Security Grifting At Work: Million-Dollar ALPR System In Vermont Solves Four (4) Crimes in 2013

by Alex Marthews on October 20, 2014

Vermont Public Radio does the spadework to find out whether automated license plate surveillance systems offer a reasonable return on investment: “…Even with the millions of scans, the system has not led to many arrests or breakthroughs in major criminal investigations. [...] They were helpful in solving fewer than five crimes in 2013. [Officer] Cram […]

Suffolk County DA Conley logging parents’ keystrokes, for “safety”

by Alex Marthews on October 2, 2014

Well, well. This “school safety” stuff keeps getting more interesting. I didn’t focus on the elements of the school safety task force’s report that dealt with teaching children to “be safe” on the Internet, because, well, they sounded pretty innocuous. Turns out I wasn’t paranoid enough. EFF reports that DAs and police departments across the […]

State Report Tells Schoolkids: Inform, Conform, and Trust the Police

by Alex Marthews on September 26, 2014

Following on from the Sandy Hook school shooting, the “Massachusetts Task Force on School Safety and Security” released a report in July. As you’d expect from a report written with plenty of police input and none from the civil liberties community, it recommends changes that are highly intrusive, probably ineffective, definitely expensive, and likely to […]

Mass Surveillance Is The Handmaiden of Unending War

by Alex Marthews on September 17, 2014

This week, I’m pleading with my legislators to not go to war, a process that lays bare the assumptions underlying both militarism and mass surveillance. After trillions of dollars and millions of lives wasted in the Middle East, we are somehow politically no farther forward than we were in 2002. Like back then, the leaders […]

War-Addicted US Military Now Arguing It Can Spy On All Computers In States With Military Bases

by Alex Marthews on September 15, 2014

A new ruling from the Ninth Circuit (h/t Eugene Volokh) highlights a case where an NCIS agent: “surveyed the entire state of Washington for computers sharing child pornography.” [their italics] It was Agent Logan’s “standard practice” to do so. There is “abundant evidence that the violation at issue has occurred repeatedly and frequently” [...] [Agent […]

Local Police May Be Hacking Your Phone: Piercing Secrecy Around Stingrays

by Alex Marthews on September 4, 2014

Without your knowledge or permission, your smartphone’s calls could be being intercepted right now by your local police department, and your taxes are definitely being misused to pay for unconstitutional police snooping. We have reported before on “stingrays”, which started being used by local police departments in around 2006. These devices impersonate a cellphone tower […]

White Flags On The Brooklyn Bridge: Massive Surveillance Can’t Even Stop Minor Crimes

by Alex Marthews on August 8, 2014

On July 22, at 3:30am, in place of the Stars and Stripes that usually fly over the Brooklyn Bridge, bleached-out American flags appeared instead. Despite three surveillance cameras and allegedly round-the-clock police surveillance, four or five people, their identities still unknown, were able to cover up the lights trained on the flags, take them down, […]

CIA Chief John Brennan Is Getting A Little Bored, People

by Alex Marthews on August 1, 2014

Whoa, for a moment there I was worried. Our own Inspector-General here at the CIA has verified that we tortured people and then lied about it and then illegally surveilled the Intelligence Committee that’s supposed to oversee us, to intimidate them into not publishing the report that documents the torture and lying and covering up. […]

Bullying on the Buses: Boston School Department Says More Surveillance Is The Solution

by Alex Marthews on July 31, 2014

The Boston Globe reports that the Boston School Department, worried about bullying on yellow buses, is buying audio-enabled camera systems to install on them. MBTA buses have already added camera systems that are not enabled for audio. As ever, the justification is “safety”: driver safety, student safety, whatever kind of safety. Mention the word “safety”, […]

The Executive’s Humpty-Dumpty Terrorism Watchlisting Policy: Lessons from People v. Morales

by Alex Marthews on July 25, 2014

The Intercept’s publication of the criteria for the terrorism watchlists throws some light at least on what the government tells itself a terrorist is. This is a matter of keen interest to many of us, since a close reading of the following text tells you a lot about the values and priorities of our new-minted […]