Favorite Quotes

"Once you walk into a courtroom, you've already lost. The best way to win is to avoid it at all costs, because the justice system is anything but" Sydney Carton, Attorney. "There is no one in the criminal justice system who believes that system works well. Or if they are, they are for courts that are an embarrassment to the ideals of justice. The law of real people doesn't work" Lawrence Lessig, Harvard Law Professor.



Thursday, April 24, 2014

"See Something Know Nothing" should be our clueless public's slogan about govt. spying


'See Something Know Nothing' should be our clueless public's slogan about how little we know about police/govt. spying.  We see them spying but our govt. doesn't want you to know anything about it. (I should copyright the slogan, lol)

New spying device called 'Conversnitch' Tweets your conversations

A tiny new spy device aims to automatically transcribe and Tweet overheard conversations. It's called Conversnitch.

Two artists have revealed Conversnitch, a device they built for less than $100 that resembles a lightbulb or lamp and surreptitiously listens in on nearby conversations and posts snippets of transcribed audio to Twitter. Kyle McDonald and Brian House say they hope to raise questions about the nature of public and private spaces in an era when anything can be broadcast by ubiquitous, Internet-connected listening devices.

“What does it mean to deploy one of these in a library, a public square, someone’s bedroom? What kind of power relationship does it set up?” asks House, a 34-year-old adjunct professor at the Rhode Island School of Design. “And what does this stream of tweets mean if it’s not set up by an artist but by the U.S. government?”

They say it bridges the gap between (presumed) private physical space and public space online.

They released a
video of the device being connected to a table lamp at a bank, in a hanging lamp at a McDonald's, in a library light, and even a street lamp in a New York City park.

The device needs to have continuous access to an Internet-connected wireless network to work. It continually records 10 second samples, analyzes for interesting audio and uploads a transcribed version of it.

Their Twitter feed shows conversations they say have been captured by their device.

They say, "Information moves between spaces that might be physical or virtual, free or proprietary, illegal or playful, spoken or transcribed" is all game for their device.

The creators have released the documentation on how to build the device on the software development site GitHub and say the plans are completely free to use for any purpose.

“You can’t make this stuff up anymore,” says McDonald. “Here were Brian and I trying to make something kind of scary, something that makes you wonder if someone’s watching you all the time. And then Snowden says, ‘They are.’”
http://www.myfoxny.com/story/25320323/s-device-live-tweets-private-conversations
http://www.wired.com/2014/04/coversnitch-eavesdropping-lightbulb/

Louisiana is building a database of all it’s “citizens”

Authorities in Louisiana are compiling a database of information on every citizen in order to identify people who are “a risk to the state,” as well as pinpointing future criminals in an effort to allow the state to “intervene in that person’s life”.

Click here to watch the video.

Details of the program were recently divulged by Chris Broadwater, Republican member of the Louisiana House of Representatives from District 86, in a YouTube video which can be viewed above.
 
The Comprehensive Person Profile, developed by software company SAS, uses information from every agency of state government to compile personal data entries on Louisiana residents which are centralized on one database.
 
Originally set up to combat fraudulent workers’ compensation and unemployment insurance claims, the program was expanded to create a “centralized data warehouse” that allows “every agency within state government” to both submit and access data on every person within the state.
 
The purposes of the database, in the words of Broadwater, are to “detect fraud” and to identify people who are “a risk to the state down the road based upon the information we know about the individual,” enabling authorities to quickly identify “an individual who is going to be at risk of incarceration down the road,” a process that sounds an awful lot like ‘pre-crime’.
 
Broadwater remarks that the state having such a treasure trove of information about each individual will allow authorities to “intervene in that person’s life”.
 
The program is also being introduced under the guise of making the lives of Louisiana residents “better” by way of things like speeding up the process of renewing a drivers license. Broadwater notes that during this process, state workers would be able to access information about the applicant’s children and make recommendations about health insurance.
 
Very little information about how the state of Louisiana is actually using the program is in the public domain besides what Broadwater reveals in the video.
 
Activist outfit The People, LLC is calling on citizens of Louisiana to support Rep. Schroder’s HB 1076 (data privacy) bill, which would go some way to nullifying that information that could be shared with the state database.
http://www.infowars.com/louisiana-creates-database-of-citizens-who-represent-a-risk-to-the-state/

California Sheriff ran illegal air surveillance (spied) on every resident:

The Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department acknowledged this week that Compton residents were not notified of an airborne video-surveillance program that was tested in 2012.
 
"No notification to the residents was made because this system was being tested in a city where cameras were already deployed and the system was only being evaluated," the department said in a statement released Tuesday.
 
Officials said the department decided the program was not useful and dropped it after the test period.
 
Under the nine-day trial program in January 2012, a video camera was mounted on a small plane that was deployed for six-hour periods during the day, the department said. 

The Sheriff's dept. dropped it because they were exposed, police around the country are spying on EVERYONE.

The plane, which flew out of Long Beach Airport, was operated by a private company that provides airborne surveillance technology.
 
They claim the resolution of the video footage was not sufficient to allow authorities to identify people (anyone) who might have been suspected of breaking the law (whatever happened to probable cause?)

The Center for Investigative Reporting and the KQED public radio station reported on airborne surveillance systems being used by law enforcement to spy on every citizen.
http://www.latimes.com/local/lanow/la-me-ln-sheriff-air-surveillance-compton-without-telling-residents-20140423,0,5902950.story#axzz2zjjpi86K

87% of online spying comes from govts.

The latest annual Data Breach Investigations Report by Verizon Communications reveals that there has been a three-fold increase in cyber espionage since the last report was published in April 2013.

Oddly, there's no mention of the most prolific spying agency in the world the NSA!
 
Of the 511 spying incidents recorded, 87 per cent were conducted by "state-affiliated actors" (governments), as opposed to 11 per cent by organized criminal groups.
 
China and other East Asian nations were identified as the origin of 49 percent of espionage attacks while Eastern European countries were suspected to be the origin of 21 percent of the attacks. Some 25 percent of spying incidents could not be attributed to attackers from any country, according to Verizon.

The DOJ has issued gag orders against Twitter and Yahoo concerning grand jury subpoenas that have been sent to both companies.

The federal govt. has a disturbing array of tools and technologies in its investigative arsenal, and it goes to great lengths to shield its tactics from public scrutiny. Not only does this secrecy prevent the public from challenging indiscriminate surveillance used against them, but it also means the public can't discuss their government's actions.

Click here to read more.

The most prolific method of gaining access to a victim’s environment is spear phishing, whereby a well-crafted and personally-relevant email is sent to a targeted user, prompting them to open an attachment or click a link within the message.

"Spying is nothing new and we shouldn’t be surprised that the political entities around the world are expanding their intelligence arsenals with modern capabilities," said Tim Erlin, director of security and risk at Tripwire, commenting on the report.

"It’s likely that the data from the Verizon report is a trailing indicator of the increasing cyber-espionage capabilities around the world.”

Cyber espionage is one of nine basic attack patterns that almost all security incidents fall into. These also include: miscellaneous errors such as sending an email to the wrong person, crimeware (various malware aimed at gaining control of systems), insider/privilege misuse, physical theft/loss, Web app attacks, denial of service attacks, point-of-sale intrusions, and payment card skimmers.
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/technology/internet-security/10782541/Governments-responsible-for-87pc-of-online-spying.html

Our gov't just got a lot more secret: James Clapper bars unauthorized contacts with reporters on any intel-related matters

Employees of U.S. intelligence agencies have been barred from discussing any intelligence-related matter _even if it isn’t classified _ with journalists without authorization, according to a new directive by Director of National Intelligence James Clapper.

Intelligence agency employees who violate the policy could suffer career-ending losses of their security clearances or outright termination, and those who disclose classified information might face criminal prosecution, according to the directive, which Clapper signed March 20 but was made public only Monday by Steven Aftergood, who runs the Federation of American Scientists’ Project on Government Secrecy.

Under the order, only the director or deputy head of an intelligence agency, public affairs officials and those authorized by public affairs officials may have contact with journalists on intelligence-related matters.

The order doesn’t distinguish between classified and unclassified matters. It covers a range of intelligence-related information, including, it says, “intelligence sources, methods, activities and judgments.”

It includes a sweeping definition of who’s a journalist, which it asserts is “any person . . . engaged in the collection, production or dissemination to the public of information in any form related to topics of national security.”

The order represents the latest move by the Obama administration to stifle leaks. It bolsters another administration initiative called the Insider Threat Program, which requires federal employees to report co-workers who show any of a broad variety of “high risk” behaviors that might indicate they could be sources of unauthorized releases of classified or unclassified material. Clapper’s new directive “is a response to the same basic anxiety: that intelligence employees might be talking out of school,” said Aftergood. “It’s what I think is a rather heavy-handed attempt to crack down on unauthorized communications. It doesn’t specify that it’s limited to classified information and indeed, disclosures of classified information are already prohibited if unauthorized.”

“IC employees . . . must obtain authorization for contacts with the media” when it comes to intelligence-related matters, and they “must also report . . . unplanned or unintentional contact with the media on covered matters,” the directive says.

Our government has become so secretive that confronting authority could make you a domestic terrorist.

Click here to watch the video.

Read more here: http://www.mcclatchydc.com/2014/04/21/225055/us-intelligence-chief-bars-unauthorized.html#storylink=cpy

Read more here: http://www.mcclatchydc.com/2014/04/21/225055/us-intelligence-chief-bars-unauthorized.html#storylink=cpy
http://www.mcclatchydc.com/2014/04/21/225055/us-intelligence-chief-bars-unauthorized.html

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Corporations & our govt. are using smart meters and much more to spy on us


The U.S. Department of Energy has admitted that privacy and data access is a concern as far back as 2010 in a report on the smart meter technology.

Click here to read the report.

“Advances in Smart Grid technology could significantly increase the amount of potentially available information about personal energy consumption,” reads a statement from the report, titled “Data Access and Privacy Issues Related to Smart Grid Technologies.”

The report states, “Such information could reveal personal details about the lives of consumers, such as their daily schedules (including times when they are at or away from home or asleep), whether their homes are equipped with alarm systems, whether they own expensive electronic equipment such as plasma TVs, and whether they use certain types of medical equipment.”

Julian Assange: ‘We’re heading towards a dystopian surveillance society’ click here to watch the video.

1) U.S. Congressional Research Service report, "Smart Meter Data: Privacy and Cybersecurity" (February 2012)

With smart meters, police will have access to data that might be used to track residents’ daily lives and routines while in their homes, including their eating, sleeping, and showering habits, what appliances they use and when, and whether they prefer the television to the treadmill, among a host of other details. 
 Source: https://www.fas.org/sgp/crs/misc/R42338.pdf  – see page 7 (page 10 of the PDF)

2) Colorado Power Utility Commission report, "Smart Metering & Privacy: Existing Law and Competing Policies" (Spring 2009)
First, the privacy concerns are real, and should be addressed proactively in order to protect consumers. Second and related, a salient privacy invasion—were it to happen and get press—could create significant opposition to smart grid deployment efforts
Source: http://www.dora.state.co.us/puc/DocketsDecisions/DocketFilings/09I-593EG/09I-593EG_Spring2009Report-SmartGridPrivacy.pdf – see page 6

3) California Public Utility Commission press release, "California Commission Adopts Rules to Protect the Privacy and Security of Customer Electricity Usage Data" (July 2011)
Our action today will protect the privacy and security of customer usage data while enablingutilities and authorized third-parties to use the information to provide useful energy management and conservation services to customers.

I support today’s decision because it adopts reasonable privacy and security rules and expandsconsumer and third-party access to electricity usage and pricing information. I hope this decision stimulates market interest.

Source:http://smartenergyportal.net/article/california-commission-adopts-rules-protect-privacy-and-security-customer-electricity-usage-d
4) San Fransico Chronicle article, "California Utilities Yield Energy Use Data" (July 2013)

California’s electric utilities last year disclosed the energy-use records and other personal information of thousands of customers, according to reports the companies filed with state regulators.
The vast majority of those disclosures – 4,062 – were made by one utility, San Diego Gas and Electric Co. In 4,000 of those cases, the information was subpoenaed by government agencies.

New digital smart meters being installed throughout the state can measure a home’s energy use hour by hour, showing when residents leave for work, go to sleep or travel on vacation. Older analog meters, which measured cumulative energy use over the course of a month, couldn’t do that.

“Before smart meters, what happened inside houses couldn’t be revealed unless there was a police officer inside with a warrant,” Ozer said.
Source: http://www.sfchronicle.com/business/article/Calif-utilities-yield-energy-use-data-4611159.php

5) Raab & Associates, Steering Committee report (February 2013) – Under the heading “Strategic (3-10 years)”:

New tools for mining data for intel
Under the heading “Transformational (10+ years)”:

Centralized intel combined with widespread local/distributed intel  and data mining and analytics becomes core competency 
Source: http://magrid.raabassociates.org/articles/raab%20subcommittee%20update%20draft.ppt 
 View slide 17 only (PDF): http://www.takebackyourpower.net/documents/RaabDraft-17.pdf

6) Wired.com, "CIA Chief: We’ll Spy on You Through Your Dishwasher" (15 Mar 2012)
‘Items of interest will be located, identified, monitored, and remotely controlled through technologies such as radio-frequency identification, sensor networks, tiny embedded servers, and energy harvesters — all connected to the next-generation internet using abundant, low-cost, and high-power computing,’ Petraeus said, ‘the latter now going to cloud computing, in many areas greater and greater supercomputing, and, ultimately, heading to quantum computing. 
“Petraeus allowed that these household spy devices “change our notions of secrecy” and prompt a rethink of “our notions of identity and secrecy.” All of which is true — if convenient for a CIA director.” 
 Source: http://www.wired.com/2012/03/petraeus-tv-remote/

http://www.activistpost.com/2014/04/industrys-own-words-6-admissions-of-in.html#more
http://tomfernandez28.com/2014/04/17/is-your-homes-energy-meter-spying-on-you/

Every aspect of your life is being tracked by corporations & government agencies:
 
Information about our innocuous public acts is denser in urban areas, and can now be cheaply aggregated. Cameras and sensors, increasingly common in the urban landscape, pick up all sorts of behaviors. These are stored and categorized to draw personal conclusions — all of it, thanks to cheap electronics and cloud computing, for affordable sums.
 
“People in cities have anonymity from their neighbor, but not from an entity collecting data about them,” said Deirdre Mulligan, a professor at the iSchool at the University of California, Berkeley. “These are far more prevalent in cities.”
 
A company called LocoMobi announced it had acquired Nautical Technologies, the license plate recognition technology of a Canadian company called Apps Network Appliances. This gear sits at the entrance of a parking lot, identifying the license plates of incoming cars. That data goes to the cloud computing infrastructure of Amazon Web Services. When a car pulls out of the lot, the camera takes another picture, computers calculate how long a car was parked, and a charge is applied.
 
The company’s co-founder foresees tying the system to a car’s navigation system, enabling drivers to find and reserve nearby parking spots without wasteful driving. A license plate is certainly public information, and this all seems like a boon for drivers.
 
“We can have so much fun with this,” the co-founder of LocoMobi, Barney Pell, who is also its chairman, said. “Imagine knowing that people who park here also park there – you’ve found the nearby stores, their affinities. You could advertise to them, offer personalized services, provide ‘passive loyalty’ points that welcome them back to an area.”
 
It’s a little like the way a company called Euclid Analytics uses the pings when a smartphone looks for a Wi-Fi antenna (something that phones do as a matter of course) to track people moving through a crowded mall.
 
Euclid says it does not collect personally identifying information, though it could figure out a lot by examining those movements. In London, a software engineer inferred a significant amount of personal information by looking at public data about bicycle rentals.
 
The more recording devices we put in the world, the more once-evanescent things take on lasting life. Our speech is increasingly recorded and given new meaning when it is analyzed. This week, it emerged that Google has filed a patent to take its Google Glass recording technology (already responsible for a few urban scuffles) onto contact lenses.
 
Many of the technologists involved in data aggregation see a benefit to civil society. “So many of our urban problems have to do with people breaking rules and cheating systems, then disappearing,” Mr. Pell said. He noted behaviors like parking in handicapped spaces with illegitimate tags, or running red lights. “If compliance is information rich, our lives won’t have this death of 1,000 little cuts.”
 
“What happens when every secret, from who really did the work in the office, to sex, to who said what, is that we get a more truthful society,” said David Friedberg, founder and chief executive of Climate Corporation, a big data analysis company that Monsanto bought last year. “Technology is the empowerment of more truth, and fewer things taken on faith.” Public awareness of now hidden behaviors, he said, “is a conversation that will happen.”
 
That sense of where tech will take us is its own faith, Ms. Mulligan of Berkeley said. “There is an idea here that data is truth, and that’s not always true,” she said. “You may know who is running a red light, but you don’t know if there is a sick kid in the back seat, and they are racing to the hospital.”
 
More important, she said, that deferral to data comes at the expense of people making real choices about how to behave. “If you want people to act morally, you don’t tell them what they can and can’t do. We all need to think about the effect on others, what should be done,” she said.
http://bits.blogs.nytimes.com/2014/04/19/how-urban-anonymity-disappears-when-all-data-is-tracked/?_php=true&_type=blogs&_php=true&_type=blogs&_r=1&

Biometric tracking (spying) is close than you think:

In some areas of the world, payment systems that require palm scanning or face scanning are already being tested.  We have entered an era where biometric security is being hailed as the “solution” to the antiquated security methods of the past.  We are being promised that the constant problems that hackers are causing with our credit cards, bank accounts, ATM machines and Internet passwords will all go away once we switch over to biometric identification.  And without a doubt, we have some massive security problems that need to be addressed. 

Do you really want a machine to read your face or your hand before you are able to buy anything, sell anything or log on to the Internet?  Do you really want “the system” to be able to know where you are, what you are buying and what you are doing at virtually all times?  Biometric security systems are being promoted as “cool” and “cutting edge”, but there is also potentially a very dark side to them that should not be ignored.

The following is a brief excerpt from a recent Fox News article entitled “Biometric security can’t come soon enough for some people“…
In a world where nearly every ATM now uses an operating system without any technical support, where a bug can force every user of the Internet to change the password to every account they’ve ever owned overnight, where cyber-attacks and identity theft grow more menacing every day, the ability to use your voice, your finger, your face or some combination of the three to log into your e-mail, your social media feed or your checking account allows you to ensure it’s very difficult for someone else to pretend they’re you.
Almost everyone would like to make their identities more secure.  Nobody actually wants their bank accounts compromised or their Internet passwords stolen.  But there is a price to be paid for adopting biometric identification.  Your face or your hand will be used to continually monitor and track everything that you do and everywhere that you go.  Here is some more from that Fox News article…
Friday, we made Ryan King the most verified man in Brooklyn.
“Verified,” a fingerprint-recognition device chirped back at Ryan after he placed his finger on the reader. 
“Verified,” a facial-recognition device said to Ryan after scanning his face.
Ryan works at the American headquarters for FingerTec, a Malaysian company replacing PINs, usernames, and typed passwords with fingers and faces we don’t need to memorize.
Biometric scanners are already being used in dining halls on college campuses all across America:
Hand geometry readers have been fairly common on campus for years but more recent deployments are leveraging fingerprint and even iris biometrics to link students with transactions. Physical access is the hallmark biometric application but the technology has been gaining popularity in food service and other sectors to expedite transactions. 
The social stigma attached to biometrics is also being lifted, as students are becoming more comfortable with the technology, says Brian Adoff, executive vice president at NuVision. The inclusion of a fingerprint scanner on the latest iPhone is just one indication that the younger generation is comfortable with biometrics. 
“Administrators have a greater fear of the technology than students,” says Bob Lemley, director of software development at the CBORD Group. “Students are growing up with the technology so they don’t think about it as much as the older generations.”
Georgia Southern University can attest to that fact. The school deployed iris biometrics at its dining hall and only two students out of 5,400 refused to enroll, says Richard Wynn, director of the university’s Eagle Card Program.
The University of Kentucky spent $5 million in surveillance cameras.

University of Kentucky security officials say they're catching more criminals on campus without any extra patrols -- and their crime-fighting tools are there for all to see, on light poles, emergency call stations -- even in front of Commonwealth Stadium.

"The system will actually be able to have almost 2,000 cameras by the time the project is through," said Joe Monroe, chief of UK Police. Click here to read more.

Young people tend to be less alarmed by this technology, and so that is where it is being pushed.  If you can believe it, biometric scanners are even going to be used at Six Flags amusement park this summer…
A new scanning system at Six Flags sounds like it’s from the future, but the biometric scanner aims to make faster entrances for season pass holders. 
When guests arrive at the front gate for the first time of the season, they will present their voucher and a scanner processes an image of their fingerprint, assigning a unique set of numbers that are used to validate the pass holder’s card each visit. 
The first visit should take only about 20 seconds to set up the card, as opposed to the additional time of taking a photo and getting it printed on the card, according to spokeswoman Elizabeth Gotway.
This kind of reminds me of the new “MagicBands” at Disney parks. Disney seems to think that parents and kids will have no problems wearing RFID tracking devices that allow them to buy stuff and monitor wherever they go.

This technology is going to keep spreading, and it is going to become harder and harder to avoid it. And it is easy to imagine what a tyrannical government could do with this kind of technology.  If it wanted to, it could use it to literally track the movements and behavior of everyone.

We are already starting to see the establishment of massive biometric databases.  One of these is the FBI’s facial recognition database that is a part of their “Next Generation Identification” program.  It is being projected that the FBI will have compiled 52 million of our “face images” by the year 2015.  Given enough time, eventually I am sure that they would have all of our faces in their computers.
http://thetruthwins.com/archives/what-will-you-do-when-you-can-no-longer-buy-or-sell-without-submitting-to-biometric-identification

We have become a nation of spies: Anonymous tips can lead to your arrest

The Supreme Court says an anonymous tip can be sufficient to justify a decision by police to pull a car over on suspicion of reckless or drunken driving.

The justices voted 5-4 Tuesday to uphold a traffic stop in northern California in which officers subsequently found marijuana in the vehicle. The officers themselves did not see any evidence of reckless driving.

Writing for the majority, Justice Clarence Thomas found the tip reliable because the caller proved to be correct about the truck's license plate and its approximate location when police caught up to it about 18 minutes after the call. The claim of recklessness proved sufficient to establish the likelihood that the driver was drunk (though in this case, Navarette was sober).

"Unconfirmed reports of driving without a seatbelt or slightly over the speed limit, for example, are so tenuously connected to drunk driving that a stop on those grounds alone would be constitutionally suspect," Justice Thomas wrote. "But a reliable tip alleging the dangerous behaviors discussed above generally would justify a traffic stop on suspicion of drunk driving."

Although the arresting officer in this case saw no indication of impaired driving after following the truck for five minutes, the majority found that this did not dispel the suspicion that the driver was intoxicated.

"It is hardly surprising that the appearance of a marked police car would inspire more careful driving for a time," Justice Thomas wrote. "Of course, an officer who already has such a reasonable suspicion need not surveil a vehicle at length in order to personally observe suspicious driving."


"So long as the caller identifies where the car is, anonymous claims of a single instance of possibly careless or reckless driving, called in to 911, will support a traffic stop," Justice Scalia wrote. "This is not my concept, and I am sure would not be the Framers', of a people secure from unreasonable searches and seizures."

"After today's opinion all of us on the road, and not just drug dealers, are at risk of having our freedom of movement curtailed on suspicion of drunkenness, based upon a phone tip, true or false, of a single instance of careless driving."

Justice Antonin Scalia wrote the dissent in which he called Thomas’ opinion “a freedom-destroying cocktail.”

Scalia made headlines last week when he told a crowd of law school students last week that if taxes in the U.S. become too high then people “should revolt.”
http://washington.cbslocal.com/2014/04/22/scalia-court-upholding-traffic-stop-based-on-anonymous-tip-a-freedom-destroying-cocktail/
http://thenewspaper.com/news/43/4392.asp
 

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

inBloom the company that spied on students across the country and shared their info. with our gov't. has shut down


inBloom, a private company that acquired student information from school districts across the country, has shut down.

The company said its work "has been stalled because of generalized public concerns about data misuse..." inBloom and other companies, including Google, acquired student data following revisions to the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act by the Department of Education that significantly weakened the student privacy law.

In an open letter posted to the group's website, inBloom chief executive Iwan Streichenberger said the Atlanta-based organization had become "a lightning rod for misdirected criticism."

He said its system was secure and that "the unavailability of this technology is a real missed opportunity for teachers and school districts seeking to improve student learning."

"Hopefully, someday, we can track children from preschool to high school and from high school to college and college to career," U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan said in a June 2009 speech.Jonathan Burman, a spokesman for the state Department of Education, said Monday, "We will continue to explore and pursue alternate paths that help our schools, districts, and BOCES access secure and cost-effective educational technology tools that empower and support our teachers, students, and their families. As required by statute, we directed inBloom to delete all New York data."

In 2012, EPIC sued the Education Department for removing student privacy protections. Last year, EPIC testified before the Colorado State Board of Education on student privacy issues concerning inBloom. Early this year, EPIC called for a Student Privacy Bill of Rights, an enforceable student privacy and data security framework.
http://www.newsday.com/long-island/data-service-inbloom-calls-it-quits-1.7780439

Monday, April 21, 2014

The IRS is using license plate readers to spy on motorists


The Internal Revenue Service and other U.S. agencies awarded about $415,000 in contracts to a license plate-tracking company before DHS leaders dropped a plan for similar work amid privacy complaints.

Federal offices such as the Forest Service and the U.S. Air Force’s Air Combat Command chose Livermore, California-based Vigilant Solutions to provide access to license plate databases or tools used to collect plate information, according to government procurement records compiled by Bloomberg.

Vigilant, a closely held company, has received such work since 2009. In February, Jeh Johnson, secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, ordered the cancelation of an immigration agency plan to buy access to national license plate data. While the technology can help solve crimes, the American Civil Liberties Union and other groups have said the mass collection of data infringes the privacy of innocent people.

“Especially with the IRS, I don’t know why these agencies are getting access to this kind of information,” said Jennifer Lynch, a senior staff attorney with the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a San Francisco-based privacy-rights group. “These systems treat every single person in an area as if they’re under investigation for a crime -- that is not the way our criminal justice system was set up or the way things work in a democratic society.”

IRS officials awarded the company a $1,188 contract for “access to nationwide data” in June 2012, according to records available online. That contract ended in May 2013, according to federal procurement records.

“The IRS uses a variety of investigative tools similar to other law-enforcement agencies to assist with criminal cases,” Eric Smith, an agency spokesman, said in an e-mail. He declined to say how the IRS used the records in its investigations.

The Forest Service, part of the Department of Agriculture, awarded Vigilant a contract valued at as much as $47,019 for its “CarDetector” system in August 2009, records show. The product scans and captures license plate numbers, compares the data to law enforcement lists of wanted vehicles and sends alerts when such vehicles are detected, according to the company’s website.

Forestry officials also awarded the company a contract valued at about $7,500 in August for a subscription to its license plate database and other services, according to contracting records.

“License plate readers are helpful to our law enforcement officers with illegal activities on national forest system lands in California,” Tiffany Holloway, a spokeswoman for the agency, said in an e-mail. She declined to comment about what types of crimes the tools are used to investigate or provide examples of how the technology has helped law enforcement.

Concerns about the government’s use of the data remain, said Kade Crockford, a project director with the ACLU of Massachusetts.

“The American public deserves to know the degree to which the Department of Homeland Security and other agencies are already tapping into these databases,” Crockford said in a phone interview. “The cancellation of the solicitation itself has no measurable impact on the existing reality, which is that we are all being tracked right now.”

'The ACLU, which also has pushed for state measures limiting use of the technology, criticized the Homeland Security Department for a February solicitation seeking to buy access to the data. The department’s Immigrations and Customs Enforcement agency had planned to use the records to help locate and arrest “absconders and criminal aliens,” according to a federal document seeking companies’ proposals.

The agency halted the solicitation, saying immigration officials weren’t aware it had been posted.
Federal procurement records show it has awarded contracts valued at as much as $175,000 to Vigilant since 2011. Most are now expired. The other contracts with Vigilant are separate from the February solicitation, Barbara Gonzalez, press secretary for the immigration agency, said in an e-mail.

They provide “limited access to an already-existing database for a defined amount of time and only in conjunction with ongoing criminal investigations and to locate wanted individuals,” Gonzalez said.
http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2014-04-17/irs-among-agencies-using-license-plate-tracking-vendor.html

Friday, April 18, 2014

Postal Service is spying on your mail & selling data to private companies


The United States Postal Service is looking to get in on the big-data-for-profit game played by tech giants like Facebook and Google, and begin mining and selling private data gathered from personal mail sent from and received by Americans everywhere.

Nagisa Manabe the chief marketing and sales officer with the USPS, offered a preview of an array of initiatives that the agency is working on to improve and expand its services through the use of technology, tapping into unused infrastructure and by forging new partnerships. (The common denominator is MONEY, screw your privacy!)

The U.S. Postal Service has been storing images of every single piece of mail that is sent within the United States, recording who is sending letters and packages to who, and entering that information into a gigantic database that can be accessed by law enforcement agents, who can read through lists of who any American is corresponding with – all without a search warrant as required by the Fourth Amendment to the Constitution. The program was put in place by George W. Bush, and Barack Obama has continued the program, despite Obama’s promise to end Bush’s attacks against Americans’ constitutional rights. They call it Mail Isolation Control and Tracking.

Appropriately, Manabe was speaking in future tense in a presentation here at PostalVision 2020, a conference focused on imagining how the Postal Service can reinvent itself in the face of dramatic shifts in consumer behavior.

At the moment, Manabe said that the agency is actively looking for ways to build new business lines around what not long ago might have been considered science fiction.

"We are not that far from the point where the refrigerator will simply be able to reorder for you," she said. "You will see us looking to collaborate with grocery chains across the country. We'd like to experiment with grocery delivery, so that's one of the areas where we're looking in earnest."

Similarly, the Postal Service sees enormous opportunities in the increasingly connected world to bolster its advertising offerings. Manabe is looking to tap what in tech circles has become known as big data - the accumulation of massive stores of individual data points that, when mined and analyzed, can yield valuable new insights.

Ask yourself when is enough, enough? Which alphabet soup agency isn't spying on Americans?

In the case of the Postal Service, it's looking to tap into datasets mapping consumer behavior that retailers could use to hone their marketing strategies. She described the scenario of a woman in the market for a new car, but on the fence about whether to go with the responsible sedan or the sporty coupe. She visits two dealerships and takes both cars for a test drive, but still can't make up her mind.
And there is the marketing opportunity.

"We're at the point where, all too soon ... we're going to know exactly that she was shopping at two different car dealers looking at cars, and both of those car dealers should be mailing her communication about that vehicle, right? And we're there now, folks. I mean, you all know this.

There are dozens of folks out there who are supplying that kind of information. If we're not testing and exploring some of that together, we should," Manabe said.

"As we know more and more about how consumers are traveling around and making their decisions, it behooves us to get involved and actually send them information to actually close the deal," she added. "For me, it's all about speed and accuracy of the mail."

Manabe described the agency's vision for "forward distribution centers," a plan to offer retailers access to unused areas within USPS distribution facilities, making it easier to deliver merchandise in short windows, not unlike Amazon's strategy of opening up new outbound hubs all around the country.

Taken one at a time, the Mail Isolation Control and Tracking program, PRISM, FBI spy drones, and the NSA domestic telephone and Internet surveillance programs each constitute a serious threat to the democratic institutions of the United States of America. Taken together, they show a purposeful plan to replace a free and open society with a totalitarian surveillance state.
http://www.ecommercebytes.com/cab/cab/abn/y14/m04/i15/s02
http://irregulartimes.com/2013/07/04/post-office-spies-on-all-american-mail-nsa-style/
http://www.nytimes.com/2013/07/04/us/monitoring-of-snail-mail.html?_r=0

Your smart meter is spying on you in your home:

Utility companies across the U.S. are installing smart meters in customers’ homes, touting the technology’s energy-saving ways, but opponents argue that the meters are opening a Pandora’s box of privacy concerns.

The smart energy meters read electric or gas usage, and enable a power company to collect detailed usage data on a particular home or building. But the readings also gather personal information that some critics argue is too intrusive.
 
The information gathered from smart meters includes unencrypted data that can, among other details, reveal when a homeowner is away from their residence for long periods of time. The electric wattage readings can even decipher what type of activities a customer is engaged in, such as watching TV, using a computer or even how long someone spends cooking.

“It’s in the nature of technology to be neutral in the benefits and the risks; it’s how the info is used,” Allen Gilbert, executive director of the Vermont branch of the American Civil Liberties Union, tells FoxNews.com. “Look at smartphones. No one can argue the benefits of having one. But on the other hand, it’s the best tracking device.”

The Vermont ACLU has, in the past few years, participated in the privacy debate over smart energy meters. The group says that one major issue with data collected from the meters is the same with cellphone data. The agency has filed lawsuits against law enforcement agencies in the state over cellphone data being harvested through secret inquests and used to track an individual’s whereabouts.

The group has suggested a proposal to the state government so the same won’t happen with smart-meter data.

“We have put up quite a strong argument for user utility data,” Gilbert said. “This is why we presented a proposition in which we said that police departments should not get customer information from a utility.

“Instead, any subpoena should be issued directly to the customer.”

The U.S. Department of Energy has even admitted that privacy and data access is a concern as far back as 2010 in a report on the smart meter technology.

“Advances in Smart Grid technology could significantly increase the amount of potentially available information about personal energy consumption,” reads a statement from the report, titled “Data Access and Privacy Issues Related to Smart Grid Technologies.”

The report states, “Such information could reveal personal details about the lives of consumers, such as their daily schedules (including times when they are at or away from home or asleep), whether their homes are equipped with alarm systems, whether they own expensive electronic equipment such as plasma TVs, and whether they use certain types of medical equipment.”

The report recommended that states should consider a condition in which customers can authorize third parties access and that there should be a prohibition on disclosure of customer data to said third parties.
http://www.foxnews.com/us/2014/04/17/is-your-home-energy-meter-spying-on/

Los Angeles law enforcement is asking citizens to openly spy on one another:

The LAPD wants you, Joe Citizen, to help it out with its surveillance. It has enlisted the help of a crowdsourcing tool called LEEDIR to collect photos and recordings from everyday people who may have additional footage of natural disasters or civil unrest that could help out both emergency responders and cops looking to put a few more demonstrators in jail.
In today's announcement, earthquakes, terrorist attacks, and the Boston Marathon bombings were mentioned as scenarios in which LEEDIR could help law enforcement respond to disasters or large-scale public security threats. One might also imagine large citizen protests like Occupy Wall Street being the focus of such crowdsourced surveillance.
It's unarguable that the addition of crowdsourced photos and video helped authorities track down the Boston Bombing suspects, which shows that there is some value to this service. But, as is pointed out by Xeni Jardin, it could also be used to build a database of people enjoying First Amendment-protected activities. Currently, the site is soliciting input for any info related to last week's party-turned-riot in Isla Vista, CA, where over 100 arrests were made and 44 people injured, including five police officers. The notice clearly states the police are "seeking to identify several subjects wanted for violent felonies that occurred during the evening."

There are also other questions left unanswered about the handling of the data submitted.
According to today's announcement, agencies might typically retain uploaded content for a month or two, then delete it. But there's no requirement to delete it…
And the way the system is accessed and used seems to lend itself to abuse.
It's up to law enforcement to provide analysts or investigators to sort through all of the content uploaded to LEEDIR and find potential evidence…

Once the content is uploaded, it belongs to law enforcement, [Co-Global CEO Nick] Namikas said. It's up to each agency to decide how long they want to store the content in the cloud – a service being provided by Amazon.
An unfiltered influx of photos and videos curated by law enforcement officers. What could possibly go wrong? The tool may be aimed at natural disasters (which provides free access to police and emergency responders in the affected area), but paid subscriptions are available which would keep LEEDIR live at all times for any law enforcement agency willing to foot the bill.

As if the potential negatives of this sort of crowdsourcing weren't apparent enough, there's also the very large problem of who's behind this new system.

Under the leadership of disgraced former LA County Sheriff Lee Baca, the department is said to have conceptualized the web service and smartphone app, which was built by Citizen Global with Amazon

Baca's administration was plagued by corruption and scandal, and he resigned amid ongoing investigation into possible criminal activity. Certainly no such imperfect leader would misuse LEEDIR.


http://www.techdirt.com/articles/20140414/11391726904/los-angeles-law-enforcement-looking-to-crowdsource-surveillance.shtml

Sacramento Sheriff’s Department is using social media to spy on citizens:

CA - The Sacramento County Sheriff’s Department announced that it is partnering with Nextdoor, a private social network for neighborhoods, to help create stronger and safer communities.

The common theme for our loss of privacy, creating safer neighborhoods, because your neighbor could be a terrorist! Why is the public still buying this B/S?

Through Nextdoor, the Sheriff’s Department will be able to communicate online with neighborhoods in the county. Residents and law enforcement officers will be able to work together to improve safety and strengthen neighborhood watch efforts, according to a department news release. Officials said more than 221 Sacramento County neighborhoods already have started Nextdoor websites.

Through the network, residents can join private neighborhood websites to share information, including public safety issues, local services and community events and activities. The Sheriff’s Department also will be able to post information such as safety tips and crime alerts to Nextdoor websites within the county.

Nextdoor is free for residents and the Sheriff’s Department. Each Sacramento County neighborhood has its own private Nextdoor neighborhood website, accessible only to residents who verify that they live in the neighborhood. Neighborhoods can establish and manage their own Nextdoor websites, and the Sheriff’s Department will not be able to access residents’ websites, contact information or content. Information shared on Nextdoor is protected by a password and cannot be accessed by search engines, officials said. (Does anyone believe the police can't access websites etc. or ask a judge to find out who sent a tip?)
http://www.sacbee.com/2014/04/15/6327828/sacramento-sheriffs-department.html

Thursday, April 17, 2014

America's original patriots would’ve revolted against the surveillance state

 
Let’s just imagine we could transport an Internet-connected laptop back to the 1790s, when the United States was in its infancy. The technology would no doubt knock the founders out of their buckle-top boots, but once the original patriots got over the initial shock and novelty (and clearing up Wikipedia controversies, hosting an AMA and boggling over Dogecoin), the sense of marvel would give way to alarm as they realized how electronic communications could be exploited by a tyrant, such as the one from which they just freed themselves.
 
As America’s first unofficial chief technologist, Benjamin Franklin would be the first to recognize the danger and take to trolling the message boards with his famous sentiment: Those who would trade liberty for safety deserve neither. (And he’d probably troll under a fake handle, using Tor, since the patriots understood that some truths are best told with anonymity.)
 
Mass surveillance was not part of the original social contract—the terms of service, if you will—between Americans and their government. Untargeted surveillance is one reason we have an independent country today.
 
Under the Crown’s rule, English officials used writs of assistance to indiscriminately “enter and go into any house, shop cellar, warehouse, or room or other place and, in case of resistance, to break open doors, chests, trunks, and other package there” in order to find tax evaders. Early patriot writers, such as James Otis Jr. and John Dickinson, railed against these general warrants, and it was this issue, among other oppressive conditions, that inspired the Declaration of Independence and the Fourth Amendment.
 
James Madison drafted clear language guaranteeing the rights of Americans, and it bears reading again in full:
 
"The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized."
 
Centuries later, the principle still applies, whether we’re talking about emails or your mobile phone.

The Fourth Amendment does not stop at technology’s door.

(For a more in-depth historical review, check out former EFF legal intern David Snyder's essay, "The NSA's 'General Warrants': How the Founding Fathers Fought an 18th Century Version of the President's Illegal Domestic Spying.")

Reason magazine has an excellent essay about IRS and privacy, outlining how the IRS obtains, scours and fails to secure personal data collected from taxpayers, while tax-reform advocate Grover Norquist wrote a worthwhile op-ed in The Daily Caller today about how the IRS exploits the outdated Electronic Communications Privacy Act.  But it’s also important to consider that the taxes the government collects ultimately fund the surveillance state. “No taxation without representation” was the rallying cry of the American revolution, and yet here we are today, with the NSA conducting surveillance without adequate checks and balances. Members of Congress complain that they haven’t been properly briefed on the NSA’s programs and judicial approval of these programs is conducted by a secret court that only hears the government’s side of the story. On the local level, law enforcement agencies are adopting new surveillance technologies such as automatic license plate readers, facial recognition and Stingrays with little public input or other oversight.  
 
On the whole, maintaining the mass surveillance state is expensive. There are 17 (that’s right, 17) different federal agencies that are part of the “intelligence community,” each of them involved in various, interconnected forms of surveillance. Some would say there is little concrete evidence of how it has made us safer, but there’s plenty of concrete evidence of how much it has cost. The bottom line? We’re paying the government to unreasonably intrude on our lives. The budget for intelligence in 2013 was $52.6 billion. Of that, $10.8 billion went to the NSA. That’s approximately $167 per person in the United States
 
For a prime example of the wasteful spending, one only need to read  Sen. Tom Coburn’s report, “Safety at Any Price” that outlined the inappropriate spending done under the Department of Homeland Security’s grant program (such as paying for “first responders to attend a HALO Counterterrorism Summit at a California island spa resort featuring a simulated zombie apocalypse.”)
 
This followed on the heels of a harsh bipartisan Senate report criticizing the extreme waste at fusion centers around the country. Federal funds were used to purchase big screen TVs, decked out SUVS, and miniature cameras. To make matters worse, the report found that fusion centers violated civil liberties and produced little information of any use.
 
Mass surveillance is a symptom of uncontrolled government overreach. The question is what’s the cure?
 
While every single person has cause to be alarmed by surveillance, those who criticize government policies have particular reason to be concerned. Those who have new, or not yet popular ideas (or, in the case of the Tea Party, old and popular ideas in resurgence) are often targets of overreaching surveillance. It’s not a partisan issue; it’s a constitutional issue.
 
Activism is most effective when is happens at the personal, local and national levels and the Tea Party has proven it knows how make a ruckus, whether it’s on a personal blog or outside the White House. America needs the Tea Party to keep applying that patriotic passion to NSA reform.
https://www.eff.org/deeplinks/2014/04/tea-party-taxes-and-why-patriots-wouldve-revolted-against-surveillance-state

The SEC wants to read your emails without a warrant:

It appears that the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), the civil agency in charge of protecting investors and ensuring orderly markets, may be doing the same exact thing: it is trying to use ECPA to force service providers to hand over emails without a warrant, in direct violation of the Fourth Amendment.

EFF and the Digital Due Process Coalition, a diverse coalition of privacy advocates and major companies, are fighting hard to push a common sense reform to ECPA. The law, passed in the 1980s before the existence of webmail, has been used to argue that emails older than 180 days may be accessed without a warrant based on probable cause. Instead, the agencies send a mere subpoena, which means that the agency does not have to involve a judge or show that the emails will provide evidence of a crime.

Contrary to the position taken by the DOJ, the courts, the public at-large, and EFF, the SEC asserted last week that it can obtain emails with simple subpoenas, issued under ECPA. The Chair of the SEC, Mary Jo White, tried to reassure Rep. Kevin Yoder that the SEC's "built-in privacy protections" make it ok. Unfortunately, Chair White wouldn't explain what are the exact "privacy protections." Rep. Yoder, the sponsor of HR 1852, The Email Privacy Act—a bill with over 200 cosponsors that updates ECPA—was rightfully dubious and tried to no avail to get the Chair to explain why the SEC thinks it can use ECPA to get around the Fourth Amendment.

Just because your emails are on your computer, must not mean they have any less protection than if they were printed on your desk. Many other agencies disagree with the SEC's approach and recognize the Fourth Amendment covers all private communications—whether paper or electronic. It's time for the SEC to update its practices so that it's inline with the courts, public opinion, and with other agencies.
https://www.eff.org/deeplinks/2014/04/sec-obtaining-emails-without-warrant-or-not
 
Google's updated terms of service: We do scan (spy on) your emails:
 
Google has officially changed its Terms of Service to make it quite clear that users are consenting to the search giant scanning the content of their emails in order to allow the company deliver more targeted ads and better search results.
 
Google has been scanning users' messages for many years, and the company had believed users "explicitly consented" to the practice by agreeing to various versions of the company's terms of service since 2008.
 
In a ruling last month, Judge Lucy Koh decided against giving class action status to a lawsuit brought by a number of claimants who believed Google had violated state and federal laws regarding the privacy of millions of its users.
 
Judge Koh said last month that Google's terms of service and privacy polices did not explicitly notify the plaintiffs "that Google would intercept users' emails for the purposes of creating user profiles or providing targeted advertising."

Probably as a result of those comments, Google has now decided to update its terms of service to make its actions very clear. It has added the following paragraph to the new terms which came into effect on Monday:

"Our automated systems analyze your content (including emails) to provide you personally relevant product features, such as customized search results, tailored advertising, and spam and malware detection. This analysis occurs as the content is sent, received, and when it is stored."
http://www.ibtimes.co.uk/google-updates-terms-service-officially-allow-it-scan-your-emails-1444914
 
DHS donates another $793K MRAP vehicle to a police department:
 
Indiana -  The Michigan City Police Department recently added a new piece of equipment to its fleet – a Mine Resistant Ambush Protected (MRAP) vehicle.

Valued at $793,000, the MRAP was donated to the MCPD from the United States military through the 1033 Federal Surplus Program, which has distributed hundreds of surplus military vehicles to law enforcement agencies across the country.

Receiving this vehicle at no cost to the city, the department was only responsible for retrieving the MRAP from Sealy, Texas. Six spare tires for the MRAP, valued at $5,000 each, were included in the contribution from the U.S. military.

As for the vehicle maintenance and upkeep, MCPD Chief of Services Royce Williams said it is no different from the other city-owned vehicles, indicating it only requires basic check-ups.
 
“The body of the MRAP was built in 2012, but the engine, chassis and tires are all brand new so there should be very minimal upkeep for this vehicle,” he said.

Built to withstand heavy gunfire and blasts from explosive devices, the bullet-proof and fire-proof vehicle may seem over-the-top for a city such as Michigan City. But the MCPD is happy to have access to such a heavy-duty piece of equipment.

IRS official Lois Lerner contacted DOJ about prosecuting tax exempt groups


Judicial Watch today released a new batch of internal IRS documents revealing that former IRS official Lois Lerner communicated with the Department of Justice (DOJ) about whether it was possible to criminally prosecute certain tax-exempt entities. The documents were obtained as a result of an October 2013 Judicial Watch Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit filed against the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) after the agency refused to respond to four FOIA requests dating back to May 2013.

“These new emails show that the day before she broke the news of the IRS scandal, Lois Lerner was talking to a top Obama Justice Department official about whether the DOJ could prosecute the very same organizations that the IRS had already improperly targeted,” said Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton. “The IRS emails show Eric Holder’s Department of Justice is now implicated and conflicted in the IRS scandal.  No wonder we had to sue in federal court to get these documents.”

The newly released IRS documents contain an email exchange between Lerner and Nikole C. Flax, then-Chief of Staff to then-Acting IRS Commissioner Steven T. Miller discussing plans to work with the DOJ  to prosecute nonprofit groups that “lied” (Lerner’s quotation marks) about political activities. The exchange includes the following:
I got a call today from Richard Pilger Director Elections Crimes Branch at DOJ … He wanted to know who at IRS the DOJ folk s [sic] could talk to about Sen. Whitehouse idea at the hearing that DOJ could piece together false statement cases about applicants who “lied” on their 1024s –saying they weren’t planning on doing political activity, and then turning around and making large visible political expenditures. DOJ is feeling like it needs to respond, but want to talk to the right folks at IRS to see whether there are impediments from our side and what, if any damage this might do to IRS programs.
I told him that sounded like we might need several folks from IRS…
I think we should do it – also need to include CI [Criminal Investigation Division], which we can help coordinate. Also, we need to reach out to FEC. Does it make sense to consider including them in this or keep it separate?
 
Lerner then “handed off” scheduling the issue to Senior Technical Adviser, Attorney Nancy Marks, who was then supposed to set up the meeting with the DOJ.  Lerner also decided that it would be DOJ’s decision as to whether representatives from the Federal Election Commission would attend.
Democratic Rhode Island Senator Sheldon Whitehouse had held a hearing on April 9during which, “in questioning the witnesses from DOJ and IRS, Whitehouse asked why they have not prosecuted 501(c)(4) groups that have seemingly made false statements about their political activities.”  Lerner described the impetus for this hearing in a March 27, 2013, email to top IRS staff:

As I mentioned yesterday — there are several groups of folks from the FEC world that are pushing tax fraud prosecution for c4s who report they are not conducting political activity when they are (or these folks think they are). One is my ex-boss Larry Noble (former General Counsel at the FEC), who is now president of Americans for Campaign Reform. This is their latest push to shut these down. One IRS prosecution would make an impact and they wouldn’t feel so comfortable doing the stuff.
 
So, don’t be fooled about how this is being articulated – it is ALL about 501(c)(4) orgs and political activity
 
But in an email sent a few minutes earlier, Lerner acknowledged prosecutions would evidently be at odds with the law:

Whether there was a false statement or fraud regarding an [sic] description of an alleged political expenditure that doesn’t say vote for or vote against is not realistic under current law. Everyone is looking for a magic bullet or scapegoat — there isn’t one. The law in this area is just hard.
 
The documents also include email exchanges showing that before Lerner’s May 10, 2013, speech to the American Bar Association blaming “low-level” employees in Cincinnati for targeting tax-exempt organizations, the IRS Exempt Organizations division was scrambling to defuse the emerging targeting scandal:
  • May 1, 2013: After receiving an email from an assistant showing that 501(c)(4) applications had increased from 1591 in 2010 to 3398 in 2012 , Lerner wrote back, “Looks to me like 2010-2012 doubled too. Oh well – thanks.”
  • May 2, 2013: Discussing an upcoming conference call with approximately 100 congressional staffers on May 22, Lerner cautions aides, “Need to be careful not to mention sequester/furlough unless asked although can allude to budget and resources restraints.”
  • May 2, 2013: In response to an email reminding her about the upcoming conference call with congressional staffers, Lerner responded, “Arrgh – I just saw it. Sharon [White] could skate, but Cindy [Thomas] is the person who could answer that stuff. We need to give them some type of language in the event that type of question comes up” [apparently in reference to earlier email referencing “sensitive issues”].
The new documents obtained by Judicial Watch also include emails exchanged after Lerner’s May 10 ABA speech:
  • May 10, 2013: In an email to an aide responding to a request for information from a Washington Post reporter, Lerner admits that she “can’t confirm that there was anyone on the other side of the political spectrum” who had been targeted by the IRS. She then adds that “The one with the names used were only know [sic] because they have been very loud in the press.”
  • May 15, 2013: In an email from an aide to Lerner, the aide specifically mentions “Tea Party Organizations, the “Tea Party movement,” and “Tea Party Patriots” as organizations targeted by the IRS.
The Judicial Watch FOIA requests came on the heels of an explosive May 14, 2013, Treasury Inspector General report revealing that the IRS had singled out groups with conservative-sounding terms such as “patriot” and “Tea Party” in their titles when applying for tax-exempt status. The IG probe determined that “Early in Calendar Year 2010, the IRS began using inappropriate criteria to identify organizations applying for tax-exempt status to (e.g., lists of past and future donors).” According to the report, the illegal IRS reviews continued for more than 18 months and “delayed processing of targeted groups’ applications” preparing for the 2012 presidential election.

Lerner, who headed the IRS division that handles applications for tax-exempt status, refused to testify at a May 2013 hearing before Rep. Darrell Issa’s (R-CA) House Oversight Committee, demanding immunity concerning her role in the targeting scandal. Lerner retired from the IRS with full benefits on September 23 after an internal investigation found she was guilty of “neglect of duties” and was going to call for her ouster, according to news reports. On April 9, 2014, the Ways and Means Committee referred Lois Lerner to the DOJ for criminal prosecution. On April 10, 2014, the House Oversight Committee voted to hold Lerner in contempt of Congress.
http://www.judicialwatch.org/press-room/press-releases/jw-obtains-irs-documents-showing-lerner-contact-doj-potential-prosecution-tax-exempt-groups/