Are Game Wardens Watching You? – Part 1: The Case of the Hidden Trail Camera

Imagine you go hunting one morning, on your own land, and you find a cellular trail camera that isn’t yours. Now imagine that the camera was obviously placed in such a way as to be entirely hidden from you—except for a hole cut through the brush so that it could surveil the comings and goings on your property.

You’d probably be creeped out and pull that camera down, right? That’s what Hunter Hollingsworth of Camden, Tennessee, did when he spotted an unknown trail camera pointed toward the gravel road through his family farm.

Then a few months later, he found his home surrounded by armed law-enforcement officers who threatened to kick his door down if he didn’t let them inside to search for the camera. This was just the beginning of a series of events that snowballed into a lawsuit that would eventually put a national spotlight on the near century-old practice of game wardens entering private land without a search warrant. The case would go on to fundamentally change how officers with the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency are able to do their jobs—and it could set precedents for similar cases in other states, too.

But no matter where you live and hunt, the Hunter Hollingsworth case—and the cases it continues to inspire—could ultimately decide whether you might one day find a camera hidden in your trees, or a game warden on your property without a warrant.

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New Zealand spy agency uses ‘computer network exploitation’ to take digital information

One of the country’s two spy agencies has revealed it retrieves information directly from where it is stored or processed on computers.

The “computer network exploitation” operations have been a highly-classified secret at the GCSB until now.

US commentators refer to computer network exploitation as a form of cyber warfare, or the “theft of data”.

“Our legislation … allows us to access information infrastructures, which is more than just interception,” the Director-General of the Government Communications Security Bureau, Andrew Hampton, said.

It “also allows us to retrieve digital information directly from where it is stored or processed”.

The GCSB refers to this as “accessing information infrastructures”.

The spy watchdog, the Inspector-General of Intelligence and Security, Brendan Horsley, cited Hampton’s speech to the Institute of International Affairs in May, for making the revelation.

This had freed Horsley up to be able to assure the public that the exploitation operations were scrutinised, he said in his annual report released on Friday.

Previously, he had had to refer to “certain operations”.

“Although it was subject to oversight, it was not possible to provide any clear public assurance of this.”

In fact, he had conducted a review that found the compliance systems around CNE “to be generally effective and appropriate”.

However, he was still not allowed to go into details “on the bureau’s use of this important capability”.

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Police Need Warrants to Search Homes. Child Welfare Agents Almost Never Get One.

The banging on Ronisha Ferguson’s apartment door in the Bronx started on a Thursday afternoon as she waited for her two sons to get home from school.

Ferguson, a nurse working 16-hour double shifts, knew instantly who she’d find in her hallway that day in February 2019.

For years, caseworkers from the Administration for Children’s Services, New York City’s child protective services bureau, had been showing up unannounced like this and inspecting her kitchen, her bathroom and her bedroom — and her children’s bodies — without a warrant.

A domestic violence survivor who previously lived in a shelter, Ferguson had never been accused of child abuse, ACS case records show. But she had faced repeated allegations of parenting problems largely stemming from her long hours at work, including that she’d provided inadequate supervision by having her 14-year-old daughter babysit the boys when they were 5 and 2, and had also allowed the kids to miss dozens of days of school.

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Surveillance shift: San Francisco pilots program allowing police to live monitor private security cameras

Last week San Francisco city leaders approved a 15-month pilot allowing police to monitor live footage from surveillance cameras owned by consenting businesses and civilians without a warrant.

The 7-4 decision by the San Francisco board of supervisors was a major loss for a broad coalition of civil liberties groups that had argued the move would give police unprecedented surveillance powers. It also seemingly marked a departure from the progressive stance on surveillance the city’s leadership had previously maintained.

In May 2019, the board had made history by making the city the first to ban the use of facial recognition by any local government agency. At the time, supervisor Aaron Peskin said, the city had an “an outsize responsibility to regulate the excesses of technology”.

But more than three years, a pandemic and many protests against police injustice later, some members of the board now say they need to balance concerns for privacy with the need to allow law enforcement officials to “utilize certain technologies to make San Francisco safer”.

Privacy advocacy groups say the shift is part of a larger phenomenon in cities across the US, where fears of both perceived and real increases in crime have prompted police and elected officials to expand the use of surveillance technology, even if there isn’t always clear evidence those technologies are effective at deterring or solving crimes.

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Aretha Franklin and the Counterintelligence Program (COINTELPRO)

“Queen of Soul” cited in 270 pages of documents declassified by the FBI as they pursued Black revolutionary and communist influences in political and cultural life during the 1960s and 1970s

On August 16, 2018, Aretha Franklin, popularly known as the “Queen of Soul”, passed away at her home in Detroit, Michigan at the age of 76.

Born in Memphis, Tennessee on March 25, 1942, Aretha came to Detroit in 1946 with her parents, vocalist Mrs. Barbara Siggers Franklin and Rev. Clarence L. Franklin, a well-known minister who originated in the Delta region of Mississippi. Franklin became a minister while he was a teenager in Mississippi.

Rev. Franklin was recruited to come to Detroit from Buffalo, New York in late 1945 and in subsequent years built the New Bethel Baptist Church into an internationally recognized religious institution located on Hasting Street on the eastside of Detroit. The community surrounding the church was later targeted in the late 1950s and early 1960s for demolition in a so-called “urban renewal” project fostered by the then City of Detroit government and the Federal Highway Administration based in Washington, D.C.

By the early 1960s, Detroit was seething with discontent over the massive displacement of more than 100,000 people from the lower east side communities known as Paradise Valley and Black Bottom. Many small businesses, social clubs, churches and as well as thousands of homes were destroyed by the racist white city administration.

New Bethel relocated on Linwood Avenue in the Virginia Park District on the west side in the Spring of 1963. This was the same year of the massive “Walk to Freedom” down Woodward Avenue on June 23. The demonstration was the largest civil rights manifestation in the United States and would set the stage for the “March on Washington” just two months later. The Detroit Walk to Freedom was led by Rev. C. L. FranklinDr. Martin Luther King, Jr. of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC), Rev. Albert Cleage of the Central Congregational Church, also located in the Virginia Park District on Linwood Avenue, among other community and labor leaders.

Rev. Franklin was heavily involved with the SCLC as a board member and fundraiser. Dr. King and his organization, in which he served as president, were subjected to intense spying and disruption efforts by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) along with segregationist southern state governments bolstered by law-enforcement agencies and business interests.

Aretha Franklin often traveled with her father during the 1950s in his highly popular gospel tours throughout the South and other regions of the U.S. By 1960, Aretha had signed a recording contract with Columbia Records in New York City. Later in 1967, she switched to Atlantic Records where her first album catapulted the soul artist to the top of the charts.

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USPS spied on ‘MAGA’ protesters, right-wing groups, gun rights activists, documents show

The U.S Postal Service spied on ‘MAGA’ protesters, gun rights activists and other right-wing groups between late 2020 and early 2021, according to records obtained by The Washington Times. ‘MAGA’ is former President Donald Trump’s slogan meaning “Make America Great Again.”

Patrick Eddington, a senior fellow at the Cato Institute, obtained heavily redacted files detailing the USPS’ surveillance activities from September 2020 to April 2021, which included a secret effort to surveil social media known as the Internet Covert Operations Program (iCOP).

The USPS monitored the activities of gun rights activists, protesters planning to demonstrate against police in Louisville, Kentucky after the shooting of Breonna Taylor, and right-wing groups traveling to Washington, D.C. after the 2020 election. 

Eddington said the documents demonstrate the USPS’ surveillance capabilities.

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Government Agency Admits That They’ve Copied Phone Data at Massive Scale – 4th Amendment Violations?

A massive database has been growing at Customs and Border Protection as CBP officers extract data from electronic devices.

A report in The Washington Post last week said that during a summer briefing, CBP leaders told congressional staff that information from about 10,000 people a year is added to the database.

CBP officials said the data is kept on file for 15 years.

CBP agents routinely inspect phones, laptops, tablets, and other electronic devices when travelers enter the country — including those of American citizens, the Post reported.

In a letter to CBP Commissioner Chris Magnus, Democratic Sen. Ron Wyden of Oregon said CBP is wrong for “allowing indiscriminate rifling through Americans’ private records.”

“Innocent Americans should not be tricked into unlocking their phones and laptops,” Wyden wrote.

“CBP should not dump data obtained through thousands of warrantless phone searches into a central database, retain the data for fifteen years, and allow thousands of DHS employees to search through Americans’ personal data whenever they want,” he wrote.

Wyden noted in the letter that CBP personnel searching the stored records don’t have to provide any reason for the search.

In a statement to the Post, CBP spokesman Lawrence Payne said CBP conducts “border searches of electronic devices in accordance with statutory and regulatory authorities” and has imposed rules to ensure the searches are “exercised judiciously, responsibly, and consistent with the public trust.”

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A Guided Tour of How Cops Can Browse Your Location Data

In Part 1 of our series on Fog Data Science, we saw how when you give some apps permission to view your location, it can end up being packaged and sold to numerous other companies. Fog Data Science is one of those companies, and it has created a sleek search engine called Fog Reveal that allows cops to browse through that location data as if they were Google Maps results.

In this article, we’ll be taking a deep dive into Fog Reveal’s features. Although accounts for Reveal are typically only available to police departments, we were able to analyze the app’s public-facing code to get a better understanding of how it works, how it’s used, and what it looks like when cops get warrantless access to your location data.

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US Department Of Commerce Asks Gun Holster Companies For Sales Records

A startling new report via AmmoLand News outlines how the US Department of Commerce Census Bureau asked major holster manufacturers/providers for order numbers, product descriptions, and locations where the items were shipped. 

Some holster companies rejected the Department of Commerce’s request for “commodity flow surveys” related to their sold products.

We will never turn over any information on our customers to the government no matter the cost us,” Chad Myers, President of JM4 Tactical, said. “To do so would violate our core beliefs. We need to stand up to an overbearing government. Our customers can rest assured that their information is safe with us!”

AmmoLand said, “the Census Bureau sends out the Commodity Flow Survey to random companies every year … but this seems an abnormal amount of holster companies have received the notice leading some of the holster companies to wonder if the federal government has targeted them.” 

This is alarming because the overreaching government could be attempting to create a registry of gun owners, types, and numbers of firearms owned via the information collected in the survey.  

Holster companies have reached out to Arbiter Weston Martinez of Texas, a former Texas Real Estate Commissioner under former Governor Rick Perry, to push back on the government collection of data. 

“Clearly, the Biden administration is saber rattling for the left in the wake of all the recent losses they have incurred by Supreme Court rulings,” Martinez said. “My clients and I will never back down from anyone that is trying to impugn our Constitutional and God-give rights like the Second Amendment.”

Holster companies do not have a choice and are bound by law to turn over all requested information or face fines. 

Washington Gun Law President William Kirk provides more color on the Biden administration’s use of government agencies to collect data on law-abiding citizens. He said this administration is the least trustworthy of any administration in the country’s history regarding the lawful rights of gun owners. 

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Illinois Democrat calls for national Firearms Owner ID card

What was it I was just saying about Illinois politicians targeting legal gun owners while ignoring career criminals? I hadn’t run across Illinois Sen. Tammy Duckworth’s latest gun control demands when I wrote my that post, but her remarks are yet another example of the phenomenon of Democrats pretending that cracking down on law-abiding citizens exercising their constitutionally-protected rights is the best way to reduce violent crime.

Duckworth not only wants to slap a new federal ban on so-called assault weapons onto the books; she wants to establish a federal permit that would be required before you could even keep a gun in your home.

“A big portion of what’s happening is assault weapons, which are weapons of war, and the high capacity magazines that are used,” she said. “They just simply don’t belong on the streets of this of this country. And I’m gonna work to suspend, and to abandon them.”

Duckworth said she’s glad to see expanded mental health services, law enforcement information sharing, and school safety funding come from the bipartisan legislation. But she’s hopeful it’s the start of a broader legislative effort.

“I’d like to see a national FOID card. You know, in Illinois, we have a FOID card. It doesn’t stop people from being able to purchase weapons. But I think it’s important that everyone should have a background check,” she said. “You shouldn’t just be able to walk into a gun show and buy a gun without a background check. I think we need to significantly close that loophole.”

Duckworth is ignoring the fact that state courts have repeatedly found that the state’s FOID card requirement violates the constitutional rights of residents; decisions that have been overturned by a state Supreme Court that seems desperate to avoid issuing a ruling on the actual merits of the legal challenges.

Despite the Illinois Supreme Court’s reluctance to address the issues with the state’s FOID card system, the constitutional concerns are clear. The Supreme Court has recognized that we the people have a right to both keep and bear arms for self-defense; a right that can be lost through things like felony convictions or an adjudication of mental defectiveness, but one that each of us possess unless we do something to forfeit it.

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