The “PreCheck” program is billed as a convenient service to allow U.S. travelers to “speed through security” at airports. However, the latest proposal released by the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) reveals the Department of Homeland Security’s greater underlying plan to collect face images and iris scans on a nationwide scale. DHS’s programs will become a massive violation of privacy that could serve as a gateway to the collection of biometric data to identify and track every traveler at every airport and border crossing in the country. Currently TSA collects fingerprints as part of its application process for people who want to apply for PreCheck. So far, TSA hasn’t used those prints for anything besides the mandatory background check that’s part of the process. But this summer, TSA ran a pilot program at Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson Airport and at Denver International Airport that used those prints and a contactless fingerprint reader to verify the identity of PreCheck-approved travelers at security checkpoints at both airports. Now TSA wants to roll out this program to airports across the country and expand it to encompass face recognition, iris scans, and other biometrics as well.

You’ll probably never see me support the actions of Senator Diane Feinstein again, but on this issue she is right. We’ve been reporting on the actions of our government to do something about section 702 of the FISA act for some time now. I really wonder how many people have actually taken the time to contact their representatives. Take a look at her efforts to end the backdoor warrants and ask your folks why they won’t support her on this.(1 comment)

I’m certainly not one of those folks that believes that “there ought to be a law” is the answer to all of the problems in the world. Certainly we have too many laws. With that said, technological advances seem to have taken the legal system by surprise. It’s been decades since our “electronic” revolution has emerged. Yet, laws and the legal system have not kept up. I don’t agree with all of the author’s recommendations, but certainly our lawmakers need to address these abuses. It tells you a lot about our political class that they have ignored an issue that affects almost all Americans.(1 comment)

Free speech is one of the more misused concepts in America. Some of this is due to the fact that our government “Dewey Camps” have continued to dumb down the citizenry since the late 1950s. Other reasons include intentional confusion to advance the state’s causes. Hate speech is one of the more evil ways in which the state has conspired to confuse people over the notion of free speech.(1 comment)

It’s “call to action” time. This is one that you need to take some time to contact your US Senators and Congressmen. We all know that our government spends a lot of our money on “research”. Some of the more bizarre examples include $3 million to find out how long shrimp can run on a treadmill! Or how about the $315K to figure out if playing FarmVille on Facebook helps people make friends? Or the $300K to study how people ride bicycles? The list goes on and on. Sen Rand Paul and other have introduced a law to allow we citizens to read and use the research that we paid for. The Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act, or FASTR (S. 1701, H.R. 3427) has sat in the House and Senate for four years. It’s time to get this put into law.(1 comment)

Another court has ruled that the public still has the ability to play old music that almost everyone believed they lawfully had the ability to play. The Florida Supreme Court, following in the footsteps of New York State’s high court, ruled yesterday that its state law, which governs sound recordings made before 1972, doesn’t include a right to control public performances of sound recordings, including radio play. Both this decision and the reasoning behind it are good news for digital music companies and radio listeners.

We’ve been highlighting the actions of our government to renew, fix or eliminate Section 702 of the FISA act. Sadly, our US Congress isn’t taking reform too seriously. Protections for US citizens don’t seem in the forefront of their efforts. Mass surveillance works two different ways. So called upstream surveillance collects information as it travels over the internet backbone. Downstream surveillance collects information from companies like Google, Facebook and Yahoo. The very international nature of the internet might actually gain us more protection. Foreign countries are starting to use their court system to question the companies involved in the downstream collection of information. Court rulings are challenging those companies actions insofar as it infringes on their citizens protections. If this keeps up, those companies very existence will depend on our US Congress changing protection laws for us.

We talk regularly about the alternatives to the more popular social media sites. We understand the challenges to change. It’s hard, your friends aren’t there and you have to learn something new. Nonetheless, we will continue to share the alternatives, if for no other reason than to show that there are choices. For those who complain about censorship and discrimination, it is possible to vote with your wallet.(4 comments)

Last week, the “crisis” stories were all about how we were all vulnerable to this new threat to our internet life – the Krack vulnerability. We were all told to be scared of this vulnerability and that everyone who used anything wireless was going to be attacked. Well, it sounded more “exciting” than “threatening” to me, so it was time to turn information into knowledge. Here’s the real story, and a short tip: most of us have nothing …