Posts Tagged surveillance

“Smart Cities” to Spy on You in Ways Orwell Never Imagined

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The Orwellian cities of the future being designed and imposed right this instant all over the world — so-called “Smart Cities” — will be watching you. In fact, they already are watching you. And unless humanity takes action soon to rein in its would-be omniscient rulers, the technological dystopia being erected all around you will ensure that governments and dictators know virtually everything about everyone — perhaps more than individuals know even about themselves. The plot to create the total surveillance state under the guise of making cities “smart” will cost taxpayers trillions of dollars, too. But the price tag in terms of lost privacy and liberty will be far higher.

As the concept of “smart” cities continues to evolve with technology, countless definitions and terms to describe the scheming have been proposed. Discussing a planned “smart” city in South Korea, Frederic Ojardias, Ph.D., at Seoul National University’s Graduate School of International Studies said the concept is simple. “The city is filled with sensors and cameras at every corner (monitoring temperature, traffic, electricity) that are all interconnected and linked to a central ‘brain’ that computes all this information in real time in order to optimize the management of the city, minute by minute,” he said to describe the vision.

According to the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, “smart cities” bring together technology, government, and society to enable a smart economy, smart environment, smart living, smart governance, and more. There are also a number of technologies associated with smart cities. Among them: “Intelligent lighting; Smart building controls; Wireless charging for automobiles; Facial recognition; Wind turbines; Intelligent Buildings; A connected self-aware environment;” and much more.

And that is just the beginning, with tech giants coming up with new technology every day that could be used to improve lives — or destroy liberty and privacy. Already, the former head of the NSA and CIA has been boasting that “we kill people based on metadata.” With “smart” cities providing unfathomable amounts of data to authorities, Americans can expect the lawlessness to continue accelerating if nothing changes.  

Of course, “smart” technology is already ubiquitous, from so-called “smart” phones that double as portable espionage devices to “smart” meters used (when they are not exploding at least) to spy on people’s water and electricity use. Smart TVs now spy on their users, too. Schools are doing it as well. According to news reports, in London, data gathered from cameras is cross-referenced with government lists of people who have paid their driving fees, allowing violators to be identified and punished. Authorities in Amsterdam, Barcelona, Stockholm, and other cities are also openly and purposely trying to become “smart.” In South Korea and the United Arab Emirates, fully “smart” cities are being designed and built from the ground up.     

With facial-recognition software now extremely advanced, and billions of people around the world posting their data and pictures online through social-networking services, hand-held “smart” technology has already created potentially totalitarian tools far beyond anything George Orwell could have imagined in his worst nightmares. Even years ago, U.S. cities were exposed rolling out so-called “Intellistreets” streetlights that double as Big Brother espionage tools to listen in on conversations. Entire smart cities are the next logical step, and the establishment is going all out to promote them as it works to abolish cash and shift everything online at the same time.

During a recent visit to India, for example, Obama pledged some $4 billion in U.S. taxpayer “investments and loans” to help Indian authorities build infrastructure, including $2 billion for the government there to create “smart cities.” Speaking to a large crowd, Obama said America was committed to the “smart cities” concept, linked to United Nations “sustainability” programs such as Agenda 21, and would help the Indian government pay to build them. To start with, 100 Indian cities are going to be made “smart.”

“We are ready to join you in building new infrastructure … roads and airports, the ports and bullet trains to propel India into the future,” Obama told Indians, without offering any hints on where the debt-riddled federal government would get the funds to propel India into the future or why U.S. taxpayers should fund it. “We are ready to help design smart cities.” Critics lambasted the scheme from all angles, pointing out that the U.S. government is already drowning in debt and that the whole “sustainability” theme behind the radical “smart cities” agenda represents a major threat to liberty, markets, and more.  

Around the same time, arch sustainability profiteer (and self-styled inventor of the Internet) Al Gore joined with former Mexican President Felipe Calderón at the World Economic Forum to demand that all cities worldwide be made “smart.” For a mere $90 trillion (as a starting point), the two globalist crusaders against carbon dioxide explained, every city in the world could be made much denser — a so-called “smart city” in which citizens would be packed in like sardines, and hence, easier to control.

Under the Gore-Calderón vision, personal transportation such as cars would be phased out as the “smart cities” of the future force everyone to either walk or rely on government-run transportation to get around. Ironically, perhaps, more than 1,700 private jets descended on Davos for the confab so its occupants could plot new ways to reduce the CO2 emissions of the unwashed masses as they are corralled into their “smart” cities (often at gunpoint). Of course, the plan to pack humans into tiny cities is not new, and has been advancing under UN “Agenda 21” and other schemes for more than two decades. And the UN has been promoting “smart” cities since at least 2009, when UN chief Ban Ki Moon called for “better, more equitable urban planning” and “new ideas from smart cities around the world” to guide “sustainable urbanization.”

Alleged benefits of the interconnected ecosystem of data-gathering technology, such as better traffic management, catching criminals, and a smaller “carbon footprint” for city residents, are being shouted from the rooftops by those seeking to push the agenda — governments, profiteers, futurists, and others. Businesses, too, will be able to harness the gargantuan amounts of data being produced to target individual consumers. The darker side of the shift toward intelligence-gathering everything, everywhere, however, has been largely buried from public discourse — not to mention the dangers of combining all of the information with emerging “artificial intelligence” technologies.

In a recent puff piece promoting the potential benefits of “smart cities” in the Wall Street Journal, CEO Mike Weston with the “data-science” consulting firm Profusion offered some terrifying insight into the awesome powers that will be available to the rulers of these future Orwellian cities. “In a fully ‘smart’ city, every movement an individual makes can be tracked,” Weston observed, noting that governments and municipalities from Boston to Beijing were pledging billions of tax dollars to the plot. “The data will reveal where she works, how she commutes, her shopping habits, places she visits and her proximity to other people.”

While Weston focuses largely on the profit opportunities surrounding all of that data for marketers, and ethical concerns for businesses, the same data will also enable authorities to compile unimaginably detailed profiles of every single individual. “By analyzing this information using data-science techniques, a company could learn not only the day-to-day routine of an individual but also his preferences, behavior and emotional state,” the CEO explained. “Private companies could know more about people than they know about themselves.” And, of course, so could governments, hacker spies working for the regime in Beijing, and even private-sector criminals with access to the surveillance data.

Weston claims that a smart city “doesn’t have to be as Orwellian as it sounds.” That is true. But considering governments’ track records on snooping — think NSA, KGB, Stasi, and so on — the likelihood of smart cities not ending up as Orwellian as they sound is probably slim to none. With the added “smartness” of emerging technologies, and with some two thirds of humanity expected to live in cities within a few decades, the possibilities for controlling and oppressing mankind in previously unimaginable ways are almost endless. Rulers will soon, if they do not already, be able to know more about the individuals they rule than those individuals know themselves.   

Of course, technology, in and of itself, is not the problem or the threat. Instead, the threat comes from totalitarian-minded governments, globalists, politicians, dictators, and bureaucrats anxious to further oppress the public and further empower themselves. From the UN and the World Bank to the Obama administration and the European Union super-state, the establishment is planning to bring “smartness” to a city near you in the near future. Based on their track record so far, however, it should be beyond clear that the “smart” cities are a dumb and dangerous idea — especially if you value liberty and privacy.

Related articles:

The New Age of Surveillance

Your Smart TV Is Spying on You

“Intellistreets” Street Lights: Big Brother Intrusion

DHS Admits to “Behavioral Detection” Video Surveillance Program at Airports

Oregon Starts Agenda 21’s GPS Vehicle Tracking System

In California, Exploding “Smart Meters” Spy on Your Water Use

“Smart Grids” & Monitoring Your Power Use

The Surveillance State: Knowing Every Bit About You

Orwellian Nightmare: Data-mining Your Kids

“We Kill People Based on Metadata,” Admits Former CIA/NSA Boss

Establishment Pushing “Cashless Society” to Control Humanity

Communist Chinese Regime Forcing Rural Population Into Cities

The Real Agenda Behind UN “Sustainability” Unmasked

U.S. Phone Snooping Goes Way Beyond “National Security”

NSA Has Your E-Mails and More, Whistleblower Says

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IRS Claims Need to Track Taxpayer License Plates

we the people preamble license plate readers IRS surveillance taxpayersTired of the National Security Agency (NSA) listening to and recording your phone calls? Tired of them monitoring your social media posts? Tired of the Department of Homeland Security paying local police to install surveillance cameras capable of making citizens into suspects? Sadly, there’s no time to rest, as several other federal agencies are jumping on the surveillance bandwagon.

Bloomberg reports that the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and the Forest Service (among others) have awarded nearly half a million dollars to Vigilant Solutions, a California-based company that provides tools for tracking license plates and for accessing license plate databases.

Why would the IRS and the Forest Service need the technology to track the license plates of Americans? Bloomberg explains:

 

“The IRS uses a variety of investigative tools similar to other law-enforcement agencies to assist with criminal cases,” Eric Smith, an agency spokesman, said in an e-mail. He declined to say how the IRS used the records in its investigations.

The Forest Service, part of the Department of Agriculture, awarded Vigilant a contract valued at as much as $47,019 for its “CarDetector” system in August 2009, records show. The product scans and captures license plate numbers, compares the data to law enforcement lists of wanted vehicles and sends alerts when such vehicles are detected, according to the company’s website.

“License plate readers are helpful to our law enforcement officers with illegal activities on national forest system lands in California,” Tiffany Holloway, a spokeswoman for the agency, said in an e-mail. She declined to comment about what types of crimes the tools are used to investigate or provide examples of how the technology has helped law enforcement.

Of course, there is a quid pro quo in the IRS’s purchase of license plate tracking technology.

Owe money to the IRS? Having trouble making your mortgage payments? Ever been sued or been arrested?

Soon, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) will know the answers to these questions before you pass through security, and they might affect whether you are cleared for travel.

In an article from October 2013, the New York Times reported, “The Transportation Security Administration is expanding its screening of passengers before they arrive at the airport by searching a wide array of government and private databases that can include records like car registrations and employment information.”

The complete list of sources of personal data reviewed by the TSA also includes:

▪ private employment information

▪ vehicle registrations

▪ travel history

▪ property ownership records

▪ physical characteristics

▪ tax identification numbers

▪ past travel itineraries

▪ law enforcement information

▪ “intelligence” information

▪ passport numbers

▪ frequent flier information

▪ other “identifiers” linked to DHS databases

What does all of this have to do with “national security?” The New York Times writes that “the agency says that the goal is to streamline the security procedures for millions of passengers who pose no risk.”

The TSA released the documents detailing the depth of this screening, but has refused to comment publicly.

Speaking under condition of anonymity, a TSA official told the New York Times that “the main goal of the program was to identify low-risk travelers for lighter screening at airport security checkpoints, adapting methods similar to those used to flag suspicious people entering the United States.”

If the traveler is a member of an airline’s frequent flier program, the airline will be required to share the person’s travel history with the TSA.

Benjamin Newell, a spokesman for the Air Combat Command — another federal agency that has contracted with Vigilant to provide license plate tracking tools — told Bloomberg that all the secret surveillance will make America safer. “The more aware we are of who is entering a military facility, the better we are able to protect the lives and equipment on that base,” Newell said in a phone interview, as reported by Bloomberg.

Not everyone is falling for the liberty for safety bait and switch, however. According to the Bloomberg story, “NetChoice, a Washington-based trade association that represents e-commerce businesses, is concerned that groups opposing the tools offer ‘no recognition at all of the benefits of license plate recognition in stopping crime or saving lives,’ said Steve DelBianco, its executive director.”

The justification, however, is the mantra of the local and federal agencies speedily erecting the watchtowers of the surveillance state. As reported by The New American in January of this year:

Local leaders in Houston, like those in so many other cities across the country, have approved the installation of new surveillance cameras. These 180 new cameras bring to nearly 1,000 the number of known surveillance cameras in the country’s fourth largest city.

The eye of the government will reportedly cover the city’s “public areas around downtown, stadiums and the theater district.”

Local CBS affiliate KHOU reports on its website that Houston police chief Charles McClelland believes the city needs the nearly 1,000 cameras to “provide necessary police coverage.”

And just where did Houston get the money to buy these new cameras? There’s no provision for the expense in the mayor’s Fiscal Year 2014 budget, so the city’s not paying for these “critical” services so necessary for the “safety” of its citizens. 

Department of Homeland Security to the rescue!

In the article announcing the deployment of the new devices, KHOU reports, “The city has spent more than $18 million in federal money to build its camera system and has another $5 million in reserve.”

Perhaps citizens should overlook their elected leaders’ acceptance of such federal largesse, given that the 900 or so surveillance cameras already in place have had such a favorable effect on crime rates in the city.

Not so much.

Again, from KHOU: “Officials say data is not kept to determine if the cameras are driving down crime.”

If this surveillance isn’t reducing crime, what’s the true purpose behind the purchase by the IRS, Homeland Security, the Forest Service, the TSA of software and hardware that can keep anyone under surveillance at any time? 

“Ultimately, you’re creating a national database of location information,” Electronic Frontier Foundation staff attorney Jennifer Lynch told the Washington Post in February. “When all that data is compiled and aggregated, you can track somebody as they’re going through their life.”

After learning of the IRS’s obtaining of the license plate tracking technology, Lynch updated her criticism. “Especially with the IRS, I don’t know why these agencies are getting access to this kind of information,” she reportedly said. “These systems treat every single person in an area as if they’re under investigation for a crime — that is not the way our criminal justice system was set up or the way things work in a democratic society.”

Lynch is right. Any deprivation of liberty without conforming to the requirements set out in the Fourth Amendment is one too many. If we are a Republic of laws, then the supreme constitutional law of the land must be adhered to every time the government wants to search and seize anything from Americans. 

The standard is not whether or not the IRS or the Forest Service claims that investigations create exigent need to violate the Constitution. The standard is the Constitution — for every issue, on every occasion, with no exceptions. Anything less than that is a step toward tyranny.

Taken together, the scope of the snooping carried on by the federal government places every American under the threat of constant surveillance. The courts, Congress, and the president have formed an unholy alliance bent on obliterating the Constitution and establishing a country where every citizen is a suspect and is perpetually under the never-blinking eye of the government.

The establishment will likely continue construction of the surveillance until the entire country is being watched around the clock and every monitored activity is recorded and made retrievable by agents who will have a dossier on every American.

 

Joe A. Wolverton, II, J.D. is a correspondent for The New American and travels nationwide speaking on nullification, the Second Amendment, the surveillance state, and other constitutional issues. Follow him on Twitter @TNAJoeWolverton and he can be reached at jwolverton@thenewamerican.com This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

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