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TSA’s Ridiculous Behavioral Analysis Checklist to Spot Terrorists Leaked

In Archive, Big Brother, Surveillance, Terrorism, TSA on April 21, 2015 at 11:27 PM

Click to Enlarge / PDF


Jana Winter/Cora Currier/TheIntercept:

Fidgeting, whistling, sweaty palms. Add one point each. Arrogance, a cold penetrating stare, and rigid posture, two points.

These are just a few of the suspicious signs that the Transportation Security Administration directs its officers to look out for — and score — in airport travelers, according to a confidential TSA document obtained exclusively by The Intercept.

The checklist is part of TSA’s controversial program to identify potential terrorists based on behaviors that it thinks indicate stress or deception — known as the Screening of Passengers by Observation Techniques, or SPOT. The program employs specially trained officers, known as Behavior Detection Officers, to watch and interact with passengers going through screening.

The document listing the criteria, known as the “Spot Referral Report,” is not classified, but it has been closely held by TSA and has not been previously released. A copy was provided to The Intercept by a source concerned about the quality of the program.

The 92-point checklist listed in the “Spot Referral Report” is divided into various categories with a point score for each. Those categories include a preliminary “observation and behavior analysis,” and then those passengers pulled over for additional inspection are scored based on two more categories: whether they have “unusual items,” like almanacs and “numerous prepaid calling cards or cell phones,” and a final category for “signs of deception,” which include “covers mouth with hand when speaking” and “fast eye blink rate.

Points can also be deducted from someone’s score based on observations about the traveler that make him or her less likely, in TSA’s eyes, to be a terrorist. For example, “apparent” married couples, if both people are over 55, have two points deducted off their score. Women over the age of 55 have one pointed deducted; for men, the point deduction doesn’t come until they reach 65.

The checklist ranges from the mind-numbingly obvious, like “appears to be in disguise,” which is worth three points, to the downright dubious, like a bobbing Adam’s apple. Many indicators, like “trembling” and “arriving late for flight,” appear to confirm allegations that the program picks out signs and emotions that are common to many people who fly.


GAO Report: TSA’s Behavioral Analysis Program (SPOT) Ineffective, Should Limit Future Funding

A Search Warrant For Your Brain?

In Archive, Big Brother, Science & Technology on March 5, 2015 at 4:01 AM


(Inside Science) — Brain imaging can already pull bits of information from the minds of willing volunteers in laboratories. What happens when police or lawyers want to use it to pry a key fact from the mind of an unwilling person?

Will your brain be protected under the Fourth Amendment from unreasonable search and seizure?

Or will your brain have a Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination?

“These are issues the United States Supreme Court is going to have to resolve,” said Nita Farahany, a professor of law and philosophy at Duke University in Durham, North Carolina, who specializes in bioethical issues.

Those legal choices are likely decades away, in part because the exacting, often finicky process of functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) could be thwarted if a reluctant person so much as swallowed at the wrong time. Also, a brain exam couldn’t be admitted in court unless it worked well enough to meet the legal standards for scientific evidence.

Still, the progress being made in “brain decoding” is so intriguing that legal scholars and neuroscientists couldn’t resist speculating during a law and memory session earlier this month at the annual conference of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in San Jose, California.

Our brains are constantly sorting, storing and responding to stimuli. As researchers figure out exactly where and how the brain encodes information, the fMRI also becomes a tool that can decode that information. The fMRI can identify the portions of the brain that are active, based on the increased quantity of freshly oxygenated blood they draw. Already, brain decoding can perform a version of that old magician’s trick — guess what card someone is looking at — with better than 90 percent accuracy, University of California, Berkeley neuroscientist Jack Gallant told the group.

Farahany predicts that like most new science, brain decoding will break into the courtroom for the first time through a cooperative witness, someone who wants to use it to advance his or her case.

Stanford University law professor Henry Greely, who moderated the Feb. 13 law and memory session, suggested that a court might be especially open to novel techniques during the sentencing hearing in a death penalty case.

Both agreed that compelling someone to undergo a brain scan, the way a person might now be ordered to provide a urine sample or a DNA swab, would come much later. Even if the scan method were so non-invasive that some might argue it isn’t a search at all, Farahany thinks the courts will probably decide it is, and so will consider that you are protected from “unreasonable” brain searches. That, though, only means the authorities would need a search warrant for your brain.

As to self-incrimination, people cannot invoke the Fifth Amendment now to withhold certain purely physical information from their bodies, such as fingerprints. A court might draw parallels, she said, to brain activity.

Farahany has been monitoring early attempts to bring brain science into the courtroom with some sort of fMRI lie detection. So far, she said, no court has admitted it into evidence, concluding there is no scientific consensus that it works dependably.

Lie detection could prove much tougher than the more basic decoding going on in the lab, said Gallant, because lies are nuanced things, springing from a wide range of motives and emotional states.

Gallant is one of the best known researchers in a field that has been glibly described as computerized mind-reading. It is far from that, but brain decoding has made dramatic advances in visual imagery in Gallant’s lab. Some of his recent work has involved asking volunteers to watch a compilation of video clips showing brief glimpses of short scenes while an fMRI measures the oxygenation of blood in different parts of their brains. His lab’s computer models can then determine what that person might be watching when shown new video clips, ones that he or she has never seen before. This decoding can pick up general categories: woman, man, people talking, buildings or the ocean. But it won’t stop there.

“Brain decoding is going to keep getting better and better,” he said, because our understanding of how the brain encodes keeps growing. The two move in tandem, as inseparable as two sides of the same piece of toast.

We won’t need to wait for lie detector test results before brain decoding is capable of extracting information an investigator might want, such as the encryption code to a file or the combination to a safe.

“You could easily decode a number sequence from somebody’s brain from fMRI now. Internal, unpublished data from my lab suggests that would not be difficult to do,” Gallant said in a phone interview a few days after his talk.

What you couldn’t do, he said, is decode numbers from the brain of a squirming, uncooperative person who wants to mess with the MRI machine.

“No way,” Gallant said.

Not in our lifetimes. But in our children’s lifetimes? He’s pretty sure that improved techniques will emerge.

Carrie Peyton Dahlberg is a freelance writer based in Humboldt County, California. She tweets at @PeytonDahlberg.

Related Link: Brain Scans Predict Which Criminals Are More Likely to Reoffend

Telstra – Free WiFi Plus

In Activism, Anonymous, ASIO, Australia, Big Brother, Big Data, Censorship, CYBERCOM, Encryption, Internet, leaksource, Project PM, Tor, TrapWire on December 28, 2014 at 6:42 AM

If you have n’t noticed the little pink box which now adorns Telstra Public phones it possibly because there are no Telstra Public phones where you live.

At one time they were on nearly every large intersection and at every local milk bar or shopping strip. Now they are rare to find. Telstra systematically removed them from places which were experiencing little or no call activity. Mobile phones took hold and the need for the shiny square glass boxes vanished as the equation between maintenance cost versus asset worth started to go exponentialy negative.

$100 million dollars later,(here) now we have free WiFi on what is left of the public telephone infrastructure. A pink box above the Telephone kiosk denotes it as a “hot spot”. It is also next to a rental car.

Which could come in handy if you found yourself marooned for what ever reason in the old red light district of the city…sure it’s happened to all of us.


Conversely it’s a great opportunity for Telstra to browse through all your stuff(s)..why not? not as if you read the privacy agreement. But don’t let this detract from the useful elements.

Using a disposable telephone with an offshore SIM card comes to mind. Sending and receiving emails or files, login into Government Websites without using your home setup and so on…

There could be a dozen different ways one could use Anonymity tools and that will make the Telstra Free WiFi an opportunity for digital and information activists to use to their benefit.

Careful research on your System Preferences and maybe the odd ‘duck duck go’ search,(proxies, MAC spoofing) and it should be another useful and free tool.

I have n’t tried connecting with Tor but will add this test later.

The next day I did try connecting via Tor and the experiment was a success.

If you need 30 minutes of WiFi for what ever reason, you can connect via Tor and then connect to the internet at one of the WiFi

As I mentioned earlier in the piece, take the time to research and check you devices System Preferences and your Tor settings and updates.


Tim Berners-Lee – “what worries you most about the web?”

In Anonymous, Bahrain, Big Brother, Big Data, Censorship, CENTCOM, Conspiracy, DARPA, EFF, Encryption, FBI, Five Eyes, Hacking, Internet, leaksource, Microsoft, NASA, Stuxnet, Surveillance, Terrorism, Tor, TrapWire, WikiLeaks on September 27, 2014 at 3:04 PM

Speaking at “Web We Want Festival” Tim Berners- Lee was asked,

what worries you most about the web?

video here


The full video stream can be seen here.

Australian Counter Terror Legislation Amendments

In Activism, ASIO, ASIS, Australia, Australia, Barrett Brown, Big Brother, Big Data, CIA, East Timor, Economy, Surveillance, video on September 26, 2014 at 3:50 PM

via digitalfolklore

On the 25th September 2014, Australian Attorney-General George Brandis could n’t believe his luck as he squeezed the first of two amendments through the Senate.

The processing of amendments was a tiresome and uninspiring event as Australia was put through Jacqui Lambi’s atrocious public speaking. Together with her erroneous use of the Winston Churchill quote, (saying that it was George Orwell) ” we sleep soundly in our beds because rough men stand ready in the night to visit violence on those who would do us harm”  which basically sums up Palmer United Party in one syllable.  Just as events seemed to take a course for reason Senator Lazarus spruiked his love for all things ASIO like some mechanical toy giggling at his own inability to pronounce “big words”.

Finally, Senators Xenophon and Ludlam both gallantly made motions and together voiced concerns over the way the bills were heading.

Alas, regardless of the erudite arguments and some not so, the Bill was agreed and reported, 44 to 12.

Senator Brandis was quick to explain the idea of “gradation of consideration” in sentencing with regard to Senator Xenophon’s concern. This would be used in the sentencing of a person who was explicitly undermining an ASIO Operation or ASIO operatives through media leaks and other unauthorised means which could result in harm coming to those Agents. However, Senator Brandis omits the fact that a citizen under such a charge would spend many years in jail, his life ruined and his family estranged by the time a court appearance would be announced.

Cases just like this are becoming common place as agencies of Government misinterpret the intentions of a free speech press and react with knee jerk convictions and subpoenas doing little more than to cause havoc in citizens lives and fertilise the seeds of institutional distrust.

Unscrupulous agents with vindictive dispositions bent on revenge, would seize upon this change of law and in an attempt to shut down an activist or movement by planting evidence and concocting circumstances to cause a targeted suspect to be arrested and held without bail until trial. During this time no reporting or media coverage would be allowed as it could be construed as interfering with an ongoing ASIO Operation.

ASIO will have increased powers of surveillance with which they will able to surveil the complete network of sites which a suspect visits. This will be done with a single warrant. The question which arises in this regard is to how many links or hops does this allow. For example would it include all of the followers of a twitter account, or all the friends on a FaceBook Page? One , two or three hop.  The concern for ‘over reach’ and ‘over sight’ raised in the Senate become a stark reminder of the bare rule of law.





George Brandis explaining ‘gradation of consideration



The Bill now passes to the House of Representatives 30th September 2014.


Further concern regarding this legislation..



Further, is the alarming element is  Schedule 2, Division 7 – Loss of family assistance for individuals on security grounds

Individuals who might prejudice the security of Australia or a foreign country may lose family assistance.

This lends itself to the “if you can’t get the man, get his family.”

Welfare - Scedule2Div7page108

The activist needs to become increasing aware and understand the mechanisms and tools of privacy and encryption. Not just the complicated PGP with private and public keys, but the basic privacy already available in the software. Understand how to hide your WiFi, how to search the internet anonymously, to use two step verification, to clear cookies and opt out of website tracking. Learn new habits, research, ask questions, read the instruction, read the privacy policies. Ask how long a VPN service keeps users data, change default settings in your internet router, your phone, your tablet. Seasonally change your passwords, change your emails around, dump old ones, start new ones, back up your data, encrypt your hard drive,  use external storage devices which you can carry in your pocket or key chain. Lazy habits will end in tears, be aware and informed, question everything.

Security may be a myth, but it does n’t mean you have to aid and abet the machine. Make it’s job harder, not easier.

30th September 2014 Moved to a second sitting 1st October 2014



1st October 2014 The first of two Counter Terror Legislation Amendment Bills pass House of Representatives.



As the law passed Christopher Warren, Federal Secretary at Media, Entertainment & Arts Alliance, speaking on ABC in regard to journalism and the legislation changes in regard to reporting on ASIO. (1st October 2014)





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