Monday, April 9, 2012

Thirteen Ways Government Tracks Us

Bill Quigley
Activist Post

Privacy is eroding fast as technology offers government increasing ways to track and spy on citizens.  The Washington Post reported there are 3,984 federal, state and local organizations working on domestic counterterrorism.  Most collect information on people in the US. (Source)

Here are thirteen examples of how some of the biggest government agencies and programs track people.

One.  The National Security Agency (NSA) collects hundreds of millions of emails, texts and phone calls every day and has the ability to collect and sift through billions more.  WIRED just reported NSA is building an immense new data center which will intercept, analyze and store even more electronic communications from satellites and cables across the nation and the world.  Though NSA is not supposed to focus on US citizens, it does. (Source)

Two.  The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) National Security Branch Analysis Center (NSAC) has more than 1.5 billion government and private sector records about US citizens collected from commercial databases, government information, and criminal probes. (Source)

Three.  The American Civil Liberties Union and the New York Times recently reported that cellphones of private individuals in the US are being tracked without warrants by state and local law enforcement all across the country.  With more than 300 million cellphones in the US connected to more than 200,000 cell phone towers, cellphone tracking software can pinpoint the location of a phone and document the places the cellphone user visits over the course of a day, week, month or longer. (Source)

Four.  More than 62 million people in the US have their fingerprints on file with the FBI, state and local governments.  This system, called the Integrated Automated Fingerprint Identification System (IAFIS), shares information with 43 states and 5 federal agencies.   This system conducts more than 168,000 checks each day. (Source)

Five.  Over 126 million people have their fingerprints, photographs and biographical information accessible on the US Department of Homeland Security Automated Biometric Identification System (IDENT).  This system conducts about 250,000 biometric transactions each day.  The goal of this system is to provide information for national security, law enforcement, immigration, intelligence and other Homeland Security Functions. (Source)

Six.  More than 110 million people have their visas and more than 90 million have their photographs entered into the US Department of State Consular Consolidated Database (CCD).  This system grows by adding about 35,000 people a day.  This system serves as a gateway to the Department of State Facial Recognition system, IDENT and IAFSIS. (Source)

Seven.  DNA profiles on more than 10 million people are available in the FBI coordinated Combined DNA index System (CODIS) National DNA Index. (Source)

Eight.  Information on more than 2 million people is kept in the Intelligence Community Security Clearance Repository, commonly known as Scattered Castles.  Most of the people in this database are employees of the Department of Defense (DOD) and other intelligence agencies. (Source)

Nine.  The DOD also has an automated biometric identification system (ABIS) to support military operations overseas.  This database incorporates fingerprint, palm print, face and iris matching on 6 million people and is adding 20,000 more people each day. (Source)

Ten.  Information on over 740,000 people is included in the Terrorist Identities Datamart Environment (TIDE) of the National Counterterrorism Center.  TIDE is the US government central repository of information on international terrorist identities.  The government says that less than 2 percent of the people on file are US citizens or legal permanent residents.  They were just given permission to keep their non-terrorism information on US citizens for a period of five years, up from 180 days. (Source)

Eleven.  Tens of thousands of people are subjects of facial recognition software.  The FBI has been working with North Carolina Department of Motor Vehicles and other state and local law enforcement on facial recognition software in a project called “Face Mask.”  For example, the FBI has provided thousands of photos and names to the North Carolina DMV which runs those against their photos of North Carolina drivers.  The Maricopa Arizona County Sheriff’s Office alone records 9,000 biometric mug shots a month. (Source)

Twelve.  The FBI operates the Nationwide Suspicious Activity Reporting Initiative (SAR) that collects and analyzes observations or reports of suspicious activities by local law enforcement.   With over 160,000 suspicious activity files, SAR stores the profiles of tens of thousands of Americans and legal residents who are not accused of any crime but who are alleged to have acted suspiciously. (Source)

Thirteen.  The FBI admits it has about 3,000 GPS tracking devices on cars of unsuspecting people in the US right now, even after the US Supreme Court decision authorizing these only after a warrant for probable cause has been issued. (Source)

The Future

The technology for tracking and identifying people is exploding as is the government appetite for it.

Soon, police everywhere will be equipped with handheld devices to collect fingerprint, face, iris and even DNA information on the spot and have it instantly sent to national databases for comparison and storage.  

Bloomberg News reports the newest surveillance products “can also secretly activate laptop webcams or microphones on mobile devices,” change the contents of written emails mid-transmission, and use voice recognition to scan phone networks. (Source)

The advanced technology of the war on terrorism, combined with deferential courts and legislators, have endangered both the right to privacy and the right of people to be free from government snooping and tracking.  Only the people can stop this.

You can help support this information by voting on Reddit:

Bill is a human rights lawyer and law professor at Loyola University New Orleans. He also serves as Associate Legal Director of the Center for Constitutional Rights. He can be reached at


This article may be re-posted in full with attribution.


If you enjoy our work, please donate to keep our website going.


Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

You left out the latest surveilance now in operation in the US. Drones. Those military operated remote control aircraft. Local law enforcement and all other law agencies now can operate them here. Spying on you from 40 feet silently above you for days on end. All these neat new remote control craft being sold to the public were a ice breaker to get us used to seeing small flying craft about us as normal.

Anonymous said...

You've made what I think is a false assumption. You assume that it is our government. I propose that our government was overthrown a long, long time ago. It is known that communists were behind the killing of Abraham Lincoln; the Communist Manifesto having been written in 1848.
A centralized "counterfeit" banking system is essential to communism. Abraham Lincoln cut the banksters out of the equation by printing his own greenbacks and for this they killed him.
JFK tried to do the same and they killed him and his brother, as well as others.
Organized crime took over this country a long time ago and just passes itself off as our government. Congress was bought by the Federal Reserve 100 years ago.

Gemma said...

Well think about this: to post a comment here - or on Wordpress - you need to login.

That is to say, it makes it easier for Wordpress or Blogger to follow you.

Nice, huh? But there are ways around this. IF you are serious about information, then don't spread it. As ever the Romans came up with some of the best security ideas. There are all sorts of codes that work outside the electronic sphere, and inside seem wholly innocent. Speaking of flower arranging and picnics with the kids in the garden.

Even the moderator of this blog would not realize that something else was implicated. Surveillance will always be out-faced by those who are clever enough. Just look at what Chinese and Russian hackers manage with various sensitive websites.

Anonymous said...

Your response made me almost spill my drink :)

Scary isn't it?

Anonymous said...

Maybe a solar flare will attack one day and wipe everything away and recovery will be impossible. What then?

LadyRavenhaire said...

I can't tolerate misinformation. Communists did not kill Lincoln or JFK. The term communism comes from the early Christian communes, read the Acts of the Apostles. It refers to a government based on the community as opposed to Capitalism, a system of government based on profits. Karl Marx studied the English Civil War and had read the tracts of the religious Winstanley who believed that the communes during the time of Christ could be revived in what was then modern times. Marx accepted communism, he just removed the religious context. Instead of saying all men are considered equal in the eyes of the Lord, he removed God from the equation. The Russians never called themselves communists, but socialists, hence the name USSR, united soviet socialist republic and in reality never practiced socialism, but state capitalism. Money was never abolished, which would have been necessary for the ussr to have been a socialist country. What we have in this country is neo-fascism. Mussolini defined fascism as a merger between government and corporations. Obama appointed a Monsanto employee as head of the FDA. This is fascism. This is not communism nor feudalism nor socialism or anything more, but fascism. Moreover, former President Bush said communism is bad, but capitalism is good. Coming from a Satanist, which are what his actions show he is, you know capitalism must be something evil & communism something so good he doesnt want anyone to know what it really is or its history. When we hear tv spokesmen calling Obama a socialist or communism evil, we must remember they are spokesman for big corporations & their business is to disseminate misinformation.

Anonymous said...

Facebook is, without the slightest doubt, an extremely dangerous tool and it is being used by the CIA and DHS and who knows what other totalitarian-oriented secret agencies both domestically and overseas (Israeli Mossad) - to collect extensive data on anyone who uses it.

Already we have seen cases where people have posted comments to news articles or to blogs, after being forced to first log-in through Facebook - and those comments that were deemed to be 'politically incorrect' by the Thought Police at the ADL were then used to track down and identify the individual who posted them. Forget about the First Amendment right to free speech, people. Freedom to dissident and to express dissident opinions is protected free speech, right?

Wrong. The ADL and the Thought Police will track people down by using their Facebook account profiles and then find out where people work, and put pressure on their employer to fire them.

Clearly, this is an effort to side-step the repeated Supreme Court rulings which have consistently upheld the right of Free Speech, even if some tyrant out there might not like what is being said.

So, how much more of this evil tyranny is it going to take before the entire Web begins to advocate to STOP USING FACEBOOK?

Anonymous said...

Doesn't the "NSA" realize that there would not be a NSA without the humans involved with it? In other words, those who surveil are also surveiled?

Anonymous said...

In the History of time, every weapon created has eventually been turned on it's creator.

Anonymous said...


I’m sorry to inform you that you have allowed yourself to be badly deceived. There is a difference between Biblical communism, as in a brotherhood of man, and the communism of criminals, as in hooded brotherhood of freemasons. You must take the time to read the ten elements listed in the Communist Manifesto of 1848, avoiding the propaganda (deceit) that goes along with it.

It is all designed to destroy the family and make slaves of every one of us for the banking (bankster) elite.
You fail to understand how evil and deceitful these criminals are.
You can ramble on about the Russians, fascism, Obama, Monsanto, socialism, fascism, etc. to try and impress others with your knowledge, but you do not impress me. You are obviously ignorant as to the depths these criminals will go while they drag you along willingly and you all-the-while defending their evilness.

My people perish for lack of knowledge.

Anonymous said...

rock on LadyRavenhaire! You are very well informed and I agree with everything you've said. Now, what will we, the true American patriots, do to save our country? That is the real question!

Anonymous said...

We're all sitting ducks.

Anonymous said...

To anonymous: All u have said is right and proper. The lady mentioned is a blind fool and she will pay the ultimate price for her ignorance. All who read these comments on here should be aware of their environment at all times. You cannot let up for a moment or you will be enslaved or worse, amen. Stick to the brother who is with you in all things American; and do not be fooled by the good sounding words out there. Keep on watching the other hand and do not be distracted and follow the money to the end of the trail. God bless all who care for their country and its people.

Post a Comment