Surveillance

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Re: Surveillance

Postby semper occultus » Mon Sep 17, 2012 1:32 pm

MI5 looks to tech start-ups to develop Bond-style gadgets

Thu, 6 Sep 2012 | By Angus Montgomery
www.designweek.co.uk

MI5 and secret communications agency GCHQ is appealing to design and technology SMEs to develop new security and intelligence gadgets to help fight terrorism.

The secret service organisations are particularly keen to hear from consultancies they have not previously worked with.

MI5 is looking for concepts that would help it track and identify terrorist threats, while GCHQ wants devices that would help it verify people’s identities online and analyse behavioural data.

The organisations are looking for short proof-of-concept or demonstration-of-benefit studies that could then be developed.

The Centre for Defence Enterprise, which is organising the call for entries, says, ‘We are looking for new ways of solving these challenges using cutting-edge science and technology.’

Those interested in applying are invited to a half-day seminar in central London on 3 October.

Applications to attend the seminar should be made by 19 September here.



....The secret service organisations are particularly keen to hear from consultancies they have not previously worked with....


...I'll bet....

Olympic security farce: Now MI5 sacks systems experts after anti-terror supercomputer collapse

£1m device for tracking suspects will not be ready in time for the Games

By Robert Verkaik
PUBLISHED: 23:32, 14 July 2012 | UPDATED: 09:45, 15 July 2012

www.dailymail.co.uk

A supercomputer that was supposed to help Britain’s security service track terror suspects will not be ready in time for the Olympics.
MI5 has sacked a firm of IT consultants after the company failed to meet deadlines to implement the new intelligence-checking system.
The computer system is designed to help MI5 officers carry out secret searches on suspects, including those who may pose a threat at the Olympics.
But spy chiefs have admitted that the software will not be ready in time to be safely trialled before the start of the Games later this month.
The new ‘electronic records management’ system will bring together all MI5 intelligence material, so officers can carry out complete searches of old and current records.

For example, it would alert officers more quickly to archived intelligence on a terror suspect who had been dormant or lying low for a number of years.

The IT failure comes days after the Government announced that private security firm G4S had failed to hire enough guards for the Olympics. Ministers have been forced to call upon the Army to make up the shortfall.

One security source said of the MI5 IT project: ‘Of course it would be better if this was up and running in time for the Olympics as it allows officers to search all their systems in one quick check. In a fast-moving investigation, with finite resources, delay can mean the difference between success and failure.’
The new search facility is understood to work in a similar way to the high-tech computers used in the BBC TV series Spooks, where spies match pictures, names and mobile phone numbers to identify suspects from their records.
Last night, security sources declined to name the company at the centre of the IT controversy. Nor would they say exactly why the firm had its contract terminated.
But it is understood that the project, which is estimated to have already cost up to £1 million, has been plagued by technical and commercial difficulties.
The decision to postpone implementation until after the Olympics leaves the taxpayer out of pocket while MI5 must find a replacement contractor.
It has emerged that Jonathan Evans, director-general of the security service, has voiced concerns about a number of costly IT security contracts, including the one that has been terminated.
In a report published on Thursday by MPs from the Intelligence and Security Committee, Mr Evans is quoted as saying: ‘I think it would be a fair criticism to say that we have had some cases where [our use of consultants and contractors] hasn’t been as controlled as it should, [but now] we have got a proper focus .  .  .

‘Post-Olympics, we intend to reduce [the] number of organisations and individuals we deal with and to manage those relationships more aggressively than we have done.’

A Whitehall security source said that the decision to postpone introducing the system until after the Olympics was ‘taken some time ago’ on the grounds that it would be too risky to introduce new software just before the Olympics.
He said that while the delay would affect the service’s capability ‘nobody was saying we desperately need the new system immediately now’.
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Re: Surveillance

Postby Wombaticus Rex » Sun Sep 23, 2012 11:21 am

Via: http://www.slate.com/blogs/future_tense ... ment_.html

Watch Your Tongue: Law Enforcement Speech Recognition System Stores Millions of Voices



Intercepting thousands of phone calls is easy for government agencies. But quickly analyzing the calls and identifying the callers can prove a difficult task.

Now one company believes it has solved the problem—with a countrywide biometric database designed to store millions of people’s “voice-prints.”

Russia’s Speech Technology Center, which operates under the name SpeechPro in the United States, has invented what it calls “VoiceGrid Nation,” a system that uses advanced algorithms to match identities to voices. The idea is that it enables authorities to build up a huge database containing up to several million voices—of known criminals, persons of interest, or people on a watch list. Then, when authorities intercept a call and they’re not sure who is speaking, the recording is entered into the VoiceGrid and it comes up with a match. It takes just five seconds to scan through 10,000 voices, and so long as the recording is decent quality and more than 15 seconds in length, the accuracy, SpeechPro claims, is at least 90 percent.

The technology has already been deployed across Mexico, where it is being used by law enforcement to collect, store, and search hundreds of thousands of voice-prints. Alexey Khitrov, SpeechPro’s president, told me the company is working with a number of agencies in the United States at a state and federal level. He declined to reveal any names because of nondisclosure and confidentiality agreements. But Khitrov did divulge that various versions of the company’s biometric technology are used in more than 70 countries and that the Americas, Europe, and Asia are its key markets. Not all of its customers are law enforcement agencies, either. SpeechPro also designs voice recognition technology that can be used in call centers to verify the identities of customers. Depending on the size and specifics of the installation, it can cost from tens of thousands up to millions of dollars.

The FBI is separately pursuing voice recognition as part of its efforts to take advantage of various biometric methods of investigation, and the National Security Agency has also supported the development of the technology.

However, the advance of a mass, countrywide voice recognition system raises some obvious concerns. Russian secret services watchdog Agentura.ru reported earlier this year that Speech Technology Center’s products have been sold to countries including Kazakhstan, Belarus, Thailand, and Uzbekistan—hardly bastions of human rights and democracy. What if the VoiceGrid Nation system were in the hands of an authoritarian government? It has the technical capacity, for example, to store a voice-print of every single citizen in a country the size of Bahrain—with a population of 1.3 million—which would allow state security agencies to very effectively monitor and identify phone calls made by targeted political dissidents (or anyone else for that matter).

When I ask Khitrov about this, he uses an analogy about the character Raskolnikov from Dostoyevsky’s Crime and Punishment, who killed an old woman with a stolen ax. “People have used axes domestically for hundreds of years, but some people choose to turn it into a weapon,” he says. “We just make sure that we work with trusted law enforcement agencies and try to make sure that they use it properly.” SpeechPro’s technology is used for only “very noble causes,” he adds, citing a case in Mexico where he says it was used to identify and find kidnappers who made ransom calls before they were about execute a person. Though when I ask for more examples of how VoiceGrid is being used in Mexico, he admits, “We don’t know the specifics because that’s their information.”

Like iris-scan databases and facial recognition systems, it seems inevitable that voice recognition will eventually become a staple law enforcement tool. Companies selling voice-changers could be in for a windfall.
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Re: Surveillance

Postby elfismiles » Sun Sep 23, 2012 11:45 pm

Thank you. I think I'll just give up the ghost now.
goodbye farewell adieu au revoir ciao auf Wiedersehen adios sayonara buhbye tata laters
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Re: Surveillance

Postby Wombaticus Rex » Fri Sep 28, 2012 8:00 pm

Brilliant: http://www.technologyreview.com/view/42 ... e-malware/

The US Naval Surface Warfare Center has created an Android app that secretly records your environment and reconstructs it as a 3D virtual model for a malicious user to browse

Image

The power of modern smartphones is one of the technological wonders of our age. These devices carry a suite of sensors capable of monitoring the environment in detail, powerful data processors and the ability to transmit and receive information at high rates.

So it's no surprise that smartphones are increasingly targeted by malware designed to exploit this newfound power. Examples include software that listens for spoken credit card numbers or uses the on-board accelerometers to monitor credit card details entered as keystrokes.

Today Robert Templeman at the Naval Surface Warfare Center in Crane, Indiana, and a few pals at Indiana University reveal an entirely new class of 'visual malware' capable of recording and reconstructing a user's environment in 3D. This then allows the theft of virtual objects such as financial information, data on computer screens and identity-related information.

Templeman and co call their visual malware PlaceRaider and have created it as an app capable of running in the background of any smartphone using the Android 2.3 operating system.

Their idea is that the malware would be embedded in a camera app that the user would download and run, a process that would give the malware the permissions it needs to take photos and send them.

PlaceRaider then runs in the background taking photos at random while recording the time, location and orientation of the phone. (The malware mutes the phone as the photos are taken to hide the shutter sound, which would otherwise alert the user.)

The malware then performs some simple image filtering to get rid of blurred or dark images taken inside a pocket for example, and sends the rest to a central server. Here they are reconstructed into a 3D model of the user's space, using additional details such as the orientation and location of the camera.

A malicious user can then browse this space looking for objects worth stealing and sensitive data such as credit card details, identity data or calender details that reveal when the user might be away.

Templeman and co have carried out detailed tests of the app to see how well it works in realistic situations. They gave their infected phone to 20 individuals who were unaware of the malware and asked them to use it for various ordinary purposes in an office environment.

They then evaluated the resulting photos by asking a group of other users to see how much information they could glean from them. Some of these users studied the raw images while the others studied the 3D models, both groups looking for basic information such as the number of walls in the room as well as more detailed info such as QR codes and personal checks lying around.

Templeman and co say the tests went well. They were able to build detailed models of the room from all the data sets. What's more, the 3D models made it vastly easier for malicious users to steal information from the personal office space than from the raw photos alone.

That's an impressive piece of work that reveals some of the vulnerabilities of these powerful devices.And although the current version of the malware runs only on the Android platform, there is no reason why it couldn't be adapted for other systems. "We implemented on Android for practical reasons, but we expect such malware to generalize to other platforms such as iOS and Windows Phone," say Templeman and co.

They go on to point out various ways that the operating systems could be made more secure. Perhaps the simplest would be to ensure that the shutter sound cannot be muted, so that the user is always aware when the camera is taking a picture.

However that wouldn't prevent the use of video to record data in silence. Templeman and co avoid this because of the huge amount of data it would produce but it's not hard to imagine that this would be less of a problem in the near future.

Another option would be a kind of antivirus app for smartphones which actively looks for potential malware and alerts the user.

The message is clear--this kind of malware is a clear and present danger. It's only a matter of time before this game of cat and mouse becomes more serious.
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Re: Surveillance

Postby Wombaticus Rex » Tue Jan 08, 2013 11:17 am

Via: http://www.defensenews.com/article/2012 ... cial-Media

Unwitting Sensors: How DoD is Exploiting Social Media

Consider a selection of tweets posted one day last month. Some were humorous, like those of Steven Colbert (@StephenAtHome) hawking his latest book: “For a free sample of my writing,” he quipped, “see this tweet.” Tiffany’s (@TiffanyAndCo) tweeted a costly tip: “Layer silver and gold pendants for an eclectic look.”

And supporters of Somalia’s al-Shabaab militant group used the Twitter handle @HSMPress to boast of three blasts in Mogadishu: “The third explosion occurred at the city’s former police station where the apostate militia were preparing to occupy.”

On any given day, 400 million short messages are typed or thumbed onto Twitter, and that’s just a fraction of the total communications sent through a social media universe that includes Facebook, Google+, chat rooms, bulletin boards and many other electronic forums. The messages are as diverse as all the conversations in the world, at least those parts where there are computers, smartphones and iPads. And the effort to extract important data points and patterns from this digital cacophony has become one of the biggest growth areas in intelligence.

“The face of ISR has changed,” says Joshua Hartman, a former senior Defense Department intelligence official who is CEO of Horizon Strategies Group. “Open-source and crowd-sourcing information is a critical component of ISR.”

The potential products of such tools are endless, and reach from the tactical and immediate to the strategic and global — not just to find out, say, who is “following” or retweeting the al-Shabaab postings, but to be able to query where anti-government sentiment may be clustered in Pakistan or what expat Iranians living in Dubai feel about the ayatollahs back home and at what time of day they feel that way. Is the riot in Cairo about food prices or about a video offensive to the prophet Mohammed?

Barry Costa, a senior program engineer at the federally funded MITRE Corp., recently coined the term “population-centric intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance.” It’s gradually replacing another term MITRE came up with: “social radar.”

Costa says it’s not metaphor: “Sonar was invented back in the 1900s to let us see through the water. Radar was to see through the air. Infrared lets us see through the dark. And social radar or population-centric technologies let us see the human environment.”

Along the way, though, there is some unease, in privacy rights groups and even social media proponents, about the intelligence community exploiting these rich new streams of data: They may be open source, but the public communications of American citizens are all swept into the wash, sifted through and monitored by the technology.

Anyone can sign up for Twitter and follow a dozen or a hundred or a thousand fellow tweeters, but for a comprehensive analysis of all 400 million daily messages, you need to pay. What Twitter Inc. calls “the full Twitter Firehose” is a specific product that includes everything except private messages, and what the company calls “protected” tweets. Gold to marketing and brand analysts, the Firehose contains a stew of confessions, tastes and passions, a directory of people and their links to each other and what they are thinking about at any moment.

Among the small group of companies that buys the Firehose is Attensity Corp., a Palo Alto, Calif., company that sucks in Twitter and many other social media and then markets a vast amount of data and analysis.

“We have a massive-scale social media feed,” said Michelle de Haaff, Attensity’s vice president of strategy and corporate development. “150 million sources across 32 languages, and we sell the feed along with the analytics. And we sell that to the government and to commercial entities.”

Twitter’s Firehose is one of the stars in the Attensity showcase. “We have a contract directly with Twitter,” de Haaff said. “We get everything across every language. We are pulling the whole thing. We are able to sense, understand and find signals: sentiments, hot spots, trends, actions, intent.”

In countries where people use Twitter, she said, the company culls rich information.

“In Libya,” she said, “we were able to track everything: where the arms were, where the rebels were moving. We had on a map where everything was going.”

Among Attensity’s early and crucial investors was In-Q-Tel, the Central Intelligence Agency venture capital fund that backs technologies of potential use to intelligence agencies.

From the beginning, the CIA was not just an investor but also a customer.

“As part of their investment, the CIA gets the software. They get a license,” de Haaff said. “I can confirm they are still a customer, but that’s all I can do.”


Most of Attensity’s government sales are handled through a “reseller” called Inttensity, a social-media-analysis company based in Catonsville, Md. A paper on Inttensity’s website underlines the company’s “pre-negotiated access to the Twitter Firehose” and similar agreements “with social media aggregators for content to discussion boards, forums and blogs from around the world.”

In 2010, Inttensity won a Defense Intelligence Agency contract to provide a combination of the Inxight ThingFinder and Attensity Server text-extraction systems. (Inxight is another analytical system funded by the CIA’s investment arm.) That contract didn’t mention social media.

But two years later, the State Department awarded a $142,000 contract to Inttensity for a “social media command center,” according to the Federal Procurement Data System.

A source close to Inttensity said it’s an effort “to better understand foreign populations and what they really think.”

Last year, the company hosted a “federal social media summit” at the Pentagon City Ritz Carlton in Arlington, Va. Federal officials from various agencies packed the ballroom. One of the speakers was 30-year-old Dan Zarrella, a kind of social media scientist who had focused on commercial exploitation of the technology. He’d never realized the military and intelligence agencies were pursuing it as well.

“The thing that surprised me at the Inttensity conference is how much interest the federal government has and how far along they are in recognizing the power that’s there,” he said.

One of the efforts on this front has been driven by the Office of Naval Research, which doesn’t just fund MITRE’s social media research, but also coordinated a Lockheed Martin program to predict crises using traditional open-source media. An official from the office was a keynote speaker at the Inttensity event.

A Pentagon spokeswoman, U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Melinda Morgan, declined an interview but emailed a response to questions about population-centric ISR. She said traditional ISR could detect a crowd’s activities but not a crowd’s intent.

“Population-centric ISR consists of technologies and techniques that allow us to see and understand the human environment,” she said. “Population ISR gives us a capability to determine narratives that drive behavior and allows us to more effectively communicate with audiences with whom we would engage. Population-centric ISR gives us a global and persistent indications and warnings capability that complements and enhances conventional sensors.”

At the GEOINT 2012 Symposium in Orlando, Fla., in October, several of the exhibitors were hawking social-media analytic products.

Among the companies was Aptima, which developed E-Meme software under a $750,000 contract with ONR’s Human Social, Cultural and Behavior Modeling Program. E-Meme stands for “Epidemiological Modeling of the Evolution of Messages,” and Aptima says it tracks the spread of ideas on the Internet in various countries. There’s an intriguing twist: “We are using the metaphor of it spreading like a disease,” explained Robert McCormack, associate director of Aptima’s analytics, modeling and simulation division. “We are looking at dynamics of transmission of ideas. For it to spread from person to person, you have to have some kind of contact between the people. And then you have to actually transmit the disease. Same thing here: The idea has to be transmitted.”

McCormack said the company doesn’t use Twitter at this point, just blogs and news sites. And he said it’s all still in the development stage.

Another company hoping to become a player in this realm is Booz Allen Hamilton, whose website claims the firm offers “the most powerful and sophisticated tools for extracting value from Social Data.”

At GEOINT, a program manager who asked that his name not be used showed off OSIRIS, one of the company’s social-media analysis programs, to display tweets published over the last 24 hours in Syria. “I look right here,” he said, using the mouse to move his cursor, “and we see a large spike take place. I can drill down into it and actually see the individual Twitter messages that took place.”

One tweet on the screen says “Smoke rising.” Another, heavily retweeted, message says, “three families have been wiped out in Hama, 54 people killed.”

Susan Kalweit, a principal in Booz Allen’s geospatial business, said the Twitter Firehose — which her company accesses via contract with DataSift, one of the big warehousers of this type of data in the commercial world — presents unique challenges. Much of Twitter’s content isn’t thumbed in by people, but generated by machines. And while U.S. tweets contain geographic location in their metadata, many foreign tweets don’t.

Kalweit said OSIRIS compensates for the lack of geographic metadata with software that recognizes place names and other hints about location, then attaches a latitude and longitude to the message. “We’ve been using Metacarta,” a geointelligence software system, “which we found is pretty good at getting definitely to the city level and often below the city level in some of these — not tourist — locations. So that’s really helpful when people talk about the city or about neighborhoods.”

Kalweit said social media presents new methods of obtaining intelligence from people who may see or comment on events in real time.

“I think that there is a construct of [the] human being as a sensor,” she said. “Human beings now are ground sensors.”

For all of its value to intelligence agencies, population-centric ISR raises privacy concerns. There is no “Firehose minus tweets from U.S. citizens.” Public tweets, no less than Internet postings of all sorts, are caught in the wash and monitored.

MITRE’s Costa points out that this is all public data that people posted to open forums. “We take active steps to ensure the privacy of the data. We buy publicly available data from public sellers,” he said. “When you look at Twitter, it is not one tweet that you care about; it is about 100 million tweets. It’s very rare you get to the individual Twitter level.”

Tweets, except the ones users have marked as private, are open for all to see. Indeed, the Library of Congress has said it plans to archive all public tweets for historians.

CIA spokesman Todd Ebitz emailed that “The CIA focuses exclusively on the collection of foreign intelligence. In fulfilling this mission, the agency is vigilant about the protection of American citizens’ civil liberties and privacy rights.”

And the Pentagon’s Morgan emailed that “all research is conducted strictly within the privacy guidelines set by law and DoD policies.” She added that the focus of population-centric ISR is overseas and that the programs “are designed to support Combatant Commanders with areas of operation outside the U.S.”

But even if each tweet and bulletin board posting is for public consumption, no more private then a scrawled message on a bathroom wall or graffiti on a bridge, there is unease about systematic government monitoring.

Rainey Reitman of the Electronic Frontier Foundation said that technically, it is indeed all legal, but she emphasized that people don’t really understand how their random thoughts, disclosures or opinions on social media may be exploited.

“I think people don’t realize when they sign up for these sites that the government is going to be routinely monitoring and sifting through this data,” she said.

“If Coca-Cola is reading all my tweets,” Dan Zarrella points out, “it’s not as scary as if the DOD is reading all my tweets, right?”


Love the kicker at the end -- that dude actually thinks there's a difference!
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Re: Surveillance

Postby Wombaticus Rex » Wed Jul 03, 2013 11:54 am

Via: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/07/04/us/mo ... -mail.html

U.S. Postal Service Logging All Mail for Law Enforcement

WASHINGTON — Leslie James Pickering noticed something odd in his mail last September: A handwritten card, apparently delivered by mistake, with instructions for postal workers to pay special attention to the letters and packages sent to his home.

“Show all mail to supv” — supervisor — “for copying prior to going out on the street,” read the card. It included Mr. Pickering’s name, address and the type of mail that needed to be monitored. The word “confidential” was highlighted in green.

“It was a bit of a shock to see it,” said Mr. Pickering, who owns a small bookstore in Buffalo. More than a decade ago, he was a spokesman for the Earth Liberation Front, a radical environmental group labeled eco-terrorists by the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Postal officials subsequently confirmed they were indeed tracking Mr. Pickering’s mail but told him nothing else.

As the world focuses on the high-tech spying of the National Security Agency, the misplaced card offers a rare glimpse inside the seemingly low-tech but prevalent snooping of the United States Postal Service.

Mr. Pickering was targeted by a longtime surveillance system called mail covers, but that is only a forerunner of a vastly more expansive effort, the Mail Isolation Control and Tracking program, in which Postal Service computers photograph the exterior of every piece of paper mail that is processed in the United States — about 160 billion pieces last year. It is not known how long the government saves the images.

Together, the two programs show that snail mail is subject to the same kind of scrutiny that the National Security Agency has given to telephone calls and e-mail.

The mail covers program, used to monitor Mr. Pickering, is more than a century old but is still considered a powerful tool. At the request of law enforcement officials, postal workers record information from the outside of letters and parcels before they are delivered. (Actually opening the mail requires a warrant.) The information is sent to whatever law enforcement agency asked for it. Tens of thousands of pieces of mail each year undergo this scrutiny.

The Mail Isolation Control and Tracking program was created after the anthrax attacks in late 2001 that killed five people, including two postal workers. Highly secret, it seeped into public view last month when the F.B.I. cited it in its investigation of ricin-laced letters sent to President Obama and Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg. It enables the Postal Service to retroactively track mail correspondence at the request of law enforcement. No one disputes that it is sweeping.

“In the past, mail covers were used when you had a reason to suspect someone of a crime,” said Mark D. Rasch, the former director of the Justice Department’s computer crime unit, who worked on several fraud cases using mail covers. “Now it seems to be ‘Let’s record everyone’s mail so in the future we might go back and see who you were communicating with.’ Essentially you’ve added mail covers on millions of Americans.”

Bruce Schneier, a computer security expert and an author, said whether it was a postal worker taking down information or a computer taking images, the program was still an invasion of privacy.

“Basically they are doing the same thing as the other programs, collecting the information on the outside of your mail, the metadata, if you will, of names, addresses, return addresses and postmark locations, which gives the government a pretty good map of your contacts, even if they aren’t reading the contents,” he said.

But law enforcement officials said mail covers and the automatic mail tracking program are invaluable, even in an era of smartphones and e-mail.

In a criminal complaint filed June 7 in Federal District Court in Eastern Texas, the F. B. Isaid a postal investigator tracing the ricin letters was able to narrow the search to Shannon Guess Richardson, an actress in New Boston, Tex., by examining information from the front and back images of 60 pieces of mail scanned immediately before and after the tainted letters sent to Mr. Obama and Mr. Bloomberg showing return addresses near her home. Ms. Richardson had originally accused her husband of mailing the letters, but investigators determined that he was at work during the time they were mailed.

In 2007, the F.B.I., the Internal Revenue Service and the local police in Charlotte, N.C., used information gleaned from the mail cover program to arrest Sallie Wamsley-Saxon and her husband, Donald, charging both with running a prostitution ring that took in $3 million over six years. Prosecutors said it was one of the largest and most successful such operations in the country. Investigators also used mail covers to help track banking activity and other businesses the couple operated under different names.

Other agencies, including the Drug Enforcement Administration and the Department of Health and Human Services, have used mail covers to track drug smugglers and Medicare fraud.

“It’s a treasure trove of information,” said James J. Wedick, a former F.B.I. agent who spent 34 years at the agency and who said he used mail covers in a number of investigations, including one that led to the prosecution of several elected officials in California on corruption charges. “Looking at just the outside of letters and other mail, I can see who you bank with, who you communicate with — all kinds of useful information that gives investigators leads that they can then follow up on with a subpoena.”

But, he said: “It can be easily abused because it’s so easy to use and you don’t have to go through a judge to get the information. You just fill out a form.”

For mail cover requests, law enforcement agencies simply submit a letter to the Postal Service, which can grant or deny a request without judicial review. Law enforcement officials say the Postal Service rarely denies a request. In other government surveillance program, such as wiretaps, a federal judge must sign off on the requests.

The mail cover surveillance requests are granted for about 30 days, and can be extended for up to 120 days. There are two kinds of mail covers: those related to criminal activity and those requested to protect national security. The criminal activity requests average 15,000 to 20,000 per year, said law enforcement officials who spoke on the condition of anonymity because they are prohibited by law from discussing the requests. The number of requests for antiterrorism mail covers has not been made public.

Law enforcement officials need warrants to open the mail, although President George W. Bush asserted in a signing statement in 2007 that the federal government had the authority to open mail without warrants in emergencies or foreign intelligence cases.

Court challenges to mail covers have generally failed because judges have ruled that there is no reasonable expectation of privacy for information contained on the outside of a letter. Officials in both the George W. Bush and Obama administrations, in fact, have used the mail-cover court rulings to justify the N.S.A.’s surveillance programs, saying the electronic monitoring amounts to the same thing as a mail cover. Congress briefly conducted hearings on mail cover programs in 1976, but has not revisited the issue.

The program has led to sporadic reports of abuse. In May 2012, Mary Rose Wilcox, a Maricopa County supervisor, was awarded nearly $1 million by a federal judge after winning a lawsuit against Sheriff Joe Arpaio, known for his immigration raids in Arizona, who, among other things, obtained mail covers from the Postal Service to track her mail. The judge called the investigation into Ms. Wilcox politically motivated because she had been a frequent critic of Mr. Arpaio, objecting to what she considered the targeting of Hispanics in his immigration sweeps. The case is being appealed.

In the mid-1970s the Church Committee, a Senate panel that documented C.I.A. abuses, faulted a program created in the 1950s in New York that used mail covers to trace and sometimes open mail going to the Soviet Union from the United States.

A suit brought in 1973 by a high school student in New Jersey, whose letter to the Socialist Workers Party was traced by the F.B.I. as part of an investigation into the group, led to a rebuke from a federal judge.

Postal officials refused to discuss either mail covers or the Mail Isolation Control and Tracking program.

Mr. Pickering says he suspects that the F. B. Irequested the mail cover to monitor his mail because a former associate said the bureau had called with questions about him. Last month, he filed a lawsuit against the Postal Service, the F.B.I. and other agencies, saying they were improperly withholding information.

A spokeswoman for the F. B. Iin Buffalo declined to comment.

Mr. Pickering said that although he was arrested two dozen times for acts of civil disobedience and convicted of a handful of misdemeanors, he was never involved in the arson attacks the Earth Liberation Front carried out. He said he became tired of focusing only on environmental activism and moved back to Buffalo to finish college, open his bookstore, Burning Books, and start a family.

“I’m no terrorist,” he said. “I’m an activist.”

Mr. Pickering has written books sympathetic to the liberation front, but he said his political views and past association should not make him the target of a federal investigation. “I’m just a guy who runs a bookstore and has a wife and a kid,” he said.


What a statement:

“I’m no terrorist,” he said. “I’m an activist.”
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Re: Surveillance

Postby chump » Fri Jul 19, 2013 12:31 am

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Re: Surveillance

Postby Wombaticus Rex » Tue Aug 06, 2013 11:57 am

Awesome: http://bits.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/08/0 ... py-factor/

A Cheap Spying Tool With a High Creepy Factor
By SOMINI SENGUPTA

Brendan O’Connor is a security researcher. How easy would it be, he recently wondered, to monitor the movement of everyone on the street – not by a government intelligence agency, but by a private citizen with a few hundred dollars to spare?

Mr. O’Connor, 27, bought some plastic boxes and stuffed them with a $25, credit-card size Raspberry Pi Model A computer and a few over-the-counter sensors, including Wi-Fi adapters. He connected each of those boxes to a command and control system, and he built a data visualization system to monitor what the sensors picked up: all the wireless traffic emitted by every nearby wireless device, including smartphones.

Each box cost $57. He produced 10 of them, and then he turned them on – to spy on himself. He could pick up the Web sites he browsed when he connected to a public Wi-Fi – say at a cafe – and he scooped up the unique identifier connected to his phone and iPad. Gobs of information traveled over the Internet in the clear, meaning they were entirely unencrypted and simple to scoop up.

Even when he didn’t connect to a Wi-Fi network, his sensors could track his location through Wi-Fi “pings.” His iPhone pinged the iMessage server to check for new messages. When he logged on to an unsecured Wi-Fi, it revealed what operating system he was using on what kind of device, and whether he was using Dropbox or went on a dating site or browsed for shoes on an e-commerce site. One site might leak his e-mail address, another his photo.

“Actually it’s not hard,” he concluded. “It’s terrifyingly easy.”


Also creepy – which is why he called his contraption “creepyDOL.”

“It could be used for anything depending on how creepy you want to be,” he said.

You could spy on your ex-lover, by placing the sensor boxes near the places the person frequents, or your teenage child, or the residents of a particular neighborhood. You could keep tabs on people who gather at a certain house of worship or take part in a protest demonstration in a town square. Their phones and tablets, Mr. O’Connor argued, would surely leak some information about them – and certainly if they then connected to an unsecured Wi-Fi. The boxes are small enough to be tucked under a cafe table or dropped from a hobby drone. They can be scattered around a city and go unnoticed.

Mr. O’Connor says he did none of that – and for a reason. In addition to being a security researcher and founder of a consulting firm called Malice Afterthought, he is also a law student at the University of Wisconsin at Madison. He says he stuck to snooping on himself – and did not, deliberately, seek to scoop up anyone else’s data – because of a federal law called the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act.

Some of his fellow security researchers have been prosecuted under that law. One of them, Andrew Auernheimer, whose hacker alias is Weev, was sentenced to 41 months in prison for exploiting a security hole in the computer system of AT&T, which made e-mail addresses accessible for over 100,000 iPad owners; Mr. Auernheimer is appealing the case.

“I haven’t done a full deployment of this because the United States government has made a practice of prosecuting security researchers,” he contends. “Everyone is terrified.”


He is presenting his findings at two security conferences in Las Vegas this week, including at a session for young people. It is a window into how cheap and easy it is to erect a surveillance apparatus.

“It eliminates the idea of ‘blending into a crowd,’” is how he put it. “If you have a wireless device (phone, iPad, etc.), even if you’re not connected to a network, CreepyDOL will see you, track your movements, and report home.”

Can individual consumers guard against such a prospect? Not really, he concluded. Applications leak more information than they should. And those who care about security and use things like VPN have to connect to their tunneling software after connecting to a Wi-Fi hub, meaning that at least for a few seconds, their Web traffic is known to anyone who cares to know, and VPN does nothing to mask your device identifier.

In addition, every Wi-Fi network that your cellphone has connected to in the past is also stored in the device, meaning that as you wander by every other network, you share details of the Wi-Fi networks you’ve connected to in the past. “These are fundamental design flaws in the way pretty much everything works,” he said.
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Re: Surveillance

Postby Wombaticus Rex » Sat Aug 10, 2013 3:06 pm

Wild: http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2013-06-2 ... rists.html

U.S. Surveillance Is Not Aimed at Terrorists
By Leonid Bershidsky

The debate over the U.S. government’s monitoring of digital communications suggests that Americans are willing to allow it as long as it is genuinely targeted at terrorists. What they fail to realize is that the surveillance systems are best suited for gathering information on law-abiding citizens.

People concerned with online privacy tend to calm down when told that the government can record their calls or read their e-mail only under special circumstances and with proper court orders. The assumption is that they have nothing to worry about unless they are terrorists or correspond with the wrong people.

The infrastructure set up by the National Security Agency, however, may only be good for gathering information on the stupidest, lowest-ranking of terrorists. The Prism surveillance program focuses on access to the servers of America’s largest Internet companies, which support such popular services as Skype, Gmail and iCloud. These are not the services that truly dangerous elements typically use.

In a January 2012 report titled “Jihadism on the Web: A Breeding Ground for Jihad in the Modern Age,” the Dutch General Intelligence and Security Service drew a convincing picture of an Islamist Web underground centered around “core forums.” These websites are part of the Deep Web, or Undernet, the multitude of online resources not indexed by commonly used search engines.

No Data

The Netherlands’ security service, which couldn’t find recent data on the size of the Undernet, cited a 2003 study from the University of California at Berkeley as the “latest available scientific assessment.” The study found that just 0.2 percent of the Internet could be searched. The rest remained inscrutable and has probably grown since. [size]In 2010, Google Inc. said it had indexed just 0.004 percent of the information on the Internet.[/size]

Websites aimed at attracting traffic do their best to get noticed, paying to tailor their content to the real or perceived requirements of search engines such as Google. Terrorists have no such ambitions. They prefer to lurk in the dark recesses of the Undernet.

“People who radicalise under the influence of jihadist websites often go through a number of stages,” the Dutch report said. “Their virtual activities increasingly shift to the invisible Web, their security awareness increases and their activities become more conspiratorial.”

Radicals who initially stand out on the “surface” Web quickly meet people, online or offline, who drag them deeper into the Web underground. “For many, finally finding the jihadist core forums feels like a warm bath after their virtual wanderings,” the report said.

When information filters to the surface Web from the core forums, it’s often by accident. Organizations such as al-Qaeda use the forums to distribute propaganda videos, which careless participants or their friends might post on social networks or YouTube.

Communication on the core forums is often encrypted. In 2012, a French court found nuclear physicist Adlene Hicheur guilty of, among other things, conspiring to commit an act of terror for distributing and using software called Asrar al-Mujahideen, or Mujahideen Secrets. The program employed various cutting-edge encryption methods, including variable stealth ciphers and RSA 2,048-bit keys.

The NSA’s Prism, according to a classified PowerPoint presentation published by the Guardian, provides access to the systems of Microsoft Corp. (and therefore Skype), Facebook Inc., Google, Apple Inc. and other U.S. Internet giants. Either these companies have provided “master keys” to decrypt their traffic - - which they deny -- or the NSA has somehow found other means.

Traditional Means

Even complete access to these servers brings U.S. authorities no closer to the core forums. These must be infiltrated by more traditional intelligence means, such as using agents posing as jihadists or by informants within terrorist organizations.

Similarly, monitoring phone calls is hardly the way to catch terrorists. They’re generally not dumb enough to use Verizon. Granted, Russia’s special services managed to kill Chechen separatist leader Dzhokhar Dudayev with a missile that homed in on his satellite-phone signal. That was in 1996. Modern-day terrorists are generally more aware of the available technology.

At best, the recent revelations concerning Prism and telephone surveillance might deter potential recruits to terrorist causes from using the most visible parts of the Internet. Beyond that, the government’s efforts are much more dangerous to civil liberties than they are to al-Qaeda and other organizations like it.

(Leonid Bershidsky is an editor and novelist based in Moscow. The opinions expressed are his own.)

To contact the writer of this article: Leonid Bershidsky at bershidsky@gmail.com.
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Re: Surveillance

Postby elfismiles » Mon Aug 12, 2013 1:27 pm

12 August 2013 Last updated at 08:41 ET
City of London calls halt to smartphone tracking binsBy Joe Miller / BBC News
Advertisers can buy space on the bins' LCD screens Continue reading the main story

Related Stories:
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The City of London Corporation has asked a company to stop using recycling bins to track the smartphones of passers-by.

Renew London had fitted devices into 12 "pods", which feature LCD advertising screens, to collect footfall data by logging nearby phones.

Chief executive Kaveh Memari said the company had "stopped all trials in the meantime".

The corporation has taken the issue to the Information Commissioner's Office.

The action follows concerns raised by privacy campaign group Big Brother Watch, after details of the technology used in the bins emerged in the online magazine Quartz.

Mr Memari told the BBC that the devices had only recorded "extremely limited, encrypted, aggregated and anonymised data" and that the current technology was just being used to monitor local footfall, in a similar way as a web page monitors traffic.

He added that more capabilities could be developed in the future, but that the public would be made aware of any changes.

The bins, which are located in the Cheapside area of central London, log the media access control (MAC) address of individual smartphones - a unique identification code carried by all devices that can connect to a network.

A spokesman for the City of London Corporation said: "Irrespective of what's technically possible, anything that happens like this on the streets needs to be done carefully, with the backing of an informed public."

Legal 'grey area'

Mr Memari insisted that the bins were just "glorified people-counters in the street" and that his company held no personal information about the smartphone owners.

While the collection of anonymous data through MAC addresses is legal in the UK, the practice has been described as a "grey area".

The UK and the EU have strict laws about mining personal data using cookies, which involves effectively installing a small monitoring device on people's phones or computers, but the process of tracking MAC codes leaves no trace on individuals' handsets.

Websites or companies wanting to use cookies to tracks users' habits have to ask for permission. By monitoring MAC addresses, which just keeps a log of each time a wi-fi enabled device connects to another device, they can work around this requirement.

Presence Orb, the company that provides the tracking technology to Renew London, calls its service "a cookie for the real world".

'Data and revenue'

Nick Pickles, director of Big Brother Watch, said: "I am pleased the City of London has called a halt to this scheme, but questions need to be asked about how such a blatant attack on people's privacy was able to occur in the first place.

"Systems like this highlight how technology has made tracking us much easier, and in the rush to generate data and revenue there is not enough of a deterrent for people to stop and ensure that people are asked to give their consent before any data is collected."

Reacting to the City of London Corporation's call, an Information Commissioner's Office spokesperson said: "Any technology that involves the processing of personal information must comply with the Data Protection Act.

"We are aware of the concerns being raised over the use of these bins and will be making inquiries to establish what action, if any, is required."


http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-23665490
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Air Force Launches US Spy Satellite on Secret Mission

Postby Allegro » Sun Aug 25, 2013 3:23 am

Highlights mine. Links and photos in original.

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Air Force Launches US Spy Satellite on Secret Mission
Space dot com, Clara Moskowitz | June 20, 2012 09:45am ET

    A new U.S. spy satellite launched into orbit Wednesday (June 20), kicking off a clandestine national security mission for the National Reconnaissance Office.

    The NROL-38 reconnaissance spacecraft lifted off at 8:28 a.m. EDT (1228 GMT) from Space Launch Complex-41 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida, atop a United Launch Alliance (ULA) Atlas 5 rocket. It marked a milestone flight for the rocket company, a partnership between Lockheed Martin and Boeing.

    “Congratulations to the NRO and to all the mission partners involved in this critical national security launch,” Jim Sponnick, ULA vice president for Mission Operations, said in a statement. “This launch marks an important milestone as we celebrate the 50th successful Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle (EELV) mission, with 31 Atlas 5 and 19 Delta 4 missions flown since August 2002.”

    The Chantilly, Va.-based NRO manages the design, construction and operation of the United States’ network of intelligence-gathering spy satellites.

    ULA officials broadcast the initial liftoff of the Atlas 5 rocket and spy satellite live via satellite and webcast, but cut off the video stream several minutes after launch due to the classified nature of the mission. [Spy Satellite NROL-38 Launch Pictures]

    The NROL-38 mission will contribute toward the military’s national defense program, though the details of how will be kept under wraps. Few specifics of the satellite’s [design] and purpose are publicly available, and the mission went into a media blackout shortly after liftoff.

    The launch comes just days after the end of another secret government mission, the second flight of the Air Force’s classified X-37B space plane.

    The robotic vehicle, also known as Orbital Test Vehicle-2 (OTV-2), landed June 16 at California’s Vandenberg Air Force Base, ending a 15-month mission kept largely confidential.

    Today’s mission is the first of three NRO launches on ULA vehicles planned for the next two months. Next in line is the NROL-15 mission due to launch on a Delta 4 rocket June 28 from Space Launch Complex-37, also at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station.

    Twelve of the 50 EELV launches have been NRO missions and these have been vital to our overall mission of delivering on commitments critical to our national security,” said Bruce Carlson, director of the National Reconnaissance Office. “I thank and congratulate ULA and the EELV program for the tremendous performance and achievement of this very impressive and noteworthy milestone.”

    The Atlas 5 rocket that launched today stands 191.2 feet (58.3 meters) tall and includes one main booster powered by the RD AMROSS RD-180 engine. Its Centaur upper stage was powered by a single Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne RL10A-4 engine.
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How the US Built Its Super-Secret Spy Satellite Program

Postby Allegro » Sun Aug 25, 2013 3:24 am

RESOURCE

Links and photos in original.

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How the US Built Its Super-Secret Spy Satellite Program
Gizmodo, Andrew Tarantola | 4/23/13 4:00pm

    Ethics aside, espionage is an indispensable part of statecraft. The ISR [Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance] information gathered helps steer national policy decisions for everything from mundane trade negotiations to the blackest of ops. And nowhere is this more evident than in the development of the US spy satellite fleet during the Cold War. These orbital telescopes granted an unprecedented peek over the Iron Curtain—revealing Soviet military capabilities, supply reserves, industrial sites, and more—that no ground-based spook could hope to provide.

    During the Cold War, accurately ascertaining the USSR’s military capabilities was a top US priority—as well it should have been given that we had as many as 21,000 nuclear warheads pointed at each other during that time. And while we had plenty of spies operating in Moscow, the view from overhead provided the President and his cabinet key insights into the extent of Soviet strategic capabilities which influenced defense planning and arms control negotiations. As such, the US invested vast sums of money into high-altitude research—from early “weather balloons” to the SR-71 Blackbird and U2 Dragon Lady to orbital telescopes—and established not one but three Federal agencies—the National Reconnaissance Office (NRO), the National Security Agency (NSA), and the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA)—all in an effort to glean any speck of information that could give us an advantage.

    Satellite technology is, by far, the most expensive ISR method at the US’s disposal but also the most effective, its results well worth the billions of dollars spent. As President Lyndon B. Johnson famously quipped in 1967 after a Soviet hoax led to worries of a bomber gap:

    I wouldn’t want to be quoted on this ... We’ve spent $35 or $40 billion on the space program. And if nothing else had come out of it except the knowledge that we gained from space photography, it would be worth ten times what the whole program has cost. Because tonight we know how many missiles the enemy has and, it turned out, our guesses were way off. We were doing things we didn’t need to do. We were building things we didn’t need to build. We were harboring fears we didn’t need to harbor.

    Of course, much of the development of our national reconnaissance capabilities is still shrouded in veils of classification. Heck, the NRO was established in 1961 and operated for three decades before the government even ever acknowledged its existence. Press reports made limited references to the agency as far back as 1971, but it wasn’t until the Deputy Secretary of Defense revealed the NRO in 1992, was it ever formally discussed by the DoD. Oversight from the DoD and Congress was virtually non-existent save for the “open-checkbook” policy of the times. As long as the intelligence justified the price tag, any cost was acceptable. It wasn’t until the early 1990’s that any information on these devices was declassified, after the fall of the Soviet Union brought an end to the Cold War. Even now, information on the early satellites is sparse and anything after 1972 is non-existent save for a few photos taken by the KH-11 satellite which were leaked to Jane’s Defence Weekly in 1985.

    What we do know is that the US has been researching high-altitude reconnaissance technology since about 1946 when the RAND project, precursor to Rand Corp., began campaigning for its development. When the Army and Navy couldn’t agree on who would have control over the orbital technology, it was assigned to the newly-formed USAF in 1947. It took a few years for RAND researchers working on “Project Feedback” to figure out how a satellite would even function—this was a brand new technological concept, mind you—but by 1953 they had not only devised the general characteristics and capabilities of a reconnaissance satellite but had begun to develop many of the components as well, like the television system and altimeter. The Atomic Energy Commission also began work on miniaturized nuclear power sources for the vehicles at that time. By 1954, the USAF accepted RAND’s assertion that the technology was of “vital strategic interest to the United States” and officially established the US satellite program.

    The Corona Program

    The first such program was the Corona project, a codeword itself code named “Discoverer” for the public explanation of why the government was firing a rocket into space (a rare event in the late 1950s that would have attracted a curious public and international scrutiny). The program began in 1959 at the Onizuka Air Force Station, ran until 1972, and was declassified in 1995 by President Clinton. Its initial budget was a modest $108.2 million ($860 million adjusted to 2013), though that quickly increased following the 1960 incident in which Gary Powers’ U2 was shot down over Soviet airspace. The 144-member family of Corona satellites—each designated Keyhole-#, or KH-#, depending on the spacecraft iteration—were produced and operated by the CIA in conjunction with the USAF and provided invaluable photographic surveillance of the Soviet Union as well as the People’s Republic of China, and other Communist countries.

    Launched aboard a Thor booster rocket and Agena spacecraft, these satellites relied on a pair of five foot long stereoscopic Itek cameras using 12-inch, f/5 triplet lenses and a 24-inch focal length (later models also incorporated a third “index” camera for reference). The early cameras could achieve a 40-foot resolution. By KH-3, optical improvements decreased that figure to 20 feet. Later missions continued to halve the resolution until researchers were able to resolve one-foot wide objects, realized that that was way too close to be of any strategic use and backed off to a more manageable 3-foot resolution.

    They were fed a special Eastman Kodak 70 millimeter film that produced 170 lines per mm—more than three times the 50 lines/mm resolution earlier WWII aerial photography could compose. The first Coronas carried a paltry 8,000 feet of film—per camera—though through improvements in the film chemistry and design reduced the material thickness, researchers were eventually able to double that amount. The cameras themselves underwent numerous upgrades as well, elongating to nine feet and incorporating panoramic Petzval f/3.5 lenses.

    Once the camera had run through its full complement of film, it would eject the roll via a reentry capsule designed by General Electric. After the capsule discarded its heat shield at 60,000 feet, it deployed a parachute and could either be nabbed by a passing plane equipped with a claw hook (above) or land safely in the ocean where it would float for two days awaiting pickup. If the capsule wasn’t retrieved within 48 hours, a salt plug at the bottom of the canister would dissolve and sink it. If it was picked up in time, the film would be transported to Rochester, New York, for processing at Eastman Kodak’s Hawkeye facility.

    The Argon Program

    The KH-5 ARGON ran in conjunction with Corona from 1961 to 1964, though never with the same degree of success. These 1150 - 1500 kg satellites manufactured by Lockheed Martin and operated by the NR used a single 76 mm focal length camera with a 140 meter resolution were operated primarily for map-making—they were the first to image Antarctica from space—and took less than a week to produce. Of the 12 flights attempted, however, only five successfully put the unit in orbit.

    The Lanyard Program

    The KH-6 Lanyard program was the NRO’s first attempt at high definition photography but lasted just six months and three launches in 1963, two of which failed to produce images. These 1500 kg Lockheed satellites were hastily constructed using the previously-cancelled Itek “E-5” camera in order to survey a rumored anti-ballistic missile site near Tallinn, Estonia. The E-5 had a 66-inch focal length and six foot resolution covering a 9 x 46 mile area. The only successful flight returned 910 photographic frames. However, the image quality was so poor that they were virtually useless.

    The Gambit Program

    Outside of the Corona program, America’s initial attempts at satellite photo-reconnaissance failed more often than not. The KH-7 and KH-8 series, codenamed Gambit, were a marked departure from that trend and the only other predominantly successful satellite ISR program in the 1960s. This 3,000 kg Low Altitude Surveillance Platform developed by Lockheed flew just 75 miles up (Coronas orbited at 100 miles) and operated for nearly two decades from 1964 to 1984. No fewer than 54 such satellites launched (these things only worked for three months, tops) from Vandenberg AFB aboard Titan III rockets during that time.

    Eastman Kodak’s A&O Division in Rochester, New York, produced the Gambit’s primary strip camera system. With a focal length of 175.6 inches, a 6.3 km wide coverage area, and 3-foot resolution, the KH-8 was ideal for gathering high-resolution images of Soviet sites. Unlike conventional aperture cameras, the Gambit’s slit camera reflected light off of a 48-inch mirror, through a slit aperture, and on to a moving length of Eastman Kodak Type 3404 film. It would then either drop the roll as the Coronas did or automatically develop the photographs, scan them, and transmit the images back to Earth in as little as 20 minutes through the Film Read-Out GAMBIT (FROG) feature (though after $2 billion dollars and nearly a decade of development the 1971 administration nix(on)ed it).

    In addition to keeping tabs on Soviet air capabilities, Gambit was also designed to photograph the spacecraft around it. This ability came in handy in 1973. The brand new Skylab had just launched when its meteoroid shield broke loose and damaged the space station. As NASA scrambled to send up a manned repair mission, the NRO launched a new Gambit, which snapped this picture and helped NASA engineers plan accordingly.

    The HEXAGON Program

    The KH-9 HEXAGON was, by all accounts, an unmitigated success with 19 of its 20 launches reaching orbit between 1971 and 1986. This $3.262 billion Lockheed-built NRO program is officially deemed a Broad Coverage Photo Reconnaissance satellite but is better known as “Big Bird.” And while its existence wasn’t revealed until 2011, the program dates back to the 1960s as a successor to the Corona program.

    The first generation of HEXAGON employed a pair of f/3.0 folded Wright Camera cameras with a 60-inch focal length able to resolve objects down to 2 feet and carried four re-entry vehicles. The last three generations featured a pair of panoramic cameras as well as upgraded electronics, C&C systems and nitrogen-supplied re-entry canisters. They also began surviving longer. Most spy satellites have very limited life spans—two to three months—and once they’re out of film they have no further purpose. But with ever increasing film payloads, the final iteration of the KH-9 lasted 275 days in space. Between 1973 and 1980, these satellites imaged every square foot of the Earth in 29,000 pictures, much of it better quality than LANDSAT, a rival satellite mapping program. Most of these images have been declassified since 2002, though sensitive areas such as government installations and most of Israel remain tightly guarded.

    The KENNAN Program

    The KH-11 KENNAN is the most advanced recon satellite to be unclassified. First launched in 1976 by the NRO, it’s the first US satellite to employ an EO digital sensor and charge-coupled device (CCD), which reportedly provides an Enemy of the State-style real-time observation capability. Very little is known about the satellite’s hardware though many have speculated that its roughly the same size as the Hubble Space Telescope with a similar 2.4-meter mirror producing a six inch resolution. There’s also wide speculation that the KH-11 is the source of images declassified in the wake of the 1998 embassy bombings, as well as others of China and Russia declassified the year prior. The images the CIA used to find Osama bin Laden’s hideout were reportedly supplied by the KENNAN. Fifteen KH-11’s have been launched in total—nine between 1976 and 1990 aboard Titan-3D rockets, five between 1992 and 2005 aboard Titan IVs, and the final one in 2011 aboard a Delta IV—at an estimated cost of $2.2 to 3 billion.

    The end of the Cold War certainly put a damper on reconnaissance satellite funding, as did the rise of commercial satellite technology, but it remains a staple of our intelligence gathering resources. The technology has also found new use in providing tactical information to ground troops (not having to catch film canisters with sky hooks helps). Satellite imagery was first used in 1991 during Desert Shield and again in Iraq, Bosnia, Kosovo, and Afghanistan (above).
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Abu Dhabi spy satellite deal

Postby Allegro » Sun Aug 25, 2013 3:24 am

Highlights mine.

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France beats US to Abu Dhabi spy satellite deal
France 24 International News, Sébastian SEIBT (text) | Latest update: 23/07/2013

Abu Dhabi Monday confirmed a 700 million euro order for two French spy satellites in a deal seen as a key victory for France’s defence industry, which saw off competition from US giant Lockheed Martin to secure the contract.

    France secured a much needed coup for its arms industry on Monday after Abu Dhabi placed an order for two spy satellites from the Paris-based aerospace company Astrium, which saw off competition from US firm Lockheed Martin to secure the contract.

    It is the first time France has signed a military contract with the emirate since 2007. The deal, which is worth more than 700 million euros, will see the supply and launch of two high-resolution Pléiades-class satellites.

    The agreement, dubbed Falcon Eye, could not have come at a better time for Paris. Figures published on Monday by France’s Defence Ministry showed that the value of orders for French military equipment fell by 26 per cent in 2012.

    But perhaps more satisfyingly, the deal shows “French firms in the sector are able to win against America’s Lockheed Martin in the United Arab Emirates”, as one Defence Ministry worker enthused to French daily Le Figaro.

    It is a commercial victory that may come as a surprise. American spy satellites are considered “the most technologically advanced in the world by far”, Alexandre Vautravers, a weapons expert and researcher at the Geneva Centre for Security Policy (GCSP), told FRANCE 24.

    US-made models have the edge in two areas: the accuracy of the images they capture and the speed at which these can be transmitted back to Earth.

    However, countries buying spy satellites from US firms such as Lockheed may not always benefit from these technological advantages, Vautravers explained.

    The US generally offers ‘export’ or ‘restricted’ versions of their top models for these types of contract,” he said. French satellites, therefore, do not have to compete with the very best America has to offer.

    Deal for more than ‘just satellites’

    The French victory could also be down to the after-sales services offered in the contract, Vautravers believes.

    It’s not just satellites that have been sold, but also access to image processing software, the training of specialists in intelligence analysis, transmission systems and encryption” said the expert.

    In comparison, “the United States generally imposes very stringent restrictions on using its technology,” he added.

    But France will not be handing over key software packages outright. The contract will be seen as “a partnership between the French intelligence services and those of Abu Dhabi, which will start with the training of staff on-site,” said Vautravers.

    Nevertheless, the emirate will be hoping for a degree of control in the use of the satellites that would not have been possible had it gone for the US option.

    Meanwhile, it remains to be seen what purposes Abu Dhabi has in mind for its new high-tech acquisitions.

    “The satellites’ efficiency are hampered by weather conditions, as well as the use of camouflage,” explained Vautravers. They therefore will not offer the kind of far-reaching surveillance offered by spy drones, which operate within the Earth’s atmosphere.

    The satellites will, however, be able to provide the emirate with its own source of accurate information on military installations and troop movements in regions of strategic interest.
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Surveillance | Ben D

Postby Allegro » Sun Aug 25, 2013 11:58 pm

Ben D » Thu Aug 15, 2013 7:16 pm wrote:Not sure if this is relevant to your research Allegro, but here's a list of all satellites launched from planet Earth since the beginning of the space age..

http://planet4589.org/space/log/launchlog.txt

And some interesting links here...

http://planet4589.org/space/space.html

which includes this 'UN Registration of Objects Launched into Outer Space'...http://www.oosa.unvienna.org/oosa//en/SORegister/index.html
Thanks, Ben D. I bookmarked the links you offered, and yes, some of the info I reviewed would be historically relevant, although much of the research I’ve done recently with regard to surveillance has been within Wikipedia. More’s a-coming.

Well, on second thought, here’s a page from the volume that Ben D contributed.

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United Nations Office of Outer Space Affairs
Treaty on Principles Governing the Activities of States in the Exploration and Use of Outer Space, including the Moon and Other Celestial Bodies

    The Outer Space Treaty was considered by the Legal Subcommittee in 1966 and agreement was reached in the General Assembly in the same year (resolution 2222 (XXI). The Treaty was largely based on the Declaration of Legal Principles Governing the Activities of States in the Exploration and Use of Outer Space, which had been adopted by the General Assembly in its resolution 1962 (XVIII) in 1963, but added a few new provisions. The Treaty was opened for signature by the three depository Governments (the Russian Federation, the United Kingdom and the United States of America) in January 1967, and it entered into force in October 1967. The Outer Space Treaty provides the basic framework on international space law, including the following principles:

    • the exploration and use of outer space shall be carried out for the benefit and in the interests of all countries and shall be the province of all mankind;
    • outer space shall be free for exploration and use by all States;
    • outer space is not subject to national appropriation by claim of sovereignty, by means of use or occupation, or by any other means;
    • States shall not place nuclear weapons or other weapons of mass destruction in orbit or on celestial bodies or station them in outer space in any other manner;
    • the Moon and other celestial bodies shall be used exclusively for peaceful purposes;
    • astronauts shall be regarded as the envoys of mankind;
    • States shall be responsible for national space activities whether carried out by governmental or non-governmental entities;
    • States shall be liable for damage caused by their space objects; and
    • States shall avoid harmful contamination of space and celestial bodies.
Art will be the last bastion when all else fades away.
~ Timothy White (b 1952), American rock music journalist
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Federally Funded Research and Development Centers

Postby Allegro » Sun Aug 25, 2013 11:58 pm

RESOURCE

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⋅ Congressional Research Service: The Quasi Government: Hybrid Organizations with Both Government and Private Sector Legal Characteristics pdf, 36 pp.

The Evolution of Federally Funded Research & Development Centers pdf, 8 pp.

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Presently on wiki, there are 39 recognized Federally Funded Research and Development Centers sponsored by the U.S. government.

Aerospace Federally Funded Research and Development Center
The Aerospace Corporation
El Segundo, CA
Department of Defense, Department of the Air Force

Ames Laboratory
Iowa State University of Science and Technology
Ames, IA
Department of Energy

Argonne National Laboratory
UChicago Argonne, LLC
Downers Grove Township, IL
Department of Energy

Arroyo Center
RAND Corporation
Santa Monica, CA
Department of Defense, Department of the Army

Brookhaven National Laboratory
Brookhaven Science Associates, LLC
Upton, NY
Department of Energy

National Security Engineering Center
MITRE
Bedford, MA, and McLean, VA
Department of Defense, Office of the Secretary of Defense

Center for Advanced Aviation System Development
MITRE
McLean, VA
Department of Transportation, Federal Aviation Administration

Center for Enterprise Modernization
MITRE
McLean, VA
Department of the Treasury, Department of Veterans Affairs, Internal Revenue Service

Center for Naval Analyses
The CNA Corporation
Alexandria, VA
Department of Defense, Department of the Navy

Center for Nuclear Waste Regulatory Analyses
Southwest Research Institute
San Antonio, TX
Nuclear Regulatory Commission

Centers for Communications and Computing
Institute for Defense Analyses
Alexandria, VA
Department of Defense, National Security Agency

Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory
Fermi Research Alliance, LLC
Batavia, IL
Department of Energy

Homeland Security Studies and Analysis Institute
Analytic Services, Inc.
Arlington, VA
Department of Homeland Security, Under Secretary for Science and Technology

Homeland Security Systems Engineering and Development Institute
MITRE
McLean, VA
Department of Homeland Security, Under Secretary for Science and Technology

Idaho National Laboratory
Battelle Energy Alliance, LLC
Idaho Falls, ID
Department of Energy

Jet Propulsion Laboratory
California Institute of Technology
Pasadena, CA
National Aeronautics and Space Administration

Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory
University of California
Berkeley, CA
Department of Energy

Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory
Lawrence Livermore National Security, LLC
Livermore, CA
Department of Energy

Lincoln Laboratory
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Lexington, MA
Department of Defense, Department of the Air Force

Los Alamos National Laboratory
Los Alamos National Security, LLC
Los Alamos, NM
Department of Energy

National Biodefense Analysis and Countermeasures Center
Battelle National Biodefense Institute
Frederick, MD
Department of Homeland Security, Under Secretary for Science and Technology

Frederick National Laboratory for Cancer Research
SAIC-Frederick Inc., a subsidiary of the Science Applications International Corp.
Frederick, MD
Department of Health and Human Services, National Institutes of Health

National Center for Atmospheric Research
University Corporation for Atmospheric Research
Boulder, CO
National Science Foundation

National Defense Research Institute
RAND Corporation
Santa Monica, CA
Department of Defense, Office of the Secretary of Defense

National Optical Astronomy Observatories
Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy, Inc.
Tucson, AZ
National Science Foundation

National Radio Astronomy Observatory
Associated Universities, Inc.
Charlottesville, VA
National Science Foundation

National Renewable Energy Laboratory
Alliance for Sustainable Energy, LLC
Golden, CO
Department of Energy

Oak Ridge National Laboratory
UT-Battelle, LLC
Oak Ridge, TN
Department of Energy

Pacific Northwest National Laboratory
Battelle Memorial Institute
Richland, WA
Department of Energy

Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory
Princeton University
Princeton, NJ
Department of Energy

Project Air Force
RAND Corporation
Santa Monica, CA
Department of Defense, Department of the Air Force

Robert Wood Johnson University Medical Center
Rutgers New Jersey State University
New Brunswick, NJ
National Science Foundation

Sandia National Laboratories
Sandia Corporation, a subsidiary of Lockheed Martin
Albuquerque, NM
Livermore, CA
Department of Energy

Savannah River National Laboratory
Savannah River Nuclear Solutions, LLC
Aiken, SC
Department of Energy

Science and Technology Policy Institute
Institute for Defense Analyses
Washington, DC
National Science Foundation

SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory
Stanford University
Stanford, CA
Department of Energy

Software Engineering Institute
Carnegie Mellon University
Pittsburgh, PA
Department of Defense, Department of the Army

Studies and Analyses Center
Institute for Defense Analyses
Alexandria, VA
Department of Defense, Office of the Secretary of Defense

Thomas Jefferson National Accelerator Facility
Jefferson Science Associates, LLC
Newport News, VA
Department of Energy
Art will be the last bastion when all else fades away.
~ Timothy White (b 1952), American rock music journalist
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Posts: 4456
Joined: Fri Jan 01, 2010 1:44 pm
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