Status Report: Nullifying the National Surveillance State

Tenth Amendment Center

In 2014, the Tenth Amendment Center dove headfirst in the fight against unconstitutional federal surveillance when it spearheaded efforts to turn off the water at the NSA facility in Bluffdale, Utah, and cut off other critical state and local services to other NSA facilities.

We haven’t turned off the water in Utah — yet. But we did win some victories. In 2014, California Gov. Jerry Brown signed SB828 into law, laying the foundation for the state to turn off water, electricity and other resources to any federal agency engaged in mass warrantless surveillance. In 2018, Michigan built on this foundation with the passage of HB4430. The new law prohibits the state and its political subdivisions from assisting, participating with, or providing “material support or resources, to a federal agency to enable it to collect, or to facilitate in the collection or use of a person’s electronic data,” without a warrant or under a few other carefully defined exceptions. 

Although NSA spying remains the most high-profile warrantless surveillance program, the federal government has created a national surveillance network that extends well beyond the operation of this single agency. In fact, state and local law enforcement have become vital cogs in the national surveillance state. …

How Your Phone Is Used to Track You, and What You Can Do About It

The New York Times

As researchers and journalists try to understand how the coronavirus pandemic is affecting people’s behavior, they have repeatedly relied on location information from smartphones. The data allows for an expansive look at the movements of millions of people, but it raises troublesome questions about privacy.

In several articles, The New York Times has used location data provided by a company called Cuebiq, which analyzes data for advertisers and marketers. This data comes from smartphone users who have agreed to share their locations with certain apps, such as ones that provide weather alerts or information on local gas stations. Cuebiq helps app makers use technology like GPS to determine the location of people’s phones, and in turn some of the app makers provide data to Cuebiq for it to analyze.

It can be difficult for people to keep track of whether and how their data is being gathered. Android-based devices and iPhones both require apps to ask users to enable location services before collecting the information, but the explanations people see when prompted to give permission are often incomplete or misleading. An app may tell users that granting access to their location will help them get weather alerts, but not mention that the data will be sold.…

Mass-Tracking COVI-PASS Immunity Passports Slated to Roll Out in 15 Countries

Mint Press News

COVI-PASS will determine whether you can go to a restaurant, if you need a medical test, or are due for a talking-to by authorities in a post-COVID world. Consent is voluntary, but enforcement will be compulsory. Through the magic of Internet meme culture, most Millennials will be familiar with the famous opening scene of the 1942 film, “Casablanca,” where two policemen stop a civilian in the “old Moorish section” of Nazi-occupied French Morocco and ask him for his “papers.” The subject is taken away at once after failing to produce the required documents. The cinematic exchange has been used ever since as a popular reference to the ever-encroaching hand of the state, which is now on the verge of attaining a level of control over people’s movements that puts the crude Nazi methods to shame. A British cybersecurity company, in partnership with several tech firms, is rolling out the COVI-PASS in 15 countries across the world; a “digital health passport” that will contain your COVID-19 test history and other “relevant health information.” According to the company website, the passport’s objective is “to safely return to work” and resume “social interactions” by providing authorities with “up-to-date and authenticated health information.”…

Social Credit Scores Are Already Here

The Last American Vagabond

People around the world are already being judged and denied access to financial services because of their social media data — and they don’t even realize it. By now many of our readers are aware of the ongoing roll out of a nationwide social credit system in China. Starting in 2009, the Chinese government began testing a national reputation system based on a citizen’s economic and social reputation, or “social credit.” This social credit score can be used to reward or punish certain behaviors. The idea is that the state can give or takeaway points from a social credit score in order to engineer good behavior from the people. By late 2019, Chinese citizens were losing points on their score for dishonest and fraudulent financial behavior, playing loud music, eating on public transportation, jaywalking, running red lights, failing to appear at doctor appointments, missing job interviews or hotel reservations without canceling, and incorrectly sorting waste.

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