RSN Fundraising Banner
FB Share
Email This Page
add comment
Print

Quigley writes: "Privacy is eroding fast as technology offers government increasing ways to track and spy on citizens. The Washington Post reported there are 3,984 federal, state and local organizations working on domestic counterterrorism. Most collect information on people in the US."

Technology has lead to increased privacy concerns in the US. (photo: Wired)
Technology has lead to increased privacy concerns in the US. (photo: Wired)



Thirteen Ways Government Tracks Us

By Bill Quigley, Common Dreams

10 April 12

 

rivacy is eroding fast as technology offers government increasing ways to track and spy on citizens. The Washington Post reported there are 3,984 federal, state and local organizations working on domestic counterterrorism. Most collect information on people in the US. Here are thirteen examples of how some of the biggest government agencies and programs track people.

One. The National Security Agency (NSA) collects hundreds of millions of emails, texts and phone calls every day and has the ability to collect and sift through billions more. WIRED just reported NSA is building an immense new data center which will intercept, analyze and store even more electronic communications from satellites and cables across the nation and the world. Though NSA is not supposed to focus on US citizens, it does.

Two. The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) National Security Branch Analysis Center (NSAC) has more than 1.5 billion government and private sector records about US citizens collected from commercial databases, government information, and criminal probes.

Three. The American Civil Liberties Union and the New York Times recently reported that cellphones of private individuals in the US are being tracked without warrants by state and local law enforcement all across the country. With more than 300 million cellphones in the US connected to more than 200,000 cell phone towers, cellphone tracking software can pinpoint the location of a phone and document the places the cellphone user visits over the course of a day, week, month or longer.

Four. More than 62 million people in the US have their fingerprints on file with the FBI, state and local governments. This system, called the Integrated Automated Fingerprint Identification System (IAFIS), shares information with 43 states and 5 federal agencies. This system conducts more than 168,000 checks each day.

Five. Over 126 million people have their fingerprints, photographs and biographical information accessible on the US Department of Homeland Security Automated Biometric Identification System (IDENT). This system conducts about 250,000 biometric transactions each day. The goal of this system is to provide information for national security, law enforcement, immigration, intelligence and other Homeland Security Functions.

Six. More than 110 million people have their visas and more than 90 million have their photographs entered into the US Department of State Consular Consolidated Database (CCD). This system grows by adding about 35,000 people a day. This system serves as a gateway to the Department of State Facial Recognition system, IDENT and IAFSIS.

Seven. DNA profiles on more than 10 million people are available in the FBI coordinated Combined DNA index System (CODIS) National DNA Index.

Eight. Information on more than 2 million people is kept in the Intelligence Community Security Clearance Repository, commonly known as Scattered Castles. Most of the people in this database are employees of the Department of Defense (DOD) and other intelligence agencies.

Nine. The DOD also has an automated biometric identification system (ABIS) to support military operations overseas. This database incorporates fingerprint, palm print, face and iris matching on 6 million people and is adding 20,000 more people each day.

Ten. Information on over 740,000 people is included in the Terrorist Identities Datamart Environment (TIDE) of the National Counterterrorism Center. TIDE is the US government central repository of information on international terrorist identities. The government says that less than 2 percent of the people on file are US citizens or legal permanent residents. They were just given permission to keep their non-terrorism information on US citizens for a period of five years, up from 180 days.

Eleven. Tens of thousands of people are subjects of facial recognition software. The FBI has been working with North Carolina Department of Motor Vehicles and other state and local law enforcement on facial recognition software in a project called "Face Mask." For example, the FBI has provided thousands of photos and names to the North Carolina DMV which runs those against their photos of North Carolina drivers. The Maricopa Arizona County Sheriff’s Office alone records 9,000 biometric mug shots a month.

Twelve. The FBI operates the Nationwide Suspicious Activity Reporting Initiative (SAR) that collects and analyzes observations or reports of suspicious activities by local law enforcement. With over 160,000 suspicious activity files, SAR stores the profiles of tens of thousands of Americans and legal residents who are not accused of any crime but who are alleged to have acted suspiciously.

Thirteen. The FBI admits it has about 3,000 GPS tracking devices on cars of unsuspecting people in the US right now, even after the US Supreme Court decision authorizing these only after a warrant for probable cause has been issued.

The Future

The technology for tracking and identifying people is exploding as is the government appetite for it.

Soon, police everywhere will be equipped with handheld devices to collect fingerprint, face, iris and even DNA information on the spot and have it instantly sent to national databases for comparison and storage.

Bloomberg News reports the newest surveillance products "can also secretly activate laptop webcams or microphones on mobile devices," change the contents of written emails mid-transmission, and use voice recognition to scan phone networks.

The advanced technology of the war on terrorism, combined with deferential courts and legislators, have endangered both the right to privacy and the right of people to be free from government snooping and tracking. Only the people can stop this.


Bill Quigley is Associate Director of the Center for Constitutional Rights and a law professor at Loyola University New Orleans. He is a Katrina survivor and has been active in human rights in Haiti for years. He volunteers with the Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti (IJDH) and the Bureau de Avocats Internationaux (BAI) in Port au Prince. Contact Bill at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

e-max.it: your social media marketing partner
 

Comments   

A note of caution regarding our comment sections:

For months a stream of media reports have warned of coordinated propaganda efforts targeting political websites based in the U.S., particularly in the run-up to the 2016 presidential election.

We too were alarmed at the patterns we were, and still are, seeing. It is clear that the provocateurs are far more savvy, disciplined, and purposeful than anything we have ever experienced before.

It is also clear that we still have elements of the same activity in our article discussion forums at this time.

We have hosted and encouraged reader expression since the turn of the century. The comments of our readers are the most vibrant, best-used interactive feature at Reader Supported News. Accordingly, we are strongly resistant to interrupting those services.

It is, however, important to note that in all likelihood hardened operatives are attempting to shape the dialog our community seeks to engage in.

Adapt and overcome.

Marc Ash
Founder, Reader Supported News

 
-10 # NeoGeo 2012-04-10 16:18
So why, again, should any progressive vote for Obama?
 
 
+31 # Billy Bob 2012-04-10 18:49
Because they assume Romney would be worse and no one else has a reasonable chance.
 
 
+9 # John Locke 2012-04-11 14:16
Romney won't be worse, the same privacy concerns will continue and will only escalate under either...They are more afraid of us then we are of them! Why?

When the government is this afraid of its citizens, you know they are hiding more then we know.
 
 
+6 # Bodiotoo 2012-04-11 19:27
I think we all have a responsibiltiy to protect and defend our Constitution. That does not necessarily line up up with protecting the government...th ere lies the problems and reasons for Madison plan of checks and balances...the sitting government hopefully never goes so far off course that none of the branches are doing thier proper balancing act...hence the need for the Constitutional Right to bear arms...to protect the citizens from the government...no t from the Constitution... if ever the need arise and "Committees of Correspondence are needed again, the need will arise for the hand to hand/mouth to mouth system in use by groups in the middle east. Technology controled by media, Corp and/or government...a reality!
 
 
+2 # John Locke 2012-04-12 18:46
Yes the Second Amendment was included as the framers understood that it would be the only way to keep the government honest!
 
 
+8 # hillwright 2012-04-10 16:53
It is too late. It cannot be stopped.
We lose.
 
 
+6 # John Locke 2012-04-11 14:20
We don't have to lose...We need to realize who and what the face of the enemy is and act accordingly...T he only method left is to organize and form a viable third party where our interests are paramount. Then drop out of the controlled Democratic party and align our selves with a true and independent party adverse to Wall Street control.

Also don't worry about the "super Pac's" we have social media so far. when the government shuts that down there will be allies among us that can circumvent the censorship...
 
 
+6 # Bodiotoo 2012-04-11 19:28
as long as we have hand presses...censo rship will be denied.
 
 
+1 # John Locke 2012-04-12 18:47
Bodiotoo: welcome, I like what you have to say!
 
 
+23 # reiverpacific 2012-04-10 17:10
Just another in the ongoing series which makes a joke of "The Land of the Free and Home of the Brave" and sees that it's the "Land of the Cowed and home of the Shit-Scared". And I believe that the UK -or at least the large English cities, are even worse!
Best solution I can think of (and I know it's not much comfort) is -Have a bloody good laugh at them -they need it!
May I suggest the late, great George Carlin for a start. http://youtu.be/hWiBt-pqp0E
 
 
+9 # Valleyboy 2012-04-11 07:52
In terms of CCTV, I think Britian has the most cameras per person.

I'm living in London at the mo and they're so ubiqiutous here that you tend not to notice them unless you make the effort.
When you do notice it's pretty creepy tho - I decided to count while waiting for the tube recently and got 9 just on my side of the platform!

Another recent development in the UK is Biometric Residence permits.
I had to get one in order to renew my Visa - they took my Iris pattern and my fingerprints for it.

I was standing there thinking, "how come they're taking my prints when I've never committed a crime?".
 
 
+5 # Bodiotoo 2012-04-11 19:30
I have to deal with part time hires with the local city...more often than not, they have a clip board and are reporting on this or that...and when I have remarked how much freer the country was 40 years ago, they all seem to lean to thi sline that it is freer than where they came from , what's the problem?...The problem is that they have never lived in a free America.
 
 
0 # John Locke 2012-04-12 18:48
And apparently they have a government job, Interesting!
 
 
+5 # Bodiotoo 2012-04-11 19:32
All these cameras and they can't catch Grafitti artist?!?
 
 
+1 # John Locke 2012-04-12 18:49
Excellent comment!
 
 
-6 # barbaratodish 2012-04-10 17:39
The Federal and state, local etc., goverments, agencies, etc., could make money by offering this info to book publishers for money! lol All publishers, take note: If there is any information found about me,it would make a best selling book!
 
 
+1 # John Locke 2012-04-12 18:51
Barbara your too modest.
 
 
0 # barbaratodish 2012-04-12 23:16
Quoting John Locke:
Barbara your too modest.

Well, maybe instead of taking credit for what is in the book that would be made up of info (really more likely dis-info about me), the book would be more like science fiction! So would that make me appear to be more humble? Who would ever believe anyway that I subliminally "seeded" what is going on?
 
 
+1 # John Locke 2012-04-13 08:43
Barbara. No, I like that you have humility...

This is yet another situation that can be readily resolved, the government is spending trillions to watch everything we do... it would be so much less expensive if they just implant micro chips in us so we are tied to a computer and they know everything we do after that...Not a joke here, its coming!
 
 
0 # barbaratodish 2012-04-13 16:19
Quoting John Locke:
Barbara. No, I like that you have humility...

This is yet another situation that can be readily resolved, the government is spending trillions to watch everything we do... it would be so much less expensive if they just implant micro chips in us so we are tied to a computer and they know everything we do after that...Not a joke here, its coming!

Then we would all only be free when where and if there was a black out! lol
 
 
+16 # Rita Walpole Ague 2012-04-10 18:19
Lots and lots we've gotta do to.....

UNDO THE COUP!!!
 
 
+14 # Billy Bob 2012-04-10 18:56
How do we direct our anger in a way likely to actually be succesful? Seriously. Simple answers are a waste of time. This isn't a time to follow every emotional whim. This is a time for strategy. Serious solutions could be employed. What are they?

For one, I don't see anything turning this tide short of a mass movement with more than 70% of Americans supporting it.

OWS doesn't have a very specific agenda, and it certainly hasn't focused on this.

A general strike sounds great, but it's also useless if only a small number of people participate. Then it becomes a way of targeting ourselves and is the opposite of a general strike.

The right pays lipservice to this issue as well. Progress could be made by either forcing them to follow their words with substantive action, or forcing them to admit they're behind this in the first place. Repug politicians should all be made to answer for this. If enough of them are forced to voice "concern" about it, that could be used as a political tool to get Democratic politicians off their collective ass.

Short of that, I got nothin'. Do any of you have any serious ideas that could have a realistic potential for success?
 
 
+5 # John Locke 2012-04-11 14:26
Tax Rebellion!

and it only took 3% of the people to support the American Revolution, today we can win in any movement with 20% that would be 60 million people, get that many involved and we win!

Do you think there are that many people awake? 25,000 Unemployed 10 million lost their homes...we could be getting close! imagine 60 million people marching on congress and the white house...
 
 
+10 # reiverpacific 2012-04-10 19:45
You wanna hear something hilarious (maybe you too have heard it by now)?
His lawyers announced today that George Zimmerman has DISAPPEARED and they've no idea where he is!
I don't wish to make light of this tragic shooting but doesn't this fly in the face of all the grandiloquence of the National Security State's equipment. means and methods, that the combined magnificence and glut of spending on all the scare-making shit set forth in this article can't keep track of arguably one of the most wanted men in the country -or even have a clue on where his whereabouts?!
I told you that laughter is one of the best ways to deal with it all. George Carlin would ha' loved this little development!
"I fart in their general directions"! (Monty Python and the Holy Grail).
 
 
+7 # ericlipps 2012-04-11 09:38
Quoting reiverpacific:
You wanna hear something hilarious (maybe you too have heard it by now)?
His lawyers announced today that George Zimmerman has DISAPPEARED and they've no idea where he is!
I don't wish to make light of this tragic shooting but doesn't this fly in the face of all the grandiloquence of the National Security State's equipment. means and methods, that the combined magnificence and glut of spending on all the scare-making shit set forth in this article can't keep track of arguably one of the most wanted men in the country -or even have a clue on where his whereabouts?!
I told you that laughter is one of the best ways to deal with it all. George Carlin would ha' loved this little development!
"I fart in their general directions"! (Monty Python and the Holy Grail).

There isn't necessarily a contradiction here. It's only his lawyers who don't know where he is--or say they don't, anyway--not the government. The question is how interested prosecutors really are in finding him.
 
 
+13 # Adoregon 2012-04-10 19:48
Gosh, somebodies are very insecure.

And colossal control freaks.

AND all this is being done with the taxpayers money, but who benefits?

Ain't dat da' sh*t, Pogo?
 
 
+7 # reiverpacific 2012-04-10 22:30
Quoting Adoregon:
Gosh, somebodies are very insecure.

And colossal control freaks.

AND all this is being done with the taxpayers money, but who benefits?
Ain't dat da' sh*t, Pogo?

Aye BUT -they take themselves soooo seriously. It will all collapse on itself eventually like all empirical aspirations -trouble is the livability on earth for so many is at stake now, so addicted to destruction and death are they rather than give up control!
There is still plenty to live for and laugh at -that's what they really can't stand.
Favorite apropos quote from Bobby Dylan "In all their promises of paradise, you will not hear a laugh"! (The Gates of Eden).
I've been in jail for activism and tried the retorts humorous and even nonsensical; they really can't stop you having a chuckle, guffaw or sharing a joke, or they OPENLY become a poor copy of the S.S., Gestapo, Taliban and Auto-da-fe.
Not making light of the seriousness we face, just trying to alleviate some of the despair so apparent in the posts I read here. Be good to yerselves!
I can only say for myself that I'd as soon pass on to whatever, if anything, comes next than be forbidden to laugh -including at myself.
 
 
-3 # BradFromSalem 2012-04-11 08:18
This huge hodge podge of databases that contain various pieces of our lives cannot help but collapse into a heaping pile of useless, randomly connected crap.

First, each agency sets up their own data requirements, then they try to link them together. After that they want to import and connect to external privately owned databases. And by they way, some obey the existing laws, some don't. Most existing laws conflict with other existing laws.

This kind of mess confuses the human brain which handles conflicting and disconnected data much better than any technology currently developed.

Until we develop Singularity, we need to make some reasonable and consistent rules about our data.

First, all data about a person is theirs and cannot be used without their permission.

Second, when your data is used to make you an offer to buy something, get over it.

Third, when someone uses your data to tell you that you MUST do something, it is blackmail.

Fourth, the government cannot track you or put all your personal pieces together without a court ordered search warrant.

Fifth, private business is subject to the same restrictions as government and vice versa

I am sure others can come up with other rules. The point is that your data belongs to you, but most of the uses are harmless and we need to understand that is the world we live in. Lets make it better instead of being paranoid.
 
 
+3 # paulrevere 2012-04-11 12:07
I understand your contention re 'disparate databases' etc. Having been involved with 'software integration' over the past decade, I'd say your info is out of date.

Secondly, if you believe your points 1-5, you are obviously a government troll...OR you are some kind of believer in THE LAW.
 
 
+1 # BradFromSalem 2012-04-11 20:51
By the way. The reason you have a job as a software integrator is to connect the disparate databases. If it was seamless, you (and I) would be out of work.
 
 
+1 # paulrevere 2012-04-11 17:37
All five of your points are contingent upon either you having no clue how things have evolved in the past decade, your being a troll for the powers that be or your being some kind of believer in the law actually being meted out with justice in mind...I recommend just a tad bit of research before exposing your stance in the Hall of Mirrors.
 
 
-1 # BradFromSalem 2012-04-11 20:53
Really, is that true for point 1? And you are correct about 2 thru 5. EXCUSE me for expecting to live in a country where the law is enforced. Without that expectation we may as well just just drop drawer and spread 'em.
 
 
+1 # paulrevere 2012-04-11 17:51
Your take is incredibly naive, uninformed and possibly a subterfuge. The power of the US establishment, military, industrial, intelligence, to breach, collect, collate and USE ALL that you mention is 100%...has been for more than a decade.
 
 
+2 # BradFromSalem 2012-04-11 20:43
Paul,

I am in no way a troll. Just because you don't like what I wrote in no manner justifies such an accusation. I have posted on this site regularly over the past year, and now all of a sudden YOU disagree with something I write and that means I am government plant?

From what you are writing I would say there is more evidence that you are what you profess I am. I have never seen you post here and your whole point is to say: "Give up, we cannot ever enforce the law, so don't bother suggesting any new ones, especially ones that alters the individual relationship to all the data that exists about them. So if you don't have a PHD in data theory you shouldn't even enter the discussion."

If I am anything else, I am not a fool. Obviously much of what I wrote is dependent on laws being enforced, and being enforced fairly. It may be naive; but how do you suggest we approach the issue? I am at least attempting to determine an answer. Correct me where I am wrong, but please advance the discussion.
 
 
0 # paulrevere 2012-04-11 21:56
First of all, all of those posts happened because, I thought the overseer here was not posting my takes due to being too combative...the n all the tries showed up...

What can i say?

Per your admonition for advancing the discussion...ha ve you ever been involved with the court system? I have on numerous occasions both directly and as part of a process. The SCOTUS decisions and the SCOTUS comportment during the last decade perfectly bolster my contention and make me wonder about your rationale for believing in a fair playing field.
 
 
+1 # BradFromSalem 2012-04-12 06:59
Paul,

The makeup of the SCOTUS will change whether you believe it will or not. We can accelerate the change by supporting Congressional candidates in favor of impeaching Justices like Scalia and Thomas that openly scorn their impartiality responsibility.

The change to a more fair justice system is in our hands. A purpose of sites such as this, is to spur conversation and hopefully inspire some to action based on the discussions.

If you have truly given up, then I suggest you find another place to live.
 
 
0 # John Locke 2012-04-13 12:14
LiberalLibertar ian: I know many who already have!
 
 
+8 # Buddha 2012-04-11 10:43
Of course, you can't have an effective Police State without being able to spy on your citizens, because your own citizens are the biggest threat to an autocracy! These surveillance systems, enabling legislation like the Patriot Act, and consolidation of mass media into a few very powerful corporate hands provides the "microphone" of Big Brother...and bills like the NDAA the Supreme Court OK'ing strip search humiliation for any arrest the "iron fist" of our coming autocracy.
 
 
+6 # cordleycoit 2012-04-11 18:40
Laughter is dangerous to the the state. Laughter is the first sign of resistance. Soon people are laughing at the police. People in jail laughing at the law. The Empire is fallinfg defeated by tribesmen armed with small caliber weapons. The pipeline is a bad dream, the home-front in shambles, a def3eated army returns to police the streets of their cites while the Resistance laughs and dances.
 

THE NEW STREAMLINED RSN LOGIN PROCESS: Register once, then login and you are ready to comment. All you need is a Username and a Password of your choosing and you are free to comment whenever you like! Welcome to the Reader Supported News community.

RSNRSN