June 13, 2014

Our ever-increasing surveillance state - Updates

New federal database will track Americans' credit ratings, other financial information

As many as 227 million Americans may be compelled to disclose intimate details of their families and financial lives -- including their Social Security numbers -- in a new national database being assembled by two federal agencies.

The Federal Housing Finance Agency and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau posted an April 16 Federal Register notice of an expansion of their joint National Mortgage Database Program to include personally identifiable information that reveals actual users, a reversal of previously stated policy.
--
FHFA will manage the database and share it with CFPB. A CFPB internal planning document for 2013-17 describes the bureau as monitoring 95 percent of all mortgage transactions.  FHFA officials claim the database is essential to conducting a monthly mortgage survey required by the Housing and Economic Recovery Act of 2008 and to help it prepare an annual report for Congress.

The rational for such a huge and unprecedented database is weak..  They want it for simple reporting purposes to Congress.  Given what the IRS has done in illegally accessing and transferring personal information of political opponents, this is a step way too far.

The mortgage database is unprecedented and would collect personal mortgage information on every single-family residential first lien loan issued since 1998. Federal officials will continue updating the database into the indefinite future……The Chamber of Commerce said that while Congress did ask for regular reports, it never granted FHFA the authority to create the National Mortgage Database.

Let's not forget the potential of data breaches that have doubled in the past 3 years.

The GAO reported in December that  breaches containing personally identifiable information from federal databases shows unlawful data breaches have doubled, from 15,140 reported incidents in 2009 to 22,156 in 2012.

Even the White House reported in May on the cybersecurity of federal databases and warned, "if unchecked, big data could be a tool that substantially expands government power over citizens.”

 Surveillance3  NSA Intercepts Millions Of Photos For Massive Facial Recognition Database

The National Security Agency intercepts "millions of images per day" for use in a previously undisclosed facial recognition database, James Risen and Laura Poitras report in The New York Times, citing documents leaked by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden.

Are you on the FBI's Facial Recognition Database

The FBI has begun using a facial-recognition surveillance system that will store millions of mug shots - and could even use driving license pictures.  FBI Director James Comey told lawmakers 'We’re piloting the use of mug shots, along with our fingerprint database, to see if we can find bad guys by matching pictures with mug shots.  Earlier this year the Electronic Frontier Foundation revealed the system is capable of processing 55,000 faces a day - and that it will have 52 million faces by 2015.

US pushing local police departments to keep quiet on cell-phone surveillance technology

The Obama administration has been quietly advising local police not to disclose details about surveillance technology they are using to sweep up basic cellphone data from entire neighborhoods, The Associated Press has learned.

Interviews, court records and public-records requests show the Obama administration is asking agencies to withhold common information about the equipment, such as how the technology is used and how to turn it on. That pushback has come in the form of FBI affidavits and consultation in local criminal cases.

"These extreme secrecy efforts are in relation to very controversial, local government surveillance practices using highly invasive technology," said Nathan Freed Wessler, a staff attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union, which has fought for the release of these types of records. "If public participation means anything, people should have the facts about what the government is doing to them."
Posted by Jill Fallon at June 13, 2014 11:46 PM | Permalink