Red Light / Surveillance Cameras
Pre-Crime And Mind Control Technologies Are Already Here
Should the government be trying to figure out if we are going to commit a crime in advance? That sounds like something out of a Tom Cruise movie, but the truth is that “pre-crime” technologies such as were portrayed in Minority Report are being aggressively developed, and some have actually already been deployed. We live at a time when technology is advancing at an exponential rate, and it can be really hard to keep up with how rapidly our world is changing. In the future, authorities may not only be able to use pre-crime technology to read our minds, they might also be able to use technology to directly control our minds as well. Yes, I know that sounds science fiction, but after I tell you about some cutting edge research that has been taking place at Harvard Medical School you might not think that such a notion seems so bizarre.
But first I want to discuss some of the very disturbing pre-crime technologies that the government is working on. One of the most prominent programs is known as FAST (Future Attribute Screening Technology). According to Wikipedia, this pre-crime system is already so advanced that developers claim that it has about an 80% success rate…
Future Attribute Screening Technology (FAST) is a program created by the Department of Homeland Security. It was originally titled Project Hostile Intent. The purpose is to detect “Mal Intent” by screening people for “psychological and physiological indicators” in a “Mobile Screening Laboratory”.
The program was under the Homeland Security Advanced Research Agency and the Science & Technology Human Factors Behavior Science Division of DHS. In a meeting held on July 24, 2008 the DHS Under Secretary Jay Cohen stated, the goal is to create a new technology that would be working in real time as opposed to after a crime is already committed.
The DHS science spokesman John Verrico stated in September 2008 that preliminary testing had demonstrated 78% accuracy on mal-intent detection and 80% on deception.
The technology behind FAST is extremely complex, but it can be fooled. So once FAST is operational you better not get too nervous or have a particularly bad day, because according to Professor Margaret Hu the consequences of being “convicted” of a pre-crime by FAST could potentially include “deportation, prison, or death”…
FAST is currently under testing by DHS and has been described in press reports as a “precrime” program. If implemented, FAST will purportedly rely upon complex statistical algorithms that can aggregate data from multiple databases in an attempt to “predict” future criminal or terrorist acts, most likely through stealth cybersurveillance and covert data monitoring of ordinary citizens. The FAST program purports to assess whether an individual might pose a “precrime” threat through the capture of a range of data, including biometric data. In other words, FAST attempts to infer the security threat risk of future criminals and terrorists through data analysis.
Under FAST, biometric-based physiological and behavioral cues are captured through the following types of biometric data: body and eye movements, eye blink rate and pupil variation, body heat changes, and breathing patterns. Biometric- based linguistic cues include the capture of the following types of biometric data: voice pitch changes, alterations in rhythm, and changes in intonations of speech. Documents released by DHS indicate that individuals could be arrested and face other serious consequences based upon statistical algorithms and predictive analytical assessments. Specifically, projected consequences of FAST ‘can range from none to being temporarily detained to deportation, prison, or death.’
Perhaps you are reading this and you assume that the widespread implementation of such a system is still a long way off.
Well, if that is what you are thinking, you would be wrong.
Hundreds of pre-crime surveillance cameras are to be installed in San Francisco’s subway system that will analyze “suspicious behavior” and alert guards to potential criminal or terrorist activity – before any crime has been committed.
“Manufacturers BRS Labs said it has installed the cameras at tourist attractions, government buildings and military bases in the U.S. In its latest project BRS Labs is to install its devices on the transport system in San Francisco, which includes buses, trams and subways,” reports the Daily Mail.
The cameras are programmed with a list of behaviors considered “normal”. Anything that deviates from usual activity is classified as suspicious and guards are immediately alerted via text message or a phone call.
Equipped with the ability to track up to 150 suspects at a time, the cameras build up a “memory” of suspicious behavior to determine what constitutes potential criminal activity.
A total of 288 cameras will be installed across 12 transport hubs.
And without a doubt more major cities will soon be adopting such technology.
So try not to act suspiciously – someone may be watching.
Another very disturbing technological development was recently reported on by Businessweek. Researchers at Harvard Medical School have apparently found a way for a human to control the mind of a rat…
The rat is pinned down. It’s laying prostrate on what looks like a hospital bed with its head in some sort of vice. The rat is white and huge and has a black ribbon tied around the middle of its tail. Now and again, the tail flicks. Unremarkable, right?
Well, yes, except that the rat is having its mind controlled by human thought—and there’s evidence all around that our minds might soon come under control, too.
In April, when researchers from Harvard Medical School published the rat video on YouTube, they were demonstrating the creation of a brain-to-brain interface formed between human and vermin. Basically, the human could concentrate on a specific idea and—via something called transcranial focused ultrasound, or FUS—an impulse would be sent to excite the part of the rat’s brain that controls tail movement. The experiment worked 94 percent of the time, with a thought taking about 1.5 seconds to travel from human to rat.
So precisely how does this work? A recent ExtremeTech article explained how the researchers are doing this…
Which brings us neatly onto Harvard’s human-mouse brain-to-brain interface. The human wears a run-of-the-mill EEG-based BCI, while the mouse is equipped with a focused ultrasound (FUS) computer-brain interface (CBI). FUS is a relatively new technology that allows the researchers to excite a very specific region of neurons in the rat’s brain using an ultrasound signal. The main advantage of FUS is that, unlike most brain-stimulation techniques, such as DBS, it isn’t invasive. For now it looks like the FUS equipment is fairly bulky, but future versions might be small enough for use in everyday human CBIs.
With the EEG equipped, the BCI detects whenever the human looks at a specific pattern on a computer screen. The BCI then fires off a command to rat’s CBI, which causes ultrasound to be beamed into the region of the rat’s motor cortex that deals with tail movement.
So could this kind of technology eventually be used to control human minds?
And already there have been quite a few other researchers that have achieved some stunning breakthroughs in the field of mind control technology…
Back in 2008, Japanese researchers discovered a way to monitor someone’s neural activity and figure out what object or word they are thinking of from a constrained set of choices. This year, scientists at Japan’s National Institute of Genetics recorded a video of a fish brain forming a thought by figuring out which neurons light up when the animal contemplated food. The chip maker Intel (INTC) and researchers at Carnegie Mellon University have done some very promising work around mind-reading with humans. They can ask a person to think about a specific object and can then determine—90 percent of the time—what that object is by watching brain activity on an fMRI machine. So far, the vocabulary for the tests is limited to about 1,000 words, and the subjects are merely picking between a couple of words at a time, but their success rate is good enough to conceive of people being able to turn a smartphone or a TV on and off via thoughts alone.
Does all of this sound very strange to you?
It sounds very strange to me too.
But we need to be aware of these things. Just imagine what a tyrannical government could do with such technologies. It would potentially be able to gain a level of control that tyrants of the past never even dreamed possible.
Pre-crime and mind control technologies are already here and they will undoubtedly become far more advanced in the future.
So how will governments around the world choose to use these technologies?
That is a frightening thing to think about.
Image credit: http://thetruthwins.com
Senator Wyden: 2 Patriot Acts, the one one can read and the “real” version which one can not
An effort is underway in the House (Thanks to Justin Amash, the Republican congressman from Michigan) to defund part of the NSA. Special interests within and around the agency are concerned. For pretty much forever the agency has been seen as untouchable.
And though the attached article doesn’t touch on this aspect, it is important for people to remember that there is a massive complex of government contractors which work for and /or supply the NSA which wields lots of power on the Hill. The amounts which flow to these “private” interests is likely huge. (Judging from their buildings which litter Northern Virginia and southern Maryland, we don’t get to see actually how much they get as the information is classified.)
But neither the agency nor its many private satellites probably need to worry too much. For all the attention the NSA is getting at this moment, for all the calls for greater transparency, Diane Feinstein says she has the NSA’s back. As she is the head of the Senate Intelligence Committee that matters. The dollars will likely keep flowing as before.
We can only hope that people like Mr. Amash in the House, and Mr. Wyden in the Senate will keep the light burning on this issue. The establishment wants America to be OK with the NSA spying on them. I’m thankful at least a few people in the Capitol care enough to say and do something even if the rest of Congress quietly bows and pretends that the Bill of Rights isn’t being violated.
“If we do not seize this unique moment in our constitutional history to reform our surveillance laws and practices, we will live to regret it,” he (Wyden) said.
“Sen. Mark Udall and I tried again and again to get the executive branch to be straight with the American public, but under the classification rules observed by the Senate, we are not even allowed to tap out the truth in Morse code,” he said. “And we tried just about everything else we could think of to warn the American people.”
“I tell Oregonians that there are effectively two Patriot Acts,” he said. “The first is the one they can read on their laptop in Medford or Portland, analyze and understand,” Wyden said. “Then there’s the real Patriot Act – the secret interpretation of the law that the government is actually relying on.”
About Nick Sorrentino
Nick Sorrentino is the co-founder and editor of AgainstCronyCapitalism.org. A political and communications consultant with clients across the political spectrum, he lives just outside of Washington DC where he can keep an eye on Leviathan.
Posted by Judy Morris
Driving somewhere? There’s a government record of that
WASHINGTON (AP) — Chances are, your local or state police departments have photographs of your car in their files, noting where you were driving on a particular day, even if you never did anything wrong.
Using automated scanners, law enforcement agencies across the country have amassed millions of digital records on the location and movement of every vehicle with a license plate, according to a study published Wednesday by the American Civil Liberties Union. Affixed to police cars, bridges or buildings, the scanners capture images of passing or parked vehicles and note their location, uploading that information into police databases. Departments keep the records for weeks or years, sometimes indefinitely.
As the technology becomes cheaper and more ubiquitous, and federal grants focus on aiding local terrorist detection, even small police agencies are able to deploy more sophisticated surveillance systems. While the Supreme Court ruled in 2012 that a judge’s approval is needed to track a car with GPS, networks of plate scanners allow police effectively to track a driver’s location, sometimes several times every day, with few legal restrictions. The ACLU says the scanners assemble what it calls a “single, high-resolution image of our lives.”
“There’s just a fundamental question of whether we’re going to live in a society where these dragnet surveillance systems become routine,” said Catherine Crump, a staff attorney with the ACLU. The civil rights group is proposing that police departments immediately delete any records of cars not linked to a crime.
FBI sued over secretive facial recognition program
Soon the FBI will be done building a database containing the photographs, fingerprints and other biometric data for millions of Americans, but the agency has been far from forthcoming with the details. A new lawsuit filed this week aims to change that.
The Electronic Frontier Foundation, a non-profit digital rights group based out of California, sued the United States Department of Justice this week for failing to comply with multiple Freedom of Information Act requests filed last year by the EFF.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation received no fewer than three FOIA requests from the EFF last year for details about its state-of-the-art Next Generation Identification program, or NGI, a system that will store personally-identifiable data for millions of Americans and foreign nationals to act as what the FBI has called a “bigger, faster and better” version of what law enforcement already uses. But while the bureau has indeed already been using fingerprint information to track down potential terrorists and troublemakers for years, the EFF’s main concern revolves around what sort of space-age face recognition abilities NGI will be able to employ.
The FBI previously acknowledged that NGI will “house multimodal biometrics records like palm prints and iris scans” in one master system, as well as facial imaging information and intelligence about scars, marks and tattoos. Eventually, the agency said, it hopes to incorporate technology to track down people using only their voice. For now, though, the EFF is interested in what the facial recognition infrastructure will be able to do, and is demanding the FBI fesses up.
“NGI will change almost everything about how the FBI treats photograph submissions,” the complaint filed this week reads. Citing government documents, the EFF says that the system will allow “the increased capacity to retain photographic images, additional opportunities for agencies to submit photographic images and additional search capabilities, including automated searches.”
“The proposed new system would also allow law enforcement ‘to collect and retain other images (such as those obtained from crime scene security cameras’ and from family and friends) and would allow submission of ‘civil photographs along with civil fingerprint submissions that were collected for noncriminal purposes,’” the EFF continues.
When all is said and done, the FBI will be able to use NGI to scan millions of entries in a single database to find someone based off of a single photograph, and the EFF fears that could send things down a slippery slope.
“Governmental use of face recognition — and the potential for misuse — raises many privacy concerns,” the EFF says in the lawsuit.
Using statements already made by the FBI about the program, the EFF presents an argument about why they should be worried that’s hard to counter.
“The FBI has also stated in a public presentation given at a national biometrics conference that it wants to use its facial recognition system to ‘identify unknown persons of interest from images’ and ‘identify subjects in public datasets,’” the complaint continues. “In the same presentation, the FBI included a graphic image that implied the Bureau wanted to use facial recognition to be able to track people from one political rally to another.”
Another digital watchdog group, the Electronic Privacy Information Center, previously alleged that NGI system could be integrated with other surveillance technology in order to enable “real-time image-matching of live feeds from CCTV surveillance cameras.”
Obtaining information about how the FBI will manage and operate this information has been a priority for the EFF for over a year now, and the failure to comply with those FOIA requests has finally prompted the organization to ask a court to intervene.
“NGI will result in a massive expansion of government data collection for both criminal and noncriminal purposes,” EFF Staff Attorney Jennifer Lynch said in a statement this week. “Biometrics programs present critical threats to civil liberties and privacy. Face-recognition technology is among the most alarming new developments, because Americans cannot easily take precautions against the covert, remote and mass capture of their images.”
The EFF is asking the court to enforce the FOIA requests sent last June and July, which could compel the FBI to disclose information about the face-recognition program and any plans to merge civilian and criminal records in a single database. They are also asking for the total number of face-recognition capable records currently in the database and an assessment of what number the agency expects to have when it rolls out the program in 2014.
“Before the federal government decides to expand its surveillance powers, there needs to be a public debate,” Lynch said. “But there can be no public debate until the details of the program are presented to the public.”
In a July 18, 2012 assessment, the FBI reported that the program was “on scope, on schedule, on cost and 60 percent deployed.” The program is being put together by contractors Lockheed Martin, who are expected to rake in $1 billion from the government by the time the NGI system is finally up and running.
The FBI previously admitted that they found 7,380 records that were “potentially responsive” to one of the EFF’s request, but has yet to deliver actual information pursuant to any of the three FOIA submissions filed, prompting the nonprofit to allege the FBI is “dragging its feet.”
“FBI has not explained to the public how NGI or IAFIS’s system design would ensure that civil submissions are not ‘tainted’ by criminal submissions or explained why it is necessary to combine the two types of data,” the EFF wrote in the complaint.
Posted by Laissez Faire Today
Law enforcement agencies are increasingly using sophisticated cameras, called “automated license plate readers,” or ALPRs, to scan and record the license plates of millions of cars across the country. These cameras, mounted on top of patrol cars and on city streets, can scan up to 1,800 license plate per minute, day or night, allowing one squad car to record more than 14,000 plates during the course of a single shift.
Photographing a single license plate one time on a public city street may not seem problematic, but when the data are put into a database, combined with other scans of that same plate on other city streets, and stored forever, it can become very revealing. Information about your location over time can show not only where you live and work, but your political and religious beliefs, your social and sexual habits, your visits to the doctor, and your associations with others. And according to recent research reported in Nature, it’s possible to identify 95% of individuals with as few as four randomly selected geospatial data points (location plus time), making location data the ultimate biometric identifiers.
To better gauge the real threat to privacy posed by ALPRs, the Electronic Frontier Foundation and the ACLU of Southern California asked the LAPD and LA Sheriff’s Department for information on their systems, including their policies on retaining and sharing information and all the license plate data each department collected over the course of a single week in 2012.
After both agencies refused to release most of the records we asked for, we sued. We hope to get access to these data, both to show just how many data the agencies are collecting and to show how revealing they can be.
Automated license plate readers are often touted as an easy way to find stolen cars — the system checks a scanned plate against a database of stolen or wanted cars and can instantly identify a hit, allowing officers to set up a sting to recover the car and catch the thief. But even when there’s no match in the database and no reason to think a car is stolen or involved in a crime, police keep the data.
According to the LA Weekly, the LAPD and LASD together already have collected more than 160 million “data points” (license plates plus time, date, and exact location) in the greater LA area — that’s more than 20 hits for each of the more than 7 million vehicles registered in LA County. That’s a ton of data, but it’s not all — law enforcement officers also have access to private databases containing hundreds of millions of plates and their coordinates collected by “repo” men.
Law enforcement agencies claim that ALPR systems are no different from an officer recording license plate, time and location information by hand. They also argue the data don’t warrant any privacy protections because we drive our cars around in public. However, as five justices of the Supreme Court recognized last year in U.S. v. Jones, a case involving GPS tracking, the ease of data collection and the low cost of data storage make technological surveillance solutions such as GPS or ALPR very different from techniques used in the past.
Police are open about their desire to record the movements of every car in case it might one day prove valuable. In 2008, LAPD police Chief Charlie Beck (then the agency’s chief of detectives) told GovTech magazine that ALPRs have “unlimited potential” as an investigative tool. “It’s always going to be great for the black-and-white to be driving down the street and find stolen cars rolling around… But the real value comes from the long-term investigative uses of being able to track vehicles — where they’ve been and what they’ve been doing — and tie that to crimes that have occurred or that will occur.” But amassing data on the movements of law-abiding residents poses a real threat to privacy, while the benefit to public safety is speculative, at best.
In light of privacy concerns, states including Maine, New Jersey, and Virginia have limited the use of ALPRs, and New Hampshire has banned them outright. Even the International Association of Chiefs of Police has issued a report recognizing that “recording driving habits” could raise First Amendment concerns because cameras could record “vehicles parked at addiction-counseling meetings, doctors’ offices, health clinics, or even staging areas for political protests.”
But even if ALPRs are permitted, there are still common-sense limits that can allow the public safety benefits of ALPRs while preventing the wholesale tracking of every resident’s movements. Police can, and should, treat location information from ALPRs like other sensitive information — they should retain it no longer than necessary to determine if it might be relevant to a crime, and should get a warrant to keep it any longer. They should limit who can access it and who they can share it with. And they should put oversight in place to ensure these limits are followed.
Unfortunately, efforts to impose reasonable limits on ALPR tracking in California have failed so far. Last year, legislation that would have limited private and law enforcement retention of ALPR data to 60 days — a limit currently in effect for the California Highway Patrol — and restricted sharing between law enforcement and private companies failed after vigorous opposition from law enforcement. In California, law enforcement agencies remain free to set their own policies on the use and retention of ALPR data, or to have no policy at all.
Some have asked why we would seek public disclosure of the actual license plate data collected by the police — location-based data that we think is private. But we asked specifically for a narrow slice of data — just a week’s worth — to demonstrate how invasive the technology is. Having the data will allow us to see how frequently some plates have been scanned; where and when, specifically, the cops are scanning plates; and just how many plates can be collected in a large metropolitan area over the course of a single week. Actual data will reveal whether ALPRs are deployed primarily in particular areas of Los Angeles and whether some communities might, therefore, be much more heavily tracked than others. If these data are too private to give a week’s worth to the public to help inform us how the technology is being used, then isn’t it too private to let the police amass years’ worth of data without a warrant?
After the Boston Marathon bombings, many have argued that the government should take advantage of surveillance technology to collect more data, rather than less. But we should not so readily give up the very freedoms that terrorists seek to destroy. We should recognize just how revealing ALPR data are and not be afraid to push our police and legislators for sensible limits to protect our basic right to privacy.
Jennifer Lynch and Peter Bibring
A version of this article was originally posted here.
1 million terabytes a day saved forever.
The ARGUS array is made up of several cameras and other types of imaging systems. The output of the imaging system is used to create extremely large, 1.8GP high-resolution mosaic images and video.
The U.S. Army, along with
Boeing, has developed and is preparing to deploy a new unmanned aircraft
called the “Hummingbird.” It’s is a VTOL-UAS (vertical take-off and
landing unmanned aerial system). Three of them are being deployed to
Afghanistan for a full year to survey and spy on Afghanistan from an
altitude of 20,000 feet with the ability to scan 25 square miles of
And we are allowed to know about ARGUS, what else is out there?
San Francisco, California is the second-most densely populated urban area in the US, but those nearly one million residents of the City by the Bay are about to lose what little amount of privacy they have.
The San Francisco Public Utilities Commission has started work on a program that will update a number of the city’s 18,000 streetlights during the next few years. Those new installations might do a whole lot more than just illuminate sidewalks and keep streets lit for cars, though. Through part of a pilot program, city officials can send data wirelessly between more than a dozen of those streetlights.
What kind of data can a lamppost collect, though? In San Francisco, the answer is a lot. According to a report in the SF Bay Guardian, Paradox Engineering of Switzerland has already started testing streetlamps in the city that have the ability to wirelessly transmit data from traffic signals and surveillance cameras from one device to another. Soon, though, there will be more than just 14 cameras with that kind of capability. Additionally, the city is currently searching five vendors to test even more advanced lampposts across the city.
During last year’s Living Labs Global Award in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, the LLGA gave Paradox the go-ahead to start testing lights in San Francisco. In a just-issued Request for Proposals, the city calls on others to pitch similar products. In the request, the City writes that as they begin replacing the 18,000 streetlights, the SFPUC “also plans to install an integrated wireless communication monitoring and control system” in order to manage the devices.”
“Ideally, the wireless system will accommodate other wireless devices, unrelated to street lighting, in a common wireless system mesh network,” the request reads.
When the City goes more into detail, the kind of devices that will need to connect to the lamps are brought to light. “Future needs for the secure wireless transmission of data throughout the City,” reads the report, may include gunshot monitoring, electric meter reading, street surveillance, public information broadcasts and other types of monitoring.
“San Francisco thought they were upgrading their 18,000 lamps with LEDs and a wireless control system, when they realized that they were in fact laying the groundwork for the future intelligent public space,” LLGA cofounder Sascha Haselmeyer tells Open Source Cities.
San Francisco isn’t the first city to bring this new form of surveillance to light — literally — but it might be the biggest. In 2011, Farmington Hills, Michigan became the first city in the US to rely on something called the Intellistreets project to watch over pedestrians. For $3,000 a piece, those high-tech luminaries don’t just provide light, but also record audio and video, all data that can be sent from device to device.
“This is not a system with spook technology,” Intellistreets founder Ron Harwood told WXYZ News when his small Michigan town first started trying out the devices. With 18,000 traffic lights in a city of 800,000 possibly embracing that same technology, though, it says a lot about the growing trend of secretive surveillance in the US.
“We’ve become somewhat accustomed to being visually monitored by the surveillance cameras that dot our urban landscapes, but audio monitoring and widespread, covert monitoring are not so common,” the PrivacySOS.org blog reports.
San Francisco first began installing public surveillance cameras in 2005, and four years later a report from the University of California Berkeley found that the devices failed to detersviolent crimes, including homicide, as well as rapes and drug dealing.
“Precious public safety dollars need to be spent on solutions that actually work to reduce violent crime, like community policing, intervention programs and improved lighting, not on more ineffective and intrusive cameras,” Nicole Ozer of the American Civil Liberties Union’s Northern California office said in 2009. Four years later, however, it seems as if the city is deadest on installing even more devices.
“In a few years, there may be no place to hide from San Francisco police surveillance – unless you drive to get around,” PrivacySOS adds. “The increasingly aggressive San Francisco surveillance regime appears to disproportionately affect low income people. In the privacy of your own car, you are probably free from city monitoring. But if you walk to work or take the bus, you better mind what you say.”
Talking Surveillance Cameras Coming to U.S. Streets
The National Motorists Association has a warning for the millions of drivers hitting the road for the busy holiday travel season: Beware of the yellow lights.
The timing of yellow lights on traffic signals at many intersections is purposely set to a minimum so more drivers can be ticketed for running red lights, says the 30-year-old activist group based in Waunakee, Wis.
This past summer in New Jersey, the transportation department ordered 21 cities and towns to suspend the use of red-light cameras at 63 intersections because the timing of yellow lights at those locations was below the minimum established by state law.
Other cities—including Dallas; Chattanooga, Tenn.; and Union City, Calif.—have been caught shortening yellow lights in the past decade as red-light cameras have become sources of steady revenue. The cameras snap photos of license plates on any vehicles in an intersection while the light is red, and citations, often carrying fines of $100 or more, are mailed to the registration’s address.
“Cities and for-profit camera companies maximize revenue by setting yellow-light times that are too short,” said National Motorists Association President Gary Biller. “It is a violation of the public trust, and it jeopardizes motorist, cyclist, and pedestrian safety.”
Ironically, slightly longer yellow lights can significantly increase safety by allowing more time for intersections to clear, the group says. Biller cited one study that found just one additional second of yellow time can reduce the number of collisions in an intersection by 40 percent.
Longer yellow lights also greatly reduce the number of red-light violations. A recent Texas study concluded, “Lengthening the yellow light interval by as little as 0.5 to 1.5 seconds decreases the incidence of red-light running violations by 50 percent or more,” Biller said in a Nov. 16 letter to the head of the Federal Highway Administration, Victor Mendez.
The Philippines has approved measures to prosecute users that post “defamatory” comments on social media websites such as Twitter and Facebook. They will be liable for a fine of 1 million pesos (US$24,000) or face up to 12 years in prison.
Websites that publish the material may also be shut down.
The cyber-law has been branded as ‘draconian’ and a serious violation of freedom of speech by rights groups.
“The cyber crime law needs to be repealed or replaced,” said Brad Adams, Asia director of the Human Rights Watch. “It violates Filipinos’ rights to free expression and it is wholly incompatible with the Philippine government’s obligations under international law.”
He stressed that while the bill was in action it will have a “chilling effect over the entire Philippines online community.”
The new legislation extends Philippines libel law, which has been previously contested by Human Rights Watch, into cyberspace.
Aside from prosecuting users who post material deemed offensive, the bill grants authorities the power to collate and retain information from people’s Facebook and Twitter profiles, as well as eavesdropping on conversations over Skype.
“Anybody using popular social networks or who publishes online is now at risk of a long prison term should a reader – including government officials – bring a libel charge,” Adams said. “Allegedly libelous speech, online or off-line, should be handled as a private civil matter, not as a crime.”
By Judge Andrew Napolitano | Judge Napolitano, a former judge of the Superior Court of New Jersey, is the senior judicial analyst at Fox News Channel. He is author of It Is Dangerous to Be Right When the Government Is Wrong and Lies the Government Told You and others.
Judge Napolitano talks with Jerry about the growing government intrusion in our lives and the violation of our constitutional rights.
Published on Oct 2, 2012 by GuyFawkes2009