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‘Truth & Power’ Examines How Citizens Are Fighting Back Against Government Surveillance

first_imgSign up for our COVID-19 newsletter to stay up-to-date on the latest coronavirus news throughout New York By Rashed Mian and Christopher TwarowskiTop-secret technology that was once exclusive to the US military has recently funneled down to local law enforcement agencies, and for years, only its creators and those ostensibly using it in the name of justice knew of its existence. But thanks to intrepid attorneys, an IRS fraudster (believe it or not), journalists and now filmmakers, this effective but deeply controversial cell-tracking device is being exposed to much-needed public scrutiny.Known as Stingrays, or “cell site simulators,” the devices are covertly being used by law enforcement agencies across the country to track down suspects—and not just those accused of terror-related crimes.The briefcase-sized device essentially mimics a cell tower, allowing authorities to track down a suspect through their cell phone—and collect phone numbers of those they communicate with. In some cases, the actual content of calls can be collected. What’s most concerning, activists say, is potential dragnet surveillance of areas where the device is being used, because Stingrays also gobble up information from phones in the target’s vicinity. Its existence—and what its being used for—is so secret that even judges have objected to its use without court authorization.Seeking to shed more light on the spy tool—and a whole lot more—are the creators behind “Truth and Power,” a thought-provoking docu-series on Pivot narrated by Oscar-nominated actress Maggie Gyllenhaal. The series covers a number of hot-button topics that aren’t as clouded in secrecy as Stingrays—from drones and surveillance to privatized prisons and America’s broken campaign finance system.Journalists and members of the public got a front row seat to the series Thursday night in Manhattan during a screening at The Paley Center for Media, followed by a engrossing panel discussion. The event was hosted by Gyllenhaal. The actress briefly spoke about her own challenges confronting surveillance and the difficulties of dealing with every day life while questioning the mechanisms governments are using to spy on its own citizens.“Somewhere we already knew everything that [Edward] Snowden told us,” she told the packed audience. “Not the horrible details and the specifics, not the proof. But we unconsciously knew that our privacy—our constitutional and human rights—were being violated. And I think maybe we didn’t really want to think about it. So the information Snowden gave us didn’t shock us into action, and in a way, we didn’t care.”But those brave enough to confront the ever-expanding invasion of privacy, whether it’s by governments or mega-corporations collecting mounds of info on citizens, should serve as role models and heroes, she said.Documentary filmmaker Brian Knappenberger, the director of “The Internet’s Own Boy,” serves as executive producer on “Truth and Power.”For the first episode, he follows Daniel Rigmaiden, a complicated character who exposed the program after he was indicted on 74 counts, including tax fraud. Rigmaiden, who made a half-million dollars by filing fraudulent tax returns by using the identities of dead people, was arrested in 2008 in large part due to help from a Stingray device. Confounded by how the authorities were able to uncover his whereabouts, Rigmaiden, known only as “The Hacker” before his arrest, sifted through hundreds of court documents and later exposed the use of Stingray in his apprehension. Federal prosecutors eventually offered a guilty plea of time served. In the show, Rigmaiden suggests it’s because the government did not want Stingray to come under public scrutiny.Nathan Wessler, a staff attorney at the American Civil Liberties Union Foundation (ACLU)’s Speech, Privacy, and Technology Project, and a panelist at Thursday’s post-screening discussion, emphasized the importance of Rigmaiden’s role in finally forcing the Stingray and related technologies out from the shadows.“He cracked this open in a way that nobody had done before,” Wessler told the audience, “despite the fact that federal law enforcement communities [were using] these devices for well over 20 years.“As the phone networks have gotten more sophisticated, the devices have gotten more sophisticated,” he continued. “But they’ve been around for a long time, and shrouded in really extraordinary secrecy. And so, the first challenge was to learn what was going on, and Daniel is the person who figured that out.”Since Rigmaiden’s release from prison, Wessler and the other panelists explained, the felon-turned-activist and a host of attorneys at the ACLU have been tirelessly filing public information lawsuits to decipher just how many agencies use Stingray, or similar devices. So far, the ACLU has identified the device in 59 agencies across 23 states, including New York State Police. Despite the progress that’s been made, little is still known about Stingrays. Just getting agencies to admit to simply purchasing the technology is a difficult task because local authorities are tethered to a non-disclosure agreement they sign with the FBI upon purchasing the equipment.“We unconsciously knew that our privacy—our constitutional and human rights—were being violated.”Just as problematic, news agencies sifting through police department budgets looking for Stingray purchases will likely come up empty-handed, because such acquisitions may be made through federal grants, thus skirting legislative approval or public discourse.Knappenberger, who also directed the acclaimed documentary about activist Aaron Swartz titled “The Internet’s Own Boy,” says the series will focus largely on how citizens are standing up to government intrusion.“The basic thing is looking at abuses of power and people fighting back against abuses of power and broad institutional failures,” he tells the Press.The first episode that premiered on Jan. 22 examined how law enforcement tracked Black Lives Matter protesters. The most recent looked into how hackers uncovered they were being surveilled through government-approved spyware. The 10-episode series will end with an episode on how drones are being used on US soil.If Netflix’s “How to Make a Murderer” forced a maintsream audience to accept the flaws within the US justice system, then “Truth and Power” endeavors to lift the veil on government surveillance and how it’s not only criminals who are the targets of uber-secret technology, but the American public’s constitutional rights as well. The series will air each Friday until its finale on March 25.(Photo credit: Pivot/YouTube)last_img read more

Hull hunting hitman Hernandez

first_img The 24-year-old Uruguay international, who played for his country at the World Cup, has become a prime target for Tigers manager Steve Bruce, who has abandoned interest in Blackburn’s Jordan Rhodes. Reports in Italy have suggested a deal worth around £9.5million for Hernandez is almost complete, however Bruce is looking at it from a more cautious perspective. Bruce said, according to the Daily Express: “It’s delicate, but if we can pull it off it will be a record for the club. “He’s a hell of a player, but there’s work to be done. It would be a huge one for us.” Hull sold Long to Southampton for £12million earlier this month, after which they were linked with Rhodes, but Bruce said on Wednesday that potential deal was “dead and buried”. Press Associationcenter_img Hull have turned to Palermo forward Abel Hernandez to plug the gap left by Shane Long’s move to Southampton.last_img read more


first_imgThe scene at Fanad Lighthouse in north Donegal this afternoon as the Irish Coast Guard Rescue helicopter taking the victim ashore following a search and rescue operation. Photo by John McAteer.FANAD TRAGEDY UPDATED: A man has died after falling off rocks and into the sea at Fanad Lighthouse.The man, understood to be from Co Antrim, was taking photographs at the time.It is believed the man lost his footing and fell into the sea and became trapped in a gulley on the cliffs. Another person on the scene contact Malin Head Coast Radio station at 2.42pm.A full rescue mission was launched with two lifeboats from the Lough Swilly RNLI at Buncrana as well as the Mulroy Coastguard and the Rescue 118 helicopter from Sligo were launched.Two other local fishing boats, the Mary Ellen and the Annie, who were also in the area, also rushed to the scene.The rescue boats cold not get to the casualty because of a Force 7-8 gale blowing north-westerly towards the shore. The Mulroy Coastguard boat eventually managed to extract the casualty and took him to shore where the Rescue 118 chopper took him to Letterkenny General Hospital.CPR was performed at the scene.However the man, who is in his 60s, was pronounced dead a short time later at the hospital.A spokesman for Malin Head Radio coastguard said conditions were very bad at the time of the incident which heavy seas and gale force winds.A spokesman appealed to people to take extra care when walking or exploring the coastline. Fanad Lighthouse is one of a number of lighthouses around the country which has received a renovation and development grant and is due to open to the public next year.PHOTOGRAPHER DIES AFTER FALLING FROM ROCKS INTO SEA AT FANAD LIGHTHOUSE was last modified: August 17th, 2014 by StephenShare this:Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Reddit (Opens in new window)Click to share on Pocket (Opens in new window)Click to share on Telegram (Opens in new window)Click to share on WhatsApp (Opens in new window)Click to share on Skype (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window)Tags:cliffsdeathfallfanad lighthouseRESCUE 118RNLIlast_img read more