Friday, October 8, 2010

Germany's remedial lessons in national ID

BTC- It's looking like national identity and RFID have coupled up again finding another place to burrow into the German population.  It brings me sadness to see a nation who has overcome so much, coming so far from their past of fostering some of the most oppressive, fascist societies in Europe's modern world history only to watch history repeat itself.  Germany's RFID embedded ID cards will be available by November 1st, 2010.

After the fall of the Berlin wall in 1989, the people of East Germany began to recover from a psychologically and economically oppressive government.  Prior to this, both the Nazi SS and Stasi East German policies made demands for citizenship papers at every turn of citizens and travellers. It is one the most obvious symptoms a facist society in full swing.  It was tragic to find that these policies were invited by the DHS in an effort to control our open and liberty-oriented society by creating an identity mandate for Americans.  We foolishly believed we could never be "like Germany".

Americans  engaged in the struggle for personal liberty are fighting successive attempts by DHS machinery to reinvent a plan for national identity.  However, it is important to understand how to retain and express empathy and compassion for all nations who are struggling with the very mandates which trouble us.   One time tested venue for expressing company in misery is through music.

Talib Kweli, musician and intellectual, connected with the arbitrary demand for citizenship papers and the potential for racial profiling in the State of Arizona, over SB1070 in his song Paper's, Please!

Operation "Rail Safe" amplifies DHS voice over loudspeaker

Just get through it.
BTC -  Through my travels, I have observed a seasonal effort to increase local passenger surveillance on public transit. Sometimes passengers actually do create problems for themselves and others. That's part of the public transit system. However, it really adds a touch of cold war scope creep when you get to hear announcements made by the DHS Secretary "if you see something, say something".   This also means terrorism is subject to interpretation by the general public, who are not trained law enforcement professionals.

Today Operation Rail Safe was set in motion by the TSA nationwide to supervise trains, specifically AMTRAK systems. 

To keep it in perspective, recent reports compare that more people die of poverty than from terrorism.   *Ghandi's said once, "Enforced poverty is the worst violence against a people".

So here's my casual advice for passengers;  do not allow ANYONE on public transit to provoke you.

Here are my reasons.

There may be a rider who: doesn't like your hair, who is having a bad day or for whatever reason wants to see otherwise innocent people lose their freedoms. Transit personnel may and have openly tested riders, just like police officers, to initiate a confrontation so they have cause to search and detain people they simply don't like.  There are a lot of malicious people in life whose aim is to put you in a bad situation. In these treacherous times, a confrontation on public transit could lead to your name and events being dumped into a terrorist watch list.  We know this because basic traffic infractions have been entered into fusion center databases.  Suddenly, someone who had a speeding ticket is in the same database as someone with reasonable suspicion of being an international terrorist.  In won't be fair, but the results are the same.  Ask one the hundreds of thousands of innocent people on TSA's no-fly list.

We are asking you to not be that fearful working class hero. Be that reasonable innocent getting from A-to-B.

In the Bay Area, it's all seems to be part of TransitWatch. In the East Bay and Oakland, where a securely detained passenger may be murdered in broad daylight by local police working the public transit beat; the TSA has initiated Operation Rail Safe.

MORE HERE: Video@KTVU- OAKLAND: Security Beefed Up At Local Amtrak Station

Other News: Chicago Activists Raided by FBI Refuse to Participate in "Fishing Expedition"
John Lennon's Fingerprints Seized  by FBI at Memorabilia Shop

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Private health records sold or distributed

SEE ALSO: Electronic Health Records watch your weight 

Patient Privacy Rights --Austin, TX -- A new investigative report found that the Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS) collects detailed hospital-patient data from nearly every hospital in the state. The agency has sold or given away hospital patients' data since 1999, covering nearly 28 million individual patient stays from 1999 through 2008, according to DSHS. According to the report, these "Public Use Data Files" are available on the website of the DSHS Texas Health Care Information Collection Center for Health Statistics.

Physicians and researchers are not the only customers. The same patient-data files are sold or given to trade groups, lobbyists, businesses, individuals, and even anonymous downloaders. None of this trading is done with patient consent. Texas is not the only state in the United States selling or giving away sensitive hospital records to anyone who wants them.

  • Buyers of the patient data include:
  • 3M Health Information Systems of Silver Spring, Maryland
  • America's Health Insurance Plans of Washington, D.C.
  • Blue Cross Blue Shield of Texas of Richardson, Texas
  • Data Advantage LLC of Hermitage and Louisville, Kentucky
  • Health Info Technics LLC of Brentwood, Tennessee
  • Ingenix of Westerville, Ohio
  • Intellimed International Corporation of Phoenix, Arizona
  • McKinsey & Company of Florham Park, New Jersey
  • Medtronic Inc. of Mounds View, Minnesota

"State officials imagine that simply taking names and parts of addresses off our health data means that our records cannot be traced back to us, but that is simply wrong", said Deborah Peel, MD, founder of Patient Privacy Rights. "Even if you take off patient name and other information, when you match that data with other data sets, such as a voter registration, you can often re-identify information. There is really nothing 'anonymous' about personal health information."

Amateurs re-identified AOL search records. University of Texas' computer scientists re-identified people's Netflix movie ratings. In 1997, Dr. Latanya Sweeney used two public data sets to identify the medical records of then Governor William Weld. Very simple technologies make re-identification of the most personal information about each of us a 'snap'.

DSHS' files include over 200 fields of information, including insurance coverage, tests, medications and items such as patient procedures like "sterilization," "abortion performed due to rape," or a drug- or alcohol-related diagnosis.

In the next 1-2 years, Texas alone will spend $38 million to exchange Texans' health data. Other states are doing the same thing. The federal government will spend $39 billion on health information exchange. Patient Privacy Rights is very concerned that the money will simply used to expand the theft, sale, and use of the health information of all 300 million Americans.

"Unless we build consumer control over personal health information into every state and national health IT system, we will destroy everyone's privacy and ensure generations of discrimination based on sensitive health records, from our prescriptions to our DNA," said Peel.

Making health data available for corporate and private uses and preventing these same users from selling the data or using it to discriminate against people in jobs, insurance, and credit is an extremely serious problem. States and the federal government must address this dangerous problem now, BEFORE expanded health IT systems and data exchanges can receive funding. Once our sensitive health and demographic data is exposed, it's too late. It can never be made private again.

Federal stimulus funds should only be used to buy MODERN, privacy-protective technologies, not today's dinosaur systems that were built without regard to patients' rights to control health information. Unless we act NOW, the stimulus billions will be used to buy model-T Fords, instead of hybrids and electric cars.

View the full story in the Austin Bulldog here.

REASON: Trickle Down Surveillance

The Pennsylvania spying scandal reveals a deeper problem with homeland security.

by Matt Harwood
"The public attention, contract termination, and Powers’ resignation all make it easy to say case closed: A homeland security bureaucrat overreached and fortunately he was smacked down by the state’s citizens and their elected representatives. But what Pennsylvania’s surveillance scandal shows is that a disturbing federal trend has trickled down to the states."

Sly and the Family Stone...because you need it

Also very good from the Family catalog, Stand! 

Mobile surveillance and what it might look like

A Guardian ST820...Sales restricted to army and law enforcement
BTC - The above picture is linked to a report about a device found underneath a car's chassis.  The device turned out to be a recently legalized device for federal location surveillance using GPS.  Concerns are increasing about the legal use and precedent for this type of public tracking.

In another instance of disturbing auto surveillance, David Lindorff writes about the risks to public health from mobile backscatter X-Ray machines performing invisible searches for persons hidden in vans or cars.  The proposed use for these machines is to find people being illegally trafficked or transported.  Here's how it actually works:
"In theory, the device is supposed to be safe for human targets, because it is operated at a distance, and because the beam is weakened by penetrating the metal of a vehicle before it reaches a person. But the flaws in this kind of reassuring safety calculus are readily apparent in a photo of a small truck carrying contraband that accompanies the Christian Science Monitor story. The X-ray image, after penetrating the truck cab’s metal body, clearly shows the contraband behind the driver’s seat, but it also just as clearly shows the shadowy outline of the driver of the pickup. Worse yet, even his window is half-way down, so there is no shielding at all of the X-rays hitting his head. Houses meanwhile, are most often built of wood, which offers little or no shielding protection." - Dave Lindorff 
Here's what a DHS Backscatter X-Ray van looks like:

*Special thanks to my friend, actor Tim Biancalana, who put the vans back on our radar. Biancalana's work can be seen in a film called ZENITH, due for release this month at the IFC Center.   The film casted another friend, Sander Hicks, who is now a historic figure in NYC's culture of controversial truth telling.

The Downside of monitoring public waste programs

c/o DownSize DC

Somebody could be snooping in your trash . . . and you're paying for it!
In a growing number of cities across the U.S., local governments are placing computer chips in recycling bins to collect data on refuse disposal, and then fining residents who don't participate in recycling efforts and forcing others into educational programs meant to instill respect for the environment.
In at least one city, Dayton, Ohio, this invasion of your privacy is paid for by federal "Stimulus" funds.
Worse, there is evidence that recycling programs actually HARM the environment! Dayton's recycling subsidy is just one of thousands of examples of misspent Stimulus funds, and another piece of evidence that the Stimulus should never have passed.

You may borrow from or copy this letter . . .
The Stimulus was advertised as putting money in "shovel-ready" projects that would create jobs. But it is a gigantic waste and you must rescind all remaining funds. 
For example: $500,000 went to the city of Dayton, Ohio to snoop in people's garbage and rearrange trash bins! 
This isn't job creation, it's social engineering. 
Dayton's trash disposal policy is Dayton's concern, not mine or yours. The Constitution does not authorize the federal government to give aid to states or cities, which means federal funding of this program violates the Tenth Amendment. 
There are 99 similarly wasteful projects listed in a report by Sens. McCain and Coburn that you should read. 
I resent my dollars paying for projects like these. Rescind the Stimulus!