A report in Joseph Farah’s G2 Bulletin cites how government surveillance and persecution of citizens in the West blew up into more than a scandal some 25 years ago when a Paraguayan lawyer was led to an obscure police station near Asuncion and nearby found 700,000 documents that recorded the “interrogations, torture” and more under dictator Alfredo Stroesnner.
The toll, according to a new report, was “more than 50,000 deaths and 400,000 political prisoners” across Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Paraguay, Uruguay, Colombia, Peru and Venezuela during Operation Condor.
But the “Terror Archive” of 1992 was then, right?
A new report is offering a warning that has alarmingly similar circumstances.
“A modern-day Stroessner or a revamped Operation Condor … would have far more powerful tools at hand than just ring-binders, cameras, and wiretapped phones. Today’s digital surveillance technology leaves the techniques documented in the Terror Archive in the dust. New tech like the IMSI-catcher, a portable mobile cell-tower that lets its operator sweep up all the mobile phone calls and messages within a 200 meter radius, would let the authorities collect the identities of everyone at a protest. Mobile phones tell their providers where they are at all times: government orders could demand a mobile provider retain such data and hand it to the government. That would let the authorities track the movements of everyone who owns a cellphone. It would also allow them to ‘time travel’: pick a target, and then look back in their history to see everywhere they had been for months or years,” the Electronic Frontier Foundation says.
“For targeted intimidation and entrapment, governments could take advantage of the email, social media, and messages that dominate our lives. States could deploy for the purposes of social control, the same malicious software, or malware, that petty Internet criminals use to take over innocent users’ computers, by tricking them to click on fraudulent emails or websites. Some of this malware is also ‘spyware’ – it can covertly record audio and video from the microphone and camera of a target’s smartphone or laptop. Once installed, government malware could go much further: retrieving lists of contacts, or remotely planting incriminating evidence on the device. A net far wider and far more pervasive than any 20th century secret police project would be cast over the whole of society.
“The disturbing truth is that these tools are not theoretical. Many governments are already using these techniques, with neither legislative constraints holding them back, nor any effective public oversight, as our research shows,” the privacy group said.
“Each of these new powers is a ticking time-bomb, waiting for abuse.”
EFF spent more than a year working with a long list of partners to uncover privacy provisions, laws, rules and requirements in 13 nations: Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Peru, Mexico, Nicaragua, Paraguay, Uruguay, and the United States.
It issued a report on each nation, as well as an overall evaluation, which said throughout much of Central and South America deeply embedded secrecy makes it hard to judge how states are meeting their own laws regarding privacy protections.
But there are obvious ways that the situation can be improved, even based on what it found in the United States, the organization reported.