“Opening minds and angravating liberals since 2001”
“I am a guardian of freedom and the American way of life.”
Genesis 3:19 / John 3:16
My Friends and Fellow People of Interest:
They Say if you do not do anything wrong, you have nothing to worry about.
Er, no. Not so much anymore.
If you wish, (PLEASE) take about a half hour and watch the following clip. It is a “show” by some “chap” (he is English you know) called John Oliver. The entire show is about surveillance and domestic spying.
He attempts to put in some humor but, well, it is not a funny subject and his “humour” is not everyone’s cuppa tea. He does go to Moscow, he does sit down with Edward Snowdon and, say what you want (and I have plenty to say), he does offer a lot in the way of insight and information about gathering information in the digital age.
It is as obvious that Snowden is as intelligent and well-versed in his craft as he is a traitor/hero, depending on your particular point of view. (“Crosby, Stills and Nash” fans need not comment.) No matter what you think of him, he does a yeoman’s job of explaining of what the gum’mint is doing, but not so much why.
But, since you have not done anything wrong, none of that should affect you, right? I mean you don’t have to worry about XKEYSCORE, or MYSTIC, or MUSCULAR, or UPSTREAM, or PRISM, or any of the other programs, right? Or what is in Section 215 of the Patriot Act. Right?
It is not like you ever use Google, Gmail, Facebook, a toaster, an electric light, or drive, or have a job or any stuff like that right?
Maybe you do have something to worry about.
Take a look, it is, er, interesting. WARNING: Some of the major points made after the twenty-minute or so mark, refer to a term for a “selfie” of the male genitalia. Sadly, it is a sign of the times that kind of vulgarity is not just understood but acceptable by many people. (Blue Laws, I tell ya, bring back the Blue Laws!) As much as I hate to say it, it actually makes it far easier to understand what is going on by using a crude and base example. If you are easily offended, PLEASE DO NOT WATCH THIS.
You have been warned.
OK, now that you all know that you are actually living in the TV show “Person of Interest” perhaps (told ya you would see that again), as opposed to merely watching it you may have some more, er, “interest” in this.
Why this is going on? Well, the one thing I know about the community is that is the question for which you will ever get a straight answer. So I am told. Not sayin’, just sayin’.
There will be virtually no additional comment but to save you some time, lemme learn ya up about some the terms used above. You are quite welcome.
SECTION 215 of the Patriot Act: “Allows the Director of the FBI (or his assigns) to apply for an order to produce materials (tangible things) which are needed for an investigation to protect against terrorism or clandestine activities by another country.” Such “things” as books, papers, documents, records, virtually anything. One of the issues is that once such order is given to “secure” said “tangible things”, the reasons WHY the order was granted remains secret, so as not to jeopardize the investigation. There are also gag order provisions and a lot of other neat, cool things. This is up for reauthorization on 1 June, BTW. Got my fingers crossed!
MYSTIC: This program was used to record virtually every phone call made in one particular country at one time. The time fame was for thirty days and after that the earliest call recordings were over written so that there was no longer than a one month archive. Allegedly, this same technology can be used to record virtually all calls in virtually any country.
MUSCULAR (And similar): Is a joint effort between some major players in the US and Great Britain’s intelligence communities. “Allegedly” they “hacked” into the data centers that connect the Google, Yahoo and other interwebs company’s data centers. To paraphrase Carl Sagan, we are talking about ”billions and billions” of records.
PRISM: Allows the gum’mint to collect data from about a dozen major American interwebs programs from foreign nationals. Virtually all of the interwebs and social media companies have either denied any participation or cooperation, such as Facebook, Google, Microsoft, Yahoo and others, despite the fact of evidence to the contrary.
UPSTREAM: Intercepts phone and interwebs data from the web via the main data routes. You see, just because your call to Madge was from Tucson to Tucumcari or Tehachapi to Tonopah, it may have gone thru the interwebs to a temporary storage site in the Philippines then back the US, which is how a bill becomes a law. Er, no, it is how a domestic call becomes an international one and can now be subject to more scrutiny. Collection is done under any one or more of the BLARNEY, FAIRVIEW, OAKSTAR or STORMBREW programs.
XKEYSCORE: To simplify this very complicated program, suffice it to say that more than one expert in the program said that it can allow virtual unlimited surveillance of anyone in the world. Through related programs an analyst can read any email, listen to any phone call, see documents on your computer, search your browser history and more, all without the need for a pesky court order. Oh, one real neat thing, it can create a virtual digital “fingerprint” of you based on a series of your routines and habits and they can be alerted, say, if they were looking for you and you decided to drop off the grid. Sooner or later, you are going to contact someone or someone to contact that person or go to a certain website and as if by magic, you will be found.
You can run but you can’t hide.
Oh, with respect to the comment about using a toaster or electric light, that is not a joke. There are new “digital electric meters” being installed on new houses and retrofitted on existing ones, perhaps yours.
Unlike the old analog meters which had to be read by a meter reader every so often, these new, cool gadgets can be read via a radio frequency signal. Neat huh! No more meter readers coming into the yard, scaring the dog and all. And for some reason the power companies are supporting this 100%.
Oh, BTW, unlike the old meters which display just the total electric consumption the new ones are real time. They can report exactly how much electricity one uses at any moment throughout the day. It can differentiate between a hairdryer and a power drill.
It can monitor the times that certain recurring usages occur. (Lessee, spike from the coffee pot at 0515. Draw from a light bulb at 0545 for one minute. Draw from a larger light bulb at 0546 and so on. So, it knows that you went to the bathroom then to the kitchen for your coffee. Without a camera.)
So a rather detailed dossier could be created to literally track your every move in your own home. And if you think that you can fool it by turning off the lights in a different room first to make the machine think you are sleeping in another room, it most likely can hear you. But that is another story. (Speakers are transducers and so are microphones and one can act as the other. And, do you have a remote-control sensor on your TV or cable box….?)
You might say that you will go off the grid and get solar panels. Sure, for now. But let’s say you do, it would not defeat the digital box if it was in place, you would have to be totally off the grid.
One last thing about the digital meters, you can opt out from the “upgrade” if you own your home, possibly. There are some homeowner associations which can dictate (that is the correct word) that all houses must have the same meters.
Some towns will allow you to opt out. For a steep price. Then there is a hefty charge assessed when the meter needs to be read.
As far as your car, if you have GPS, you are seen. If you have a newer car, your computer is like the “black box” on a plane and they have varying amounts of recent data stored. No need to mention the scanners with which some police cars are equipped that can read thousands of license plates a minute.
Do you work? Do you have a work ID? It may have an RFID chip built in somewhere. (RFID = Radio Frequency Identification.) This kind of ID can be used to allow not just entry into a building buy can limit or allow access to various parts of an office, plant or other work area.
And as it is on 24/7/365/Infinity, while it is on you, smile, you may be on Candid Camera. (That is as joke. You are almost always on Candid Camera already. This allows others to know where you are.)
Last, for this issue, there are credit cards with RFID chips. How do you know? Chances are if you see the little chip in the center left part of the card, that is a tip off. Or, if your card can simply be “waved” over the reader to make your purchase, you have one.
(If you have one or more of those cards, it would be a good idea to get a RF blocker sleeve for your card so that someone with a reader cannot glean your info out of the ether. Ahem, cough cough.)
Worse than 1984, right? And all the information above is available on the interwebs. Now, imagine the stuff that is so black, so secret that just a few have access to the knowledge of its existence.
Some say all this is paranoia. Lessee.. “Paranoia – (n) – An unfounded fear or exaggerated distrust of others” or “Extreme or irrational distrust of others.” There are more and similar definitions available.
If you take out “unfounded”, “exaggerated”, “extreme” or “irrational” you might be on to something.
This is fact.
Perhaps “The Machine” from “Person of Interest” is real.
Maybe the other computer from that show, “Samaritan”, is real.
Could be that neither are real.
But don’t bet on it.
Based on just those very few programs listed, they are just the tip of the iceberg. After all, those listed above were mentioned by Snowdon and he was only a “low-level analyst.” You might be correct in assessing that he did not have access to everything.
ONE LAST THING: SGT Merlin Quiles, a US Army Sapper and Ranger had not that long ago returned from a deployment in Afghanistan. On Monday, while on leave in Houston, he was involved in a motorcycle accident and is on life support. He is not likely to survive. It is sad no matter what for a young person to die but what a cruel irony that this brave warrior should lose his life on the streets in an accident after surviving war in Afghanistan. I ask you all for your prayers and good thoughts for this young warrior that if it is time, that he goes quickly and painlessly and if not his time that he receives full healing. And also to offer comfort to his friends and family. Thank you.