NSA Files: Decoded
What the Revelations Mean for You - The Gaurdian 2013
When Edward Snowden met journalists in his cramped room in Hong Kong's Mira hotel in June, his mission was ambitious.
Amid the clutter of laundry, meal trays and his four laptops, he wanted to start a debate about mass surveillance.
He succeeded beyond anything the journalists or Snowden himself ever imagined. His disclosures about the NSA resonated with Americans from day one. But they also exploded round the world.
For some, like Congresswoman Zoe Lofgren, it is a vitally important issue, one of the biggest of our time: nothing less than the defence of democracy in the digital age.
The Most Wanted Man in the World
Wired August 2014
THE SAME DAY I share pizza with Snowden in a Moscow hotel room, the US House of Representatives moves to put the brakes on the NSA. By a lopsided 293-to-123 tally, members vote to halt the agency’s practice of conducting warrantless searches of a vast database that contains millions of Americans’ emails and phone calls. “There’s no question Americans have become increasingly alarmed with the breadth of unwarranted government surveillance programs used to store and search their private data,” the Democratic and Republican sponsors announce in a joint statement. “By adopting this amendment, Congress can take a sure step toward shutting the back door on mass surveillance.”
The Canadian Police State?
Mises Canada: August 26, 2013
They’re watching you. Even if you’re not doing anything wrong – everything you do online is being recorded. Who are “they”? Well if you’re an American it’s the National Security Agency. But this distinction may be superficial. “There is no border,” according to Ronald Deibert, head of the University of Toronto’s Citizen Lab. Canadians aren’t safe from US surveillance and evidently, we’re at the mercy of our own NSA.
The Communications Security Establishment Canada (CSEC) is the Canadian equivalent to the NSA. Since 9/11 its budget has risen to $400 million annually. Although technically the agency only spies on Canadians when foreign parties are involved, this rule disappears when the RCMP or CSIS or any other government agency approaches CSEC for information.
Canada is part of an agreement with the USA, UK, Australia and New Zealand that monitors communications worldwide. These countries coordinate with each other, essentially giving the NSA access to everything Canadians do on their phones and the internet. The program, called ECHELON or “Five Eyes,” began during the Cold War, but continues to this day. By partaking in an international surveillance-network, police and military agencies can spy on their own citizens without breaking any domestic laws.
However, since 9/11 domestic laws have changed drastically. The Canadian Security Intelligence Act is a mirror image of the USA’s Patriot Act.
“Securitizing” Canadian Policing: A New
Policing Paradigm For the Post 9/11 Security State?
Policing is being transformed and restructured in the modern world … The key to the transformation is that policing, meaning the activity of making societies safe, is no longer carried out exclusively by governments. Indeed, it is an open question as to whether governments are even the primary providers. Gradually, almost imperceptibly, policing has been “multilateralized”: a host of nongovernmental groups have assumed responsibility for their own protection, and a host of nongovernmental agencies have undertaken to provide security services. Policing has entered a new era, an era characterized by a transformation in the governance of security.
The Easiest Way to Get Hacked: Use Phone at Phone Show
Bloomberg Business: March 1, 2015
If anyone attending the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona this week doubts how easy it is to hack smartphones and tablets, Filip Chytry and his team plan to set them straight. By hacking into their devices.
Chytry’s company, Prague’s Avast Software s.r.o., is setting up a faux-fraudulent wireless hotspot at its booth that will let the company’s staff and onlookers track the online activity of any device that connects.
The site will let Avast capture passwords, messages and other information people type on the websites, and Chytry can even create dead ringers for Gmail or Facebook sign-in screens - - down to the little green padlock icon that indicates a secure connection -- that lull people into a sense of safety. While the data will not be stored, Chytry said, the experiment demonstrates how vulnerable mobile devices are to cybercrooks.
“People can see what can happen if they use free networks in pubs, restaurants or elsewhere,” said Chytry, a security researcher at Avast who helped design the exhibit. “It will show them that this is a real problem.”
Mobile devices have long overtaken personal computers as the main gateway to the Internet, but few consumers or even companies have given much thought to securing them. They’re always on, constantly used, and weakly protected, inviting hackers to find ways of exploiting their vulnerabilities.
Microsoft case: DoJ says it can demand every email from any US-based provider
The United States government has the right to demand the emails of anyone in the world from any email provider headquartered within US borders, Department of Justice (DoJ) lawyers told a federal appeals court on Wednesday.
The case being heard in the second circuit court of appeals is between the US and Microsoft and concerns a search warrant that the government argues should compel Microsoft to retrieve emails held on a Hotmail server in Ireland.
Microsoft contends that the DoJ has exceeded its authority with potentially dangerous consequences. Organizations including Apple, the government of Ireland, Fox News, NPR and the Guardian have filed amicus briefs with the court, arguing the case could set a precedent for governments around the world to seize information held in the cloud. Judges have ruled against the tech company twice.
DARPA WANTS A SEARCHABLE DATABASE OF ALL YOUR CONVERSATIONS
Paul Joseph Watson - InfoWars.com - March 4, 2013
DARPA is working on an embryonic project that would store your every verbal conversation on an Internet server, creating a searchable chat database that would represent the ultimate privacy killer.
Having failed to establish its infamous Total Information Awareness system, although the project was continued under numerous different guises, DARPA is attempting to create a world in which your every utterance is stored in perpetuity.
But don’t worry, the servers on which your conversations are stored will be owned by the individual or their employer, and the government promises to never access the information using their vast new $2 billion dollar spying hub in the middle of the Utah desert. Honest.
Calgary senior loses pension income over husband’s death benefit
Global News - December 18, 2015
CALGARY – The last six months have been a struggle for Clara Fergusson. In July, Canada Pension Plan suddenly reduced her monthly Old Age Security and Guaranteed Income Supplement by $425 a month.
“My income now is much lower and, by the time I pay my taxes and my insurance and my utilities, I would have had maybe $500 a month left for groceries, incidentals, drugs whatever,” Fegusson said.
Do Canadians gain or lose from the Canada Pension Plan? Of the 18 million working Canadians, nearly a third, or 5.8 million, face a substantial drop in living standards in retirement, CIBC economists said recently.
Her daughter Bev Fergusson called Ottawa and traced the pension claw-back to a $2,500 death benefit Clara received after her husband died in November 2013.
Clara claimed the benefit on her taxes but didn’t realize the extra income changed her tax bracket and meant she would receive less money from the Canada Pension Plan.
“We’re not all tax accountants… We all don’t know the rules Revenue Canada has set out for us.
“It works out to almost $4,800 that she will lose in a year because of this $2,500 death benefit,” Bev said.
Tax expert Kim Moody said most people don’t know there are two options when claiming a death benefit.
Instead of claiming it on her taxes, Clara should have listed the benefit on a tax return for her husband’s estate.
“You can go back and correct it, yes,” Moody said.
“Based upon the facts that I understand to be, the options are to go and take that income and remove it from her return and tax it in the estates return and that should automatically fix the issues,” Moody explained.
He said this is a reminder talk to a financial planner or tax expert about death ahead of time to avoid surprises.
Bev plans to take the advice and has also contacted her MP to help reverse her mother’s pension claw-back.
If you already have the STS Program, you will likely understand that the key to defeating such clawbacks to your supplementary income sources like OAS (Old Age Security), GIS (Gauranteed Income Supplement), Unemployment Insurance (UI), Disability Insurance, and other such benefits, caused by one-time increases to your reportable income, is to ensure that such payouts are not OWNED (received) by you in the first place.
By assigning such payouts to a Trust, rather than to yourself, these don't become a reportable item on your tax return or (as in the case of the Calgary women) to the late spouse's estate either. Instead, the Trust will recieve the payout and won't lose any such income-tested benefits since such benefits are payable to you and don't effect the trust. Smart structuring of your estate NOW, will prevent such surprises in the future.
Contact us now to learn more about how we can assist yoou with such a strategy.