Archive for September, 2010

Feds get green light for unlimited GPS tracking

The handwriting has been on the wall for quite some time; and now it’s official, at least for nine far west states – the government can place a GPS tracking device on your car while it is parked on your own property; then track and record your movements for an indefinite period of time, without ever securing a warrant to do so.  This frightening situation is the result of a recent decision by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.

So far, not all federal circuits agree with this decision, and at least one – in the District of Columbia — just days before the Ninth Circuit’s decision, had reached the opposite conclusion.  Clearly, however, this ruling will embolden federal agents and prosecutors in other parts of the country to engage in similar, privacy-invasive and constitutionally suspect surveillance.

This case began with a Drug Enforcement Administration agent’s suspicions in May 2007, that an Oregon man by the name of Juan Pineda-Moreno was buying products from a …

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Do a flaming shot; get arrested

Fairfax County, Virginia, just outside the nation’s capital, has become one of the most freedom-unfriendly counties in the country.  In their latest effort to prove the point, county police arrested two bartenders in Herndon, and charged them with felony and misdemeanor offenses that could net them more than four decades each in jail.  Their offense?  Not murder, assault, pedophilia, drug trafficking, or bilking patrons out of their hard-earned money.  The charges facing the two  long-time bartenders at Jimmy’s Old Town Tavern all relate to the fact that they were observed by county fire marshals performing a trick for patrons that they have done many times previously — taking a swig of alcohol, then shooting the alcohol out of their mouth across a match or lighter.  The resulting example of “fire-breathing” apparently is of sufficient interest to patrons that the bartenders are — or now, were — widely popular.

Apparently, however, at least one busy-body patron at …

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Brave new world of trash, students and RFID monitoring

The nightmare world in which Winston Smith lived in George Orwell’s dystopia, 1984, was furnished with technology based on World War II-era know-how.  Yet even with such primitive technology as envisioned when Orwell wrote his prescient novel in 1949, the government of Oceania was able to track almost every move its citizens made; similar to the transparent world imagined a century and a half earlier earlier by Jeremy Bentham in his Panopticon.  If only Orwell, Bentham, Aldous Huxley, and the other writers whose foresight enabled them to discern the horrors of constant government surveillance, had been aware of the tiny transmitters of information now becoming common-place — radio frequency identification chips, known as “RFID” chips – they could have added entire new chapters to their books. 

RFID technology is advancing rapidly; arm-in-arm with the imagination of businesses and governments to develop new ways to use these tiny electronic snoops to monitor and …

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