Legislation

The U.S. government has found another way to invade privacy in the name of fighting terrorism by proposing legislation that would track prepaid debit cards. As usual, the real losers would be, not terrorists who won’t comply anyway, but innocent Americans, or travelers, and card issuers burdened with yet another layer of record keeping and compliance procedures. The Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN), a branch of the Treasury Department, has drafted rules, taking effect Sep. 27, to establish a “more comprehensive regulatory approach for prepaid access.”

It’s important to distinguish between these prepaid debit cards and the debit cards attached to your bank account. Once known as “stored-value cards” the cards will be renamed “prepaid access cards” — because they aren’t tied to a bank account, the money paid for them in advance could be anywhere, currently outside the reach of monitoring by the government. Which is precisely the point. An assessment of financial security threats in 2005 by the Treasury Department noted that the 9/11 hijackers opened bank accounts, signed signature cards and received wire transfers, which left a financial trail.

No one was home when the FBI began visiting the Mayfield residence in Aloha, Oregon, a suburb of Portland, early in the spring of 2004. The agents did, however, see plenty of Brandon Mayfield, a Portland lawyer, his Egyptian-born wife, Mona, and their three children. According to court records, the agents had been following the Muslim family to and from their mosque, at the children’s schools, and at various family activities. They obtained from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court what is commonly called a “sneak and peek” warrant that permits the search of property without notifying the suspect party until six months later. Investigators planted electronic listening devices in the “shared and intimate” rooms of the Mayfield home and in Mayfield’s law offices. They photographed files and downloaded hard drives. They placed wiretaps on both home and office phones. The application for the FISC order was personally approved by John Ashcroft, then the Attorney General of the United States. Why was our government so interested Mayfield’s files, activities, and conversations? A U.S. citizen born in Kansas, Mayfield is a convert to the Muslim faith. He was aware that the FBI had been investigating Muslims in the Portland area, particularly a group that became known as “The Portland Six,” whose members were convicted on money-laundering and weapons charges related to their efforts in support of the Taliban fighting U.S. and allied forces in Afghanistan. One of them, Jeffrey Battles, had retained Mayfield as his lawyer in a child custody case.

In the wake of criticism over privacy issues on Facebook, the social network has responded by indicating it will make significant changes to its site in order to protect individual privacy. In fact, Facebook officials went so far as to pay hackers — whom they call “independent researchers” — $40,000 to find holes in the site’s security system to assure that they have addressed all issues.

According to Facebook’s chief security officer, Joe Sullivan, the social network has launched a “Bounty Bug Program” in order to discover any flaws in the system’s software due to “software complexity, programming errors, changes in requirements, errors in bug tracking, limited documentation or bugs in software development tools.”

Facebook posted the following explanation of the program:

The purpose of H.R. 2438 is “To ensure that certain Federal employees cannot hide behind immunity.”

I don’t know Peter Gadiel, and he apparently knows absolutely nothing about me. But that hasn’t stopped him from attacking me in a recent article (Influential Conservative is Dangerously Wrong on E-Verify). His article makes some outrageous statements about me, even to presume he can tell you what motives are in my head when I take a position.

Recently, I released an article entitled “E-Verify and the Emerging Surveillance State.” My opposition to E-Verify is that it is a major tool in the creation of a surveillance society; will give the government the power to decide who works and who doesn’t in America; will be a great burden on both worker and business; and will do absolutely nothing to protect us from illegal immigration or terrorism. In short, E-Verify represents another false promise of security and a greater threat to our freedom.

Drive your car through the small town of Royston, England, and your license plate will be photographed by a hidden camera and checked against a national police database, regardless of whether there is probable cause to suspect you have committed a crime. Simply passing through the city limits is apparently cause enough.

Royston, writes the Daily Mail, “has become the first [town] in Britain to have every car passing through it tracked by police cameras,” with “a set of police cameras installed on every road leading in and out of it, recording the number plate of every vehicle that passes them.”

The devices are known as Automated Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) cameras.

In an effort to draw national attention to the federal government's intrusion into the everyday lives of its citizens, Oklahoman Kaye Beach has elected to take on the system. She refused to renew her driver’s license in protest of not only forced biometric enrollment — having her information shared with corporations and government agencies — but also the influence of international organizations on U.S. policies and laws. Her actions have initiated a full-fledged legal battle.

According to the Constitutional Alliance, an organization supporting Beach’s case, she was recently cited for driving with an expired license in Norman, Oklahoma, reportedly because she felt that being forced to renew her driver’s license with biometric information was a violation of her constitutional rights.

If you aren’t already convinced that judicial robes cloak the biggest set of fools and tyrants outside Congress, a decision last week from the DC Court of Appeals should finish the job.

At issue was the Transportation Security Administration’s (TSA) carcinogenic porno-scanners at the nation’s airports — contraptions so evil that the TSA has repeatedly, constantly lied about their dangers to both our health and modesty as passengers who submissively shed their shoes and bag their liquids revolt against this final indignity.
 

Texas Congressman Ron Paul was interviewed Tuesday on Fox Radio's Tom Sullivan Show and took the opportunity to restate his position that the naked body scans and enhanced pat-downs by employees of the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) are unconstitutional. He declared that the TSA is “invasive, unnecessary, and ineffective,” and said it should be replaced by private security forces.

The Blaze notes that Paul "rejected the underlying premise of the TSA wholesale — that federal bureaucrats will keep us safer than private enterprises with direct interest in the safety (and satisfaction) of their customers."

Paul observed that those at the TSA who are performing the enhanced pat-downs are not "the most reputable people.” He also noted the double standard concerning behavior by the TSA which is considered acceptable, commenting, “We would be arrested if we did this.”

Perhaps responding to the increasing criticism for its unconstitutional policies, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) announced major changes to its privacy policies. According to the agency, they will be utilizing newer technology in several U.S. airports. With the new equipment, when a passenger goes through a "naked body" scanner at a security checkpoint, a generic outline of a person is shown instead of a naked body.

The new technology is intended to address concerns posed by the advanced image technology (AIT) that has exposed naked pictures of travelers who enter the body scanners. Unsurprisingly, the scanners and the naked images that were produced by them provoked concerns regarding privacy rights.

Wired provides some background regarding the controversial scanners:

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