Do you have a Facebook or Twitter page? If so, you may want to be careful about what you’re putting out there because the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) — perhaps the most hated bureacratic institution in the country — could be lurking on your page:
According to several reports, the agency will also be collecting personal information from sites like Facebook and Twitter.
It says the effort is to catch people trying to beat the system, but some say it goes too far.
Attorney Kristen Mathews warns to be careful with what you say on social media platforms.
She has concerns the government is pushing the limits of what has historically been considered private.
“There are laws that regulate the government’s ability to get a hold of things like credit card transaction history. But those laws have become more permissive in the last several years, particularly after 9-11, and so some might say those laws are no longer in line with the average expectation of privacy,” says Mathews.
Unfortunately, it doesn’t end there. According to The Hill, the IRS is also claiming that its agents can access your e-mails and text messages without a warrant, claiming that the Fourth Amendment doesn’t apply to forms of electronic communication:
The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), which obtained the documents through a Freedom of Information Act request, released the information on Wednesday.
Written by Julian Sanchez, a research fellow at the Cato Institute. Posted with permission from Cato @ Liberty.
Tech news site CNET has an interesting, but I suspect somewhat misleading, story today suggesting that text messages sent via Apple’s iMessage service—an Internet-based alternative to traditional cell phone SMS text messages—are “impossible to intercept” by law enforcement. Yet that is not quite what the document on which the story is based—an “intelligence note” distributed to law enforcement by the Drug Enfrocement Administration—actually says.
The DEA memo simply observes that, because iMessages are encrypted and sent via the Internet through Apple’s servers, a conventional wiretap installed at the cellular carrier’s facility isn’t going to catch those iMessages along with conventional text messages. Which shouldn’t exactly be surprising: A search of your postal mail isn’t going to capture your phone calls either; they’re just different communications channels. But the CNET article strongly implies that this means encrypted iMessages cannot be accessed by law enforcement at all. That is almost certainly false.
Should the government be snooping around you e-mails and cloud accounts? Given that there are constitutional safeguards in place to guarantee our privacy, one would think that the answer to this question would be obvious. But because federal laws haven’t been updated to cover online communication, law enforcement agencies haven’t bothered to obtain warrants for these searches. Additionally, efforts to pass SOPA, PIPA, and CISPA — bills that would have dire implications for online privacy and due process — are likely to resurface soon.
Grover Norquist, President of Americans for Tax Reform, and Laura Murphy, Director of the American Civil Liberties Union’s Washington Legislative Office, teamed up recently to discuss the issue of Internet privacy and to announce a joint effort to address this issue in an op-ed at Politico:
The essential elements of [the Electronic Communications Privacy Act] have not changed since 1986, and the courts have failed to keep pace, saying remarkably little about the Constitution’s application to new technology. Hence, the government can contend ECPA gives it the authority to ignore your privacy to an extent that would have shocked the framers of the Constitution.
During an appearance yesterday on Fox News Sunday, Bill Kristol, editor of the Weekly Standard and a prominent neo-conservative, knocked Sen. Rand Paul, who led a 13-hour filibuster over the nomination of John Brennan to the CIA.
Kristol, who endorsed raising taxes on higher-income earners during the “fiscal cliff” because of defense spending cuts, told Chris Wallace that the reason the Republican Party has been so successful is “because it has been the party of strong national security.”
“[Y]ou can say they are moss-covered, but some of us are proud to have come to Washington to work in a very minor role for Ronald Reagan, and some of us are proud to have supported the Bush administration after 9/11, and fighting our enemies,” Kristol continued. “And the problem with the Obama administration is not that it is too assertive in the war on terror. The problem with the Obama administration is that we are retreating all around the world, and unfortunately, emboldening our enemies.”
After the filibuster, Kristol aligned himself with Sens. John McCain and Lindsey Graham, calling Sen. Paul the “spokesman for the Code Pink faction of the Republican party,” a reference to the anti-war group’s praise of the filibuster.
Kristol further added, “So if Rand Paul wants to run to the left of the Obama administration, he’s free to try that in the Republican primary, and maybe there is more support for that than I think, but I’m pretty doubtful that there really is.”
The Obama regime is drawing up final plans to create a massive database and give access to it to government agencies. What will be in this new database?:
The Obama administration is drawing up plans to give all U.S. spy agencies full access to a massive database that contains financial data on American citizens and others who bank in the country, according to a Treasury Department document seen by Reuters.
The proposed plan represents a major step by U.S. intelligence agencies to spot and track down terrorist networks and crime syndicates by bringing together financial databanks, criminal records and military intelligence. The plan, which legal experts say is permissible under U.S. law, is nonetheless likely to trigger intense criticism from privacy advocates.
I guess due process and asking a judge for a warrant to get this information is apparently a thing of the past in this new “changed” America. With the continuing reckless disregard of the Constitution and traditional American liberties by the Obama regime, at this point the University of Chicago should offer full refunds to anyone who ever took a Constitutional law class taught by Barack Obama. But I digress.
The database is compiled by banks and other financial institutions who report “suspicious financial activity” to the Treasury Department:
Financial institutions that operate in the United States are required by law to file reports of “suspicious customer activity,” such as large money transfers or unusually structured bank accounts, to Treasury’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN).The Federal Bureau of Investigation already has full access to the database.
In the waning days of 2012, the United States Senate pushed through renewal of FISA for another five years. As privacy advocates in the chambers sought to improve the legislation with sensible amendments to address privacy concerns, others, such as Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), fear-mongered or otherwised avoided addressing tough questions about how FISA had been used to collect data on innocent and unassuming Americans.
In a new video from the Cato Institute, Julian Sanchez explains — with some video of privacy advocates in the Senate — why the debate over FISA deserves a more in-depth, serious discussion:
Written by Julian Sanchez, a research fellow at the Cato Institute. Posted with permission from Cato @ Liberty.
As I write, the Senate is gathering in an unusual special session to debate the reauthorization of the FISA Amendments Act, which I discussed in a recent Cato podcast. Unfortunately, as Sen. Ron Wyden pointed out in opening the discussion, this sparsely-attended holiday session is likely to be the only full floor debate on sweeping surveillance legislation that has been in force for four years already (during which we know it has already been used unconstitutionally), and is all but certain to be renewed for another five. That’s especially disturbing given that, when the House debated the law back in September, its strongest supporters revealed themselves to be profoundly confused about what the law does, and just how much warrantless spying on the communications of American citizens it permits, despite being nominally restricted to “foreign targets.”
The CIA may soon have a new way to spy on Americans. According to a new report from Wired, the intelligence agency will be using the Internet through electronic devices, including TVs and alarm clocks, to pry into our lives:
Earlier this month, Petraeus mused about the emergence of an “Internet of Things” — that is, wired devices — at a summit for In-Q-Tel, the CIA’s venture capital firm. “‘Transformational’ is an overused word, but I do believe it properly applies to these technologies,” Petraeus enthused, “particularly to their effect on clandestine tradecraft.”
All those new online devices are a treasure trove of data if you’re a “person of interest” to the spy community. Once upon a time, spies had to place a bug in your chandelier to hear your conversation. With the rise of the “smart home,” you’d be sending tagged, geolocated data that a spy agency can intercept in real time when you use the lighting app on your phone to adjust your living room’s ambiance.
“Items of interest will be located, identified, monitored, and remotely controlled through technologies such as radio-frequency identification, sensor networks, tiny embedded servers, and energy harvesters — all connected to the next-generation internet using abundant, low-cost, and high-power computing,” Petraeus said, “the latter now going to cloud computing, in many areas greater and greater supercomputing, and, ultimately, heading to quantum computing.”
There’s been a lot of buzz regarding word that the CIA is currently operating inside of Libya’s borders. I can certainly understand that, especially since there aren’t supposed to be any “boots on the ground”. However, the reality is that this isn’t a real shock to many of us.
The CIA is the primary intelligence service for the United States. We are currently engaged in military action against Libya. It only stands to reason that intelligence services would be needed. Some of what is needed can be done with signal intelligence and spy satellites, but not all of it can and that’s where the CIA operatives on the ground come in.
It’s through human intelligence that we learn the most details about any potential target. That’s where we find out about prisoners, or about where key personnel are located. The CIA gathers this information and passes it along so that the military can do its mission effectively.
None of this should be read to excuse the use of force itself. In truth, I’m not a big fan of attacking another nation, regardless of reasons except for responding to an attack on us. Why? Because it sets a precedent that we may not particularly like when it’s applied against us. This isn’t something I’m particularly fond of.
However, let’s keep the reality in mind when criticizing various aspects. Those who fight the wars are duty bound to fight the war to the best of their ability. The will do what they can to kill the enemy and protect allied lives. Make no mistake, they will use whatever tools at their disposal. For the record, the CIA is part of that team that fights wars.
They’re there, and they’re in a lot of other places. It is what it is.
In this video, writer Cory Doctorow muses on the thought-provoking roles of technology, the state and the individual in the twenty first century.