[News] Thirteen Ways Government Tracks Us

Anti-Imperialist News news at freedomarchives.org
Tue Apr 10 10:40:47 EDT 2012


Thirteen Ways Government Tracks Us
By Bill Quigley

Tuesday, April 10, 2012
http://www.zcommunications.org/thirteen-ways-government-tracks-us-by-bill-quigley


Privacy is eroding fast as technology offers government increasing 
ways to track and spy on citizens. The Washington Post reported there 
are 3,984 federal, state and local organizations working on domestic 
counterterrorism. Most collect information on people in the US. Here 
are thirteen examples of how some of the biggest government agencies 
and programs track people.

One. The National Security Agency (NSA) collects hundreds of millions 
of emails, texts and phone calls every day and has the ability to 
collect and sift through billions more. WIRED just reported NSA is 
building an immense new data center which will intercept, analyze and 
store even more electronic communications from satellites and cables 
across the nation and the world. Though NSA is not supposed to focus 
on US citizens, it does.

Two. The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) National Security 
Branch Analysis Center (NSAC) has more than 1.5 billion government 
and private sector records about US citizens collected from 
commercial databases, government information, and criminal probes.

Three. The American Civil Liberties Union and the New York Times 
recently reported that cellphones of private individuals in the US 
are being tracked without warrants by state and local law enforcement 
all across the country. With more than 300 million cellphones in the 
US connected to more than 200,000 cell phone towers, cellphone 
tracking software can pinpoint the location of a phone and document 
the places the cellphone user visits over the course of a day, week, 
month or longer.

Four. More than 62 million people in the US have their fingerprints 
on file with the FBI, state and local governments. This system, 
called the Integrated Automated Fingerprint Identification System 
(IAFIS), shares information with 43 states and 5 federal 
agencies.  This system conducts more than 168,000 checks each day.

Five. Over 126 million people have their fingerprints, photographs 
and biographical information accessible on the US Department of 
Homeland Security Automated Biometric Identification System (IDENT). 
This system conducts about 250,000 biometric transactions each day. 
The goal of this system is to provide information for national 
security, law enforcement, immigration, intelligence and other 
Homeland Security Functions.

Six. More than 110 million people have their visas and more than 90 
million have their photographs entered into the US Department of 
State Consular Consolidated Database (CCD).  This system grows by 
adding about 35,000 people a day. This system serves as a gateway to 
the Department of State Facial Recognition system, IDENT and IAFSIS.

Seven. DNA profiles on more than 10 million people are available in 
the FBI coordinated Combined DNA index System (CODIS) National DNA Index.

Eight. Information on more than 2 million people is kept in the 
Intelligence Community Security Clearance Repository, commonly known 
as Scattered Castles. Most of the people in this database are 
employees of the Department of Defense (DOD) and other intelligence agencies.

Nine. The DOD also has an automated biometric identification system 
(ABIS) to support military operations overseas. This database 
incorporates fingerprint, palm print, face and iris matching on 6 
million people and is adding 20,000 more people each day.

Ten. Information on over 740,000 people is included in the Terrorist 
Identities Datamart Environment (TIDE) of the National 
Counterterrorism Center. TIDE is the US government central repository 
of information on international terrorist identities. The government 
says that less than 2 percent of the people on file are US citizens 
or legal permanent residents. They were just given permission to keep 
their non-terrorism information on US citizens for a period of five 
years, up from 180 days.

Eleven. Tens of thousands of people are subjects of facial 
recognition software. The FBI has been working with North Carolina 
Department of Motor Vehicles and other state and local law 
enforcement on facial recognition software in a project called "Face 
Mask."  For example, the FBI has provided thousands of photos and 
names to the North Carolina DMV which runs those against their photos 
of North Carolina drivers. The Maricopa Arizona County Sheriff's 
Office alone records 9,000 biometric mug shots a month.

Twelve. The FBI operates the Nationwide Suspicious Activity Reporting 
Initiative (SAR) that collects and analyzes observations or reports 
of suspicious activities by local law enforcement.  With over 160,000 
suspicious activity files, SAR stores the profiles of tens of 
thousands of Americans and legal residents who are not accused of any 
crime but who are alleged to have acted suspiciously.

Thirteen. The FBI admits it has about 3,000 GPS tracking devices on 
cars of unsuspecting people in the US right now, even after the US 
Supreme Court decision authorizing these only after a warrant for 
probable cause has been issued.

The Future

The technology for tracking and identifying people is exploding as is 
the government appetite for it.

Soon, police everywhere will be equipped with handheld devices to 
collect fingerprint, face, iris and even DNA information on the spot 
and have it instantly sent to national databases for comparison and storage.

Bloomberg News reports the newest surveillance products "can also 
secretly activate laptop webcams or microphones on mobile devices," 
change the contents of written emails mid-transmission, and use voice 
recognition to scan phone networks.

The advanced technology of the war on terrorism, combined with 
deferential courts and legislators, have endangered both the right to 
privacy and the right of people to be free from government snooping 
and tracking. Only the people can stop this.


Bill Quigley teaches law at Loyola University New Orleans and works 
with the Center for Constitutional Rights. A longer version of this 
article with sources is available. Quigley77 at gmail.com



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