Diary

Big Brother is watching you!

I have previously noted the federal government’s requirement for computerized health records, in a common format, which can be easily transferred from one health care provider to another. Supposedly, this will improve health care, but, in reality, this is just a way that the government will be able to track and search your medical records.

Now the government wants Apple to provide a “back door” to break encryption on the iPhone.

Apple opposes judge’s order to hack San Bernardino shooter’s iPhone

By Evan Perez and Tim Hume, CNN | Updated 5:24 AM ET, Thursday, February 18, 2016

(CNN)Apple is opposing a judge’s order to help the FBI break into the iPhone of one of the San Bernardino, California, shooters, calling the directive “an overreach by the U.S. government.”

A public letter, signed by Apple CEO Tim Cook and published Tuesday, warns that complying with the order would entail building “a backdoor to the iPhone” — “something we consider too dangerous to create.”

Naturally, Donald Trump thinks that Apple should hack Syed Farook’s phone, making him indistinguishable from any other liberal Democrat.

“The government is asking Apple to hack our own users and undermine decades of security advancements that protect our customers — including tens of millions of American citizens — from sophisticated hackers and cybercriminals,” the letter said.

Such a move would be an “unprecedented step,” threatening the security of Apple’s customers, it said.

“No reasonable person would find that acceptable.”

The letter called for a public discussion on the order, saying the company was “challenging the FBI’s demands with the deepest respect for American democracy and a love of our country.”

“We believe it would be in the best interest of everyone to step back and consider the implications,” the letter said.

For the government, and law enforcement, the implications as far as people’s privacy are concerned are meaningless. That’s why police departments, which are supposed to exist to protect the rights of innocent people, are so very supportive of taking away people’s Second Amendment rights.

I won’t go into the Apple story further; plenty of other people have done that. What I want to note is just more of the same Big Brotherism from the Keystone State:

Goodbye registration stickers; hello license plate readers

By Jackie Cain | Published 6:40 PM EST February 10, 2016

HARRISBURG, Pa. —You can say goodbye to those license plate registration stickers soon. Pennsylvania authorities have a new way to make sure your car is on the road legally.

PennDOT invited police and lawmakers to see a demonstration of an automated license plate reader (ALPR) on Wednesday in Harrisburg.

A reader scans thousands of license plates and runs the numbers through PennDOT’s database, allowing law enforcement to see if a driver has an expired registration or no insurance. It can also detect whether a vehicle is reported stolen.

“We call this catching criminals that are hiding in plain sight,” said Sean Petty, of public safety communications consultant Mission Critical Partners. “You can have hundreds of vehicles pass you in the course of a shift that you would never otherwise check in your computer, whereas this device is constantly checking every vehicle going past your car.”

While the new system is supposed to save PennDOT about $3 million a year in buying and mailing out the yearly registration stickers, the obvious question becomes: how are local police departments going to pay for the new technology:

Pennsylvania police chief skeptical of PennDOT’s plan to eliminate registration stickers

Officials question how state plans to finance ambitious transition to Automated License Plate Reader (ALPR) technology

By Michael Tanenbaum | PhillyVoice Staff | February 17, 2016

Last week, the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation announced that it will begin phasing out registration stickers at the start of 2017 in order to implement Automated License Plate Reader (ALPR) technology in law enforcement agencies statewide. At least one police chief in Pennsylvania says, however, that he has no idea how Pennsylvania plans to adequately fund the transition and train officers to use the new database.

Beaver Falls Police Chief Charles Jones told Government Technology that his department was never briefed on the impending change and that he only heard about it through the news.

“I saw it on the news and I’m the chief of police at a fairly (large) sized police department in Beaver County,” Jones said. “And I have to watch the news to find out this information?”

Under the proposed plan, PennDOT will issue its final registration stickers on Dec. 30, 2016. Customers will still be required to have their vehicles registered and inspected, but as of Jan. 1, 2017, they will no longer need to display a registration sticker. At that point, customers who renew their registrations online will be able to print and save a copy of an official registration card.

From the vantage point of police departments, this ambitious goal carries significant technology and training costs. PennDOT says the elimination of registration stickers will recoup savings of $3 million in the first year by cutting more than $2 million in annual mailing costs and $1 million in annual product costs.

Dave Piuri, president of the Beaver Valley Fraternal Order of Police, says the math doesn’t quite add up.

“The last estimate I heard is that it would cost $18,000 for one of (the automated scanners),” Piuri said. “The idea that we could even get one of those readers into every police department’s hands, let alone in every police cruiser, is not realistic.”

According to the U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics 2008 ‘Census of State and Local Law Enforcement Agencies,’ Pennsylvania had 1,117 agencies employing 27,413 sworn police officers. For each agency to receive one machine at the estimated price quoted by Piuri, the cost would exceed $20 million. At the time of its announcement, PennDOT did not address financing for the project beyond its reference to the annual savings noted above.

Jones said he was concerned by the state’s lack of communication about funding, adding that there are a lot of questions that have yet to be answered for police departments.

How will local police departments pay for the new devices? No one will admit it, of course, but I will tell you how: they will be paid for by generating thousands upon thousands more traffic tickets! And it won’t be long before PennDOT cross-references these things with whether your vehicle inspection is up-to-date, or you are behind on your child-support payments or have a concealed weapons permit — don’t think that New York and New Jersey wouldn’t love to track that item on out-of-state vehicles! — or whatever other thing the Geheime Staatspolizei believe they want to talk to you about. And if the computer can scan your plates and check to see if you are legal, it can also document where your vehicle was at any time it was near a police car.

We will be told, of course, that this is a good thing, that it will catch bad guys who have let their registrations lapse — and you had better remember, because you won’t have that sticker on your plate to remind you! — but it’s just another way that Stasi can keep track of your movements.

The Комитeт госудaрственной безопaсности will deny that anything troubling or invasive of privacy will occur due to these tracking devices being forced upon police departments; no one would expect anything else. But it is difficult to see how a free people can remain free when the government is asking for ways to track your movements and break into your iPhones.
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Cross-posted on The First Street Journal.