My American friends always like to boast that America is ‘the land of the free’ and ‘the land of opportunity’. I get that. We all love our own homelands. But when it comes to America, how free are you exactly?
For instance, you have no privacy when it comes to travelling. Everywhere you go and everything you do is logged and recorded and sent to the Department of Homeland Security to further classify and analyse your movements and your habits.
The DHS, in conjunction with other agencies, uses a system known as IDENT. IDENT is a continually growing database that holds biometric information and other personal data on over 220-millions unique individuals and processes 350,000 fingerprint transactions every day, of people who have entered, attempted to enter, and exited the United States of America.
After 9/11 and other worldwide terrorist attacks, ‘security’ and population surveillance everywhere have increased in ways only imagined by dystopian sci-fi novels some twenty or so years ago.
What most people are unaware of, is the new security system that is quietly being implemented by the Department of Homeland Security across the US. The system is known as HART.
HART is poised to become the largest database of biometric and biographic data on citizens and foreigners in the United States. It will collect information from a variety of agencies and sources, such as ICE, CPB, CAPA, and many, many others.
Some of the information that will be collected on both citizens and foreigners, is as follow:
- Face recognition. Face recognition systems can be used to identify people in photos, video, or in real-time. So whether you are at a political rally, at a peaceful demonstration, at a religious gathering, or simply going about your day shopping for groceries, the government will know your exact location at all times.
A lot of the data from Face recognition is collected from mugshot images, which are taken upon arrest. A lot of people are arrested in demonstrations, or because they have spat with an officer or any other minimal offense. Mugshots go into the HART database even before a judged has had a chance to determine guilt or innocence. These images are hardly ever removed from the police databases, even if the arrestee has never had charges brought against them.
Additionally, face recognition has been used to target people engaging in protected speech.
DHS uses mobile biometric devices that allow field agents from immigration and customs to scan everyone they come in contact with; even when you are not suspected of any criminal activity or immigration violation.
- Voice recognition. The new HART database will record your voice and conversations. Devices like Amazon Alexa, Amazon Echo, Google Home and others already listen in and record your conversations.
A lot of these companies (read Amazon) allegedly work in conjunction with government agencies like the CIA. Not long ago, in 2016, The FBI Won a Court Order Forcing Apple to Install Backdoor in iPhone Security Systems, so they can have an easier time accessing user’s private information.
This isn’t an altogether new trend. For years now, the NSA has been illegally listening in on phone conversations and collecting emails from private citizens that have done nothing wrong. Based on the information collected, the government even denies American the right to travel to countries it disapproves of, like Cuba.
Other sites like Facebook and Google store everything about you, including every place you have visited, every message you ever sent or been sent, both voice and text, all the contacts in your phone, etc. Your smartphone, smartwatch and fitness devices are all tracking you, even if GPS services are turned off.
- Rapid DNA. Is a hands-free process for DNA profiling. The information is stored by the FBI in a database named CODIS (Combined DNA Index System.)
- Relationship patterns. The information here is derived from two main sources:
1- Information put in your profile by Law enforcement such as policemen or other government officials. For instance, let’s say they found you drank on the streets and helped you get home; or that maybe you had an argument with the lady at the Land Register Office because she was being rude or incompetent.
2- Social Media records. Even when the information is publicly available, a lot of social media records include a lot of highly personal and private information. The information they will collect would be about your habits and likes, as well as information of family members and friends who might be lawful U.S. citizens or permanent residents. Those two groups are explicitly protected by the Privacy Act.
However, Homeland Security plans to collect, store and share biometric and biographic records it receives from external agencies and to exempt this information from the federal Privacy Act.
- Tattoo Recognition. This is a technology still in its infancy; but it uses images of people’s tattoos to identify information about them, such as political beliefs or religious affiliation. People with similar tattoos might be categorized together.
The American National Standard for Information Systems has a very handy PDF with some of the markers and metadata used for classification.
- Birthmarks. It follows the same procedures for classification and tagging as Tattoo Recognition.
- Fingerprints. It uses a system of 10 fingerprints instead of 2.
- Palm prints. It scans your entire palms. While fingerprints don’t change over time, they can be affected by external conditions. Or in case of very paranoid people out there that want to pull a “Se7en” on the government.
- Iris Recognition. Unlike retinal scanning, iris recognition uses camera technology with subtle infrared illumination to acquire images of the intricate structures of the iris. Digital templates encoded from these patterns by mathematical and statistical algorithms enable positive identification of an individual. Iris Scan. In contrast with a Retina Scan, it doesn’t require the subject to be closed to to the camera for identification.
- Full name. It includes a list of all first name, middle name, last name, married/divorced names and nicknames, and aliases.
- D.OB. Date of birth and location.
- Gender. Assigned birth gender plus your chosen gender and/or identification.
- Signature. Your trademark for official documents.
- Personal Physical details. Such as height, weight, eye color, and hair color;
Other assigned number identifies, such as, but not limited to:
- Alien Registration Number (A- Number).
- Social Security Number (SSN).
- Civil Record Number.
- Federal Bureau of Investigation Number (FBI).
- Transaction control number (TCN).
- Global Unique Identifier (GUID).
This is just the tip of the iceberg. CBP Commissioner Kevin McAleenan has stated CBP wants to be able to use biometrics to “confirm the identity of travelers at any point in their travel,” not just at entry to or exit from the United States. This includes creating a “biometric pathway” to track all travelers through airports, from check-in, through security, into airport lounges and shops, and onto flights. Given CBP’s recent partnerships with airlines and plans to collect social media credentials, this could also mean CBP plans to track travelers from the moment they begin their internet travel research. Several Congress members have introduced legislation to legitimize some of these plans.source: ssd.eff.org
Could you opt- out? No. DHS plans to roll out its face recognition program to every international flight in the country within the next four years. DHS has stated “the only way for an individual to ensure he or she is not subject to collection of biometric information when traveling internationally is to refrain from traveling.”
At this point is common knowledge that the mainstream media is nothing short of an extension of government, where all the news come to us pre-packaged and pre-approved by the State, including all the social causes we should care about and all the rage we should feel.
What if the ‘border crisis‘ is another manufactured crisis to implement HART and other surveillance systems?
Most recently, President Donald Trump extended the powers of the Presidential Policy Directive 20, which gives the U.S. government power to conduct surveillance through monitoring. The existence of this program was made made public in June 2013 by Edward Snowden, and it is the main reason he has to live in exile.
And it certainly seems HART is going to plan according to Donald Trump’s aims to tighten border security measures.
The President’s Executive Immigration Order in Jan-2017 – which is best known for suspending all visitors to the US from seven majority Muslim countries – also included a clause expediting Biometric Exit, with three progress reports to be made over the year. A revised order was issued in Mar-2017, containing the same language, and while both orders were stayed by federal courts, the Biometric Exit system remains one of the new administration’s top priorities for CBP.Source: CAPA