I have a lot of problems with the massive government surveillance state that has been created in the last decade.
Chief among them is the in-person surveillance element, comprising massive numbers of vehicular, foot, and technical monitoring assets, as well as an extensive network of civilian informants. That element is much more of a threat to liberty than any specific database/monitoring/metadata program. The very idea of some government agency, essentially invisible to scrutiny and immune from any oversight, applying punitive and harassing actions to citizens (as reports would indicate that such in-person surveillance appears to be used for), absent any judicial or legislative grant of authority, all at the whim of a single individual somewhere in the hierarchy, is anathema to the very foundations of liberty the Founders attempted to instill in our founding document, and our government.
Forgive my naivete, but such unilateral exercise of authority just seems like the kind of thing which would inevitably end up being applied to innocent citizens, at the whim of corrupt politicians and business leaders (which some cases would indicate is already being done in isolated cases). It would seem to be the type of thing which would eventually destroy the last vestiges of freedom and liberty in our government, and herald the arrival of a new totalitarian state. Once it comes into existence, such power is never left uncoveted by the most megalomaniacal and corrupt individuals in a state. If you build it, they will come. As the organization turns, so too will those in its employ, favoring those who enjoy irritating innocent citizens for their megalomaniacal masters, over the normal patriots who may be the only force to keep a government honest.
Another problem I have with it is this:
The Baltimore public defender’s office said it plans to review nearly 2,000 cases in which police used a controversial cellphone surveillance tool without defense attorneys’ knowledge, and decide whether to challenge them…
Baltimore Deputy Public Defender Natalie Finegar said Friday that her office would revisit all cases in which the tracking device known as a stingray was used, prioritizing those in which defendants are still incarcerated.
The charges range from larceny to homicide, and the public defender’s office expects to ask judges to toss out a number of criminal convictions.
“This is a very serious discovery violation,” Finegar said. “It really affects the integrity of the outcomes of these cases. The fact that it wasn’t disclosed could affect the outcome…”
“Police officers should not be allowed to use stingrays without first getting a warrant based on probable cause and without severe limitations on how the devices can be used and for how long. But it’s hard to enforce this if officers are using them in secret,” Lynch added.
The Baltimore Sun reported this spring that the Police Department has used the cellphone tracking device thousands of times in recent years but consented to a nondisclosure agreement with the FBI that forbids them to tell the public or even judges and lawmakers about the device.
Set aside the civil liberties shit. How many savages is that going to free?
Basically, law enforcement is making the case that if they sign a non-disclosure agreement with another agency regarding the gathering of some evidence, that agreement frees them from any legal requirements normally imposed by our judicial system. No longer must they get warrants, engage in discovery with opposing council, or even reveal exculpatory evidence to opposing council. Raise your hands – how many people think that will fly in court?
It is obvious to any casual observer that the Stingrays do a lot more than is advertised, though what the additional features are is a mystery. Judging by how secretive everyone is about them, the additional features must be good. I’d assume they turn on the phone’s mics and cameras, do key-stroke logging, GPS tagging, allow for malware installation, dump any storage on board, and link to any nearby wifi (or maybe even a government-run 3&4G shadow network) for the dumping.
Baltimore police have defended their use of the stingray, saying they obtain court orders before undertaking surveillance using them, though judges have not been aware of what they were authorizing. Officials also have said that the technology does not allow police to record calls, read texts or emails, or store any information.
Notice the wording. Trying to parse what Law Enforcement Intelligence says is very similar to listening to Bill Clinton under oath. It depends on what the meaning of the word is, is, if they aren’t lying to you outright.
Since use of the devices is contracted through the FBI, my guess is the contract includes an FBI tech to operate the device, and maintain physical custody. The tech may not even be official FBI, but rather a civilian contractor “hired” from a “friendly” private security company.
I seriously doubt the FBI simply hands the device to a local Police Department, and hopes nobody with access to it will cc the technical specs and capabilities to the ACLU. If I am correct in that assumption, then I would assume an FBI agent or private contractor is listening to calls, reading texts and emails, and storing all the data in a hidden network housed in the basement of the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, while preparing an executive summary of the intel for the local PD’s Intelligence Division, who then gets the benefit of the intel, but can also say they never listened to calls, read emails, or snagged data themselves. So it is true no police do those things. But they would almost certainly be done nevertheless.
The real problem (and the weak link), will be the pole surveillance, especially the positional targeting wave-phase/interference mics (and other pole surveillance), and the ability to hear in cars remotely from nearby cars using newer microphone tech installed on their surveillance vehicles. If these LE Intel groups have ears in private places, and are using that warrantless surveillance intel to structure investigations, sooner or later that will come out. Already I heard on the web about the phase interference mics in the open comments section of an article on surveillance technology by a tech familiar with it. I was just reading an article the other day where somebody commented on the old visible system they had in cars, to listen in to cars nearby.
The information is easily uncovered, and many of the patriots in law enforcement seem uneasy with it being available to government. I have deep, innate tendencies to blind loyalty, yet I am sure had I found my way into such an agency, I could not function using such tech, knowing how the Founders would be rolling in their graves at such a defiling of the Constitution. I would expect in the next decade a Snowden-esque character somewhere will get a thumb drive to some reporter.
When that comes out, we will need to brace for a wave of the baddest criminals around being released en masse from prisons across the nation as their convictions are overturned. If there has been widespread organization of investigations with warrantless technology that never should have been deployed, my guess is defense lawyers will have a field day, local prosecutors offices will be so overwhelmed with futilely fighting to uphold old cases that new cases will fall by the wayside, and local police will be overwhelmed with what will land on the streets, as they try to re-incarcerate the freshly released mass of savages without their shiny new surveillance toy. It will be a mess of epic proportions.
It is entirely possible that it is all going to come to a head right around the same time the economic apocalypse hits, and it will piggyback on the mess that produces.
If so, we will get extra apocalypse on top of our apocalypse. I’d have a little extra ammo on hand.