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Rule of 7 applied to domestic surveillance

The average person needs to hear something seven times to believe it, or so says the rule of seven, an old marketing concept. Here's a list of more than seven examples that warned Americans about domestic spying.

Too many people still have the mindset that since they are not doing anything illegal or immoral, nothing to hide, that their communications are not of any importance and are not being collected by intelligence agencies. Either they are not paying attention, or they don't want to believe it...after all, this is America. People who point out the surveillance society on steroids are often relegated to kooks and tinfoil-hat conspiracy theorists. Do you think people who are disturbed by the scope of domestic surveillance actually do have something to hide? Pfft.

The average person needs to hear or see something seven times to believe it, or so says the rule of seven, an old marketing concept. Each example below was a separate story, now put in a list-form.

1. The most recent NSA whistleblower, Edward Snowden spelled out exactly why you should be concerned about surveillance. Whether or not you have something to hide, "you're being watched and recorded." The NSA has the ability to "use the system to go back in time and scrutinize every decision you've ever made, every friend you've ever discussed something with, and attack you on that basis, to sort of derive suspicion from an innocent life and paint anyone in the context of a wrong-doer."

2. If you are not concerned about PRISM, then what about the "Boundless Informant" NSA datamining tool? The Guardian posted a screenshot and you should notice that the USA is not in green, as in not "the least subjected to surveillance." The Guardian reported that "in March 2013 the agency collected 97 billion pieces of intelligence from computer networks worldwide."

3. After the Boston bombing, a former FBI counterterrorism agent claimed there is no such thing as secure digital communication; the government captures and stores all of your phone calls. "Welcome to America. All of that stuff is being captured as we speak whether we know it or like it or not," stated Tim Clemente. "I'm talking about all digital communications are -- there's a way to look at digital communications in the past. I can't go into detail of how that's done or what's done. But I can tell you that no digital communication is secure."

4. Does that mean people will dump email and go back to the United States Postal Service snail mail? It's extremely doubtful folks would do that, not that it is "private" either. While explaining how FBI agents discovered who sent ricin in envelopes to President Barack Obama and New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, the FBI credited the USPS and its computer system. The FBI "accessed a Postal Service computer system that 'incorporates a Mail Isolation Control and Tracking (MICT) program'." It "photographs and captures an image of every mail piece that is processed." 

5. William Binney has enlightened the public about many NSA things, but last summer he warned, "Domestically, they're pulling together all the data about virtually every U.S. citizen in the country and assembling that information, building communities that you have relationships with, and knowledge about you; what your activities are; what you're doing. So the government is accumulating that kind of information about every individual person and it's a very dangerous process."

6. Thomas A. Drake, another NSA whistleblower, warned, "If you take what has been happening post 9/11 security world, what you're seeing is the establishment of a surveillance society. You're seeing the establishment of the surveillance network....People don't realize the extent to which we are already surveilled in many, many different ways -- the extent to which vast amounts of our own transactional data, in all forms -- all electronic forms, and emails, and your tweets, and bank records, and everything else, are all subject -- or suspect, in terms of surveillance....It raises the specter of kind of the rise of soft tyranny. It raises the specter of you're automatically suspicious until we prove that you're not. It raises the specter of a universal -- I call it a universal wiretap, a persistent universal wiretap on every single person, or if not, they can create one."

7. The EFF has been warning us about the dangers of surveillance and the shredding of privacy and civil liberties for about a decade, including warrantless wiretapping and surveillance abuses both by the FBI and the NSA. Besides fighting for our rights in numerous court cases and via FOIA requests, last summer EFF Staff Attorney Jennifer Lynch testified about facial recognition before the Judiciary Subcommittee on Privacy, Technology and the Law. "Face recognition is here to stay, and, though many Americans may not realize it, they are already in a face recognition database," Lynch stated. "The National Institute of Justice has developed a 3D binocular and camera that allows realtime facial acquisition and recognition at 1000 meters." She also spoke about the goal of the FBI's Next Generation Identification (NGI) system "to allow law-enforcement agencies to identify subjects in 'public datasets,' which could include publicly available photographs, such as those posted on Facebook or elsewhere on the Internet....The FBI has also stated that it hopes to be able to use NGI to track people as they move from one location to another."

8. The ACLU has warned about Americans' movements being tracked via automatic license plate readers that are "logging your every move" and creating a "surveillance society." The ACLU also discovered that "the government is routinely violating Americans' privacy rights" via "warrantless cell phone surveillance." This is yet more tracking, such as precision location to give a cell phone owner's GPS coordinates. Cell Tower Dumps are popular with law enforcement, giving police all of the cellphone numbers that used in a particular cell tower, regardless of innocence or guilt. And back in 2010, the ACLU warned that "spying on Free Speech is nearly at Cold War levels."

9. EPIC, and other privacy groups, have protested a "massive DHS database" of secret watchlists, a database that contained "names, photos, birthdays and biometrics." EPIC also took up the charge against "naked" body scanners in airports; Americans who opted out of body scanners were subjected to TSA groping—something that should never happen in the U.S. simply because a citizen chose to fly. Happily, the TSA has since stopped "digital strip searches" by removing x-ray body scanners from U.S. airports.

10. In 2011, Project PM, with Barrett Brown who was raided twice and arrested in 2012, sounded an alarm, giving 'classified intelligence' details about the sophisticated mass surveillance system Romas/COIN (Odyssey), which "had capabilities to monitor and automatically analyze millions of conversations, and then secretly store a wide range of personal data."

11. NSA expert James Bamford warned that the NSA has records of everything you do online. "Once you start eavesdropping on everybody's form of communication today, from cellphones to tweets to e-mails to Google searches, then you're basically getting into a person's mind. You know exactly what they're thinking of every minute of the day if they're always on the phone or on the e-mail or looking through Google searches, and that's much more dangerous. And that's what the NSA has developed its capability for."

There have been seemingly endless Anti-Sec dumps, such as Booz Allen Hamilton, and others with data about domestic spying accomplished via help from HB Gary Federal. Social media is monitored and datamined by most government agencies, so anything you "say" on social networking sites could come back to bite you. The IRS was caught targeting conservative groups that applied for tax-exempt status and used words like "patriot" in the organization's name. These are but a few examples of the continuing loss of privacy and civil liberties in the U.S., as if its citizens are all potential future terrorists or criminals; it's more than seven examples about forms of surveillance focusing on American citizens as if they are the threat to their own country. Sadly, no tinfoil hat is required, as that's not being paranoid, it's simply the way it is right now in our beloved USA.

Once upon a time, we fought the Nazis and then we went through the Cold War. At that time, governments that spied on everyone—thought they needed to know everything about everybody—were wrong...even called evil by some. Yet somehow our great nation has come to adopt those same surveillance principles as the only way to protect national security. Sadly, that makes it seem like the terrorists have won. Surely there are ways to protect America's national security without making it seem like Americans are the enemy.

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