Category Archives: human rights

The Great American Right to Complain

For 30+ years as a news hound and reporter of weird stuff, I, Xeno, have believed it is the duty of Americans to speak up truthfully about what they like and dislike.

We have the right to complain, to make things better. This was true in the past. Is it still?

I like peace, non-violence, transparency in government and privacy and fair voting for the public. I oppose violence and support peaceful plans.

I try to read a broad spectrum of news and ideas, but don’t agree with everyone or everything I read or see. Reading is not approving, obviously.

Long ago, I found and interviewed a man when researching “reptilian aliens” (they are just metaphorical, in my view) who advocated over email “storming Area 51”. I disagreed with his plan because the real Area 51 is on a US military base, it is still run by the CIA as far as I know and I also thought he might be an agent of a foreign government. You never know. I’m not into anything subversive, I follow laws and believe in peaceful change.

One thing I read about Area 51 that was reinforced by real voices of government employees in the news, was that people working within agencies don’t always agree with policies they are supposed to follow. It is the duty of workers to follow the direction set by leadership, but there were differences of opinion within, just as within the FBI, and also between agencies. I’m no insider, this is just what I gleaned over the years.

I like the idea of humans getting organized as a species, but not under fascism. I don’t like Nazis or any other violent war-promoting control freaks. The idea of people writing about Reptilian Aliens, as I have understood it, is that there are factions of “cold blooded” ideological Nazis in the US government. Some were imported from Germany after the war in Operation Paperclip and these scientists grew in power in the Shadow Government. They are opposed by other groups that take seriously their oath to uphold the Constitution and to protect citizen’s rights to complain.

Until the mainstream news started talking about the Shadow Government after the attacks of 9/11/2001, I didn’t think there really was such a thing. After learning there is, I still placed my faith in the good side of the inner US government, writing articles on xenophilia.com such as 10 Proven Conspiracies and Why I Still Trust the Government. (The upshot was that “the Government” is not a single thing, it is different groups with different goals and ideals, many competing.) Conspiracy is a real thing; we have laws against it in the USA and people, including members of Congress, have gone to prison for it. Not every conspiracy theory is true, but some are, investigators have to look at the facts, the real facts, when available.

I keep repeating that I support peaceful change because it is true and because, on the spooky side, I fear that vocal people who complain peacefully, may one day be attacked, framed as radicals or turned into criminals in political theater by Nazi factions in the Shadow Government using dirty tricks, digital and otherwise. Let’s hope not.

I pray the good and honest people and groups win this epic battle.

Being interested in the culture of oddities, I have driven to Nevada and stayed at the Little Ale’Inn near Area 51 a few times. I enjoy the ET alien thing, the interesting people you can meet, and the science fiction fun aspect of it. I liked the movie Independence Day and enjoyed driving on the ET highway. I also personally like the idea of a US Space Force, although people laugh at it and some strongly oppose it.

How can we fix corruption and undue influence of big business in government if not by “storming Area 51?”

I like capitalism and competition generally, but support an idea by the Yang campaign to reasonably rein in the influence of super wealthy individuals and lobby groups:

Democracy Dollars. The easiest way to minimize the influence of super-rich individuals and SuperPACs in our politics is to drown that money out with contributions by normal Americans. Under my Democracy Dollars plan, every American would receive $100 per election cycle to donate to candidates of their choosing.

Via AndrewYang

I don’t endorse him as a presidential candidate, but I like this idea.

Representative Democracy, allowing the majority of the people (instead of a cabal) to pick the best leaders works well only if we have well informed voters. To make Democracy Dollars work, we first need truth in advertising and truth in news reporting.

Simultaneous with Democracy Dollars, we need laws that provide stiff fines for lies, and even stiffer fines for lies about lies–in other words, an American realist movement.

Candidate Joe Biden made a slip I heard yesterday while he was campaigning. He said, we need to support “truth not facts”. I do not support non-factual “truths” as facts are the basis of truth.

I support accurate and fearless fact checking as the basis for an effective peaceful democracy. We must protect the rights of reporters to investigate and report the truth.

I support local police, the FBI and the CIA and the NSA which I believe to be composed mostly of individuals of strong moral character who sometimes have to fight within their organizations for what is right, for what is truly American, for our rightful way of life.

Please save a copy of this on your computer, in the cloud, etc. and republish the bejeebies out of it if it ever gets “disappeared” by anyone who tries to put other words or ideas into my mouth! 😉

Peace, love and music,

Xeno of True Strange News

Blogging at xenophilia.com & truestrange.com

Xeno is a songwriter who has written over 100 songs, a reporter and blogger for 30+ years and nephew of a member of the band Steppenwolf. He was engaged to the personal chef of a California billionaire and has traveled to all 48 lower US states interviewing people for an eventual book on happiness. He opposes violence and promotes peaceful positive change.

TrueStrange.com

Japanese Court: Father is “Sole Parent” to 13 Babies

Not many men have sole custody of 19 of their own children, 13 by foreign surrogate mothers. In the news is the case of a weathly Japanese man, Mitsutoki Shigeta, who was recently awarded sole custody of 13 children by surrogate Thai mothers. The ruling is not saying he is the only biological parent, rather that he is “the legal parent” of his own biological children, a quite logical ruling.

In discussing this “baby factory” case, a confused international media seems unaware that there is no legal joint custody status in Japan.

Officially, there is no such thing as joint custody in Japan, … When couples get divorced, the woman usually takes the child and assumes full financial responsibility. “Only one person gets to be the parent,” …

Via Link

There is a problem, according to the Thai government, of “illegal surrogacy.”

I actually had no idea until today that paying a woman to carry your child is illegal in some places. Why would it be? At first glance, I didn’t get it. Don’t women have that human right if they choose? If they can sell their eggs to a fertility clinic, why can’t they carry a child to term for hire if they enjoy being pregnant and choose it as a profession? Aren’t women worthy and free to have reproductive freedom of choice? It seemed quite a stretch to think of surrogacy as a type of prostitution.

Why, in Washington DC, was there up to a $10,000 fine and/or one year in prison for surrogacy? In 2007, according to a chart at American Progress, the laws in the USA are all over the map.

The situation changed for D.C. in 2015, however, when surrogacy was decriminalized.

Under the city’s antiquated surrogacy law that the new law replaces, all parties to surrogacy agreements that are legal in nearly every state were subject to a fine of up to $10,000 and a one-year prison sentence.

After four years in the making, a bill ending D.C.’s longstanding criminalization of surrogacy parenting and establishing a legal framework for surrogacy agreements became law on April 7 upon completion of a required congressional review.

The D.C. City Council gave final approval of the legislation, the Collaborative Reproduction Amendment Act of 2015, last December.

Via Link

The controversy remains worldwide.

Surrogacy is controversial around the world, raising difficult moral, social and legal issues. As a result, the legal situation varies considerably. Many countries do not have laws which specifically deal with surrogacy. Some countries ban surrogacy outright, while others ban commercial surrogacy but allow altruistic surrogacy (in which the surrogate is not financially compensated). Some countries allow commercial surrogacy, with few restrictions. Some jurisdictions extend a ban on surrogacy to international surrogacy. In some jurisdictions rules applicable to adoptions apply and in others the practice is unregulated.

As of 2013, places where a woman could legally be paid to carry another’s child through IVF and embryo transfer included India, Georgia, Russia, Thailand, Ukraine and a few U.S. states.

Via Wikipedia

Why is surrogacy ever made illegal? What do proponents of anti surrogacy laws say? In France, it was because the human body, by public policy, is “unavailable.”

In 1991, it ruled that an agreement entered into by a woman to conceive, bear a child, and relinquish it at birth, albeit for altruistic reasons, was contrary to the public policy principle of unavailability of both the human body and civil status. This prohibition was confirmed in the Bioethics Act of 1994 and enshrined in the Civil Code as a regulation which is “a matter of public policy,” i.e. belonging to a category of mandatory rules created by the state to protect fundamental values of society and from which citizens have no freedom to derogate.

Link

In France, citizens are not free to make the human body available–even, and especially citizens who are inhabitants of a human body. This sounds like an issue where the French State asserts legal control (ownership) of its subject’s bodies, which makes me feel some anger about lack of freedom.

Is the prohibition coming from antiquated puritanical disapproval of women’s rights?

A Thai court has given a wealthy Japanese businessman sole custody of 13 children he fathered through surrogates in Thailand.

Mitsutoki Shigeta, 28, made a headlines in 2014 for what became widely known as the “baby factory” case. It was one of several cases that led to the country banning foreigners using surrogate mothers in Thailand.

The children were seized by Thai authorities in a raid and sent to a government orphanage as part of a crackdown on suspected illegal surrogacy. Ranging in age from newborns to one year olds at the time of the raid, they were cared for by seven women in a Bangkok apartment. Police at the time said the babies were well taken care of.

Via CNN

The word “raid” implies suspected criminal activity. Did a Bangkok SWAT team swoop in on babies and find that they were well cared for?

Kong Suriyamontol … the Thai lawyer for Japanese national Mitsutoki Shigeta, speaks to the press after his client was granted paternity rights to his children, at a juvenile court in Bangkok on February 20, 2018. A Bangkok court on February 20 granted Shigeta “sole parent” rights to 13 babies fathered through Thai surrogate mothers, a ruling that paves the way for him to take custody of the children.

A Japanese man who became embroiled in a “baby factory” scandal four years ago has been granted sole custody of 13 children he fathered with Thai surrogate mothers.

Mitsutoki Shigeta, 28, won custody on Tuesday, after taking the Thai government to court over his paternal rights, AFP reports. The court ruled that Shigeta, reportedly the son of a Japanese business tycoon, has ample means to care for such a large family.

“For the happiness and opportunities the 13 children will receive from their biological father — who does not have a history of bad [behavior] — the court rules them to be the plaintiff’s legal children,” Thailand’s Central Juvenile Court said in a statement.

In 2014, Shigeta, who is unmarried, was at the centrt of an international scandal after a luxury apartment in Bangkok was raided and found to contain nine children and their seven 24-hour nannies. It soon emerged that Shigeta had fathered 19 children in total, with 13 babies born to surrogate mothers living in Thailand, and six living in Cambodia and Japan. Police told AFP that he had paid the Thai surrogate mothers between $9,300 and $12,500 each.

His case contributed to the international outcry against Thailand’s “rent a womb” industry, and led to the Protection for Children Born Through Assisted Reproductive Technologies Act (ART Act) in 2015, preventing foreigners from paying for Thai surrogates.

Via Time

What is the issue, why are some opposed to others “renting a womb?”

Does Thailand claim foreign biological fathers are unfit parents who are frequently mistreating their own children?

On February 19, 2015, the National Legislative Assembly of Thailand enacted the Protection for Children Born Through Assisted Reproductive Technologies Act (ART Act), which will be enforced after it is published in the Royal Thai Government Gazette. (Senate Meeting Minutes (Feb. 19, 2015), Thai Senate website; text of the Act, Thai Senate website (both in Thai).) This act significantly protects children born through Assisted Reproductive Technologies (ART) and sets the legal procedures the spouses (referred as “applicants”) must follow in order to have such children.

Thailand has previously not had any law directly referring to surrogacy. Instead, the authorities applied a provision in the Criminal Code, which states that anyone who enslaves another person or causes a person to be in a position similar to that of a slave; transports them into or out of the country; or buys, sells, disposes, accepts, or restrains a person may be subject to imprisonment for up to seven years and fined up to 14,000 Baht (about US$430). (Thailand Penal Code (Thai Laws Specifying Crimes and Punishment), (B.E. 2499 (1956), last amended by Criminal Code (No.17), B.E. 2547 (2004)), § 312.)

Many problems arose as a result of the application of this provision, including the problem of the restriction of rights over children born through surrogacy.

Reportedly, Mr. Kitti Wasinondh, a member of the National Legislative Assembly, and Mr. Adul Saengsingkaew, the Minister of Social Development and Human Security, believe that the new Act will reduce the surrogacy for profit and human trafficking that has resulted in maltreatment of women.

Via Library of Congress

In November the Thai National Legislative Assembly passed – with 177 to two votes and six abstentions – the first reading of a draft bill which bans commercial surrogacy. If the law is passed, women who agree to become surrogates in return for payment will be liable to a maximum 10-year prison sentence and fine of Bt200,000 (approximately £4,000). Social Development and Human Security Minister Pol General Adul Saengsingkaew stated that the bill sought to punish all sides involved in commercial surrogacy, protect surrogate babies and suppress human trafficking. The push to legislate in the area comes following several high-profile surrogacy scandals in the country.

Link

I stand against human slavery (trafficking), but see surrogacy as a separate issue. If there is a case where you have both, there are already laws against trafficking and those laws should be applied. Lawful surrogacy should not be criminalized. This is my view after researching this issue. If you disagree, leave a comment with your view.

TrueStrange.com

Former NSA Senior Analyst Blasts Obama and Bush for Enabling Deep State Crisis

A good case could be made that we have a national political crisis today because people previously in power did not care about protecting the 4th Amendment Constitutional right of Americans to be free from unreasonable search and seizure.

The US Constitution is a great blueprint. Let’s get back to having the freedoms as well as the checks and balances it intended. What’s going on now is not legal or right.

12/16/13 

A federal judge ruled Monday that the National Security Agency program which collects information on nearly all telephone calls made to, from or within the United States is likely unconstitutional.

U.S. District Court Judge Richard Leon found that the program appears to violate the Fourth Amendment ban on unreasonable searches and seizures. He also said the Justice Department had failed to demonstrate that collecting the information had helped to head off terrorist attacks.

Link

Years later, what has been fixed? Who has been held accountable?

Some good people within the government did try. Here’s one such story:

President Donald Trump’s accusation that former President Barack Obama ordered wiretaps of him at Trump Tower during the 2016 election sent media outlets and partisans into a frenzy. Obama was reportedly furious about the claim and his spokespersons have denied the accusations. Although the ACLU and some news outlets have noted that the FBI conducted surveillance under FISA on the Trump campaign in October 2016, the target of that surveillance is still unknown.
A 2013 editorial on warrantless wiretapping written by ACLU lawyer Mitra Ebadolahi for the American Bar Association noted that the FISA Amendments Act passed under the Bush administration “eliminated FISA’s probable-cause and individualized-suspicion requirements; under the FISA Amendments Act, the government can obtain a FISA Court order authorizing surveillance for up to one year by certifying that the targets of its surveillance program are ‘reasonably believed to be located outside the United States.’ 50 U.S.C. § 1881a(a). This certification is the primary substantive limitation on the government and opens up huge swaths of international communications to surveillance.”
It was widely reported that, before he left office, Obama allowed the NSA to share intercepted communications with other intelligence agencies, enabling recent leaks from intelligence officials.

Former NSA senior analyst J. Kirk Wiebe, a 32-year veteran of the agency who received the NSA’s Meritorious Civilian Service Award, criticized the deep state enabled by the Bush and Obama administrations. “Over a decade and a half ago, the NSA Four (Bill Binney, Ed Loomis, Tom Drake, and myself), together with House Intelligence Committee Senior Staffer Diane Roark pleaded for a surveillance system that protected the innocent, in order to prevent the destruction of individual privacy guaranteed us all by the U.S. Constitution. Nobody listened. No one cared. No one took corrective action,” he wrote. “Today, we see unfolding before our very eyes a constitutional crisis of monumental proportions, one that threatens the very foundations of our nation’s system of governance. People hidden in the bowels of the United States Intelligence Community are leaking classified information taken from the private phone calls of innocent people – people who have not been accused of committing any crime – to the press for purely political reasons, reasons that include an attempt to take down our duly elected administration.” Had the concerns of whistleblowers from high ranking positions and Edward Snowden been addressed, the U.S. wouldn’t be faced with an impending crisis because the intelligence community lacks appropriate oversight.
Wiebe adds, “had the approach we advocated over 16 years ago been used – one that featured a built-in capability that prevented the kind of access to, and disclosure of, private information we are seeing in the news – we would not be witnessing the abject abuse of authority that is unfolding before us. President Obama’s order just before departing the White House that spread access to NSA’s intercepts to hundreds of additional people across all 17 agencies of the Intelligence Community would not have mattered. Innocent people’s private information would have been protected.”

A recent release from WikiLeaks, dubbed “Vault 7,” revealed more concerning revelations about the CIA’s mass surveillance. A press release outlining the content of the released documents reveals that the CIA developed and used the capability to turn Smart TVs, iPhones, gaming consoles, Microsoft Windows PC’s, and vehicle control systems into spyware. The CIA also hacked into Skype, converted all conversations into text, which were then scanned and stored by the CIA.

Despite the severity of this revelation, several Clinton partisans ignored or used the leaks to confirm their biases against WikiLeaks. Many continue to allege that it serves as an arm of the Russian government or that it never releases any damaging leaks on Republicans – though WikiLeaks released the largest classified military leak in history from the Bush administration. Due to the Democratic establishment’s bias against Wikileaks for releasing evidence that confirmed criticisms of Hillary Clinton, the mainstream media has widely ignored Vault 7 and diminished its importance.
As dangerous as the Trump administration is, the establishment partisans cheering on the intelligence community are embarking on a self-destructive path that will undermine the constitutional rights of Americans. The Intercept’s Glenn Greenwald explained in an interview with Democracy Now, “The deep state, although there’s no precise or scientific definition, generally refers to the agencies in Washington that are permanent power factions. They stay and exercise power even as presidents who are elected come and go. They typically exercise their power in secret, in the dark, and so they’re barely subject to democratic accountability, if they’re subject to it at all. It’s agencies like the CIA, the NSA and the other intelligence agencies that are essentially designed to disseminate disinformation and deceit and propaganda, and have a long history of doing not only that, but also have a long history of the world’s worst war crimes, atrocities and death squads.” He added that this is who establishment partisans are cheering on to lead the opposition against the Trump administration, even as several mainstream media outlets, like BuzzFeed and Politico, publish articles that this deep state doesn’t exist.

During the 2016 presidential campaign, Hillary Clinton touted endorsements from several former intelligence officials, including former CIA Deputy Director Michael Morell and former CIA Director Michael Hayden, who are now appearing in the mainstream media to criticize Trump’s policies. Greenwald explained, “To urge that the CIA and the intelligence community empower itself to undermine the elected branches of government is insanity. That is a prescription for destroying democracy overnight in the name of saving it. And yet that’s what so many, not just neocons, but the neocons’ allies in the Democratic Party, are now urging and cheering. And it’s incredibly warped and dangerous to watch them do that.”

Link

20 million face famine. Declassified US plan to help 

While browsing the National Archives, I found a 10 step plan to prevent third world hunger emergencies in declassified US documents. The plan was dated July 9, 1984. More than 30 years later, most of the wealthy world watches while millions are about starve to death. What can we do? Here’s my rough paraphrase of what the plan said to do:

1) Preposition grain in selected third world areas for immediate distribution in a starvation situation.

2) Establish a $50 million presidential fund to permit timely response to food emergencies.

3) Spread out the cost of ocean freight for emergency food shippments in some cases.

4) Pay in-country food distribution costs for the poorest countries.

5) Refine methods for better estimates of Third World emergency food needs.

6) Form an inter-agency emergency food needs work group do you consider how to coordinate with other donor countries and deal with transportation bottlenecks.

7) Increase US and foreign awareness of US food aid programs and the nature of the Third World hunger situation.

8) Form a State Department subcommittee to allow business leaders to explain problems and offer solutions.

9) Continue to study the problem and solutions and recommend new actions.

10) Consider having high-level donor meetings or similar meaures in coordinating with other countries.

What became of this plan? Why are we still at a point where an estimated 20+ million in four countries will starve to death?

This year could be the most deadly from famine in three decades. The lives of more than 20 million people are at risk in four countries. Large areas of South Sudan have already been declared a famine zone. Five years after a famine that claimed about 250,000 lives, Somalia is back on the brink of catastrophe – 6 million people are in need of assistance. Both northeastern Nigeria and Yemen face real and present risks of famine.

An elaborate humanitarian aid system has been created to prevent mass hunger. However, the international community is failing to respond to the deadly threats posed by entirely predictable and eminently avoidable famine.

“Famine” is a technical state defined by the level of acute malnutrition and food shortage. However, people, especially children, are already going hungry, getting sick and dying. The lives of many of these children hang by a nutritional drip. For every life saved, many more do not make it to a clinic.

A precipice is nearing, with relentless predictability. At a conservative estimate, 1.4 million children are at imminent risk of death across the four affected countries over the next year. That number is rising by the day as hunger interacts with killer diseases such as diarrhea, pneumonia, cholera and measles. Every week of delayed action puts more lives on the line.

How did this situation arise? Conflict, drought, poor governance and a shockingly inadequate international response have all played a part.

In South Sudan, famine is concentrated in areas where government forces and rebels have been carrying out brutal ethnic killings.

In Yemen, where half a million children face severe acute malnutrition, conflict and a humanitarian blockade operated by the Saudi-led coalition are pushing a food crisis toward outright famine.

In northern Nigeria, the military is regaining territory from Boko Haram and uncovering shocking levels of malnutrition. In each case, the violence is destroying livelihoods and displacing the farmers on which food production depends.

The crisis in the Horn of Africa bears all the hallmarks of the famine declared in 2011. The region is in its third year of drought, with Somalia, southern Ethiopia and northern Kenya the worst affected. The familiar pattern of crop failure, livestock deaths and rising food prices has exposed pastoralists and farmers to acute risks and left 12.8 million people in need of assistance.

All of this could have been predicted. The warning signs were clearly visible months ago. However, the international community has prevaricated to the point of inertia. UN agencies that should have been working together have failed to coordinate their response, leading to fragmentation on the ground.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres deserves credit for sounding a loud – if belated – alarm bell. His agencies must now work together to deliver an effective response.

One consequence is a gap in financing. The UN estimates that US$5.6 billion is needed to address urgent needs. Most of that money was needed yesterday. However, less than 2 percent is in the financial pipeline. Aid donors have got into the bad habit of recycling old aid pledges as new money and failing to set clear timelines for delivery.

As the images of hunger multiply, there will be calls for action, nongovernmental organizations will mount emergency appeals and there will be more pledging conferences. 
However, surely this is the time for the major aid donors, the G7, G20 and the World Bank to convene a financing summit that provides front-loaded support, delivered through a properly coordinated system of UN agencies and nongovernmental organizations.

Link

Long term solution: Invest in expanding the solar energy plants near the Sahara desert. Use the new energy to desalinate and decontaminate ocean water. Build green houses and use the water to grow food. Get everyone working together. Build schools and educate people. With a new healthy, educated, population, create factories to build robots to clean up for Kushima and the rest of our trash in the world.

That’s my recommendation for a long-term solution.

Police body cams will recognize all faces

Keep this in mind if you happen to like your supposed American freedoms: Without privacy you have no other rights. 

Saying you don’t care about your right to privacy because you have nothing to hide is as clueless as saying you don’t care about freedom of speech because you have nothing to say.

With a surveillance state (body cams, social media, cell phones, even toys) you don’t get protection. You get a thin illusion of security and then an above-the-law elite who can and will do anything they like, including falsify and tamper with evidence. It starts innocently. Most cops are good honest people, but what about politicians? Fear makes people stupid. 

The surveillance state eventually creates a system where innocent people are treated with various amounts of cruelty based on the whims, misperceptions and personal prejudices of those in power. You wake up in another country. The truth no longer matters. The maw of the giant reptile opens. The masses line up at the teeth to walk the red carpet. 

Half of all US adults are already on an unregulated law enforcement facial recognition database without even knowing it, and soon, police will be able to search through thousands of hours of footage in minutes to find anyone or anything.

Following its acquisition of tech start-ups Misfit and Dextro, Taser announced last week that it was launching an AI division named Axon AI. Its aim is to help manage and improve its evidence.com cloud storage site, which houses US law enforcement body cam footage, while also developing the Axon AI platform.

Taser now sells more body cams than it does its eponymous personal defense weapon.

Dextro created the first computer vision and deep learning system that makes visual content in video searchable in real time while researchers at Misfit were working to improve the accuracy, efficiency, and speed of processing images and video.

“To clarify, Dextro’s system offers computer vision techniques to identify faces and other objects for improving the efficiency of the redaction workflow. AI enables you to become more targeted when needed,” Steve Tuttle, Taser’s vice president of communications told Vocativ.

Now under one roof at Axon, the combined team will develop machine learning algorithms that parse footage both in real time and retrospectively while also capable of discerning objects, individual people, and actions such as a traffic stop or a foot chase. All footage can be tagged, classified and then searched when needed.

At present, it takes eight hours to redact faces from one hour of footage, but Axon AI’s future tech aims to reduce that to 90 minutes.

A study by Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory, which was sponsored by the Department of Justice’s National Institute of Justice, found that facial recognition software had been built in or was at least optional in nine of the body cams available on the market in the United States.

Another study, carried out by Georgetown University’s Center on Privacy & Technology, found that 117 million American adults have been added to a law enforcement facial recognition database. Evidence.com boasts over 5.2 petabytes of information stored on its cloud servers (all US academic research libraries amount to to 2 petabytes of data).

Police can search through this database and find anyone that has a state-issued photo ID such as a driver’s license and identify them in photos taken in public spaces or shared online, with no warrant.

Taser wants to fully automate the documentation of each and every police encounter with live transcription and image analysis. 

“Police officers are spending most of their time entering information into computers. We want to automate all of that,” Taser CEO Rick Smith said Wednesday.

The extent of this passive surveillance has generated concern among privacy advocates, especially in light of the NSA’s Prism program revelations leaked by Edward Snowden in 2013.

“We support body cams on the condition that they serve as an effective police oversight tool and not as yet another set of government surveillance cameras,” Jay Stanley, a senior policy analyst at the American Civil Liberties Union told Forbes. “The storing of video and running analytics on it does not strike the right balance between privacy, oversight, and usefulness to the police.”

Link

Supposedly private channels on Facebook are monitored:

… Here’s the original version of Zuckerberg’s comment on AI (emphasis added):

“The long term promise of AI is that in addition to identifying risks more quickly and accurately than would have already happened, it may also identify risks that nobody would have flagged at all — including terrorists planning attacks using private channels, people bullying someone too afraid to report it themselves, and other issues both local and global. It will take many years to develop these systems.”

The Associated Press originally published the paragraph that included the mention of monitoring private channels, but its story has since been updated “to substitute a quote on artificial intelligence to reflect what was actually in the manifesto.”

While it’s common and expected for social networks to try and keep terrorists off their platforms, suggesting that Facebook plans to listen in on seemingly “private” conversations raises a flag about how the company’s stance on privacy.

Link