US courts must stop shielding government surveillance programs from accountability

Imagine the government has searched your home without a warrant or probable cause, rifling through your files, your bedroom dresser, your diary. You sue, arguing that the public record shows it violated your fourth amendment rights. The government claims that it has a defense, but that its defense is secret. The court dismisses the case.

That’s precisely what the federal government has increasingly said it can do in cases related to national security – under the so-called “state secret privilege”. It can violate constitutional rights, and then defeat any effort at accountability by claiming that its defense is secret – without even showing its evidence to a court behind closed doors.

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Inside the biggest human surveillance experiment on the planet

It was in this techno-authoritarian wave that a facial recognition mania costing tens of billions of dollars began. Government policies with sci-fi names like SkyNet and Sharp Eyes laid out ambitious plans to blanket the country with cameras linked to police stations that shared data across the country. The vision was clear: just like on the internet, anonymity could be erased in real life. With accurate facial recognition, police could identify, categorise and follow a single person among 1.4 billion Chinese citizens.

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Google’s Nest Will Provide Data to Police Without a Warrant

Google “reserves the right” to make emergency disclosures to law enforcement even when there is no legal requirement to do so. “A provider like Google may disclose information to law enforcement without a subpoena or a warrant ‘if the provider, in good faith, believes that an emergency involving danger of death or serious physical injury to any person requires disclosure without delay of communications relating to the emergency,'” a Nest spokesperson tells CNET.

While Amazon and Google have both said they would hand over a user’s data to law enforcement without a warrant, Arlo, Apple, Wyze, and Anker, owner of Eufy, all confirmed to CNET that they won’t give authorities access to a user’s smart home camera’s footage unless they’re shown a warrant or court order. These companies would be legally bound to provide data to the authorities if they were shown a legal document. But, unlike Google and Amazon, they will not otherwise share camera footage with law enforcement, even if they had an emergency request for data. Apple’s default setting for video cameras connected via Homekit is end-to-end encryption which means the company is unable to share user video at all.

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Amazon’s Ring and Google Can Share Footage With Police Without Warrants (or Your Consent)

U.S. law let’s companies like Google and Amazon’s Ring doorbell/security camera system “share user footage with police during emergencies without consent and without warrants.” That revelation “came under renewed criticism from privacy activists this month after disclosing it gave video footage to police in more than 10 cases without users’ consent thus far in 2022 in what it described as ’emergency situations’.”

“That includes instances where the police didn’t have a warrant.”

“So far this year, Ring has provided videos to law enforcement in response to an emergency request only 11 times,” Amazon vice president of public policy Brian Huseman wrote. “In each instance, Ring made a good-faith determination that there was an imminent danger of death or serious physical injury to a person requiring disclosure of information without delay….” Of the 11 emergency requests Ring has complied with so far in 2022, the company said they include cases involving kidnapping, self-harm and attempted murder, but it won’t provide further details, including information about which agencies or countries the requests came from.

We also asked Ring if it notified customers after the company had granted law enforcement access to their footage without their consent.

“We have nothing to share,” the spokesperson responded.

It’s been barely a year since Ring made the decision to stop allowing police to email users to request footage. Facing criticism that requests like those were subverting the warrant process and contributing to police overreach, Ring directed police instead to post public requests for assistance in the Neighbors app, where community members are free to view and comment on them (or opt out of seeing them altogether)… That post made no mention of a workaround for the police during emergency circumstances.

When CNET asked why that workaround wasn’t mentioned, Amazon response was that law enforcement requests, “including emergency requests, are directed to Ring (the company), the same way a warrant or subpoena is directed to Ring (and not the customer), which is why we treat them entirely separately.”

CNET notes there’s also no mention of warrantless emergency requests without independent oversight in Ring’s own transparency reports about law enforcement requests from past years.

CNET adds that it’s not just Amazon. “Google, Ring and other companies that process user video footage have a legal basis for warrantless disclosure without consent during emergency situations, and it’s up to them to decide whether or not to do so when the police come calling….” (Although Google told CNET that while it reserves the right to comply with warrantless requests for user data during emergencies, to date it has never actually done so.) The article also points out that “Others, most notably Apple, use end-to-end encryption as the default setting for user video, which blocks the company from sharing that video at all… Ring enabled end-to-end encryption as an option for users in 2021, but it isn’t the default setting, and Ring notes that turning it on will break certain features, including the ability to view your video feed on a third-party device like a smart TV, or even Amazon devices like the Echo Show smart display.”

The bottom line?

[C]onsumers have a choice to make about what they’re comfortable with… That said, you can’t make informed choices when you aren’t well-informed to begin with, and the brands in question don’t always make it easy to understand their policies and practices. Ring published a blog post last year walking through its new, public-facing format for police footage requests, but there was no mention of emergency exceptions granted without user consent or independent oversight, the details of which only came to light after a Senate probe. Google describes its emergency sharing policies within its Terms of Service, but the language doesn’t make it clear that those cases include instances where footage may be shared without a warrant, subpoena or court order compelling Google to do so.

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UK Spy Agency MI5 ‘Breached Surveillance Laws For More Than A Decade’

A UK tribunal has been told that security service MI5 has been breaching surveillance laws since 2010, and unlawfully obtaining bulk surveillance warrants against the public.

Human rights groups Liberty and Privacy International have told the Investigatory Powers Tribunal that MI5 has stored data on members of the public without the legal right to do so, and failed to disclose this to the Home Office and oversight bodies.

It breached safeguards around how long data was retained, who had access to it, and how legally privileged material such as private correspondence between lawyers and clients was protected, they say.

“MI5’s persistent failure to follow the law is inexcusable. For years, they have ignored safeguards put in place to protect us from abuse,” says Privacy International legal director Caroline Wilson Palow.

“These safeguards are a fundamental check on the vast power intelligence agencies can wield over all of us, especially when they engage in mass surveillance.”

The rights groups claim that the Home Office and various home secretaries failed to investigate these breaches. Surveillance warrants must be approved by the home secretary, who must be satisfied that legal safeguards around the handling of data are being met.

However, say Liberty and Privacy International, successive home secretaries repeatedly ignored the signs that MI5 was handling data unlawfully, and continued to sign off on surveillance warrants despite this.

“Surveillance safeguards can only protect us if they work in practice, and they don’t. For 10 years MI5 have been knowingly breaking the rules and failing to report it, and the government has failed to investigate clear red flags,” says Liberty lawyer Megan Goulding.

“There has been no proper investigation into MI5’s breaches by the Home Office, despite having been put on notice by briefings. Instead, the home secretary continued to issue unlawful warrants, and MI5 kept information from the authorities about how it mishandled our data.”

The allegations were first made in 2019 as part of Liberty’s separate legal challenge to the Investigatory Powers Act 2016, during which the government admitted that MI5 had been unlawfully retaining and mishandling the public’s data for years.

Documents shared with the court included correspondence between MI5 and its watchdog, the Investigatory Powers Commissioner’s Office (IPCO), as well as correspondence between MI5 and the Home Office, and reports of inspections carried out by IPCO after they learnt of MI5’s failings.

These documents revealed that MI5 itself called its data stores ‘ungoverned spaces’, and that the Investigatory Powers Commissioner had concluded MI5 had held and handled data in an ‘undoubted unlawful manner’.

“When we campaigned against giving the state unprecedented new surveillance powers under the so-called Snooper’s Charter back in 2015, one of our key concerns was that the safeguards against abuse were just not strong enough,” says Wilson Palow.

“And here we are, seven years later, with even the rules that are enshrined in law being ignored in practice. Those rules need a radical overhaul.”

Liberty and Privacy International have called for all surveillance warrants issued unlawfully to be quashed, all unlawfully retained data to be destroyed, and for the tribunal to declare that the Investigatory Powers Act itself is unlawful, because it doesn’t work in practice.

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How Beijing’s surveillance cameras crept into widespread use across UK schools, hospitals and government buildings

In the confines of his small cell, Ovalbek Turdakun was watched 24/7. At any attempt to speak to others he was instantly told to be quiet, while lights in the room were on round the clock, making it impossible to know what time of day it was.

Turdakun and his fellow detainees in the Xinjiang camp were not watched by guards, but by software. Cameras made by the Chinese company Hikvision monitored his every move, according to an account he gave to US surveillance website IPVM.

More than a million of the same company’s cameras are in Britain’s schools, hospitals and police departments. Tesco, Costa Coffee and McDonald’s have purchased Hikvision cameras. They are present in a string of Government buildings.

Britain’s population is caught on CCTV more than any nation outside of China, with 6m cameras in use – one for every 11 people. Hikvision is the biggest provider of them.

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Evernote Quietly Disappeared From an Anti-Surveillance Lobbying Group’s Website

In 2013, eight tech companies were accused of funneling their users’ data to the U.S. National Security Agency under the so-called PRISM program, according to highly classified government documents leaked by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden. Six months later, the tech companies formed a coalition under the name Reform Government Surveillance, which as the name would suggest was to lobby lawmakers for reforms to government surveillance laws. The idea was simple enough: to call on lawmakers to limit surveillance to targeted threats rather than conduct a dragnet collection of Americans’ private data, provide greater oversight and allow companies to be more transparent about the kinds of secret orders for user data that they receive.

Apple, Facebook, Google, LinkedIn, Microsoft, Twitter, Yahoo and AOL were the founding members of Reform Government Surveillance, or RGS, and over the years added Amazon, Dropbox, Evernote, Snap and Zoom as members. But then sometime in June 2019, Evernote quietly disappeared from the RGS website without warning. What’s even more strange is that nobody noticed for two years, not even Evernote. “We hadn’t realized our logo had been removed from the Reform Government Surveillance website,” said an Evernote spokesperson, when reached for comment by TechCrunch. “We are still members.”

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US Intelligence may partner with private firms to monitor “extremist chatter” online

The Biden administration is considering using outside firms to track extremist chatter by Americans online, an effort that would expand the government’s ability to gather intelligence but could draw criticism over surveillance of US citizens. The Department of Homeland Security is limited in how it can monitor citizens online without justification and is banned from activities like assuming false identities to gain access to private messaging apps used by extremist groups such as the Proud Boys or Oath Keepers. Instead, federal authorities can only browse through unprotected information on social media sites like Twitter and Facebook and other open online platforms. A source familiar with the effort said it is not about decrypting data but rather using outside entities who can legally access these private groups to gather large amounts of information that could help DHS identify key narratives as they emerge. The plan being discussed inside DHS, according to multiple sources, would, in effect, allow the department to circumvent those limits.

Even as the DHS eyes a more robust use of its intelligence authorities, it continues to face fierce scrutiny on Capitol Hill over its handling of the Portland protests last summer — raising the possibility that at least some lawmakers will push back on the effort. The department — then led by Trump appointees but staffed by career officials, some of whom remain on the job — collected and disseminated open source reports on U.S. journalists who were publicly reporting on the protests.

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Five Eyes Governments, India, and Japan Make New Call For Encryption Backdoors

Members of the intelligence-sharing alliance Five Eyes, along with government representatives for Japan and India, have published a statement over the weekend calling on tech companies to come up with a solution for law enforcement to access end-to-end encrypted communications. From a report:
The statement is the alliance’s latest effort to get tech companies to agree to encryption backdoors. The Five Eyes alliance, comprised of the US, the UK, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand, have made similar calls to tech giants in 2018 and 2019, respectively. Just like before, government officials claim tech companies have put themselves in a corner by incorporating end-to-end encryption (E2EE) into their products. If properly implemented, E2EE lets users have secure conversations — may them be chat, audio, or video — without sharing the encryption key with the tech companies. Representatives from the seven governments argue that the way E2EE encryption is currently supported on today’s major tech platforms prohibits law enforcement from investigating crime rings, but also the tech platforms themselves from enforcing their own terms of service. Signatories argue that “particular implementations of encryption technology” are currently posing challenges to law enforcement investigations, as the tech platforms themselves can’t access some communications and provide needed data to investigators.

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United States’ Department of Homeland Security Will Soon Have Biometric Data On Nearly 260 Million People

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) expects to have face, fingerprint, and iris scans of at least 259 million people in its biometrics database by 2022, according to a recent presentation from the agency’s Office of Procurement Operations reviewed by Quartz. That’s about 40 million more than the agency’s 2017 projections, which estimated 220 million unique identities by 2022, according to previous figures cited by the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), a San Francisco-based privacy rights nonprofit.

A slide deck, shared with attendees at an Oct. 30 DHS industry day, includes a breakdown of what its systems currently contain, as well as an estimate of what the next few years will bring. The agency is transitioning from a legacy system called IDENT to a cloud-based system (hosted by Amazon Web Services) known as Homeland Advanced Recognition Technology, or HART. The biometrics collection maintained by DHS is the world’s second-largest, behind only India’s countrywide biometric ID network in size. The traveler data kept by DHS is shared with other U.S. agencies, state and local law enforcement, as well as foreign governments.

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Optic Nerve: millions of Yahoo webcam images intercepted by GCHQ

Optic Nerve is a mass surveillance programme run by the British signals intelligence agency Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ), with help from the US National Security Agency, that surreptitiously collects private webcam still images from users while they are using a Yahoo! webcam application. As an example of the scale, in one 6-month period, the programme is reported to have collected images from 1.8 million Yahoo! user accounts globally. The programme was first reported on in the media in February 2014, from documents leaked by the former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden, but dates back to a prototype started in 2008, and was still active in at least 2012.[1][2]

The leaked documents describe the users under surveillance as “unselected”, meaning that data was collected indiscriminately in bulk from users regardless of whether they were an intelligence target or not. The vast majority of affected users would have been completely innocent of any crime or suspicion of a crime.

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Amazon’s ‘Ring’ Doorbells Creating A Massive Police Surveillance Network

“Police departments are piggybacking on Ring’s network to build out their surveillance networks…” reports CNET, adding that Ring “helps police avoid roadblocks for surveillance technology, whether a lack of funding or the public’s concerns about privacy.”

While residential neighborhoods aren’t usually lined with security cameras, the smart doorbell’s popularity has essentially created private surveillance networks powered by Amazon and promoted by police departments. Police departments across the country, from major cities like Houston to towns with fewer than 30,000 people, have offered free or discounted Ring doorbells to citizens, sometimes using taxpayer funds to pay for Amazon’s products.

While Ring owners are supposed to have a choice on providing police footage, in some giveaways, police require recipients to turn over footage when requested. Ring said Tuesday that it would start cracking down on those strings attached…

While more surveillance footage in neighborhoods could help police investigate crimes, the sheer number of cameras run by Amazon’s Ring business raises questions about privacy involving both law enforcement and tech giants… More than 50 local police departments across the US have partnered with Ring over the last two years, lauding how the Amazon-owned product allows them to access security footage in areas that typically don’t have cameras — on suburban doorsteps. But privacy advocates argue this partnership gives law enforcement an unprecedented amount of surveillance. “What we have here is a perfect marriage between law enforcement and one of the world’s biggest companies creating conditions for a society that few people would want to be a part of,” said Mohammad Tajsar, staff attorney at the ACLU of Southern California…

Despite its benefits, the relationship between police departments and Ring raises concerns about surveillance and privacy, as Amazon is working with law enforcement to blanket communities with cameras…. “Essentially, we’re creating a culture where everybody is the nosy neighbor looking out the window with their binoculars,” said Dave Maass, a senior investigative researcher at the Electronic Frontier Foundation. “It is creating this giant pool of data that allows the government to analyze our every move, whether or not a crime is being committed.” On a heat map of Bloomfield, there are hardly any spots in the New Jersey township out of sight of a Ring camera.

Tajsar says in some scenarios “they’re basically commandeering people’s homes as surveillance outposts for law enforcement,” and the articles notes that when police departments partner with Ring, “they have access to a law enforcement dashboard, where they can geofence areas and request footage filmed at specific times.”

While law enforcement “can only get footage from the app if residents choose to send it,” if the residents refuse, police can still try to obtain the footage with a subpoena to Amazon’s Ring.

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GCHQ mass surveillance violated human rights, court rules

GCHQ’s methods in carrying out bulk interception of online communications violated privacy and failed to provide sufficient surveillance safeguards, the European court of human rights (ECHR) has ruled in a test case judgment.

But the court found that GCHQ’s regime for sharing sensitive digital intelligence with foreign governments was not illegal.

It is the first major challenge to the legality of UK intelligence agencies intercepting private communications in bulk, following Edward Snowden’s whistleblowing revelations. The long-awaited ruling is one of the most comprehensive assessments by the ECHR of the legality of the interception operations operated by UK intelligence agencies.

The case was brought by a coalition of 14 human rights groups, privacy organisations and journalists, including Amnesty International, Liberty, Privacy International and Big Brother Watch. In a statement, published on Amnesty’s website, Lucy Claridge, Amnesty International’s Strategic Litigation Director, said, today’s ruling “represents a significant step forward in the protection of privacy and freedom of expression worldwide. It sends a strong message to the UK Government that its use of extensive surveillance powers is abusive and runs against the very principles that it claims to be defending.” He added: “This is particularly important because of the threat that Government surveillance poses to those who work in human rights and investigative journalism, people who often risk their own lives to speak out. Three years ago, this same case forced the UK Government to admit GCHQ had been spying on Amnesty — a clear sign that our work and the people we work alongside had been put at risk.”

The judges considered three aspects of digital surveillance: bulk interception of communications, intelligence sharing and obtaining of communications data from communications service providers. By a majority of five to two votes, the Strasbourg judges found that GCHQ’s bulk interception regime violated article 8 of the European convention on human rights, which guarantees privacy, because there were said to be insufficient safeguards, and rules governing the selection of “related communications data” were deemed to be inadequate.

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Google forming ‘smart cities’

“An ambitious project to blanket New York and London with ultrafast Wi-Fi via so-called “smart kiosks,” which will replace obsolete public telephones, are the work of a Google-backed startup.

Each kiosk is around nine feet high and relatively flat. Each flat side houses a big-screen display that pays for the whole operation with advertising.

Each kiosk provides free, high-speed Wi-Fi for anyone in range. By selecting the Wi-Fi network at one kiosk, and authenticating with an email address, each user will be automatically connected to every other LinkNYC kiosk they get within range of. Eventually, anyone will be able to walk around most of the city without losing the connection to these hotspots.

Wide-angle cameras on each side of the kiosks point up and down the street and sidewalk, approximating a 360-degree view. If a city wants to use those cameras and sensors for surveillance, it can.

Over the next 15 years, the city will go through the other two phases, where sensor data will be processed by artificial intelligence to gain unprecedented insights about traffic, environment and human behavior and eventually use it to intelligently re-direct traffic and shape other city functions.”

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The most striking thing about the WikiLeaks CIA data dump is how little most people cared

“On March 7, the US awoke to a fresh cache of internal CIA documents posted on WikiLeaks. They detail the spy organization’s playbook for cracking digital communications.

Snowden’s NSA revelations sent shockwaves around the world. Despite WikiLeaks’ best efforts at theatrics—distributing an encrypted folder and tweeting the password “SplinterItIntoAThousandPiecesAndScatterItIntoTheWinds”—the Vault 7 leak has elicited little more than a shrug from the media and the public, even if the spooks are seriously worried. Maybe it’s because we already assume the government can listen to everything.”

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German watchdog tells parents to destroy Wi-Fi-connected doll

“A German government watchdog has ordered parents to “destroy” an internet-connected doll for fear it could be used as a surveillance device. According to a report from BBC News, the German Federal Network Agency said the doll (which contains a microphone and speaker) was equivalent to a “concealed transmitting device” and therefore prohibited under German telecom law.

The doll in question is “My Friend Cayla,” a toy which has already been the target of consumer complaints in the EU and US. In December last year, privacy advocates said the toy recorded kids’ conversations without proper consent, violating the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act.

Cayla uses a microphone to listen to questions, sending this audio over Wi-Fi to a third-party company (Nuance) that converts it to text. This is then used to search the internet, allowing the doll to answer basic questions, like “What’s a baby kangaroo called?” as well as play games. In addition to privacy concerns over data collection, security researchers found that Cayla can be easily hacked. The doll’s insecure Bluetooth connection can be compromised, letting a third party record audio via the toy, or even speak to children using its voice.

Although the FTC has not yet taken any action against Cayla or its makers Manufacturer Genesis Toys, German data and privacy laws are more stringent than those in America. The legacy of the Stasi, the secret police force that set up one of the most invasive mass-surveillance regimes ever in Communist East Germany, has made the country’s legislators vigilant against such infringements.”

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UK “legitimises” illegal mass surveillance by passing new law

The “Investigatory Powers Act,” has been passed into law in the UK, legalising a number of illegal mass surveillance programs revealed by Edward Snowden in 2013. It also introduces new powers to require ISPs to retain browsing data on all customers for 12 months, while giving police new powers to hack into computers and phones and to collect communications data in bulk.

“Jim Killock, executive director of the Open Rights Group, responded…saying: “…it is one of the most extreme surveillance laws ever passed in a democracy. The IP Act will have an impact that goes beyond the UK’s shores. It is likely that other countries, including authoritarian regimes with poor human rights records, will use this law to justify their own intrusive surveillance powers.”

“Much of the Act gives stronger legal footing to the UK’s various bulk powers, including “bulk interception,” which is, in general terms, the collection of internet and phone communications en masse. In June 2013, using documents provided by Edward Snowden, The Guardian revealed that the GCHQ taps fibre-optic undersea cables in order to intercept emails, internet histories, calls, and a wealth of other data.”

Meanwhile, FBI and NSA poised to gain new surveillance powers under Trump.

Snooper Charter allows the State to tell lies in court.

“Charter gives virtually unrestricted powers not only to State spy organisations but also to the police and a host of other government agencies. The operation of the oversight and accountability mechanisms…are all kept firmly out of sight — and, so its authors hope, out of mind — of the public. It is up to the State to volunteer the truth to its victims if the State thinks it has abused its secret powers. “Marking your own homework” is a phrase which does not fully capture this…

Section 56(1)(b) creates a legally guaranteed ability — nay, duty — to lie about even the potential for State hacking to take place, and to tell juries a wholly fictitious story about the true origins of hacked material used against defendants in order to secure criminal convictions. This is incredibly dangerous. Even if you know that the story being told in court is false, you and your legal representatives are now banned from being able to question those falsehoods and cast doubt upon the prosecution story. Potentially, you could be legally bound to go along with lies told in court about your communications — lies told by people whose sole task is to weave a story that will get you sent to prison or fined thousands of pounds.

Moreover, as section 56(4) makes clear, this applies retroactively, ensuring that it is very difficult for criminal offences committed by GCHQ employees and contractors over the years, using powers that were only made legal a fortnight ago, to be brought to light in a meaningful way. It might even be against the law for a solicitor or barrister to mention in court this Reg story by veteran investigative journalist Duncan Campbell about GCHQ’s snooping station in Oman (covered by the section 56(1)(b) wording “interception-related conduct has occurred”) – or large volumes of material published on Wikileaks.

The existence of section 56(4) makes a mockery of the “general privacy protections” in Part 1 of the IPA, which includes various criminal offences. Part 1 was introduced as a sop to privacy advocates horrified at the full extent of the act’s legalisation of intrusive, disruptive and dangerous hacking powers for the State, including powers to force the co-operation of telcos and similar organisations. There is no point in having punishments for lawbreakers if it is illegal to talk about their law-breaking behaviour.

Like the rest of the Snoopers’ Charter, section 56 has become law. Apart from Reg readers and a handful of Twitter slacktivists, nobody cares. The general public neither knows nor cares what abuses and perversions of the law take place in its name. Theresa May and the British government have utterly defeated advocates of privacy and security, completely ignoring those who correctly identify the zero-sum game between freedom and security in favour of those who feel the need to destroy liberty in order to “save” it.

The UK is now a measurably less free country in terms of technological security, permitted speech and ability to resist abuses of power and position by agents of the State, be those shadowy spys, police inspectors and above (ie, shift leaders in your local cop shop) and even food hygiene inspectors – no, really.”

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UK security agencies unlawfully collected data for 17 years, court rules

No prosecutions. Instead, those in power are pushing to pass a law to legitimise and continue the same.

“British security agencies have secretly and unlawfully collected massive volumes of confidential personal data, including financial information, on citizens for more than a decade, senior judges have ruled.

The investigatory powers tribunal, which is the only court that hears complaints against MI5, MI6 and GCHQ, said the security services operated an illegal regime to collect vast amounts of communications data, tracking individual phone and web use and other confidential personal information, without adequate safeguards or supervision for 17 years.

Privacy campaigners described the ruling as “one of the most significant indictments of the secret use of the government’s mass surveillance powers” since Edward Snowden first began exposing the extent of British and American state digital surveillance of citizens in 2013.

The tribunal said the regime governing the collection of bulk communications data (BCD) – the who, where, when and what of personal phone and web communications – failed to comply with article 8 protecting the right to privacy of the European convention of human rights (ECHR) between 1998, when it started, and 4 November 2015, when it was made public.

It added that the retention of of bulk personal datasets (BPD) – which might include medical and tax records, individual biographical details, commercial and financial activities, communications and travel data – also failed to comply with article 8 for the decade it was in operation until it was publicly acknowledged in March 2015.”

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Baltimore Police took one million surveillance photos of city with secret plane

“Baltimore Police on Friday released data showing that a surveillance plane secretly flew over the city roughly 100 times, taking more than 1 million snapshots of the streets below.

Police held a news conference where they released logs tracking flights of the plane owned and operated by Persistent Surveillance Systems, which is promoting the aerial technology as a cutting-edge crime-fighting tool.

The logs show the plane spent about 314 hours over eight months creating the chronological visual record.

The program began in January and was not initially disclosed to Baltimore’s mayor, city council or other elected officials. Now that it’s public, police say the plane will fly over the city again as a terrorism prevention tool when Fleet Week gets underway on Monday, as well as during the Baltimore Marathon on Oct. 15.

The logs show that the plane made flights ranging between one and five hours long in January and February, June, July and August. The flights stopped on Aug. 7, shortly before the program’s existence was revealed in an article by Bloomberg Businessweek.

The program drew harsh criticism from Baltimore residents, activists and civil liberties groups, who said it violates the privacy rights of an entire city’s people. The city council is planning to hold a hearing on the matter; the ACLU and some state lawmakers are considering introducing legislation to limit the kinds of surveillance programs police can utilize, and mandate public disclosure and discussion beforehand.

Baltimore has been at the epicenter of an evolving conversation about 20th century policing. Last spring, its streets exploded in civil unrest after a young black man’s neck was broken inside a police van.

Freddie Gray’s death added fuel to the national Black Lives Matter movement and exposed more problems in a police department that has been dysfunctional for decades. The department’s shortcomings and tendencies toward discrimination and abuse were later laid bare in a 164-page patterns and practices report by the U.S. Justice Department.

This is not the first time Baltimore has served as a testing ground for surveillance technology. Cell site simulators, also known as Stingray devices, were deployed in the city for years without search warrants to track the movements of suspects in criminal cases. The technology was kept secret under a non-disclosure agreement between the FBI and the police department that barred officers from disclosing any details, even to judges and defense attorneys. The Supreme Court recently ruled that warrantless stingray use is unconstitutional.”

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New leaked files reveal more about NSA satellite eavesdropping

Newly published documents have shed more light on the dubious surveillance operations of the United States operating in the UK. The documents detail how the NSA and GCHQ used information gathered by Menwith Hill Station—a massive but tightly sealed facility that intercepts satellite data transmissions worldwide—for targeted killings with drones:

“The files reveal for the first time how the NSA has used the British base to aid “a significant number of capture-kill operations” across the Middle East and North Africa, fueled by powerful eavesdropping technology that can harvest data from more than 300 million emails and phone calls a day.

The NSA has pioneered groundbreaking new spying programs at Menwith Hill to pinpoint the locations of suspected terrorists accessing the internet in remote parts of the world. The programs — with names such as GHOSTHUNTER and GHOSTWOLF — have provided support for conventional British and American military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. But they have also aided covert missions in countries where the U.S. has not declared war. NSA employees at Menwith Hill have collaborated on a project to help “eliminate” terrorism targets in Yemen, for example, where the U.S. has waged a controversial drone bombing campaign that has resulted in dozens of civilian deaths.

The disclosures about Menwith Hill raise new questions about the extent of British complicity in U.S. drone strikes and other so-called targeted killing missions, which may in some cases have violated international laws or constituted war crimes.

Successive U.K. governments have publicly stated that all activities at the base are carried out with the “full knowledge and consent” of British officials.”

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