Tag Archives: surveillance

The Day We Fight Back: A Call To the International Community to Fight Against Mass Surveillance

The Snowden revelations have confirmed our worst fears about online spying. They show that the NSA and its allies have been building a global surveillance infrastructure to “master the internet” and spy on the world’s communications. These shady groups have undermined basic encryption standards, and riddled the Internet’s backbone with surveillance equipment. They have collected the phone records of hundreds of millions of people none of whom are suspected of any crime. They have swept up the electronic communications of millions of people at home and overseas indiscriminately, exploiting the digital technologies we use to connect and inform. They spy on the population of allies, and share that data with other organizations, all outside the rule of law.

We aren’t going to let the NSA and its allies ruin the Internet. Inspired by the memory of Aaron Swartz, fueled by our victory against SOPA and ACTA, the global digital rights community are uniting to fight back.

On February 11, on the Day We Fight Back, the world will demand an end to mass surveillance in every country, by every state, regardless of boundaries or politics. The SOPA and ACTA protests were successful because we all took part, as a community. As Aaron Swartz put it, everybody “made themselves the hero of their own story.” We can set a date, but we need everyone, all the users of the Global Internet, to make this a movement.

Here’s part of our plan (but it’s just the beginning). Last year, before Ed Snowden had spoken to the world, digital rights activists united on 13 Principles. The Principles spelled out just why mass surveillance was a violation of human rights, and gave sympathetic lawmakers and judges a list of fixes they could apply to the lawless Internet spooks. On the day we fight back, we want the world to sign onto those principles. We want politicians to pledge to uphold them. We want the world to see we care.

Here’s how you can join the effort:

1. We’re encouraging websites to point to the Day We Fight Back website, which will allow people from around the world to sign onto our 13 Principles, and fight back against mass surveillance by the NSA, GCHQ, and other intelligence agencies. If you can let your colleagues know about the campaign and the website (https://thedaywefightback.org/) before the day, we can send them information on the campaign in each country.

2. Tell your friends to sign the 13 Principles! We will be revamping our global action center athttp://en.necessaryandproportionate.org/take-action to align ourselves with the day of action. We’ll continue to use the Principles to show world leaders that privacy is a human right and should be protected regardless of frontiers.

3. Email: If you need an excuse to contact your members or colleagues about this topic, February 11th is the perfect time to tell them to contact local politicians about Internet spying, encourage them to take their own actions and understand the importance of fighting against mass surveillance.

4. Social media: Tweet! Post on Facebook and Google Plus! We want to make as big of a splash as possible. We want this to be a truly global campaign, with every country involved. The more people are signing the Principles, the more world leaders will hear our demands to put a stop to mass spying at home and overseas.

5. Tools: Develop memes, tools, websites, and do whatever else you can to encourage others to participate.

6. Be creative: plan your own actions and pledge. Take to the streets. Promote the Principles in your own country. Then, let us know what your plan is, so we can link and re-broadcast your efforts.

All 6 (or more!) would be great, but honestly the movement benefits from everything you do.

The organizers of the Day We Fight Back are:

  • Demand Progress
  • Access
  • EFF
  • Internet Taskforce
  • FFTF
  • Free Press
  • Mozilla
  • Reddit
  • ThoughtWorks
  • BoingBoing

The organizers of the international action center at http://necessaryandproportionate.org/take-action:

  • Amnesty International USA
  • Access (International)
  • Asociación por los Derechos Civiles (Argentina)
  • Asociacion de Internautas – Spain (Spain)
  • Asociación Colombiana de Usuarios de Internet (Colombia)
  • Bolo Bhi (Pakistan)
  • Center for Internet & Society (India)
  • CCC (Germany)
  • ContingenteMX (Mexico)
  • CIPPIC (Canada)
  • Digitale Gesellschaft (Germany)
  • Digital Courage (Germany)
  • Electronic Frontier Foundation (International)
  • Electronic Frontiers Australia (Australia)
  • Global Voices Advocacy (International)
  • Hiperderecho (Peru)
  • ICT Consumers Association of Kenya (Kenya)
  • La Quadrature Du Net (France)
  • Oficina Antivigilância (Brasil)
  • Open Rights Group (UK)
  • OpenMedia.org (Canada/International)
  • OpenNet Korea (South Korea)
  • Panoptykon Foundation (Poland)
  • Privacy International (International)
  • PEN International (International)
  • TEDIC (Paraguay)
  • RedPaTodos (Colombia)
  • ShareDefense (Balkans)
  • Unwanted Witness (Uganda)

The Internet’s spies have spent too long listening on our most private thoughts and fears. Now it’s time they really heard us. If you share our anger, share the principles: and fight back.

NORAD Santa tracker qustions answered

The Associated Press
POSTED:   12/23/2013 08:03:07 PM MST

NORAD Santa Tracker

Santa Claus was spotted near Kathmandu, Nepal, shortly after 10:00 a.m. Denver time, on NORAD’s Santa Tracker,December 24, 2013. Visit the Santa Tracker here. (NORAD Santa Tracker)

PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo.—For kids who can’t wait for Santa to arrive, the North American Aerospace Defense Command has a Christmas treat. Visions of sugar plums can be augmented by a check on the fabled fat man’s progress around the globe on Christmas Eve. Here are five things to know about the holiday tradition called NORAD Tracks Santa:

1. HOW DO YOU FOLLOW SANTA’S PATH?

NORAD provides updates by phone, Facebook, Twitter and email. If you call 877-HI-NORAD, an operator will give you an update.

Online: http://www.noradsanta.org.
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/noradsanta.
Twitter: (at)NoradSanta.
Email: noradtrackssanta(at)outlook.com.

Smartphone apps also are available at app stores.

NORAD’s Santa operations center opened at 6 a.m. EST on Dec. 24 and has received tens of thousands of calls from around the world. This year, Santa’s first stop after leaving the North Pole was Novoye Chaplino, Russia, NORAD said. The Canadian naval ship Regina reported seeing Santa on its radar near the Arabian Sea. Santa usually ends his trip in North America and South America. “Santa calls the shots,” NORAD says on its website. “We just track him!”

2. HOW MANY PEOPLE FOLLOW SANTA?

Last year, volunteers answered 114,000 phone calls from around the world. The website had 22.3 million unique visitors. NORAD Tracks Santa had 1.2 million followers on Facebook and 129,000 on Twitter.

Among the questions kids have had on their minds when they called in previous years:

— “Am I on the nice list or the naughty list?”

— “Can you put my brother on the naughty list?”

— “Are you an elf?”

— “How much to adopt one of Santa’s reindeer?”

3. WHY DOES NORAD DO IT?

In 1955, a local newspaper advertisement invited children to call Santa but mistakenly listed the hotline of NORAD’s predecessor. Rather than disappoint the kids, commanders told them they indeed knew where Santa was. NORAD, a U.S.-Canadian operation based at Peterson Air Force Base in Colorado Springs, Colo., continues the tradition every Christmas Eve.

4. WHY WAS THERE CONTROVERSY THIS YEAR?

A children’s advocacy group complained that an animated video on the NORAD Tracks Santa website injected militarism into Christmas by showing fighter jets escorting Santa’s sleigh on a 39-second video promoting the event. NORAD says the fighter escort is nothing new. NORAD began depicting jets accompanying Santa and his reindeer in the 1960s.

5. HOW DOES NORAD TRACK SANTA?

Using the same satellites it uses to track missiles, NORAD says it is able to detect heat signatures from Rudolph’s nose.

Santa tracker

In this Dec. 24, 2012 photo, NORAD Deputy Commander Lt. General Alain Parent, center, of the Royal Canadian Air Force, takes phone calls from children asking where Santa is and when he will deliver presents to their house, during the annual NORAD Tracks Santa Operation, at the North American Aerospace Defense Command, or NORAD, at Peterson Air Force Base, in Colorado Springs. Also fielding calls are U.S. Navy Capt. Jeff Davis, left, and U.S. Air Force Maj. Chris Bendig. (Brennan Linsley, Associated Press)

What We Should Not Be Thankful for This Thanksgiving

John W. Whitehead, Attorney, President of The Rutherford Institute, and author of ‘A Government of Wolves’

Posted: 11/27/2013 10:26 am

I will be the first to acknowledge that there is much to be thankful for about life in America, especially when compared to those beyond our borders whose daily lives are marked by war, hunger and disease. Despite our kvetching, grumbling and complaining, most Americans have it pretty good compared to less fortunates the world over.

Still, I’d be remiss if I didn’t point out that all of our so-called blessings will amount to little more than gilding on a cage if we don’t safeguard the freedoms on which this nation was founded, freedoms which have historically made this nation a sanctuary for the oppressed and persecuted. And if there is one freedom in particular need of protecting right now, it is the Fourth Amendment, which has been on life support for quite some time.

It used to be that the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution was considered the most critical of the amendments in the Bill of Rights. Since writing my book A Government of Wolves: The Emerging American Police State, however, I have come to believe that the Fourth Amendment, which demands that we be “secure” in our persons, houses, papers and effects against unreasonable searches and seizures by the government and, consequently, stands as a bulwark against the police state, is, in fact, the most critical.

In the true spirit of Thanksgiving, then, here is a list of things about this emerging police state that I am not thankful for and will never remain silent about as long as the government remains the greatest threat to our freedoms.

Police shootings of unarmed citizens. No longer is it unusual to hear about incidents in which police shoot unarmed individuals first and ask questions later. This trend originates from a police preoccupation with ensuring their own safety at all costs, with tragic consequences for the innocent civilians unlucky enough to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.

SWAT team raids. On an average day in America, at least 100 Americans have their homes raided by SWAT teams (although I’ve seen estimates as high as 300 a day), which are increasingly used to deal with routine police matters: angry dogs, domestic disputes, search warrants, etc. Unfortunately, general incompetence (officers misread the address on the warrant), collateral damage (fatalities, property damage, etc.) and botched raids (officers barge into the wrong house or even the wrong building) tend to go hand in hand with this overuse of SWAT teams, with tragic consequences for the homeowner who mistakes a SWAT raid for a home invasion.

Arresting Americans for altogether legal activities such as picking their kids up from school, holding Bible studies at home, and selling goat cheese. Unfortunately, our government’s tendency toward militarization and over-criminalization, in which routine, everyday behaviors become targets of regulation and prohibition, have resulted in Americans getting arrested for making and selling unpasteurized goat cheese, cultivating certain types of orchids, feeding a whale, holding Bible studies in their homes, and picking their kids up from school.

Jailing Americans for profit. At one time, the American penal system operated under the idea that dangerous criminals needed to be put under lock and key in order to protect society. Today, as states attempt to save money by outsourcing prisons to private corporations, imprisoning Americans in private prisons run by mega-corporations has turned into a cash cow for big business, with states agreeing to maintain a 90 percent occupancy rate in privately run prisons for at least 20 years. And how do you keep the prisons full? By passing laws aimed at increasing the prison population, including the imposition of life sentences on people who commit minor or nonviolent crimes such as siphoning gasoline.

Transforming the schools into quasi-prisons and teaching young people that they have no rights. Zero-tolerance policies that criminalize childish behavior continue to destroy the lives of young people such as the 14-year-old arrested for texting in class or the 6-year-olds suspended for using their fingers as imaginary guns in a schoolyard game of cops and robbers.

Surveillance drones taking to the skies domestically. With at least 30,000 drones expected to occupy U.S. airspace by 2020, ushering in a $30 billion per year industry, police departments are already queuing up for their drones. Indeed, the drones coming to a neighborhood near you will be small, capable of flying through city streets and buildings almost undetected, while hovering over cityscapes and public events for long periods of time, providing a means of 24/7 surveillance.

TSA searches that accustom citizens to life in a police state. Under the direction of the Transportation Security Administration, American travelers have been subjected to all manner of searches ranging from whole-body scanners and enhanced patdowns at airports to bag searches in train stations and sports arenas. Mind you, this is the same agency that is now installing detention pods in airports, requiring passengers to submit to searches and screenings before they can exit the airport.

Illegal, invasive spying on Americans. There is no form of digital communication that the government cannot and does not monitor – phone calls, emails, text messages, tweets, Facebook posts, Internet video chats, etc., are all accessible, trackable and downloadable by federal agents. In other words, there is nothing private from the government, which has used a variety of covert, unconstitutional tactics to gain access to Americans’ personal data, online purchases and banking, medical records, and online communications.

Thus, while there’s much to be thankful for – the blessings of family, security, food, opportunity, etc. – it’s the things I’m not thankful for that have me greatly concerned about the emerging American police state. So do me a favor. Before you get distracted by the gathering of family and friends and the feasting and the football and the fleeting sense of goodwill and the traditional counting of blessings, take a moment to remind yourself and those around you of the things we should not be thankful for this year – the things that no American should tolerate from its government – the things that don’t belong in the “city on a hill” envisioned by John F. Kennedy as the standard for a government “constructed and inhabited by men aware of their grave trust and their great responsibilities.”

Mind you, if we do not push back against the growing menace of the police state now, future Thanksgivings may find us giving thanks for creature comforts that serve only to lessen the pain of having lost our most basic freedoms. In other words, it’s time for “we the people” to heed Abraham Lincoln’s advice and take our place as “the rightful masters of both Congress and the Courts–not to overthrow the Constitution, but to overthrow the men who pervert the Constitution.”

Speak your mind. Voice your opinion. Keep your Sanity.

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