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 regime.
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 naivete 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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