Police State



American Public should be worried over U.S. monitoring of Iraqis
by Stan Moore
(Thursday 06 January 2005)
"Iraqis may very well be experiencing now what Americans will experience within this decade, perhaps long after American troops are pulled out of Iraq." How many computer files are in the possession of the U.S. military and intelligence agencies with regard to citizens of Iraq? For over a year, U.S. forces have been keeping track of many Iraqi citizens in order to seek and keep track of "insurgents", their families, and contacts. We have been told recently that citizens of Fallujah will soon have retinal scans taken and identification cards issued in order to track them in their own city by foreign occupiers.
The surveillance and tracking of Iraqi citizens in Iraq may very well portend the future of American citizens in America. The Patriot Act mentality and the mindset of high U.S. government officials should be very worrisome to all American citizens and lovers of freedom.
This is especially true when we consider the great likelihood of national upheaval within the American public when several potentially simultaneous calamities strike, including Peak Oil effects, global warming effects, and the unraveling of the U.S. economy due to weakening of the dollar and refusal of foreign investors to finance U.S. debt.
When any combination of these events occurs in the U.S., and American citizens begin to understand how thoroughly they have been exploited, "unrest" may be a very mild way of describing the reaction of the American citenry. When American consumers are no longer able to pay their bills and begin to lose their homes, possessions and even find they are unable to feed themselves, what will be the response of the citizens to the ruling elite, and how will the ruling elite manage these problems and disturbances?
Will American soldiers and intelligence forces take retinal scans of All-American citizens? Will national identity cards be mandatory? Will the government keep extensive computer files on each and every citizen in order to control and manipulate the population for the safety and maintenance of order?
Iraqis may very well be experiencing now what Americans will experience within this decade, perhaps long after American troops are pulled out of Iraq.
Why are no Americans thinking about these possibilities and questioning why these actions are necessary in Iraq? Will American freedoms easily be taken away?

Police Need Not Say Why Arrest Made: U.S. High Court Overview
Dec. 13 (Bloomberg) -- Police officers don't have to give a reason at the time they arrest someone, the U.S. Supreme Court said in a ruling that shields officers from false-arrest lawsuits.
The justices, voting 8-0, threw out a suit against Washington state police officers who stopped a motorist and then told him he was being arrested for tape-recording their conversation. Although the recording was legal, the high court said the arrest was valid because the man could have been arrested instead for impersonating a police officer.
In an opinion for the court, Justice Antonin Scalia said the officers didn't have to provide a reason for arresting the man at all, as long as they had probable cause to do so.
"While it is assuredly good police practice to inform a person of the reason for his arrest at the time he is taken into custody, we have never held that to be constitutionally required,'' Scalia wrote.


AP - Ten students between the ages of 11 and 12 were strip-searched as officials at their charter school tried to find a missing $10 bill.
Seven girls and three boys at the Mainland Preparatory Academy were searched down to their underwear Thursday after one of the girls reported the money missing, said Principal Wilma Green. The money was not found. "It's not illegal," La Marque Police Chief Richard Price said. "We don't see it as a criminal offense." But he said an investigation was underway.


AP - School systems throughout metropolitan Baltimore are embracing the latest in surveillance technology, adding digital cameras that can zoom-in, detect motion and even see in the dark. Anne Arundel, Carroll, and Howard counties have plans to expand use of digital video cameras. Baltimore city and county rely more on traditional camera systems, though they are experimenting with digital technology. . .
"I think we're rearing a generation of schoolchildren who will always be looking over their shoulders," said Beth Givens, director of the Privacy Rights Clearinghouse, a nonprofit consumer advocacy group.


Posted 12/9/2004 4:01 PM     Updated 12/9/2004 4:05 PM
GPS used to track teens' driving
BRADENTON, Fla. (AP) — Retired Gen. Tommy Franks has signed on to be the spokesman for a company that uses global positioning system technology in teens' cell phones to let parents know how fast they're driving.
The Teen Arrive Alive service lets parents view information on their teen's trips via the Web or their cell phones.
Franks will be the official face of Teen Arrive Alive. The organization aims to get teens to carry a cell phone containing a GPS chip that sends out regular signals letting parents know where they are and how fast they're going.
If a certain predetermined speed limit is passed, an alarm will go off in the cell phone and parents will be notified.
A bumper sticker on the teen's car enables drivers to report reckless behavior. Both the teen and his or her parents are then notified by phone or e-mail that a negative driving report has come in.
"As a parent, I know it is not only my right, but also my responsibility to keep an eye on and protect my children," Franks said. "If I know where my kids are, where they're going, how they're driving and how fast they're traveling, I can counsel them before an accident occurs. I can help protect them."
... As commander of U.S. Central Command based at nearby MacDill Air Force, Franks directed the invasion of Iraq.



for articles about how Gen. Tommy Franks has been speculating on the imposition of domestic martial law -- and these surveillance systems would make implementation of permanent surveillance of the entire population much easier to do


     The Martial Plan
     By James Ridgeway
     Village Voice
     Wednesday 24 December 2003
Police State Tactics Transform a Nation-Our Own
     WASHINGTON—Every day the U.S. looks more like a police state.
     An internal Justice Department probe, based on surveillance videos made by the government inside federal detention facilities, shows that the U.S. harassed, beat, and kept in solitary confinement without access to family or lawyers men it picked up off the streets of New York after 9-11. More likely than not, these men were seized on grounds that some cop or FBI agent thought they looked like Osama followers. Or that a business partner or neighbor decided he could get the man's money or property by charging him first with theft and then telling the cops, "Oh, by the way, I think the guy is Al Qaeda," a claim that one magistrate after another accepted as the reason to set bails so high no one but a millionaire could pay to get out.
     And this doesn't even scratch the surface of what's been going on. Lawyers were not told the numbers of courtrooms to where their clients were being shuttled because the room locations were secret. Members of Congress, government, the press, and the judiciary knew from the very get-go that any FBI agent, acting on his or her own, could make an affidavit asserting that any individual was a suspected terrorist.
     Every day, Ashcroft and Bush work the country toward something like martial law, though the administration has suffered setbacks, like last week's rulings by two federal appellate courts in Padilla v. Rumsfeld and Gherebi v. Bush. Both of those decisions, for now at least, hamper the government's ability to simply lock up suspects indefinitely.
     But the government has other targets and other ways of dealing with them. The most recent crackdown seems to be on the foreign press—the source of much of the substantial critique of its policies.
     U.S. immigration authorities are detaining foreign correspondents on grounds they have not obtained special visas permitting them to operate here, reports the Associated Press. True, there is a law stipulating a special visa for journalists, but few have ever heard of it and it is seldom enforced. No more. No one ever told the visiting journalists it had suddenly been revived. As a result, immigration officials aren't allowing reporters from abroad to come in under ordinary 90-day tourist visa waivers.
     Peter Krobath, chief editor for the Austrian movie magazine Skip, was seized and held overnight in a cold room with 45 others who landed without visas. Is he an Osama follower? A disguised fedayeen from Saddam's clan? No. He is guilty of flying to the U.S. to interview Ben Affleck.
     Thomas Sjoerup, a photographer for the Danish paper Ekstra Bladet, had to give the American authorities fingerprints, a mug shot, and a DNA sample, and he was promptly sent back home anyway.
     Six French journalists were marched across a terminal at Los Angeles International Airport in handcuffs, having had their belts and shoelaces removed. The International Press Institute, based in Vienna, along with the International Federation of Journalists, headquartered in Brussels, is protesting this treatment.
     The U.S. response? An embassy official in Vienna insisted that the government was only acting in accordance with the letter of the law.



Why Does the Public Put Up With Abusive Cops?
by Steven Greenhut

My latest article on LewRockwell.com was anything but kind to the armed bureaucrats who claim to be the protectors of safety, yet to my surprise I received only one moderately critical response. Almost every emailer – and there were plenty – added their own stories about how police officers abuse their powers and fail to make us safer.
Here was my favorite response: "Why is it after spending 32 years as a California Peace Officer (28 with the California Highway Patrol) that I cannot find fault with your article. ... Let me add tip #11: Never tell the public that 11% of the on duty killings by police qualify as wrongful deaths; while only 2% of killings by the uninformed, ill trained, dangerous public are so."
Clearly, we’re on to something here.
The day my article was published, the local news was consumed by reports about a California Highway Patrol officer who was gunned-down while on duty. The suspect is a 16-year-old-kid who, allegedly, wanted to impress members of the gang he wanted to join.
Within hours, the suspect was apprehended, and the news reports were filled with talk about police protecting their own. A "conservative" drive-time talk-show host kept emphasizing how much more tragic this killing was than other killings, because the victim was one of those brave souls who put his life on the line protecting us.
The crime was terrible, no doubt. But why do police respond so overwhelmingly when one of their own is killed? I can’t recall a manhunt of similar proportions taking place when a mere citizen is gunned down in broad daylight. I don’t know why the death of an officer in the line of duty is so much more egregious than the murder of anyone else.
This just reinforces the "us vs. them" mentality of those who carry the weapons and order us around.
The truth about police bullying, and police failure to care about the people they are supposed to protect, came through in a Los Angeles Times article on Tuesday. California Highway Patrol received a call at 8:38 am on April 4 reporting a car going off the road at a specific location along a freeway. Here’s the Times account:
"Three minutes later, the Riverside County Fire Department dispatched two trucks that drove both sides of the freeway but found nothing. A California Highway Patrol officer soon joined the search, stopping briefly to look over the side of the road. Both searches lasted less than 15 minutes.
"In a ravine hidden from view 150 feet below the roaring traffic, Norma Bustamante lay dying, her 5-year-old daughter, Ruby, nestled close by. The little girl would survive nine days on her own...."
Now compare the lackluster police response to that case to the response to the officer who was gunned down, where hundreds of officers scoured the city. When a fellow cop is involved, no effort is spared. When a mere citizen is lying there dying, a search doesn’t consist of more than a perfunctory 15 minute gaze along the side of the road. According to published reports, Bustamante’s family said that police told them to hire their own searchers because they didn’t have the time or budget for a search.
Oh, yes, thank God for these great protectors of us all. What would we do without them?
Here’s a story from The Associated Press, as referred to by Bob Wallace on his LRC blog post on Monday:
"The city of Portland has agreed to pay $145,000 to an elderly blind woman after police pepper-sprayed and shocked her with a stun gun."
Who even needs to read further into the story than that? Wallace’s headline was right on target: "How Do You Parody This?" It reminded me of a scene a few years ago when Anaheim police drove a mini-tank, accompanied by SWAT team members with military-style rifles, into a quiet suburban neighborhood to arrest an elderly doctor who was in no way threatening.
My wife, this week, was outraged after watching a TV news show that included a segment on police who handcuffed and harassed a man who was trying to get his pregnant wife to the hospital. The cops said the agitated man had threatened them because of his angry words. I sure can’t figure out why the guy was agitated, can you?
The guy’s response: How threatening can a man in a bathrobe and slippers be?
If only the guy in the bathrobe were a fellow cop, he would have gotten a police escort to the hospital.
My point: We all know that police frequently abuse their power, and that they almost always treat the citizenry with disdain. We know they take care of their own, but don’t do all that much to protect the rest of us. We know they use excessive force all the time, and have little concern about citizens, and use little common sense in dealing with people who are upset or agitated. We know police unions are bankrupting treasuries with their endless demands for higher salaries and better benefits.
As the email above shows, cops know the game, too. So why are most people so unwilling to admit that we know what’s going on? Why do city councils refuse to hold local police departments accountable?
Why aren’t there protests against police misbehavior and abuse? [actually, there are lots of protests, but few result in changes to police operations and attitudes]
Good questions. I’m still searching for the answers.
April 28, 2004
Steven Greenhut (send him mail) is a senior editorial writer and columnist for the Orange County Register.



New York Times
February 22, 2004
Security Efforts Turning Capital Into Armed Camp

WASHINGTON, Feb. 21 — An antiaircraft missile, ready for use, sits atop a federal office building near the White House. Devices that test the air for chemical and biological substances are positioned throughout the city. Subway stations are now equipped with "bomb containment" trash bins. A major highway that runs by the Pentagon is being rerouted several hundred yards away. A security wall is going up around the Washington Monument.
Day by day, the nation's capital is becoming a fortress, turning a city known for graceful beauty into a virtual armed camp. In response to the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, federal security agents along with their counterparts in the Washington, Maryland and Virginia governments began a huge effort to build permanent safeguards for the capital area's most important buildings and monuments.
The effort that built slowly after the 1995 bombing of a federal building in Oklahoma City intensified after one jetliner slammed into the Pentagon and another jet crashed in Pennsylvania, presumably on its way to a target in Washington.
But more recently, security efforts have gained a new urgency as officials seek ways to stop truck bombs and other terrorist tactics that have been used in other countries, like suicide bombers.
Some of the biggest projects are under way at the most visible symbols of American democracy and might — the White House, the Capitol, the Washington Monument and the Pentagon.
A result has been a surge of security construction at a cost, still being calculated, that is expected to reach several hundred million dollars within five or six years. Barely 20 percent of the security measures planned for the region have been designed, let alone completed, which means construction is certain to continue for years.
"I'm not sure we ever reach a point where everything has been done; it's an ongoing process," said Kenneth E. Wall, an official with the Department of Homeland Security who oversees activity in the capital region. "As threats evolve and information evolves, we have to make adjustments accordingly."
But even at this early stage, the security efforts have transformed large parts of Washington, creating a slightly ominous feel for the city's 572,000 residents and the million more people who work here and visit daily. Tony Bullock, an aide to Mayor Anthony A. Williams, called it "the uglification of Washington." Unlike New York and other cities that have fewer federal buildings and, thus, a less concentrated security presence, Washington has a dense core of buildings that house every department of the federal government and venerated monuments that honor the country's greatest leaders.
"It's sad to see this, but the reality is we are very vulnerable," said Peter McBirnie of Huntsville, Ontario, who was visiting the Washington Monument the other day with his wife, Linda. They stood before temporary construction walls that encircle the monument grounds and obscure work on a new permanent 30-inch-high security wall designed to stop a vehicular attack.
By now, most federal buildings and monuments have prodigious security measures in place, with enhancements planned or under way.
Police officers with dogs trained to find explosives are stopping cars before they drive past the Capitol. Plans have been approved to build a security perimeter around the 10 buildings of the Smithsonian Institution and the Department of Agriculture on the Mall. The interiors of most government buildings have taken on aspects of an airport, with magnetometers at every entrance and a greater presence of law enforcement officers. The entrance to the Washington Monument has metal detectors and X-ray machines, as does the front door of the Botanical Garden greenhouse at the foot of Capitol Hill.
Even the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Md., a Washington suburb, has been newly fortified with an electrified fence.
"My daughter used to run up the steps of the Capitol, turn around, spread her arms and say, `This is my city,' " said Dan Tangherlini, director of the municipal Department of Transportation. Now, the steps are off-limits to the public while construction continues on an underground visitor center that will serve as the Capitol's sole public entry point.
With rising concerns that Washington is disappearing behind castle walls, plans for enhancing security measures around the city now take into account a yearning for more pleasing aesthetics to offset the appearance of a city bracing for trouble.
As the central design planner for the metropolitan area, the National Capital Planning Commission, an executive branch agency, approves all proposed security changes. Sensitive to charges that Washington could become "Bollard City" — after the thousands of metal posts, known as bollards, that line the perimeter of many buildings and parks — commission officials say they favor plans that diversify new protective measures if they are deemed necessary.
"Every month, federal agencies come in here seeking approval of their security initiatives," said Patricia E. Gallagher, the commission's executive director. "We challenge these notions. We look at them and ask them to do threat assessments. Are they overreacting? What's the design of your response? We need to make sure they are not overreaching, but these days, we're at a disadvantage."
With so much activity in the works, responsibility for minimizing the physical and psychological impact on residents, workers and tourists falls largely to city officials pressing to strike a balance between openness and security.
"It's a balance we struggle with every day," said Margret N. Kellems, the deputy mayor for public safety and justice.
As time passes, she said, city and federal officials are cooperating better than they had been in the immediate aftermath of the 2001 attacks. "But in a lot of ways, we're not where we need to be," Ms. Kellems said. "There's an ongoing struggle with certain agencies about what security means, especially when it comes to parking, sidewalks and streets."
She cited new pop-up road barriers at the Capitol as an example of potential cross purposes. While preventing terrorists from approaching a vital building, they would also block major evacuation routes leading out of a city that ranks as one of the most congested in the country.
"There is an extraordinary burden on resources to support a city where the federal government owns 50 percent of the real estate," she said, conceding that the $192 million in federal security grants Washington has received since 2002 has been inadequate for all the city's security needs.
The money is appropriated by Congress, based on population.
"I'm hoping they switch to a threat-based funding formula," Ms. Kellems said. "The District has few peers as a target-rich environment."
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97-Year-Old Woman Cuffed, Booked For Unpaid Ticket
POSTED: 9:28 a.m. EDT April 28, 2004
UPDATED: 11:11 a.m. EDT April 28, 2004
HIGHLAND PARK, Texas -- Police in the Dallas suburb of Highland Park handcuffed a 97-year-old woman and hauled her to jail in a squad car last week for having an expired registration sticker.
Police said they have a no-exceptions policy. Everyone gets treated the same -- arrested, handcuffed, and taken to jail -- even on minor traffic warrants.
Dolly Kelton was driving herself to the beauty shop when she noticed the flashing red lights in her rearview mirror. Kelton was arrested after she neglected to pay a previous ticket for the same expired sticker.
"I just overlooked it, which I never should have done," Kelton said.
"They just clipped these things on me -- in front, not in back -- and when I got into the jail, they took them off," Kelton added. "I was really getting a little mad by that time because I thought it was so unnecessary and so ridiculous."
Inside, police booked her into jail like any other criminal, Kelton said.
"They fingerprinted me and took all these pictures of me," she said.
She was in police custody for about two hours before her attorney arrived and she was released on her own recognizance.
Kelton said she has an unblemished 80-year driving record. She accepts the blame and doesn't fault the police for doing their duty.
"I think it's still stupid and uncalled for," she said. "They ought to be out on the street arresting criminals, not poor, aged ladies."
The Highland Park mayor sent her a letter, saying he was saddened by the unfortunate incident.
Since her arrest, Kelton has paid her fine in full and bought a new registration sticker.
Now, one of Kelton's sons is questioning the former finishing-school teacher's treatment by police in the posh Dallas-area community.
Her son told The Dallas Morning News the family's real beef "is that no real judgment was displayed" in the incident. Distributed by Internet Broadcasting Systems, Inc. The Associated Press contributed to this report. All rights reserved.

[reprinted under fair use doctrine]



Proposed surveillance system runs automated background checks as vehicles enter town
by Sam Tranum, South Florida Sun-Sentinel
April 15, 2004
Manalapan, FL -- When this affluent island town, where two burglaries a year is the norm, was hit with a trio of heists in a just a few months, officials decided to put a stop to the crime wave by installing a surveillance system that eventually could track every person who drives into town.
Cameras would record drivers' faces and license plates, and software could use the tag numbers to automatically check -- in just a few seconds -- whether a motorist is wanted by authorities or driving a stolen car, Police Chief Clay Walker said.
Walker said he hopes the new system would make the 321 residents of his town, east of Lantana and Boynton Beach, a little safer. But American Civil Liberties Union attorney Jim Green said -- though probably legal -- it would be a scary invasion of privacy.
"Having Big Brother kind of surveillance cameras on us every time we come and go is, at least to me, a truly frightening specter," he said. "It's truly Orwellian."
Retired Manalapan resident Marion Pulis said she thinks the new cameras are a good idea that would deter crime. And she said she isn't worried about them compromising her privacy.
"If [a driver is] wanted or something like that or if they have a background to be checked, they just won't go in," Pulis said. "I'd just have to make sure that I'm dressed up to go out to the mailbox."
Town commissioners are expected to vote April 29 whether to spend about $50,000 to install the surveillance system at the single entrance to a section of town called Point Manalapan, where most residents live, Commissioner Basil Diamond said. If it works well there, Walker said, he hopes the town would add cameras at all its entries, including along the highly traveled State Road A1A.
There already is a video camera in the guardhouse at the entrance to Point Manalapan. It records images of passing cars, but it can't do what the new system would be able to do, Walker said.
The new cameras would be able to get clear images of license plates day and night, rain or shine, Walker said. In two to three seconds, a computer would scan the images, recognize the license-plate number and run it through a Florida Department of Law Enforcement database of stolen cars, he said. If the system makes a match, police officers immediately would be alerted so they could catch the suspects.
Cameras would record drivers' faces and license plates, and software could use the tag numbers to automatically check -- in just a few seconds -- whether a motorist is wanted by authorities or driving a stolen car, Police Chief Clay Walker said.
Walker said he hopes the new system would make the 321 residents of his town, east of Lantana and Boynton Beach, a little safer.
But American Civil Liberties Union attorney Jim Green said -- though probably legal -- it would be a scary invasion of privacy.
The town also might set up the system to run the license plate numbers through a watch list so police would be alerted if vehicles with plates matching those numbers entered the town, Walker said.
Each day's list of vehicles entering town probably would be saved for about 90 days, Walker said. That way, if a crime, such as a recent $400,000 jewelry burglary, was reported, police could look back through records to see who had been in town during that time period, he said.
Walker said he realizes the system might face criticism from the ACLU and other groups. But he and Diamond said there's no reason for residents to be upset.
"It's just taking a picture of what anybody could see, of what anybody could take a picture of, if they were standing there," Diamond said. "There's no technology looking in the trunk or anything."
Cameras that snap pictures of license plates of red light-runners and toll- dodgers are becoming increasingly common. And systems that run those tag numbers through databases are catching on fast, too, said Craig Cantrell, chief operating officer of PIPS Technology, which makes license plate-recognition software.
In some places, authorities use cameras at intersections to keep an eye out for people wanted by police, Cantrell said. In others, gated communities use the technology for "access control," deciding by license plate number whether or not a driver is welcome, he said.Published by
South Florida Sun-Sentinel

EFF Reveals Codes in Xerox Printers
Oct 17 2005 6:25 PM US/Eastern
AP Internet Writer

Just because a document from a color laser printer doesn't carry your name doesn't mean no one can trace it back to you, privacy advocates warn.
The Electronic Frontier Foundation says it has cracked the tracking codes embedded in Xerox Corp.'s DocuColor color laser printers. Such codes are just one way that manufacturers employ technology to help governments fight currency counterfeiting.
"Underground democracy movements ... will always need the anonymity of simple paper documents, but this technology makes it easier for governments to find dissenters," said Lee Tien, EFF senior staff attorney. "Even worse, it shows how the government and private industry make backroom deals to weaken our privacy by compromising everyday equipment like printers."
Researchers found patterns of yellow dots arranged in 15 by 8 grids and printed repeatedly over every color page, said Seth Schoen, a staff technologist at the San Francisco-based civil-liberties group.
The dots are visible only with a magnifying glass or under blue light, which causes the yellow dots to appear black.
By analyzing test pages printed out by supporters worldwide and by staffers at various FedEx Kinko's locations, researchers found that some of the dots correspond to the printers' serial numbers. Other dots refer to the date and time of the printing.
Xerox spokesman Bill McKee would not provide details about the technology. He said the company "does not routinely share any information about its customers," though it does respond to requests from law enforcement.
At the Secret Service, which helps develop such technologies with other government agencies and industry, spokesman Eric Zahren said the tools are designed "simply to make it more difficult to utilize that equipment for the illegal activity of reproducing genuine U.S. currency."
"They do not in any way track the use of a personal computer or a person's computer's hardware or software," he added, refusing to elaborate on the technologies.
But Schoen said much can be gleaned from the printouts alone.
Consider two documents, one carrying the author's name and one meant to be anonymous. By comparing the codes, it can be determined whether the two documents came from the same printer, even if Xerox reveals nothing about a customer's serial number, Schoen said.
The EFF is now studying other printers from well-known manufacturers with similar tracking codes, but whose keys remain secret.
The Xerox DocuColor printers are high-end machines more likely to be found in offices and copy centers than in homes.
The U.S. government is involved with other countries in a separate anti-counterfeiting program meant to prevent currency from being scanned and printed.
Adobe Systems Inc. has acknowledged quietly adding the government software to its Photoshop software at the request of regulators and international bankers.
But David Skidmore, a spokesman at the Federal Reserve Board, said that the technology, known as the Counterfeit Deterrence System, was aimed mostly at personal computers and ink-jet printers _ not the high-end machines like DocuColor.

Copyright 2005 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


Technology - PC World
Government Uses Color Laser Printer Technology to Track Documents

Mon Nov 22, 2004 - 4:00 AM ET
 Technology - PC World
Jason Tuohey, Medill News Service

WASHINGTON--Next time you make a printout from your color laser printer, shine an LED flashlight beam on it and examine it closely with a magnifying glass. You might be able to see the small, scattered yellow dots printer there that could be used to trace the document back to you.
According to experts, several printer companies quietly encode the serial number and the manufacturing code of their color laser printers and color copiers on every document those machines produce. Governments, including the United States, already use the hidden markings to track counterfeiters.
Peter Crean, a senior research fellow at Xerox, says his company's laser printers, copiers and multifunction workstations, such as its WorkCentre Pro series, put the "serial number of each machine coded in little yellow dots" in every printout. The millimeter-sized dots appear about every inch on a page, nestled within the printed words and margins.
"It's a trail back to you, like a license plate," Crean says.
The dots' minuscule size, covering less than one-thousandth of the page, along with their color combination of yellow on white, makes them invisible to the naked eye, Crean says. One way to determine if your color laser is applying this tracking process is to shine a blue LED light--say, from a keychain laser flashlight--on your page and use a magnifier.
Crime Fighting vs. Privacy
Laser-printing technology makes it incredibly easy to counterfeit money and documents, and Crean says the dots, in use in some printers for decades, allow law enforcement to identify and track down counterfeiters.
However, they could also be employed to track a document back to any person or business that printed it. Although the technology has existed for a long time, printer companies have not been required to notify customers of the feature.
Lorelei Pagano, a counterfeiting specialist with the U.S. Secret Service, stresses that the government uses the embedded serial numbers only when alerted to a forgery. "The only time any information is gained from these documents is purely in [the case of] a criminal act," she says.
John Morris, a lawyer for The Center for Democracy and Technology, says, "That type of assurance doesn't really assure me at all, unless there's some type of statute." He adds, "At a bare minimum, there needs to be a notice to consumers."
If the practice disturbs you, don't bother trying to disable the encoding mechanism--you'll probably just break your printer.
Crean describes the device as a chip located "way in the machine, right near the laser" that embeds the dots when the document "is about 20 billionths of a second" from printing.
"Standard mischief won't get you around it," Crean adds.
Neither Crean nor Pagano has an estimate of how many laser printers, copiers, and multifunction devices track documents, but they say that the practice is commonplace among major printer companies.
"The industry absolutely has been extraordinarily helpful [to law enforcement]," Pagano says.
According to Pagano, counterfeiting cases are brought to the Secret Service, which checks the documents, determines the brand and serial number of the printer, and contacts the company. Some, like Xerox, have a customer database, and they share the information with the government.
Crean says Xerox and the government have a good relationship. "The U.S. government had been on board all along--they would actually come out to our labs," Crean says.
Unlike ink jet printers, laser printers, fax machines, and copiers fire a laser through a mirror and series of lenses to embed the document or image on a page. Such devices range from a little over $100 to more than $1000, and are designed for both home and office.
  Crean says Xerox pioneered this technology about 20 years ago, to assuage fears that their color copiers could easily be used to counterfeit bills.
"We developed the first (encoding mechanism) in house because several countries had expressed concern about allowing us to sell the printers in their country," Crean says.
Since then, he says, many other companies have adopted the practice.
The United States is not the only country teaming with private industry to fight counterfeiters. A recent article points to the Dutch government as using similar anticounterfeiting methods, and cites Canon as a company with encoding technology. Canon USA declined to comment.

Bulletproof Cameras ready to Patrol New Orleans
Associated Press | February 7 2005
NEW ORLEANS (AP) -- The intent was obvious. The man aimed an AK47 at the newly installed crime camera and fired away. "All it did was get him arrested," chuckled New Orleans' chief technology officer Greg Meffert. "The camera immediately notified the police and tracked him until he was caught."
New Orleans is installing a citywide security system with state-of-the-art cameras that can monitor an eight-block area around each one, as well as communicate with police, track crime in the area and provide proof in court.
Don't call it Big Brother, however. City officials insist it's much more like the old days when cops walked a beat than like government spying.
The cameras were originally designed to provide evidence in court when witnesses were too intimidated to testify. The high resolution produces recognizable images in all light levels, and the cameras can read a license plate up to 400 feet away.
The first cameras went into operation in October. As the technician was demonstrating the first one to police, they thought they would make their first case.
"The first thing we saw was a drug dealer standing on the corner talking to another dealer," Capt. Anthony Cannatella said. "He had a handful of heroin bags in one hand and a baby in the other."
The police weren't able to catch him. In fact, they have not yet made a case based on the imagery provided by the cameras. They feel they will, however. They also feel the cameras are helping in other ways.
"I think they'll deter crime," Cannatella said. "I think they also disperse drug dealers and that's a big thing right there."
The city is in the first phase of installing the cameras. Eventually there will be more than 1,000. The first 240 have been installed, at a cost of $4.5 million.
The city and the supplier have worked out a number of glitches — including finding ways to make them bulletproof, resistant to paintballs and jam-proof.
The city's Office of Homeland Security contributed $1 million. It will use the cameras to monitor potential terrorist targets, including the Mississippi River levees and bridges, the port, railroads, airports, the water plants, the power grid and the Superdome.
"It's not the end-all and be-all," said Col. Terry J. Ebbert, director of homeland security for New Orleans. "But it does provide another layer of security."
The city has already begun adding them in spots where crowds will congregate for Mardi Gras, the parade routes and French Quarter.