Big Brother

FBI’s Foreign Surveillance Program Violated Americans’ Civil Liberties, FISA Court Finds

The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court has ruled that an FBI program intended to target foreign suspects violated Americans’ constitutional right to privacy by collecting the personal information of American citizens along with the foreign targets of the surveillance. According to the ruling, tens of thousands of searches the FBI made of raw intelligence databases from 2017 to 2018 were illegal, the Wall Street Journal first reported. The searches involved personal data including emails and telephone numbers of private citizens. “The court…finds that the FBI’s querying procedures and minimization procedures are not consistent with the requirements of the Fourth Amendment,” wrote U.S. District Judge James Boasberg in the ruling, which was released Tuesday in partially redacted form. Boasberg said the Trump administration failed to persuade the court that adjusting the program to more efficiently protect American citizens’ privacy would impede the FBI’s ability to counter threats. Federal law limits searches on such databases to to those that are explicitly related to the collection of evidence of a crime or foreign intelligence. In one case revealed in the ruling, an FBI official used a database to search for information on himself, his relatives and other FBI personnel. The Foreign Intelligence Service Act has come under scrutiny in recent years after the FBI obtained a FISA warrant to conduct an investigation into former Trump-campaign adviser Carter Page. The FBI maintains it suspected Page may have been working with Russian officials to interfere with the 2016 presidential election campaign, while President Trump has said the FBI “illegally spied” on his campaign.

…which it did.  But, this is an interesting development.  It’s the classic battle between law enforcement trying to protect us, and the need to make sure that they don’t cross that line where they impede on our civil liberties as Americans.  It’s a very fine line..

Swedes are getting implants in their hands to replace cash, credit cards

Thousands of people in Sweden are having futuristic microchips implanted into their skin to carry out everyday activities and replace credit cards and cash. More than 4,000 people have already had the sci-fi-ish chips, about the size of a grain of rice, inserted into their hands — with the pioneers predicting millions will soon join them as they hope to take it global. “It’s very ‘Black Mirror,’” Swedish scientist Ben Libberton told The Post of the similarity to the TV series highlighting futuristic scenarios. Like glorified smartwatches, the chips help Swedes monitor their health and even replace keycards to allow them to enter offices and buildings. They have particularly caught on, however, by enabling owners to pay in stores with a simple swipe of the hand, a big deal in a forward-looking country that is moving toward eliminating cash. The microchips were pioneered by former body piercer Jowan Österlund, who calls the technology a “moonshot” — and who told Fortune magazine that he’s been hit up by hopeful investors “on every continent except Antarctica.” “Tech will move into the body,” the Biohax International founder told the mag. “I am sure of that.” Österlund insists the technology is safe — but that has not stopped alarm bells from ringing, with some fearing a link to a doubling in cybercrime in the country over the last decade. Libberton, a British scientist based in Sweden, praised the “definitely exciting” potential health benefits of accurate health metrics taken from inside the body. “Think if the Apple Watch could measure things like blood glucose,” he told The Post. But he also fears the mass of highly personalized data and how it could be used. “The problem is, who owns this data?” he asked. “Do I get a letter from my insurance company saying premiums are going up before I know I’m ill? If I use the chip to buy lunch, go to the gym and go to work, will someone have all of this info about me? Is this stored and is it safe?” Libberton added, “It’s not just about the chip, but integration with other systems and data sharing.” And he fears Swedes are not giving enough thought to the potential dangers. “People have shown they’re happy to give up privacy for convenience,” he said. “The chip is very convenient, so could we accept our data being shared very widely before we know the risks?” The trend coincides with Sweden’s march toward going cashless, with notes and coins making up just 1 percent of Sweden’s economy. At the same time, the country has seen a dramatic decrease in some crimes — with just two bank robberies last year compared to 110 in 2008.

Look for this to come to America at some point..  But, hopefully not anytime soon.  Don’t know about you, but I don’t like the idea of this on oh so many levels.  There are the security and privacy concerns.  But, also..  How about big brother?!?  Way too many risks.  I guess let the Swedes be the guinea pig on this one for now..

Report: Google Is Tracking Your Location Even if You Tell It to Stop

Google is reportedly tracking your physical movements with your smartphone even if you select privacy settings which are supposed to stop it from doing so. According to the Associated Press, who launched an investigation into the tracking, it “found that many Google services on Android devices and iPhones store your location data even if you’ve used a privacy setting that says it will prevent Google from doing so.” “Computer-science researchers at Princeton confirmed these findings at the AP’s request,” it continued, adding that, “Storing your minute-by-minute travels carries privacy risks and has been used by police to determine the location of suspects — such as a warrant that police in Raleigh, North Carolina, served on Google last year to find devices near a murder scene.” Despite Google claiming that you can turn off the tracking, the Associated Press revealed that this is not true, and even “with Location History paused, some Google apps automatically store time-stamped location data without asking.” “If you’re going to allow users to turn off something called ‘Location History,’ then all the places where you maintain location history should be turned off,” expressed Jonathan Mayer, a former chief technologist for the Federal Communications Commission. “That seems like a pretty straightforward position to have.” In a statement, Google defended their tracking, and proclaimed, “There are a number of different ways that Google may use location to improve people’s experience, including: Location History, Web and App Activity, and through device-level Location Services. We provide clear descriptions of these tools, and robust controls so people can turn them on or off, and delete their histories at any time.” In February 2018 Tucker Carlson revealed that placing an Android phone in airplace mode or disconnecting it from the network would not stop it from tracking location. The governments of South Korea and the U.K. investigated Google for tracking users’ locations without their knowledge in 2017.