Government Intrusion II

by | Apr 16, 2012 | Archives

This is Chapter II of our report on Government Intrusion.  See Government Intrusion I.

New technology comes with a double edge sword.   We gain but usually at the loss of something.   Life changes.  Society evolves and if we are not careful we can see this process as all bad.

Really overall though… technological advances over the past 100 years have brought a lot more good than harm.

When governments are bad… new technology can be used badly… but dwelling just on the negatives obscures many wonderful new opportunities.

Up in the Blue Ridge, where we live in the summer for example, cars meant that police could catch moonshiners faster during the stupidity of prohibition.   That created Thunder Road and NASCAR.  But let’s look at what good cars have brought mankind!

Then radios meant no one could outrun the police.  Yet most aspects of radio are good.

Radar brought a much greater intrusion in our lives especially if we like to drive fast.   However radar also does an awful lot of good.

Government intrusion is always a concern, and every free man and women has the responsibility to make sure its government uses new facilities for the people.

We as individuals are also smart to understand what governments can do and to look for ways that we can also use the same technology to make our lives and the lives of those around us better.

This is why our reports have been looking at ways to gain from new potentially intrusive technology since the 1970s.

This report is being created to examine how we can profit and improve our lives from the ways that governments can intrude in our lives.

This chapter looks at the potential for government intrusion in our lives using drones.

Screen shot 2012-04-14 at 7.16.07 AM

Photo from article “Police Drones Are Already Here.”  This is the Seattle Police Department’s Draganflyer UAV.

Our first government intrusion reports were written decades ago in my 1970s book “Passport to International Profit”.   Then the basic idea was to avoid government domination by being a multi national.

I realized that these ideas needed a serious update when I discovered last week that my new camera was tracking me.  I began getting location related advertisements scrolling across my view finder compliments of the GPS in the camera.

Talk about peeping directly into the window of the soul!  What can be more intimate than a photographer’s eye and its relationship with the image in the viewfinder as we capture that brief moment of time?

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Image from Guarding ground zero at

What’s to stop a reverse process?  Could someone see from my retina from my camera and know what I am taking a picture of?  That’s a truly scary thought. This report will touch on retinal scans later but first drones and the way they can intrude locally and globally.

Just as the US used the muscle of the US dollar to force banks globally into abandoning bank privacy, it is using its muscle to take over air space globally.

A March 2012 New York Times article entitled “U.S. Drones Fight Mexican Drug Trade” by Ginger Thompson and Mark Mazzetti gives us a clue how the Feds are doing this when it says:  Stepping up its involvement in Mexico’s drug war, the Obama administration has begun sending drones deep into Mexican territory to gather intelligence that helps locate major traffickers and follow their networks, according to American and Mexican officials.

The Pentagon began flying high-altitude, unarmed drones over Mexican skies last month, American military officials said, in hopes of collecting information to turn over to Mexican law enforcement agencies. Other administration officials said a Homeland Security drone helped Mexican authorities find several suspects linked to the Feb. 15 killing of Jaime Zapata, a United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement Immigration agent.

President Obama and his Mexican counterpart, Felipe Calderón, formally agreed to continue the surveillance flights during a White House meeting on March 3. The American assistance has been kept secret because of legal restrictions in Mexico and the heated political sensitivities there about sovereignty, the officials said.

In recent years, the United States has steadily stepped up its role in fighting Mexican drug trafficking, though officials offer few details of the cooperation. The greatest growth involves intelligence gathering, with Homeland Security and the American military flying manned aircraft and drones along the United States’ southern border — and now over Mexican territory — that are capable of peering deep into Mexico and tracking criminals’ communications and movements, officials said.

“It wasn’t that long ago when there was no way the D.E.A. could conduct the kinds of activities they are doing now,” said Mike Vigil, a retired chief of international operations for the Drug Enforcement Administration. “And the only way they’re going to be able to keep doing them is by allowing Mexico to have plausible deniability.”

The leaders emphasized “the value of information sharing,” a senior Mexican official said, adding that they recognized “the responsibilities shared by both governments in the fight against criminal organizations on both sides of the border.”

Still, much of the cooperation is shrouded in secrecy. Mexican and American authorities, for example, initially denied that the first fusion center, established over a year ago in Mexico City, shared and analyzed intelligence. Some officials now say that Mexican and American law enforcement agencies work together around the clock, while others characterize it more as an operational outpost staffed almost entirely by Americans.

Mexican and American officials say Mexico turns a blind eye to American wiretapping of the telephone lines of drug-trafficking suspects, and similarly to American law enforcement officials carrying weapons in violation of longstanding Mexican restrictions.

One American military official said the Pentagon had flown a number of flights over the past month using the Global Hawk drones — a spy plane that can fly higher than 60,000 feet and survey about 40,000 square miles of territory in a day. They cannot be readily seen by drug traffickers — or ordinary Mexicans — on the ground.

But no one would say exactly how many drone flights had been conducted by the United States, or how many were anticipated under the new agreement. The officials cited the secrecy of drug investigations, and concerns that airing such details might endanger American and Mexican officials on the ground.

“I think most Mexicans, especially in areas of conflict, would be fine about how much the United States is involved in the drug war, because things have gotten so scary they just want to see the bad guys get caught,” said Mr. Selee of the Wilson Center. “But the Mexican government is afraid of the more nationalistic elements in the political elite, so they tend to hide it.”

Expect the spread of US drones in other countries because the drones are powerful tools.  This means that one can no longer eliminate the eye of the government by simply crossing a border.   The drone can see and the information garnered is most likely going to be shared.

Billions in Information Sharing

The drones are the seeing eye and the information shared is the biometric IDs.

An article at says:  Biometric identification was given a legislative green light. The Patriot (Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism) Act of 2001, renewed in 2006, mandated that standards for biometric identification be established.  The imperative to create standards and new technologies paved the way for a massive infusion of government funding. Evan Ratliff at Wired, Inc. noted spending projections of $10 billion, in 2005, and that US-VISIT (an immigration data and biometrics system) alone had had $10 billion poured into it.

The combination of drones, biometric ID and information sharing can create a terrible intrusion. sows that bio metrics have been with us for quite some time when it says: More and more private and government organizations turn to facial recognition biometric (just think DMVs), but privacy concerns slow broader adoption.

After a driver sits for a photo at the Illinois Secretary of State office to renew a license, officials use facial-recognition technology to give the resulting image a close look. First, state officials verify that the face matches the images portrayed on previous licenses issued under the driver’s name. The second, more extensive run-through determines if the same face appears on other Illinois driver’s licenses with different names. Washington Technology’s Alice Lipowicz writes that since starting the program in 1999, the state has uncovered more than 5,000 cases of multiple identity fraud, according to Beth Langen, policy and program division administrator at the Illinois Secretary of State office. The state pays Digimarc Corp. about 25 cents per license for the service, she said. “We are very pleased. It is a fraud for which we have no other tool” to combat, Langen said.

About 40 percent of the nation’s drivers will undergo such facial-recognition database checks when they renew their licenses in twenty states.

Several other projects and developments are driving growth in facial recognition:

* The State Department uses it for its database of foreign visa applicants’ facial images, which it has been building since 2004 under a contract with L-1 Identity Solutions. The system was developed at State to reduce visa-related identity fraud.

* The FBI’s $1 billion Next Generation Identification system is being built to add face and palm print biometrics databases to the crime-fighting arsenal. It also will make it easier to share data from the existing fingerprint system. The FBI chose Lockheed Martin Corp. Feb. 12 as the prime contractor.

* DHS’s U.S. Visitor and Immigrant Status Indicator Technology program is experimenting with multimodal biometrics, including facial recognition, said Director Robert Mocny. US-VISIT collects fingerprints from visa applicants and shares that information with other agencies.

New technologies for 3-D facial recognition and new algorithms for greater accuracy are being developed. For now, Lipowicz writes, we should expect to see more motor vehicle offices adopting the technology, industry experts said. More sharing with law enforcement and with other states might come later if privacy can be protected. “Facial recognition is getting to a point where it really has a high degree of potential acceptance. But it is not yet capable in covert and face in- the-crowd applications,” said Walter Hamilton, chairman of the International Biometric Industry Association. “In my view, facial recognition at state motor vehicle departments is one of the most logical applications. It works the best,” said Jeremy Grant, senior vice president at Stanford Group. investment research firm.

Cameras in drones may not yet be able to pick put people in a crowd, but they can alert authorities to unusual activity.

The article “Guarding ground zero” at explains how:  While the WTC security system will employ technology from a wide array of companies, including Diebold and SightLogix, the bulk of the system is being outfitted by Houston, Texas-based Behavioral Recognitions Systems, or BRS Labs. BRS Labs makes a product called AiSight (“eye sight”), which uses artificial neuro network (ANN) technology, allowing it to “autonomously identify abnormal behavior within the field of view of a surveillance camera in real time,” according to the BRS Labs website. Anytime something unusual happens within view of an AiSight-powered camera system, an alert is sent to the appropriate authorities.

Why AI is better

Like other artificial intelligence systems, AiSight uses computer learning to build “memories,” or “Hypocepts,” as BRS Labs calls them, based on what it “sees” through the cameras to which it’s connected. These memories become more and more refined over time, as the AiSight system gathers and analyzes more and more information about the environments it watches.


The benefits of AiSight are not simply that it learns on its own, but that it could prove more effective at actually preventing crime. Standard surveillance systems have been shown to do little to actually stop people from breaking the law. According to a 2005 study from the University of Leicester in the UK (home to the world’s largest public surveillance network, CCTV), the presence of a surveillance cameras did not actually reduce crime. Yes, the footage can be used by law enforcement as evidence after a crime is committed. But that’s hardly acceptable at a site as vulnerable to catastrophic terrorist attacks as the WTC.

Because AiSight automatically detects suspicious behavior, like a car parked in a strange location, a person wandering around in circles, or someone snooping where they shouldn’t, and immediate contacts the authorities, it’s possible for AiSight-powered systems to stop terrorism or other dangerous crime before it actually happens. Combine this with the WTC’s facial recognition and iris scanners (which can identify if someone is in the federal database), and the chances of another disaster occuring there become greatly lessened.

Why this is terrifying

You may have notice that, so far, I’ve spoken positively about BRS Labs and AiSight; from my research, it seems like a vast improvement over previous surveillance software systems. But that’s just the tech geek side of me talking. The suspicious, civil liberties advocate side is thinking, “Creeping Jesus! This is the beginning of a terrifying Orwellian police state!” Which very well may be true. Not that much can be done to stop it — nor would most people would want to, anyway.

Modern “search and seizure” laws under the Fourth Amendment are defined by the 1967 US Supreme Court case, Katz vs. United States 389 US 347. In its decision, the Court declared that, “What a person knowingly exposes to the public, even in his own home or office, is not a subject of Fourth Amendment protection, but what he seeks to preserve as private, even in an area accessible to the public, may be constitutionally protected. Generally, a person walking along a public sidewalk or standing in a public park cannot reasonably expect that his activity will be immune from the public eye or from observation by the police.”

Beyond Big Brother

There are some other concerns… such as private use of drones.

The AR Drone in your Smartphone.  The accessibility of  drones and ease to consumers will lead to use in the private sector. Already the Parrot AR drone allows a smartphone user to easily control a remote controlled flying camera using a smartphone.  It’s easy to setup and easy to fly.

The River of Blood

A number of January 2012 news article showed how a  private Drone Enthusiast discovered a “River of Blood” using a drone. He was using the drone to survey the course of a local river when he photographed an environmental hazard coming from a Texas slaughterhouse.

Drones and Water

The applications here for law enforcement and of course the media are obvious.  Where else might this be applicable?  I always wondered how governments could enforce water restriction laws.  Drones can easily pick up those who are watering when they should not!

The day is not coming when police will have drones. The day is already here.

An article “Look to the skies” at says:  The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan (and elsewhere) have driven the rapid development over the past decade of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs)—robotic planes flown by some combination of remote “pilot” operators, software, and GPS navigation. Ranging in size from that of a flying model kit to full-sized aircraft, UAVs, also referred to as unmanned aircraft systems (UASs), have done everything from spotting roadside bombs to bombing alleged Al-Qaeda hideouts—and now they’re ready for civilian jobs. As war efforts wind down, the military is preparing to bring home the over 7,500 UAVs deployed overseas—and the companies that build them are looking to create a domestic market for the technology.

Federal Aviation Administration rules have so far tightly limited the use of UAVs to the same sets of rules applied to hobbyists flying radio-controlled model aircraft. But all that is set to change, thanks to legislation slipped into the FAA’s 2012 funding bill, signed on February 14. The law is pushing the FAA to stop worrying and love the drone by setting deadlines for starting UAVs’ “integration into the national airspace.” The FAA is now soliciting public input on locations for six test sites where it will look at ways to integrate UAVs into the same airspace as human-piloted aircraft.

In addition to fast-tracking the use of small UAVs by law enforcement and emergency responders by as early as May, the law also sets deadlines that could allow the first wave of certified “safe” drones to take to the skies as early as August. By September of 2015, the law dictates that the FAA will have rules set for the licensing of commercial and civil UAVs, and that they will be fully integrated into the “national airspace.”

That could have a potentially huge impact on society and culture—in both a positive and negative sense. “There’s a stunning amount of innovation going on in the drone world,” and a long list of potential applications, said John Villasenor, a nonresident senior fellow at the Brookings Institution and professor of electrical engineering at UCLA, at a panel discussion on drones at Brookings on April 4. He called drones the equivalent of the space program in terms of their potential impact on technological change.

“What the military has shown abroad is there’s a tremendous amount of stuff you can do with this, if the regulatory environment permits—not just surveillance,” said Benjamin Wittes, a senior Brookings fellow, also at the April 4 event. Based on the advances in self-guidance and self-landing technology, he said, “there is no good reason anymore for there to be pilots in the domestic airspace. The main barrier is psychological, not technical.”

The applications for unmanned aircraft—both for government and business—range from the mundane to the insane, covering everything from the monitoring of highway traffic and land use to airborne wireless Internet gateways. The military has already begun work on adopting autonomous helicopters based on the Kaman K-MAX to deliver cargo on the battlefield; airfreight companies could be among those lined up to bring that technology to the commercial world.

In Texas, the Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office acquired a Shadowhawk helicopter UAV from Vanguard Defense Industries last September with some funding help from the Department of Homeland Security to support the department’s SWAT team; the Shadowhawk costs $40 an hour to operate, compared to the $500-per-hour cost of a full-sized helicopter. There are downsides—last month, a Shadowhawk prototype crashed into a SWAT armored vehicle during a photo op when it lost contact with the controller and shut down.

There are some in law enforcement who are interested in doing more than just watching with UAVs—some have expressed interest in arming UAVs with nonlethal weapons. Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office Chief Deputy Randy McDaniel told The Daily in March that the office was “open to the idea” of adding weapons to their Shadowhawk, which could include flares, smoke grenades, tear gas, tasers, or rubber bullets for crowd control—allowing police to disperse protestors or angry mobs without even being on the scene. The Shadowhawk could also be equipped with a beanbag “force baton” to be used to subdue a suspect “from altitude.”

The idea of armed flying police robots seems, to some, a really bad idea. Security technologist Bruce Schneier responded to the news of Montgomery County’s purchase of the Shadowhawk with the question, “Why does anyone think this is a good idea?” American Civil Liberties Union staff attorney Catherine Crump expressed her incredulity over the concept as well at the Brookings event. “The potential weaponization of drones and the way the debate has developed, I found startling,” she said—the potential for inappropriate use of force against individuals by police could be huge if actions were based solely on what could be seen through an UAV’s cameras.

That’s a scary thought… the police with weapons in drones and using biometric technology.

Think of the mistakes that could be made.  The computerized profiling… making decisions out of context from afar.  Plus there are the mundane risks.  One wonders how long it will be before some jet taking off or landing somewhere sucks a drone into its engine or when one will crash through a house or into a car.

According to an article at, a Shadowhawk drone-chopper belonging to the Montgomery County,Texas, Sheriff’s Office has already crashed… into a SWAT truck belonging to the Sheriff’s office.

Drones are here to stay having reached us as products of war.  Most new technology that moves from military to domestic use brings jobs, increased productivity and numerous social benefits.  I expect drones will as well.

Drones in Ecuador

ecuador-drone tags:

According to the Daytona news Journal:  Unmanned planes, dubbed Piquero, the Spanish word for a native bird in the Galapagos Islands, weighs 55 pounds and has a 12-foot wingspan They will cost $5,000 to $10,000 each.  (Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University)

Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University students and professors have designed a drone that will help keep poachers from killing sharks and whales near Ecuador.

The unmanned aerial vehicle will be used to prevent poaching in the Pacific Ocean around the Galapagos Islands, an area rich in marine life.

The goal is eventually to have a fleet of about 30 such aircraft in a few years to monitor that area, according to Charlie Reinholtz, Embry-Riddle professor/chairman of the department of mechanical engineering and faculty project leader.

Embry-Riddle has been working for the past year and half on the project, collaborating with a group of faculty and students at the Universidad San Francisco de Quito (USFQ) in Ecuador, which has a research station in the Galapagos.

So drones can bring a lot of progress and good.

However they will also bring more intrusion into an increasingly public world.

 What to Do?

The ways new technology and greater government intrusion will change life is hard to say.  How to adapt to such complexities…or even harder to project.

This is why we have been focusing on simple solutions. Simplicity is a key to combating complexity.

One simple fact is that as there is more government intrusion, as there are larger populations and greater isolation… people will want to meet and unite with like minded souls.

Our writer’s camps and self publishing courses show how to monetize publications with events and how to use special interest groups to market events and publications.

Here is an excerpt from a lesson of our online self publishing course.

Special Interest Groups Can Create Excellent Prospecting Paths

Special interest groups can be excellent prospecting paths for overseas events.


Merri greeting and meeting in Cotacachi, Ecuador.

Expats have been meeting lately at the Inn Land of the Sun Fridays and Saturdays for homemade pizza, special dishes and quinoa.

Here is a case study of how one of our Super Thinking + Spanish teachers launched his  events marketing efforts with success.

This study can help you see one way to build an events business based around travel.

This teacher planned to travel to several Spanish countries where he had never been.
Due to time restrictions he only had three and a half weeks to market his first course when he arrived in Uruguay… thousands of miles from his home in this country for the first time.

He had no contacts to kick start his first event.

Yet he garnered 12 delegates for his first course with over $4,000 of income.  We consider this a very good start.

He began by finding out about expat meetings… looking for expat forums and visiting language exchange meetings.

Expat forums.  The expat meetings provided access to people who were writing blogs for the expats in Uruguay.

These expat groups can be large and active.

Let’s take Peru as a quick example.   A quick Google search for expat blogs in Peru reveal

Just this one site invites expats to an St. Patrick’s Day event at the Irish consulate and…


has a schedule of events.




special and regular events including get togethers and Spanish courses.  Both are great places to meet prospects for a Spanish course.

Expat meetings.  Merri and I have never been good at meetings like this.  We are introverts… so are not great in social groups, plus we have always tended to mingle, live, work and socialize (in a limited way) with family rather than expats.

In spite of this, such groups are great prospecting paths.

Referals.  The teacher in Uruguay took one more step that worked well for him.  One of the expat bloggers had lived for some time in Uruguay but needed to speak Spanish better.

The teacher offered him a free attendance if he could bring three delegates.  This idea accounted for a fourth of this courses initial turn out.

Language exchange meetings.  These are meetings where expats meet residents and trade language. The locals speak Spanish (or whatever the language might be)… the gringos speak English.  They are typically fun social events with dozens… even 100 or more in attendance.

The ideas above offer excellent, fun and fulfilling ways to create new friends as you develop prospecting paths to market and conduct events as you travel or go to a new place.

Learn how to earn from two hot trends as a Super Thinking + Spanish teacher.

Learn about our online writer’s and publisher’s course.


U.S. Drones Fight Mexican Drug Trade

Guarding Ground Zero

Biometric ID article

Look to the skies Is it time to stop worrying and love the drone

Police Drones Are Already Here

Drones in Ecuador