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  1. #1
    Senior Member AirborneSapper7's Avatar
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    Congress OKs 30,000 flying drones spying on Americans across U.S. cities

    Congress OKs 30,000 flying drones spying on Americans across U.S. cities

    Natural News
    February 9, 2012 at 15:24:19
    This article cross-posted from Natural News



    By J. D. Heyes It's the most benign thing in the world. In fact, it's a concept whose time has come and it will only help protect us and keep us safe. Naturally, there's nothing to worry about because there won't be any abuse of the technology. After all, spy drones are already being used around the U.S.; what's the problem with adding tens of thousands more?

    In case you didn't know it -- and you probably didn't -- Congress, with little fanfare,
    passed an FAA reauthorization bill last week President Obama is expected to sign into law that will make it much easier for the government to put scores of unmanned spy drones into American skies.

    Not only that, the legislation authorizes the Federal Aviation Administration to develop regulations for the testing and licensing of commercial drones by 2015. If the law takes full effect, it is believed as many as 30,000 drones could be hovering over the U.S. by 2020.

    The drones, which are widely used in Afghanistan to spot and target suspected insurgents and Taliban operatives in that country as well as neighboring Pakistan, have been used by American government agencies like U.S. Customs and Border Protection, a division of the Department of Homeland Security, for a few years, in an observation/surveillance capacity. DHS has also used drones in disaster-relief operations, and advocates say they can be successfully employed to fight fires and locate missing hikers.

    Say Good-bye to Privacy

    Privacy advocates, however, are sounding the alarm good and loud.

    "There are serious policy questions on the horizon about privacy and surveillance, by both government agencies and commercial entities," Steven Aftergood, head of the Project on Government Secrecy at the Federation of American Scientists, told the Washington Times.

    Jennifer Lynch, an attorney with the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a watchdog group, added that her organization is particularly "concerned about the implications for surveillance by government agencies."

    Her agency is suing the FAA to determine just how many certificates the agency has already issued to police, government agencies and a smattering of private research institutions to allow them to fly drones in U.S. airspace. The agency says it handed out 313 certificates in 2011; by year's end, 295 were still active "but the FAA refuses to disclose which agencies have the certificates and what their purposes are," said the Times.

    "We need a list so we can ask [each agency], 'What are your policies on drone use? How do you protect privacy? How do you ensure compliance with the Fourth Amendment?'" Lynch said.

    "Currently, the only barrier to the routine use of drones for persistent surveillance are the procedural requirements imposed by the FAA for the issuance of certificates," Amie Stepanovich, national security counsel for the Electronic Privacy Information Center, told the paper.

    Surveillance Society

    The use of drones to keep an eye on American citizens is just the next step in what has become the move towards a so-called "surveillance society" that is growing rampant in the U.S.

    Barry Steinhardt, director of the ACLU's Technology and Liberty Program, says while the widening use of video cameras in American society may have helped nab some criminals, they often provide a false sense of security.

    "It's the illusion of security ... public authorities like to give the impression they are doing something about crime and terrorism," he told Wired.com.

    Furthermore, are we comfortable with being constantly under surveillance?

    "Do we want a society where an innocent individual can't walk down the street without being considered a potential criminal?" asks the ACLU, on its Web site.

    http://www.opednews.com/articles/Con...20209-787.html
    Last edited by AirborneSapper7; 02-12-2012 at 06:35 AM.
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    Senior Member AirborneSapper7's Avatar
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    Drone lobby cracks open American Skies: "Enabling unmanned drones to fly freely in civil airspace"

    by Drone Wars UK



    Global Research, February 11, 2012
    Drone Wars UK


    The drone lobby in the US has had a stunning success in pushing its agenda of enabling unmanned drones to fly freely in civil airspace. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Bill has been passed by both Senate and Congress and now simply awaits President Obama’s signature before becoming law. The bill sets a deadline of 30 September 2015 by which the FAA must allow “full integration” of unmanned drones into US civil airspace

    This deadline, along with several other provisions were pushed by the US drone lobby group, Association of Unmanned Vehicle Systems International (AUVSI). In fact AUVSI boast on its website about helping to draft some of bill.

    Given that there is as yet no proven technology that would allow drones to ‘sense and avoid’ other aircraft, the deadline of just 3˝ years before full integration is either incredibly ambitious – or just plain foolish. Already pilots are expressing their disquiet as Business Week reports:

    Commercial airlines and pilots are less than thrilled with the idea of sharing the sky. They point out there’s no system that allows operators of unmanned aircraft to see and steer clear of piloted helicopters and planes. Nor are there training requirements or standards for the ground-based “pilots” who guide them. It’s also not clear how drones should operate in airspace overseen by air-traffic controllers, where split-second manoeuvring is sometimes required. Until unmanned aircraft can show they won’t run into other planes or the ground, they shouldn’t be allowed to fly with other traffic, says Lee Moak, president of the Air Line Pilots Assn.

    Privacy issues also seem to have been ignored by the bill (and AUVSI, naturally). Hours before the bill was passed Jay Stanley of the ACLU urged Congress
    “to impose some rules (such as those we proposed in our report) to protect Americans’ privacy from the inevitable invasions that this technology will otherwise lead to. We don’t want to wonder, every time we step out our front door, whether some eye in the sky is watching our every move…. The bottom line is: domestic drones are potentially extremely powerful surveillance tools, and that power — like all government power — needs to be subject to checks and balances.”
    Despite these safety and civil liberties concerns, thanks to the drone lobbyists thousands of drones will soon be flying in US airspace. The question then is could it happen here? Will unmanned drones be allowed to fly freely in UK civil airspace too? While it may seem like science fiction at the moment, there are many vested interests working hard behind the scene to make it happen.

    At the European level, the EU has been having a series of meetings over the past year to prepare a strategy document for the introduction of drones within European airspace as the Sunday Times recently reported last week (quoting us).

    European and UK lobby groups acting on behalf of the drone industry are pushing the advantages of drones and talking up their usefulness in many news publications. New Scientist magazine reports how Unmanned Vehicle Systems International, a lobby group based in the Paris, says that drones will become “vital tools in many fields, from helping police track stolen cars to assisting emergency services in crisis situations such as fires, floods and earthquakes, to more prosaic tasks like advertising or dispensing fertiliser from the air.” (“High time to welcome the friendly drones” said the New Scientist editorial) . The BBC website also last week reported on how drones are cheaper and better at checking on whether farmers are complying with Common Agricultural Policy rules.

    In the UK, as regular readers will know, the ‘industry-led consortium’ ASTRAEA, aims “to enable the routine use of UAS (Unmanned Aircraft Systems) in all classes of airspace without the need for restrictive or specialised conditions of operation.”

    The programme is funded 50% by the taxpayer and 50% by some of the UK’s biggest military companies. According to the ASTRAEA website, the UK drone lobby group, Unmanned Aerial Vehicle Systems Association (UAVS) and the Ministry of Defence are also ‘stakeholders’ in the programme. As the UAVS website states on their website much of their representation takes place “behind closed doors”.

    There are two main hurdles for the drone lobby to overcome before unrestricted drone flying will become the norm in the UK. First is the safety issue. At the moment the UK Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) which is responsible for UK civil airspace severely restricts the use of drones (but see our article here ). Their main objection comes from a safety perspective. At last years ASTRAEA conference, John Clark from the UK CAA told delegates that it is for industry and the UAV community to prove that it will meet standards – “whatever you propose it must be safe” he said. There is a long way to go before the drone industry will satisfy the CAA and the public that drones are at least as safe as ‘manned’ aircraft.

    Second is public skepticism. The MoD and the drone industry are well aware that the public do not like the thought of drones flying above their heads in the UK. While there will be a lot of activity over the next year or twoby lobbyists focusing on reassuring the public that drones are neither frightening nor dangerous, there also needs to be discussion about what is acceptable to the British public. As Ben Hayes of the campaign group Statewatch says in the BBC piece mentioned above, while there are lots of things that drones can be useful for, ”the questions about what is acceptable and how people feel about drones hovering over their farmland or their demonstration – these debates are not taking place.”

    Unlike the US, the debate on drones in civil airspace is still wide open. We need to make sure it is not just the industry lobbyists whose voices are heard.


    Drone lobby cracks open American Skies: "Enabling unmanned drones to fly freely in civil airspace"
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    Senior Member AirborneSapper7's Avatar
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    DARPA Set to Drop Computer "F-Bombs" to Spy on Public


    Nicholas West
    Activist Post
    Monday, February 13, 2012

    It's bad enough that drones have been welcomed by Congress into American skies, as well as already being used around the planet to conduct surveillance and bomb select countries from remote locations.

    The latest proposed addition to the drone spy program is even creepier: disposable computers with software programs funded by DARPA to be dropped as self-destructing "bombs."

    Now, not only will drones surveil and hack from above, but they will drop a payload to interface with hidden computers on the ground, completely integrating a full-spectrum data transmission and control grid.

    The name of the project, as well as its announcement at a hacker convention called ShmooCon, had this non-techie convinced that it had to be satire or a hoax, but the project has also been noted by Forbes and Wired, which only serves to illustrate how far off into our dystopian technocratic police state we have wandered. It seems that we are being acclimated to how funny and cool our futuristic spy toys have become.

    This fun has culminated in the planned dropping of F-BOMBS (Falling or Ballistically-launched Object that Makes Backdoors) to combat "Bad Men With Guns."

    The F-BOMB introduces the idea of disposable surveillance as a guard against forensic evaluation and the ability to track the source of the drop. Creator, Brendan O'Connor, has received DARPA funding to implement a software package into his nearly non-traceable surveillance hardware as cheaply as possible with easy-to-obtain components.

    Back in August, another DIY project was introduced as the Wireless Aerial Surveillance Platform (since renamed Project Vespid).

    This modified military drone was put together from parts legally obtained on the Internet by two hackers (intelligence agency consultants, actually) Rich Perkins and Mike Tassey, who presented their work at a Black Hat conference. The release was supported by a breathless Wolf Blitzer who seized upon the announcement to illustrate the new threat of being hacked from above. Brendan O'Connor has reduced the DIY cost of similar capabilities to no more than a few hundred dollars with his F-BOMB project.

    O'Connor summarizes the value and capabilities of his new Sacrificial Computing for Land and Sky concept in the video that follows, highlighting that his surveillance tool can be planted manually, or dropped from specialized drone aircraft:



    Similar to the creators of the home-made WASP hacking drone, O'Connor states that he is merely exposing the vulnerabilities of networks and their users.

    Despite its name, O’Connor says the F-BOMB is designed to be a platform for all sorts of applications on its Linux operating system. Outfit it with temperature or humidity sensors, for instance, and it can be used for meteorological research or other innocent data-collecting. But install some Wifi-cracking software or add a $15 GPS module, and it can snoop on data networks or track a target’s location, O’Connor adds. As is often the case with these kinds of hacker projects, he says the devices are only intended for penetration testing–finding security flaws in clients’ networks in order to fix them–and wouldn’t comment on what DARPA might do with the technology (Source)

    However, this rings false (or profoundly naive), as O'Connor also has received his funding from the very organization that is at the forefront of using taxpayer money to eradicate privacy around the world, including that of American citizens. As a result, the government already can:


    • Hack your personal information (source)
    • Monitor your private phone calls (source)
    • Read your private e-mails (source)
    • Spoof cell phone towers (source)
    • Break down firewalls (source)
    • Jam cellular frequencies causing denial of service (source)
    • Disrupt and manipulate Wi-Fi signals (source)
    • Track your every move (source)

    Although O'Connor said that he wouldn't comment on what DARPA might do with the technology, his own business website Malice Afterthought indicates a solid working relationship with military intelligence:

    Our principal, Brendan O'Connor, has taught at the US military's cybersecurity school as well as working for both VeriSign and Sun Microsystems in their security divisions; he has also worked for DARPA and startups as a combination engineer, dreamer, and mad scientist capable of making even the most challenging tasks into reality.


    We should all know by now that we don't have to be technology experts to envision some rather dark applications that are no longer security challenges, but are part of an agenda to fundamentally alter our reality and perceived social contract within a supposedly free society. That reality has little to do with protecting citizens' data and privacy, and everything to do with covering the tracks of government's ubiquitous intrusion into our private lives, as well as ramping-up their violation of the Constitution by presuming guilt over innocence, and subjecting citizens to their mad science and mad dreams.

    Additional sources:
    http://singularityhub.com/2012/02/03/hold-dropping-the-f-bomb-a-disposable-spy-computer...

    http://www.wired.com/geekdad/2012/01/f-bomb-shmoocon/

    RELATED ACTIVIST POST ARTICLE:
    How Close Are We to a Nano-based Surveillance State?

    Please help us combat censorship: vote for this story on Reddit: http://www.reddit.com/r/conspiracy/comments/pn3wb/darpa_set_to_drop_computer_fbombs_to_spy_on_public/

    Read other articles by Nicholas West here.

    Activist Post: DARPA Set to Drop Computer "F-Bombs" to Spy on Public
    Last edited by AirborneSapper7; 02-14-2012 at 12:49 AM.
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