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Top 5 Ways the Government Spies on You

Updated: Oct 4

By Dave McGuire, CU


(CU) - Over the years there have been abuses of power by the government and the ever changing technology of today only creates more opportunities for the same. Sometimes this may involve monitoring the general population to review what we're doing or who we're speaking with at a given time. We know about the phones, social media and public cameras, but what else? Here are six ways the government is spying on you - and they're not what you think.


IMSI-Catchers

An International Mobile Subscriber Identity Catcher, or IMSI-Catcher for short, is an eavesdropping device used by governments to tap into cell phone calls. Not only are they used to intercept phone calls, but they are used to track current locations. The IMSI-Catcher works as a fake mobile tower which communicates with mobile phones by masking itself as a standard phone tower. This is known as a "man in the middle attack". The IMSI-Catcher connects to a real phone tower and picks up calls from both the tower and a target phone. IMSI-Catchers are used frequently for surveillance although their use accompanies civil liberty issues which include privacy concerns.


Toll Booths

The convenience of easy pay leads to tracking locations, patterns and specific vehicles. With those records cameras camera data can be referenced to fill in gaps on the who and why. In 2015, the New York Civil Liberties Union released a large number of government records showing how the government was spying on New York residents. One of the strangest methods was its use of toll booths to track those traveling with EZ pass readers. These scans were used by the government to record unique individual data histories. It was also discovered the EZ pass readers were being combined with Stingray cell phone tracking devices. Officials claimed these scanners were only used to study traffic patterns.


RFID Technology

RFID technology documents activity each time a credit card, bank card or even mobile phone is used to make a purchase. A small chip sends data to the card reader for documentation which starts the documentation, or tracking, process. These chips are also present in some passports used by governments for International travel. It's not surprising to learn government officials have also used those passports to track individuals for arrest warrants. Through this technology, each swipe of your card or use of contactless payment, governments can confirm where the card has been used and immediately deploy agents to that area, if necessary.


A Pacemaker

It’s an odd possibility, but it grows with changes in technology. Nearly 15 years ago, VP Dick Cheney had a pacemaker installed with Wi-Fi connection. That Wi-Fi connection was planned as a heart monitoring device to ensure healthy activity. They quickly realized the pacemaker could be hacked and it was disabled. There are now similar pacemakers used in the general population, meaning anyone can access those pacemakers with the correct wireless equipment and expertise. This includes the government among other groups. A hacker could control your heart rate and/or all manner of information about your health which includes your present medical state. They could even tell if you ate too much during your last meal.


Medical Data

HIPAA, right? If there's one thing most of us believe about our medical history, it's the privacy of personal medical data.


Government agencies can access your medical data at any time. This means they can review medications or health issues in your day-to-day life. For those conspiratorially minded people, there are concerns for this information being used by government in unscrupulous ways. If this doesn't concern you then learning private companies also have access to medical data, under certain agreements, may change your mind.


Bonus example..


Census Data

The United States Census Bureau gathers data about American citizens on a regular basis. This information collection includes where we live, our gender, who we live with and for how long, when and where we were born, etc. This information is combined with other substantial amounts of personal data gathered through surveys. It's hard to believe the legality of your information being guaranteed as private for 72 years is consistently audited by a third party. The US Census Bureau is, after all, government and we just don't know how this information is being used or who might be receiving the details. It seems highly unlikely such a rich source of data isn't unofficially accessed when deemed necessary by both elected or un-elected officials.

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