US Stasi gets original Stasi’s stamp of approval
Jun 28th, 2013 by Ken Hagler

NSA’s Sur­veil­lance Oper­a­tions the Envy of For­mer Stasi Com­man­der. In East Ger­many, the Min­istry
for State Secu­ri­ty (known as the Stasi) became one of the most
aggres­sive domes­tic sur­veil­lance agen­cies in world his­to­ry, act­ing
as “the shield and the sword” of the rul­ing Com­mu­nist régime.
Despite (or because of) its his­to­ry, many for­mer mem­bers and
infor­mants would pre­fer to 
defend the orga­ni­za­tion and their roles in it
to com­ing to
terms with its hor­rif­ic nature. On the twen­ti­eth anniver­sary of the
fall of the Berlin Wall (in 2009), East Germany’s last leader told
for­mer East Ger­man bor­der guards he regret­ted fail­ing to save the
coun­try.  But now, some for­mer mem­bers of the Stasi can look
to Amer­i­ca for inspi­ra­tion that the spir­it of their work is mov­ing
for­ward. From a 
McClatchy news­pa­pers inter­view
with Wolf­gang Schmidt, a for­mer
Stas­si depart­ment head:

Peer­ing out over the city [Berlin] that lived in fear
when the com­mu­nist par­ty ruled it, he pon­dered the mag­ni­tude of
domes­tic spy­ing in the Unit­ed States under the Oba­ma
admin­is­tra­tion. A smile spread across his face.

You know, for us, this would have been a dream come true,” he
said, recall­ing the days when he was a lieu­tenant colonel in the
defunct com­mu­nist country’s secret police, the Stasi.

In those days, his depart­ment was lim­it­ed to tap­ping 40 phones at a
time, he recalled. Decide to spy on a new vic­tim and an old one had
to be dropped, because of a lack of equip­ment. He finds
breath­tak­ing the idea that the U.S. gov­ern­ment receives dai­ly
reports on the cell­phone usage of mil­lions of Amer­i­cans and can
mon­i­tor the Inter­net traf­fic of mil­lions more.

So much infor­ma­tion, on so many peo­ple,” he said.

But even Schmidt sees the design flaw in the NSA’s plan:

 “It is the height of naïveté to think that once
col­lect­ed this infor­ma­tion won’t be used,” he said. “This is the
nature of secret gov­ern­ment orga­ni­za­tions. The only way to pro­tect
the people’s pri­va­cy is not to allow the gov­ern­ment to col­lect
their infor­ma­tion in the first place.”

James Clap­per might respond that 
the NSA isn’t “col­lect­ing”
that infor­ma­tion because the
direc­tor of nation­al intel­li­gence doesn’t con­sid­er the gath­ered
data “col­lect­ed” until it’s offi­cial­ly used, a seman­tic maneu­ver
any neo-Orwellian would con­sid­er dou­ble­plus­good.

This is how a soci­ety destroys itself,” one Ger­man activist who
was tar­get­ed by the Stasi told McClatchy, refer­ring to the NSA’s
sur­veil­lance oper­a­tions as “bull­shit.” [Rea­son]

Amusing side effect
Dec 11th, 2012 by Ken Hagler

Recent­ly I’ve been see­ing a lot of talk about a new game Google is devel­op­ing for Android, called Ingress. I’ve noticed that so far nobody seems to have noticed an unin­tend­ed (pre­sum­ably) con­se­quence of the game: peo­ple play­ing it will be trav­el­ing around to libraries, post offices, cour­t­hous­es, fire sta­tions, mon­u­ments, and the like, stand­ing around for sev­er­al min­utes, and then mov­ing on to anoth­er loca­tion in a seem­ing­ly ran­dom pat­tern.

What the peo­ple writ­ing about Ingress as a game seem to have missed is that it’s fair­ly well known by peo­ple who pay atten­tion that the gov­ern­ment tracks everyone’s move­ments using the loca­tion data from their cell phone ser­vices. The strange and errat­ic move­ments of Ingress play­ers are bound to dri­ve the secret police­men respon­si­ble for such spy­ing berserk, which I con­sid­er to be a huge ben­e­fit. I’m con­sid­er­ing get­ting a Nexus 7 just so I can help con­fuse Big Broth­er.

Big Brother technology
Sep 2nd, 2012 by Ken Hagler

Your car, tracked: the rapid rise of license plate read­ers [Ars Tech­ni­ca]

A look at one of the less-known tech­nolo­gies that the gov­ern­ment uses to spy on peo­ple.

Clever idea
Jun 7th, 2011 by Ken Hagler

Insert Coin: Eyez 720p video-recording glass­es (video). We first heard about the Eyez video record­ing glass­es con­cept back in March, when those famil­iar black frames packed a 1080p cam­era, 16GB of flash mem­o­ry, WiFi, and dual exawatt-class lasers (ok, we made that last part up). Named for the product’s “utopic vision,” ZionEyez now has a pro­to­type with a more ground­ed spec list, includ­ing a 720p cam­era and 8GB of mem­o­ry, along with micro-USB and Blue­tooth con­nec­tiv­i­ty for live­cast­ing to Qik or LiveStream… [Engad­get]

This would be a real­ly handy thing to be wear­ing if you’re going some­place that’s like­ly to have a cop infes­ta­tion.

Cell phone spying
Dec 1st, 2009 by Ken Hagler

Sprint fed cus­tomer GPS data to cops over 8 mil­lion times.

Christo­pher Soghoian, a grad­u­ate stu­dent at Indi­ana University’s School of Infor­mat­ics and Com­put­ing, has made pub­lic an audio record­ing of Sprint/Nextel’s Elec­tron­ic Sur­veil­lance Man­ag­er describ­ing how his com­pa­ny has pro­vid­ed GPS loca­tion data about its wire­less cus­tomers to law enforce­ment over 8 mil­lion times. That’s poten­tial­ly mil­lions of Sprint/Nextel cus­tomers who not only were prob­a­bly unaware that their wire­less provider even had an Elec­tron­ic Sur­veil­lance Depart­ment, but who cer­tain­ly did not know that law enforce­ment offers could log into a spe­cial Sprint Web por­tal and, with­out ever hav­ing to demon­strate prob­a­ble cause to a judge, gain access to geolo­ca­tion logs detail­ing where they’ve been and where they are. 

Read the rest of this article...

[Ars Tech­ni­ca]

It’s well known by now (at least, to any­one who pays atten­tion) that cell phones are used to spy on the loca­tion and move­ment of their own­ers. This is the first sol­id infor­ma­tion I’ve seen on just how often the cops spy on people–and keep in mind that this is only one com­pa­ny. It’s pret­ty much guar­an­teed that oth­er com­pa­nies are equal­ly eager to col­lab­o­rate with Big Broth­er.

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