Sunday, December 26, 2010

"Virtual Alabama" Allows Anyone with .gov or .edu Email to Spy on You

Alabama's Department of Homeland Security has an application that allows anyone with a .gov or .edu email address to use the privacy-invading tools the government has implemented to spy on anyone virtually anywhere in the State of Alabama. The 3 minute propaganda video on their website tries to explain how the live video feeds are used for 'keeping our community safer', yet details how the EPA is using Virtual Alabama 'extensively' to watch what you're doing in your yard (2:40), and that it is used for economic development and other non-safety issues (2:05). This program is clearly being used to spy on the citizens of Alabama.

As troubling as it may be that any government employee with an .edu or .gov email can get the software, that's not the main issue. The ruggedness of the screening process for obtaining an account is unknown. The issue is the privacy of Alabama's citizens, which has been ignored. Even if the screening process to be granted an account is extremely stringent, the ability of users to use this data in a malicious way is far too great.

Political opponents can use this to gain a god-like advantage by tracking every move of their opponents and critics without having to leave a computer. The system has been implemented with cameras in both Selma City Schools (January 2010), and Dallas County Schools (June 2010). This creates a risk for children, as well.

Bottom line: The cameras shouldn't be there in the first place. The realtime surveillance of innocent citizens is the kind of thing you'd expect from a tyrant, not from a free State in the United States of America. This program, even according to it's own promotional video, does very little towards it's professed goal of 'keeping our community safer', and goes a very long way to destroying the very rights that make our State and Country great.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Cameras a Bad Choice for Selma

The recent choice of the Selma City Council to approve cameras for use at traffic signals and for surveillance in high crime areas is a bad move for our city. Anecdotal evidence submitted by those who've had bad traffic experiences in our city is not evidence enough to sacrifice the privacy of residents and those who would use our city's streets, avenues and boulevards. Certainly, studies commissioned by the manufacturers of the cameras shouldn't be used as testimony to the usefulness of the cameras they are trying to sell.

Scientific studies done by universities have shown the opposite of what is claimed by proponents of the cameras; traffic-signal cameras DO NOT make streets safer, they CAUSE accidents, and surveillance cameras DO NOT reduce crime, they increase the chances that someone will have their right to privacy violated. Instead of wasting precious city funds on technology that has been proven not to work, the Selma Intelligencer suggests the city use the funds to better train its police force.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

VOTE TODAY - But not in a free election...

If you haven't already, get out to the polls before they close! Don't let the rain stop you!

When you vote, you may notice that you are required to vote on only one ballot. Currently, voters must choos between the Democratic or Republican ballot. So, if you have a candidate on the GOP side you wish to support, and one on the Democratic ticket, you may not do so, by law.

Instituted under the premise of ending the practice of 'cross-over' voting, the two ballot system costs taxpayers both money and freedom of choice. In the opinion of the Selma Intelligencer, NEITHER ballot should be paid for by the taxpayer, nor should primaries be held at public expense. Primaries should be handled by the parties, and open to independent audit.

Political parties are not a part of government, and therefore should not use public funds. If the parties choose to have public elections to select their candidates, they should hire an independent polling firm and open those elections to public audit. In the interest of transparency and fairness, the parties could hire the same firm to handle the election. This firm could be instructed to place all candidates on one ballot to prevent so-called cross-overs by only allowing one selection per office in the election.

Taxpayer funding for the selection of candidates for primaries borders on legalized fraud and promotes an exclusive legal political duopoly. With the fraud rampant in the Democratic and Republican parties, it is highly unlikely that they will ever support any primary election reform. It is the opinion of the Selma Intelligencer, however, that they should.