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items tagged with surveillance

Free Speech, Facebook, and the NSA: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly
Written By: Jeff Ignatius
Section: Commentary/Politics

Category: Guest Commentaries

2015-06-18 14:55:34
“A person under surveillance is no longer free; a society under surveillance is no longer a democracy.” – Writers Against Mass Surveillance

The good news: Americans have a right to freely express themselves on the Internet, including making threatening – even violent – statements on Facebook, provided that they don’t intend to actually inflict harm.

The Supreme Court’s June 1 ruling in Elonis V. United States threw out the conviction of a Pennsylvania man who was charged with making unlawful threats (it was never proven that he intended to threaten anyone) and sentenced to 44 months in jail after he posted allusions to popular rap lyrics and comedy routines on his Facebook page. It’s a ruling that has First Amendment implications for where the government can draw the line when it comes to provocative and controversial speech that is protected and permissible versus speech that could be interpreted as connoting a criminal intent.

That same day, Section 215 of the USA PATRIOT Act, the legal justification allowing the National Security Agency (NSA) to carry out warrant-less surveillance on Americans, officially expired. Over the course of nearly a decade, if not more, the NSA had covertly spied on millions of Americans, many of whom were guilty of nothing more than using a telephone, and stored their records in government databases. For those who have been fighting the uphill battle against the NSA’s domestic-spying program, it was a small but symbolic victory.

The bad news: Congress’ legislative “fix,” intended to mollify critics of the NSA, will ensure that the agency is not in any way hindered in its ability to keep spying on Americans’ communications.

The USA FREEDOM Act could do more damage than good by creating a false impression that Congress has taken steps to prevent the government from spying on the telephone calls of citizens, while in fact ensuring the NSA’s ability to continue invading the privacy and security of Americans.

For instance, the USA FREEDOM Act not only reauthorizes Section 215 of the Patriot Act for a period of time, but it also delegates to telecommunications companies the responsibility of carrying out phone surveillance on American citizens.

And now for the downright ugly news: Nothing is going to change.


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Slave or Rebel? Ten Principles for Escaping the Matrix and Standing Up to Tyranny
Written By: Jeff Ignatius
Section: Commentary/Politics

Category: Guest Commentaries

2015-06-10 20:14:16

The more things change, the more they stay the same.

It’s a shell game intended to keep us focused on and distracted by all of the politically expedient things that are being said – about militarized police, surveillance, and government corruption – while the government continues to frogmarch us down the road toward outright tyranny.

Unarmed citizens are still getting shot by militarized police trained to view them as the enemy and treated as if we have no rights. Despite President Obama’s warning that the nation needs to do some “soul searching” about issues such as race, poverty, and the strained relationship between law enforcement and the minority communities they serve, police killings and racial tensions are at an all-time high. Just recently, in Texas, a white police officer was suspended after video footage showed him “manhandling, arresting, and drawing his gun on a group of black children outside a pool party.”

Americans’ private communications and data are still being sucked up by government spy agencies. The USA Freedom Act was just a placebo intended to make us feel better without bringing about any real change. As Bill Blunden, a cybersecurity researcher and surveillance critic, points out, “The theater we’ve just witnessed allows decision-makers to boast to their constituents about reforming mass surveillance while spies understand that what’s actually transpired is hardly major change.”


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No Matter Who Wins the White House, the New Boss Will Be the Same as the Old Boss
Written By: Jeff Ignatius
Section: Commentary/Politics

Category: Guest Commentaries

2015-04-23 11:38:58
“What the government is good at is collecting taxes, taking away your freedoms and killing people. It’s not good at much else.” – Author Tom Clancy

The American people remain eager to be persuaded that a new president in the White House can solve the problems that plague us. Yet no matter who wins this next presidential election, you can rest assured that the new boss will be the same as the old boss, and we – the permanent underclass in America – will continue to be forced to march in lockstep with the police state in all matters, public and private.

Indeed, it really doesn’t matter what you call them – the 1 percent, the elite, the controllers, the masterminds, the shadow government, the police state, the surveillance state, the military industrial complex – so long as you understand that no matter which party occupies the White House in 2017, the unelected bureaucracy that actually calls the shots will continue to do so.

Consider the following a much-needed reality check, an antidote, if you will, against an overdose of over-hyped campaign announcements, lofty electoral promises, and meaningless patriotic sentiments that land us right back in the same prison cell.

Fact: For the first time in history, a majority of members of Congress are millionaires, and U.S. representatives and senator are, on average, 14 times wealthier than the average American. According to a scientific study by Princeton researchers, the United States of America is not the democracy that it purports to be, but rather an oligarchy, in which “economic elites and organized groups representing business interests have substantial independent impacts on U.S. government policy.”

Fact: “Today, 17,000 local police forces are equipped with such military equipment as Blackhawk helicopters, machine guns, grenade launchers, battering rams, explosives, chemical sprays, body armor, night vision, rappelling gear, and armored vehicles,” reports Paul Craig Roberts, former assistant secretary of the treasury. “Some have tanks.”

Fact: Thanks to an overabundance of 4,500-plus federal crimes and 400,000-plus rules and regulations, it is estimated that the average American actually commits three felonies a day without knowing it. According to law professor John Baker, “There is no one in the United States over the age of 18 who cannot be indicted for some federal crime. That is not an exaggeration.”


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Ted Rall: Privacy for Cops
Written By: Jeff Ignatius
Section: Lifestyle

Category: Ted Rall

2015-04-17 18:17:18



Ted Rall: Not Even a Hint of Irony
Written By: Jeff Ignatius
Section: Lifestyle

Category: Ted Rall

2015-03-12 15:41:35






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