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Monday, November 17, 2014

Beware the dirtboxes among us

It may look like a private airplane, or even an advertising plane. In fact, it's the U.S. Marshall's Service (or some similar agency) using "dirtbox" technology to mimic cell phone towers and spy on your conversations and text messages.
Once a cell phone picks up the signal, it sends back its identifying information, which allows Marshals to figure out where people are. It’s possible for the officers to get similar information by requesting it from cell phone companies, but actually flying a fake tower over a suspect makes it easier to pinpoint that person’s location.
Flights are usually conducted to seek out multiple fugitives in the same area. Because the devices emulate a cell tower, they can pick up thousands or tens of thousands of signals from other citizens who aren’t being targeted by the Marshals.
Those Marshalls are supposed to be working for us. Why doesn't someone ask us if the goal of finding fugitives justifies the loss of privacy?

Speaking of privacy, it seems that the mighty TOR offers less of the stuff than its fans believe.
My article also revealed that Tor was created not to protect the public from government surveillance, but rather, to cloak the online identity of intelligence agents as they snooped on areas of interest. But in order to do that, Tor had to be released to the public and used by as diverse a group of people as possible: activists, dissidents, journalists, paranoiacs, kiddie porn scum, criminals and even would-be terrorists — the bigger and weirder the crowd, the easier it would be for agents to mix in and hide in plain sight.

Finally, I pointed out that Tor was not nearly as secure as many of its proponents claimed. For people with really something to hide from the state, Tor very likely offered the opposite of anonymity: it singled out users for total NSA surveillance, with intel agencies potentially sucking up and recording everything they did online. Recent events have proven yet again that Tor is not as secure as its fans claim, or as its own developers say they hoped.
I've used this analogy before: When banks ship large amounts of worn bills, they use the post office, because armored cars serve only to tell the bad guys where the money is. TOR is, in a sense, an armored car. We now learn that TOR also functions as a way to disguise infiltration. In decades past, federal agents would to grow long hair in order to move among the hippies and the protesters. Now, thanks to TOR, agents can move among their targets without changing their looks.

Speaking of undercover operations...

The NYT reports that undercover operations (once the province of the FBI) have become the norm across all levels of government.
At the Supreme Court, small teams of undercover officers dress as students at large demonstrations outside the courthouse and join the protests to look for suspicious activity, according to officials familiar with the practice.

At the Internal Revenue Service, dozens of undercover agents chase suspected tax evaders worldwide, by posing as tax preparers, accountants drug dealers or yacht buyers and more, court records show.

At the Agriculture Department, more than 100 undercover agents pose as food stamp recipients at thousands of neighborhood stores to spot suspicious vendors and fraud, officials said.
As some of you know, the fear of infiltration hinders activism, due to the increased paranoia levels.

In the end, though, the ultimate control is media control. If you are presented with a miniscule range of conceptual options, you will think only what you are told to think -- yet you will think that you can think for yourself. FAIR studied the range of permissible opinion on teevee political shows, concerning the question of ISIS, Iraq and Syria...
In total, 205 sources appeared on the programs discussing military options in Syria and Iraq. Just six of these, or 3 percent, voiced opposition to US military intervention, while 125 (61 percent) spoke in favor of US war.

On the high-profile Sunday talkshows, 89 guests were invited to talk about the war. But just one, Nation editor Katrina vanden Heuvel, could be coded as an anti-war guest.
The question of whether to launch an attack seemed almost not worth talking about. As MSNBC host Chris Matthews (9/9/14) put it, “When it comes to down to how we fight this, everybody seems to be for air attacks, airstrikes. Everybody is for drone attacks.”
Not everyone, Chris. Some of us feel that drones should be considered as despicable and horrifying as CBW weapons. That position would be more popular in America if its advocates were allowed on the fucking teevee regularly.

And that, my friends, is how the Powers That Be control you. They're not protecting you: They're controlling you.
If privacy concerns can be respected, this technology can be very useful in traffic planning. Vehicles passing the normal traffic count station are a mix of local shoppers, some commuters and some long-distance travelers. They all look identical to the "dumb" count stations.

A grid of these "dirtboxes" can deduce the path of individual vehicles that contain cell-phones or those equipped with Bluetooth. This can be very useful information for planners with no surveillance intent whatsoever.

Perhaps some anonymizing process can alleviate the concerns of the paranoiacs.
Every passing month the USA becomes more and more like East Germany of old. Indeed it has far surpassed that failed totalitarian state in many ways.

That Pando article isn't any good. It claims they revealed Tor to be a government creation, but that's always been public knowledge. It claims Tor singles you out for total NSA surveillance wherein they will record all of your internet activities, but they do that anyway.
The less legitimate the government, the more it feels the need to keep tabs on its citizens lest those citizens who've realized there's no democracy here might actually organize and start behaving democratically.
Great post. Did the NYT article mention that many of these agencies have purchased large caches of bullets in the past few years? For their spies and department militias?
We're being boiled slowly for sure.

And to Stickler, wtf do we need all the spyware on our highways anyway? My tax dollars allowing them to measure me, watch where & how I travel? "Useful information" - bs!
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