By Michael Snyder
If you live in the United States, you live in a high tech surveillance grid that is becoming more oppressive with each passing day. In America today, the control freaks that run things are completely obsessed with watching, tracking, monitoring and recording virtually everything that we do. If we continue on the path that we are currently on, we will be heading into a future where there will be absolutely no privacy of any kind. In fact, many would argue that we are essentially there already. Many people speak of this as being the “Information Age“, but most Americans don’t really stop and think about what that really means. Most of the information that is considered to be so “valuable” is actually about all of us. Businesses want to know as much about all of us as possible so that they can sell us stuff. Government officials want to know as much about all of us as possible so that they can make sure that we are not doing anything that they don’t like. There is a constant hunger for even more information, and so the surveillance technologies just continue to become even more advanced and the Big Brother control grid being constructed all around us just continues to become even more pervasive. Even though you may not be consciously aware of it, the truth is that it is surrounding you right now even as you read this. We live in a society where liberty and freedom are literally being strangled to death, but most Americans don’t seem to care.
Do you know who else gets watched, tracked and monitored 24 hours a day?
Surveillance is a form of control, and at this point we are little more than inmates inside a gigantic Big Brother surveillance grid.
Posted below is a list of 32 privacy destroying technologies that are systematically transforming America into a giant prison. Following each item, there is a short excerpt from a news report about that particular technology. If you want to read the entire article where the excerpt came from, just click the link to find the source. Individually, each of these technologies is deeply troubling. But when you step back and take a look at them all collectively, it is absolutely horrifying…
#1 Spying On Us Through Our Televisions: Put simply, our TVs have started spying on us.
Last week, there was a high-profile case in point. An IT consultant called Jason Huntley, who lives in a village near Hull, uncovered evidence that a flat-screen television, which had been sitting in his living room since the summer, was secretly invading his family’s privacy.
He began investigating the £400 LG device after noticing that its home screen appeared to be showing him ‘targeted’ adverts — for cars, and Knorr stock cubes — based on programmes he’d just been watching.
Huntley decided to monitor information that the so-called smart TV — which connects to the internet — was sending and receiving. He did this by using his laptop effectively as a bridge between his television and the internet receiver, so the laptop was able to show all the data being sucked out of his set.
He soon discovered that details of not just every show he watched but every button he pressed on his remote control were being sent back to LG’s corporate headquarters in South Korea.
#2 Next Generation Facial Recognition Technology: In a single second, law enforcement agents can match a suspect against millions upon millions of profiles in vast detailed databases stored on the cloud. It’s all done using facial recognition, and in Southern California it’s already occurring.
Imagine the police taking a picture: any picture of a person, anywhere, and matching it on the spot in less than a second to a personalized profile, scanning millions upon millions of entries from within vast, intricate databases stored on the cloud.
#3 Your Next Password Might Be Your Eye: You can use your phone to figure out your heart rate, track how much you walk, and even measure your sex life. But the powerful sensors inside smartphones can do more than keep you updated on your health: They can also turn your body into a password.
EyeVerify is a small Kansas City–based security company. Its core product is biometric eyescan software for smartphones. Every person has a unique pattern of blood vessels in their eyes. These blood vessels contrast with the whites of the eyes so clearly that they can always be read, even when there’s a lack of light. The best part? Those blood-vessel patterns can be photographed by phones and turned into unique data signatures which can be used to replace or supplement traditional passwords. “We turn a picture of your eye into a key that protects your digital identity,” says EyeVerify CEO Toby Rush.
#4 “Pre-Crime” Surveillance Cameras: Hundreds of pre-crime surveillance cameras are to be installed in San Francisco’s subway system that will analyze “suspicious behavior” and alert guards to potential criminal or terrorist activity – before any crime has been committed.
“Manufacturers BRS Labs said it has installed the cameras at tourist attractions, government buildings and military bases in the U.S. In its latest project BRS Labs is to install its devices on the transport system in San Francisco, which includes buses, trams and subways,” reports the Daily Mail.
The cameras are programmed with a list of behaviors considered “normal”. Anything that deviates from usual activity is classified as suspicious and guards are immediately alerted via text message or a phone call.
Equipped with the ability to track up to 150 suspects at a time, the cameras build up a “memory” of suspicious behavior to determine what constitutes potential criminal activity.
A total of 288 cameras will be installed across 12 transport hubs.
#5 New Software That Will Store And Analyze Millions Of Our Voices: ‘Voice Grid Nation’ is a system that uses advanced algorithms to match identities to voices. Brought to the US by Russia’s Speech Technology Center, it claims to be capable of allowing police, federal agencies and other law enforcement personnel to build up a huge database containing up to several million voices.
When authorities intercept a call they’ve deemed ‘hinky’, the recording is entered into the VoiceGrid program, which (probably) buzzes and whirrs and spits out a match. In five seconds, the program can scan through 10,000 voices, and it only needs 3 seconds for speech analysis. All that, combined with 100 simultaneous searches and the storage capacity of 2 million samples, gives SpeechPro, as the company is known in the US, the right to claim a 90% success rate.
#6 A Device That Captures Your Fingerprints From 20 Feet Away: Gaining access to your gym or office building could soon be as simple as waving a hand at the front door. A Hunsville, Ala.-based company called IDair is developing a system that can scan and identify a fingerprint from nearly 20 feet away. Coupled with other biometrics, it could soon allow security systems to grant or deny access from a distance, without requiring users to stop and scan a fingerprint, swipe an ID card, or otherwise lose a moment dealing with technology.
Currently IDair’s primary customer is the military, but the startup wants to open up commercially to any business or enterprise that wants to put a layer of security between its facilities and the larger world. A gym chain is already beta testing the system (no more using your roommate’s gym ID to get in a free workout), and IDair’s founder says that at some point his technology could enable purchases to be made biometrically, using fingerprints and irises as unique identifiers rather than credit card numbers and data embedded in magnetic strips or RFID chips.
#7 Molecular Scanners That Can Secretly Scan You From 164 Feet Away: Within the next year or two, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security will instantly know everything about your body, clothes, and luggage with a new laser-based molecular scanner fired from 164 feet (50 meters) away. From traces of drugs or gun powder on your clothes to what you had for breakfast to the adrenaline level in your body—agents will be able to get any information they want without even touching you.
And without you knowing it.
The technology is so incredibly effective that, in November 2011, its inventors were subcontracted by In-Q-Tel to work with the US Department of Homeland Security. In-Q-Tel is a company founded “in February 1999 by a group of private citizens at the request of the Director of the CIA and with the support of the U.S. Congress.” According to In-Q-Tel, they are the bridge between the Agency and new technology companies.
Their plan is to install this molecular-level scanning in airports and border crossings all across the United States.
#8 Mobile Backscatter Vans: American cops are set to join the US military in deploying American Science & Engineering’s Z Backscatter Vans, or mobile backscatter radiation x-rays. These are what TSA officials call “the amazing radioactive genital viewer,” now seen in airports around America, ionizing the private parts of children, the elderly, and you (yes you).
These pornoscannerwagons will look like regular anonymous vans, and will cruise America’s streets, indiscriminately peering through the cars (and clothes) of anyone in range of its mighty isotope-cannon. But don’t worry, it’s not a violation of privacy. As AS&E’s vice president of marketing Joe Reiss sez, “From a privacy standpoint, I’m hard-pressed to see what the concern or objection could be.”
#9 RFID Microchips In Our Schools: Upon arriving in the morning, according to the Associated Press, each student at the CCC-George Miller preschool will don a jersey with a stitched in RFID chip. As the kids go about the business of learning, sensors in the school will record their movements, collecting attendance for both classes and meals. Officials from the school have claimed they’re only recording information they’re required to provide while receiving federal funds for their Headstart program.
#10 Palm Scanning Devices In Our Schools: Puyallup School District says by the end of the year, every lunchroom will have palm scanning devices that will allow students to pay for their lunch with a wave of a hand.
“Efficiency is another reason for implementing this. The accuracy of the scanner reduces human error, reduces fraud, the ability for students to share numbers allows parents to know the money that they’re spending is being spent on their child’s lunch,” said Brian Fox, spokesperson for Puyallup School District.
The district says the devices will be in all 32 schools by the end of the school year.
#11 Iris Scanning Devices In Our Schools: Kids lose their school IDs but they don’t often lose their eyeballs.
That’s one of the reasons why a growing number of schools are replacing traditional identification cards with iris scanners. By the fall, several schools — ranging from elementary schools to colleges — will be rolling out various iris scanning security methods.
#12 Implantable Medical Laboratory-On-A-Chip: French researchers are zeroing in on a tiny, chip-based medical laboratory test device designed to be implanted under the skin. This miniature blood laboratory may revolutionize healthcare by continuously monitoring high-risk, chronically ill patients.
This ground-breaking work is being done by developers at the École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL), or Swiss Institute of Technology, in Lausanne, Switzerland. The implantable lab-testing device is linked to the user’s cell phone and can send alerts to doctors before symptoms are evident.
#13 Smart Phone Eye Scanners: A patent application filed by Samsung seems to indicate that next-generation Galaxy smartphones might feature biometric authentication as an alternative to PINs or passwords.
Unlike arch-rival Apple’s Touch ID, however, the South Korean technology giant won’t be scanning users’ fingerprints. Instead, the patent – spotted by blog Patent Bolt – describes a novel iris scanning technique.
According to Samsung, the non-contact nature of eye scanning means handset owners “do not feel uncomfortable” with the technology, while at the same time the iris offers more unique patterns than the fingerprint does.
#14 Cell Phone Tower “Stingrays”: You make a call on your cellphone thinking the only thing standing between you and the recipient of your call is your carrier’s cellphone tower. In fact, that tower your phone is connecting to just might be a boobytrap set up by law enforcement to ensnare your phone signals and maybe even the content of your calls.
So-called stingrays are one of the new high-tech tools that authorities are using to track and identify you. The devices, about the size of a suitcase, spoof a legitimate cellphone tower in order to trick nearby cellphones and other wireless communication devices into connecting to the tower, as they would to a real cellphone tower.
The government maintains that the stingrays don’t violate Fourth Amendment rights, since Americans don’t have a legitimate expectation of privacy for data sent from their mobile phones and other wireless devices to a cell tower.
#15 Using Your Cell Phone Microphone As A “Roving Bug”: The FBI appears to have begun using a novel form of electronic surveillance in criminal investigations: remotely activating a mobile phone’s microphone and using it to eavesdrop on nearby conversations.
The technique is called a “roving bug,” and was approved by top U.S. Department of Justice officials for use against members of a New York organized crime family who were wary of conventional surveillance techniques such as tailing a suspect or wiretapping him.
#16 The Government Is Using Our Cell Phones To Track Our Movements: One of the biggest changes is the ability to track your physical location. I’m sorry I came in at the end of the previous talk. I heard them talk about surveying cell phones with a drone, in a wide area — this is something that is done routinely now. I can tell you that everybody that attended an Occupy Wall Street protest, and didn’t turn their cell phone off, or put it — and sometimes even if they did — the identity of that cell phone has been logged, and everybody who was at that demonstration, whether they were arrested, not arrested, whether their photos were ID’d, whether an informant pointed them out, it’s known they were there anyway. This is routine.
#17 Police Using “Extraction Devices” To Take Our Cell Phone Data: The Michigan State Police have a handful of portable machines called “extraction devices” that have the potential to download personal information from motorists they pull over, and the ACLU would like to know more about them.
The devices, sold by a company called Cellebrite, can download text messages, photos, video, and even GPS data from most brands of cell phones. The handheld machines have various interfaces to work with different models and can even bypass security passwords and access some information.
#18 Automated License Plate Readers: More than 250 cameras in the District and its suburbs scan license plates in real time, helping police pinpoint stolen cars and fleeing killers. But the program quietly has expanded beyond what anyone had imagined even a few years ago.
With virtually no public debate, police agencies have begun storing the information from the cameras, building databases that document the travels of millions of vehicles.
Nowhere is that more prevalent than in the District, which has more than one plate-reader per square mile, the highest concentration in the nation. Police in the Washington suburbs have dozens of them as well, and local agencies plan to add many more in coming months, creating a comprehensive dragnet that will include all the approaches into the District.
#19 Street Lights That Can Record Private Conversations: Federally-funded high-tech street lights now being installed in American cities are not only set to aid the DHS in making “security announcements” and acting as talking surveillance cameras, they are also capable of “recording conversations,” bringing the potential privacy threat posed by ‘Intellistreets’ to a whole new level.
#20 Spying On Us Through Our Video Game Systems: Users of the new Xbox One are complaining that Kinect is monitoring their Skype conversations for swearing and then punishing them with account bans. Microsoft has admitted it is punishing gamers for bad language but denied that it is snooping on private Skype chats.
#21 Data Mining: The company fits into a category called database marketing. It started in 1969 as an outfit called Demographics Inc., using phone books and other notably low-tech tools, as well as one computer, to amass information on voters and consumers for direct marketing. Almost 40 years later, Acxiom has detailed entries for more than 190 million people and 126 million households in the U.S., and about 500 million active consumers worldwide. More than 23,000 servers in Conway, just north of Little Rock, collect and analyze more than 50 trillion data ‘transactions’ a year.
#22 A New Technology Called “Coin” Is Being Called “The Future Of Money”: The future of money has arrived, and it’s called Coin.
It looks like a credit card. It’s the size of a credit card. It swipes in credit card machines. But it holds the information of up to eight of your debit, credit, rewards, or gift cards. And you can switch between cards by simply pressing a button.
The new product, launched recently, promises to change the way consumers spend money in a secure and efficient way.
#23 A National Database Of All Financial Transactions: The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) is looking to create a “Google Earth” of every financial transaction of every American, Sen. Mike Enzi (R-WY) warned today in a Senate speech opposing confirmation of Richard Cordray as CFPB director.
“This bill (creating the CFPB) was supposed to be about regulating Wall Street. Instead, it’s creating a Google Earth on every financial transaction. That’s right: the government will be able to see every detail of your finances. Your permission – not needed,” Sen. Enzi said.
#24 The Coming National DNA Database: A national DNA database is coming. Barack Obama has already said that he wants one. A major Supreme Court decision last month paved the way for one. The DNA of those that commit “serious crimes” is already being routinely collected all over the nation. Some states (such as New Jersey) are now passing laws that will require DNA collection from those charged with committing “low level crimes”. And a law that was passed under George W. Bush allows the federal government to screen the DNA of all newborn babies in the United States. So how long will it be before we are all required to give DNA samples to the authorities?
#25 The Systematic Recording Of Talk Radio Programs: Next time you call a talk radio station, beware: The FBI may be listening.
According to WMAL.com, “The FBI has awarded a $524,927 contract to a Virginia company to record as much radio news and talk programming as it can find on the Internet. … The FBI says it is not playing Big Brother by policing the airwaves, but rather seeking access to what airs as potential evidence.”
#26 The FBI’s Next Generation Identification System: The US Federal Bureau of Investigation has begun rolling out its new $1 billion biometric Next Generation Identification (NGI) system. In essence, NGI is a nationwide database of mugshots, iris scans, DNA records, voice samples, and other biometrics, that will help the FBI identify and catch criminals — but it is how this biometric data is captured, through a nationwide network of cameras and photo databases, that is raising the eyebrows of privacy advocates.
Until now, the FBI relied on IAFIS, a national fingerprint database that has long been due an overhaul. Over the last few months, the FBI has been pilot testing a facial recognition system — and soon, detectives will also be able to search the system for other biometrics such as DNA records and iris scans.
#27 Trapwire: “You are being watched. The government has a secret system – a machine – that spies on you every hour of every day.” That is how each episode of “Person of Interest” on CBS begins. Most Americans that have watched the show just assume that such a surveillance network is completely fictional and that the government would never watch us like that. Sadly, most Americans are wrong. Shocking new details have emerged this week which prove that a creepy nationwide network of spy cameras is being rolled out across the United States. Reportedly, these new spy cameras are “more accurate than modern facial recognition technology”, and every few seconds they send back data from cities and major landmarks all over the United States to a centralized processing center where it is analyzed. The authorities believe that the world has become such a dangerous place that the only way to keep us all safe is to watch what everyone does all the time. But the truth is that instead of “saving America”, all of these repressive surveillance technologies are slowly killing our liberties and our freedoms. America is being transformed into an Orwellian prison camp right in front of our eyes, and very few people are even objecting to it.
#28 Spyware That Monitors The Behavior Of Government Workers: When the Food and Drug Administration started spying on a group of agency scientists, it installed monitoring software on their laptop computers to capture their communications.
The software, sold by SpectorSoft of Vero Beach, Fla., could do more than vacuum up the scientists’ e-mails as they complained to lawmakers and others about medical devices they thought were dangerous. It could be programmed to intercept a tweet or Facebook post. It could snap screen shots of their computers. It could even track an employee’s keystrokes, retrieve files from hard drives or search for keywords.
#29 Political Campaign Databases: If you voted this election season, President Obama almost certainly has a file on you. His vast campaign database includes information on voters’ magazine subscriptions, car registrations, housing values and hunting licenses, along with scores estimating how likely they were to cast ballots for his reelection.
#30 Spying On Us Through Our Appliances: Spies will no longer have to plant bugs in your home – the rise of ‘connected’ gadgets controlled by apps will mean that people ‘bug’ their own homes, says CIA director David Petraeus.
The CIA claims it will be able to ‘read’ these devices via the internet – and perhaps even via radio waves from outside the home.
Everything from remote controls to clock radios can now be controlled via apps – and chip company ARM recently unveiled low-powered, cheaper chips which will be used in everything from fridges and ovens to doorbells.
The resultant chorus of ‘connected’ gadgets will be able to be read like a book – and even remote-controlled, according to CIA CIA Director David Petraeus, according to a recent report by Wired’s ‘Danger Room’ blog.
#31 Unmanned Aerial Drones: Obama’s Environmental Protection Agency is using aerial drones to spy on farmers in Nebraska and Iowa. The surveillance came under scrutiny last week when Nebraska’s congressional delegation sent a joint letter to EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson.
On Friday, EPA officialdom in “Region 7” responded to the letter.
“Courts, including the Supreme Court, have found similar types of flights to be legal (for example to take aerial photographs of a chemical manufacturing facility) and EPA would use such flights in appropriate instances to protect people and the environment from violations of the Clean Water Act,” the agency said in response to the letter.
#32 NSA Snooping: Speaking to a raucous audience via Skype on Friday, Greenwald said the NSA’s “brand-new technology” gives it the power to “redirect into its own repositories one billion cell phone calls every single day.”
“But what we’re really talking about here is a globalized system that prevents any form of electronic communication from taking place without its being stored and monitored by the National Security Agency,” Greenwald said. “It doesn’t mean that they’re listening to every call; it means they’re storing every call and have the capability to listen to them at any time, and it does mean that they’re collecting millions upon millions upon millions of our phone and email records.”
Greenwald added that the NSA technology is “designed to destroy all privacy. And what’s incredibly menacing about it is that it’s all taking place in the dark with no accountability and virtually no safeguards.”
Every single day, the NSA intercepts and permanently stores close to 2 billion emails and phone calls in addition to a whole host of other data.
So where does all of that data go?
Well, the NSA recently completely construction of the largest data center in the history of the world out in Utah. It will reportedly have the capability of storing 5 zettabytes of data. That is an amount of data that is almost incomprehensible.
This data center has approximately a million square feet of storage space, it cost nearly 2 billion dollars to build, and it is going to take about 40 million dollars a year just to pay for the energy needed to run it.
Without a doubt, we have become a surveillance society.
And if the American people don’t object now, this will just be the tip of the iceberg.
If we continue down this same path, what is coming will be far more horrifying than anything that George Orwell ever dreamed of.
So what do you think about all of this?
Please feel free to share your thoughts by posting a comment below…