Reach Out and Track Someone
In These Times
By Terry J. Allen May 11, 2006
Your mobile phone lets companies and the government know where you are, even when you're not making a call.
If you are one of the more than 200 million Americans with a cell phone nestled in your pocket, authorities may be able to find you any time day or night--even if you never make or receive a call.
You know the Verizon ad where a lockstep crowd personifies the network that accompanies its customer everywhere? Well, within that seemingly friendly horde, a high-tech Big Brother is lurking.
Most people know that when they make a mobile call--during a 911 emergency, for example--authorities can access phone company technology to pin down their location, sometimes to within a few feet.
A lesser-known fact: Cell phone companies can locate you any time you are in range of a tower and your phone is on. Cell phones are designed to work either with global positioning satellites or through "pings" that allow towers to triangulate and pinpoint signals. Any time your phone "sees" a tower, it pings it.
That is what happened last month when a New York City murder highlighted the existence of the built-in capability of phones to locate people even when they aren't making calls.
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NSA has massive database of Americans' phone calls
By Leslie Cauley
May 11, 2006
The National Security Agency has been secretly collecting the phone call records of tens of millions of Americans, using data provided by AT&T, Verizon and BellSouth, people with direct knowledge of the arrangement told USA TODAY.
The NSA program reaches into homes and businesses across the nation by amassing information about the calls of ordinary Americans — most of whom aren't suspected of any crime. This program does not involve the NSA listening to or recording conversations. But the spy agency is using the data to analyze calling patterns in an effort to detect terrorist activity, sources said in separate interviews.
"It's the largest database ever assembled in the world," said one person, who, like the others who agreed to talk about the NSA's activities, declined to be identified by name or affiliation. The agency's goal is "to create a database of every call ever made" within the nation's borders, this person added.
For the customers of these companies, it means that the government has detailed records of calls they made — across town or across the country — to family members, co-workers, business contacts and others.
The three telecommunications companies are working under contract with the NSA, which launched the program in 2001 shortly after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, the sources said. The program is aimed at identifying and tracking suspected terrorists, they said.
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Identity Badge Worn Under Skin Approved for Use in Health Care
The New York Times
by Barnaby J. Feder and Tom Zeller Jr.
October 14, 2004
The Food and Drug Administration has cleared the way for a Florida company to market implantable chips that would provide easy access to individual medical records.
The approval, which the company announced yesterday, is expected to bring to public attention a simmering debate over a technology that has evoked Orwellian overtones for privacy advocates and fueled fears of widespread tracking of people with implanted radio frequency tags, even though that ability does not yet exist.
Applied Digital Solutions, based in Delray Beach, Fla., said that its devices, which it calls VeriChips, could save lives and limit injuries from errors in medical treatment. And it expressed hope that such medical uses would accelerate the acceptance of under-the-skin ID chips as security and access-control devices.
Scott R. Silverman, chairman and chief executive of Applied Digital, said the F.D.A.'s approval should help the company overcome "the creepy factor" of implanted tags and the suspicion it has stirred.
"We believe there are far fewer people resisting this today," Mr. Silverman said. But it is far from clear whether implanted identification tags can overcome opposition from those who fear new levels of personal surveillance and from some fundamentalist religious groups who contend that the tags may be the "mark of the beast" referred to in the Book of Revelation.
In Applied Digital's vision, patients implanted with the chips could receive more effective care because doctors, other emergency-room personnel and ambulance crews equipped with Applied's handheld radio scanners would be able to read a unique 16-digit number on the chip.
To read the rest of the article go to The New York Times
The Surveillance-Industrial Complex: How the American Government is Conscripting Businesses and Individuals in the Construction of a Surveillance Society
An ACLU Report
Acting under the broad mandate of the "war on terrorism," the U.S. security establishment is making a systematic effort to extend its surveillance capacity by pressing the private sector into service to report on the activities of Americans. These efforts, which are often costly to businesses, run the gamut from old-fashioned efforts to recruit individuals as eyes and ears for the authorities, to the construction of vast computerized networks that automatically feed the government a steady stream of information about our activities.
...The ongoing revolution in communications, computers, databases, cameras, and sensors means that technological obstacles to the creation of a truly nightmarish "surveillance society" have now been overcome. And even as this dangerous new potential emerges, our legal and constitutional protections against such intrusion have been eroded to a frightening degree in recent years through various court rulings as well as laws like the Patriot Act.
The ACLU has documented the confluence of these two trends in a separate report. But there is third crucial obstacle that the American security establishment is seeking is seeking to overcome in its drive to access ever more information about ever more people. That obstacle is the practical limits on resources, personnel and organization needed to extend the government's surveillance power to cover hundreds of millions of people. There will always be limits to the number of personnel that the U.S. security state can directly hire, and to the ratio of "watchers to watched." This is the obstacle that the U.S. security establishment seeks to overcome by enlisting individuals and corporations as auxilary members of its surveillance networks.
To download the rest of the report, please visit the ACLU's webpage.
44,000 prison inmates to be RFID-chipped
August 02 2004
by Jo Best
No escape for Ohio jailbirds. . .
One US state reckons it's cracked how to keep track of all of its 44,000 prison inmates - RFID-chip them.
The Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction (ODRH) has approved a $415,000 contract to trial the tracking technology with Alanco Technologies.
The pilot project will run at the Ross Correctional Facility in Chillicothe, Ohio. If all goes well, the technology could be rolled out to all of the state's inmates in 33 separate facilities. Inmates will wear "wristwatch-sized" transmitters that can detect if prisoners have been trying to remove them and send an alert to prison computers.
Staff will also wear the technology on their belts so they can be tracked for security purposes. Warders can activate an alarm themselves but the alert will also be sent if the transmitter is forcibly removed or the warder is knocked down.
Alanco claims system can pinpoint the location of staff and prisoners in real-time and track them within the confines of a prison.
The Ross project is not the first such rollout of tracking chips in US prisons. Facilities in Michigan, California and Illinois already employ the technology and Robert R. Kauffman, Alanco CEO, said he expects three new states to sign up to use RFID technology.
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