Congress To Investigate WHO Plans To Use “Listening Surveillance Systems” To Identify “Misinformation”

If you’ve been following our reporting on the issue, you’ll already know that the new World Health Organization (WHO) pandemic prevention initiative, the Preparedness and Resilience for Emerging Threats (PRET), recommends using “social listening surveillance systems” to identify “misinformation.” But as more people are learning about how unelected bodies are being used to suppress speech and potentially override sovereignty, it’s starting to get more pushback.

According to documents from the UN agency, PRET aims to “guide countries in pandemic planning” and work to “incorporate the latest tools and approaches for shared learning and collective action established during the COVID-19 pandemic.”

The PRET document describes misinformation as a “health threat,” and refers to it as an “infodemic.”

“Infodemic is the overabundance of information – accurate or not – which makes it difficult for individuals to adopt behaviors that will protect their health and the health of their families and communities. The infodemic can directly impact health, hamper the implementation of public health countermeasures and undermine trust and social cohesiveness,” the document states.

However, it continues to recommend invasive methods of countering the spread of misinformation.

“Establish and invest in resources for social listening surveillance systems and capacities to identify concerns as well as rumors and misinformation,” the WHO wrote in the PRET document.

“To build trust, it’s important to be responsive to needs and concerns, to relay timely information, and to train leaders and HCWs in risk communications principles and encourage their application.

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Facial Recognition Shows Up in Public Housing, Small Cities

The race to make biometric surveillance commonplace is only getting faster, with systems going up in public housing and municipalities far from city crime.

With the growth comes a mission that residents worldwide have often been told is off the table, that of the all-seeing, always analyzing sentinel that never stops recording what happens in the community.

The issue is again in the news, this time following a lengthy article in The Washington Post reporting on facial recognition systems being used in United States public housing.

Also, Context, a Thomson Reuters Foundation analytical publication, has shown how surveillance vendors are selling smaller cities on big-city facial recognition systems – and how residents are being cajoled into linking their own cameras to police networks.

Post reporters said they found six public housing centers whose boards have purchased surveillance cameras and computer servers. Some of those on the list also use biometric surveillance algorithms.

They were the Cincinnati Metropolitan Housing, Omaha Housing, Scott County (Virginia) Redevelopment & Housing, Jefferson County (Ohio) Housing and Grand Rapids (Michigan) Housing agencies.

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E-Verify Is Deeply Dangerous 

The e-verify program is one of those subtle Trojan Horses that government is so good at.

It starts with a widely perceived problem that has widespread support: that the country is full of illegal workers. 

Whether or not this is actually a problem is a matter that can be debated, but that’s not actually the relevant bit. The relevant bit is that it’s popularly seen as such in many quarters.

The solution looks simple: create e-verify. 

All employers are required to check citizenship/work eligibility when hiring.

It seems simple, straightforward, and people will support it because it does not harm them, it keeps others from competing with them. we’re simply solving the problem of “stop flooding into work, there are no jobs for you any more.” (Well, except in agriculture which is being carved out because no one is crazy enough to block that and let crops rot in fields or field lie fallow.)

But there is a much more subtle twist here: it’s a classic trojan framing. 

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King Charles III’s coronation is a surveillance nightmare

On Wednesday, the London (Metropolitan) police appeared to still be considering using its live facial recognition system during the coronation of the UK’s new king, and only a short while later – in fact, the same day – they confirmed that this would actually be the case.

This form of mass surveillance will be used in central London during the ceremony and will mostly consist of technology provided by Hikvision, a controversial company due to its tech being used in labor camps in China.

Ahead of the confirmation of this news, UK civil liberties nonprofit Big Brother Watch said on Twitter the police were “testing public opinion” by making the announcement about the possible deployment of the tech.

“The Government’s decision to install 38 Hikvision cameras along the Coronation route shows a staggering lack of judgment, especially given that Hikvision is already banned from many Government sites. It is grossly inappropriate, deeply insensitive, and a stain on our country’s record that Chinese state-owned companies closely linked to grave human rights abuses will have their surveillance tech at the heart of this historic event,” Big Brother Watch said in a statement.

If that was the case, the “testing phase” was over quickly, as on Wednesday the London police website detailed all the actions they would be undertaking during the coronation.

Among those details was the statement that facial recognition would be used in central London. The plan to use the technology was explained as utilizing the “watch list” that will focus on persons whose presence “would raise public protection concerns.”

This “class” of citizen includes those with outstanding warrants against them, or those undergoing “relevant offender management programs.”

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Over 10,000 FBI Agents Can Access Data From Secretive Surveillance Program: Inspectors General

More than 10,000 federal employees could have access to data revealed by a secretive government surveillance program that has come under scrutiny because of alleged abuses, lawmakers were told by U.S. inspectors general.

At an April 27 House Judiciary subcommittee hearing, lawmakers heard from a panel of three witnesses associated with the U.S. Office of the Inspector General (OIG) responsible for oversight of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA). The legislation gives intelligence agencies broad powers to conduct surveillance on foreigners suspected of spying for a foreign power or belonging to a terrorist group.

However, bipartisan concerns have been raised because the program also has the ability to collect information about U.S. citizens.

During the hearing, Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) queried panelists about how many FBI agents could have access to FISA-acquired data.

A court-ordered report released in May 2022 revealed that the FBI had made more than 3.3 million queries of Americans under FISA authority. This, in turn, prompted a crisis of confidence in the FBI’s respect for civil liberties among members of both parties.

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Over One Million Secret FBI Searches Made in Error: Watchdog

More than one million secret searches of Americans conducted by the FBI were made erroneously, a watchdog testified to Congress on April 27.

Around 30 percent of the approximately 3.4 million searches were done in error, Department of Justice Inspector General Michael Horowitz testified.

“It’s obviously very concerning that there’s that volume of searches,” Horowitz told a U.S. House of Representatives subcommittee, adding that he was particularly concerned with the high error rate.

The searches in question were conducted by FBI personnel with authority under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA). The bill enables U.S. authorities to gather information on U.S. citizens suspected of being involved with possible spies or terrorists.

Some 3.39 million searches were conducted by the FBI in 2021, U.S. intelligence officials have said. That was up from just 1.2 million in 2020.

Sharon Bradford Franklin, chair of the U.S. Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board, told members that Congress should pass new legislation imposing greater safeguards into the system to protect Americans. That should include requiring probable cause or court review for each query of an American, she said.

“Congress certainly has the authority to do that. And I think that’s one of the key issues for this committee in the Congress to consider,” Horowitz said. Adding new requirements, though, could increase the FBI’s workload, he said.

Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) indicated support for adding new requirements.

“The solution is simple right? Require probable cause if you’re going to query this database on American citizens,” he said.

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The EARN IT Act, an attack on encrypted communications, to be reintroduced next week

Those behind the Eliminating Abusive and Rampant Neglect of Interactive Technologies (EARN IT) Act must be hoping that third time’s a charm for this previously widely-opposed piece of legislation, that is set to be reintroduced next week.

The previous two attempts to make EARN IT into law failed amid outcry from opponents who said that while designed to protect children, the bill would fail to do that – but would still damage online privacy.

Now here’s the third, bipartisan attempt sponsored by Republican Lindsey Graham and Democrat Richard Blumenthal to bring changes to the Communication Decency Act (CDA) Section 230.

Critics say that the amendment as envisaged by EARN IT would harm internet users by removing legal protections Section 230 gives tech companies for third party content.

The consequence would be those companies protecting themselves by engaging in (even more) censorship, and “working” with the government to this end – even more than we are aware they already do.

At the core of EARN IT is to target platforms for violations related to child sexual abuse material (CSAM) rules that exist at the federal and state level.

But allegedly, these platforms are reluctant to “moderate” i.e., censor content in a heavy-handed manner, and for that reason oppose the legislation.

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Here’s FBI Glossary for Flagging ‘Violent Extremism’

The FBI uses a “glossary of terms” to look for online that could indicate someone is involved with “violent extremism,” according to documents obtained by The Heritage Foundation’s Oversight Project

The flagged terms include “redpilled,” first popularized by the 1999 film “The Matrix,” “based,” “looksmaxxing,” and the names “Chad” and “Stacey.”

The FBI also flags phrases that include “it’s over” and “just be first.” 

The documents were obtained by The Heritage Foundation’s Oversight Project through a Freedom of Information Act request. (The Daily Signal is Heritage’s multimedia news organization.)

Such words and phrases have come to be code for certain extremists who communicate online with others like them, according to the FBI’s glossary of words indicating “racially or ethnically motivated violent extremism” and a list of “key terms” about “involuntary celibate violent extremism.”

According to the FBI document, the word “cell” is short for incel, which in turn is short for “involuntary celibate,” or an online community of men who  think they can’t attract women even though they want to be in a relationship. 

“Docs we obtained show how @FBI equates protected online speech to violence,” the Oversight Project says in a tweet. “According to @FBI using the terms ‘based’ or ‘red pilled’ are signs of ‘Racially or Ethnically Motivated Violent Extremism.’”

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Critics Warn of ‘a Dragnet of Surveillance’ as U.S. Pushes Ahead With Plans for More ‘Smart’ Cities

U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg last week announced $94 million in grant awards to fund 59 smart city technology projects across the country.

Despite widespread and mounting pushback against biometric surveillance and control systems associated with smart city technologies and the failure of the U.S. Department of Transportation’s (DOT) previous attempt to grant-fund smart city transformation in Columbus, Ohio, Buttigieg told The Verge he thinks “smart city technologies matter more than ever.”

Cities just need to take a different approach — experimenting with and testing out different technologies first, rather than implementing a “grand unified system” all at once, Buttigieg said.

The new grants, part of the Strengthening Mobility and Revolutionizing Transportation (SMART) Grants Program, are the first round of $500 million in funding that will be awarded for smaller smart mobility projects over the next five years, authorized under the 2021 Bipartisan Infrastructure Law.

In this funding round, DOT awarded smart grants for a range of projects, including drone surveillance or delivery, smart traffic signals, connected vehicles, autonomous vehicles, smart grid development, intelligent sensors and other Internet of Things (IoT) infrastructure. Some cities, including Los Angeles (LA), received multiple grants.

Smart city development typically focuses on the implementation of technologies like the IoT, 5G, cloud and edge computing, and biometric surveillance to track, manage, control and extract profit from an array of urban processes.

Whitney Webb, an investigative journalist and smart cities critic, said the smart city infrastructure is meant to facilitate the development of cities “micromanaged by technocrats via an all-encompassing system of mass surveillance and a vast array of ‘internet of things’ devices that provide a constant and massive stream of data that is analyzed by artificial intelligence (AI).”

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