a Wake County judge they had enough probable cause to order Google to hand over account identifiers on every single cell phone that crossed the digital cordon during certain times.”

Geofencing could also be accomplished in real-time using celt site simulators, commonly known as “stingrays.” These devices essentially spoof cell phone towers, tricking any device within range into connecting to the stingray instead of the tower. This allows law enforcement to sweep up communications content, as well as locate and track the person in possession of a specific phone or other electronic device.

Some argue that this kind of mass surveillance is necessary to catch “bad guys.” But what happens when the government defines a person stopping at the gun store or attending a church a “bad guy?”

Government powers never shrink. They only expand. Each expansion begets new expansions. It is imperative to place absolute limits on surveillance. We can’t trust government agents to limit themselves. As Patrick Henry warned, “Show me that age and country where the rights and liberties of the people were placed in the sole chance of their rulers being good men without a consequent loss of liberty.”

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Cashless Society and the End of Freedom

Posted by M. C. on April 27, 2020

As of 27 April 2020 the PA Liqour Control Board allows curbside pickup at state stores.

Yes, PA still has state stores.

Credit card in advance only. The sheeple are lining up.

 

Cashless society seems like an inevitable progression into an easier, faster and more convenient future. But this comes at a huge of cost of privacy and anonymity of cash payments, and freedom from control over people’s funds.

 

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Impeach Brett Kavanaugh – LewRockwell

Posted by M. C. on April 22, 2020

The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978 which created the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC) was supposed to be limited to intelligence gathering of “foreigners.” Thanks to judges of the ilk of Brett Kavanaugh, it has been expanded to cover U.S. citizens.

https://www.lewrockwell.com/2020/04/walter-e-block/impeach-brett-kavanaugh/

By

Brett Kavanaugh does not deserve a place on the United States Supreme Court and should be impeached.

Why? No, not those sexual allegations; unproven. She said, he said.

Why then? In a word: privacy.

Our bedrock Constitutional protection from unwarranted invasions in this regard is the Fourth Amendment. It reads as follows:

“The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.”

In what way does Judge Kavanaugh fall foul of this eminently reasonable public security blanket? He supports the Patriot Act. And what manner of beast is that, pray tell? Its full title is: “Uniting and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism Act of 2001.” The bottom line on this is that it gives the Federal Government tools that are incompatible with the Fourth Amendment. To wit, it short circuits the “no Warrants” safeguard. Specifically, this Act greatly enhanced the ability of the Federales to interdict citizens’ communication, while undermining the ability of the latter to engage in court challenges of these expansions.

Representative Justin Amash (R-MI) was the only Republican member of the House of Representatives to oppose this nomination of President Trump’s. He stated “Privacy advocates must fight. There are many potential nominees with a conservative record on abortion, guns, and regulations. The only question is will the Senate confirm one who is really bad on the #4thAmendment, when so much is at stake in upcoming digital privacy battles.”

True, Mr. Amash cannot vote on this matter since he is not a member of the Senate. But, enquiring minds want to know if this stance of his will affect the position of his libertarian soldier-in-arms, Senator Ron Paul (R-KY). Hint, hint!

Judge Andrew Napolitano, no pinko, he, either, points out that the Patriot Act allows two members of the FBI to authorize a warrant without any by-your-leave from a judge. The government may also demand that you not reveal to anyone else that your home and effects have been searched, not only violating the Fourth Amendment, but the First one too.

The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978 which created the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC) was supposed to be limited to intelligence gathering of “foreigners.” Thanks to judges of the ilk of Brett Kavanaugh, it has been expanded to cover U.S. citizens.

A word about privacy, if you please. The Fourth Amendment, properly interpreted, limits the government, not anyone else, from invading privacy. Individuals may still “assault” each other’s privacy. If we could not, then the entire profession of detectives would be per se illegal. There go Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes, Raymond Chandler’s Philip Marlowe, Robert B. Parker’s Spenser, Agatha Christie’s Hercule Poirot, Rex Stout’s Nero Wolfe and Robert Crais’ Elvis Cole and all real world counterparts. We could not so much as look at each other without undermining privacy. (When my kids were young they would complain “he’s looking at me; “she’s looking at me; my wife and I tried to assure them that this was not a rights violation).

This privacy business is akin to censorship. Only the government can do this. If a private concern does this (you can’t yell “fire” in a crowded theater), they are not censoring you; they are only insisting on upholding their private property and contractual rights. Similarly for electronic platforms such as Google, Facebook, Amazon. They are not censoring the likes of Alex Jones, merely refusing to associate with him. Similarly, there are no privacy “rights” we can hold against other private citizens. The Fourth Amendment protects us only against governmental incursions.

With Mr. Brett Kavanaugh on the high court, these rights will be undermined.

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